When done correctly, business blogging generates reliable leads and boosts your bottom line.
Take this stat:
Ignitespot reports that 61% of customers have made a purchase based on reading a blog post.
But for many businesses getting started with a blog, they focus on creating content, not creating content strategically and profitably.
In this post, I'll show you how to blog effectively, including all the components and features necessary to bring in your audience — and then push them to your premium content, convert into leads, and close into customers.
1. Organize posts into topic categories
SEO is moving in a different direction than ever before. Search engines are smarter. Consumers want a better reading experience.
Keyword matching is becoming a thing of the past. Now blogging is all about semantics and creating a good user experience.
How can you set up your blog for SEO success?
Write your blog posts around topic categories.
Categories separate your blog posts into different buckets. This appeases search engines by showing Google that you're an "authority" in different topics, and can approach a topic from many different angles.
This also makes it easy for your audience to browse other content that's relevant to their interests, getting them stuck in your web content... which increases the chance of eventual conversion into leads.
For example, if you sell vacation packages, your main blog categories might include:
- Family vacations
- Work vacations
- Couples vacations
Within those categories, you could identify several blog topics for each category:
- Family vacation planning
- Family vacation tips
- Family vacation destinations
And within each of those topics, you should cover a variety of blog posts:
- "10 Best Resources for Family Vacation Planning"
- "Is it Time to Hire an Agent for Family Vacation Planning?"
You end up with a tree made up of branches that structure your website, your content, and your user experience.
An effective blog topic strategy is not only good for SEO and for your readers... it also helps you craft an internal writing plan.
Once you have a set of categories, you can plan out a series of related blog posts that mark you as an authority figure on the topic category.
And since organic traffic is often the most qualified source of leads, you'll be setting up your blog to attract the right people who are ready to convert.
How many categories should you create?
I'd recommend creating anywhere from five to seven overarching categories, and a handful of topics within each category.
With blog categories, don't be the jack of all trades and master of none — stick to what you know best in the industry, and cover it exhaustively.
When deciding on category names, make your categories unique from one another and use creative (but clearly identified) names.
2. Write a relevant title that your personas will click
You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a blost post by its title — and your prospects will.
A boring, so-so title will not earn you many clicks. But a deceiving, over-promising and catchy title will not earn you many readers sticking around, either.
Where is the sweet spot?
Create a title that your audience will be interested in enough to click on from search engines and social media.
I highly recommend a headline tool like CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer to make that happen. Pop in a handful of ideas and see what earns you the highest score.
Many bloggers will tell you to spend half your time writing your blog and the other half crafting your title.
As for me?
I've found creating a title for your blog before you begin writing the meat of your post to be extremely helpful — and I probably spend 20 minutes creating the perfect one.
For example, this blog was originally titled, "What Makes the Perfect Business Blog Post."
However, with some research and rewriting, I was able to go back and optimize my title:
BEFORE: "What Makes the Perfect Business Blog Post"
AFTER: "How to Blog Effectively: The Anatomy of the Perfect Business Blog Post"
This set me up for success with a search-optimized keyword and a more intriguing, clickable title.
Here are three considerations you should optimize for:
- SEO Friendly – Will your audience be searching for keywords and phrases that are in your title?
- Enticing – Does it hold verbiage and finesse that make it stand out from the crowd?
- Relevant – Does your blog content deliver on the promise it made in the title?
3. Focus on writing educational content
Many writers get wrapped up in the notion of writing content solely for the search engines.
The truth is, if you write for your buyer personas or your targeted audience, you will climb the winding road of Google ranks.
Write for the searcher, not the search engine.
When writing for your personas, the objective is to answer whatever it is they're struggling with. You can do this in several ways:
- Listen in for their pain points on different social media channels you either know or believe they're visiting. (Here are six social monitoring tools to track the right conversations.)
- Interview customers and ask what they struggled with before working with you.
- Search a problem you think prospects are asking into your own Google search, and see what related results or phrasings come up.
- Ask your sales team which problems and hesitations arise in sales calls, demos, or assessments.
There are many sites and services to help you with this listening.
But previous customers are one of your most useful assets in tracking which of your blogs are working and why. If you know from experience that people are seeking out specific answers to your industry's product or services, write about it!
4. Upload images that matter
Your business blog needs images because your audience craves them!
According to a post by Buffer, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without.
A great start for adding images to your posts is placing one overarching photo above the "fold," or the part of the website that's immediately visible without scrolling.
What kind of photo will work effectively for your blog?
