“Blogging is good for your career. Well-executed blogs set you apart as an expert in your field.” — Penelope Trunk
The challenge many blog writers face is that they want to write a blog that their clients will love and that also markets their company. The problem is that clients are worn out by constant advertising. It’s everywhere; it’s on billboards, the radio, the TV, the internet.
If you advertise a product or service in your blog, particularly excessively, odds are that you’ll alienate your clients and over time your SEO or brand may suffer too.
Some blog authors, therefore, adopt a policy of not discussing their product or service on their blog. The problem with this approach is that the blog is unlikely to achieve the company’s overall goals, which presumably will include selling something! There’s also the risk that your blog can become irrelevant to your actual business, meaning that visitors are unlikely to associate your product with your blog.
There is a way to write a blog that both markets your product or service AND that readers will love. Simply follow the 5 rules below.
Rule #1 – Remember the objectives of your blog
“Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.”
The first thing to remember is that even if a business blog fits firmly in the role of ‘content marketing,’ its primary purpose isn’t sales. Instead, the best blogs will:
- Provide useful information and a unique angle, helping you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
- Show that your care about your customers, making your brand more trustworthy and respected.
- Help generate links to your site that will give an SEO benefit to not only the page linked to, but your site as a whole.
Rule #2 – Be abundant
The internet is full of people selling stuff. To really stand out, you have to offer information in an abundant, honest and useful way. Be willing to really go the extra mile to help your readers, recommend non-competing resources that solve related problems, share your experience and give, give, give.
This recommendation isn’t based on a personal development ethos, though it will certainly make you feel great while blogging. It’s based on solid research. All bloggers have to decide whether to write short blogs often or longer blogs less frequently, whether they’re writing a personal blog or a blog for a company. Most people assume that publishing a new post every day, or perhaps every week will get them better results than if they just post once a month and if your posts are the same quality, either way, this will inevitably be true.
The reality is that if you’re writing 2,000-word blog posts that are thoroughly researched and engaging, it’s going to take a lot longer than writing 500-word blog posts, particularly if you’re putting more effort in and creating higher quality blogs.
Luckily a whole bunch of research has been done on this subject! Backlinko analyzed a million search results on Google and found that those webpages on Google’s first page of search results have an average of 1,890 words. A study of over a thousand bloggers by Orbit Media found that bloggers who spend longest on their blogs and write over 1,500 words per post are the most likely to experience a high level of success, yet only 1 in 20 bloggers write posts over 1,500 words as standard! Read the full blogging study.
“Most bloggers publish WAY too often. The fact is, no one cares how often or how consistently you publish blog posts. The only consistency that matters is quality: if you bat 1.000 with quality, you don’t need to worry about frequency.”
In 2017, for readers to love your blog enough to share it spontaneously and for Google to see it as an authoritative source of information, fewer, more in-depth, higher quality pages, works far better than many pages that are churned out to meet an arbitrary deadline that you’ve set yourself.
Rule #3 – Offer something new
Over time blogs that have a higher Click Through Rate and that visitors are more likely to share, like and read to the end will gradually rise in Google’s search results and will start to receive more visitors because of this. This takes time, particularly for new websites, however for long-term success, you need to offer something that captivates readers’ attention and that doesn’t just replicate information that’s already out there.
Here are 15 ideas for ways to generate original blogs, to get you started:
- Create an original infographic
- Share a success story of one of your clients and promote that client for free at the same time.
- Present an in-depth case study of one possible solution.
- Interview experts in the industry and make recommendations on the combined intelligence of a group of experts.
- Compare different products with a real test, or with customer evaluations and objectively advise which is best.
- Create a video for your blog, or embed someone else’s video and talk about it.
- Find what questions customers’ ask and answer one of them in detail.
- Look at blogs in non-competing industries and draw inspiration on the overall approach from them.
- Do an analysis of your competitor’s top landing pages and if you find pages that receive lots of traffic that you feel you could write something even better for, write about it.
- Do an interview with your team.
- Write an opinion piece on what you predict for the future of your industry.
- Invite an expert to contribute a guest post to your blog.
- Add a humorous piece on how someone’s used your product or service in a strange way, how cats would use it, etc.
- Add a competition (these work best if you’ve already got a reasonable flow of traffic to your site).
- Do some keyword research and look for questions that appear in the keyword results.If a keyword like “how do I …” appears, it’s worth targeting.
Rule #4 – Know when to use your blog for marketing
So, we’ve established that the primary purpose of your blog is to build trust, strengthen your brand and generate 100% organic links to your site that you don’t even need to ask for. Are there any times when you can use blatant marketing?
The answer is ‘yes.’ In each blog post, it’s fine to include 1 or 2 links to product or service pages on your website with a short description of them. This often happens naturally as you’re writing, alternatively, you can mention it at the end of a blog post and no one will hold it against you. Typically for most of your posts, this is the only time you’ll need to mention your product.
There are three types of blog post that lend themselves more to marketing:
- Product releases – If you’ve launched a new product, then it’s fine to tell your readers’ about it!
- Events – If you’ve hosted an event, or been to an event (or perhaps are going to the event), give readers a news update about it.
- Other updates – If you have a large, already established brand, or a reasonably sized fan base (I’ll let you decide how many people this needs to be, but certainly more than your mother and your best friend), then they’re likely to be more interested in what you’re doing, therefore it would be natural to include more details of what’s happening within your company, pending product launches, new hires, etc.
Rule #5 – Blog for your customers, not for you
“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.”
To determine the balance of blog posts focusing on your company and more educational blog posts, ask yourself what do your customers want?
In some industries (music and art, for example) it’s highly likely that your readers are extremely interested in what you’re doing, who you’ve met, the latest trends, etc. And a blog that’s focused on you or your company is exactly what your readers are likely to be looking for.
In other industries (like manufacturing or an e-commerce store) visitors are often much more interested in how to solve a problem that your product just happens to fix. In this case, focus on writing blogs that provide solutions to their problems.
Putting it into practice
Start by making a firm commitment to write in-depth blog posts filled with interesting and engaging content. Ask what questions your customers have that you are ideally suited to answer, or what problems you can solve and start blogging from there.
For more details on identifying your target audience and how to structure each blog post, read Indigoextra’s guide on writing a business blog.
Content marketing of any sort takes time, however, the long-term rewards of creating a high-quality, in-depth blog are substantial.
In 2017 and beyond, as both your readers and Google get smarter, focusing on quality, abundance and depth in your blog really is the only way forward.
What is your current blog strategy? How often do you publish?