12 Most Crucial Things to Remember When Blogging for Business
There is a bit of a learning curve for business people who are new to blogging. The mechanics of writing posts and getting people to read them can be overwhelming at first. But if you’ve grasped what blogging is and why it’s important for business, then you’ve got to put in the grunt work to figure this thing out.
The particulars vary from platform to platform — depending on whether you’re using Joomla, WordPress, Tumblr, or any of the other popular blogging platforms available. But, regardless of which format you choose to publish in, there are certain components that every business blog needs in order to be successful. Here’s a good primer…
1. Customize your theme
By “theme,” I don’t mean the content. I mean the graphic overlay of the blog. Be sure that it matches your website and other marketing material. Think in terms of colors and lines. With a blue blog, orange website, and green logo on your storefront, readers won’t be able to connect the dots to form a cohesive image of your brand. Make sure your blog screams, “You!”
2. Use categories and tags
Categories are ways of organizing your posts. You can organize them based on subject (“recipes”) or based on the type of post (“company news”). Using categories helps customers find general information they are interested in on your site. Tags are more specific. They can include keywords featured in your article. If you’re location-based, you typically want to include a tag for your city/county/state. If the blog post is a recipe for some kind of pie, you may want to include “pie” or “desert” as tags.
3. Set up social media sharing buttons
Make it easy for your readers to share your articles. Have “Facebook Share” button, a “Tweet” button, a “Stumble” button, a “+1″ button — whatever you are capable of doing on your platform. Rarely are readers going to copy the URL of your article and paste it on their Facebook wall to share it. But if you make it as easy as clicking the mouse, they might just spread the word.
4. Write SEO and user friendly titles
The titles of your articles are the most important aspect of getting your blog posts to show up in searches. You want to title your articles as if they are answers to questions people would be asking in search engines. On the other hand, you also want the title to make sense as a title. In other words don’t use “Plumber Hutchinson Kansas Quality Cheap” as a title if you’re a plumber trying to generate leads in Hutchinson, Kansas. Try instead, “What do if my ______ is _______ing?” and add your location as a tag. This article is much more likely to be found and read.
5. Choose the appropriate length
Lengths of blog posts vary significantly, but the typical article that is capable of holding a reader’s attention and still adding value seems to be between 300 and 1500 words. Ideally, the average post will be around 600 words. But, whatever the case, try to keep posts consistent in length. It just looks cleaner to someone who is browsing your blog.
6. Choose the appropriate frequency
Having a blog and never writing articles for it is useless. If you are going to take on a blog, you should blog at a minimum of once per week, but preferably 2-3 times per week. Some people blog everyday and it works very well for them. Clearly, the more content you put out, the more web pages there are to be found by readers. However, there is a case to be made for writing one blog post every few days and using the time between posts to promote it. Whatever you decide, just makes sure it’s consistent. Don’t blog once a week for a month, every day for a month, and then once a week again. Develop a system – an editorial calendar for yourself — and stick with it.
7. Use short paragraphs
Break up long blocks of text. Readers don’t like to read a massive jumble of words on the web. Never have more than ten lines of text (and that’s probably pushing it) without some white space in between. Preferably, you’ll even use headings (like the numbered headings in this post) to break up the sections of the post. Spreading your article out in this way makes it easier on the eyes — more visually appealing to your readers.
8. Use an image in every post
On that note, an image is also a great way to keep readers’ eyeballs on your article. You should use a picture in every post, and perhaps even a few in longer posts. The pictures, like headings, help break up long sections of text, but there are also other benefits. When you share an article on a social network (like Facebook) and have a featured image, the picture will show up in the preview and readers will be more likely to click through and read the article. Moreover, images increase your search ranking. For me, because I use an image in every article, Google images is the third-highest referrer of traffic to my blog.
9. Lists are your friend
List posts (like this one) are all the rage… and I don’t think it’s going away. Having a numbered list of items as a format for the article is so popular because it’s easy to digest. It’s like an article and an outline rolled into one. People who want to read the entire article can; people who are only interested in certain items can read those sections. Try titles like “7 Ways to…” or “5 Reasons Why…” People love this type of content!
10. Always respond to comments
Never leave a lonely comment. When people comment on your blog, they are making a huge investment. There are literally millions of other blogs on the internet that they could be commenting on, but they are taking the time to say something to you on your blog. Don’t miss the opportunity for conversation. Thank them for their comment and tell them why you appreciate it.
11. Share your posts everywhere
If you’re not on social media and you have a blog, it’s time to get on social media. Share your posts on Facebook (Personal Profile and Page), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Stumble Upon, Reddit, and anywhere else you can think of. Share your articles via email to subscribers. Get all the traffic you can from everywhere that you can possible get it.
12. Integrate CTAs
What’s a business blog without a call to action? When you are blogging, you don’t just want your readers to read. You want them to do something. You want some sort of a commitment from them. The call to action can be anything from asking them to leave a comment to offering a free case study when they sign up for a newsletter to offering them a chance to when an iPad when they make an appointment. In the end, you’re doing this to make your business more successful. Don’t just inform and entertain your readers; motivate them to action.
I hope this helps you as you start your blogging endeavors. Have you already started blogging? Have you found something else particularly helpful? Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what your thoughts are.
Featured image courtesy of pietroizzo via Creative Commons.