The Complete Guide to Launching and Growing a Business Blog
Ever since B2B companies started using content marketing as a means to educate and engage prospects, a new business blog or two are launched every week with much gusto and six months later, killed with much sadness.
That is not to say that a B2B blog cannot be successful. Several companies such as CoSchedule, Buffer, and Zendesk rely on blogging to bring in leads.
How did they go about building such successful company blogs? In this article, I share the step by step process you can use to launch and grow an uber-successful blog.
This is a humongous post that might be a lot to take in at one go, so make sure you bookmark it and read it in your own time.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
Section 1: Developing a Business Blog Strategy
Without a solid strategy, your blog will fade into oblivion.
What do I mean by solid strategy? One that answers the following:
- What are the goals of your business blog?
- Who is your target audience? What are their pain points?
- What unique insights does your blog offer?
Lets dissect each of these further, so you can come up with a blog strategy for your company:
What are the goals of your business blog?
B2B company blogs generally fall into the awareness stage of the funnel. What does this mean?
Your blog will often be the first point of contact a prospect has with your product. At this point, your aim is to engage them and build authority in your niche. You want your blog readers to be engaged enough to convert into email subscribers, sign up for free trials and finally, become paid customers.
That is not to say that blog content only drives new leads. In fact, your blog can also be used to educate customers and get them to come back to your website day after day, just like Zapier does.
Here’s what Sukh Dhillon, Blog Manager at Optimizely, says about their strategy:
“The Optimizely blog is a key part of our marketing strategy, with the primary goal being to provide our readers with unique, insightful content to help them become better experimenters. By providing real value to our readers, we can achieve awareness and engagement with our content, and ultimately cement our position thought leader in the experimentation space.”
So as you’re just starting out with your B2B blog, here’s your primary goal: To build a large and engaged readership.
Break down your primary goal into small, achievable bits, that you can measure and work on. Here’s how to do that:
There are many moving pieces to building an engaged readership.
When setting goals, pick metrics that best help you measure your success. For instance, traffic and bounce rate are two of the most important blog metrics. Note down how much you plan on improving each metric on a monthly basis.
For example, “I want 1000 blog visitors per month, for the first three months.”
Set realistic goals
What is a realistic goal for a B2B blog? How much traffic should you expect in the first few months?
To get a better idea, I spoke to Alfred Lua, content manager at Buffer, a social media management tool for marketers. This year, the blog hit more than one million pageviews. Alfred shares how they got here in this blog post.
But I wanted to know, what was their growth rate in the initial months?
Here are the numbers:
As you can see, the blog started with around 3000 sessions in the first month. It was only after 5-6 months that they started getting some serious traffic.
In the first few months, content marketer Neil Patel suggests gathering just 100 true fans. These fans will provide you with feedback and help you grow further. He cites his own blog as an example. In eight months, he grew his blog traffic to 63,827 visitors. This was after leveraging his personal brand and experience.
So if you’re starting from scratch, without a personal brand or other assets, even 30,000 or 63,000 visitors might be a lofty goal.
Who is your target audience? What are their pain points?
Audience research is important for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because you don’t want to end up spending 20+ hours creating the best piece of content, only to find out your target audience doesn’t need it.
How do you get the pulse of your audience and create exactly the kind of content they crave?
There are two parts to this. First, you define who you target audience is. Second, you find out what’s keeping them up at night.
Here’s how you can conduct top-notch target audience research:
Defining your target audience
To begin with, you will have some idea of who your target customers are. However, the point of this step is to give you a clearer picture, so you can create reader personas to research further.
Let’s say you’re a time-tracking app that helps monitor remote employees.
Who is your target customer? Remote companies, of course. But you want to get a bit more specific than that.
Are these companies startups? Big corporations? Are you also targeting solopreneurs?
Maybe you’re also targeting remote employees, as they may get their clients to use your app. Even within this niche, there are several types of freelancers you might target such as writers, designers, consultants, marketers, and so on.
So, you can say your content is aimed at:
- Remote/partially remote startups
- Remote/partially remote medium-sized businesses
- Freelancers and remote employees, including writers, designers, consultants, marketers, etc.
That might seem like too big a target audience to deal with, but out of these, you want to identify your most relevant customer profiles for further research. As it happens often, a lot of unexpected customer profiles might also be finding your product useful.
To keep track, run customer surveys, to find out the designation of your target customer, the size of their company, and job role.
To find which part of the world your customers are from as well demographic data, dig into your website’s Google and social media analytics.
Along with target customers, you also want to identify the best influencers in your niche so your content gets the maximum reach. Use tools like BuzzSumo and Klout to see which of these influencers actually have a high engagement rate.
