Gone viral sign hanging on door

Do you want a successful business blog?  Then grab a coffee and take 10 to sit down and have a good read through this.  By the end of it you should be well on your way to writing compelling posts.

These days blogging is a standard pastime for many businesses.  They do it to get noticed, to demonstrate their expertise, to keep their customers interested and regularly updated content gets them noticed on Google. Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.

Generally the reasons people give for not blogging are that they don’t have time, they have nothing interesting to say, nobody cares what they have to say, they are not writers or they find the whole content marketing and SEO thing completely confusing.

But consistent blogging:

  • Gives your brand a voice that people can connect with.
  • Gets people interested and engaged.
  • Solves your current and future clients needs, by addressing their questions through high quality content.
  • Highlights the fact that you are a thought leader and a solver of problems, an expert in your field.
  • Builds credibility and trust from your followers and clients.
  • Google loves new content… the more content your site has the more Google has to index. Fresh, regularly updated content is something that can improve your rankings and drive traffic to your site.
  • If you don’t blog you are losing opportunities to be found online.
  • Creates vibrance, allows you to demonstrate passion, uniqueness and expertise.
  • The chance to get ahead of the competition – your competition is blogging and if they are not they will be soon!
  • More opportunity to engage – creates a central online marketing hub for all of your content, the basis for social media sharing and email marketing.
  • Gives you a home base for your marketing, you can add links to Tweets and updates that will bring people back to your blog, perhaps to read more about a special offer or something you have discovered.

Overall a blog gives you much more opportunity to engage and drive traffic to your website, via search engines and social media sharing.  Thus your blog becomes the central internet marketing hub for your business.

Content Marketing Hub

Building your brand with a blog

Your blog will form the basis of your content marketing strategy.  Establishing your brand through your own writing and not relying on what others have to say about you.

The Six Elements of Content marketing

Audience

When you first start you will need to start by targeting a narrow audience and grow from there.  Start by writing more focused articles with descriptive titles.  So for example if you write an article with the title ‘Restaurants in London’, those keywords will face a lot of competition in Google search.  However, if you write ‘Restaurants in London that sell excellent oysters’ and someone searches for something along those lines, you are almost certain to feature high in a Google search result.  This is known as a long tail keyword phrase because it contains three or more words.

Once your blog becomes famous you can shorten your keyword phrases but long tail keywords are the way to go to start off.

Needs

Collect all of the questions that you hear from your clients through research on Twitter, other social media and from your staff.  You can answer these questions through blogging and that is a wise move because if one person has that question, you can bet lots of others have the same question too.  This will demonstrate your expertise in your field and help you to gain credibility and trust.  Don’t be afraid to have an opinion, that is what makes you unique!

Content

Be consistent, you might only blog once every two weeks but blog at the same time each fortnight and your visitors will know what to expect.  Equally, variety is very important to keep your audience engaged.

Finding Your Voice

This phrase is banded about quite a bit these days, it is also over complicated.  If you write in your own words you cannot go far wrong.  This will lead to a natural blog post with unique content.  It goes without saying that you should never copy content from others, this is not ethical and equally is no way to set yourself apart from the rest.

If you do want to use content from other blogs then mark it very clearly as a quote (perhaps in italics) and add a link back to the original content.

Sharing

Share your content in every available channel to find your growing audience.  These could include social media, forums, other blogs, networking and video.

Tips to get you started

A step by step approach is the easiest way.

Work out what your customers want to read, find out what holds their interest …

Meerkats riveted to something, hopefully my blog

This takes us back to some good old basic market research.  Before you can know what they like to read you need to know who they are.  On the basis that you already have this information take a few of your customers and look at what they are doing on social media, what are they liking or sharing?  Or just ask them directly what they would like to read about. So you would be looking to understand:

  • The questions that they have about your product or service
  • What they need to learn about
  • Their interests
  • What they like to share

Looking at their Twitter and Facebook accounts and their own blogs will give you a very good idea on all of the above.

It is easier to come up with content ideas when you have a clear idea of how your customers might think.  Asking yourself what they might type into a search engine when looking for a solution will help you to write for them.

Once you know what they are interested in, you can spread your wings within your field.  Some business sectors lend themselves to this more easily than others but as a web designer, I could blog about search engine optimisation, social media, WordPress tips, case studies and photography.

Spend a bit of time brainstorming ideas with friends and colleagues too, they might have some good ideas for your blog.  People love to give their opinion, so you can ask anyone in any networking scenario.

Where to find inspiration

Walking along the great wall to the mountains

Start looking around at what other people in your field are writing about and what is successful.  Quite often you can measure success by the number of comments on an article or often you will see sharing buttons indicating the number of shares.

Your article should be interesting to you, if you enjoy it then your readers should too. Spending a couple of hours researching can help you build a real instinct for writing a good story.

  • Brainstorm with friends and colleagues, don’t underestimate the power of this! People came up with lots of ideas during our seminar.
  • Ask customers what would be useful to them.
  • Talk about your experiences, your products.
  • Check out the competition and what they are saying
  • Check out industry leaders and what they are saying
  • Search Google, Twitter, Facebook
  • Follow the right Twitter accounts, people who are leaders in your field and give useful information. Create lists to filter the content you want to see.
  • Subscribe to news feeds like Feedly or set up Google alerts.
  • Repackage material that you have used for other media, such as brochure excerpts and that might be suitable for use as a blog post.
  • What else do you do? What are your interests outside business? How does that shape your business and how could you incorporate it into your blog to help you build a niche following?

