How much time do you spend online looking for information? While Siri and Alexa are certainly helpful, when you are looking to do more in-depth research, the more detailed the content, the more helpful it is.
This is where blogging comes in. And if you have a business that offers great solutions, you would certainly benefit from throwing your hat into the ring.
Now, being a writer (or conversationalist) is definitely a good start — but it’s not the only requirement. Writing effective online content requires you to have a basic understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, as well as what makes a business blog interesting to your specific target market.
Why Every Business Needs a Blog
Blogging is a valuable marketing tool that can increase your online authority, drive traffic to your website, boost your conversions, and increase your sales. It’s also an excellent way to establish your thought leadership by sharing your knowledge with your readers in a way that provides value.
This is how:
Build Credibility as an Industry Authority.
Today’s consumers are more savvy and are tired of the hard sell of traditional advertising. No one wants to talk with an aggressive salesperson. No one wants to watch commercials. But everyone needs to research a product or service before they buy it.
Blogging gives you the chance to provide relevant, helpful information to guide prospects through their decision making process. Even if they're not ready to open their wallets yet, by providing them with answers, you are building trust and establishing the type of relationship that leads to sales.
Improve SEO to Climb SERP Rankings.
Ok. So this one cannot be guaranteed. However, providing useful content, linking to authoritative sources, and using relevant keywords will make your business rank higher.
Also each new blog post creates a new page for your website, giving it more opportunities to appear in search engine results pages when prospects search for a solution that you provide. Everyone has a website. Make sure yours lands on prime online real estate.
Stand Out From Your Competitors.
Say you want to start a business. You don’t know where to start, so you start considering whether to hire a business attorney who can help you.
You go to Google, enter your query, and several law firms pop up. Most of them have stock photos and a services page telling you what they do. But one of them also has a long list of blogs, each of them explaining different aspects of starting and running a business.
As you read them, you learn about things that weren’t even on your radar. They answer your questions. They inform you about the different business structures. They link to the Department of State website and tell you how to register for an IRS Employer Identification Number.
They map out everything so well for you that you are clearer on how to move forward. If you decide to eventually hire a lawyer, which one of those law firms are you going to call?
Likely the one that educated you on the entire process of starting your business.
Blogging Basics: How To Get Started
Once you decide to start a blog, you have to first set up a good foundation. In order to get started, you need to do the following:
Choose a Platform.
When researching which one would work best for you, think about factors such as ease of use, costs, themes, features, plug-ins and integrations, and customer support. Some let you create a beautiful blog, even if you have no programming or coding knowledge, with cool drag and drop options that can make the process as simple as possible.
Create a Buyer Persona.
The next step is figuring out who is your ideal customer. What are their demographics? Education level? Geographical location? Age? Job role? Pain points?
You can flesh this out by creating a semi-fictional representation of whom you’re trying to sell to, based on market research and educated guesses. Once you’ve narrowed this down, you’ll be able to write content that would appeal to this kind of person.
If you’re at a loss about how to get started, ask consumers directly! You can send out surveys to your mailing list, or pose questions on your business social media pages, LinkedIn groups, Reddit, or Quora. This may give you insights about things you may not have thought about — such as hesitations, favorite places to shop, best customer service experiences, etc.
Identify What Content To Write About.
Focus on topics that will bring value to your target market. This can be information, product reviews, or facts about your industry. Anything that would answer possible questions they would enter into a search engine search bar is fair game.
For example, if you’re a design-build contractor, write about the top new professional home appliances for the current year, or the benefits of quartz countertops over natural stone. If you own a restaurant, offer recipes, stories about your locally sourced produce, or the best wine to pair with your favorite type of pasta.
The main goal is to provide the information that your customers are seeking, while humanizing your business and offering them a peek behind the curtain. Your content should be informative, educational, or entertaining.
Avoid selling. Instead, focus on providing value to your readers. To have a steady stream of topics, have ideation sessions with your team. You can also check out what your competitors are doing and write content that’s more comprehensive than what they’re offering.
Using keyword research tools like Moz or Ahrefs will help you identify keywords that are ranking, so that you can create content around them.
5 Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic
As noted above, your main goal in business blogging is to build authority around topics that your ideal buyers are interested in. This requires a good deal of research and planning.
Adopt these tips to start writing about relevant topics.
Keep Your Buyer Personas at Top of Mind.
This is one of the most important lessons to keep in mind when you're identifying how to blog effectively to drive results. Remember, your target audience is searching for solutions to problems.
Whenever your marketing team is getting together to brainstorm, always keep your buyer personas visible for reference. Your buyer personas will have a list of pain points, goals, and challenges.
This information lays the foundation for a ton of awesome blog post topic ideas. Assess each area your personas need help in, and then map out topics for those areas.
Ask Your Customers Directly About What They Need.
Aside from buyer personas, you can go straight to your actual customers to find more relevant topics to address in your blog.
