Setting up and running a small business isn’t easy. We all know that.
The first few years are often spent seeking the answers to — what seems like — a never ending list of questions, like, “Who is my target audience?” and “How do I reach them?”
Whatever industry you’re in, we all strive for the same thing: more website visitors, more valuable leads, more sales and more loyal customers. But how can you achieve this?
Setting up and managing a business blog is a great place to start. It is a key part of content marketing and helps you create and share valuable content to your ideal audience.
The ins and outs of business blogging
Blogging attracts traffic, generates valuable backlinks (links from other websites to your own), helps prospective customers find you and drives conversions. It can also position you as an authority in your market; helping you become the go-to knowledge base for your ideal customers.
It is a discipline that requires an understanding of the creative and technical demands and how to effectively deliver them. One which forces you to think like a publisher.
Understand this, and your business blog will be able to support significant business growth.
Uncover how to craft remarkable content to educate prospective customers by implementing these eight essential elements of business blogging…
1. Complete keyword research
A fundamental aspect of content marketing, keyword research is the perfect place to start when kickstarting your blog.
Every piece of content you create — whether it’s a social media post, content for your website, a blog article, or a marketing email — should be written with the reader in mind.
You need to be giving your audience the information they crave and the solutions to their biggest challenges.
Become a ‘content hub’ for your ideal buyer.
Identify some killer keywords that are going to help get your content in front of the right people at the right time.
Start by creating a list of keywords, topics and questions…
- Determine who your audience are and outline the problems they face and the solutions they are seeking
- Monitor the competition and the content in this area that is performing well with tools like Buzzsumo, Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer or HubSpot’s social monitoring tool
- Using the same tools, find out which keywords are currently driving traffic to your site by plugging in your own brand name and domain.
Then enhance this list using keyword suggestion tools like Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer or HubSpot’s Keyword Tool.
Once you’ve established which keywords you want and should be targeting, follow these best practices to transfer them into your content:
- Focus on one or two long tail keywords (highly specific keyword phrases, at least three words long) per blog post
- Use a variation of your chosen keyword(s) in your headline
- Avoid spamming by limiting the use of keyword phrases throughout the post
- Include the keyword or a variation in your meta description and URL
2. Choose a punchy headline
As the first thing your reader sees when they come across your article, you need to get this right.
Use the headline to tell people why they should read your post and showcase its value. Hit them right between the eyes with striking language, deliver a promise and make it clear how your content is going to enlighten them. In short, sell it.
To do this effectively, work towards three criteria:
- Answer your ideal customers’ questions or challenges
- Offer practical advice
- Keep it powerful, punchy and provocative
Readers tend to focus on the first three words and the last three words of your headline (Blog, Sweat and Tears). This is one of the reasons why ‘How to’s’, ‘Listicles’ and ‘Step by Step guides’ are so effective. They communicate what the blog is all about, without going around the houses.
3. Tell a story
As humans, we love stories. We crave them in fact. It’s what we are used to and what we find easiest to consume.
To be successful with your business blog, your content needs to go the extra mile. It should compel readers and take them on an engaging journey. Whether you’re B2C or B2B, engage your readers with unique insights and real world examples to bring your business to life.
With good storytelling you can draw in more readers, and help keep these prospects engaged for longer. So even the driest of industries can captivate and inspire with their content!
For example, try discussing the challenges your business has faced and how you overcame them, despite the odds. Hook your ideal customers with tales of your journey.
4. Creating content – 9 things to check
To get under your readers’ skin and energise them with the words you have on paper, you need to be creating content that gets under their skin — in the best kind of way..
There’s little point putting in all the graft with keyword research and punchy headlines if you’re content is going to let you down.
Every paragraph, every sentence, and every word has to count. So, before clicking publish, there are 9 things you must check:
- Every thought, insight and opinion within the content is original
- There are no mistakes when it comes to grammar and spelling
- You’ve used bullets and numbered lists to improve readability
- Your content is as up to date as possible, with all the latest stats and facts
- You have included links to relevant and authoritative third party websites
- You’re giving readers something new and useful
- The reading experience has been enhanced with video and imagery
- Readers are being encouraged to share this, such as social with buttons and click-to-tweet functionalities
- The post is long enough to cover a wide range of valuable information
5. Find a powerful feature image
Your customers are visual creatures. In fact, people can retain 55% more information when paired with a relevant image…
When people hear information, they will remember around 10% of that information three days later. When paired with a relevant image, this number jumps to 65%. (HubSpot)
But how do you decide on the perfect feature image?
- Look for a picture that encapsulates what the blog post is all about.
- Keep it eye-catching
- Avoid overused, generic stock imagery
Use sites such as iStock and Shutterstock to dig deep and find a powerful image that packs a punch. After all, the feature image is the first picture the reader is going to see. It needs to set the scene and captivate your readers.
6. Utilise relevant media
Colour, action, emotion, and beauty — images make content more appealing and easier to digest. They break up your blog post and help consolidate the content’s message.
So don’t just stop at a powerful feature image. Instead, make sure you help maximise dwell time with the use of relevant media throughout your content.
And don’t limit yourself to standard imagery. If you want to have a little fun, try embedding GIFs, video, tweets and even Instagram posts.
Just ensure you maintain a consistent level of quality to deliver the best results.
7. Encourage social sharing
Without promotion, your business blog is going to get lost in all the noise that is the internet. Promotion is key to the success of your content marketing strategy. And social media is a fundamental element of content promotion.
But first, you must be where your ideal audience are. There’s no point focusing all your efforts into Pinterest if your customers are hanging out on LinkedIn. Once you know where your audience are (which your buyer persona research will highlight), you can start targeting that platform.
When you’ve written your latest blog post, read it back and ask yourself two questions;
i. Is there content in here worthy of sharing?
This can include;
- Inspiring quotes
- Clever insights
- Powerful sound bites
- Impressive statistics
- Unique viewpoints
ii. Is this easy to share?
Make sure you;
- Incorporate ‘click to tweet’ and ‘click to share’ functionalities
- Bold, italic or increase point size of key points to highlight the most important pieces of information
- Use pullouts to draw attention to the share worthy sound bites
8. Create captivating calls to action
Refer back to your overall business goals and objectives — and the reason you started this business blog.
- Do you want to attract more leads?
- Do you want to convert existing leads into customers?
- Do you want more social followers?
- Do you want to increase subscribers?
Elements 1—7 are about helping you to attract the right people to the right place at the right time. Now you have them, encourage them to take the desired action — whatever it may be!
So strike whilst the iron is hot and create a captivating call to action…
- Keep it visually appealing and straight to the point
- Use visual CTAs at the end of the blog post
- Use visual CTAs within the body of the blog post to break up the content
- Create, optimise, measure, tweak and repeat
But — as with any part of setting up and running a small business — it isn’t easy.
To create something that is going to spark a reaction from the people you want to attract, you need to put strategy at the forefront of your efforts.
This means creating a plan and sticking to it…
- Decide how many blog posts you want to publish each month
- Schedule time to research, create, publish and promote these.
- Regularly update the plan to reflect the status of each article.
Most importantly, be consistent. You want your readers to be invested in the content you are publishing — to actively come back to your site for more. With over 75 million blog posts published each month on WordPress alone, you’re already up against it.
So be consistent. Produce content on a regular basis and share it every day.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusievely for ByteStart by Liane Grimshaw, the founder and Managing Director of SupaReal – a B2B content and inbound marketing agency in Manchester. She has over 20 years’ experience working in marketing and digital media, specialising in the B2B sector.