Simply put, every company needs a forum (a privately maintained space) on which it can create and control its story or its brand. Business blogging is the simplest and cheapest way to get your voice out there. Whether it’s a multi-national conglomerate or a mom-and-pop shop selling custom socks, the purpose of business blogging remains the same: to advertise, to narrate, to inform, to entertain and to sell your product or service.
The problem is many companies, while being aware that they need to engage in blogging, are not entirely sure how to go about it. And trust me, if it’s not done correctly, a great deal of writing and effort could be wasted in the process.
Selling is one thing – but more happens before that
Ultimately, you intend to sell stuff to these readers. But along the way, a magical thing happens. Your company develops a brand. The material you write about, the voice and of the writing, the people who share / like your blogs, the comments made therein, are all contributing to the brand of your company.
You might not have a budget to hire Arianna Huffington as your spokesperson, but if the Huffington Post “likes” your blog article, you’ve achieved much the same result.
Consider your image. In the same way you may have mulled over your logo design and the colour scheme of your fliers, advertising, etc., you have to consider the content of your online presence. Do you believe that a sales pitch is the only thing your customers want to listen to? Or would they rather engage with your content in order to “get to know you” better?
It’s one thing to create a business blog but it’s another to make sure that business blog is actually read. And furthermore, to convert those readers into customers. Unless (of course) you’re simply in the business of blogging, in which case, your marketing job is complete.
But if you’re selling a secondary product or service beyond the blog you’re offering, then you need to effectively target and convert those readers.
The elements of good business blog
A great many first-time business managers and enthusiasts make some simple errors. The following is a short list of elements that I think every blogging specialist should know.
1. Meta Keywords
In your industry, research the keywords that your customers may be using as search terms on Google or Bing. Use Google Analytics as well as their Keyword Planner as a starting point because they will help steer you in the right direction. When you’ve discovered the keyword phrases that appear to have a low competition in comparison to others. Consider “long tail keywords.” You’ll discover that there are fewer people using long phrases as their search terms, however, the competition should be significantly lower than more generic words.
You can then use these keywords as inspiration for your blogging titles and content.
2. Easy-to-read URL
Your URL should ideally contain your main keyword that is derived from your product, service or brand. If not, at least have the Blogspot or WordPress parts removed, so as to make your company appear professional, rather than informal. There is a small cost in customizing your URL, but in terms of a company’s brand, business blogging should stand apart from informal blogs.
3. Basic SEO understanding
SEO rules are extremely simple. When I’m writing for business blogging purposes, I ensure that for every 500 words of content the following conditions occur:
- There are at least 4 hyperlinks to external pages. Ideally, at least 2 of them should link to another page within your website. And make sure that at least 1 of them is in the first paragraph of your text.
- You embed around 7-8 instances of the SEO keyword. Any more and you risk caught and penalized for “keyword stuffing.” Also ensure that your title and meta description contains your keyword or keyword phrase.
- Have a keyword in Heading 2 and 3. Heading 1 should be your title (which I’ve already covered)
As well, don’t forget the standard SEO practice format.
Titles should be less than 65 characters long (including spaces), Meta-descriptions should be 165 characters long. Tweets work best when they’re less than 90 characters long (so as to keep enough space for the link to your blog)
4. A creative blog writer
People don’t necessarily enjoy reading text. They prefer pictures and shorter chunks of text on their screen. A good business blogging writer understands that even though they’re writing B2B, they’re audience is people. Short paragraphs are preferred. Short sentences are also preferred. Nice visual divisions between the sections are good. Bullet point lists are appreciated. Pictures, graphs and video are very much preferred.
Consider providing a written transcript of any video you have. This way, search engines can “read” your video for SEO content and you’ll get a better ranking.
Also, consider developing a YouTube Channel that can accompany your business blogging site. Information and brand can be more easily transmitted through video rather than PDFs and online brochures. If you have instructions on how to use your product, seriously consider making it a video. YouTube is second only to Google as a preferred search engine.
Ideally, your staff (or you) is best suited to write blogs. You are the authority and the final word on your brand. However, if you’re going to hire outside talent, be sure to allow this person access to the details of your niche business. Make sure they understand what your brand stands for. They will be representing you online so treat them well. And some of us are sensitive.
5. An RSS reader
If you’re engaging with other industry professionals who have their own business blogging sites then connect with them. Encourage your readers to join this online community. Remember, a community can be created as easily as suggesting that a community exists. Reach out to other bloggers and sites that align with your brand.
