Writing A Business Blog Post – 9 Tips To Make It Great
Business blog post writing.
It sends business owners and entrepreneurs either heading for the hills or grinding something out of their laptops in the hope that publishing it will help their SEO and increase web traffic.
No-one should blog like this. And no business should either.
I know why this happens. If you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner or freelancer then time is money, and other pressing work can get in the road of writing blog posts.
But there’s good reason to put time aside for doing them – your digital marketing. This is fuelled by content – text, videos, podcasts, images – and the massive opportunity it gives to attract more clients.
Together, these reasons should make writing them a total no-brainer.
What makes a great business blog post?
In this post, I’ve listed nine tips for doing an awesome business blog post from inception to publication, and the best examples to showcase each.
To help you navigate this post, I’ve placed links to each tip below. You can jump back and forth to whatever tips you want exclusive information on.
Tip One – Research
Tip Two – Headline
Tip Three – The First Paragraph
Tip Four – Structure
Tip Five – Writing
Tip Six – Blog Post Length
Tip Seven – Images/Videos
Tip Eight – Editing
Tip Nine – SEO
Knowing the landscape where your audience thrives and what traction your competition has in that landscape is the starting point for finding both the topics to discuss and a fresh approach in taking them on.
The topics that keep coming up in social media posts, in the questions being asked by that community and the solutions put forward by others, should be written down.
What things keep being mentioned in your industry space? Has anyone taken the lead on how to address them? Did it work?
This is where keyword research and long-tail keywords come into play for longer, ongoing web traffic.
If the blog post touches on a pressing topic within your industry and has several related keyword phrases within its content, you can appear higher in the search results page.
Long-tail keyword phrases help attract people who are more specific in their search, and therefore more receptive to engaging with your content.
For example, SEO as a topic covers a huge swath of online content but nobody quite sets themselves apart like Brian Dean at Backlinko.
His idiosyncratic solutions to gaining more web traffic and ranking higher on Google fit beautifully with what his target audience are looking for. A left of centre option for better SEO results and business traffic.
Dean’s articles tick many of the boxes in great business blogging.
They include the hard work and exhaustive research he puts into making his posts a go-to resource on SEO on the web. They’re long, detailed and easy to digest. No stone is left unturned.
He’s measured and has tested all of his SEO hypotheses. To Dean, you test your theory, see what comes out in the wash-up, and then assess its success.
His most shared post (with over 7,000 shares on social media) talks about SEO tools.
These are highly competitive keywords, so Dean has gone the whole hog in standing out, reviewing over 153 SEO tools.
One hundred and fifty-three of those babies.
In that post he doesn’t just give lip service to the smaller players, but discusses the pros and cons of each one in detail.
The post helps any user in the SEO space get a grip on what tools are out there. I’ll keep returning to this post in the future – it’s so good.
You don’t have to publish what Brian Dean can. Not many people can.
Yet putting time and energy into the research side – working out the topics, what perspective you can bring to them and backing yourself up with data – does make an impact on the quality of the post you publish.
The headline is the shop window for your target audience. If it’s done right, you attract the click and get the reader going further into your blog post.
When it fails, nothing further is read and your post stays in the shadows. That’s how important headlines are to blog posts.
80% of users don’t go beyond the headline of any content. To get that 20% who will read on, your opening title has to engage and entice them to take action.
No two headlines will work the same. What works for a content marketing audience, might not generate anything from a web design one, even if there were minor tweaks to it.
Again this falls to knowing your target audience and what will capture their attention.
But there are templates that use the most successful headlines across different industries.
Neil Patel, the prolific content marketer, highlighted these templates in one of his recent posts.
- How Tos
Using one of these templates and tailoring the headline for your audience, can get them reading your post. This, after all, is the end game.
Two points on headlines to note:
- Keep them under 70 characters – Google won’t cut them short in search results, anything over and (…) is placed at the end.
- They must deliver on what they say – no headline should deceive people. Not only is this pure clickbait but being deceptive on your content can damage the most important thing you have – your reputation.
If you want to see great headlines, even when they are very clickbaity, then check out Buzzfeed.
The digital media news website teaches you how a headline works with the audience they are chasing – the 18 to 35 year old ‘bored at work’ community.
