BLOGGING
FOR BUSINESS
A Step-By-Step Guide
To Creating a Blog
That Converts
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
It’s a simple concept: you ...
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
in the eyes of almighty eng...
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
Top Excuses Why
People Aren...
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
Generally, it’s a good prac...
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
them an inside look at what...
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
everything they’re seeing i...
17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com
dose of personality. The sa...
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Stratus interactive ebook-blogging

  1. 1. BLOGGING FOR BUSINESS A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating a Blog That Converts
  2. 2. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com It’s a simple concept: you have a business, and you want it to grow in order to be successful. A critical aspect of that growth is targeting and engaging your audience (aka prospective buyers!) with messages that matter to them, turning those prospects into qualified leads, and converting those leads to revenue producing customers. But how do you do it? What’s your solution? Blogging. (bet ya didn’t think that’s what we were going to say!) Blogging is a vital tactic for businesses who want to remain relevant in their industry, because the fresh, keyword-rich content blogging produces is a key factor in remaining relevant to search engines who determine your website’s organic ranking position on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Before you get carried away dreaming of magical blogging ROI, it’s important to know that just simply having a blog won’t transform your business by itself— it needs care, consistency, and optimized content in order to drive both site traffic and leads. Businesses that blog on a consistent basis achieve 55% more visitors to their websites. That’s 55% more people reading your credibility-building content, sharing your posts, and perusing your site to see what else your company can offer them. Talk about a big opportunity, and your mission, should you choose to accept, is: Blog with consistency, blog with frequency, blog purposefully and provide value to your audience. Why Does My Business Need A Blog? On average, B2C businesses who blog achieve 88% more leads per month, and B2B companies hover right around 67%. It’s hard to argue with numbers like that so a better question might be: How can you afford not to blog? One of the major ways your blog helps your business is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Of course, we’re assuming you’ve done your research on SEO, but in case you haven’t: SEO, in a nutshell, refers to the process of optimizing your website content in a way that helps search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) crawl your site or blog and determine it’s organic ranking on SERPs. Organic ranking is SERP real estate you don’t have to pay for and it needs to be a staple of your marketing and lead generation practices. Basically, business blogging is a great way to improve your online search ranking, which in turn, drives more traffic to your website and gives you more opportunities to convert that traffic to leads and customers. Each and every blog post is considered a new page for Google and other search engines to index. If you’re blogging frequently (we like to say once per week should be the bare bones minimum!) you’re constantly giving search engines new material to crawl. The more you blog, the longer your site remains current SERP
  3. 3. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com in the eyes of almighty engine gods. Oh, and if you’re wondering why we harp on the coupling of frequency and consistency, it’s quite simple. Search engines see inconsistency and infrequency as indicators of low quality, low commitment, low relevancy, you name it. And you never, ever, want the search engines to think low of you (and doesn’t that just make sense?). For example, say you’re a B2C company that sells Ceramic Roosters. You’ve got the best Ceramic Roosters in the area, and you know the quality of your work stands above the rest. However, whenever you look up“Ceramic Roosters”on Google, your site isn’t showing up until the eighth page. This is a problem. You may be popular in your local region, but because you haven’t optimized your content for Google, you aren’t getting the traffic you should be seeing if your website showed up on page one, or even page two of results. And since only about 6% of searchers ever look past the first page of results, the chances of finding your site are marginal, at best. Blogs are also a great way to improve your relationship with your customer-base. When