When done right, a business blog can market your company, attract new customers and position you as an industry leader. Unfortunately, many businesses start blogging without any clear idea of what to write about or how it will market their company. As a result, business blogging often takes up time and energy without producing any benefit.
If you have a business blog that isn't pulling its weight, follow these seven tips to create a marketing tool that promotes your business and builds relationships with customers and colleagues.
1. Define your audience
You would never run a magazine ad or a TV commercial without knowing what type of person will see it. Similarly, you should never write a blog post without knowing who your intended readers are.
These readers should be your target customers – the people most likely to be searching for and interested in learning about your business. If you don't yet have a defined audience, take the time to create a reader profile based on what you know of your ideal customers. In this profile, include:
- Who your readers are
- What they care about
- Their related interests
- Questions they are likely to ask
- Problems your business can help them solve
Knowing this will help you choose topics to write about and create a blog that your customers will care about. [Interested in finding e-commerce software for your business? Check out our best picks.]
2. Create an editorial calendar
Customers, blog readers and search engines all like predictability. If you start writing, but then don't post for several weeks, readers are less likely to come back and see what else you've written. A website that publishes infrequently won't rank as high in search engines, making it less likely that customers will find you through online search.
It's hard to publish regularly, though, if you are struggling to think of things to write about or forgetting that your blog exists. To prevent this, create an editorial calendar that lays out a plan for what you will write and when it will be published. [Read related story: Can You Plan an Entire Year's Worth of Content In an Hour?]
The frequency of your posts doesn't matter as much as the quality and consistency. Publishing one well-written, relevant blog post every two weeks will market your business better than publishing poor-quality posts every day or forgetting to write for months at a time.
3. Brainstorm keywords for each post
If you want customers to find your website when they search online, your blog posts must include related phrases that customers might type into a search engine.
Before you write each post, brainstorm these phrases (known as "long-tail keywords") so they can be included in your writing. For example, if your company provides accounting services to small and mid-size businesses, your customers may search for "small business accounting tips." Aim for one main keyword and two or three secondary keywords that are relevant to the topic you are writing about.
4. Optimize your posts for search
Optimizing your blog posts for online search (also known as search engine optimization or SEO) means adding signals that tell search engines what your post is about. When search engines read these signals, they can direct relevant traffic to your website.
Adding keywords in the right places optimizes your blog post for search. The main keyword that you select should be found in the post's title, at least one heading and once or twice in the body of the blog posts. Secondary keywords should appear in headings and the body of the post.
When you include these keyword in your post, they should appear as naturally as possible. Do not add keywords randomly or in sentences where they don't fit organically; this is known as "keyword stuffing" and signals to search engines that your site is not trustworthy.
The written post isn't the only place where you should use keywords. They should also be appear in the:
- URL of your post
- Blog post title
- Image names
- Image descriptions
- Meta-description of your post's content
By optimizing all these places, you send multiple signals to search engines and make it easier for them to direct customers to your blog.
5. Tie your blog to your other marketing
Though its effect is often indirect, blogging is still a form of marketing. It should be tied in with your overall marketing strategy to have the strongest possible impact.
If you are advertising a sale on your social media or email marketing, include it on your blog as well. If your business is mentioned in the media or you appear on a TV spot or radio show, put that in a blog post and include a link so that visitors can see those appearances.
If you rebrand your business or change your website, your blog should change along with them.
Are you launching a product? Write several blog posts on related topics and publish them in the weeks leading up to the launch to generate interest and help customers understand how the new product will benefit them.
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6. Network within your industry
In addition to building relationships with customers and directing new visitors to your website, your blog can also help establish your reputation within your industry and help you network. Blog posts that create network opportunities include:
- Interviews with industry leaders
- Findings from customer surveys
- Links to round-ups that share your colleagues' (credited) posts and images
- Information about industry-wide events
- Relevant news stories or trending topics
- Collaborations with other businesses
When you create and share content that is relevant to your broader industry, other businesses are likely to share it as well, creating the opportunity to build professional relationships. This also increases the reach of your blog, putting your business in front of a new audience and making it more likely that you will be noticed by the media.
7. Blog with care and intent
Customers want to know that you care about your business. More importantly, they want to know that you care about solving their problems. This means that, no matter the topic of your business blog, your posts should communicate your investment in your business and customers.
By planning out relevant, helpful posts, you show that you understand the needs and concerns of your customers. A carefully written blog communicates that you value their time and want to help them. Sticking to a regular schedule shows that you are thoughtful and attentive. All of these are qualities that customers want to see in a business.
A poorly-written blog, however, indicates that you don't value your readers' time. Posts that don't address the interests of your customers show that you haven't thought through how your business can help them. Haphazard posting make your business look scattered or disorganized. Bad grammar or poor editing make you look unprofessional.
Not every business needs a blog. But if your business has one, it will be more effective if it is planned with intent and written with care.