Buzzfeed’s competitors who are in this same space, Upworthy, are reported to make twenty-five headlines for one piece of content. They consider this twenty-five a brain dump and then you can find the right headline.
Here’s two of Buzzfeed’s recent headlines:
Here’s two of Upworthy’s:
Those headlines galvanise interest and the desire to find out more.
I go through the structure and word selection of those headlines (putting the sensationalist element aside) to give me ideas about what I need to do.
Focus on understanding why they work so well and what pieces you can take away for your own blog posts.
The First Paragraph ^top^
Keep them reading. Sentence by sentence, and drive the reader right into the heart of your blog post.
Your first paragraph is perhaps the most crucial element in making this happen.
This paragraph has to both summarise what’s coming, draw the reader further into your post and be creatively interesting enough not to drop any momentum.
Like headline creation, they can take some effort to get right.
You don’t need to be a career journalist or seasoned author to write great openings. What you need is to understand your own voice and how to easily converse with your audience.
Then practice, and practice again.
Using keywords inside the first one hundred words of your paragraph is also recommended. This helps with SEO and signalling to the search engine about the purpose of your post.
This is no walk in the park and you may come back to rewrite the opening a few times.
In fact, I’d suggest rewriting until that paragraph is short and seductive enough to pull your reader in.
I rewrite once I’ve finished my post, even if I have a first paragraph already written. My reason is that my brain is not in the right gear when I start writing, but the cogs are certainly turning by the end.
Some people try to get this paragraph right at the start, before they write the rest of the post.
Test it out, try both ways, and find out what works best for you and your writing process.
Let’s take a look at two examples of good first paragraph openings.
The Merrymaker Sisters’ blog is aimed at people who are sick of the diet obsession and want to eat and live well without insane restrictions. So their post introductions have the kind of enthusiasm most of us dream of in real life and are very conversational.
They write like you’re sitting at a cafe with them and talking as close friends.
Small Paper Things talks all issues digital marketing and small business running.
The blog posts, mostly written by founder Kate Cook, feel extremely approachable and relatable for anyone trying to run and market their business.
Her posts lessen the jargon spoken within the industry and keep you in the loop when working out practical solutions (a lot of digital marketing blogs don’t).
She published a post on The Ultimate Guide to Using Hashtags Effectively and her first two sentences begin with a question someone has asked on hashtags.
The post also breaks down the ways many people are using hashtags – or just don’t know how to work with them.
The last sentence opens up the value of continuing to read further into the content. It’s almost effortless in its effectiveness.
How your business blog post looks to users is as important as what it says.
A bunched up mash of sentences, paragraphs and images which is difficult to scan cuts your blog post off at the knees, even if it’s mind-blowingly good.
You don’t have to use blog standard design templates, the stuff the majority of bloggers employ. But you do need to present your content in its best light.
The look of your blog post
This begins with the type of font you use and the size you have for reading. Some fonts take effort to read, need more concentration to scan and therefore limit your user’s ability to absorb the content.
Those fonts are not impossible to read but they’re not easy to scan either.
The second font examples are as safe as houses to use for reading a post. They’re not brash or over stylised but simple.
Again, this will depend on your reader’s taste. Just make the font type and size as smooth as silk, and have nothing for the reader to trip over when reading your post.
Breaking up your blog post
Referred to as breathing space between words but the idea is to make easier, smaller chunks to read.
Alleviate any difficulty for your reader in scanning your post.
My metaphor is your content is a tropical jungle, full of riches and abundance that can overwhelm anyone to start, before they head towards its centre.
By breaking it open to let more light and space fall onto the ground, your reader gets the chance to relax. They can navigate the slimmer areas of that jungle and not feel it’s all on top of their shoulders.
You break up this jungle by either having smaller paragraphs and individual sentences that open up the white space where eyes can rest.
The reader’s eyes can scan your post and take more of the information from it.
Subheadings also assist in your reader navigating your post. They can also highlight important sections where you want their attention to be drawn.
User experience is what you are looking to cater your blog posts for – when your audience likes what content you’re putting out there, they are more likely to return. Subheadings themselves are good for your SEO as well.
For example, the Canva Design School blog post structure divides up its content with precision.
They contain shortish paragraphs (3 to 4 sentences), a 14 sized sans serif font, and a host of images through the article with image alt text.
Their structure is straightforward as well as easy to read. You can pick up the details without any difficulty.
