The 5 Pillars of Business Blogging Success

social media how toAre you looking for practical tips for blogging success? Are you wondering what to avoid? While my position is generally that there are no “rules” in blogging, there are best practices that will help your business blog succeed.

There are a lot of obvious elements you need to include to make a blog reader-friendly: quality, compelling content, good navigation, a contact page, an about page, focus and clarity about the subject of the blog… and there’s a lot of not-so-obvious or overlooked things that can really help make a blog stand out if they’re implemented.

While I do have my own list of do’s and don’ts included, I decided to get input from other smart, savvy bloggers. I posted a request on LinkedIn Answers and received many great do’s and don’ts. I’ve grouped the tips into five categories: Planning, Content, Design, Marketing and Engagement.

#1: Planning Your Business Blog

Do: Know your “Big Why” – Why are you in business? What is your purpose and ultimate goal for serving others? Clarity about your purpose, your goals, your ideal client and how you transform people’s lives will help guide all the content on your business blog.

Do: Know what you mean when you say successful. Are you trying to get more sales? Develop relationships? Inform current customers? Having a specific goal for your blog will shape the rest of your strategy. From Cordelia Blake

Do: Keyword research before starting a blog. First, compile a list of keywords (and, more importantly, keyword phrases) you think your business should rank for. Then, go to Google Keyword tool and type in those phrases to find out how many actual searches are done per month. You would be surprised how different Google’s list may turn out from your own. Use the list Google suggests as your starting point. From Boris Mahovac

google keyword tool

Use the Google Keyword Tool to find keywords that have a large number of searches.

Do: Define your target audience and develop a content strategy that they will find interesting, entertaining or informative. Don’t focus too closely on product. As a Twitter friend once said, “If you make dog food, don’t talk about dog food, talk about dogs.” From Heidi Cool

Do: Give it time. It takes a while to build real relationships. From Christopher Gronlund

Don’t: Hide the author of the blog. Make sure you have a real-live person behind the blog. Add his or her photo, name and role in the company. It’s OK to outsource to get help, but for the most authentic connection, have a real employee available to guide, answer questions and provide a true look inside the organization. Even if you only have a few people in your company, this is vitally important. From Phil Gerbyshak

#2: Your Blog Content

Do: Be real.

Don’t: Be stuffy, dull and pompous or use bizspeak jargon. A blog isn’t a lecture hall or a billboard (i.e., one-way or solely self-promotional communication), but is ideally a place for people who are hungry for good information to find you and start to see you as a reliable and trustworthy resource. From Caitlin Kelly

Do: Find an optimal posting schedule that works for you. The more you post on your blog, the more traffic you’ll attract. But more than frequency, focus on posting quality content consistently and constantly.

Do: Establish an editorial calendar that helps you plan for future articles and topics. Set reasonable deadlines. If you know you can’t publish daily, don’t establish that as your goal.

Don’t: Publish junk just to keep up with your calendar. It’s better to miss a post than to post gibberish. (Heidi Cool)

Do: Keep the Four E’s in mind when writing your blog posts: Educate, Entertain, Engage and Enrich. Mix it up to ensure your message is delivered in the way that your ideal reader wants to consume it.

Do: Create Scannable Content. People have different reading patterns on the web than they do on the printed page. They tend to scan down web pages rather than read every word. So give them what they want! Break up your content with shorter paragraphs, headings and bullets. Add images. Incorporate video. From Chris Cree

Do: Create compelling, keyword-rich titles that address your audience’s needs. From Rich Brooks

Do: Use a variety of post types. Some posts can be a quick paragraph, while others are a deep dive into an important issue. Posts can be based around a video, or based around text content. If you mix things up you’ll keep the blog interesting, expand your list of post ideas and fight the tendency for blogger burnout. From Kyle Deming

Don’t: Get too self-promotional. At least 80% of your content should focus on helping your audience. (Rich Brooks)

#3: Blog Design

Do: Blog on your own domain, period. It should also be under “yourdomain.com/blog” subdirectory rather than “blog.yourdomain.com”. This lends some of the search engine goodwill earned by your blog to your root domain. From Scott Allen. (Just about everyone made this recommendation.)

