Ways To Create A Killer Blog That Will Drive New Business Leads | simplyzesty.com


simplyzesty.com

We’ve been blogging for three years and we think we have what you would call a successful business blog. It helps raise the profile of our company, while keeping hundreds of thousands of people engaged and coming back to get the latest social media news. It feels like the blog is large and established, but we had to start somewhere too when we wrote our first post and nobody knew about the blog.

With all that in mind, we wanted to create a post that shares some of our thoughts and tips on creating a business blog that gets traction and that can help you attract new business. The good news is that most of the technology and tools that you will need are cheap and easy to use and with some quality content you will be well on your way. Here are 25 things that you can do that will help your own business blog massively.

Contents

1) Starting Off
2) Design & Appearance
3) Blog Content
4) Writing Content
5) Social Media
6) Promotion & Leads

Starting Off

Use WordPress
There is a vast number of free blogging sites like Blogger that will help you create one in seconds. However, the most popular blogging site out there has to be WordPress, thanks to its ease of use and range of styles. The scope for personalisation and design is vast, the dashboard is straightforward, and while you can pay for premium features, you can still create a clean and stylish site. When your business and site gains more prominence, you can start thinking about customising the design, but as a starting point, you won’t find any better.
Put Your Blog Front & Centre
Many businesses treat their blog as something that complement the main site, it’s nice to have one, but its use is limited. What you should do is make the blog the main feature of your site, so when people come to visit, they will see all the content you’ve been posting. Don’t bury your blog underneath your site as that defeats its purpose. Put it front and centre so you can show off your knowledge and generate more leads.

Many businesses treat their blog as something that complement the main site, it’s nice to have one, but its use is limited. What you should do is make the blog the main feature of your site, so when people come to visit, they will see all the content you’ve been posting. Don’t bury your blog underneath your site as that defeats its purpose. Put it front and centre so you can show off your knowledge and generate more leads. 

Track Your Analytics
Data is a powerful tool and if you’re in any way serious about improving your blog, you need to install an analytics tool for your site. While there are many, many tools out there, the most popular one is Google Analytics, which will show you how many people are visiting your site and many other useful tidbits.

The basic things that you want to find out is how well the site and individual posts are performing. After you’ve written a number of blog posts, over time you will be able to see which posts are doing well. This is good as if a certain type of post is popular, you can adjust your content plan to reflect this, which in turn means you’re responding to the needs of your readers. However, don’t write these posts too often otherwise it will look like you’re creating content for the sake of getting views, and you’ll neglect other readers who may visit the site for different reasons.

Comments
While the major blogging platforms have their own commenting system, it’s better to use one of the third-party apps that provide more diverse ways of commenting. The most popular one would be Disqus (which we use here), but others like Facebook Comments work well too. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses so do some research to see which one works best for your blog.

Design & Appearance

Hire A Designer
Good design is a vital part of any site as people are more inclined to view a site if it’s easy on the eye. Therefore, investing in the design can help you go a long way so hire a web designer for a small fee to help make your site look nice. You’ll be thankful you did.

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
More people are accessing the web from smartphones and tablets and while some news sites have their own apps, many users are accessing sites from mobile browsers. While your site may work fine on a tablet, smartphone users may have trouble reading your site as it isn’t optimised for the small screen. Therefore, it’s important that you have a mobile experience. Again, most blogging tools have this configured, but makes your site look very basic as a result. A well-designed mobile site is important so if you do get someone in and you can afford it, try to have them develop a mobile version too.

Taking our own site as an example , 17% of our traffic comes from mobile which mightn’t sound like much but that percentage has been growing steadily over the last few months. What’s also great about analytics is that you can get a breakdown of devices that access your site, the type of browsers they use and where they’re coming from. Also, a post from Hubspot showed that 74% of users say that they were more likely to return to a site in the future if it’s mobile friendly, so it’s definitely worth investing in this.

Resist The Urge To Constantly Tinker With Your Site
Nothing’s more annoying than seeing changes constantly made to your site. It makes your site come across as inconsistent and disrupts the experience for those who regularly visit the site. Keep the tone and style of the blog consistent and if you do have to make any changes, big or small, keep them to a minimum.

