Writing effective blog posts that get you traction often is something that puzzles the small business owner. While it’s not brain science, it does take a little time to get the hang of it. Once you get a system down for writing and editing, then it gets easier with time.
Here are our top 10 best ways for you to get more mileage out of your small business blog:
- Write an effective blog title. Your blog’s title is its billboard. It is what piques peoples interest enough to stop and read it. Don’t be vague – blog titles are no place for story lines. If it takes people more than a glance to figure out if it has any relevance to them, then you’ll lose your target audience. Quick.
- Write with enough substance but not too long. Ideal blog posts are 350-500 words in length. They can be shorter or longer. If shorter, be sure you’re covering your subject with enough detail. Sometimes posts that include photos or videos can be shorter as far as number of words is concerned. If longer, be sure you’re making enough new points within the article that you won’t lose your reader, or graphically break up the copy with photos, bullet points or numbers as we’ve done here.
- Add a call-to-action. We usually prefer that the post is closed in some way, either with contact info to get more information or a next step for your reader. Don’t just leave ’em hanging, as if the post writer was lazy and left an unfinished piece. Your readers are looking for you to sum up your points in some way or lead them to the next step so they don’t have to guess at your intention.
- Review your keyword list. All blog owners should be working with a keyword list that includes 5 main key words or phrases that you want to really own in the search engines, along with other keywords that are relevant to your content and what your target audience is searching for. Revising your blog posts to ensure a proper density of your main key words as well as any ancillary key words or phrases is critical to your blog’s success. Tip: If you do not have a keyword / keyphrase list, don’t write another post until you create one! This is critical to your blogging success!
- Ping your blog. Be sure to ping your blog each time you post new content. This helps the search engines to know to look for updated content on your blog. Technorati, the search engine designed for searching blogs, is still valuable as is using Weblogs.com.
- Blog Communities. Taking the time to list your blog in popular blog directories not only helps you gain new followers by making your content appear elsewhere but increases your search engine rankings because these sites have more SEO power than your site by itself. One of my favorites is NetworkedBlogs, which integrates directly with Facebook. NetworkedBlogs keeps a ranking of the top blogs in each city based on local followers so it is particularly important for local businesses. Other blog directories we feel are a must are BlogCatalog, Blogged and MyBlogLog.
- Blog post sharing. It is critical to make it easy not only for your readers to comment on your blog but also for them to share it. Popular sharing services such as ShareThis, which also provides results tracking, and TweetMeme make it very easy for others to share your posts with their audiences.
- Outbound links. Can’t tell you how many blog posts we see that utilize zero outbound links. Blog posts aren’t book pages so don’t treat them that way. The whole idea is that your post provides an interactive experience and a way for people to learn more about a company, product or service that you mention in your post. Plus, it’s just common courtesy to refer out because that is exactly what you want others to do for you. But don’t overload — a few resources is all you need.
- Write well and often. Ideally, you should be posting two to three times per week on your blog. More often if possible. Google, Yahoo and Bing tend to find your blog easier and more often when there is fresh content posted that includes your blog’s main key words and phrases. Building repetitive use of keywords and phrases over several entries, plus creating a history or backlog of posts (duration length) aids your overall ranking. Always add relevant photos, YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations or other graphics to make your posts more visually appealing.
- Tag you’re it. Don’t forget to take the time to include your category and post tags for each and every entry and be consistent with matching the tags to the post itself. This includes the custom title tags, meta description and meta keywords.
Effective blogging can take time but it’s worth doing if you’ve made the commitment to your blog. If you have created guidelines for your blog’s content, including your keyword list, then you can have guest bloggers add content if frequency of writing is a problem for you. If you own a small business, appoint several people to be part of a blogging team so that you as the business owner don’t have to be responsible for creating all the content. Or sometimes you can find a virtual assistant or intern to help write and/or edit and post with the proper tagging sequences.