Let’s pretend your business is planning a website redesign but you have to make a choice: you can have a brand new website but no blog. Or, you can keep your existing site but add a blog.
Which option would you choose?
Companies redesign their websites all the time. What’s usually driving the redesign is that they are "tired" of their existing site. Maybe they inherited the site from a predecessor. They want a fresh look. A competitor has a really cool website. And so on.
Businesses are spending a lot of money on website redesigns with the belief that just having a site makeover will somehow change things for their business.
Sadly, many B2B companies are missing a crucial element of making their website an engine of company growth – a blog.
Blogs are simply articles posted to a section of your website (in reverse chronological order) that include the ability for readers to make comments and use social media to share the content. You’re reading a blog right now.
A blog is by far the most important means of increasing the right kind of traffic to your site and converting visitors to leads. And as an added bonus, the more that you blog, the more people will perceive you as an expert.
Setting up a blog can seem confusing and intimidating if you’re new to blogging. But it doesn’t need to be.
Here are the five most important things to focus on when building a blog in order to increase traffic and generate leads:
This one is more important than the four that follow. And the most important part of creating educational content is to research and understand your buyer persona.
In Adele Revella’s book Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer's Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business, she describes buyer personas:
“In the simplest terms, buyer personas are examples or archetypes of real buyer that allow marketers to craft strategies to promote products and services to the people who might buy them.”
The more you understand your buyer persona and the journey they follow in researching and buying a solution like the one your company provides, the better your content will be.
Give some thought to (and do some keyword research on) what kind of long, specific search terms your buyer persona might be using. What are they looking for help with? Ask your sales and customer service people for a list of the top 25 questions they get from customers. Write articles that answer those questions. Whatever you write, don’t write about your company - keep the focus on what’s interesting to your buyer persona or you won’t attract much traffic.
Focus on one topic per blog post and don’t try to cover too much ground in each post. People are busy and will appreciate your content more if you can get to the point. And with blogging, remember that consistency trumps frequency. Keep publishing articles on a regular, consistent basis no matter how frequently (but once a week is a good minimum).
By publishing articles that are helpful for and interesting to your prospective customers, your site traffic will increase.
Write a Clear Title – Keep it under 70 characters (under 60 is even better), otherwise the title won’t be visible in search engine results. Keep in mind the Copyblogger 80/20 rule that only 20% of the readers who see your title will go on to read the article. That’s why you should spend as much effort creating your title as you do writing the article.
Use Whitespace and Images – Whitespace is helpful for the reader because it makes the content more visually digestible. Pictures are extremely helpful because the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.
Use Subheads, Numbers and Bolding – Doing so helps break up the content and make it more scannable. When reading online, people tend to scan more than they do when reading printed material.
Include a Meta Description – This is some some easily embedded HTML code that provides a concise explanation of what the post is about. The description is often displayed on a search engine results page under the blog title. Unfortunately, many digital marketers ignore this step because the search engines don’t tend to use the meta description for search engine rankings. What marketers are overlooking, however, is the human who will read the description and decide to click on the result based on it.
Blogging helps with your search engine optimization. Each time you publish an article it gives the search engines something new to index. It’s one more chance to get found. Publishing remarkable content also increases your chances that other sites will link to yours.
According to Wordtracker, “a long tail keyword is a keyword (or, rather, a search that has been made on the internet) which is really specific to something that the searcher is looking for."
For each blog post, focus on just one long tail keyword. And make sure to include the long tail keyword in the blog title, the URL, body copy and meta description. Include the keyword in the image alt-text as well in order to signal to the search engines what the image is about (they can’t see images – yet).
Link internally and externally. Internal linking is where you link to a page on your site that has additional information relevant to your topic. External linking is where you link to what’s outside your site (like I did above with the link to Wordtracker). And think about your anchor text, which is the text that appears highlighted in a hypertext link and is clicked to open the target web page. Search engines use what’s in the anchor text to interpret what you’re linking to.
You do want leads, right? By including calls-to-action on your blog posts inviting readers to learn more about the article’s topic, you will start generating more leads.
A call-to-action is a website button, image, text link that encourages a visitor to take an action by typically clicking on the button, visiting a landing page and filling out a form in return for some kind of content. Often, that content is a white paper, eBook, webinar or a newsletter.
Put a call-to-action at the bottom of each blog post that is related to each blog post. Include calls-to-action on your blog post sidebar that include general content as well as more specific content of interest to someone looking to buy soon.
“Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” ~Jay Baer.
Sharing your blog posts through social media helps increase the traffic to your blog and the number of inbound links to your site. Social sharing also has an effect on search rankings. To make it easier for readers to share your content, add social sharing buttons on your blog so sharing is just a click away.
Social sharing can also help you get more customers. According to Webdam, 43% of all marketers found a customer via LinkedIn and 52% of all marketers have found a customer via Facebook.
Surprisingly, the easiest part of setting up a blog is the technical details. The trickiest part is producing content that focuses on your buyer persona. But if you can do both, you will begin to attract more of the right kind of site traffic and quality leads.
photo credit: 2009-07-19T15-29-32 -- DSC_0779 via photopin (license)