There's many ways to write a business blog and creating a "great" one can be a challenge. But that's what you need for an effective inbound marketing strategy.
[This is an updated and modified version of an earlier post]
The Internet is full of great blogs.
Unfortunately, it is far more filled with not-so-great blogs.
If you are looking for a list of the best business blogs, for example, opinions vary. For a truly comprehensive list of great corporate blogs you can check out these lists at BlogRank.
The good news is that any business can have a great blog. However, what makes a truly "great" business blog is not simply their unique visitor numbers or rankings in various lists. It's the content.
In other words, it's the blog post, and how well it works for its audience.
Key Elements All Great Business Blogs Have
If you have a blog on your company's website then good for you!
You are already doing more to market your business and drive traffic to your site than 40% of your competitors. And if you're posting fresh content regularly and consistently, then congratulations! You are on your way to being a truly effective content marketer for your brand.
But make no mistake: there is plenty out there to compete against. According to a recent post at Tech.Co, there were about billion active websites on the Internet today, and more than 300 million blogs. And many of these are business blogs.
So having a truly great and effective business blog matters.
But to have a great business blog you need to have certain elements that consistently make up the "DNA" of your blog posts. Consistency, frequency and the length of your posts are all important factors, but if your posts are, well - less than stellar - your audience will diminish over time, and new visitors may fail to come back.
The Recipe for a Great Business Blog (Hint: It's not Budget or Resources)
Depending on who you read, or what the particulars of your audience are, the overall list of ingredients may vary from from business to business. But there are at lest seven key ingredients that every great blog has in common.
- The first step is to recognize and understand what those ingredients are.
- The next step is to incorporate into your blog these nine ingredients that most every successful business blog utilizes.
This might mean creating a standardized "checklist" of some sort for you or your content creation team. It means developing an editorial calendar that is actually used and followed. But most of all it means being very clear as to who your audience is and what content they will value.
1. A Compelling and SEO-enabled Headline
The numbers vary depending on the source, but suffice it to say that headlines can make or break a post. Like a badly designed or boring book cover, the content may be great but if no one is drawn to it by the headline it will go unread. Not only should it have you keywords present, it must also give a clear indication of the subject matter. Catchy is good, but vague or misleading is not.
2. Create Content That is Engaging and Valuable
Remember the Cardinal Rule #1 of content creation: Never Be Boring! Blog posts that are nothing more than thinly veiled self-promotion pieces will not get read. And if that is all you publish you can bet that visits will decline and you will find yourself engaged in nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Is that an exaggeration? Perhaps, but keep in mind that Google's algorithms are giving more credence to social proof, quality of content, and semantics - not simply key words. In other words, a good blog post is readable; it speaks to topics that truly interest your audience; it answers questions they have, or offers solutions to problems they need solved.
3. Publish Content That’s Relevant to Your Audience
This is related to the first point: you might create powerful and valuable content for your blog posts, but if it is not relevant to your target market audience, it will not get read. If your headlines and meta descriptions do not capture and engage their interest from the start, you've lost them before you had them.
Google’s regard for and valuing of keywords has changed somewhat significantly over recent years. Now, when Google indexes your site, it does not simply note the relevant keyword phrases and pair them to search queries. Semantic logic and other algorithm changes mean that you must write for people, not just for search engine web crawlers, or bots.
This was emphasized by Jayson DeMers, founder & CEO of AudienceBloom,
“Google interprets the data on your website, and begins to form its own conclusions about what your site and your business really deliver. If that seems a little spooky to you, you aren’t alone — Google is becoming exceptionally sophisticated.”
A helpful approach for determining relevant topics for your blog audience is to make a list of the 10 or 20 most common questions they ask of your business.
Better yet, make a list of fifty "frequently asked questions" from your customer, clients, and prospects. Why? Because that's what is relevant to them. If you succeeded in crafting a list of 50 questions you would have enough blog topics to publish a new blog post once a week every week for a year!
