How to Write a Successful Blog for Your Small Business
- 5th September 2016
As we continue to hear more and more about how Google is looking for fresh, relevant and popular content above all other ranking factors for websites we thought we would take a look at how you can create a successful blog for your small business.
‘Blog’, ‘Articles’, ‘Latest News’, ‘Reviews’ or whatever you want to call the section of your business website that you will update on a regular basis, this will be one of your key marketing focuses for 2016. So what are the main factors in creating unique and popular content that will help your business stand out from the rest on the internet?
Before we get into the main content of this article we would like to make it understood that we are referring to ‘blog posts’ and ‘articles’ as the same thing. In their true dictionary definitions there are some subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between the two but the term ‘Blog’ has come to mean any section of a website where pages or posts are added regularly to keep visitors informed and entertained so that is what we will take as our meaning through this article.
Dedicate Time and Resources
We know that this is easier said than done, especially if you run a small business or are a Sole Trader, but dedicating a regular time slot or member of staff is one way to make sure you stick to generating high quality content for your website. If you really can’t spare the time then you might also consider paying a Content Marketing Specialist or article writing provider to do this for you.
That said, you should also be prepared to be flexible. If the ‘big news’ in your industry is announced today and everyone is talking about it on Social Media then writing about it in three weeks time could mean missing your opportunity to demonstrate your expertise on the subject.
Choose a Topic
Choosing what to write about isn’t easy but there are some blog/article types that work more effectively than others and also produce different results in Search Engines and on Social Media.
- Timeless Classic – This type of article stands the test of time and allows you to create content that will be visited time and time again. For example a gardener may write about when is the best time to plant your bulbs or prune your hedges.
- Of The Moment – If your industry is buzzing with an important piece of news then seize the opportunity to write about it and share through Social Media. This type of article will be ‘high impact’ as visitors search out information about the hot topic but may be visited less and less as the chatter dies down.
- Answer a Question – Search Engines are used to ask questions and your articles or blog posts can provide the answers. This type of article can help to demonstrate your industry knowledge and promote you as an expert in your field.
- Reviews – You don’t have to sell products to publish reviews. You never know what people are seeking reviews about! For example, you may have bought a new chair for your office or a laptop for working from home and other people may well value your opinion when they are thinking about buying the same product. Of course reviews don’t have to be about products but perhaps services you have used recently. The one word of caution is to keep it objective and don’t write in anger. If you want to air your views about poor service or an inferior product then perhaps leave a review on the provider’s website rather than reaching for your business blog.
- Good News Stories – Received an award? Had exceptional customer feedback? Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity? Taken on an apprentice? Launching a new product or service? These are all great topics for blogs and articles.
Do Some Research
Before you start to plan out your article or blog post it is a good idea to do some research. Use Search Engines to see what others have written on the same topic, check (and double-check) any facts and figures you intend to use to illustrate your point, find appropriate supporting quotes from other industry experts and to make sure that everything you write is accurate and fair.
Of course your own opinions may form a portion of the article but you don’t want to find yourself retracting half of your article due to inaccuracies that could have been avoided in the first place.
Plan Your Article
Before you fire up your laptop just take some time to plan out what it is you want to say or the message you want to convey. A lot of time can be wasted by not grabbing a notebook and pencil (old fashioned, we know) and jotting down some notes about the topic, target audience and eventual conclusion that you will draw.
This could simply be some section headers that you will work to and should only take a few minutes but believe us when we say that it will really help you not to wander off topic and end up making several rewrites of the same article.
Develop Your Style
Often referred to in marketing circles as ‘Tone of Voice’ you should try to develop your own writing style and stick to it. Remember that what you say and how you say it reflects on your business.
People buy from people and they will return to your website again and again if they like your style. On the other hand, if your blog posts feel eclectic in style then readers won’t know where they stand and may not return at all.
The style you choose may be light-hearted and conversational or serious and informative, but whatever style you end up adopting, consistency is the key to building an audience.
Use Sections and Headings
You may hear some people say that there is an optimum word-count for an internet article but we find that difficult to believe (or understand). What we would urge you to do is think about your readers and try not to present them with large ‘blocks’ of text.
Break your content into manageable ‘chunks’ with clear headings so that readers can easily find the section that interests them and are not put off by the prospect of reading paragraphs and paragraphs of text with no discernible breaks.
Not Just Text
Images and (if possible) video can be used to enhance your blog posts and articles. Well designed Infographics can be used to illustrate a point or photographs used to enhance a story and the presence of images or videos in an article can serve to hold the reader’s attention or improve their understanding.
Come to a Conclusion
If you don’t present a conclusion then it can leave your readers feeling cheated or that you haven’t taken the time to round up your article and this can have a profoundly negative effect. It need only be a few words but a conclusion is as an important part of your article as an introduction or the main content.
We all make mistakes and there is a good chance that you won’t have had a lot of experience in writing articles for publishing. You will find that readers are quite willing to forgive the odd grammatical or spelling error but an article littered with these can be tough to read and understand. Check your article through a few times to cut out any silly mistakes.
One technique we would certainly advocate is not publishing straight away but returning to your article a few hours after writing for one final check. This is because you can become ‘word blind’ when writing an article and your brain ends up reading the word you intended rather than what you have actually written.
If you are lucky enough to have a colleague, family member or friend who is willing to proof read your work the make use of them. It is also wise to take constructive criticism on board, not take it personally and make changes where appropriate to demonstrate to your proof reader that working with you will be rewarding and not a chore or battle.
Make Sharing Easy
Having ‘Share’ buttons on your articles or blog posts is a must. Nearly all of the Social Media platforms offer some ‘plug and play’ code options for sharing buttons or you could make your own of course.
Another option you might consider is a service such as AddThis which will also provide sharing statistics for your pages.
Make Sharing Effective
If you are already signed up for Twitter Cards or have explored the possibilities of Open Graph Data or Schema Markup for Google Plus then you will know that when people share your content you can make sure those shares have the maximum impact.
For example, you can help the likes of Facebook and Google Plus to select the correct thumbnail image or introduction snippet when your pages and posts are shared by including some simple code or ‘Meta Tags’ in the headers of your pages. Twitter Cards can enhance your shared page links with a summary and thumbnail image which does not count towards the 140 character limit on Tweets. If you are not sure about how to do this then contact your local web designers and ask them about it.
To Comment or Not To Comment?
Comments on articles or blog posts is a tricky one. Some people argue that commenting is a must but we are of the opinion that it is not a necessity and the pros (interaction, new opinions and keeping the article fresh) must outweigh the cons (time taken moderating and replying) for comments to be worthwhile including.
Writing and managing a successful blog or articles section on your website isn’t easy but it is incredibly important. Your website must be kept up-to-date for both Search Engines and returning visitors. We think if you follow our simple guide then you can really get to grips with effective Content Marketing in 2016!