Take the top 20 most frequently asked questions from your customers or prospects and start developing topic cluster strategies for each general topic. This is great in the eyes of Google — you're creating valuable content about related subtopics, adding internal links for a good user experience, and keeping your site architecture clean and organized.
Adopt the Cubing Technique During Ideation.
This is one of the most common brainstorming tactics for writers. You start with one topic in mind. Then, look at it from six different points of view, which represent each side of a cube.
Here are the six perspectives to consider:
- Describe it – Explain the topic and its characteristics.
- Compare it – Determine what this topic is similar to and what it's different from.
- Associate it – Identify how the topic connects to other topics.
- Analyze it – Find out how to break down the topic into traits and attributes.
- Apply it – Explore what you can do with the topic and who it impacts.
- Argue for it or against it – Describe how you support or oppose the topic.
Spend a few minutes on each perspective to get a simple rundown of each of these elements. These perspectives can spark ideas for multiple blog post topics in a short amount of time.
Seek Out Insights in Online Communities.
As noted above, there are so many resources online where your audience hangs out. Reddit, Quora, and LinkedIn Groups are just a few opportunities for social listening.
Gather a list of topics and challenges and goals they're discussing with others. These insights will fuel your content ideation sessions.
Your team can create blog posts that align with these conversations and even share the insights from the blog within each of these online communities.
Leverage SEO Tools for Competitor Analysis.
You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Invest in a competitor analysis tool, and encourage your team to regularly measure your competitor's top performing content.
Obviously, don't just plagiarize what they're creating. Instead, look for ways you can add even more value for blog topics that align with your audience.
Also, use keyword research tools, like Moz or Ahrefs, to find what keywords your competitors are ranking for and build content ideas off of those keywords. When you write better content and using proper SEO tactics, you're going to eventually outrank competitors. And those small wins make a big difference over time.
What Makes a Good Blog Post?
There are several key elements each blog post needs to be impactful.
An Enticing Title
Your title is one of the first aspects that grabs attention. It needs to be descriptive and interesting, while also optimized for search. So you need to find a balance of using your target keyword while also describing the content of your post and grabbing searchers' attention on SERPs.
Think about it. Content marketing is getting increasingly competitive each day. There are a lot of businesses fighting for high rankings in SERPs, and to stay relevant in the organic space, you want to maintain a high click-through rate.
Look at the top ranking posts for your target keyword and determine how you can beat your competition with a title that stands out.
A Defined Target Audience
Casting a wide net with content often leads to nothing. If you try to write for everyone, you will reach nobody. This is why you need to define exactly who you're writing a blog post for, which is where buyer personas come into play.
With fully developed personas, you can determine exactly how to speak to your ideal readers and identify what specific topics they are researching.
Appealing Voice and Tone
When writing an engaging blog post, you need to speak to your reader. I mean, really speak to your reader. Use their language.
Meet them where they are by making the tone conversational and not too stodgy; after all, you want to reach your audience and not turn them off your post.
The old phrase says that a picture says a thousand words. Well, it’s true. Visuals are processed at a higher rate of speed than text, according to a study by neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A photo can communicate in 13 milliseconds what it may take a paragraph for someone to write.
Another benefit to using powerful, appropriate visuals is that they also effectively speak across cultural and language boundaries in ways that words cannot. A powerful photo is bold, engaging and communicates what you need it to say, and it grabs your audience’s attention before their eyes can even read the headline.
You want to be recognized as an industry expert, right? So there is no need to steal someone else’s content or ideas.
While it is sad that this still needs to be mentioned, plagiarism is still a prevalent issue. Make sure you're not publishing any stolen content on your blog by using free plagiarism checkers, like PapersOwl, for fast, easy checks in real time.
So regardless of whether your industry is business, pottery, nude skydiving, animal health, or IT networking, put your subject matter expert mind to work (and, essentially, put your money where your mouth is) by demonstrating your industry knowledge and expertise.
Calls for Reader Engagement
Elicit questions or responses from your audience. Ask them to share their stories, experiences, and feedback about particular topics to facilitate conversation.
Not only does this provide you with a valuable opportunity to understand what your audiences really want to know, but it also provides you with a creative pool of blog content topics to write about that you know will appeal to your audience (and potentially help you reach new audiences searching for those keywords).
The Right Format
There are so many types of blog posts you can create, which can be overwhelming. You want to make sure you're presenting content in a way that appeals to your readers.
When you get the format right, you can expect readers to respond well. Ideally, you will outrank your competitors and increase engagement on your site.
Common Types of Blog Post Formats
When you're developing a content marketing strategy and outlining your editorial calendar, it can be overwhelming to plan for weeks or months ahead. This is especially difficult because you want to add variety and use different formats of blog posts.
There are several types of blog posts to choose from, including:
- How-to guides
- Case studies
- Interview style
- Thought leadership
Choosing the right blog post format requires some strategic thinking and research. You want to ensure that you're targeting the right keyword and optimizing your blog post for search intent.
