Whether they’re looking for dinner recipes, WordPress tips, or pictures of the things people carry around in their pockets, many online consumers look to blogs for an answer.

As consumers have come to rely on blogs as a trusted source of accurate online information, more businesses are using them as a powerful content marketing tactic. Blogs help businesses develop a presence online and establish themselves as experts in a particular industry.

Creating regular content that solves the challenges of their target audience helps businesses appear credible and trustworthy, which boosts the chances of visitors becoming leads. In fact, businesses using blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67% more leads than those who don’t.

Blogs can also be a useful tool for understanding and engaging with your audience. From responding to readers in the comments section to analyzing how they share your posts on social, you can strengthen your connection with readers and show off your brand personality.

In addition to helping you generate leads and foster stronger relationships with your readers, blogging can help improve your site’s SEO. Through blogging, you can grow the number of indexed pages on your site. Because search engines see sites with more indexed pages as more established than sites with fewer pages, increasing this number through blogging can help improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive sustained organic traffic to your site.

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Now that you understand the variety of business needs that blogs can fulfill for your brand, you may want to begin blogging as soon as possible but have no idea where to start. How do you decide what to write about or how often to write? How do you even add a blog to your site?

This post will help you answer these important questions. Below we’ll walk through the steps to creating a quality blog on WordPress so you can begin reaping the benefits of adding blogs to your content marketing mix.

To help you get started creating a blog for your business, let’s take a closer look at each of these steps below.

Step 1: Choose your topic.

Before you begin writing, you need to have a clear understanding of what your blog will be about. While blogs can be an entire website on their own, yours will likely be an extension of your business. While that helps to narrow down your selection of topics, there are other factors to consider. The key to picking a topic is finding one that specifically ties into your business and industry but is still broad enough that you could write hundreds of articles about it.

When coming up with a topic for your blog, consider your target audience. What are their job titles? What are their specific needs and interests? What will resonate with them?

To help you answer these questions, you can create buyer personas. These fictional representations of your ideal readers will help you map out and create content that’s tailored to their goals, behaviors, and concerns. This type of strategic content creation and mapping will help ensure you’re creating the right content for the right people.

HubSpot, for example, blogs about marketing, sales service, and websites because we sell products related to those three subjects. These blogs are likely to attract readers that are similar to HubSpot's core buyer persona, which improves the chances that those visitors will convert into leads.

If you need help creating buyer personas for your businesses, check out the free tool MakeMyPersona.com.

Step 2: Pick a hosting provider and set up your domain.

By hosting your blog on WordPress, you’ll have a powerful CMS to help you publish and manage your content.

You have a few choices for setting it up. As mentioned above, blogs can exist as their own site. If that’s the case for your business, then you’ll register a root domain, which would look like yourblog.com. Many businesses, however, want to create a blog that lives in its own section of their company site.

If you want your blog to be part of your company website, you have two options. You can set up a subdomain, where you create a webpage that connects with an existing website, or you can set up subdirectories. Subdirectories are divisions of your domain that represent specific pages on your website.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between subdomains and subdirectories. The most basic difference is how WordPress creates URLs for them. A subdomain is a part of your root domain. If set your blog as its own subdomain, then a blog post URL would look like blog.yoursite.com/blog-post-title. If you set up your blog to run on subdirectories, then a blog post URL would look like yoursite.com/blog/blog-post-title.

The key difference between subdomains and subdirectories is where your content is hosted. Subdomains are considered equal and distinct from root domains. That means instead of aggregating backlinks to your main domain, you're “splitting” them between your subdomain and primary domain. This phenomenon can lessen the chances of your subdomain's content ranking. Subdirectories, on the other hand, are considered part of your root domain so any keywords they rank for or backlinks they receive will strengthen the authority of your domain.

In short, if you're a startup or small business looking to optimize your SEO, consider subdirectories over subdomains. For larger blog operations, consider setting up your blog as a subdomain. This structure is better suited for organizing a large and growing body of content in the long term, especially if that content isn’t directly correlated with your root domain.

However you decide to set up your blog, you’ll need to choose a website hosting provider that can provide the speed, support, and security you need to manage it. You can create a new domain, subdomain, or subdirectory, or connect an existing one when signing up with your hosting provider.

Step 3: Select and customize your theme.

After installing WordPress, you’ll notice a default theme has been activated on your blog. If you’ve installed the latest version of WordPress, the default theme will be Twenty Nineteen. This is a minimalist, lightweight theme that you can customize using the Gutenberg editor or another page builder.

Demo homepage of the WordPress default theme for 2019

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While this typography-driven single-column layout may be perfect for your blog, it may not work for others. A blog that would like to feature a sidebar for related links, tag clouds, or ads in their posts, for example, would benefit from a two-column layout. For more color options, sidebars, background options, Google Fonts, and layouts, you can choose from hundreds of free and premium WordPress themes available through the WordPress theme directory or third-party marketplaces.

