Introduction to Business Blogging
by Tez Ferguson
So why start a business blog anyway? That’s the question many businesses rightly ask, by the end of this article there will be no doubts left as to why.
A business blog should just be seen as a regular part of the marketing activity of any business. The blog could take a variety of directions but news, announcements, informative articles, industry information, etc. are all related to the marketing function.
Blogging is very beneficial for SEO; search engines love regular activity so regular blog posts will increase the SEO “critical mass” of the site whilst also attracting traffic for each and every blog post which goes live. Traffic is what any website needs to survive, without traffic what is the point of a website?
Businesses can expect a proportion of this traffic to lead to new customers and sales of products and services. Provided Blog posts show expertise and integrity over time they will improve trust and confidence of customers and make them more likely to buy. A blog gives any business the opportunity to become a thought leader in their industry, thought pioneers, visionaries and to be seen as forward thinking through the words they write in their blog.
What Topics Should be Written About?
Now it sounds like a great idea to have a business blog what topics should be written about? Common sense applies here – “Write content that people will actually want to read!” Make sure your topics are interesting, entertaining and relevant to your industry. News stories relating to your industry can be a great idea, customers love reading the latest news and blog articles like this can generate a lot of “buzz traffic”, especially if your business has its blog posts published in Google News.
Aim to solve the problems of your customers with your content. Write content which answers common business problems with “how to”, “guide”, “practical tips”, articles, etc. Brainstorm inside your organisation and obtain ideas for blog articles from the various departments, this should generate a long list of future topics to write about.
Reading through competitor/industry websites will be another way to harvest blog topic ideas, but be unique and ensure you always add value over and above what other sites have said with your business blog posts.
Using a keyword research tool, e.g. Google Adwords Keyword Tool or Keyword Spy can help businesses to generate lots of keyword ideas for blog articles, but also with an idea of the monthly traffic volume for the keywords selected.
How to optimise your blog posts
To give blog posts the maximum chance of exposure and obtaining traffic the next step is to optimise them. This process will have already started by the creation of an eye-catching title, which features a number of keywords you want to rank on for your industry.
Ensure for blog posts that they are optimised for SEO, do add a <title> tag, <H1> tag, Meta description, keywords, categories and tags. Ensure keywords are not over-optimised, avoid keyword density in excess of 3% (e.g. 1 word should not be more than 3% of the total words or similarly 2 words, 3 words phrases, etc.).
Adding social media buttons is another great idea, why make it difficult after all for readers to share your posts? Tools like Add This make the addition of social media buttons much easier.
Including images within your blog articles is another great idea, they say, “a picture paints a thousand words”, so add an image for every three hundred words of text. Make sure all images added are free of copyright restriction.
A last and really important part of optimisation is adding a call to action. What do you want the reader to do next? Insert and promote your Email subscription link, add Email address / telephone contact details and welcome dialogue with the reader. Include links to other internal articles so you can encourage the reader to read as many of your articles as possible in one visit.
How often should businesses blog?
How often businesses blog is another important question, the more, the better is the answer, the more often you blog, the better the benefits will be!
Many business ask “Can I afford to blog?” whereas the question should be “Can I afford not to blog?”. How many prospects is a business losing out on by not blogging, always remember blogging should be seen as a part of the marketing function of the business.
A reason not to blog maybe due to time or financial constraints. If as a business time is critical and staff don’t have time to write it may make sense to outsource, expect to pay from £2 per 100 words and upwards for high-quality content.
Try to create a stockpile of non-time-critical posts; so that f a production issue arises you can still populate the blog with content. Blog to a schedule, e.g. every Tuesday and Friday if you blog twice per week. Visitors will become familiar with posting schedules and look forward to the next post.
How to promote your blog
The next step is to promote blog posts, don’t keep them secret and to yourself! As was discussed in blog optimisation do share your posts on social media, channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube are ideal for building brand awareness.
Networking with other industry bloggers is a great idea. They will have access typically to a large number of other people interested in you industry. Encourage them to share your posts, promote them and they are likely to promote you back.
Add a link to the business blog in Email signatures, it’s surprising how many click-throughs this brings, but think “How many Emails does your business send out each year?”
Running competitions is another interesting angle, particularly create competitions which encourage other sites to link to you and/or encourage social media sharing. Use a QR code so visitors can quickly and efficiently subscribe to your blog.
Measuring success – Adding Analytics to your blog
By now the business blog should be a success, but how would a business know if this is not measured.
If the blog is going well it’s important to know why so you can repeat what was done well. Installing Analytics software like Google Analytics is an essential part of managing a business blog. Analyse both the general website and blog traffic overall. In particular analyse which blog posts are the most successful in obtaining traffic. See if there is a particular trend and a certain type of posts which attracts traffic, if you can find a trend repeat it.
As with any business investment blog posts need to have a demonstrable return on investment (ROI). So try to ascertain how many products or services were sold through the blog. Also, work out how many new e-mail subscribers originated from blog posts. Analyse the number of backlinks and social media shares your blog attains, this is another example of a return from blog investment.
Business blogging best practices
In finishing this article always follow these blogging best practises to make sure you have the best likelihood of success with your business blog.
NEVER as in NEVER EVER directly copy or plagiarise content from another source. This will almost certainly lead to a Google duplicate content penalty (yes Google will be aware), which in turn will lead to a ranking punishment for your site, but also it may lead to a copyright action from a third party. Using a Content Duplication checker like Copyscape will ensure duplicate content is not added to your blog.
Spelling and grammar is important, so make sure they are as accurate as you can possibly make them. Microsoft Word, Open Office and Google Docs all have inbuilt spelling and grammar checkers which are quite good, for a superior grammar check a tool like Grammarly could be used. Also for readability reasons break up text into H2 and H3 formatted sub-headings, these will also be beneficial for SEO too.
Don’t be overly self-promotional, promote the business in a subtle manner, never be heavy-handed in the way you promote the business, this is irritating to the reader.
Don’t keyword stuff your content, excessive keyword stuffing will defeat the purpose as Google will punish posts with an excessive use of a certain keyword/keyphrase, this once again affects the readability of a post too.
It’s recommended to integrate your blog into you website directly, never have a wordpress.com or BlogSpot type address for you blog, which is different to the main website domain.
Follow the steps outlined above and your business blog will prosper. Blogging success doesn’t happen overnight, so persevere with it, results are exponential and your blog will flourish over time provided the advice recommended above is continually practised.
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