Business blogging is one of the most important things that you can do to market your business online. In one fell swoop, you’re able to demonstrate your expertise in your field, answer the questions that your clients have, and increase search engine visibility since blogging is great for your search engine optimization (SEO).
However, to truly experience the benefits of business blogging, you need to be able to write effective blog posts. Forget about the essay writing that you learned in school. If you write in essay format with long rambling paragraphs, you’re guaranteed to do one thing: lose your readers quickly.
Remember that you have only seconds to capture a reader’s attention online, and most readers will only scan your content. This is especially important for B2B service professionals who are trying to establish expertise in their niche. You’ll be writing for other business owners or managers who are overwhelmingly busy and don’t have too much time to spend reading your blog posts.
To get the most out of the time you spend blogging, follow these guidelines for effective business blogging:
- Get to the point: Your blog readers want to know quickly what your blog post is about. Think about it: how much time do you spend reading a blog post? If it doesn’t grab you quickly, it’s all too easy to hit the “back” button on your browser.
- Be relevant: If you’re writing for business, your readers are there for a specific purpose. They’re looking for information that you have. Provide them with that information. Don’t waste their time (or yours) by publishing posts that may or may not be relevant to their needs. Yes, this means that you need to be clear about who your ideal client is so that you know what information is relevant to them.
- Select a focus keyword: If you’re using WordPress for your website (as you should be!), make sure that the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is installed. This is a great tool that will allow you to optimize your posts. It asks you to identify a focus keyword, which can actually be a 2 or 3-word phrase, and then it will suggest to you the places that you should use the keyword to optimize the post. Using a focus keyword has a specific SEO benefit, but it also helps you as a writer because it helps keep your post focused.
- Use section headings: Section headings are useful for a couple of reasons. First, they break up the copy so that it’s easier to scan. Second, they serve as a guide for your readers because they can quickly assess what each section will be about.
- Use lists: Including lists in your blog posts helps the reader to quickly take in some of your key points. You can use either bulletted lists or numbered lists, depending upon what works best for the particular post.
- Use emphasis: In your blog post, there should be some words or phrases that deserve more emphasis than others. Using bold and italics effectively helps the reader to when she is scanning your content because certain items will stand out. Plus, it will also help her because it tells her what is most important in your post.
- Use images: Nobody wants to read a long page of unbroken text. Use images to break up your text and to support your copy. Plus, you can use keywords in your images, which will also help with SEO!
- Choose one category per post: Think of the categories for your blog like the Table of Contents of a book. There are a few main topics in a book, each of which will get its own chapter. In a similar fashion, you should only be publishing posts on a few main topics that are relevant for your audience and each of these main topics should get its own category. The purpose of the categories is to help organize the content for your reader, so be sure to choose the category that applies best for each post.
- Link extensively: Link to content both on your site and to other sites that is relevant. This helps your reader because they can follow your links to learn more about topics that you mention in your post. Plus, it’s a good SEO practice to link to your other blog posts because it creates more internal links within your site and helps the search engines to find all of the content on your site so that they can index it.
- Watch your length: No hard and fast rules exist about the length of your blog posts, but there are a couple of guidelines that you can use. Generally you wouldn’t want to have a post that is less than 300 words because usually it takes more than that to say something worth reading (unless you’re Seth Godin). Neil Patel of Quicksprout has written an interesting post about the correlation between longer copy and higher search engine rankings, with items over 1500 words tending to rank better.
- Stick to a schedule: You might find that you get really motivated one day and write three blog posts. Great! Don’t publish them all at once, though. Save them for later, because the time will come – soon – when you are too busy to blog. Rather than letting your blog languish during those super-busy stretches, you’ll be able to publish the posts that you wrote earlier. Blogging is more like a marathon than a sprint, so try to publish your content consistently. Personally, I find that for most small businesses, publishing one good post per week is manageable.
- Use an editorial calendar: When you use an editorial calendar, you plan out your blog posts in advance. The benefit is that you don’t need to spend time trying to figure out what to write about when you’re staring at a blank screen. Instead, you spend the time up front figuring out what topics are going to be most relevant to your ideal client, and then you write about those topics. It helps keep you focused and ensures that you’re blogging strategically!
Finally, provide quality content: The internet is littered with low-quality blog posts. Don’t contribute to this! Not every blog post you publish needs to meet the highest standards of literary quality, but each one should provide some useful information to your reader. Don’t be tempted to just publish anything in order to post to your blog that week, and certainly don’t think that hiring someone to write a post for $5/post will provide something valuable for your readers. Business blogging in particular requires that you write well and provide good information, since you’re representing your brand to the world. Both readers and search engines reward quality content; do this well, and both will reward you.