Despite the occasional “death of blogging” pronouncements (often made, ironically, in blog posts), blogs remain the core of a robust social media strategy. The proliferation of themes, tools and plugins have transformed blogs from mere online text collections to powerful interactive, rich-media sites that can attract, engage and educate your potential buyers.
Particularly with Google’s emphasis in its recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates on content that is fresh, compelling, unique, social, and naturally linked to, blogs have become even more essential to SEO strategies.
For those who still aren’t convinced of the value of business blogging (as well as those who need to convince others), the “why blog” posts below provide compelling evidence. Those getting started or already active in blogging will discover how to:
- • grow blog traffic,
- • make content more valuable to readers,
- • increase blogging productivity,
- • generate more comments and social shares,
- • find royalty-free images,
- • promote your blog, and
more here in 30 of the best business blogging guides and resources of the past year.
Why You Want To Be the Last Blog Standing by Outspoken Media
Reporting that “the number of Inc. 500 companies maintaining corporate blogs has dropped for the first time since 2007. Did you hear that? IT DROPPED! According to Dartmouth’s research, just 37 percent of companies interviewed said they had a corporate blog, down from 50 percent in 2010,” frequent best-of honoree Lisa Barone advises readers to “let your blog be the last blog standing because while sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be effective and sexy all in their own right, they don’t hold a candle to the sexiness and superpowers possessed by your blog,” and backs it up with 10 reasons and tactics to beat your competition through blogging.
7 Blogger Outreach Best Practices (To Land More Guest Posts) by NoHatDigital
Robyn Howard offers excellent tips for improving influencer outreach success, from finding the right influencers (don’t “spray and pray”) and ditching templates to keeping your message concise and following up appropriately. Personalization is also essential—and make it clear to your influencers what’s in it for them.
Kristina Weis provides a baker’s dozen reasons for creating a corporate blog, from demonstrating your expertise (“If [prospective customers] can easily find some articles written by you and/or your staff that show your company’s expertise, they’re going to feel a lot more confident about spending their time or money [or both] with you”) and increasing website traffic to helping with customer support and generating new product ideas.
Past, Present and Future of Blogging: 3 Infographics by jeffbullas.com
Jeff Bullas shares a wealth of fascinating blogging facts and stats here, such as that 27 of the top 100 blogs are built on WordPress, with 16 on TypePad. 43% of U.S. companies now maintain blogs. And more than half of all social media-driven blog traffic comes from Facebook (28%) and Twitter (26%) combined.
7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business by SocialSteve’s Blog
Contending that “Everyone always jumps onto Facebook and Twitter as one of their first social media activities. I recommend you think about blogging first. No other endeavor can be better to promote you or your brand as a subject matter expert,” Steve Goldner offers seven tips for blogging success, such as utilizing your passion, speaking (writing) naturally, and posting on a consistent basis.
Dozens of reasons why corporate blogs still matter in B2B marketing by Content Marketing Experience
J-P De Clerck makes a comprehensive case for corporate blogging—as long as it isn’t done the “wrong” way: “It’s traditional PR in a new package: corporate blogs as a way to shout how great they are.” Done right, blogs serve as the hub of a company’s social media strategy, a magnet for search traffic, and an opportunity to speak to prospective customers on a more informal, human level. He points out that 57% of companies with blogs have acquired at least one customer through blogging; that blogs make it easy to share multiple types of information; and that they make it easy (and even inviting) for customers and prospects to provide feedback.
Blogging Tips and Guides
Frequent best-of author Heidi Cohen offers nearly three dozen ideas “to help you efficiently leverage resources in seven of the areas where many bloggers typically need support,” such as content block (one idea: “Answer customer questions…Collect the questions prospects and customers ask from sales and customer service; then answer them”), lack of creative resources, and disappointing blog traffic.
20 Ways to Improve Your Blog by TribalCafe
Reporting that “28% of brands that (didn’t previously) publish a blog (planned) to do so in 2012—bringing the percentage of brands that publish a blog to 85%,” Gary Fox lists 20 ways to attract more readers and generate better business results from blogging, among them using strong visuals, varying blog topics, and making your content SEO-friendly (“focus on a keyword [phrase] for each blog post and try to not venture too far” from it).