Formatting Blog Posts
Following your site design, there also has to be consistency to how you format your posts. That means being consistent with things like image sizes, video sizes, positioning and image captions. Decide upon a structure first before you start posting and experiment with a few draft posts since most blogging tools let you preview posts before they go live. That way, you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t.

Use Beautiful Images
People love posts to look as good alongside the written content as possible. Take some of your own images, grab creative commons images, or buy high quality stock imagery for your blog as it really will make all the difference. We recently posted a list of 50 free social media images that you can use and plenty of other sites have similar resources. Place a huge focus on images as it will really help your content.

Blog Content

Quality Not Quantity
When you’re starting off, it is tempting to impersonate the popular news sites and write numerous pieces, the idea is the more posts you churn out, the more chances people will share your content and read your posts. While there is a logic behind this, ultimately it’s not going to work as your site isn’t established and the lifespan of said posts are very short.

So what you need to do is focus on creating one brilliant post instead of numerous small ones. For example, our Ryanair post which we posted last week took roughly 10 hours to put together and involved three people. That time was spent planning, research, designing, and writing up the post. The result was that it has been our most popular post over the last few months and (at time of writing) has been retweeted 300 and liked 214 times.

The point was that post wasn’t something that was created on the spur of the moment, it took a lot of time and preparation. While you mightn’t have the time or resources to do this every day, if you aim to create one high-quality post instead of many small posts, you will begin to see a greater return, and such work will pay off over time.

Make Content That People Will Bookmark
When you’re writing posts, try to write large resource posts or long lists as this is the content that people will come back to. Not only will they share it, but they will also bookmark it so they can visit it again on a regular basis. These posts do take a lot of time and energy to put together, but the rewards are great when you publish it. Here are some examples from our own blog that have worked well.

Create Content For Other Larger Blogs
Something that we do on a regular basis is to create content that other larger blogs will feature. That might be something like guest blogging on other sites (This helps raise your profile and attract new readers), or even just having larger sites republish your content.

What works especially well is creating videos that get featured on other sites and that link back to you. We often make videos like the one below that get picked up by the biggest blogs in the world. Not only do they send you a lot of traffic, but they also send you powerful links that help build your organic traffic.

Writing Content

Don’t Write About Yourself
While a blog is very much a personal site, resist the temptation to write about your business or yourself. Why? People would rather visit a site because they take something away from it. So write content people will find useful instead of writing solely about the business. Also, while we’re on the subject, try to get into the habit of writing posts without referring to yourself personally or the company (no ‘I’ or ‘we’). The reason for this is that it will show you’re focused on the topic and on providing good content for readers, instead of trying to shoehorn you or your company into each post.

There are exceptions, of course, but these are few in nature so unless you’ve been bought out by a major company, use them sparingly.

Stay On Topic
There is nothing worse than a blog that drifts off topic all the time. When people come to this blog, they know they are going to get content about social media, advertising, marketing and online tips. That is what they expect. The really successful blogs always stay focused and you know exactly what you are going to read when you go to them. Focus is one of the hardest things in the world to achieve, but it should be your main goal every day.

Hyperlinking
We mentioned how popular content will get linked back, but this works both ways too. In your blog posts, link to content both from your blog and from other sites. The internal links work as Google will recognise them and will help improve your search engine ranking while linking to other blog posts acts like referencing, it helps develop the content of your post further and its helps build up relationships with said blogs if you regularly link to them.

Edit, Edit, Edit
Perhaps the most important thing of all. You’ve taken the time to research, source images, and write your post so that it’s ready for the world. However, one thing that can ruin a post are mistakes and typos. Before you publish, make sure you take the time to read your post over and look for any glaring errors, twice preferably.

If you can, get a friend or colleague to proofread it. If that isn’t possible, take a break and return to it a day later. Your mind will feel refreshed and you’ll pick up on mistakes that you may have missed the first time. Also, reading backwards out loud is quite effective as it forces you to concentrate more on what you’re reading. Spell checkers are also good for picking up typos and grammatical mistakes, but you shouldn’t exclusively rely on them. Only use them to complement your proofreading, not replace it.

