So, you’ve decided to start a business blog…kudos to you! In today’s content-driven digital landscape, blogging is one of the best strategies for driving organic traffic to your business website (and that’s just one of the many benefits a business blog can bring). However, blogging isn’t easy—that is, if you want to do it right. You don’t have to search far to find examples of how not to write a business blog. To help you avoid these pitfalls and outperform your competition, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips for making the most of your new business blog.
1. Write well. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an accountant or a plumber, your writing needs to meet certain standards if you’re going to share it with the world. Relax—no one’s expecting you to be the next Charles Dickens; on the other hand, you want to come off as intelligent. All it takes is a few unnecessary apostrophes or incomprehensible sentences to make readers second-guess your authority.
If you haven’t written in a while, it might be worthwhile to brush up on basic grammar, punctuation and narrative structure. “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. is a good (and short) guide. Of course, you can always Google things you aren’t sure about or ask a grammar-savvy colleague to give you some pointers. Just don’t neglect the fundamentals of the medium you’re working in.
2. Be relevant. Even if your posts are perfectly written, if the content isn’t useful or interesting, it’s not going to attract readers. That’s why the top aim of any business blogger should be to write about things people actually care about. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes—think of real problems and questions real people might have about your industry and use your expertise to provide insights, answers, and solutions. The more relevant your posts are to what people are searching for, the more likely they’ll be found (and read).
3. Be accurate. The great thing about the internet is that literally anyone can publically post their work. The bad thing about the internet…is that literally anyone can publically post their work. As a result of this level playing field, the web is full of information but short on authority. Since you’re an expert in your field, you already have an advantage in this respect—you know what you’re talking about, so it won’t be hard to establish your authority. However, even experts get their facts wrong sometimes, so take care to ensure you’re providing accurate information with each post. If you’re inadvertently misinforming your audience, it’s not going to reflect well on you or your business.
4. Optimize for keywords. If content is king, keyword optimization is queen, and you’ll need both if you want to reign in search results. Keywords refer to the words and phrases that people use when searching online for information or services. By identifying and utilizing relevant keywords for search queries related to your industry, you can increase the chances of people finding your posts, and by extension, your business.
Identifying keywords is no picnic—it takes quite a bit of time and research. Ideally, when you’ve finished, you’ll have a list of target keywords that you can reference and plug in to your posts. However, you don’t want to overdo it—simply stuffing your posts with keywords can actually do more harm than good, so go easy. Consider utilizing a plugin like Yoast SEO on WordPress to guide you as you learn the ropes of keyword optimization.
5. Ease up on the sales pitch. Nine times out of 10, when someone clicks on a blog post link, they’re looking for information, not a sales pitch. That’s why if you begin your posts by advertising why the reader should hire your company or buy your product, they probably aren’t going to read any further.
The paradoxical reality is that in order to increase your sales, you need to ease up on the sales pitch and instead focus on providing relevant, useful information. If you succeed at this, readers will be much more likely to consider hiring your company or buying your product, mostly because they thought of it themselves rather than having you tell them. If you do feel compelled to advertise, that’s OK—just do it at the bottom of your posts, not at the top.
6. Get specific. Many business bloggers post about broad, sweeping topics, but this isn’t necessarily the best tactic, especially for small businesses. Not only is the competition steep for broader topics (and keywords), these types of posts often aren’t very useful. In most cases, when people search online, they’re looking for answers to very specific questions, not general information. That’s why a smart blogging tactic is to dig deep and write about niche topics. For example, instead of writing a general article on how to prevent carpet stains, write about how to clean up a red wine spill. Since different types of spills require different types of cleaning methods, your article will be more useful to people who need that specific information.
Concerned that writing about niche topics will shrink your audience? It might, but that’s OK. You’re much more likely to find success by targeting a niche audience that will appreciate your posts than by aiming for mass appeal. If you cast too wide a net, there’s a good chance you won’t catch anything.
7. Think local. If your business is based in a particular location, you should be focused on showing in local search queries. After all, if you get a lot of blog hits in Milwaukee, it’s not going to do much for your upholstery repair business in San Francisco. There are a lot of ways to optimize your business for local search, such as claiming your Google My Business listing and getting your contact information consistent in all online directories, but another is to make local references in your blog posts. For example, if you’re selling awnings, talk about common architectural styles found in your area and the types of awnings that best complement those styles. Such geo-specific references will send signals to Google that your posts (as well as your business) are relevant for local searches.
8. Check twice, post once. We can’t emphasize this one enough. Everyone makes mistakes, and this is even more likely when you’re immersed in composing a piece. Missing, misspelled and misplaced words can easily sneak into your posts if you aren’t careful, so always take an additional editorial sweep before posting—preferably after taking a break so you can read it with fresh eyes. Even better, get a second pair of eyes on it by asking a friend, business partner or employee to double-check your work.
9. Pace yourself. Blogging isn’t just a one-time thing; it’s meant to be an ongoing practice. Besides giving your readers something to look forward to, posting consistently sends a signal to Google that your business blog is active and relevant, which can improve your search performance. However, as with any ongoing activity, it’s easy to get burned out if you don’t pace yourself. Instead of trying to pump out five posts in your first week, you’re better off taking your time and posting once a week or even once a month (whatever your schedule allows). Not only will you avoid burnout, your pieces will be of higher quality.
10. Watch for improvement (be patient). If you feel uneasy about your writing abilities or worry about how your posts will perform, don’t worry…just write. Blogging is like picking up a new hobby—the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Likewise, if you’re just starting your business blog, don’t expect it to make an impact overnight. It’ll likely take time to see results, but as you establish a consistent posting schedule and accumulate more content, you should gradually see an improvement in your blog’s organic search performance.
To learn more about Google, SEO and digital marketing, read our other blog posts.
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