By Jennifer Chan, Content Marketing Strategist
Welcome to the first post in our “A Better Business Blog” series, which is dedicated to itemizing and explaining business blog best practices for Bay Area small businesses.
As James Florence explains, blogging offers many distinct benefits for small, local businesses, from community-building to raising a website’s ranking in search. Indeed, in a study of more than 7,000 businesses, HubSpot found that companies that blog 15 or more times per month get five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog.
Unfortunately, great blogs don’t just spring into being. Like any worthwhile venture, a great business blog needs to be built over time. We’re learning that at Nu-Designs Digital, as we create the brand-new business blog you’re reading right now. We’ve been building out the structure of the blog itself—we’re identifying writers and editors, creating an editorial calendar, and figuring out how to fit blog production into our already-full daily routines. Luckily for us, our experienced editorial team has been writing and maintaining the Diamond Certified Blog for years. Over on that end of things, we publish two to three times per week, and we had nearly 32,000 visitors in 2016. So, we’re taking what we’ve learned from the Diamond Certified Blog and applying it to this new venture.
Ready to join us?
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing posts on different aspects of blogging with a specific focus on blogs for small, local businesses. Whether you’re starting from scratch like us or rebooting a defunct enterprise, these posts are designed to help you make the most of your blog. Follow along week by week or read them all in one chunk. Implement everything we advise or pick and choose. However you go about it, I hope you’ll take blogging seriously. It’s a tool in your marketing arsenal you can’t afford to ignore. And remember, if you need more help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email us at [email protected] or call us at (707) 575-5373.
A good business blog needs certain features in order to be valuable, which is why you should put all features in place before you start posting regularly. However, nothing on the web is set in stone. As I write this, the Nu-Designs blog doesn’t have all of these features in place yet. Do what you can, when you can.
Search Bar: As your blog accumulates more posts over time, users may want to search through your content for specific topics or keywords. Make sure you have an easy-to-access, keyword-powered search bar.
Subscribe for Updates: Encourage visitors to become repeat visitors by allowing them to subscribe for updates. This could be a subscription to an e-newsletter that will include email versions of blog content, or it could simply be an email that notifies subscribers when a new post is up. The “subscribe” option can be a field that’s always present in the sidebar of the blog, or it can be a pop-up that appears after the reader has been on the page for a certain amount of time.
Recent Posts: A list of the most recently posted pieces (you could substitute this with a list of “most popular” posts).
Categories: Whether you display a list of categories or simply categorize posts so they’re easy to find via search, you want to make sure users can find the content they’re looking for.
Tags: Tag all posts with any words you think may be relevant to the post. This serves a dual purpose: it primarily helps in general Google search, but the tags will also help users who have explicitly come to your blog and want to read about certain subjects.
Social Sharing: Give readers the ability to share individual posts using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email, and make it easy to print them out. Integrate other social media as appropriate.
Other features to consider
Author Name and Bio: If you’ll be having more than one regular contributor to your blog, consider including an author name feature with a short bio and a link to all the pieces that person has contributed.
Author Profile Image: A photo of the author helps personalize the post and, consequently, your business.
Comments: In the past, a comment section was an integral part of any blog. Unfortunately, spammers have become extremely smart and aggressive in recent years. Consequently, we don’t advocate for comment sections on blog posts anymore. You should, however, encourage users to comment via social media.
Social Proof: Consider adding a feature that displays the number of subscribers, Facebook “Likes” and/or Twitter followers you have.
Next post: What Do I Write About?
To read more of Jennifer Chan's work, check out her writing for the Diamond Certified Blog here.