Rome wasn’t built in a day – and similarly (if on a somewhat smaller scale!), building up a successful blog doesn’t happen overnight. As with anything, it takes hard work, determination and commitment to get a blog on its feet, and even more to build up a readership through earning the trust and respect of your audience. Here are some top tips on how to build up a successful blog for your business.
In brief – why blogging is good for business
The purpose of this post isn’t to extol the virtues of blogging, but to show you how to do it successfully. Nevertheless, I’d like to start with a brief summary of what the main advantages are, for the benefit of those who are new to the subject and to remind ourselves why it’s worth putting the effort in.
Figure out what you want your blog to achieve and who its readers will be
Let’s start at the very beginning. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from blogging, your blog is not likely to achieve success. That’s because it’s important to understand who you’re writing for and what your goals are: is your blog purely for SEO, to target long-tail keywords? If so, you’re probably missing a trick. Think about who you want your readers to be – whether they’re potential new clients or customers, other people in your industry, consumers, and so on. Your audience will dictate the whole tone, style and content of your blog, so set down your aims carefully before you do anything else.
Create your blog on your own domain
Not only does it look better and more consistent from a brand point of view, but keeping your blog on your own domain (as opposed to sticking it on an external site such as Blogger or WordPress.com) will bring maximum benefit to the rest of your site from an SEO perspective. Hosting your blog on your own site will ensure that your whole site will benefit from the extra visitors and incoming links generated from your blogging efforts, and you end up with a stronger site that will rank better for a broad range of keywords. Just a note – make sure your blog looks like the rest of your site – otherwise you risk confusing your readers.
What you write about – and how you write about it – will depend heavily on your industry, your brand tone and many other factors. But it’s important to blog regularly. I don’t mean that you should compromise quality over quantity, but a blog that hasn’t been updated for weeks or months doesn’t give a very good impression to visitors – it just looks a bit half-hearted and therefore a bit unprofessional. (Of course, it is very possible to go too far the other way and blog so often that you become annoying, or your readers can’t keep up with the sheer volume of posts you’re churning out. It’s about striking a balance.)
Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to write about – you can often repeat the same formulas (e.g. ‘Tip of the week’), and with a few one-offs thrown in, you’ve already got yourself a healthy number of posts.
Here are some ideas for blog post angles which we’ve found work well for business blogs
The importance of proofreading
I know I’m always banging on about this, but proper use of English matters. Poor grammar gives a poor impression of your site and it’s extremely unprofessional. Proofread all your posts and make sure that there are no silly errors, and furthermore, ensure that there’s no inappropriate language or anything overtly political or religious that could alienate some of your readers. Make sure that your spelling is appropriate to your audience – e.g. don’t use American spellings if you’re writing for a UK audience. Go easy on the slang, but remember that a blog is a more informal setting, so a friendly and approachable tone is appropriate.
Blog without agenda
Linking to other pages of your site is fine (and it’s good for SEO), but don’t do so in a salesy way. Of course you want your blog to tie in with what your business does, but cramming your blog with sales blurb completely defeats the object. You’ll build up a readership and earn trust much more easily if you blog for the benefit of your readers, not your own sales targets.
Get everyone involved
Try and encourage employees from different parts of your business to get involved in blogging, perhaps by offering an incentive or running a competition to see who can get the most number of views or comments on their post. Though some will be more interested in this idea than others, the fact remains that having a number of different employees contributing posts gives a good impression of your business, as it shows that the people who work for your business are interested and informed enough to want to speak out on topical issues and share advice.
Capitalise on trending topics
Keep an eye on Google Insights and Twitter trending topics to find hot topics relevant to your industry. The interest is already there, and in a wider group of people than your regular audience, so be on the ball and get ready to blog when you see a topic relevant to you that seems to be generating a lot of attention. Google loves fresh results, so you’re more likely to rank highly for up-to-the-minute blogging about a trending topic.
Knowing what time to blog
The time of day and week you blog can affect how many visitors it receives. Fridays, for example, tend to be quieter, and a post released around lunchtime will likely do better than one released at 5pm when everyone’s going home. Take a look at the Analytics for your site and figure out when your busiest periods are. You can also extend this analysis to your social media; if you’re tweeting about your blog posts and you know that some of your target audience is located in a different time zone, consider sending out a different tweet (to avoid repetition) at the peak time for that audience.
Encourage and reply to comments
Invite your readers to comment on your posts and get some discussion going. Reply personally to people who comment on your blog and ensure that you are quick to approve comments.
Promote your blog
Finally, there’s no point sticking a small link to your blog on your homepage and leaving it at that – you have to tell people about it! Direct customers and clients to your blog by mentioning it in your mailouts, encouraging visits from your social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and even mentioning it in your offline marketing material. You can also submit your blog to blog aggregator sites such as Alltop to bring in extra visitors at the same time as building links to the blog.
Do you have any tips to share for business blogging success? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter – @RachelsWritings.
Image credit – Mexicanwave on Flickr.