A well-written and consistently updates business blog is a vital core element of a successful content marketing program. As noted below, blogs are among the most effective tools for increasing website traffic, generating leads, and acquiring customers. Yet blogging requires considerably less expense and effort than other top marketing tactics like live events, webinars, and video.
What are the key elements of a successful business blog? How can you plan a consistent stream of compelling post topics? What are the most effective techniques for crafting killer headlines and gripping copy? How can you increase your content marketing footprint through guest blogging?
Find the answers to those questions and more here in almost two dozen of the best guides to business blogging strategy and tactics of the past year.
Two Guides to Business Blogging Benefits
Why the Company Blog is More Important Than You Think by Business2Community
According to recent research reported on by Business.com, “Three of the top (marketing) tactics (in-person events, webinars and video) require significantly more resources to deliver”than business blogs, though “compared to these three tactics, blogging is relatively cheap and easy to produce; and as a bonus, it provides a nimble and consistent message platform.” As if that isn’t enough, this post details four more “benefits an authentic company blog can deliver to the organization, beyond the top line” that make the effort required to maintain a high-quality, relevant blog presence worthwhile.
It really shouldn’t be necessary at this point to “sell” top executives on the concept of business blogging, but for those still struggling, Kapil Jekishan supplies “ten of the most persuasive statistics you can bring to the presentation you’re no doubt already preparing for your boss,” including the impacts of blogging on website traffic and customer acquisition, its advantages over advertising, and big-company validation: “Fortune 500 companies have never had reputations as early adopters, but even they have been forced into the business blogging arena to compete for customers”—which is why the percentage of Fortune 500 firms that blog more than doubled from 2008 to 2013.
Six Blogging Strategy Guides
Six Crucial Attributes of a Successful Business Blog by MarketingProfs
Michael Gerard details six attributes needed to “to launch and sustain a successful business blog” based on an analysis of more than 400 blogs at the 10,000+ visitors-per-month level. One noteworthy piece of advice: the best content marketers “market their marketing” though social channel, promotional tactics, collaboration with other internal teams, and tapping into “paid media such as Outbrain, Disqus, Taboola, and other types of promotional services.”
Corporate blogging guide: strategy and tips by i-SCOOP
***** 5 STARS
J-P De Clerck provides an outstanding detailed guide to corporate blogging, including consideration of various corporate marketing goals for a company blog, a look at 14 business blogging success factors, and an infographic loaded with statistics and facts about why blogging matters, e.g.: 128 million Americans read blogs; 57% of companies have acquired customers through their blogs; and companies that blog regularly have better relationships with their customers.
29 Musts You Need to Do Before Launching Your Blog by SteamFeed
DJ Thistle writes that building a successful blog “takes preparation, time, promotion, commitment, constant education, and most of all awesome”—and by that last word, he means following these two-dozen-plus recommendations, from starting with 10-12 posts in the bank to periodically creating evergreen content to connecting with “like-minded bloggers and influencers,” building an email list, and more.
B2B Blogging: Beyond the Basics by MLT Creative on SlideShare
This presentation from Billy Mitchell and the team at MLT Creative covers the benefits of blogging, how to keep company politics out of business blogging (“Everything starts with strategy. The blog must be aligned to strategy or you are doomed”), how to create a blogging strategy, how to get people inside and the company engaged with the blog, how to drive conversions, and more.
The State Of Blogging 2014 [Research – Charts] by Heidi Cohen
***** 5 STARS
First, yes, the helpful facts and statistics in this post still apply in 2015. Among the actionable treasures from Heidi Cohen here: the average blog post is 800 words—but the ideal length of a search-optimized blog post is 1,500 words. And 54% of bloggers say they publish at least weekly—but “to generate leads from your blog, the sweet spot for is 2-3 times per week according to HubSpot.”