Ultimately, even if your post is late, it’s better to take your time then to rush it out and risk looking sloppy.

Social Media

Add Social Media Plugins
Social media plugins work in two ways, the first lets visitors share your content and the second alerts visitors to your own social presence. Starting with sharing, you can get buttons for the major sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Stumbleupon, and Digg. By right, you should prioritise three or four plugins as you don’t want to overload your site with them. Think about what your site’s content is and determine the best plugins to use. If it’s business-related, include LinkedIn and if it’s something that could regularly go viral, use Facebook.

You can also use plugins to help get new fans and followers. Each site has buttons or boxes that will help you promote your site, so prioritise one or two and fit them into your site. This will help you get more followers and fans for your social media accounts.Leverage YouTube
YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world and while every brand and business is busy spending large amounts of money trying to get to the top, the site is wide open for you to produce relevant content. Our YouTube channel has close to a million views and all those video drive people back to the blog here with links under the videos.

Each video is branded as well and it is just another channel to help build your brand in a cost-effective manner. Embed the videos on to your blog to give your readers more of a rich media experience. This iPad video is a classic example. We made it and posted to Youtube and it has nearly 300,000 views and is the third result when you search ‘iPad’ on YouTube. We have countless new readers and people exposed to our brand because of this video.

Promotion & Leads

Promote your own posts
Writing and producing amazing content is only half the battle. You could be spending hours producing content that is only seen by a handful of people so a good promotional strategy is essential. We’d even go as far as saying that you should spend 50% of your time writing a post and the following 50% promoting the content. Some of the best ways to do this include engaging with other bloggers within your niche.

Leaving insightful comments on other sites that are covering the same subject to show your own credibility on the subject. You might also highlight the post through your own channels like your mailing list, Twitter or by highlighting it on the website itself.

Build The Blog’s Brand Via Social Media
Most people start up Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts when they have a blog, expecting to send out a few links and see a flood of traffic. The reality is that you are going to have to work a little harder than that as these act more like a brand building channel.

Using Facebook as an example, once you do acquire some new fans, push out related content to them and nice image updates rather than constantly linking to your own blog. Remember when people are on Facebook, they don’t want to get pushed out to other sites so give them the content within their feed that they’ll like and share rather than always trying to get them over to your blog.

Build A Database
While you are producing content, you want to make sure that you are getting some return on your investment. You can do so by building a database of potential customers. You can do this by getting Twitter followers, Facebook likes and perhaps more importantly email addresses.

Email might not seem like the sexiest tool when it comes to marketing, but it is a way to keep people coming back to your blog on a regular basis and for you to communicate with potential customers direct to the place they access nearly every day.

Make It Easy For People To Contact You
If you’re a business, you want to ensure that no matter where your audience is, they can contact you quickly and without hassle. So provide an email address, phone number, business address and a Twitter and Facebook account that will help you capture new business leads. In short, don’t make it difficult for people to contact you.

Bring Some Cash In With Ads
You probably won’t have the traffic at the start to start adding adverts to your blog and some people might be against it in general, but it is a great way to get additional resources for your blog. We added adverts as a small test about a year ago to see what users thought of them. We had one person ask why we were adding them on Twitter and that was it.

They now bring in enough to pay a full-time writer which helps to further expand the quality of the blog. You’d be surprised at how little resistance there is when you introduce ads to your blog. As long as they are not too intrusive as most people know how to filter them out anyway.

Promote Via Email
A small but handy tip. When you’re emailing people, adjust your signature so that it includes a link to your blog. Not a major addition, but it should help build exposure and get the word out there.

And Most Importantly

Stick with it! Most blogs fail in the first couple of months because people start one up with the best of intentions, but then quickly realise that it is not driving sales leads and shut it down. The chances are no matter how good a blogger you are, nobody will read it for a while so you will need to build up your trust with search engines and get some regular readers.

Once you do make the breakthrough and have people reading regularly, things get a lot easier. But the key is to not give up and to really stick with it, even when it feels like it’s only your granny and your cat who is reading your content.

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