Finding your audience’s pain points
Once you’ve identified your reader profiles, it’s time to find their biggest problems. This is the only way you can create valuable content that readers (and influencers) willingly share.
Before you actually begin researching though, here are the questions you’re looking to answer:
- What is the biggest challenge your audience faces at work?
- How can your product help solve that challenge?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What kind of content do they share?
- What features are they looking for?
Armed with this set of questions, identify the best content topics in the following ways:
– Interview your audience – You can begin by asking your customers. Networking events are also a good place to conduct these interviews.
– Conduct surveys – If it seems difficult to get your audience to speak with you on the phone, make an online survey and get them to fill it. Offer an Amazon gift card or premium features in exchange for their time.
– Use social media – If you have a sizeable following on any social media channel, ask your network for feedback. LinkedIn groups are particularly helpful for this. Even if you don’t have a big following, just pay attention to conversations taking place, and make a note of the type of content that gets most shares, likes and comments.
– Interact with communities relevant to your niche – Online communities are hotbeds for content ideas and research. While similar to social networks, niche communities are even better as they bring your target audience together.
– Take a look at your competitor’s blog comments – What does their audience like about their content? Are they missing something? Make a note of any useful insights you find.
What unique insights does your company blog offer?
You may write a ton of helpful content, but if it’s a rehashed version of what already exists, you’ll hardly make a dent in the blogging universe.Even if you’re blogging about a common topic, it’s possible to put your own special spin to it.
Take the Zendesk blog, for example.
While there’s no dearth of customer service blogs, Zendesk has established itself as an authority on the subject with unique insights from their customer service experts, namely Zendesk employees, partners and customers.
Says Zendesk blog editor Andrew Gori,
“A person might be looking for information about the “follow the sun” model of customer support, and find dozens and dozens of articles. But the articles that appear on Zendesk will have been written with help from professionals who have been building and maintaining follow the sun for years.”
Their most successful post, “What’s your type? 4 types of customer service operations, is based on an original research report Zendesk conducted, involving proprietary customer data. People from multiple departments, including product, content, and PR, spent a ton of time researching, writing, and perfecting it.
This is the kind of unique content you should strive to produce for your own blog. What follows are some tips to do that:
Identify gaps in your industry
Take a look at existing content and see if there’s something you might add to the narrative. Don’t just think of topics alone. It’s possible that most of them have been covered, if you’re in a competitive industry. Instead, identify if there are missing elements like first-person interviews, original research, infographics, quotes from industry experts, etc. within existing blog posts.
Study competing blogs
Make a note of your competitors’ USP. It could be the length of their posts, the level of detailing, use of scientific data, or even expert interviews. No matter what it is, you want your blog to offer something different, and preferably better.
Write a style guide for your business blog
Once you’ve taken a look at 10-15 competing blogs, you’ll have an idea of what’s out there and what’s missing.
At this point, you want to look at your own company. What is something unique that only you can offer?
Maybe you can conduct surveys and present them as original research. If all other blogs sound bland and impersonal, perhaps your friendly and humorous tone could give you an edge. You could also add missing elements from other blogs, such as interviews, case studies, and original research in your posts.
Invest a considerable amount of time in this step if you want your blog to be memorable. Remember, people will come to associate your blog with your USP. If you have none, what will they remember you for?
Section 2: Idea Generation
Strategy and all is good, but when it comes to consistently coming up with good post ideas for your blog, most companies struggle to find the sweet spot and spend endless hours scratching their heads. They even end up clicking on one of those “101 new ways to get blog post ideas” links on Google in despair.
But let me tell you this: there are only just four good ways to come up with blog post ideas, that keep you covered on all necessary criteria for business blog success.
The criteria in question being – SEO, uniqueness, audience-approval and relatability. No idea generation tools, or guides should convince you otherwise!
Important note: The rule to coming up with great ideas is to, first of all, have a lot of them. Remember, not all ideas are worthy of a blog post.
Read as much as you can and note down any relevant ideas that you can glean from every article or book. Keep these handy, as you move on to the next 4 points where your actual blog idea generation work begins.
Select Hubs and Spokes
For the uninitiated, the Hub and Spoke strategy, also referred to as the Pillar and Cluster model by HubSpot, is a great way to generate new ideas, and also ensure your site structure is SEO friendly.
Here’s the idea: you create one mega post that serves as Hub content for one of your major short-tail keywords. (If you’re unsure what short-tail is, skip to the SEO section.) Next, you create several Spokes around that topic, that you link to in the Hub post.
