Checklist: How to Start a Business Blog

    by Rebecca Churt

    Date

    July 23, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    Excellent content leaves the reader with something new that they didn’t have before. People like to get something from blogs they read. You don’t have to be Shakespeare to have a good blog.  

    The fact is that web sites with a blog received 55% more visitors , 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages than those that didn’t have a blog. Businesses in particular can capitalize on this because businesses that blog experience 126% higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses. Can you really afford to miss this opportunity?

    describe the image 1. CONTENT

    Remarkable Content – A mix of content is good. What’s remarkable? Anything relevant and useful, interesting, thought-provoking, controversial, and entertaining. Try things like current news, opinion, and media rich content. Note: this is not your place to talk all about your services or products.

    • Keep content topical, informative, and non promotional
    • Check your grammar and spelling
    • Organize your content

    Title

    Sub-heading

    Content with bold words or language indicating importance

    • Give your readers something to chew on – A blog post should be 400-600 words on average

    Search Engine Optimization Basics - As you create remarkable content you will want to optimize that content for search engines as well as users. Make it as clear as possible. This should include updating the following - Page title, Meta description, and internal page links.

    Attention Grabbing Headlines – Not to pile on the pressure but your Headline/Title/Subject line is important. In most cases it is also your post URL so make it count. If you can include your keywords. Generally things like top 5 lists, trends, and news focused articles do really well, but add variety and measure what readers like best.

    Target Audience – Who are you writing for? Focus on the "who" of your blog. You need to think about the type of person, on average, who you want to attract to your blog.

    Bloggers – Who is writing? Will you be the one writing articles? Or are you just a champion/facilitator/coordinator and others will be doing the writing.

    Schedule – How often will you publish? – Plan or schedule how frequently your content will be published. Every day or every week or anything in between. Do what is realistic for you. The most important thing is consistency.

    2. READER ENGAGEMENT

    Call-to-Actions – Your blog should be a lead generating machine. Offers for call-to-actions can include: newsletter sign-up, eBook download or webinar registration.  Great blog call-to-actions are action oriented, positive, clear, and direct.

    Published Author Name – Give people credit for the content they write and also show your readers who is involved. It is more friendly to know whose work you are reading that have it be a mystery.

    Comments – Be sure to moderate your comments for spam. No one wants to read “great post…I will bookmark this” over and over again. At the same time, don’t eliminate good conversations even if they are potentially controversial.

    Lists – People like to read posts with a nice, simple presentation of information. The most popular kind are list of: recommendations, popular posts or articles by tags.

    Search – Give people the opportunity to find content easily and quickly. People are used to having answers at their finger tips. Chances are that if you don’t provide that information people will wander elsewhere.

    3. INTERACTIVE MEDIA

    Images – You want to think of images as supporting assets. They are the supporting characters in a feature film. Now, you shouldn’t litter your post with pictures but at least one is good to start. Graphs, diagrams and even screenshots can come in handy as useful blog images.

    Video – This is pretty much the same as with images. A good interactive video can help your blog go viral. You don’t have to do your own mini-series but maybe you came across a video that is relevant and supports the point of your content, go ahead and insert it and share it with your readers.

    Polls and Surveys – Done right, polls and surveys can give you some good data. They may even be somewhat entertaining. But don’t show a poll about “where you should go on vacation” when your blog is not even remotely related to the subject.

    4. SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

    Email – People like options. So give them the option to subscribe to your blog via email. You’ll be surprised that many people will still prefer this over RSS.

    RSS – This is a standard feature for blogs. You can take it one step further and make it even easier by just taken the RSS image icon and hyperlinking it to your RSS URL. Within a click you will have subscribers to your blog.

    Social Media – This seems like it should be common sense by now, but many bloggers still seem to miss out on this one. Give people the option to share your content. Again, simplicity is the key here. Have the icons display alongside your blog posts. Think about your industry - Is it more technical? If so then include Reddit and Digg. Are you in HR? Then be sure to use LinkedIn etc.

    Follow Me Option – Having people share your content is only half of the equation. You also want to build a following on your networks, whether it be your own Ning network or Twitter. Let people know where they can connect with you.

    5. MEASUREMENT

    Javascript - You should be using some kind of tool for the purpose of tracking traffic, which means you will have to copy and paste some kind of javascript code into your website for that tool to track that information. Don't forget it.

    Analytics – Look at page views, links, comments and where content was shared. The same way you want to know how your website is succeeding, you'll also want to know what's working on your blog. And if you've followed the steps above you should also be generating leads from your buiness blog.
     

    BONUS TIP - Things you don’t need

    Advertising – Unless you are generating tons of traffic this is a waste.

    Splash screens – Pop up screens are incredibly annoying and distracting. Try to keep them at minimum or only shown once, not repeatedly.

    Free Checklist

    For people who like to have a paper checklist, check out the document below. View this document on Slideshare and click download at the top of the document to get a copy of this checklist for your business.

    Rebecca Churt is a member of the Inbound Marketing Consultant team at HubSpot. She also blogs at www.rchurt.com .


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