The 5 Critical Criteria for Business Blogs

Every 24 hours, 2 million blog posts are published online, according to MBAOnline.com. That’s enough information to fill Time magazine for 770 years! Clearly, the secret is out that business blogging helps brands establish positive search-engine optimization, build an audience and generate leads.

As companies increasingly turn to custom content management, one of the challenges for marketers is creating a blog that stands out in our era of content abundance. Here are five ways to ensure your content strategy stays on the right track.

1. Be Authoritative

Your prospects hate thin, poorly-written and ill-thought-out content—and major search engines do too. If your blog posts aren’t adding any value to the web, or even worse, your content strategy simply consists of rewriting other companies’ blog articles, you might as well not be online at all.

Be original and establish a reputation as a thought leader, and your blog’s following will soar. As Matt Cutts, head of Google’s spam-fighting team, puts it in a Stone Temple Consulting blog post: “By doing things that help build your own reputation, you are focusing on the right types of activity.” The following tips can help you increase your digital influence:

Write with depth. Your content needs to delve beyond a surface look at issues and topics in your industry. Length is a pain point among many bloggers, and unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a simple, cut-and-dried response to how long your blog content should be. Leading marketing blogger Seth Godin often writes content between 100-200 words, while many other quality bloggers hover between 1,000-1,500 words on average. Take as long as you need to provide value to you readers, but don’t end before you’ve covered the topic well.

Include a variety. Republishing the same thoughts, statistics and ideas repeatedly won’t do your company any favors. Use various approaches, sources and mediums to create a rich variety of content within your industry.

Be relevant. Newsjacking is gaining steam among marketers as a way to potentially gain viral shares and views. Be the first to cover hot topics that relate to your company’s focus, and you could find your blog analytics skyrocketing. 

2. Maximize Keyword Strategy

The notion of keyword research leaves a bad taste for many business bloggers due to the negative connotation of companies who focused on positive SEO above quality content in years past. The good news is that Google and other major search engines are working harder than ever to reward brands who take the time to develop high-value business blogs.

According to Pew Internet research, 91 percent of online adults are currently using search engines regularly, with product and service discovery being one of the top reasons. About 53 percent of organic search clicks go to the top result, according to compete.com. If your company isn’t on the first page of Google, you might as well not be online at all.

Keyword research should seek out terms that are driving the highest volume of search among your prospects. By identifying their top queries and questions, you can discover how to blog for positive SEO and rank on the first page of search results.

3. Include Multimedia

About 40 percent of people just respond better to visual information than plain text. Publishers who use infographics grow their traffic 12 percent faster than their peers who rely on text-only posts, while blog posts with video rack up three times more inbound links. If your content strategy is focused solely on just writing, you could be missing out on engaging a whole segment of your prospects who prefer infographics, video, podcasts or slideshows to reading text. While tactics for adding pretty visual elements to your posts are only as limited as your imagination, here are a few favorites:

Videos. Even if your company lacks the budget and equipment to film Oscar-winning movies, there’s no excuse for not having custom video content. One of the best-known viral video series on the web, Blendtec’s Will it Blend? campaign, consists of little more than the company’s CEO, the product and some zany antics.

Slideshare. Creating a visually-optimized PowerPoint presentation may be even quicker than writing blog posts, and using Slideshare to embed the content in your blog is easy. This could significantly increase your brand’s exposure, according to ComScore research, which found that the content-sharing network receives more traffic from business owners than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Spotlight your fans. Your brand’s best visual-content creators might be paying customers. Use your blog and social media channels to spotlight contributions, from Instagram photos to Vine Videos.

4. Form a Community

There’s a reason why consumers increasingly choose to learn through blogs, instead of print magazines and books. Blogs can be a community, often with the biggest value to readers and authors coming from the dialog in the comments. It’s up to you to learn how to blog while creating an open community where people can talk, debate and learn.

Community management has become a popular buzzword and a profession in its own right, and it’s difficult to build relationships and maintain them. According to digital marketing strategist Chris Brogan, “It matters that you comment on [your community’s] stuff. It matters that you notice when they get a promotion or change roles. … This isn’t really hard, but it takes work.”

Hitting publish on your blog posts is just the beginning, and building time into your day to truly build a connection with your readers isn’t optional. Here are some ways you can build genuine relationships:

Be a leader. There are bloggers who turn off comments, and companies who take on the role of a community leader. Your audience will follow your lead, and if they see that you’re not interested in dialogue, they’ll be far less likely to initiate it. Let your brand personality shine through in the comments.

Ask questions. Sometimes the best way to spark dialogue around a controversial post is to ask readers what they think, and invite them to share.

Answer questions. Use your readers’ real-life questions as a starting place for blog content. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has a successful, ongoing “Speed Posting” series, based around questions he receives in comments and on social media channels: One reader question and three minutes to answer.

Invite readers to be leaders. You might not be an expert on every topic your blog covers. That’s okay. Let your readers answer questions in the comments, and invite your audience to contribute guest content.

5. Promote Others

Business bloggers struggle to produce enough material, according to a Content Marketing Institute survey. Creating enough content is the biggest challenge for 64 percent, while 51 percent don’t always create sufficient variety to engage website visitors.

 

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