Let’s take an example:
Marketing software company and inbound pioneer, HubSpot, recently changed their blog structure to the Pillar and Cluster model.
Here are some of the posts they created around the topic, Instagram Marketing.
- Pillar: Instagram Marketing
- Clusters: The Anatomy of a Perfect Instagram Profile, How to Write Good Instagram Captions: 8 Bookmarkable Tips for Perfecting Your Copy, How to Use Instagram Stories: A Simple Guide for Marketers
Each of the cluster pages link back to the pillar page, and vice versa. This helps them rank several pages for a particular topic, and lets Google know that they’re an authority on that topic.
This method is a good starting point for idea generation. Lets see how:
1. Choose your best keywords for Hubs
Find a few short-tail keywords and create detailed posts around it. These are your Hubs. As you saw in HubSpot’s example, Instagram Marketing is a broad topic and also a super popular one.
Cover as much information that is required to give a broad overview about your topic. Don’t go too deep yet, that’s what the Spokes are for. Link to to Spokes or other articles where relevant, so anyone reading this page shouldn’t need to consult another resource on this topic.
2. Choose related long-tail keywords for Spokes
Once you’ve created a Hub page, identify sub-topics that could use more detailed posts. In HubSpot’s example, they dissect each aspect of Instagram Marketing right from your profile to captions. Make a note of 6-7 topics that you can write deep dives on.
Repeat this post as many times as you like with as many keywords, so ultimately you have a repository of information on many topics in your niche. Be sure to use this technique in conjunction with the others mentioned here, that is competitor research, audience research and relatability.
Don’t be daunted if you have a lot of competitors in your niche. If they have successful blogs up and running, they’ve already done the hard work of researching what your audience wants. It’s time for you to capitalize on it.
By finding their most successful pieces and thinking of new angles. In some cases, if you find that you could add a lot more to the conversation, go ahead and write a new article on a similar topic, but a much better version of the previous one.
Here’s how you can sift competitor’s content for topic ideas.
1. Find their most shared content
Head to BuzzSumo and plug in your competitor’s website. You’ll see their most popular content and which social networks work best for them. If you’re a paid member, you can also see who shared the content.
Next, you want to take the time and read those articles, and see if they’re missing anything. Is it missing facts and figures? Does it lack actionable tips? If so, note down the topic and start preparing a better post.
If the article covers everything in detail, look for related subjects you could write about. If you were to write a follow up on this post, what would you write about? If you can’t think of any unique angles, take a look at your idea repository and see if you find anything related.
2. Find keywords they rank for
If there are popular keywords your competitors rank for, that’s another opportunity to create better content.
SEMRush (paid tool, free trial available) allows you to see which keywords your competitors are ranking for, the search volume and the position at which they rank. For even more keyword ideas, take the results and plug them into Google Keyword planner.
Hang around in communities
You already know that communities are a great place to find your target audience, and more importantly, learn about their pain points.
Some of the most popular communities out there are Reddit and Quora. You can also find niche communities around your topic with a simple Google search. Talking about communities, don’t forget Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media groups. These can also be of high value when looking for post topics.
When finding communities, here’s what to look for:
1. Look for quality, not quantity
You want to look for ones that have high traffic and also a lot of engagement. A number of LinkedIn and Facebook groups are just dead with no interaction whatsoever.
For instance, many LinkedIn groups have over 10K members, but guess the number of comments on each post: barely one!
Look for niche communities where people are actually voicing their opinion, rather than such dead zones.
2. Search multiple communities to get the best ideas
Let’s say you’re selling CAD software for construction. A quick Reddit search throws up the following results.
What can you gauge from these discussions? The two questions that really stand out are: how to choose the right CAD software, and how to use CAD software.
Similarly, when I search Quora for the same term, here are the most popular questions:
These questions indicate that people are interested in finding out about features of CAD software and their capabilities.
2. Post questions and participate in discussions
Community members are more than willing to share ideas and views on specific topics. That’s the reason they’re there. Capitalize on this and ask as many questions as you can. Almost all communities allow you to post questions.
For instance, Reddit is often filled with questions like these:
The post has over 50 comments! There are several ways you can capitalize on community discussions: if your post becomes super popular, you know it’s a topic people care about. What’s more, now you also have a community to promote it to, once you publish it. Validate ideas for your business blog and come up with new ones by answering and asking as many questions as possible.
Write about personal experiences
If you’ve spent some time growing a LinkedIn following, or built a cool solution to a complex problem, what better than sharing it with the world? Some of the biggest thought leaders grow their authority this way, on topics like digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and more.
Why do personal experiences work so well?
It’s simple: everyone loves a good story, especially if it has a happy ending. Another thing that works really well is tangible results.