Do: Customize your templates and menus to make it easy for readers to explore page articles. Make good use of categories and tags. (Heidi Cool)

Do: Give your blog readers the tools to amplify your message to their own communities. Have retweet/tweet buttons, Facebook Like button, Digg, StumbleUpon and other relevant social sharing buttons on your blog posts. This falls under marketing and engagement as well. When designing your blog, make sure you include plugins and widgets that can support spreading your content far and wide.

Don’t: Hide author, contact, and subscription information. Make sure you have pages that are easy to find in the navigation so your reader can find out more about you and your company and can contact you with questions and feedback.

contact social media examiner

Make it easy for your audience to connect with you.

Do build an opt-in mailing list and autoresponder. Don’t rely solely on an RSS feed for your readers to get your blog updates. Most people do know what an RSS feed is; they do know how to opt in to get email. I see this mistake on 90% of the blogs I review. Check out Feedblitz, Feedburner and AWeber for email delivery of your blog content.

#4: Marketing Your Blog

Do: Build time into your schedule to market your blog. You’ve got to put some effort into steering people to your blog posts so that they actually find the great content you’re creating. (Chris Cree)

Do: Automate syndication of your blog posts to your social profiles. Make sure your posts are showing up on your Facebook page, Twitter stream and LinkedIn profile, at minimum.

Do: Find the right balance of keywords. Keywords are important for improving the ranking of your blog in search engines and for increasing visibility and readership. However, more is not always better. You want your blog post to read like a conversation you’re having with a person face to face. From Emily Madsen

Do: Repurpose your blog content in multiple formats and syndicate it on other content-sharing sites. Recreate your content in audio and video formats in order to leverage your time and extend your reach on the web.

#5: Engaging Your Audience

Do: Make time to respond to all of the comments you receive. A primary purpose for business blogging is to build a strong relationship with your audience. When you reply to their comments, your readers will appreciate your personal interest and this will build credibility and trust in your expertise. From Sydni Craig-Hart

Do: Spend as much time engaging as you do creating content. Some of that can be on your own blog replying to comments, but a substantial portion of it MUST be on other blogs in your industry. Competitors are a touchy situation—you really have to take it on a case-by-case basis. But for vendors, clients, industry associations, industry thought leaders/authors/speakers, you should definitely identify all of them and be engaging on a regular basis. (Scott Allen)

Don’t: Disable or heavily censor blog comments. Commenting is one of the best ways to engage and you may get called out if you filter out all negative comments. Use negative comments as an opportunity to respond graciously. (Kyle Deming)

Do: Have a clear plan in place for handling criticism and negative comments. Take the high road and respond to these comments carefully and politely. (Heidi Cool)

Don’t: Take for granted you know what your audience needs. Survey and ask them what three things they struggle with in their business. This one exercise could have you supplied with relevant blog posts for weeks. But also, you’ll be providing great information to your readers to keep them coming back for more. From Terri Brooks

survey monkey

Create simple surveys with SurveyMonkey.com.

Do: Be as authentic as you possibly can. People know when they’re being fed a party line or propaganda. We know when we’re being marketed at or PRed at. Be as real as the circumstances allow. From Erica Friedman

What would you add? Do you have some business blogging do’s and don’ts that are not covered here? Leave your comments and ideas in the box below.

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About the Author, Denise Wakeman

Denise Wakeman is an Online Marketing Advisor and Founder of The Blog Squad. You can learn more about business blogging on Build a Better Blog. Other posts by »




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  • http://twitter.com/lvstrickland Leslie Strickland

    Great for those of us just starting a personal business blog. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/kevjschmidt kevin schmidt

    Really great tips in that article. What kind of search volume to rank for keywords would you suggest?

  • http://www.inspirationboost.com/ JJ Wong

    Great tips and information Denise! It’s very clean arrangement of text for easy understanding.
    Thanks for the post. :D

  • http://www.lorirtaylor.com/ LoriRTaylor

    Great post Denise. Really like the section on engaging. So important to let people know you appreciate their comments and contribution. Mari Smith does such a great job of this – I try to follow her example. If they took the time to leave a relevant comment I try to add value back as my “thank you for stopping by”.