5 Tips to Becoming a Top Blog in Your Industry by Social Media Examiner
Michael Stelzner shares a handful of techniques he used to make Social Media Examiner a big success, such as surveying the interests of your audience (“When you know precisely what content your readers crave, it’s much easier to create posts that are widely read and shared on social channels”) and spinning a single hot topic into multiple posts from different perspectives (e.g., a beginner’s guide, biggest myths or misconceptions, case studies, etc.).
Five Tips to Make Company Blogs Worth Reading by Marketing Profs
Muhammad Yasin offers a handful of helpful recommendations for making your company blog a success, including focusing on expert tips: “If you are not an expert yourself in a particular field, find experts and learn from them. See what they are writing about, absorb their knowledge, and share their tips. Better yet, invite those experts to share their knowledge on your blog as guest bloggers. Allowing independent experts to write for your blog can provide a much needed fresh perspective and may result in their recommending your products or services.”
Fixing The Social Media Plateau by Soulati Media
The delightful Jayme Soulati identifies 10 signs that “may be an indication it’s time to step up your game, take it to the next level, and grow or remain complacent” in terms of your social media practices, such as “Learning new things becomes more rare; another 20 ways to use Pinterest blog post isn’t providing new insight over what you know now,” and tips to get un-stuck (e.g., “Reduce the time spent on the channels that don’t return much to you. That way, you’re not spread as thin”).
10 Valuable Ideas to Help You Find Time to Blog by MyBeak Social Media
Writing that “Creating content and finding the time to do it are the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs and small business owners face when marketing their business,” Laura-Lee Walker presents helpful ideas for generating more content in less time, among them inviting guest bloggers, repurposing existing material, and using mobile phone apps like Dragon Dictator: “You don’t have time to write down all your ideas or blog posts…simply use an application…that will translate your voice to text. (They are) not perfect but will give you a head start and reduce the time you spend on typing your blog articles.”
21 Business Blogging Tips From the Pros by Social Media Examiner
The impeccably discerning Cindy King curates an outstanding collection of blogging tips from pros like Leo Widrich (“A product is only useful if you know others want it. Validate an idea for a blog post in the same way”), Heidi Cohen (“Understand prospects, customers and the public are on your blog to get answers to their questions and accomplish their goals, not yours”), and Stephanie Sammons (“Work to develop a blogging style that is unique to you. What’s your angle? What’s your view? How can you differentiate yourself from others who are blogging in your niche?”).
Guest Blogging: Seven Tips for Success by Spin Sucks
PR expert and author Gini Dietrich offers several excellent tips for expanding your reach by publishing guest posts on other influential blogs. My favorite tip is her first, on how to gauge authority (and corresponding effort) of a blog: “Go to Open Site Explorer and type in the URL for the blog for which you’d like to submit content. I’ll do it for Wood Street…You’ll see the site authority is 48/100. If the authority is 40-70, it’s worth pursuing. If it’s higher than 70, you’ll have a tougher time getting your content on the site, so you’ll need to be extremely patient, but persistent. If it’s between 90 and 100, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get something placed there without the help of a communications professional.”
Noting that “the majority of blogs starting every year end up failing,” Wendy Marx offers 16 tips in this infographic to beating the odds, such as “Be consistent: Whether you keep an editorial calendar or not, it’s important to continue to publish content on your blog because that consistency brings in more traffic” (amen!) and (perhaps most importantly), “Have fun with it: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with the process and enjoy every minute as your grow your audience and build your business.”
Guest post: 7 powerful headline techniques to skyrocket your blog traffic by Creative Ramblings
Reminding us all that “in the online world, your headline is the single most important part of your content…instead of reading every blog post, people scan for information. They look for headlines that capture their interest, and only click on the ones they feel are worthy of their time,” Lillian Leon details seven techniques for crafting headlines that grab attention, including “Fear: Identify the one thing your readers fear the most, and you’ll have yourself a headline that’s pretty much impossible to ignore.”
10 Additional Ideas to Generate Comments and Shares by Spin Sucks
Following up on an earlier post on the same topic, Gini Dietrich (again) offers 10 more ideas to increase engagement on your blog, from writing book reviews and rants to covering the latest trends and answering questions commonly heard by your sales force or customer service reps.
Content Development and Writing Tips
26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts by Social Media Examiner
In her own unique and highly creative style, Debbie Hemley presents “26 tips, from A-Z, to help you create optimal blog posts every time you sit down to write,” beginning with A for Anatomically Correct: every blog post should contain the “six parts of the anatomy of a lead-generating blog post” such as an eye-catching title, calls to action, and social sharing buttons.