Instead of a generic post about “10 Ways to Do Grow Your LinkedIn Following”, people are more interested in finding out how you grew your own.
You don’t just have to blog about successes though. Stories about failure and lessons learnt work just as well. For instance, Failory is a newsletter that interviews failed startups. Now, who would not love to know what mistakes to avoid along the startup journey?
Section 3: Content Creation
Good writing appears easy but it takes work.
The right combination of tone and content works wonders. On the other hand, bland and boring content, no matter how many times it appears in search engines, won’t do any good to your business.
While there’s no set formula for writing the perfect blog post, there’s definitely a set of hacks you can keep in mind to get readers to love your content.
Here they are:
Write irresistible headlines
You want your headline to have the right mix of intrigue and usefulness to the reader to get them to click. How can you do that?
1. Build curiosity
A BuzzSumo analysis of 10 million B2B articles found that using phrases such as “the future of”, “X ways to”, “How to get”, “X tips for” generated maximum shares and clicks. Clearly, people enjoy learning about new developments in industries, and of course, everyone loves a “how to” piece!
2. Show the value of your post
Your headline should also convey the usefulness of your post. If it provokes the “fear of missing out”, even better. For instance, take a look at these headlines:
- The Only Three Networking Emails You Need To Know How To Write
- 4 Influencer Marketing Facts You Need to Know
- 5 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview
Headlines starting with “how to” receive a great number of shares, reveals the study reveals that:
- How to stop
- How to identify
- How to succeed
- How to manage
3. Use the right words
Some words resonate better than others. Anyone who has ever been tempted by a headline will agree. Here’s a cheat sheet for the groups of words that work best for a business blog:
-Top, best, successful, smart
– Million, billion
– Global, world
– Change, better, build, growth
– Advice, habits, tips, help
– Strategy, future, ideas
– Risk, need
Create a post they can’t stop reading
While your headline might tempt readers into checking out your post, your content is the real star of the show.
Here’s how to write a blockbuster post:
1. Write a compelling introduction
There are many ways of starting a blog post. Bombarding your audience with facts and figures is not a good one.
Instead, you want to start in a way that immediately draws the reader in. One of the ways to do that is to paint the reader’s problems. Like the writer in this post does:
Or you could start with an intriguing question:
There are many ways of writing a catchy introduction, but once you’ve written down yours, ask yourself: is this interesting enough for anyone to carry on reading?
2. Make it easy to read, not skim
You’ve come across the cardinal rule for formatting for the web: No big chunks of text and use of headings, so your post is skimmable.
If you make your post “skimmable”, no one will bother reading it. Instead, you want to make your piece easy on the eyes, but formatted cleverly enough so your audience devours the whole thing.
Sean Kirby gives a great example on how to do this:
“When I wrote this article about ways to get more mileage out of existing content, I could have used subheads like: “Syndicate articles on other websites”
Instead, I crafted messages that tease a benefit: “Get published on multiple sites without guest blogging”
The first set of subheads gives the story away. The second set piques your interest and you can’t help but read on.”
3. Avoid jargon
Don’t underestimate your audience by simplifying your content, but all the same don’t bombard them with big, complicated words.
Great writing is easy to understand, even if it’s about a complex subject, as George Tannenbaum shares in the image below:
Write posts with built-in virality
There are posts that go viral by chance, and there are those that go viral by design. More often than not, it’s the latter. If well-written, these posts have the potential to rack up thousands of shares and drive visitors to your website.
Let’s take a look at each of them:
1. Expert roundups
Expert roundups go viral for two reasons. First, experts usually share these posts to their massive following, and second, because everyone loves an “expert tip” or two. As a bonus, you also get to build a relationship with influencers.
Since it’s fairly easy to churn out these posts, they are everywhere, and making it difficult to stand out. There are ways to write outstanding expert posts, of course.
First, choose your experts with care. See if they have genuine expertise on the topic you’re writing about, or if they’ve only bought a thousand Twitter followers.
Next, you need to squeeze out unique insights from experts, instead of generic quotes. So, instead of asking, “What’s the best way to grow a LinkedIn following?”, ask specific questions like, “When did you hit your first 1,000 views on a post, and how?” Do some research before writing down your questions, so you get the most valuable answers.
Lastly, don’t just put together a numbered list of expert quotes and pass that off as a blog post. Instead, weave an interesting narrative around the quotes you get to create a share-worthy post. See how well ReferralCandy does this.
Instead of generic quotes, the post is full of actionable insights from LinkedIn experts who’ve been there, done that.