you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry—that is, someone your audience can trust as a go-to and reliable resource—you’re effectively establishing yourself as someone with industry know-how, someone your audience can turn to for advice, clarification, questions, or even tips. Trust is one of the most influential factors on buying decisions for consumers today, and 71% of consumers say blogs (quality blogs) positively affect their purchasing decisions. The lesson here: be the influencer that they need! Earn their trust and help them solve their problems. Providing educated opinions, value-add tips, expert methods of handling tricky situations etc. is also an easy way to produce new content when you’re in a writer’s-block bind or want to provide a unique perspective, and it gives tangible value to your customers and audience who are seeking this type of information. In addition your blog will also act as a 24/7 salesman when you’re not around, continuously pushing prospects through the sales funnel through the use of Calls-To-Action (CTA) buttons strategically placed on the blog page. CTAs are the bridges that guide prospective customers to the pages on your website you want them to see most (think pricing, services, examples of your work etc) or to unique landing pages designed to convert site traffic into leads through the use of forms. When clicked, a CTA leads prospects to a form or offer they can download, like eBooks, guides, webinar, checklists, videos—whatever you’d like to incentivize their engagement. These CTAs act as the middleman between interested prospects who want to take the next step. It’s a powerful way to gauge interest in your pages and can help to capture leads that are highly interested in engaging with you. Your blog will also act as a 24/7 salesman when you’re not around
  4. 4. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com Top Excuses Why People Aren’t Blogging for Their Businesses There are always a thousand reasons in your head on why you shouldn’t or can’t do something, and it’s no different than writing a blog. For new bloggers, it’s a seemingly complex process to dive into, especially for a long-term asset like your business blog. 1 Feeling too far gone? There are already thousands upon thousands of blogs out there with more viewers, killer content, and an unreachable search engine rank. That doesn’t matter. You aren’t competing with the world; you’re competing with your current reach. Plus, who knows where your blog will be in two years. The industry leaders didn’t just magically appear at the top of search results. Your blog should be about connecting with your audience to become an industry thought-leader—a person they can come back to when they need insight or advice. 2 It’s too time-consuming which certainly isn’t false, however, it is misguided. Blogging takes a significant amount of work in order to reach success, and it doesn’t magically happen overnight. Far too many would-be-bloggers quit before they should. In fact, according to Technorati, 95% of blogs are left to die on the internet. You have to work hard to engage both your audience and yourself if you want to promote your quality content for others to read and share. The fruits of your labor aren’t immediate, which turns away many writers before they even try, as they don’t understand how it works or why it’s helpful to their business in the long run. 3 There’s also the I-don’t-have-anything- interesting-to-say crowd, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The more remarkable stance would be saying you have nothing to say—which is just as unbelievable. Your job isn’t to impress your competition or other companies with savvy diction and meticulous grammar; your job is to connect with your audience, while providing a voice for your brand. So you didn’t write a Pulitzer winner? Ah well, did you answer nagging questions your visitors have? Did you post behind-the-scenes pictures of what’s happening around work? Jot down events or practices you’re seeing trend in your industry? Too often, businesses are intimidated by the idea of publishing“everlasting content”on the internet, but if you’re doing your job of engaging your audience while giving them a place of reference, that audience might just stick around for a while. What Should I Write About, And How? So now you understand the importance of blogging for your business, right? Now comes the work: what are you going to write about? Like, seriously… what? Finding a blog topic to write about may be one of the hardest parts of producing content. Once you have the topic, all you need is a little value-add research and some due diligence, and you should be good to go. But even the most capable bloggers run into writer’s block, so it’s helpful to have a plan of attack when you aren’t sure what to write about, or what your audience is interested in reading.
