Blogging can be a great asset for businesses. It helps increase your search engine ranking, traffic and customer base and gives you a great medium to nurture leads. Used correctly your blog can act like a sales person for your business.

authenticstyle-The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Business Owners

In fact according to the Demand Gen Report 2016 Content Preferences Survey1

47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep

Many business owners cite time as being a barrier for them to maintain a blog. However, if you can see all the benefits you can reap from doing so you might consider giving it a go.

Blogging can help you:

  • Increase your Google ranking
  • Boost credence
  • Build a loyal following
  • Help you become an authority in your niche,
  • Increase sales
  • And give you great content to share or take snippets from for use on social media.

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What are the benefits of blogging?

Trends show that impulse purchases have decreased considerably since 2011 and are still on a downward trend.

Why’s that?

It’s no longer as easy to get all the (right) information customers need in order to be able to make informed confident buying decisions. With distraction and misinformation at an all time high, customers are making more visits in order to find about the products and services you offer and make sure that you are a trustworthy company. According to Fergal Glynn at Salesforce2

It Takes 6 to 8 Touches to Generate a Viable Sales Lead

Therefore it’s important to provide your visitors with great quality, valuable information – and a blog can be a great platform to allow you to do this.

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What should your business blog about?

So, now that you can see the benefits of blogging, what can you blog about? Some industries are easier to create content for than others.

Here’s how you should approach blogging:

  • Provide value to your user, whether it be tutorials or tips. This will educate your audience and help you achieve expert status in the eyes of your potential customers, as you’ll be as seen as the go-to expert in your industry
  • Talk about news that relates to the industry, both positive and negative and any implications that it may have for consumers
  • Showcase projects you have or are in the process of working on
  • Answer FAQs
  • Highlight company news and offers

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Coming up with ideas

A great way of coming up with article ideas (and saving time) is to keep a content idea spreadsheet. Brainstorm ideas with your team and create a spreadsheet with them all, then schedule time each week to write a post on one of the topics. This is a great way to increase productivity, as you cut out the deliberation time.

Consistency is key to blogging, so try and set an attainable posting goal that you can stick to. A pro tip is to segment your list into micro topics and alternate subjects to provide a great variety of content for your readers.

Don’t underestimate the title!

Your blog posts should be optimised for search engines. Before you start writing though, it’s a good idea to do a keyword check using Google’s keyword planner to find a popular phrase and then your angle.

Choosing a title is very important, as even the most simple changes in wording can affect how your post will do. Use uninspiring words and your post is doomed to underperformance. However, using emotive, quantitative and powerful headlines will ensure it gets clicked and read.

Think of it like this: Your title is the advert for your post (much the same way newspapers do). You got to use those characters wisely in order to sell your article your readers! It’s usually a good idea to write your title before your article so it perfectly indicates what the article is about.

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How to approach writing. Best Practices.

There are two ways to approach article writing, the first and favourite in the eyes of the search engines, is to create long form articles around 2000 words in length. The other approach is to keep your articles short and sweet so that they’re easily digestible. We find it extremely helpful to block out the article in bullet point form and then dedicate a paragraph to each point, but see what works well for you.

In terms of paragraph length, keep these to maximum of four lines where possible and use great quality related imagery to break up the article.

Formating your blog post is important to, so always assign your article headings <H2> (heading 2) or <H3> (heading 3), as this will show Google the content contained in these headings is important. AND it has the added bonus of making your article scannable, as visitors will often skim through your article to check if it’s relevant.

In terms of tone, your articles should be kept conversational. You don’t want an overly corporate tone, as it’ll switch off the reader. Our tip would be to write like you talk, as this will make your copy informal and as long as you can come up with thoughts worth sharing, it makes the writing process easier for you too.

Finally, if you really want your article to resonate, include quotes from industry experts to help back up your points, but always be sure to link back to the source.

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Wanna crank it up a notch? Consider adding video

Video is king. If you can film a professional looking video of yourself or one of your team members going over the points in your article, it’s a great thing to do. Video has the highest engagement out of all the content types. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, but adding video to your posts and sharing them on social media is sure to increase your traffic and engagement.

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Optimising for search

Once you’ve written your article you should spend some time optimising it for Google as articles you create in your blog will likely become entry points into your website from Google searches. Try to work in your keyword in the <H2>, <H3> and in the paragraph text. The key is to make sure you include your key phrase throughout your article without it compromising the readability of your work. At the end of the day Google wants to see natural copy, so don’t go crazy.

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Use your business blog for lead nurturing

67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more. (Demand Gen Report, 2014)4

The whole point of the blog on your site is that you can use it as a means of driving traffic to your website. Once you’ve got the traffic coming to your site you obviously want to convert those visitors into leads. A great way to ensure repeat visits is to ask for emails.

Now we’re not talking about a ‘subscribe to the newsletter’ approach here, as there’s no huge value to the user.

The way to get leads is by offering a gift in exchange for the visitors email address. We call this a “lead magnet” and it could be a free guide, a resource, a money off code etc. Then once they’re on your list you can serve them useful related content, for example, links to your recent related articles, insider-only information, offers – the list goes on.

The easiest way to incorporate a lead magnet into your blog is to include it as a “call to action” block at the bottom of all your blog articles. If the guide provides enough value, people will be happy to provide their name and email to download it.

If you need help setting this up, just let us know.

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Social media and business blogging

Integrating social media into your blogging strategy is really important. Firstly, it’s a great idea to have social share buttons on each post to encourage visitors to share the article. Secondly, it’s a great idea to for you to actually share your posts on your business’s social media accounts too – this means manually posting them to your company Facebook and Twitter accounts. One great tool to help you automate this process is Buffer – check it out.

A more advanced technique is to go and step further and create micro-content. This is essentially pulling great excerpts out of your post and turning it into a quote or a video that you can then share on social media with a link back to your full article. The great thing about this is that it’s easy to do. Once you’ve got the content written, you only have to read through and find great snippets.

Updating posts to keep them relevant

Not all of your followers are going to see every single piece of content you create, so in order to prevent an article becoming stagnant very quickly after it’s initial publication, keep sharing snippets and update it with the latest stats or news to keep it relevant!

So there you have it

While we acknowledge that it can take a lot of time, it can be a very valuable strategy. Google now places high emphasis on freshness and relevance, blogs help you to better benefit from the new algorithm. Another point to remember is that you must write for your audience, not the search engines. If people stay and read for a few minutes, Google will see your content as being high quality.

According to search metrics, the average dwell time for top results is 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Increasing that time will give search engines the nod that your content is high quality and is exactly what visitors are looking for.

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