  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    These are great tips, for beginners and seasoned bloggers alike. I love the “four E’s” of blog posts – “Educate, Entertain, Engage and Enrich.” Empty-hearted posts clog up your blog without adding value, and lots of people are still starting out having done very little planning and/or research. These are tips that are worth repeating time and time again.

  • http://twitter.com/jdlakecom John Lake

    Great tips and a timely delivery. Thanks.

  • http://www.extremejohn.com/ Extreme John

    Marketing and managing my online business blog often seems so much easier to manage then my personal blog, the contest is easy and consistent which I like. Sliding in the simple tips listed above line-by-line should give me some added leverage against my competitors who finally woke up and started blogging heavily as of late.

  • http://twitter.com/CaldwellCreates Chris Caldwell

    Great post with tons of great information on properly setting up and creating content. Planning and proper guidelines dramatically improve the results you get from a blog. Thanks for the great article!

  • http://www.bluebanana.co.nz Linda Coles @ Blue Banana 20

    Thanks Denise, great post. I use Aweber myself, I wish the opt in form would work with a WordPress.com blog though. If anyone knows how to make it work, I would love to know :)

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Thank you Denise for this great post. I learn a lot by reading other top blogs. That is on my to do list.

  • http://aremorch.com/ Are Morch

    Hi Denise.

    Some brilliant advice here. Just loved this article. Learning so much from your tips.

    One part that got me a little stuck in the rut is the List Building Part. Several courses I have taken on Blogging put this element almost on top. And I am not sure if I might have put a little to much focus on this particular element.

    Should I rather focus on my niche and work on develop product/service for my brand, and then implement my list?

    I use Aweber and follow the traditional tips I find. But for me at the moment it feels like I got my focus in the wrong end here.

    Cheers.. Are

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  • http://www.DonnaPeruginiChildrensAuthor.com Donna Perugini

    In the spirit of full disclosure hoping it might help some other newbies out there:

    All my effort was in getting up to speed understanding social media and at the same time starting a blog as part of the Author Platform. There was also overseeing my children’s books being re-issued and an Author Website with shopping cart under construction for me. I was so busy growing new neural pathways in my brain, I forgot to look at everything through the eyes of someone who had no idea what was being promoted and sold through the blog.

    It finally dawned on me to put a large eye-catching link on my blog to connect to my shopping cart on my Author Website.

    Having an organized business plan would have put me way ahead in the learning curve.

  • http://purposelydifferent.com/ Chris Cree

    Another great post, Denise! I’ll be point people who want the quick and dirty “what they do” here for sure. There’s a year’s worth of content just waiting to be expounded upon in this post. :)

  • http://www.blog.lacuisinet.com Choko

    Hi,
    Excellent article, many good ideas!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Mari Smith is definitely a great example of engaging with her audience. I don’t think every single comment warrants a response but those that add value or ask questions certainly do, if possible.

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Thanks for your feedback, David. Keeping the 4 Es in mind will definitely contribute to have a value-rich blog.

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Donna, there’s so much to learn and implement when you do business online. Sounds like you have figured it out. Blog on!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Thanks, Chris, appreciate your support. You’re right, each point could be a stand-alone blog post!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Thanks, Are. I think building your list needs to happen in concert with creating content and products. Without a list of subscribers, few people will know about your offers and how you serve your clients. When someone makes the effort to subscribe to your blog, they’re raising their hand and letting you know they want more of what you’ve got. They’re saying they want to be part of your community. So it’s important to encourage and show people how to subscribe while at the same time focusing on the value you provide. Blog on!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Linda, I don’t use aweber or wordpress.com so I can’t help. Hopefully another reader will have an answer for you.

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Hi Kevin, I’m not an seo expert so I cannot adequately answer your question. In general you want a high search volume, but there are many, many variables including the size of your niche and the number of people who are searching for what you are writing about. A term may have a low search volume, but the people who are searching may be very motivated and highly targeted so it the volume isn’t as important. Maybe an SEO expert will chime in here.

