The age of content marketing is here, and small business owners should be taking advantage of blogging as a marketing tool. Blogging lets your small business showcase your knowledge, and establish authority, in your industry and add value to customer relationships. If you’re using blogging as part of your marketing strategy, follow these guidelines to produce killer content that your audience will love.
One blog post, one topic
A blog post should be specific to one topic. Don’t try and tell your audience everything about everything in a single post, break it down and provide an in depth piece of content that tackles a single topic. If you do have a lot to say about a single topic, then break it down even further and write a series of articles that address each sub topic one at a time.
How long should a blog post be?
There’s no real clear cut answer here. I think that as long as you’re writing concisely (waffle free) and staying on topic then the right length for a blog post is as long as it takes to convey the points you’d like to cover.
A good benchmark is to aim for at least 300 words (absolute minimum). Remember, your audience will be attracted to your content, and business, if they are getting value out of the time it takes to engage with your content. Always ask yourself “is this article of value to my target audience?”.
Another point to consider is the effect that a blog post has on your website’s search engine rankings. Without going into a discussion about keywords and the inner workings of search engine optimisation, Google’s goal is to display results that are going to be useful to the searcher. Is a page that has very little content likely to help a searcher to get the information they’re looking for? Probably not.
Always consider your target audience
Every piece of content you produce (whether it’s copy, images or video) should be crafted to suit your target audience. Your small business blog should become a valued resource to people looking for your products or services. Focus on your target audience and:
- Write about topics that are of value to them
- Create content that’s timely and relevant to their needs and situation
- Use the style of language, lingo and tone that’s appropriate to their industry, sector or demographic
Use effective formatting to make reading a joy
The easier it is for a viewer to consume your content the more likely they’ll be to become a return visitor to your small business blog. Follow these tips to make your blog posts easy to scan, read and enjoy.
- Use subheadings to break up your content into manageable chunks
- Use dot point lists (like this one) to make key points easy to find and follow
- Use ordered lists (number instead of bullet points) to show any steps that should be done in sequence
- Make use of images to help illustrate the main point of your content and capture viewer attention
- Use block quotes to highlight interesting phrases within your paragraphs
Spend time on your headline
The headline of your post is a major “make or break” factor in determining whether anyone will read it. A good headline will:
- Make the reader want to explore the rest of the post
- Be descriptive and give the reader a clue about what’s inside the post
- Consider search engine rankings
- Focus on the benefit of your content
Some effective headline ideas are:
- “How to”: This type of headline implies that you’re going to give the reader actionable steps to accomplish something. If your target audience is struggling with that subject, they’ll likely want to find out “how to” do it.
- Number headline: Do you have a number of tips/reasons/ways/ideas that will help your audience with a specific topic? Make that the title. An engaging way to do this is to use a number, for example “5 ways to lower your electricity bill”. Pro tip: Use 5 or 7, people really respond to these numbers.
- SEO title: Are you aiming to rank well in search engines for a particular phrases? Make it the topic of a post and include the specific phrase in the post’s title. For example: If I was targeting the phrase “small business marketing”, I might use the headline “5 ways to improve your small business marketing in 2014”.
Make your article summary and image engaging
Whatever content management system you’re using to publish new blog posts, chances are it has the ability to include a summary image and copy. These two parts of your blog post are important as they are likely to show up when your article is shared around the web and on social media. If your blog is using Facebook’s Open Graph protocol, this can be used to ensure that Facebook displays both your summary image and summary copy when a link to your article is published, or shared, on Facebook. Making your summary image and copy visually striking, interesting and engaging will encourage Facebook users to click it and view your content.
Use rich media
Every blog post should include copy, but images, podcasts (audio) and video give us the ability to create really rich and engaging content for our audience. Today, creating audio recordings or video isn’t expensive (you can do it with your smartphone) and decent equipment is readily available. The same rules apply with audio podcasts and video, be specific to your topic, short and concise and make it easily to consume. Some audio and video blog post ideas are:
- Interviews: Thought leaders in your industry, colleagues, clients and suppliers can all make great interviewees.
- Video tutorials: Demonstrations and tutorials that show your audience how to accomplish something are fantastic.
- Video presentations: Have a topic that could really benefit from visual aids? Put a slide show together and openly discuss the topic on video. We recently did this type of post on Google AdWords.
- Reviews: You’re an expert in your field, help your audience make decisions by reviewing products, books and services related to your industry (e.g. a personal trainer could review supplements or home exercise equipment, and a bookkeeper could review business accounting software).
The other big benefit of using rich media is that it’s very good at creating a personal connection between the yourself, your business and your audience. People buy from those that that they know, like and trust. Rich media does just that.
Hop to it!
Great, now you can put these 7 pillars of a successful small business blog post into action and make your blog content even better. Remember, your goal is to create an audience of potential customers around your business that identify you as an authority, and everything you publish should aim to achieve that goal.
In future posts we’ll cover more ideas and tips about blogging for small business. We’d love to receive your blogging questions, so please feel free to get in touch via social media.