How to ace your small business blog posts
If only there were some magic formula for writing a blog post. An easy template for creating a post that everyone shares and gets a load of traffic.
Sometimes it can seem like an uphill struggle, but the thing to remember is that a thoroughly researched and well-structured post will always add value to your blog even if it’s not getting a huge amount of traffic initially.
Get the basics right and then the traffic will come so remember these key points:
- Well written and grammatically correct content will create a great first impression of you and your blog or small business website.
- Factually accurate content will add to your credibility as an expert in your field.
- Search engine spiders can detect good well-written content that isn’t just stuffed full of keywords to try and boost your SEO.
It’s safe to assume that your early posts won’t get much traffic as no one will know that your blog exists. However, your posts will always have some value if they’re well written and follow a few basic guidelines. New visitors, impressed by a current post will search back to see what else they can learn from you. Your older posts that didn’t get a lot of exposure initially will have ongoing value and can be shared long past their original publish date, especially if your content is ‘evergreen’. (More on this another time.)
In other words, don’t ever compromise the quality of your content for the sake of just getting something published.
How do you structure that post?
Your blog post will have several sections and each one is equally important for varied reasons:
- An attention-grabbing headline that will encourage visitors to read on.
- An outline of the post in a concise introduction that conveys a clear benefit to reading on.
- Well researched facts backed up with statistics and references to other content that will support your viewpoint.
- A summary or conclusion that encourages some further action and leaves a lasting impression.
- Some eye-catching images to make your post stand out.
1) The Headline
Decide on the objective of your headline, which is most likely dependent on the overall objective of your blog and its posts.
Think about your readers and who you are trying to attract to your blog or website. Most readers of this blog are small business website owners who are embracing blogging as an easy means of adding fresh content to their website and boosting. I aim to make headlines appealing to that group of readers … I try to offer a real reason to read the article and show that readers will find out more about small business blogging that is to their benefit.
Getting the post found is also a big consideration. As a small business website blogger, you are hoping that your post will be found and the visitor will then move on to the rest of your website and become a customer.
For example, if your post is offering a solution to a widespread problem that your customers share, write a headline that you think people looking for that solution may type into a search engine. Also, try and include a few of your keywords.
Research shows that short headlines work best with the optimum being 6 words.
That’s quite a tall order, attract readers, offer a benefit and include keywords within only 6 words! It’s likely to be longer so try and get the keywords within the first and/or last three words.
Keep these points in mind when writing your headline:
- Keep it short and simple
- Use keywords
- Generate curiosity
2) The Introduction
Having written a convincing enough headline to encourage further reading your first few paragraphs or blog introduction need to outline what the post is about and continue the impact of the headline.
Use your introduction to convey a clear benefit to reading on
These opening paragraphs, when written well, will encourage further reading and in some cases, may even guide your visitor to your call to action without them even reading the rest. Get straight to the point and make sure your introduction addresses your audience personally and uses appropriate language. You need to outline what your post is about and reassure the reader that it is worth their while to read on.
Maximise the effectiveness of your introduction:
- Make it personal so that your reader can identify with you
- Get straight to the point … be blunt.
- Share a common pain point.
- Ask a question.
- Use statistics and facts supported by reputable research. A high-profile quote from a thought leader in your sector works well.
3) Blog Post Body
If you’ve got the first two sections right your post should naturally flow into the main body content. Keep to the points you’ve outlined and try not to digress … if there are other related areas that need exploring these could be an idea for another blog post.
Don’t forget your sub-headings
Once you get into the flow it’s easy to fall into the trap of generating huge walls of text. Most visitors to your blog will skim or speed read. Divide your main content up into sections that roughly relate to the topics you’ve outlined in your introduction. That way, if a visitor is interested in only one part of your post they can quickly find the bit they want to read.
Remember bullet points and numbered lists
Bullet points and numbered lists are a great way of breaking up the text. They can summarise the key points of each section, again providing bite-sized nuggets for those readers who aren’t going to read the post in its entirety.
Use your own voice but don’t overly promote yourself and your products or services
Write from the heart and be honest about who you are. Don’t try to embrace someone else’s writing style as it will be hard to stay consistent. Your returning readers are coming back not only because you are a source of interesting facts and material but because they like your delivery.
Consistency is key and it will be much easier if you stick to your own language style.
Try to write blog posts that are offering something to your reader rather than constantly referring to your own products and services. An overly salesy or promotional post will be off-putting. Remember if the content itself is of benefit to the reader they will come back and they will visit the rest of your website anyway.