2. Skyscraper posts
A term coined by Brian Dean, “skyscraper posts” are in-depth, longform articles that cover a topic in more detail than any other. They are best resource on a given topic, so much so that people automatically link to and share them.
According to Brian Dean, here’s how you can create your own Skyscraper content:
“Step 1: Find link-worthy content
Step 2: Make something even better
Step 3: Reach out to the right people”
The idea is to create an up-to-date resource on any topic, that people will happily reference and link to. This means finding out what all other posts are missing, be it data or visuals. Dean also shares tips to reach out to prospects to link to your content, that you can find in the article above.
3. Roundups of products/services
List posts, if done well, are a sure-shot way to rake up those shares and get more links. In fact, numbered headlines are most preferred by readers, as a survey by Conductor found.
Here’s The Atlantic decoding our love for numbers:
“The basic finding in numbers research is called numerosity, and it refers to people’s tendency to infer larger sizes or “more” of something from larger numbers.”
In short, the bigger the roundup, the more the chances of it going viral. Apart from creating a large list post, you also want to offer genuine reviews of the products/services mentioned. Try to include a quote from each, if possible, and be sure to reach out to them once it’s published.
Section 4: SEO
SEO deserves a section of it’s own, because unlike other promotion tactics, it is the foundation of how often your blog is discovered by it’s relevant audience.
Take the Optimizely blog, for example. Blog editor Sukh Dhillon shares,
“In 2015, we were able to double our blog traffic by focusing on writing about topics that people are searching for. SEO optimized blog posts receive 1000X the traffic of regular blog posts over the course of their lifetime, so it plays a large role in our long term blog strategy.”
Most businesses are at a loss when they hear the term SEO. Some believe SEO is stuffing your blog post with as many keywords as possible. Part of this can be blamed on the jargon that surrounds the industry and makes it sound inaccessible.
So, what is SEO exactly?
In simple words, SEO is the process of creating valuable content and making sure it is accessible through search engines. This involves finding terms that people frequently search for (keyword research) and ensuring that search engines know it’s relevant (on-page targeting).
Let’s decode both of these below:
You’ll find a TON of helpful articles explaining keyword research (the best of which I’ve linked to below), but if you’re just starting to up your SEO game, here are the only things you need to know:
1. Select 3-4 keyword tools
Google Keyword tool is considered the default tool for keyword research, but to get the best results you might want to use other tools as well.
Some of the many tools you can use for keyword research include Keyword Explorer, Keywordtool.io, Ubersuggest, Google Trends, Wordstream Keyword Tool, and SerpStat. While most keyword tools present data that is pulled from Google keyword planner and Google auto-suggest, some advanced tools like Moz, Ahrefs and SEMRush also have their own databases.
Keep in mind that many of these are paid, with limited trial periods. Play around with these tools and see which ones are the best for you.
2. Find short-tail and long-tail keywords
Once you’ve settled on a couple of keyword research tools, it’s time to put them to use.
Here’s the basic purpose of keyword research: finding the exact terms that people are searching for online, number of times they are searched for, and how difficult it would be to rank on Google’s first page for those terms.
There are two types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail. Short-tail keywords comprise one or two words. They are popular (read: heavily-searched), generic, and hence, difficult to rank for. For instance, “black heels” is a short-tail keyword.
Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are made up of 3-5 words. These are less frequently searched, more specific, and hence, easier to rank for. “Best price black heels size 8” is a long-tail keyword. While long-tail keywords have less search volume, they make up 70% of the web’s searches.
All this is great, but the question for anyone new to SEO is, “Where do I begin keyword research for my business blog?”
The answer for this goes back to our idea generation section: hubs and spokes.
To create a comprehensive blog that captures new readers as well as readers in the purchase stage, you need to select short-tail keywords and create Hub posts for them. Next, you need to create Spokes for each Hub, that are a lot more targeted and go deeper into your topic. In other words, your Spokes should focus on long-tail keywords.
Finding short tail keywords is easy. Think of topics that your audience would most enjoy reading about, that are also related to your business. Simply plug these into your keyword tool and voila! You’ll find a huge list of short-tail keywords to work with.
Long-tail keyword ideas are harder to come by. This is where you need to look at forums and sites like Quora, to find out what specific questions people are asking. Another place to keep an eye on is Google’s “related searches” at the bottom, that usually has a number of keyword ideas.
3. Research your competitors
Supplement your own keyword research by researching competitor’s content as well. Are they targeting important keywords that you’ve missed out in your research? Can you create a better blog post for that keyword?
Tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush can help you see which are your competitor’s top pages and keywords that they rank for. If these keywords are low competition, it means there is an opportunity for you.