  5. 5. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com Generally, it’s a good practice to start with whatever’s nagging your industry—what are its most prevalent questions and pain points? What are the most popular problems your customers are asking, and how can you use those problems to inform and educate your audience about your brand or industry? Today, searchers are typing full questions into Google and they’re finding their desired answers. Because of this, your blog would be the perfect place to answer those questions and respond to comments or feedback to help inform them of what they need to know. But you might not always know what the most intriguing questions are for your audience, so you also need to be able to create content using other sources. It’s also important to make sure you remember to step outside the confines of your own brand. Your postings need to be less centered on selling to the audience. While your audience might love your brand and hearing from you, no one wants to be sold to incessantly. Your blog needs to be much more than self-promotional; in fact, it’d be better if it wasn’t promotional at all. Too often, businesses miss the point of their blog, looking at it likes it’s another channel to cram sales speak into. But that’s not the point, and if you go in writing content with that frame of mind, you won’t see much success. Think about it, would you read that blog? Then why should others? Keywords are also great for generating content ideas. By building out a quality list of short/longtail keywords that your target audience is actively searching for on Google, you can kill two birds with one stone. On one hand, you’re focusing on a singular keyword for the entire blog, which will drive your Google Ranking. On the other, you’re helping your visitor find the content they’re searching for. Keywords are also a great jumping off point for thinking of outside-the-box blog articles. Speaking of, what are some other ways to write content for your blog when you’re in a bind? 1 Product Reviews Reviews deliver a lot of value to your followers and visitors are constantly looking for honest opinions. If you’re focused on your audience, honesty and transparency are the best approaches you can take. No consumers like one-sided reviews and it can sure be tempting to gush about the product you’re reviewing. but you’ll be wise to review the product based on its own merits. 2 Guides Step by step problem solving is a popular blog concept that’s utilized by so many businesses, as the content is broken down to help the viewer work through it. Who doesn’t like a comprehensive guide that’ll help alleviate your pain points? With guides for virtually every vertical in the world, why not share your expertise on a topic you know all about. 3 Criticism Try discussing industry trends, and other businesses or websites to stir up conversations. Going against the grain is a great way to draw attention to your blog, as long as you’re being careful not to step on too many toes in the process. It’s also presents a great opportunity to second-hand advertise your own services if they rise above the critique. 4 Share the Fun If people love your brand, they’ll love seeing the inner workings of your company. What makes you tick? What makes you so fun to be around? How is everyone always so happy? Why would I want to work there? It’s a great way to give
  6. 6. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com them an inside look at what you’re doing and how you’re staying at the top of your game. 5 Top Lists If you browse the Internet regularly, you’ll know by now the power of numbered lists. They’re easily digestible and generally fun, simple reads. Lists also allow you to break down a complex topic into more digestible pieces allowing the reader to skim them over while still taking value away. To top things off, posts with“Top 10”in the title get clicks. 6 Repurpose There’s nothing wrong with repurposing your content, even if it wasn’t for your blog. Handouts and videos are great for blog posts. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with reposting. If you create evergreen content, there are no limits to how long or how much you can promote it. And remember cross promotion is key as you don’t want to over-saturate your readers. 7 Start A Poll Start a poll, quiz or questionnaire, and after its complete, write about the results and what you can infer from them. When you create a poll regarding a certain service or product, it doesn’t hurt to alert them to this poll. They’ll share the poll with their followers and your blog with get new hits from all over. As an added bonus, it’ll help to inform you in a general sense of what to expect from your audience. 8 Guest Blogging You can invite industry leaders to write posts for you, leveraging both of your networks. This can help exponentially increase your exposure, depending on the guest blogger. It also helps establish relationships with other businesses so you can continue to share content between each other. We’re all in the game together. There’s so much you can write on, and sometimes you get stuck on the what and not so much the how. For a lot of these, you can use the same topic and produce all kinds of spins on it. Take those Ceramic Roosters. You can take that one concept, and stretch it to all kinds of blog posts. Maybe reviews of other Ceramic Roosters? Critiquing the importance of Ceramic Roosters in our culture? Maybe sharing your favorite Ceramic Roosters? A poll on your audience’s interests in Ceramic Roosters? A guide to creating your own Ceramic Rooster? There really are endless possibilities for what you can do and it starts with your drive and personal commitment providing your audience with remarkable content. How Can I Get My Blog Found? One of the most beneficial aspects of creating a successful blog is getting it found by your desired audience. Improving both your traffic and reach takes work, especially for competitive industries. However, getting your blog found is the most critical step of every blog strategy out there. Who wants to needlessly spin their wheels, trudging through the process to provide quality content that no one will ever see? It’s probably the main reason people have trouble jumpstarting their business blog; they lose confidence if they think no one is reading, and in turn, stop trying. But their efforts aren’t a waste of time. You, as a blogger, need to put in effort if you want your blog to grow, because those old posts you wrote a year ago can still help close sales two years later. For any visitor landing on your blog for the first time,
