Blogging Best Practices for Small Businesses
Bid farewell to writer’s block with these tips.
The blog on a company’s website only is effective if new posts are published regularly. But for beginner bloggers, writing and publishing the first few entries can feel like an intimidating task. They sit at the keyboard and don’t know where to start.
The blog on a company’s website only is effective if new posts are published regularly.
Fortunately, there are a few simple rules to keep in mind to make blogging a successful and efficient use of small business resources. This guide to blogging best practices will help beginning and expert bloggers alike, when crafting each post, to say goodbye to writer’s block.
Focus on one topic
When brainstorming blog topics and planning a blog editorial calendar, be specific. Choose one main point, and stick to it. Remember the target audience’s comprehension level and position in the sales funnel. Each blog post should answer the questions that are relevant only at that stage. Save the rest of the information for the next entry.
Write a descriptive headline
On the web, headlines should explain exactly what the content is about. Being descriptive is more effective than being cute or clever. Web surfers have a limited attention span, and are less likely to click on an ambiguous link than one that clearly states what they’re going to see on the page. Search engines don’t understand humor or word play, either, so place keywords relevant to the content at the front of the headline, and worry less about being creative or funny.
Being descriptive is more effective than being cute or clever.
Sometimes, writing the headline first helps grease the wheels for composing a post. But some writers find it easier to make up a headline after writing the body copy.
Start with an outline
Just like when writing a research paper in high school, it’s a useful exercise to list out supporting points before composing eloquent sentences and paragraphs. It’s a good way to organize thoughts, put them in order and ensure that all the important details are included. Once this outline is complete, fill in the framework with details. This makes the writing process less intimidating, because there is no blank screen putting on pressure to fill it. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a novel. Short and sweet is sufficient, as long as the post makes a strong point.
Small business blog posts shouldn’t read like reference books, unless the subject matter is very technical in nature and this style of writing is typical for the audience and industry. Refrain from digging through the thesaurus, searching for obscure vocabulary words—write conversationally. Be especially mindful not to assume the target audience understands the technical terminology associated with an industry, and provide laymen definitions in instances where technical writing is needed. Minimize the use of jargon, and ensure that the brand voice comes through.
Refrain from digging through the thesaurus, searching for obscure vocabulary words—write conversationally.
Break it up
A long block of gray text can scare off web surfers with short attention spans. Draw in the audience using multiple “entry points,” such as subheads, bulleted lists and pull quotes. These chunks of information are designed to catch a skimming reader’s eye. Each is an opportunity to draw interest back into the content, and down the page.
Include an image
In every post, aim to add a photo, graphic or embedded video. The visual element makes the post more appealing, and when coded properly with alt tags and captions, helps search engine ranking so the entry is more likely to attract organic traffic.
Links are a helpful way to serve up related content for readers who want to learn more about a topic. Embed internal links within phrases that describe the content that the readers will see when they click, and avoid “click here” at all costs. By describing the link within the copy, it puts the link in context and is best for search engine optimization. However, avoid over-optimizing the post with multiple links all with the same keywords.
Links are a helpful way to serve up related content for readers who want to learn more about a topic.
When adding links to a blog post, keep in mind the desired behavior of the link. Internal links open other pages on the company’s website. Every time a reader views another page on the site, it’s another opportunity to convert a lead into a customer. External links open pages on other websites. When sending a reader off-site to another resource, consider setting the link to open in a new tab or window, so the company website remains open and easily accessible in the Internet browser.
Include a call to action
Once the reader’s attention is captured, encourage them to take the next step. A small business blog post should include a call to action near the bottom of the post, such as schedule an appointment, request a quote or sign up for our newsletter.
Depending on the blogging platform and website design, tags can be used to draw readers deeper into related content. If applicable, add a few tags associated with the content of each post. Tags are like labels that allow readers to easily sort blog posts to find all information on a particular topic. For example, a heating and air conditioning contractor might have these among its tags: heat pump, central air conditioning, filters, furnace repair. It’s important to create a vocabulary of tags, and use the same terminology every time, because “central air conditioning” and “central AC” will result in two separate groups of blog posts.
Tags can be used to draw readers deeper into related content.
Proofread, and get an editor
Read over each blog post carefully, a couple of times. Typos and misspellings will tarnish a small business brand’s professionalism. Everyone needs an editor, even those who make a profession of it, so ask someone else to review the piece, too, to check for errors that may have been missed and to ensure everything makes sense to someone else.
“Write it and they will come” is not how blogging works in today’s digital marketing arena. Don’t expect the target audience to revisit the blog morning, noon and night, hungry for the next publication. Consumers are busy, and there are countless media outlets vying for their precious time. Fortunately, new blog content can be pushed into a target audience’s social media feeds via paid promotion, and into inboxes via email marketing. Sharing blog posts will boost brand visibility, and if the content is relevant with the audience, blog traffic will increase.
Respond to comments
By encouraging dialogue, blogs become a conversation with the audience, further personifying a company and building relationships with customers.
Many blogging platforms can be set to notify authors when a reader comments on a post. Always reply—acknowledge the comment by thanking the reader and answering any questions or promising to follow up personally to address a concern. By encouraging dialogue, blogs become a conversation with the audience, further personifying a company and building relationships with customers.