Peg Fitzpatrick passes along content curation tips from Guy Kawasaki in this post showcasing the top dozen places to find shareworthy content, starting with your own network and including both popular sharing sites (like StumbleUpon and AllTop) and less obvious choices (e.g., Futurity, TED and NPR).
How to find photos you can legally use anywhere by CBS MoneyWatch
Observing that “No matter what you publish — a blog, updates to the company website, project reports, or even the venerable tri-fold — you no doubt need artwork to complement it,” but just haphazardly reusing artwork found online can lead to legal troubles, Dave Johnson recommends two easy methods for finding photos that are usable under the Creative Commons license.
29 Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos by Directory Journal
***** 5 STARS
In case Dave’s recommendations above don’t quite meet your needs, Gail Gardner provides a massive list of sites where you can find free or reasonably priced images, as well as resources for comparing prices across different image sites, selling your photos, identifying trademarked images, adding images to blog posts, and more.
5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Lee Odden writes that “If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give.” Among his top five tips? Focus on the problems your audience faces—but don’t forget to tell them how you can solve those problems. Create an editorial plan. And measure results to support continual improvement.
How to Differentiate Your Content by Geoff Livingston’s Blog
Geoff Livingston lays out four steps to becoming an “A-list” blogger in your niche subject area. Given Geoff’s success, I won’t argue with his methodology—though it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve got the time, intestinal fortitude and financial backing or wherewithal to pursue his program, go for it.
The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content by KISSmetrics
Contending that “In order to boost SEO rankings, gain traffic and/or leads, you need to have great content on your blog or website,” Zach Bulygo shares nine tips for producing stand-out content (such as making your content actionable: “The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information…Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers,”) then follows up with half a dozen examples of sites that consistently provide remarkable content.
Blog Promotion Tips and Tactics
6 Tips For Building a High Quality Blog Following by Fearless Competitor
Shane Snow channels Jeff Ogden and Brian Clark in this post, providing “six tips to attracting readers who stick around longer than the click of a StumbleUpon button,” such as speaking to a specific audience, guest blogging and publishing guest bloggers, and encouraging loyalty through consistency: “taking an editorial stand for what you believe in, rather than watering things down to avoid offending anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try to be controversial. In this day and age, simply taking a position and standing behind it will bring people who agree, and people who don’t.”
Want Your Blog Noticed? (Hint: It’s Not Just Content!) by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen (again) supplies 23 tips for growing awareness of your blog, such as integrating your blog’s brand into related content and activities (“As a media entity, your blog deserves its own brand. If it’s a corporate brand, it should be adapted for the blog”), referencing and linking to sources, and guest blogging.
Want to Increase Blog Traffic? Some Fab Tips for Success by Positively Peggy
The ebullient Peg Fitzpatrick (again) serves up five tips for growing blog traffic, such as sharing your content at optimal times: “Buffer App helps you not only share at the optimal times based on your followers being online but also evenly distributes your amazing content throughout the day so you don’t annoy your followers with a huge spurt of brilliance and then lose them with silence later.”
How Bloggers Can Grow Each Others Readership by The @Steveology Blog
Steve Farnsworth recommends Triberr as a tool for increasing the reach of your blog posts, and explains in detail how Triberr works and how to get the most out of it (e.g., by starting your own tribe, joining other tribes, and “dating around”). While the tool is a great concept and has potential, its ongoing technical issues are frustrating.
How to Effectively Promote Your Blog Posts by MyBeak Social Media
***** 5 STARS
Beyond the big social networks and Triberr, Laura-Lee Walker (again) presents an infographic illustrating 30 ways to promote your blog content using social media, social bookmarking sites (does anyone still use Digg?), your contacts, other blogs, and 10 top syndication sites.
5 ways to promote your blog by commenting on others by Creative Ramblings
Cendrine Marrouat explains why commenting on blogs is beneficial (chief among the rewards: “You get to connect and build relationships with other bloggers”) and how to do it well (e.g., add value to the conversation, share relevant links, and comment regularly on the same blogs).
30 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts by Listly
***** 5 STARS
Ted Rubin shares a bookmark-worthy list of tactics for sharing and promoting blog posts, including Facebook (“Add it on your personal & business pages, groups and through ads”), Pinterest (“Create a board specifically for all your blog posts and pin each post to it”) and through AllTop.com (“syndicates content in every category, from autos and food to business and sports”).