  7. 7. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com everything they’re seeing is new and everything you’ve written can be of benefit to them. Value is value, and your audience will know the difference. Write For Your Readers But your first order of business is to take a step back. That content you’ve been focusing on? It needs to be interesting. We’ve said this, but all too often, bloggers start writing for search engines rather than the people they’re trying to reach. And while you need to appease search engines, the content should be focused and written for human beings—not robots. You need to write something people want to share. We’ve all read awesome articles online that we couldn’t wait to share with our coworkers, friends or family and the goal is to recreate that within your own writing. Go for the home run drive on every blog, as people appreciate quality and you’ll see that once you viewership grows. Controversial topics are also a great way to get viewers for your blog, as they promote comments and a channel to voice your audience’s opinions. Don’t be too radical to turn them away, but pose questions that your audience may be passionate about answering Create High Quality Content The higher your content quality is, the easier it will be to get shared. And the more inbound links (links on other web pages that direct customers and search engines back to your page) you get, the easier it is to follow a trail right to your website. Sharing is a powerful utility for boosting your online search ranking, and it’s influential in getting people to click on the article, even if they wouldn’t be interested in it initially. By juxtaposing inbound links with social sharing, you’re empowering your blog, and you’ll want to reciprocate this by sharing others’content too. Remember the Golden Rule: treat others the way you’d like to be treated. The same goes for blogging. Create Original Content Creating original blog posts is important too. There are tons of articles and blogs on the same topic out there. You know the ones: the Top Three Ways To X, or Ten Reasons Y Is Ruining Your Business. Lots of people share and write the same content. But Google is smart, and can tell when something is getting re-published, rather than created from scratch. That’s why it’s a great practice to publish original blog articles, because it makes your blog the only place to get that information, which is a powerful connection. By making your blog the only place to read an article, you’re positively promoting your prospects return visits. The same thing can be said of time sensitive events or trends, especially if you’re one of the first to write about those events (think Oreo and the Super Bowl). You’ll often have the most traffic for that event because you were one of the first results Google was able to crawl and index. Write For Your Buyer Persona This next one goes without saying, but if you want to get found, you can’t be over-generalizing your audience; you need to write for your buyer persona, a fictitious representation of your companies key buyers/ demographics. You want to target these personas by focusing your content on their wants and needs. Some personas will want fun, light copy--others want hard- hitting research. The overall point is connecting with them as people. Use day-to-day examples, and an extra
  8. 8. 17 Wilmont Mews, Suite 402, West Chester, PA 19382 · 610 692 6229 · www.stratusinteractive.com dose of personality. The same goes for the title, as it’s the first thing they’ll see. It should be very enticing without going overboard. Make it actionable with verbs and bold words, but don’t lie. If the title has nothing to do with the content, you’ll be turning away would- be prospects. Remember that honesty/transparency thing we talked about earlier? Yeah. That’s important. Use Social Media To Your Advantage Social media is also very important for your blogging strategy. Sharing your blog to like-minded groups, communities, or fans is a great way to get more views. Google+ is also a great place to share your content on social media. When you post on Google+, Google indexes the content you publish quicker than it would on its own. It also gives you an opportunity to focus content on your buyer personas with its inclusion of Google Communities. And if you’re providing your audience with winning content, they’ll be able to promote you for free. Never discount the importance of fans, as they’re some of the most influential people to those around them. And once you’ve got them on your side, you’re well on your way to maintaining a successful blog that will help bring in prospects, leads, customers, and everything in between. Key Takeaways If you aren’t blogging for your business, you’re wasting valuable opportunities to connect with your audience and increase your rank in search engines, which is vital to a successful business. It provides more entry points for Google to index for it’s search engine, which helps keep your company relevant and ranking. A blog is a valuable opportunity to improve your reach and exposure, build new relationships with your audience, and influence your target audience to increase your brand loyalty. And if you aren’t targeting your buyer personas, someone else will--so now’s the time to prove how valuable your business is to your visitors and target audience. As we’ve said, blogging is also a long-term process for your business. It provides organic growth now, and in the future, as articles that were popular today may still be popular years from now. And a catalogue of articles under your belt, you have endless opportunities to attract and delight new and existing customers. The power that stems from quality blogging can have impressive results for your business, and in today’s’marketplace--can you really afford not to?

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