Also, an RSS reader will allow your readers to easily access your most recent posts and updates. And of course, you can track and trace readers once they’re opt-in subscribers.
6. Engaging titles
Terabytes of content is filling up the Internet every nanosecond. By the time you’ve read this sentence, there will most likely be at least 10 new blog posts on this very subject. Eep. Good business blogging tactics will require engaging and relevant titles to cut through the chatter – at first. In the long run, it won’t simply be about titles.
Creating a brand means being in it for the long haul. Or at least 12-18 months. Within that time frame, a business blogging site can easily network itself out of the chatter and become an authority within its industry. While much content is being created, not all of it is aligned with your own brand, sense of community, answering of questions, knowing your customers.
You will stand out.
You will eventually be engaging with your customers, not just prospects and random online readers. This is a unique relationship and will trump the need to have engaging titles as the sole method of attracting readers. You will be known as an online resource, sought for helpful tips, the centre of the discussion and trusted ally in the search for quality service and / or products.
7. A good Call-To-Action with valuable offer
No matter where a customer is along the purchase process, she or he will always respond to the prospect of a valuable or enticing offer. These are key at first in order to encourage readers to forfeit their email addresses and opt-in to a subscription, newsletter or to download an eBook, etc.
This should be your Call-To-Action moment to shine. Put this button / dynamic GIF in a prominent place. Web visitors are more likely to press a button than read a paragraph. Your CTA should also be associated with a valuable offer.
As your relationship grows, your offers can be tailored more distinctly to your customers buying habits. At first, however, offer your prospects something that aligns with your brand. We developed an online contest for an auto insurance brokerage company that offered up pre-paid gas cards as the prize.
While we could have simply offered up money, this wouldn’t really maintain the relationship between the prize and the company’s brand. Business blogging works the same way. Offer information on topics and answer questions that are relevant only to your prospects. Consider offering discounts for online loyalty. Keep them coming back for updates and the possibility of a free offer.
8. Social Media links
Google is developing new algorhythms that may be scanning for social media links more than you might expect. Search results may now be affected by what your friends are ‘liking’ or following. If this comes true, then all the work of traditional SEO business blogging tactics will have been in vain. Stuff all the keywords you want, but if your clients aren’t sharing your site with their friends, you won’t be found organically anymore.
Put social media buttons on every business blogging entry. Make it incredibly easy for them to click on like or share. Put updates across all your social network channels. This can easily be managed by software such as HootSuite, for example.
While it’s not a good idea to automate Facebook posts and updates, it’s okay to use this system to broadcast simple updates. Remember that Facebook and Twitter are networks that idealize the immediate. If you auto-generate status updates, you’re not getting the point of Twitter or Facebook.
Use humans to read and respond. It’s what they do best.
9. Analytics Installed
Not knowing how many visitors came to a particular page, how long they stayed, whether they filled out a form or not and whether they came from Facebook, renders your business blogging useless.
Have the analytics installed so you can track and trace every visitor and see the details about them. For example, you will be able to tell how many Canadians versus Americans (or Albanians for that matter), have visited your site. Will this change the tactics of your business blogging? It depends on what your marketing objectives are, but the short answer is, “it should.”
Knowing your audience better will better help you serve their needs. That’s a fancy way of saying ‘write better.’
10. Time and patience
All this takes practice. Business blogging serves a longer purpose, as I’ve said earlier. Making tests on the success or failure of certain pages and / or online forms using A/B testing can help you alter your tactics. So re-do it and start again. Re-think and re-research your keywords.
Check out your competition. What seems to be working for them that you can apply to your own business efforts?
The more pages you add to your website and the older your site gets, the more Google will consider you a worthy company to display on page one. Beyond that, your customer’s experience should improve. Hopefully they will even leave you helpful suggestions to improve your site.
Business blogging will help you be ready
In the end, creating a blogging platform and controllable space will allow you to be ready for anything. If something amazing happens in your industry, you will have a network at your disposal to celebrate it. If something tragic happens and your customers are enthusiastically trying to get information from you, again, your network is there to get the info, offer apologies, helpful advice, etc.
Once you’ve started generating traffic, blogging takes on a life of its own. Suddenly you’re fielding questions and interest from areas you may have never even considered.
The network you’ve created can now accommodate the overflow of traffic and each and every visitor can be siphoned into the appropriate customer retention channel. By this point, you will no longer need to seek the trust of your clients. Simply maintain it.
You will be sole proprietor of your brand and the master of your domain. Well, your domain name at least.