To determine the preferred blog post type, look at the top ranking posts for your keyword to find which formats are the most popular in SERPs. This should give you an idea on what format searchers prefer.
How to Write a Great Blog: 10 Best Practices
Now that you recognize the value of having a good business blog and you’ve picked your platform, you have to figure out how to write content that will get people’s attention.
1. Create a Content Calendar.
Nobody wants to stress about what to write about next. Get rid of the guessing game by creating a content calendar. This makes things easier for you and provides consistency for readers.
Set up an editorial calendar to organize your publishing schedule. Plan out important dates — like holidays, upcoming events, or anything else that affects your sales. Then publish relevant information around those dates, while maintaining an ongoing schedule of content production.
2. Be Relevant.
One of the best ways to provide value is to be relevant. For example, if you provide housekeeping or home caregiving services, include information about how you’re protecting clients from COVID-19 through your policies. If you do family law and there’s a new change in custody legislation, write about recent changes to the laws and how they may impact existing agreements.
Staying up-to-date with new developments that impact your goods and services will give you plenty of ideas on what content to write about.
3. Hook Readers With a Good Opening.
You want a title that will make people click on it, and you want an opening line that will grab readers’ attention and keep them on the page. This is especially important today, when the majority of people spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website.
Start with a relatable question, humor, or a surprising statistic. Anything that will make a person want to keep reading.
4. Write About What You Know.
The best way to build your blog is by writing about topics that you thoroughly understand and are passionate about. Blogging is a great opportunity to educate your audience.
If there are aspects of your business that you’re not an expert in, consider outsourcing or inviting guest bloggers to write about them for you. This is also a good way to include different perspectives to keep your blog fresh.
5. Use a Conversational Voice.
What’s your favorite book? Regardless of your preferred genre, chances are you aren’t about to recommend an encyclopedia tome.
Using a conversational tone will make you easy to understand and approachable. Write in the same way you would speak with a client if they were in front of you. Tell stories. Use contractions and short sentences.
Read your writing out loud before posting to see if you sound like a human being or like a robot. Also, when appropriate, use humor. Unless you’re writing about a particularly sober topic, it’s ok to be funny. You like to laugh, don’t you? So do most people.
6. Use a Scannable Format.
When was the last time you enjoyed reading large blocks of text? Paragraph breaks, bullet points, and lists make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. If they wanted to read a novel, they’d sit down and read a paperback.
But they’re reading your blog. They want answers to a Google search. And when people read on the web, they often scan the page, picking out what they need and ignoring the rest. The easier you make it for them to find what they’re looking for, the more likely it is they’ll come back to you when they need something else.
7. Make the Blog Look Appealing.
By the same token, make your blog look nice. Find a good layout with your brand colors and logo. Include images, video content, and/or GIFS, if appropriate.
Easy to read will always win the game. Take into account the blog’s length, the size of each paragraph, whether the text is broken up in a scannable format, the fonts used, and the design of the page. All of these elements affect the visual appeal of your blog, as well as its readability.
8. Engage With Your Readers.
Always end your post by inviting readers to comment. Then take the time to respond to them quickly and professionally. Remember, you are your brand’s ambassador! This helps build relationships, which in turn, can drive sales.
And if someone challenges you or leaves a negative comment, thank them for their perspective and craft a diplomatic response addressing their concerns.
9. Give Your Readers Something To Do After Reading.
The end of the blog is a great chance to convince the reader to take some kind of action while they’re thinking about the subject. When deciding what to ask them to do (such as subscribe to your blog, join your mailing list, download a free ebook, or enroll in a webinar), think about where they are in their buyer’s journey.
Someone who’s just starting to think about a problem they have is going to be compelled to take a certain action differently than someone who’s trying to decide on a solution or who is ready to purchase a product or service.
10. Share It!
Once you write the blog, share it far and wide! Link it to other content on your website, send it to your mailing list, post it on social media, republish it on Medium, pin it to feature it on your LinkedIn profile, ask other bloggers to link back to it. The more platforms you share it on, the more traffic you’ll drive to it.
Awesome Blog Articles That Are Worth Reading
Everything mentioned on this blog are guidelines and roadmaps to get you started. However, you can also read other articles for inspiration. Below are several great ideas to get you started:
- 100 Powerful Trigger Words That Elevate Content Marketing (+Examples)
- Getting Started With HubSpot: Your Guide To Growing Fast
- The 7 Best HubSpot Integrations for Live Chat That Help Boost Conversions
- The 20 Best SEO Podcasts for 2021 to Help Drive Organic Traffic
- 7 Website Optimization Tips to Prepare Your Site for Traffic Surges
Turn your business blog into a lead generation machine by investing in SEO, developing exceptional blog posts, and building on your content marketing strategy. The long-term payoff is big. You can continue growing your organic visitors, capturing qualified leads, and becoming a top authority in your industry.