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    You’re right, John, it’s important to stay on top of trends and tactics so you can stay a few steps ahead of your competition…and things are changing in the blogging/social marketing world every day…blog on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Carr/100001456161588 Peter Carr

    Hi Denise,
    Having clear goals is a crucial part to your blogs success. A long term goal plus short term goals are the most important thing to me. No planning will soon turn into no success. Don’t be afraid to tweak your goals as you go. Nothing is set in stone.
    Thanks for more great advice.
    Pete

  • yinka olaito

    This list brings a lot of value to social media table. thanks Denise

  • http://aremorch.com/ Are Morch

    Thanks Denise for your advice here :)

    Love your Online Visibility program. Learning more then I bargained for :)

    Cheers.. Are

  • Mark

    Denise,

    Thanks for all of the great information. I just found your site today from a tweet by Viveka Von Rosen. I am new to my business and to the whole social media thing. Do you have other favorite social media sites you think I should be following?

    Thanks!
    Mark

  • Guest

    Sorry, I meant to nest the reply to Kevin above, reposted . . .

  • http://www.MomEntrepreneurVA.com Bonnie @va4mom

    Hi Kevin & Denise; We do a lot of SEO with our clients and in the formula we use we focus on search volume, competition and page rank. You want a high search volume, defining ‘high’ depends on the niche market you serve just like Denise was explaining. You also want a mid to low range competition rank and first page search results with an average page rank under 5 . . . Just some food for thought. Good luck!

  • Caitlin Kelly

    I also think it’s worth considering, if you find the whole thing overwhelming, hiring a writer to ghost-blog for you. Not everyone knows how to write well (enough) and it can end up feeling like one more chore on your to-do list.

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  • http://www.wickedinnovations.com/ Jeorge Peter

    You mentioned – Educate, Entertain, Engage and Enrich which every blogger must incorporate in their writing.

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  • http://www.selfemployednews.com/ Ragupathy S P

    Hi Denise

    You are a thought leader..no doubts about it…

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Peter, you’re right that without planning, success may be elusive. And, leaving room for spontaneity is important so you can address current affairs and breaking news if necessary. Blog on!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Mark, check out the post on this site that was published a few days ago asking for nominations for best social media blogs. You’ll find a fantastic selection of great sites to learn about social media.

  • AdamStanecki

    Great advice, Denise.
    A few things there that I can improve on immediately.
    I’m sure newbies and experienced bloggers can get something out of this piece.
    Thank you.

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  • mentormarketing

    The 4E’s are the cornerstone of my blog. Our Education factor is off the charts, but I have improvement opportunities to tackle in the engagement factor. I need to include sharing tools as well as a related post section. My blog is built in Joomla using flexicontent, does anyone have a recommendation for a social sharing module or component?

  • http://www.ianbrodie.com/ Ian Brodie

    Denise – I’d agree with almost everything here – but strongly disagree with:

    “Do: Automate syndication of your blog posts to your social profiles”.

    It takes only a minute at most to do a manual tweet/facebook share of a blog post – especially if you use something like the j.mp sidebar.

    And if you manually construct a compelling tweet or intro to the post on facebook you can double, triple or quadruple the clickthroughs to the post vs an automatically generated tweet.

    Ian

  • http://www.roslynrajasingam.com Roslyn Rajasingam

    Hi Denise!

    You always provide good content and a lot of good strategies that is why I like to read your articles and follow you on facebook.

    Regards.

    Ros

  • http://www.kooldesignmaker.com baby monitors

    These points are simply Great!!
    You have evaluated critical success factors for blogging world through that post.
    Every point is unique…
    “Engaging Your Audience” also involves one more point that is “Interaction!”.Being a reader when blogger interacts with you, you feel yourself special, and it creates loyalty and retention…
    thanks

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  • http://roarmkting.com Ryan Rosado

    I had this email in my inbox on this blog post and finally took the time to read it. Very enjoyable and great best practices. I feel like people come around eventually to seeing what you post if you expose them and give them leads often enough. Case and point me :-D !

  • http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/ online shopping

    These are five important point for online business. If you want to be a successful then you need to follow these. Two point blog design and keep the audience busy are more important points.

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  • Daniel Rae

    “If you make dog food, don’t talk about dog food, talk about dogs” – love that quote!

  • Shelbyfrench

    Once again, I come to Social Media Examiner for everything I need to know in clear easy to read format.  Thank you SME for helping people be successful!

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