30 Tips to Freshen-up & Rock Your Blog in 2014 by Pam Moore
These tips still work for 2015! Pam Moore details “30 tips to freshen up and rock your website,” starting with defining your objectives and audience and progressing through refreshing your content, creating an editorial calendar, inviting contributions from guest bloggers, engaging your audience (bring site visitors “in closer with social links, surveys, video, comment plug-ins, audio”) and more.
Two Guides to Generating Blog Topic Ideas
Stuck for post topic ideas? Amanda Gallucci provides more than six dozen ideas to kickstart your creativity, organized into 15 categories including tools (e.g., “Create a video tutorial that walks people through how to use a tool for a specific task”), lists, internal resources (“Find out what questions your account managers get asked most frequently. Put together a blog post or other resource that lays out the answers”), events, and “out of the box” ideas.
This Is One Of The Best Sources of Blogging/Social Media Information by Joshua Wilner
Joshua Wilner sings the praises of the Support section at WordPress.com, which provides answers to both common and not-so-common questions, “ideas and information about how to use social tools on your blog so that you can drive more traffic,” resources and information about how to change the appearance of your blog, and other do-it-yourself blogging resources.
Nine Blog Writing Guides
Kevan Lee outlines “the 7 essential elements of a perfect blog post,” from how to write the perfect headline (‘Readers tend to absorb the first three words of a headline and the last three words…[but] of course, few headlines will be six words long in total. In those cases, it’s important to make the first three words and the last three words stand out as much as possible”) to how to optimally use subheads, time your posts, and plan killer post topics.
No Time to Blog? 11 Tips to Create Content Faster by Blue Kite Marketing
Writing that “although many businesses see the benefits of it content marketing, they struggle with committing the time it takes to create content on a regular basis,” Laura Click serves up 11 “quick tips to help you create blog content quickly and easily,” such as recording short videos, publishing infographics, and re-purposing content (“Every company produces tons of content every day—it just might not be in the form of a blog post. Take a look around and see how you can re-purpose emails, FAQs, presentations, etc.”).
30 Stellar Blog Tips For Posts Your Audience Loves by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen (again) lists 30 useful “blog tips for creating blog posts your audience loves to read,” such as design factors, use of images (“Take the time to ensure your images support your blog goals”), utilizing other content formats like video and presentations, crafting concise headlines, and focusing on helpful content over self-promotion (though using calls to action where appropriate is fine).
23 Tips for Writing Click Worthy Blog Titles by Prof KRG
Kenna Griffin summarizes the attributes of an effective blog title along with nearly two dozen tips for writing click-worthy titles, such as using strong verbs (“Use strong action verbs in your titles. Avoid passive verbs and ‘be’ verbs”), including a number (“Scannable list posts are popular among blog readers. If your post is a numbered list, use the number of items in the title”) and avoiding abbreviations.
This is a long post and the steps outlined require a fair amount of effort, but the process outlined here by Adam Connell can certainly deliver results. He delves into how to create high-impact visuals using Canva, how to use WordPress plugins to create shareable quotes, how to identify and get the attention of influencers (and how not to do this), and how to leverage niche social bookmarking sites.
10 Steps to Building More Effective Blog Posts by Blue Kite Marketing
Laura Click (again) explains her methods for “how to build and structure blog posts in a way that’s optimized for today’s website visitor,” from writing a compelling headline (useful tips plus links to additional resources) and including a strong introduction (“Next to the headline, the opening paragraph is the most read part of your blog post…Ask a question. Tell a quick story. Start with a problem. Share some statistics”) to including a call to action.
Scott Ayres shares the strategies Post Planner used to achieve some very impressive 12-month growth figures, all done with content marketing. Daily posting, aggressive list-building, and utilization of “11 key blog post ingredients” ranging from an irresistable headline and opening with a bang (“if you don’t capture the reader’s attention in the first couple sentences of the the post, they’ll just bounce”) to maintaining attention with internal cliffhangers and choosing an arresting image.