Useful article: 50 ideas for your business blog

Define your goals

It is not only important to understand your audience but also to define your own goals.  What do you want to get out of the post?  Examples of things you might want people to do:

  • Subscribe to a newsletter
  • Download something
  • View a case study or one of your projects
  • Get in touch
  • Request a quote
  • Follow or Like on social media

Basically make sure you include a call to action, whatever you want to get from your post.

Writing your posts

Think of your target audience when you write. Picture an individual and use them as a muse.  You will find that although your customers all have different personalities and different businesses, they will have similar needs as far as you are concerned.

Personality at the door

 

Write better headlines than anyone else

Make your post titles really descriptive, as we discussed before, this is how Google will find you.

Usually you will want to form your own post title based on the subject and incorporate a long tail keyword phrase but here are some successful recipes for blog titles …

  • 7 Amazing Things …
  • A Guide to Understanding …
  • Best Practices for …
  • The Secrets of …
  • The Truth About …
  • 12 Statistics About …
  • How to Be the Best …
  • An Insider’s Guide to …

Useful article: 13 Awesome Headlines for Business Blogging Success

Write Compelling Content

Old typewriter to write a blog post

Your content should be aligned with the marketing goals of your company and created with your target audience in mind.  Content should be relevant, inspiring, timely and shareable.  It should deserve its place at the top of the search engine results.

If you write compelling content it is more likely to be found by search engines and will demonstrate that your company is an expert in its field.

Make sure your content is interesting and entertaining, again this can be good pics as well as words.

Here are some examples of the type of content, which could be interesting to your visitors.

  • Before & after photos
  • Helpful tips & tricks, ‘how to’ guides
  • Industry research
  • Video demos
  • Success stories
  • Case studies
  • Answer customer questions
  • Employee profiles
  • Industry events
  • Use good clear calls to action, ‘get it while it lasts’ or ‘get in touch now for 10% off’.

Get them hooked from the first paragraph

Start the post with something interesting like a thought provoking question, a quote, a statistic or a short anecdote, here are some examples:

  • Do you know the best solution for a full body detox?
  • If I had 9 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 6 sharpening my axe. Abraham Lincoln.
  • 60% of UK adults have a smartphone, we cannot ignore the mobile internet.
  • The other day I saw a famous chef and remembered when we were 12 years old building a bonfire for November 5th …

Grab them with a photo

Captivating photo
Punctuate the text with great photos.  A photo speaks a 1000 words.  Posts on all platforms with photos attract 50% more interaction. Use photos throughout your post to break up the content.

  • Use a good strong image at the start of your post.
  • If you don’t like to write too much, use images.
  • Your own photos are the most powerful but if you use others ask permission and attribute them. Or buy from reputable stock image companies like Shutterstock.

Optimise for Google

  • Write good English
  • Remember the long tail keyword phrase for your title
  • Use keywords in text but don’t overstuff.
  • Google loves good fresh content and the more you post the more Google has to index
  • Image tags –  fill in the alt tag and title when you upload an image.  This tells search engines and screen readers for the blind what the photo is about.
  • Insert links to other relevant content within your site and other sites
  • Share on the social media platforms.
  • The more you share the more traffic you will get to your website!

Remember your goals and your call to action (CTA)

Remember what it was that you wanted to achieve by writing the post?  Make sure you invite the visitor to do what you wanted, e.g. contact us now (with contact details), download here, share this post, subscribe to our newsletter …

End with a punchy conclusion

Restate your main point briefly (not a boring full summary repeat) and persuade your reader to care about your point.

Sanity check it

  • Read it out loud and see how you feel about the post.  Are you explaining things too slowly?  Is it boring you?
  • Keep your sentences as short as possible. Take out unnecessary words.
  • Use simple and precise language, leave out the jargon and use words that everyone can understand.
  • Never copy content.  Your content will never be unique, copying is wholly unethical and Google will know andcould penalise you in the search results – or worse blacklist your website!  By all means link to related content and reference it in your post but never copy the content of their post directly into yours.

Reach out and promote

Internet marketing written on chalkboard

Get it out there via social media and through your marketing.

  • Social media sharing buttons give you links back to your post and ultimately your site. Whenever you share a post make sure it links back to your website. Your site becomes your central internet marketing hub; so no matter where a visitor finds you they will always be directed, via a link, back to your website or blog.  Once they are on your website, you have them, so make it count and make sure you direct them to take action, be that to buy, sign up or get in touch.
  • Social Media Links help people to follow you.
  • Add your blog address to your email signature.
  • Share a link to the post with target customers via email, letting them know you are thinking how you could help their business.
  • Include your blog and social media addresses in all of your marketing.
  • Monitor what works, do it more!

Make sure your developer sets you up with rich content for use whilst sharing on social media.  This will mean that your shared post is correctly structured with a title, a short teaser and an image (if available).  Talk also to your developer about social media sharing buttons and links.

If you only want to focus on a few social media channels to start then include Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.  Facebook is not necessarily a good platform for all businesses, particularly B2B but that depends on your business.

Finally It’s a Grind but Don’t give up

Jungle book

It takes time to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.  It also takes time to write a really good post.  You will need to see what people are sharing and commenting on and then continue to write more of the same.  Keep it going and your blog will become famous.

Good luck and be great at blogging, it matters to your business!

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© Tracey Rickard. If you want to use any of my content please ask me first, you can't use it without permission that's stealing. You can use an excerpt as long as it is linked back to this article.