I remember myself reading a Blogging for Business 101 article series several few years ago; everything looked so easy in theory and totally made sense! Today both of us know that blogging for business is a tough job; you will have to put a lot of effort into it and the good results won’t appear quickly. And the reason for this is easy to comprehend: there are millions of great blogs out there, and their number grows by thousands each and every day of the week.
One of my relatives (a copywriter) has launched a great website by the end of 2010. He knows his stuff, so he’s started to write lots of articles discussing various issues: markets, politics, trends, etc. I’ve even promoted his website through my Twitter account and he was getting a consistent stream of visitors, which peaked at about 200 different people per day. Two months later he stopped updating the website for good because he didn’t see a significant return on his investment.
Blogging for Business 101 – the problem
Most people start their blogs enthusiastically, and then they run out of energy because they set their expectations too high. So the first business blogging mistake I’ve learned from my relative is this: most people start their blogs without being prepared for a consistent, long-term effort. They promise themselves to write an article each day, and then they get discouraged because they can’t keep up with their promise, abandoning the blog for good.
What is the takeaway here? Set realistic goals right from the start, aiming to achieve things that are under your control. It doesn’t make sense to set goals like “get 1,000 visitors and 100 user comments / month” before the end of the year, because you don’t have any power over this; however, “write a blog article per week” is something that you can definitely control. Just think about it: if you write a blog post per week, your website will have 52 more pages at the end of the year; the search engines will love it and you will also get targeted website visitors from 52 different traffic streams.
But why should you write blog articles in the first place? First of all, the search engines love fresh content. If you write a blog post per week, the search engines will learn to visit your website once a week; in addition to this, if you promote your blog posts using social media, you’ve got a good chance to drive targeted visitors to your website, provided that they click that article link you’ve posted in your Twitter and / or Facebook account. As you write more and more great content, more and more people will link to your blog, thus helping it move to the top of the search engines, getting more and more visitors that will… I’m sure you’ve got the picture.
So how do you make them click the link that leads them to your blog post? The secret is in the article title; if you use a bland title, don’t expect anyone to want to click your link. Here are a few ideas that should help you write good article titles:
a) Use lists like “10 Great Tips to…” – everyone loves them!
b) Use powerful words: “Top Secret Report Reveals: How…”, “2 Killer Tactics to…”, “The Lost Art of…”, “Confessions of a…”, “Insane Strategies to…” are good examples.
c) Most people want to achieve great results fast, without investing too much effort and / or money into it, so make sure to capitalize on that; here are a few ideas: “How I got… in 3 days”, “How to… for less than 5 dollars”, “10 Quick and Easy Tips to…”, “8 Killer Shortcuts to…”, “Surefire Ways to… in 2 weeks”, and so on.
d) Use caps from time to time, creating article titles like this: “The LAZY method to double your website traffic in a week”. Make sure you don’t abuse this method, though.
e) Ask questions in your article title; make sure that you ask interesting questions – otherwise, nobody will want to read the answer. Things like “Are You Losing Money by…”, “Do you make the… mistake?”, Are you looking for an easy way to…”,
OK, let’s move on to business blogging mistake #2: most people don’t concentrate their energy on a single topic. If you are selling chairs, don’t discuss politics, worldwide news, etc – you’d better strive to provide great information in your blog posts, data that people will want to reference over and over.
I have worked as a blogger for a huge business financing company in the U.S.A., cranking out 3 blogs per week for an entire year. It wasn’t an easy task, but I have noticed that all the posts that were very well researched have brought in hundreds of visitors. Actually, one of these posts continues to bring in hundreds of visitors each month and has got itself a first page Google rank for its keyword without me doing any SEO; it got there just because many people liked the blog post and linked to it naturally.
Blogging mistake #3: writing about things You love. Business blogging doesn’t have anything to do with the way you feel today, the way that actor did something online or the knitting tools you’re buying for your new line of sweaters – who cares about that?
Blogging for Business 101 – the solution
Your blog’s main role is to solve other people’s problems. Let me restate that: the primary role of your blog articles is to solve other people’s problems, giving them pertinent information, data that they will want to return to again and again. But how can we know what their problems are? Let us pretend that your company sells shoes; go to Yahoo Answers and type in “how to shoes” without using the quotes in the “Search Y! answers” box; you will discover questions like “How to buy cheap running shoes?”, “How can I make my shoes more comfortable?”, and so on. If you can’t find good questions at Yahoo’s website, feel free to type the same search query into Google – you will definitely find a lot of good stuff. Then, start writing killer blog posts that answer these questions.
If you have made it this far, you are in for a treat – my list with problem-solving search words: which, how, what, can, can’t, could, may, might, would, will, why, isn’t. Let’s pick a random example: “can’t shoes” returns questions like “How do I find the right shoes?”, real problems faced by your potential website visitors. Crucial hint: make sure to include the keyword (the question) in your blog’s title – this will help the search engines understand what your post is about, thus giving you a better rank for it. Feel free to check out the free SEO Primer article if you want to learn more about search engine optimization.
Final tip: check the keyword / question search volumes using Google’s keyword tool; just do a search and you’ll easily find the link to it. This will help you detect questions that have a decent amount of traffic; any value above zero is good enough for our blog posts. In fact, I would only choose the questions that have a low search volume on purpose, because this will help you reach the first Google search page much easier, without using any special SEO techniques – this is Blogging for Business 101, after all.