Sarah Goliger reveals results of testing on various types of titles and which work best. Among the findings: questions work slightly better than statements (“Frame your blog post title as a question to make it more intriguing”), “you-focused” language beats “me-focused” (“Craft your title language to be about the reader and what is interesting to them, not you”), and beginning your blog post with a number helps.
How to Stick to Your Blogging Schedule by Blue Kite Marketing
Pointing out that “One of the biggest reasons company blogs fail is lack of consistency” in serving up fresh content, Laura Click (yet again) offers 10 helpful tips for sticking to a regular blogging schedule, among them building a content plan (a simple, flexible editorial calendar), eliminating distractions, collecting ideas and researching as you go (the way posts like this are built!), and working ahead when your schedule permits.
Three Guides to (Properly) Using Guest Blogging
Proof That Guest Blogging Is Not Dead, Coming Right From Google by Monitor Backlinks
Felix Tarcomnicu argues that guest blogging isn’t dead, despite earlier statements from Matt Cutts, because Google accepts guest posts (with do-follow backlinks) on their blog, and “If Google is accepting guest posts on their Analytics blog…that’s the proof that guest blogging is not dead, and you should not stick a fork in it. Period! What you should do, is to raise your guest blogging standards.”
The Pros And Cons Of A Guest Blogging Strategy In 2014 by BirdBrain Logic
Frequent best-of honoree Amanda DiSilvestro outlines the pros (e.g., building relationships: “Part of guest blogging is building relationships with editors across the web. This is an excellent way to find new opportunities and stay involved in the community”), cons (keyword links have become less important), and the ultimate verdict on the benefits of guest blogging—concepts that still apply in 2015.
The Five Types of Guest Bloggers (Funny Graphic) by SteamFeed
Reviewing the panic caused by Matt Cutts and his “fall of guest blogging for SEO” announcement, and the ensuing clarifications, Jesse Aaron shares an amusing infographic characterizing the five types of guest bloggers, such as “The Guru” (the self-proclaimed expert who values image and follower count) and “The Spinner” (submits to hundreds of sites; what’s plagiarism?).
This was post #5, the final post, of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.
#5: 22 Exceptional Business Blogging Guides, Tips & Tactics
At the core of any successful blog is valuable content—helping readers solve a problem, increase their knowledge, work more effectively. But text alone isn’t enough; to really make a blog stand out, it needs to include compelling images as well.
As noted on the CyberChimps blog, “a picture is worth a thousand words. But a 1000-word blog post with a great picture to go with it? That’s worth gold.”
Interesting visuals add value beyond blog posts as well, of course: they’re useful in presentations, videos, e-books, and other types of content at the core of an effective web presence optimization strategy.
While there is no shortage of “free’ image sources on the web, not all are worth your time. Some are difficult to use, have very limited or poor-quality selections, or include “fine print” that limits what you can actually do with their images.
To help you be efficient and find great collections of free or low-cost images, here are links to six excellent image sources along with guides to and reviews of dozens more free image sites.
Reviews of Free Image Sites
20 Sites to Get Free Stock Images for Commercial Use by Social Media Today
Finding free, high-quality images for commercial use can be a pain, but in this post Giancarlo Massaro has “done the dirty work for you and compiled this resource of 20 different sites so you can get free stock images that fall under the Creative Commons Zero license or similar; meaning you can copy, modify, and use any photo you find, even for commercial purposes, without having to ask permission or provide attribution.” His recommendations include Realistic Shots, Free Nature Stock and Kaboompics.
20 Awesome Websites for Free, High Quality Stock Photos by To Make A Website
Matt Clark presents his list of “some of the better stock photo sites” he’s come across, which are also “completely free.” Among his favorites are several popular free images sites as well as lesser-known options like Picjumbo, Pexels, and Getrefe, a “tumblr blog that has free photos for personal or commercial purposes.”
53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts by Buffer Social
Courtney Seiter helpfully reviews more than 50 sources for free blog images, from Buffer’s own Pablo tool to some of the popular tools mentioned below to unique sources like Dreamstime, IM Free, Public Domain Pictures, BigFoto and Foter.