When selecting your theme, consider what your blog is trying to achieve. This will help you decide what features you need. A basic list might include an uncomplicated design and comment section as well as the ability to upload your logo, customize the header and footer, and add social sharing buttons. You’ll also want to ensure you select a theme that’s fully responsive and built with lightweight code so it looks great and loads quickly on any device. Not only will this type of theme delight your mobile users, it will also be favored by Google and other major search engines.

After selecting your theme, you can customize it to ensure that the appearance of your blog appeals to your target audience. One approach you can take is to think about how you can tailor it to your content. For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, then you may choose a color palette with lots of green. If your blog is news-heavy, then you may want to choose a sans-serif font for a contemporary look that’s easy to read even on low-resolution devices.

Step 4: Create an editorial calendar.

As you begin writing, you’ll also need to figure out how you’ll create and publish all your content. What types of content will you be publishing? What is your content pipeline like? Is there a substantial editing and approval process that each piece of content goes through? How often will you publish?

To avoid getting overwhelmed by these questions, you can create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is a visual workflow that can help your team of content creators manage and schedule their work. With an editorial calendar, you can keep track of assignments, writers, editors, content types, promotional channels, due dates and — most importantly — publish dates.

The most important step in creating your calendar is to establish what your business goals are and what type of content can help you achieve those. For example, if you’re trying to attract new customers and make more sales, then you could focus on writing case studies or other posts about your products. You could alternate these with listicles, which have been shown to be the most viral type of content, in order to get more shares on social media.

You can build your editorial calendar on a platform like Trello that allows multiple people to brainstorm, collaborate, and provide feedback on assignments in real time and in one place.

A blog editorial calendar built on Trello

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Step 5: Create high-quality content.

Creating high-quality content is essential to running a successful blog. Without great content, even the most well-designed blogs will fail to attract and engage visitors.

This idea might be a no-brainer, but the steps for creating valuable content are far from simple. From keywords to images to headings to grammar and spelling, there are many factors that go into content creation.

Keyword Research

After you’ve created your buyer personas and decided which topics to cover, the next step is to perform keyword research to see if those topics appeal to a larger audience. Keyword research will show you the search volume of a specific keyword phrase so you can decide whether it’s worth your time and effort to write about it.

Readability

Once you’ve decided on a topic, your next step is to create readable text that draws and keeps readers on your blog. To ensure your posts are easy to read for as many site visitors as possible, make sure to shorten any long sentences or paragraphs, avoid passive voice, add headings and subheadings, and use transition words. These strategies will improve the flow of your blog posts and help you better organize chunks of texts.

To ensure your writing is high-quality while simultaneously cutting down on the time you spend editing, you can use the Hemingway Editor. You can also install the browser extension Grammarly to help you avoid any grammar and spelling mistakes that might impact your brand credibility.

GIF demo on how Grammarly can help you write quality blog posts

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Images

Another way to enhance the reader experience on your blog is to add visuals. Incorporating images into your content makes it more engaging and memorable. In fact, blog posts that contain images get over 90% more total views than those without and visual content is also 40 times more likely to get shared on social media.

Step 6: Optimize your posts for on-page SEO.

Creating and publishing high-quality content on your blog is only half the battle. To improve your rankings and attract new traffic, you have to optimize your blog posts for search engines.

One way to do this is to optimize your titles, meta descriptions, and links. These elements are collectively referred to as on-page SEO because readers can see them on the page. Let’s quickly look at a few of these key elements below.

Titles and Meta Descriptions

Along with the URL, the title and meta description can convince readers to click — or not click — on your blog post in a SERP. To optimize your titles and meta descriptions, you need to include the keywords you’re trying to rank for and meet the length requirement. Ideally, keep titles under 60 characters and meta descriptions under 160.

The title and meta description labelled in a featured snippet for a HubSpot blog

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Internal Links

Providing links to related content within your blog posts will help both search engines and readers understand the value and relationship between the content on your site. This will not only make your site easier to navigate, which increases the chances that readers look at more content and stay on your site longer, but also helps search engines find all of the content you own on a particular topic. This improves your chances of ranking for the keywords associated with that topic.

Step 7: Add call-to-actions.

Say readers love your content. They clicked on one of your blog posts in a SERP and have now read dozens thanks to your internal links. You don’t want to risk letting these readers leave your site without converting them into leads.

One way to turn readers into leads is inserting relevant calls-to-action into your blog posts. CTAs direct visitors to a landing page where they can submit their contact information in exchange for a resource. An effective CTA might offer an ebook about a specific topic mentioned in the post or a discount code for a related product. Whatever the offer, it has to provide value that the reader can’t pass up.

A CTA to download 5 professional cover letter templates

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While there are dozens of factors that contribute to a blog’s success, the ones mentioned above are crucial to providing a positive experience to your readers and optimizing your blog for search engines. By following these steps, you can create a quality blog on WordPress that improves your rankings, increases your traffic, and gets you more leads.

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Originally published Dec 13, 2019 12:40:12 PM, updated December 13 2019

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