Although the heartbeat of every blog is unique, most successful blogs have some key qualities in common. Here’s our healthy business blog top ten of vital signs, to help you determine whether your blog is alive and kicking…
There are lots of blogging platforms and software available, from Blogger to WordPress – each with its own merits. When it comes to business blogging, the most successful blogs are seamlessly integrated into the main company website, for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) purposes and a better user experience. If your website is already up and running without a blog, don’t panic; a developer can usually integrate blogging software, such as WordPress, into your current website.
Tip: consider investing in an experienced designer and/or developer from the outset, to provide your blog with the best possible chance of success.
Great blogs are based on a simple, user-friendly design, with space for the content to breathe, so visitors can focus on the posts. Colours reflect corporate branding but enhance, rather than detract from, the viewing experience. A sans-serif font (in black on a white background) is best for easy reading.
Brash colours, invasive adverts, flashing images and moving text can all be distracting, so use these sparingly, if at all. Internal blog navigation needs to be relevant and easy; via links to similar posts, archiving and tagging.
Tip: visit plenty of other blogs, within your industry and beyond, before settling on your own design.
Blogs naturally evolve over time but readers will come to rely on consistency in three areas: a) tone and quality, b) specialist subject, c) quantity. A consistent tone of voice brings familiarity and trust. High-quality writing and multimedia content elicits respect.
Knowledge of (and dedication to) your subject matter infers authority. Frequently publishing posts, of at least 350 words, maintains visitor engagement and also provides regular doses of fodder for the hungry search engines. Blogging at least once a week is ideal but tailor this to your visitors’ expectations and your own capacity and/or budget.
Tip: plan, schedule and even write posts in advance to avoid missed or hurried posts and the horror of creative dry spells.
Post quality is paramount: originality and accuracy in copywriting; finesse in video production; professionalism in presentations – all are vital. The best bloggers research, practise, check and perfect. The most popular headlines are attention-grabbing, relevant and shareable.
Opening paragraphs must be pertinent, insightful, concise and engaging. Well-spaced content is preferable to rambling text: short paragraphs, succinct sentences, bullet points, lists and well-placed images are all must-haves.
Make each word, image, or second of video count. The best posts engage far beyond the initial post – through comments, feedback responses, knowledge sharing and social media.
Tip: think of your blog as a community hub, rather than a loudspeaker. Invite visitors into your blog rather than speaking out through your posts.
Enable visitors to subscribe, post comments and share content. A simple RSS widget or email subscribe box is often all that’s needed for subscriptions. Comments are vital in building a blog-based community. They are easy to set up and monitor, and can now be integrated with social media and RSS feeds, for even greater real-time engagement.
Within blog posts, an effective call-to-action encourages interaction. Share buttons provide a really simple way for people to share content through social media. It’s never been easier to engage with people through a blog.
Tip: nobody enjoys talking to themselves. If your blog doesn’t engage with comments, people will find one that does. It could be your competitor.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a dynamic and increasingly complicated industry. Bloggers can’t be expected to entirely master SEO. But the best bloggers do respond to the major SEO trends affecting blogging, such as keywords, meta data, sharing and links.
Ultimately, blogs are about engaging with people not robots, so the most successful blogs concentrate on providing high-quality, useful, targeted and shareable content, with engaging headlines. These posts will naturally include relevant keywords, prompt appropriate links, encourage sharing and attract visitors – hey presto, a better search engine ranking! No black magic (or black hat!) required.
Tip: don’t be intimidated by SEO – by regularly blogging, you’re already actively involved in search engine optimisation.
Blogs need a defined and responsive strategy. On-going blog development and enhancement is vital to longevity. Even the most basic strategy should cover: posting schedules, multimedia content, optimisation, plugins, guest blogging, engagement, subscribers, analytics data, blog advertising/promotional opportunities, lead conversion, wider business campaign involvement, and competitor/market analysis.
For the best results, you’ll need to manage your blog flexibly, in line with a regularly reviewed strategy.
Tip: if you do nothing else, aim to engage daily, post weekly and analyse (and respond to statistics) monthly.
Business blogging often forms part of a wider content marketing campaign. Effective blogs are great at bringing visitors further into a sales funnel. Calls-to-action within posts invite people to engage with the post (through comments) or refer them elsewhere for further information (via a link).
Discreet, concise and tailored adverts can also be linked from a blog to a targeted landing page on your company website. Regular blog visitors and subscribers are ‘warm leads’, so they’re more likely to respond well to follow-up contact with the business.
Tip: make it easy for people to interact with you – minimise the number of options and clicks from blog to lead conversion.
Some of the best business blogs feature a well-managed selection of bloggers, from different departments. Your blog could provide direct access to a salesperson, technician, creative, administrator, manager or strategist. This contact and involvement benefits customers and employees alike.
It is the people within your business who make it truly unique. Whether blogging is outsourced or carried out in-house, try to ensure your blog represents, and engages with, your entire business … for the benefit of everyone.
Tip: invite employees to write and suggest posts, provide case studies, respond to comments or promote the blog through social media.
Keep it Legal
It is important to keep in mind that readers will believe your facts and could reference these facts elsewhere. So check all facts and sources thoroughly.
Tip: Don’t publish anything until the facts have been investigated and authenticated, to the best of your ability.