14 Sites for Free Stock Photos by Practical Ecommerce
Sig Ueland shares “a list of resources to find free stock photos for commercial use. There are stock photo search engines, huge image collections from stock photography sites, smaller curated collections from design sites, and some additional sources for free high quality photographs” including some interesting lesser-known sites like RGBStock and New Old Stock (which “features vintage photos from the public archive, free of known copyright restrictions”).
How to Find Free Images With Google’s Advanced Image Search by Search Engine Watch
Noting that images “capture the attention of many more readers by giving your words a boost with a little visual appeal,” Matt Morgan provides step-by-step instructions for how to find and verify the status of freely usable images on Google, to avoid threatening or demanding letters from commercial image sources.
By Request – Good Alternatives to Google Image Search by Free Technology for Teachers
Richard Byrne responds to a teacher frustrated by “students are getting when they search on Google Images” with details of eight free-image alternatives, including the Morgue File, everystockphoto.com (“a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web”), and Wikimedia Commons.
Premium photography provider Getty Images got lots of attention last spring when they announced they were offering free images. But, Ginny Soskey cautions, read the fine print: you generally can’t use the images for any type of “commercial” purpose (defined quite broadly), and Getty’s plans for monetization are unclear: “They can make money through this…because the code is an iframe. An iframe is a type of code that takes a piece of content that lives on another website and puts it on your site, and the site that hosts the code has complete control over what displays on your site.”
Other Sources for Free Images
This was post #4 of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.
Blogging, like any other task, is faster and easier with the right tools. But while there’s no shortage of online tools, plugins, and browser extensions available—for every purpose from generating post topic ideas to speeding up page load time—not all of them are worth spending much time investigating, let alone using on a regular basis.
What the best blogging tools based on your objectives and level of expertise? Which tools are the favorites of top blogging pros? What are the best tools for increasing your blogging productivity? Sharing your content socially? Building your opt-in email list?
Find these answers and more here in a handful of the best blogging tool reviews and roundups of the past year.
The Step by Step Guide to Generating Hundreds of Blog Post Ideas by Digital Rhinos
How can you come up with creative and effective new blog post ideas when “you’ve got timelines to adhere to, targets to hit and people within your company counting on you to keep pumping out high-quality content that appeals to your personas and gets noticed”? Adrian Cordiner demonstrates how to use 18 useful post topic / content asset idea-generating tools, such as BuzzSumo, which will “will spit out the most popularly shared articles (amongst other content types such as infographics) over any time in the last year.”
63 Blogging Tools That Will Make You Insanely Productive by Boost Blog Traffic
Marsha Stopa understands you don’t “need another post on all the cool tools (you) don’t have time to use,” so she has very helpfully categorized the tools here as ideal for the minimalist blogger (“You’re willing to dip your toe in the water, [but]you don’t need the fancy tools…[for you] a blog is a side project that you can give no more than 10 hours per week, if that”), the serious and committed blogger, and the entrepreneur blogger. Just check out the tools most appropriate for your level.
26 Awesome Blogging Tools Used By The Pros by Twelveskip
Pauline Cabrera shares advice on the best tools from eight top blogging pros, including Ian Cleary (“I love Optinmonster. It’s a popup that is only displayed when a user is exiting the site. As soon as the user moves their mouse outside of the main window it’s likely they are planning to exit so this pops up”), Daniel Sharkov, Mike Allton, and Aaron Lee (one of his favorites is Flipboard: “What not many people know is you can actually load twitter lists into onto Flipboard to manage your twitter stream”).
52 Essential Tools And Resources For Bloggers by Blogging Wizard
***** 5 STARS
Adam Connell compiles “a detailed list of all of the resources and tools that (he relies) on day in, day out,” from planning and research (tools like SEMrush and UberSuggest) to various sources for WordPress themes through SEO tools, email list-building tools (e.g., GetResponse), productivity tools (like Dropbox) and various WordPress plugins.