While the tools mentioned above are paid, you can also identify keyword opportunities by taking a look at your competitor’s blog. See if there are any topics and themes they’re constantly writing about. Plug these into your keyword tool and gauge their popularity.
4. Group keywords by intent
Once you have a list of keywords, you want to look at the intent behind those keywords so you can create posts for prospects at each stage: awareness stage, evaluation stage, and purchase stage.
Informational keywords such as “how to”, “best ways to” and “X ways to” are generally used by people in the awareness stage. These keywords don’t necessarily result in a sale, but help you capture leads to market to. Product keywords such as “review”, “best type of X”, “top 10”, will drive prospects in the evaluation stage, who are comparing different product options.
Lastly, keywords such as “buy”, “discount” and “deal” drive customers in the purchase stage, who’re looking to buy the product.
While these are just a few examples, you need to evaluate which stage your own keywords fit into, and if you’re creating enough content for each stage.
5. Prioritize keywords
Prioritizing keywords means checking to see if they’re worth going after. This means you need to see: their search volume (are there enough queries for the keyword), difficulty level (how difficult would it be to rank for this keyword), and click through potential (how likely is it that people will click on your site, even if you rank).
Search volume is straightforward enough, you’ll find it in your keyword tool.
The best way to gauge difficulty level is to type that keyword into Google itself, and see what shows up. If you’re up against giant, well-established time, you may have a hard time ranking for that keyword. A tool like MozBar can help you size up competition by showing the page and domain authority. You also want to see how thorough the current results are, how their design is, and if you can put up a better post than the others.
Click-through rate can also be judged by a Google search. See what other elements show up when you search for a term. If you see a lot of images, videos, instant answers, ads or news boxes at the top, it’s likely that your post won’t be clicked on.
How many times exactly should you use a keyword so search engines know? What types of content are best for SEO? You can find answers to these questions and more below:
1. Types of content to include
When thinking of SEO, it’s important not just to consider what to write, but also what other forms of content to include in your post. Search engines tend to favour videos and images, and pages with these end up ranking higher. For instance, here’s what pops up when I search for “how to use photoshop”:
The bottom line is clear: for every post you create, try to incorporate as many images as possible, and create a video as well. The best way to know which types content you should add to your post is to run a quick Google search for your topic and see what shows up first. If it’s a Slideshare presentation, video, or infographic, you know what you’re up against.
2. Places to incorporate keywords
There are a few important places where your keywords need to show up if you’re serious about showing up in search results. Here they are:
Other than these, you want to make sure that the keyword is used in the first paragraph, headings and sub-headings, as well as the main body of your post. Don’t overdo it; it should feel natural.
Also, use related keywords in your post. It also helps to add keywords in the “Alt Text” section of images as well. If all this seems overwhelming, use a plugin like Yoast SEO to make sure you don’t miss any place out.
3. Internal and external linking
Linking to your older articles in each post has obvious benefits, one of them being ensuring that users stay on your website as long as possible. But it’s even more important for SEO.
In an incredibly helpful post, Moz explains why:
“Internal links are most useful for establishing site architecture and spreading link juice (URLs are also essential). On an individual page, search engines need to see content in order to list pages in their massive keyword–based indices. They also need to have access to a crawlable link structure—a structure that lets spiders browse the pathways of a website—in order to find all of the pages on a website.”
The more visible your pages by way of internal linking, the easier they will be for search engines to crawl and more likely they will be to get listed.
On the other hand, you also need a lot of external links within your blog posts to improve its credibility.
Additionally, you need external links pointing to your business blog to show search engines that you’re a legitimate source. I’ve shared some helpful link building guides in the Reading section below.
4. Mobile friendliness
As we move from browsing on our desktops to our mobile phones, it has become even more important to optimize your website for the small screen. Mobile searches are more common than desktop, and users are likely to leave websites that take a long time to load.
As Google experiments with a mobile-first index (mobile-first index), along with content and links on your website, it will also take into account factors such as speed and user experience while ranking your website.
5. Adding Alt text to images
Whenever you add an image to your blog, you’ll see an option for adding “Alt Text”
Alt text or alternative text is also known as “alt attributes” or “alt descriptions”. As the name suggests, it is used to describe an image and its function.
Why add alt text to images? As it turns out, alt text helps search engines figure out what your images depict, as they cannot “see” images like we do. A good image description helps search engines identify and index the image properly, thus increasing it’s chances of showing up in search results.
What’s more, in case your image file doesn’t load, alt text shows up in its place, thus not disrupting a reader’s flow. Use accurate descriptions for all your images, but avoid stuffing them with keywords.