And being a design blog, the use of images is, well, outstanding.
The idea is not making it a challenge for people to scan your blog post.
Calls to Action
You’re writing a business blog post so you want the ability for your target audience to take action after they’re read it.
And this is where a Call to Action comes into play. This doesn’t mean preaching a hard sell for a service or even a product bargain (although you may want this to happen at some point).
Defining your goals as to why you’re writing your blog post helps create the best CTAs within them.
A great resource on Calls to Action is held by Digital Marketing Authority HubSpot. Whatever action you want people to take from your blog post, there’s a call to action out there for that option.
You can check through HubSpot’s 30 Calls to Action list and modify them to suit your blog post.
Okay, so you’ve nailed down the topic you want to talk about, researched it and brought up some interesting data to discuss. Now you can draw up an outline for your post.
Using the basic rules we’ve talked about, pin down the blueprint of how you want to write this thing.
The outline should include the first paragraph, the essential subheadings and the examples you’re going to use, and a summary note to tie up the intention of the blog post.
I do this as a mind map before I write to plan out where I’m travelling when writing the content.
It also gets my brain focused on putting myself directly into my blogging. I don’t need to scramble between what I’m talking about and where I’m heading. The outline lays out that path.
When you write, you stamp your personality on your business communication and people can understand exactly who you are. A business should have a brand voice they want themselves to sound like with their target audience.
A blog post written in that voice, with your ideas and perspective is already two steps ahead of any competition.
Personality in your writing attracts the people you want to come on board and do future business with.
That’s the magic of blogging, it helps get you and your brand out there regularly.
The blog of writer Jeff Goins, perhaps, highlights exactly what it means to put personality into content.
Goins, a successful writer and author, injects his unique character into what he writes so that you can’t mistake it for anyone else. Is he rattling a cowbell and shouting ‘look at me!’ above the noise? No.
He uses a measured tone in getting his advice across – it sounds like a one-to-one conversation directly with you. He writes in his own voice, which seems a strange thing to say, yet the countless influencers who sound the same make you understand how fantastic his writing is.
Blog Post Length ^top^
Buffer states the most shared posts are around 1,500 words.
When people say the post should be as long as it needs to be, the caveat should be that it must be more resourceful than what’s already online.
I recommend making a blog post that’s not short but is succinct. There’s no waffle or filler; it just gets to the point quickly.
The longer a post goes, the more detail and value it brings to the person reading the content.
300 word daily articles that carry minimal benefit to your audience are pointless, both in the time taken to create them and the rewards received.
Only outliers like Seth Godin can do short blog posts that get a massive share as he already has built a huge marketing audience and has numerous high quality marketing books to his name. His words are like sacred text.
Small businesses owners or entrepreneurs may never be that revered.
Your blog posts have to solve a problem or issue in your business space, and when starting out you must try to put so much value into your content that it cannot be ignored or dismissed.
For example, I have mentioned Neil Patel before – he has this down pat. His is close to the best content marketing writer online and doesn’t post to feed any search engine.
He publishes to be the go-to resource on a topic.
Patel puts out articles with so much data-backed advice to reinforce his perspective, therefore his blog posts go well over the 1,500 word mark.
Many go between 3,000 to 5,000 words.
Does that make them long-winded and excessive? To any other writer they could be. To Patel, these are articles that will make the real difference to his target audience.
The evolution of content is turning towards more visual-based information that people can interact with.
Images, infographics, and videos are now inside business blog posts or their own separate posting.
The visual items help break up of the blocks of text in your post. You deliver interesting content, whichever way it works.
According to a Buffer study, blog posts with an image every 75 to 100 words receive double the number of shares than posts that have fewer images.
Do you need to stick to that exact number? No, it’s a guide, but understand that using more visuals in your post is the point.
Putting some thought into what images or videos you can include in your blog posts will increase engagement with your users. They don’t have to be premium images, they just have to suit what you’re discussing.
Buffer themselves have a great post on the 53+ best free image resources available online.
These include Flickr, Dreamtime, Pixabay, Stockvault and Death To The Stock Photo. Paid services like Shutterstock, Bigstock and 500 Pixels offer more high-quality professional images for either a small one-off fee or a monthly/annual membership.
This will depend on what you’re willing to pay for visual content.