Find an image that:
- Summarizes the general idea or scope of your blog post
- Entices the reader to wonder "why?" with the hopes of reading your post to find out
- Doesn't resemble every other boring, suit-and-tie stock photo (Try thestocks.im for free, fresh images.)
Other images can and should be used in the body of your post, but only if it's relevant to your content. If any images lack relevancy or appear superficial, don't use them.
Having trouble finding free, relevant images from sites like CreativeCommons or PhotoPin? Or just lack the design skills necessary to create a custom image using Adobe tools?
I would highly recommend Canva.
It's a freemium drag and drop tool that allows you to start with a template or start from scratch to create brilliant images without needing a design background. I've found it phenomenal for creating text-heavy images to use on social media, even if I've found an image that works well for the blog post.
5. Make social sharing easy
To blog effectively, you need to generate buzz around your posts. Your blog traffic should outlive your initial promotional push.
How can you do this?
Besides organic traffic and semantic keyword targeting, you should make social sharing easy for the reader.
The blog posts with the best content and fewest obstacles to sharing will always have the greatest number of readers.
We personally use HubSpot's social media tools, but companies like Addthis have freemium tools that give your site options for social sharing buttons.
You should social share buttons at the top of your post to act as "social proof," or confirmation that others have liked your post already.
You should also include these alongside your post or at the bottom, so a reader can share once they're done reading.
Another great way to help with social media and extending your content's reach is using tweetable buttons that are embedded in your post hosting great snippets of content or statistics you feel your audience would want to quickly share.
Clicktotweet allows for creation of these buttons for Twitter and curates analytics to see how often these buttons are being clicked and shared.
6. Pair posts with calls-to-action
Blogging effectively is actually including components that take people off of your blog, and move them farther down your marketing funnel.
That's where the call-to-action comes in.
Just how important are calls-to-action to your business blog success?
CTA buttons are the most important component to optimizing your blog for lead generation.
You create blogs to attract your audience through education and you design quality, but relevant CTAs to move your visitors to your landing page. This is where you will grab valuable lead information if you have the right landing page form.
You should choose language that compels readers to action, and test your language to find out what drives the most relevancy and conversions, like in this example:
Your CTA should be simple, relevant, and to-the-point. Choose a premium content offer that has something to do with your blog post subject, driving them from one interest to the next.
Also, experiment with different kinds of CTAs. HubSpot's data-driven bloggers found that using an in-text CTA actually captured over 40% of leads (much better than a typical graphic CTA at the end.
Design your CTA with text that details why they will want to learn more from that specific offer.
7. "Subscribe to Blog" Buttons
Building your monthly blog views starts with building your blog subscriber base.
Email subscriptions will be the best way to turn subscribers into leads by sending emails with snippets and links to the additional content after they've subscribed.
When doing email subscriptions, make sure you give them options to how often they want to receive your emails:
- Each time a new blog is published
- A weekly summary of new blog posts
- Monthly summary of new blog posts
In a perfect world, all of our subscribers would read the minute we publish them to help with things like SEO rank.
But giving readers the option to choose your frequency will increase your subscriber rates. Your audience is in control, so give them the power to receive content the way that suits them best.
Other than email subscriptions, you can use Feedly to engage new readers with your post.
To make it as easy as possible for your readers to engage, make sure to attach a "read more" piece of code so your Feedly audience will come to your site when they wish to view your posts.
If the entire post is available to read on Feedly, these views won't count towards your analytics; you'll have no way of knowing if these users are reading your articles.
Tip: If you're having trouble adding this using a blogging platform, here's the easy piece of code to add wherever you want your post to break and jump to another page: <!--more-->
8. Include author bios
Part of learning how to blog effectively is learning how to create editorial authority — and likeability.
Having a brief introduction to your author is a great method to increase comments and simply make your content more human. This gives your reader a face to the text and builds credibility as well.
People want to talk and listen to other people. If we're seeking to educate our readers, give them a teacher by highlighting a photo of the author, their name, a short and fun bio, and social media buttons where the readers can connect.
Remember to add some personality to these!
The following are great author bios used by HubSpot bloggers:
Do your bios need to be super entertaining?
Not necessarily, especially if your industry runs a little more serious.
But add text that your readers can relate to. You want blog readers to say to themselves, "This person seems very interesting! I would love to read more of what they have to say."
Your blog is one of the most important assets to attract your right audience and convince them to stick around, subscribe, and convert into leads.
To keep your business blog optimized for success, you'll want to incorporate all eight of these components into your blog structure.
For more tips on generating leads with your business blog, grab our free eBook below!