6. Frequency of keywords
Alas, there’s no set number of times a keyword must appear in your blog post. So how do you decide how much is too much? Just remember this: use your main keyword as many times as it looks natural in your text.
Other than that, use related keywords in your sub-titles and in the post itself. This also helps improve your search engine rankings. Whatever you do, just don’t stuff your posts with keywords, as this is a sureshot way to get penalized by Google.
Section 5: Business Blog Promotion 101
Even if you create the best piece of content, it could die a slow death if you don’t promote it well. You should spend almost as much time promoting content as you do creating it, maybe even more.
But here’s a word of caution: there are so many ways to promote your content today, you’d be crazy to try to master each one. What you should do instead is identify which channels bring you the most traffic, and spend most of your time on it.
For instance, Optimizely finds social media, email and content syndication to be their main promotion channels.
On the other hand, CoSchedule blog manager Ben Sailer says,
“Email and search engine optimization are our bread-and-butter for getting our content in front of our audience”
What works for one business may not work for another, so don’t go running to a new channel of promotion just because you read a post about someone driving massive traffic from it. Experiment, evaluate and iterate on your promotion strategy constantly.
What follows is a list of best promotion channels that you can try for your own business blog. After a few weeks, you’ll get an idea as to what works for you, and how you can capitalize on it.
Content promotion is hardly an afterthought that you should leave to when you finish writing your blog posts. Your promotion efforts should start even before you launch your new blog.
Here are the four stages of content promotion you need for your blog to succeed:
Pre-Launch Promotion Checklist
As you’re gearing up to launch your new B2B blog, it’s time to do some prep work. This mainly involves building some buzz around your blog and ensuring you identify the right communities for promotion.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Engage with general content communities
Before you launch, find a few general communities that covers a large portion of your target audience. Large subreddits like Entrepreneur, B2B SaaS, and sites like Quora are examples of general content communities where you can promote most of your posts.
Most companies simply post their own content in communities and expect traffic to pour in. It doesn’t work that way. Communities are built for engagement and discussion, not blatant promotion. Don’t post your blog link as soon as you sign up!
At this point, you want to wait for a week or two and see what kind of content the community enjoys, what are the rules for posting your own content and so on. You also want to comment on other posts and give away your knowledge for free. This way, when you do post your own content, community members will be willing to engage with it too.
That’s exactly how I went viral on Reddit, receiving over 700 upvotes for one of my recent articles:
2. Start building your email list
Email is more widely used than social media, and more importantly, it is a channel you own. Unlike social media, your email list cannot reduce in value simply by an algorithm change.
The best way to build an email list is to provide a valuable lead magnet: a piece of content such as an e-book, whitepaper, video, or research, that your audience would love to have.
For more resources on email list building, check out the Additional Reading section.
3. Engage on social media platforms
Don’t try to capture all social media platforms at once. Look at where your audience hangs out, and build a following there.
The key to is to share valuable content, interact with people, and provide feedback on their content.
If you’re struggling to come up with post ideas, here’s what Brian Peters, social media manager at Buffer, recommends,
“In order to improve engagement, B2Bs need to focus on value, education, and entertainment. I like to call it “Edu-tainment” – Focusing on this type of content with help establish B2B companies as a thought-leader in their space. And in turn, this will help to improve their social media engagement, specifically within their target market.”
Content curation can also go a long way in helping you grow. It’s a technique that has helped the likes of helped Rand Fishkin of Moz rack up an impressive 374,000 Twitter followers (and increasing!).
Your research shouldn’t be limited to finding fodder for your article. Instead, at this stage you also want to find a large list of people and places you can promote your content to.
1. Find targeted communities
While general communities are great, in order to drive the most relevant traffic to your post, you also need to engage with niche communities.
For instance, if you’re writing a piece about link building, you can promote it in the Content Marketing subreddit, as well as the more niche, SEO subreddit.
Make a list of 5 -10 targeted communities for each blog post in the research phase. If you’re new to the community, start engaging straight away.
2. Make a list for email outreach
While you research an article, you’ll come across several other articles, experts, brands and influencers, that you might mention or quote in your piece. Be sure to make a note of them. Once you publish your article, send an email to each of them telling them that they’ve been featured. Since you mentioned and linked to them, they are more likely to share your article.
Kevan Lee of Buffer had a 66% success rate with this approach. Here’s the email he sent:
Image courtesy: Buffer blog
In this step, you also want to make a note of a few experts on the topic you’re writing about and reach out to them for interviews. Expert interviews immediately set your piece apart from other blogs, and give you another opportunity for email outreach. If they end up sharing your content, you’ve got another win!