You work hard to write compelling, original blog content. Then another site brazenly steals it, reposting your sparkling prose word for word. Worse, they outrank you. It’s infuriating. Pauline Cabrera (again) explains how to fight back using Google’s scraper report form: “Through this form, content creators who have any complaint against a scraper website that outranks you can now ask Google’s help to correct the situation.”
This was post #3 of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.
You’ve put extensive effort into your business blog design, content strategy, research, and execution. Now—how you attract and retain a large audience?
The short answer is to write great content and then promote it effectively. Simple—but not easy.
The longer answer(s) are presented below. Why isn’t your blog attracting a higher level of traffic? How often should you post? How can you generate more organic search traffic? Email? Social media? Industry influencers?
Find guidance on those topics and more here in a baker’s dozen of the best guides to growing your blog audience from the past year or so.
Business Blogging: Five Reasons You Have No Readers by Spin Sucks
Got a well-written business blog, but a shortage of readers? Guest author Eleanor Pierce shares “a few ideas … some possibilities you may want to investigate” to address the issue, such as “You haven’t developed a point-of-view…it’s simple advice. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ But it also means you have to put some work into developing your own niche, your own point-of-view, and your own voice. Don’t think corporate blogs are immune from this advice. You still need to have a perspective.”
105 Tips To Make Your Blog Rock by jeffbullas.com
Jeff Bullas shows you how to find your audience, help your audience find you, craft enticing headlines, “secrets” on how to use social media to spread your content, how to become a thought leader in your field and more in these 100+ helpful tips and tactics. Among them: “In the meta tags for your photos, make sure the labels/words are what you want them to be – search engines can’t “read” photos, only the labels/meta tags.”
Survey of 1000+ Bloggers: How to Be in the Top 5% by Orbit Media Studios
Andy Crestodina reports on findings from the Department of Blogger Labor Survey, which asked 11 questions of more than 1,000 bloggers. Among the results: 37% of bloggers spend, on average, 1-2 hours writing each post. But nearly half—46%—spend on average 2 hours or more. 5% of bloggers spend more than 6 hours, on average, on each post they write. Half write during business hours. And while less than 5% publish daily or more than once per day, 28% publish multiple posts each week.
10 Tactics to Improve Blog Readership by Xpressly
Ruth Zive showcases an infographic with tips on how to “engage your audience, build your credibility, enhance your search ranking and drive meaningful business results” with a business blog, such as mentioning, quoting and referencing industry influencers, “but not the big ones; go after mid-level and niche influencers” as they are more likely to notice, appreciate, and amplify your efforts.
29 Free Ways to Promote Your Business Blog by Zude PR Blog
David Sawyer promises several takeaways from this post featuring more than two dozen helpful blog promotion tips, including “a step-by-step business blog amplification process,”all you need to know on the places you need to go—social media, communities, groups, blogging platforms, influencers—to boost your next article and get thousands of visits,” and “nine medium-to-long term tips on things you can do to get more people reading your content.” Among his insights, this regarding LinkedIn groups: “You don’t have to go overboard. But unless you’re sharing and commenting, few people are going to take time out to read your latest blog post.”
How to Get More Traffic and Traction by Promoting Your Content Like a Boss by Boost Blog Traffic
Andy Crestodina (again) observes that some bloggers “get way more shares than you. They get tons more email subscribers than you. They get much higher search rankings than you. And it sucks, right?” Unless you are getting Mashable-level traffic, you know the feeling. Fortunately, he then reveals “what promotion-smart know that most bloggers miss”—that search, social and email need to be integrated and coordinated (i.e., use the WPO framework); how to use your blog as the ultimate networking tool; and “always be collaborating” among other tips.
