By Jennifer Chan, Content Marketing Strategist
This is the second post in our “A Better Business Blog” series, which is dedicated to itemizing and explaining business blog best practices for Bay Area small businesses (read the first post on blog features here). These posts are designed to help you make the most of your blog. Take blogging seriously! It’s a tool in your marketing arsenal you can’t afford to ignore. If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 575-5373.
First, the big picture: solve problems.
Because this is a business blog, your audience should be first and foremost current or potential customers. Give your audience information that is:
Many of us spend a lot of time focusing on #2, but unless you moonlight as a stand-up comedian, writing funny/illuminating/surprising copy should be secondary to #1. Readers turn to most business blogs for answers to particular problems. Maybe they don’t have enough money for retirement; maybe they can’t get the lid off a glass jar. Whatever the problem, if it lands in your field of expertise, it behooves you to solve it.
Sometimes, you get to solve a problem by selling your reader a product or service (rubber jar openers, anyone?). More often, however, you’ll need to offer solutions for free. In doing so, you’ll build loyalty and trust in your brand. The next time a reader has a problem, they’ll know where to turn, and the solution you offer may be your product or (paid) services.
Second, the nitty-gritty best practices for blog content creation
Create evergreen content
At least 60 to 70 percent of your posts should not mention times and dates. That way, when old posts appear in search, they’ll feel relevant to potential new readers. Not all of your posts need to be evergreen—sometimes it’s helpful to post explicitly time-relevant pieces, like “How to Deal With Post-Election Stress.”
The perfect length
How long should a post be? It really depends on the style and tone of the blog’s author(s). Though some blogs successfully post very short pieces (see Seth Godin), most bloggers will do better with posts between 300 to 600 words. (According to some experts, a post needs to be at least 300 words to rank in Search, although Google denies this.) I recommend varying the lengths. If you have the skills to write 1,000+ words, do so occasionally. Other times, a short post may be exactly what’s called for.
Many blog “experts” consider the headline to be the most important part of the blog post. Whether or not this is so, it’s true that the headline is the best tool you have to lure in readers. Consider using dramatic words, “How-To” language and numbers (“3 Ways to…”). Show colleagues numerous headline possibilities and see what they find most compelling. Upworthy recommends writing 25 headlines to find the best ones and then testing the top contenders to see which gets the most clicks. While Upworthy-style clickbait virality is probably not your ultimate goal, consider trying their method to see if it works for you.
Add images to all posts. Unless you really need a particular low-quality image to demonstrate a point, only use high-quality images. These days, web users have low tolerance for fuzzy images.
When appropriate, link to past blog posts. For example: “As I mentioned in the last business blog post, all things take…” You can also just put a link at the beginning or end of each post: “Still interested? Read more about digital marketing for small businesses.”
Frequency is less important than consistency. Whether you post three times per week or once every two months, post on a regular schedule so your followers know what to expect.
Identify three to seven keywords that are both relevant per your keyword research and feel like a natural fit for the post. Remember, a keyword can be long-tail, meaning it’s actually a phrase consisting of more than three words. These keywords will also be your tags and categories—they should make sense in relation to your post.
Edit and proofread
Yes, it does matter. Not only do incorrect spelling and grammar reflect badly on your brand, Google takes both into account when it crawls your site. Remember, spell check won’t catch everything, so make sure you double- and triple-check everything before you publish.
Next in our series: SEO Tips for Business Bloggers
To read more of Jennifer Chan's work, check out her writing for the Diamond Certified blog here.