Creating a blog is one of the classic low hanging fruit you can take advantage of to improve your business website – not only for SEO but for the general user experience. Blogs serve a number of purposes:
- Additional pages for keywords to rank on the SERP
- Additional opportunities to create internal links to point to important pages
- A way to add content that visitors want to know about without making the main navigation too bulky
- A way to update visitors and customers about upcoming events or important updates
- Creates content that you can share on social media, both increasing your activity on social media and creating new opportunities to drive traffic to your website
Let’s go over how to successfully start a blog, and keep it going successfully. The process for starting a new blog can be broken down into 3 parts:
- The Setup,
- The Launch,
- On-Going Work.
Steps For How To Set-Up Your Blog
“Start with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
If you want your blog to be as effective as possible, it takes more than just writing a post to get started. Whether you are creating this blog for a B2B or B2C business, the steps for setting up a blog are the same. Let’s discuss the important details, such as timing, collaborating with other members of your company, and technical aspects to keep in mind.
If there isn’t an outside force that compels you to launch by a certain date, such as a product launching, then set milestones but be flexible. We don’t need to be perfectionists to do the job well, but we don’t want to overlook important steps that can harm your long-term success.
- Start setting up meetings with coworkers (discussed below) ASAP. Schedule one a day, but not more because you want time to digest what you learned and start adding to your content strategy.
- Concurrently, start doing parallel research into competitors, areas of low competition on the SERP, and relevant keywords currently driving inbound traffic. This will allow you to work on the blog every day, especially when you have inevitable meeting cancellations or postponements.
Who to meet with at your company
If you’re a small business with 15 or fewer people, you might as well meet with everyone – including the receptionist. You never know who or what your coworkers know that could lead to a really popular blog post.
If you’re part of a larger company, here’s a breakdown of what questions you should be asking each team:
- Who our current and former customers are and how they found them.
- Pain points of potential customers in their region/industry.
- FAQ they deal with.
- Post-sales information that would be useful for customers.
- Which industries/sectors that we work with are the most profitable, which have the potential to be bigger and which management would like to prioritize if it’s different than the previous two?
- What new industries or sectors they are looking to break into.
- Discover what trade websites/magazines they read.
- Open channels of communication for future discussions of emerging trends, new products/services, and other areas where we’d want to get relevant content on the blog to be a thought leader in each industry.
Technical (engineers, developers, product managers, etc.):
These are the people who make what your company does. They have a different point of view than marketing and sales, and it’s important to listen to what they have to say.
- Why is our product/service important?
- How do you think we differ from the competition?
If you don’t know anything about SEO, you can skip this and just focus on your content. However, it’s worth bringing someone in to help you optimize your posts for Google searches.
- Backlink analysis of your top 3 competitors to see what kinds of sites are linking to them. This will help you to identify which sites you’ll want to pitch your content to, in order to get links and referral traffic to your site. Seeing your competitor’s blogs will also help you to understand what industry-relevant engaging content looks like.
- Now that you have topic ideas from your meetings, you’ll want to do keyword research of relevant long-tail keywords to create blog posts around. Group related search terms together and use them throughout your post, such as for headers helping to break up the post into more digestible chunks.
In order to help your posts gain traction, you’ll want to share them on relevant social media channels. The directions below are primarily for companies that don’t yet have a robust social media following. However, even if you have an engaged audience, it doesn’t hurt to go over the items below to make sure you aren’t overlooking any potential sources for followers.
Based on the information gathered from inter-departmental team meetings, you’ll have the relevant information to start building your social media presence, so that when you finally launch the blog you’ll already have followers. We recommend that you:
- Connect with current and former clients on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Follow desired future clients.
- Participate in conversations when we can add value.
- Identify influencers, if relevant to your industry, to form relationships with.
Preparing To Launch Your Blog
You’ve done all of your homework. Now comes time to put it into action.
Quantity vs Quality
The first thing you’ll want to do is identify how long you want your blog posts to be and how often you want to publish. You can either do shorter posts (300-500 words) a few times a week, or longer posts (1,000-1,500 words) once a week. These aren’t hard rules, but rather a recommendation – don’t try to write really long posts multiple times a week, since unless your job is a full-time content creator, you’ll get burnt out fast and neglect the rest of your marketing tasks. At the same time, a short blog post once a week is better than nothing, but it won’t do much to bring in more traffic – either from organic search or from social media.
Another benefit of long posts is that they are an excellent resource for farming social media content when you want to publish something but don’t necessarily have anything novel to say. Just go back and look at your old blog posts and you can find some gems that will resonate with your audience, and can additionally drive more traffic back to those old posts.
Here is a checklist of what you need to have on hand before you’re ready to launch:
- Create enough pieces of content so that you won’t have to write any blog posts for 2 months. This gives you a buffer and allows you to focus on promoting the blog and building a following instead of worrying about what you’ll publish tomorrow.
- Set aside 3-5 really high-quality pieces to pitch to relevant websites
- Have branded visual asset to go along with each piece of content
- Meet again with at least one member from each of the above teams for feedback prior to launch. Meeting with the other teams will do a few things: create buy-in so they also want the blog to succeed and are more likely to share and help create more engagement on social media, get new ideas for future pieces, and correct anything that isn’t accurate.
Tips for On-Going Blog Publication
The goal of ongoing blog content is to focus on consistency and quality. After the first few months, you can reassess the following:
- Do longer or shorter posts work better for you, or a combination of the two?
- Realistically, how frequently can you put out content?
- Are there industry sites where you can be a regular contributor?
- The best bet is to focus on producing content that is a mix of evergreen (which can be published at any-time), stories to promote upcoming events or new products/services, and thought leadership pieces designed to establish you a preeminent in your field.
Lessons learned from past posts can help you make future content better. Pre-schedule the following meeting into your calendar to make sure you don’t forget to do these:
- Quarterly reviews of the blog should be undertaken in order to identify which types of posts are performing best in order to utilize this information to make future posts more successful.
- Update old posts will periodically. Refreshing these posts lets search engines know the pages are still relevant even if they were written years ago.
- Periodic check-ins with Sales, Technical, and Bizdev teams for ideas for future content.