4. Have One Main Focus
One of the temptations for many bloggers is to write about everything under the sun that either interests them, or that they feel will be a catchy topic. The problem with this approach is that it's akin to an auto parts store also offering mobile phones, Formula One racing simulator software, and drones. These are all really cool products, but that's not what auto parts store customers are looking for at the auto parts store!
In the same way, your audience is coming to your blog because your focus, your theme, is what they are interested in. And they will return again and again if you continue to feed that interest within the scope of your focus. This does not mean that an occasional "off-topic" post is not in order. But the main focus is to "stay on story".
5. Incorporate Images and Video
People are wired for visuals. We love to look at images and watch things move. We are drawn to graphics, images and video. The best posts are started with bold and captivating images. This is becoming more apparent as various social media channels become more and more graphic heavy. Your longer posts should make use of many more images within the text, or content.
Many business bloggers shrink from this because of the perception that visual content such as photographic images and video production is expensive, time consuming, and generally prohibitive. This can certainly be true. And big businesses with big budgets can, and do, generate dazzling and captivating visual media to incorporate into their blogs. But the truth is that you can, too.
Quality images can be had for little or nothing from various sites on the Internet, or even created in-house with the right personnel and some basic equipment. This does not require an Ansel Adams! And video is so powerful and so engaging that it is becoming the medium of choice for most online publishers.
Today, you can produce perfectly good video with nothing more than a typical smart phone. As long as you have good lighting and good sound, the results do not have to be studio quality to have a huge impact.
6. Include Useful Links
Links are one of the key elements of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and this includes internal links - links to your own site's pages or digital publications such as PDFs - and external links to other people's articles, reports, or websites.
Part of the beauty of a good blog post is the ability to draw your readers further into your own website and provide them with a wealth of information. In addition, you can help position your business as a thought leader and smart curator of quality information for your audience.
7. An Effective Call To Action (CTA)
A CTA is the critical link between your reader - the potential customer was drawn to your blog post - and a landing page. Your landing page will typically have an engaging and valuable offer of some sort for your prospect to download or subscribe to. Often this will ask them to complete a short form, maybe something as simple as a first name and email address.
Here is an example of a call-to-action that we use frequently:
Of course, your content needs to be good, as well. This doesn't mean Pulitzer Prize winning quality, but it does mean content that is readable, engaging, relevant for you audience and real.
What do we mean by "real"? Real content is content that is unique to your business and not some generic copy that was bought from a faceless website or subscription service.
To Have a Great Business Blog You Must Produce One!
While there is a bit more that needs to be set up such as proper SEO functions, distribution channels, and a robust website home, it is critical to ensure that these eight elements are a part of every business blog post you publish.
It is one thing to know that a business blog is a valuable tool, not only for your SEO efforts, but for enhancing your impact on your audience. But it is another thing to actually produce one. And to produce one that is published consistently, frequently and with great, quality posts. The time, effort, and ability to develop and write blog posts consistently over a long period of time is a challenge for many business owners.
But, of course, you don't have to write it yourself. You can delegate this task to someone in your company, or even outsource the whole thing to a freelance content writer or a good marketing agency. However, this, too, can be a challenge.
The temptation for many businesses is to look for low-cost, generic content that they can simply "plug and play" into their business blog. If you are considering this approach for your own blog, it would be better to not have a blog at all than to diminish your brand with low quality and ill-conceived content.
A better approach for creating and publishing and effective business blog is to get outside help. Digital marketing agencies, such as BroadVision Marketing, can offer expertise and tools that the typical business owner or marketing manager may not have.
It often helps to have an professional marketer's perspective to assess your content marketing strategy. Acquiring the insights and assessment of a third-party professional can be an investment that will bring a quantifiable return.
BroadVision Marketing offers all this and more. Get your Free Complimentary Inbound Marketing Session to help you make an informed decision or call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238. In the meantime, click on the button below and download your own copy of our free Business Blogging Guide!