3. Find relevant blogs, newsletters, and curators
A whopping 68% marketers swear by content curation, and guess what they’re constantly looking out for? Great content, of course.
To get your blog featured, find the most relevant content curators, whether they have a newsletter or highly engaged social media fans. Next, send them a quick email with your post. Don’t shoot for influencers that are out of your reach. Instead, look for medium sized lists curated by experts in your field.
You also want to target business blogs in your niche. Don’t go begging for links, but find a relevant reason for them to include your post. If you want an example, Brian Dean details in this post how he earned backlinks by reaching out to relevant blogs in his niche.
Once you’re done writing your piece, it’s time to make it quick and easy to share it.
Here’s what you need:
1. Create giveaway content
Giveaway content is also known as content upgrades. These are usually checklists or guides that your audience can keep handy while they’re applying your tips, much like the ones you see in this post.
Why create a content upgrade?
Content upgrades give you an opportunity for email list building, without much extra effort. Once you’ve written your piece, identify opportunity for giveaway content and put it in your blog post with an opt-in form that allows them to download it.
2. Create social media posts
If you think simply tweeting out a link to an article is good enough promotion, you’re barely scratching the surface. Why?
Peters from Buffer explains,
“If you’re trying to speak “Facebook” on “Twitter” the post will not perform nearly as well as it would if you were speaking in the language of the unique platform. Each social media network has specific nuances that we as marketers must understand deeply in order to thrive.”
Further, he states that even though the type of content that performs well on Twitter will perform well on LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s important to package it right for each platform.
Here’s what he recommends:
“Where Twitter might be a link to an article with a witty caption, Facebook might require a 60-second video summarizing the article and LinkedIn might require a longer editorial caption explaining the article.”
Once you’ve written an article, spend some time creating 10-15 headlines for Twitter, images and videos for each specific platform, and teaser posts for LinkedIn.
3. Make social sharing easy
Apart from making a special post for each social media platform, you also have to make sure that it’s easy for anyone who reads your post to share it.
This means adding social sharing buttons to each of your posts. Just add the top three channels that your audience likes, don’t overwhelm them with too many options.
Within your post, add Click-to-tweet and image-sharing buttons.
Once the post is published, you might heave a sigh of relief, but don’t rest for too long. There’s still a ton of work to be done.
Here it is:
1. Publish on social media
Remember to promote your post a couple of times on your selected channels, as well as repurposed versions, to reach as many people as possible. Use a tool like Buffer to schedule updates in advance so you don’t have to keep posting over and over.
2. Post in general and targeted communities
When posting your own content in communities, be sure to add some context and invite discussion. Don’t short-sell your article by simply posting a link.
Entice your people to click on your link by having a strong hook (read:headline), telling a good story, and inviting them to read the full post on your blog.
3. Send it to your email outreach list
Remember all those emails you collected during the research phase? Now’s the time to put them to use!
If you really want people to respond, please, don’t use a template. They’re boring and show the recipient you’re not even creative enough to write an email, let alone a whole blog post.
If you’re really at a loss about where to begin though, here’s an example to get you started:
4. Send it to your email list
Even if you don’t have a sizeable email list, be sure to share your article with as many people as possible, because at this stage, every click and share is important. If you have any existing customers, send it to them.
Make a note of your personal contacts you can email and send it to them as well. It doesn’t have to be a long list, just 60-100 people.They could be your friends, family, former colleagues and so on. Initially, you want to generate as much buzz as possible.
For every email you send, include a Click-to-Tweet link so it’s easy as pie for them to share. See how Groove does this:
5. Repost on Medium and LinkedIn
This is often referred to as content syndication, but unless your blog is super popular you might not be able to repost it on major publications yet. Instead, you can repost it on platforms like LinkedIn and Medium.
If you’re worried about content duplication, check out this helpful guide. Two important points to remember are: don’t republish it on the same day as you publish on your blog, and don’t publish the entire text.
6. Guest posting
This is the most repeated advice for getting backlinks to your business blog and rightly so.
Landing a guest post at a large publication in your niche helps you reach a wider audience and also build your email list. Buffer used this strategy to acquire 100,000 customers, shares co-founder Leo Widrich. You can read more about it here.
If you’re unsure about how to pitch guest posts, check out the section below.
Creating a B2B blog from the ground up can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little bit of planning and insight, any business can have a popular blog up and running.
Just don’t expect any quick results, though. Be patient and keep posting and promoting content regularly. In a few months’ time, the results will delight you.
Are you planning to start a business blog or already have on? Do share your biggest pain points when blogging in the comments, and I’ll try to help you out!