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The Business Owner’s Guide to Blogging Best Practices

You’ve probably heard a lot about how blogging can increase traffic to your website.  But how?  And what’s the data behind that?

According to Hubspot, one study they performed showed that companies that blog have far better marketing results, including 55% more website visitors – that’s a lot more chances to get leads!

And the benefits of blogging don’t stop there. When you blog regularly, you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your industry, improve your SEO, and help people feel more connected to your brand.

But you can’t just start writing and expect great things to happen. To get the top-notch business results you’re after, follow these blogging best practices:

Post/promote consistently at the right time

If you’re pumping out solid content on your blog but still not getting the results you want, you might be promoting your posts wrong or posting too infrequently.

Dan Zarrella of HubSpot surveyed over 1400 blog readers to find out what time most people like to read blog posts. Here’s the data from his survey:

According to this data, it’s clearly a good idea to publish in the morning whenever possible. If you can’t publish that early for some reason, try to at least publish by the afternoon.

As far as promoting blog posts on social networks, Dan found that there are optimal times for that too. Here’s his research on the best times to tweet and post to Facebook:

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Looking at the graph above, you can see that retweets peak around 4PM, so that’s a great time to share your latest blog post with your followers and score some serious shares!

Tip: If you don’t want to log in to your social media accounts at 4PM, simply schedule your tweets ahead of time with a social media tool like Hootsuite.

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Since the above graph shows that Facebook shares are most frequent around 9AM and we already know that most people read blogs in the morning, 9AM is a great time to both publish your posts and automatically share them to Facebook.

While Dan’s data looks pretty conclusive, it’s important for you to test and see what works best with your specific audience too. Try the publishing/sharing times mentioned here, and if they don’t work as planned, run A/B tests until you find the days/times that yield the best results.

Create marketing personas to reference when brainstorming topic ideas

Marketing personas are basically fictional representations of your target audience members. Creating and referencing personas is critical to developing the best possible blog content.

For example, let’s say you’re selling property management services to landlords. First, you’d create a marketing persona that represents your ideal customer (a landlord), including data like demographics, preferences, and goals.

In this example, you’d find that one goal of landlords is to avoid the costly eviction process by choosing high-quality, low-risk tenants. With that knowledge, you could confidently write a detailed blog post about the best screening process for landlords to use to attract eviction-proof tenants.

See how that works? Once you figure out what information your audience is after, you simply deliver it to them in your blog posts.

Tip: Check out Hubspot’s free template for creating a marketing persona here.

Build trust by sharing personal stories

Any competent writer can create lots of list-style posts with no personality behind them. The problem with that is that, while there may be some good information there, the reader never gets the chance to bond with the blogger.

Now, don’t get me wrong – list posts are still awesomely effective. But, it’s a good idea to add in stories when you can. It’ll help you engage and persuade your audience.

But how do you tell a compelling story in your blog posts?

If you’re writing a list-style post, try to include a quick story in the introduction section. If you’re not sure what kind of post to write, focus on delivering useful info to your audience in a narrative. James Altucher is a good example of a writer who excels at this, and his blog is wildly successful because of it. Read through a few of his latest posts, and you’ll see what I mean.

And no – I’m not saying you have to make the majority of your blog posts incredibly personal to succeed. But you should use storytelling to your advantage when you can. At the very least, make sure you write conversationally in a unique voice that aligns with your brand.

Take a stand on controversial issues

It might seem safe to stay neutral on controversial issues, but that is a complete myth. Brands that stay neutral are trying to attract everybody, but by doing so, they actually end up attracting nobody.

Why? Because people want to work with people that they like. If you take a neutral stance on every topic, people might feel lukewarm about your brand, but they won’t really like you. That ultimately means less audience engagement and fewer conversions.

So, leave the fear to your competitors and start backing up your beliefs. You might lose some of your audience, but that’s fine.

Why? Because you’ll gain a new audience that is more closely aligned with your brand personality and values.

Choose the right length for your posts

Research shows that longer blog posts are shared more frequently. Check out this table from Quicksprout that shows how blog post length affects social shares:

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But what about reader engagement? You’d think that people browsing online (who tend to have short attention spans) wouldn’t stick around to read a long blog post. However, research performed by Medium shows that they do. Check out the data:

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If your writing is engaging and relevant, you should be able to keep your reader around for 7 minutes. That means writing about 1600 words per blog post.

Notice that I said “if your writing is engaging and relevant.” What I’m getting at is that you can’t just fill a blog post with fluff just for the sake of reaching the optimal word count length and expect top results. Either give your readers something of value in those 1600 words, or create a solid, shorter post.

And remember, whether you’re talking about the number of words in your post or how often you publish, quality is better than quantity in the long run.

Use data to back up your claims

Opinion pieces can be fun to read, but nothing makes a blog post more trustworthy than solid data and proven research.

One of the most popular marketing bloggers on the web, Neil Patel, constantly uses data to back up the claims he makes on his blog, Quicksprout. Look through some of the posts there, and you’ll notice lots of numbers, statistics, and screenshots of graphs that help him illustrate his points.

So, beef up your blog post with hard data and useful images whenever possible. That way, you can build credibility and show that you’re presenting an objective argument that is useful to your readers.

In conclusion

Other than following the advice outlined here, one of the most important things you can do when blogging for your business is be consistent. Realistically, it could take several months for your blog to pick up steam – even if it’s really good.

But, at that point, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of business blogging. And – trust me – the results will be well worth all of the hard work.

 

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