400 Blog Posts Later – What Works and What Doesn’t by Inspire to Thrive
Lisa Buben shares “16 things that have worked well and what hasn’t worked so well” across here first 400 blog posts, including her tips for Twitter (her #2 traffic source after Google search), Triberr (“a great way to reach other bloggers and share their stuff and for them to share yours too. If you haven’t signed up for this yet please do. You will notice a difference but not immediately. Give it time”) and Bing search (with a link to how Bing differs from Google’s webmaster tools).
Yes, the style (and even the blog title) scream “spam!” but once you get past the inevitable annoying pop-up ad, there is actually some very solid guidance in this detailed post. I won’t give away #32, but #12, for example, is: “Make your opt-in boxes stick out like a sore thumb…Making opt in boxes stand out by using different colours or shake can boost conversion rates—forget design it’s all about email sign ups.”
9 Potent Tactics to Promote Your Blog Posts [Infographic] by Social Media Writing
Mitt Ray showcases an infographic that summarizes blog promotion guidance from experts like Larry Kim (“Respond quickly to trends: it’s easier to get bloggers and journalists to write or share information conttaining an interesting new angle on something that was was already at the top of their mind [sic]”), Brian Dean, Rae Hoffman, Elisa Gabbert, Ian Cleary, Ann Smarty, Cendrine Marrouat, and Peg Fitzpatrick.
4 Key Steps the Pros Use to Get Traffic from Search Engines by jeffbullas.com
Guest author Jason Chesters details four key strategies for generating more search traffic to your blog, such as starting with keyword research after you write (“remember this rule: Great content first, keyword research second! Once you have completed your article, make a note of the subject and the main topic. Now this will immediately give you a basis for your keywords”) and the seven key attributes for on-page optimization of each post.
100+ Bite-Sized Tips To Get You More Social Shares (And Traffic) by Blogging Wizard
Noting that social shares not only increase direct traffic but also provide other benefits such as increased search visibility, Adam Connell passes along more than 100 useful tips to generate more engagement from Twitter (“@mention any individual or company that you have included in your content”), Google+ (“Add a share button to your blog rather than a +1 button”), Pinterest, Facebook, and other social networks.
7 simple ways to optimise a blog post for the search engines by Fairy Blog Mother
For those who’d like their blog content to rank better in search but can’t justify the expense of hiring professional SEO talent, the smart and delightful Alice Elliott outlines seven “simple procedures that can be put in place that will make a big difference” in search visibility, like optimizing images and meta tags (she explains how), as well as keeping text links limited and highly relevant.
9 Effective Ways To Revive A Struggling Blog by Blogging Wizard
If your blog growth has stagnated and you’re feeling frustrated, check out these nine tips for reviving a struggling blog from Marc Andre. Among his tactics: survey your current readers and subscribers “to make sure that you are covering topics that your readers care about,” analyze your results “to determine if there are types of posts that you should eliminate due to a lack of reader interest,” and adjust your posting frequency.
This was post #2 of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.
It’s blogging for business week on Webbiquity. Along the lines of the content marketing week series presented here previously, starting tomorrow and running through next Tuesday, a series of posts will cover business blogging strategies, tactics, tools and resources.
As reported here previously, content marketing is nearly ubiquitous, with 93% of b2b marketers using content while 88% of business buyers say online content plays a major to moderate role in vendor selection.
Blogging is often viewed as the core of content marketing strategy, and its use continues to expand due to its compelling benefits:
- • 34% of Fortune 500 companies now maintain active blogs – the largest share since 2008. (Forbes)
- • 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing. (NewsCred)
- • 17% of marketers plan to increase blogging efforts this year. (Forbes)
- • Blogging increases web traffic by 55% for brands. (Rocket Post)
- • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those without blogs. (Social Fresh)
Want to join in? Just write a post focused on some aspect of blogging for business, and tweet it out using the hashtag #b4bweek. That hashtag will be monitored, and the posts (subject to human limitations) shared. The best may even be bookmarked for inclusion in a future best-of post here.
Hope you enjoy (and share!) the posts here over the next week, which will feature valuable guidance from dozens of top experts.