Video content itself is also reported to take up 71% of all internet traffic in 2017. That’s huge.
Starting up your own YouTube channel for business could be daunting. Yet the benefits of having video content either embedded, on your blog post, or a link directly to YouTube that gives something visual amongst your content, outweigh any perceived risk.
Video services you can use include Vimeo, Wistia and YouTube (where you can embed the video directly into your post) or social media channels like Periscope and Snapchat where a link can take users to your connected account.
The latter may lessen direct SEO signals but it’s the interaction with your audience that matters here.
You’ve got the post written, now it’s ready to publish. Hardly.
What you’ve got is a piece of marble you sculpted into a useable shape and now needs some finesse work.
It’s time to put your editor’s hat on and do what every writer does to make their work good, review and rewrite.
Stepping outside of your own experience with your post, you want to feel how your key readers will deal with it.
This task begins with you being honest with yourself about what you have written. Because if you’re like me, a lot of it will be clunky. That’s par for the course.
What you should end up with is something tighter and reads far better than the previous version.
Once you’re as happy as you can be with the content, then you get someone else to read it.
I suggest giving it over to a professional proofreading service or freelance writer/proofreader who takes their scalpel to your work. I’ve gotten used to the constructive criticisms of my submitted content but know full well the value of making my stuff far better.
I use Expert Editor for my go-to proofreader, who deliver an efficient service in both British and American English.
I’ve also used proof-reading.com, an American-based service that can turnover urgent work within 6 hours (called their platinum standard) for a higher cost.
You can do a Google search using ‘proofreading service’ or ‘best proofreading editor’ and the results will slant to wherever you’re located.
Proofreading software like Grammarly is good, although from my experience, not as precise as a human editor.
Given the research being put into AI and machine learning this may change in the future, but for now, get a person to proofread for you.
SEO for blog posts consists of things we’ve discussed – researching your topics, keywords and long-tail keyword phrases, competitors’ content on those topics, effective headlines and subheadings but there are other important things to put in place as well.
Internal and external linking are required for blog posts.
Having part of a sentence as Anchor Text or Highlighted Text with a link which takes you to an external website gives your blog post more solid signals to Google.
Especially if the link is connected to a website with good domain authority. Google’s algorithms reportedly assess the quality and relevance of external links, so placing them 4 or 5 times inside your blog post text is good for SEO.
Likewise for internal links, although this assists more with indexing your site and tying other blog posts you have on your website.
Again, it’s reported that Google likes content on websites to be simple to navigate and requires minimal steps to reach it.
You can do the same as before and highlight unique text, placing a hyperlink to another previous blog post. This action helps connect your content for your readers and the search engine.
Using an SEO plug-in like All-In-ONE SEO or Yoast for your WordPress website is a great way to make your blog post SEO-ready.
I use the Yoast plug-in for my website.
I’m able to assess my headline title (to make sure the length isn’t cut off by Google’s results), create a permalink for my post which is precise and simple (www.example.com/blog-post-title), and fill in the meta description that the search engine might display in the results page (where there’s also a character cut-off).
Placing content and topic tags is also good practice, although there’s debate about the weight Google places on these.
It does also assess the readability of your post and the keyword density but they are not primary SEO factors anymore.
Point to note – overusing any keyword can penalise your content and your website. That’s worth remembering.
Being mobile responsive, my final SEO tip, may require you to have a plug-in or web designer in place.
Google released a major update in April 2014 named ‘mobilegeddon’ that did two things, gave more signal weight to websites that are mobile responsive and lessened the signal from those sites who aren’t.
If your website isn’t mobile responsive, you’ve got to make it so. This may mean putting some funds towards a decent web designer to get it done.
An awesome resource for SEO is Moz.
While Backlinko discusses the left-field ways of approaching your SEO, the Moz team goes for the main jugular. Type any SEO question into their search bar and Moz will have something to say about it to help you out.
Since you’ve come this far, you know how important a business blog is to your digital marketing strategy.
In taking on board some of the tips I’ve listed here, you can stop just putting an average blog post online in the hope it brings you an audience.
You can start publishing the stuff that brings value to your customer.
The ‘go-to’ value they don’t get from anywhere else.
Now get out there and write it!
If you don’t have the time or people to make a great business blog post then I think we should talk.
Blogging is a serious part of your business and we can make it truly sing.