Include some keywords and internal links
While remembering all of the above, don’t forget the main reason that you are generating your content. You want traffic to your website and/or blog along with returning visitors. Remember to naturally include keywords that will help your post, but those that will also help your website and blog as a whole.
Don’t overdo it though. The quality of the copy is always more important than keyword frequency.
Blog post length is a common discussion topic.
Current thinking is that long format posts of up to 2,000 words are the optimum but this can be a challenge if you’re trying to post weekly on top of running your business. This post is currently around the 2,000-word mark but aim for at least 1,000 words.
The conclusion of your blog post is possibly the most important part. If you’ve gained your readers' attention and they’ve read your whole post then this is your opportunity to get them to take some action and for you to leave a lasting impression. Hopefully a good one!
Then you have the other readers, who like I often do, jump to the end of the post for the all-important key points to act on and remember.
A strong conclusion can encourage your users to take some action
This can be in the form of something to benefit you or your reader. They may be to leave a comment or to share your post. If they’ve found the post useful they may subscribe to your mailing list or blog or read some of your older posts if they are a new visitor.
But it’s not all about you. You can encourage some other action. If you’ve written a post offering advice about a common pain point within your sector they may well go off and act on your advice. This makes you memorable. And if that action helps them in the longer term so much the better.
Use the following techniques to close … either on their own or in combination
- Re-work your introduction
- Introduce related topics that you could write about in the future
- Encourage some action … commenting, sharing etc
- Ask for opinions and experiences from your readers
- Link to other useful resources
- Promote your business (be careful with this one, if you’ve written a great post you will be promoting yourself and your business anyway)
A picture says a thousand words or so the saying goes. Content with strong images is more likely to be shared. An eye-catching image really can make your post more memorable and can differentiate you from what is possibly a crowded and noisy arena.
It’s often hard to find a stock image that isn’t obviously identifiable as just that, which is where a little bit of customisation can come in handy. There are free tools around like Canva which can really help here.
Don’t forget about copyright
Searching on Google can seem like an attractive option but make sure that you don’t infringe on copyright. There are also plenty of free stock image sites around as well as Google. An advanced image search on Google does allow you to filter and only search for images that are free to re-use even commercially and this blog post by Square Balloon has a useful list of free resources.
Creating your own graphics using some of the many free tools available can also help to make your posts more cohesive. Stock images are great, but adding your own branding or colour filters can make your blog post stand out all the more and just make things look a little more polished and professional. Take a look at some of the free tools available in 5 Tools To Create Awesome Visual Content. Graphics created in your blog can also be useful for your social media activity ... customising your graphics could be time well spent.
6) Read, read and read again
I can’t stress this one enough.
I am the grammar police but I routinely miss my own typos. My fingers go on to auto-pilot and I am the worst culprit for getting ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ the wrong way round when I’m in a hurry even though I know which one is which. Then something seems to affect my eyesight and I can’t even spot my own typos … other peoples on the other hand.
Once you’ve written your post leave it alone for a while then re-visit it and have a read through with fresh and super-critical eyes. Something I find which seems to help and to highlight my typos is to read it on a different device.
- Check for spelling and grammar.
- Is it concise? If a word can be removed be brutal and get rid of it.
- Have you kept to the point? Try not to wander off your main topic. Create a separate post if need be.
Get someone else to read it
This isn’t always possible, but if you can, get someone else to cast their eyes over your post, even if it’s just to check for spelling and grammar.
Only when you’re absolutely sure that your post is accurate are you ready to publish.
7) Share it everywhere
Finally, after all that effort you want to do your utmost to make sure that your blog post gets read. You will need to share it on your social channels. Take key points from each post and craft them into Tweets and status updates.
Remember on some channels you can share more than once. Twitter is very fast moving, so try sharing the same item at various times of the day and on different days.
Conclusion: How to ace your small business blog posts
- Write a headline that grabs attention and encourages further reading.
- Outline your subject in an introduction that offers a clear benefit to the reader.
- Remember to use sub-headings and lists within the main body of your content.
- Write a conclusion that reinforces the key points and encourages some action.
- Spend some time sourcing some standout images that you can also share on social channels when promoting your blog post.
- Proof read and grammar check … as many times as you can stand.
- Share it everywhere.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and find it useful when writing your own content. There are links to more detail on some of the sections of this post which I’ve written about before … others I will be elaborating on another time.