The internet is littered with business websites that have a total of three blog posts on them that were published in 2010. All of these marketers started with good intentions, but they had some wrong ideas about blogging that sealed their fate.
For the most part, it's not that these business bloggers were incapable of making good, worthwhile content. They just went into it with the wrong mindset and unrealistic expectations.
We've been helping deserving companies 10x their traffic, leads, and opportunities through business blogging for several years, and we have to help our clients understand some of these blogging fundamentals up front to ensure that we can succeed. (Check out our secrets to 10x growth here.)
In this post, we'll deliver business blogging advice and clear up seven of the biggest misconceptions so that your blog doesn't fizzle out two months from now.
Business Blogging Advice: The 7 Biggest Myths Debunked
Here at Lean Labs, we've written thousands of business blog posts over the years. As we've written and analyzed the results, we've learned what kinds of things work to drive blog traffic and generate business. Here are seven of the most common myths we hear about blogging from newbies.
Myth #1: Your Copy Should Wear a Coat and Tie
Blog posts are (mostly 1-way) conversations between you and the reader. They aren't supposed to sound like a supreme court filing with lots of "heretofore"s and run-on sentences and archaic language. Leave that for the Terms and Conditions page.
Your job as a blogger is to teach. You're helping the reader understand something that will make their life better. The great teachers know that humor, illustrations, metaphors, and stories are the paths to attention and understanding.
It's OK to break a few grammar rules occasionally to make posts conversational and interesting. That doesn't mean sound dumb, but write as you talk. Feel free to start sentences with conjunctions and end them with prepositions. Use real language with life in it.
As Jasmine Gordon writes in 13 Ways Writing Content for the Web Isn't What You Learned in School, it's OK to write things that would raise the ire of your high school English teacher.
To be clear, you shouldn't forget everything about sentence structure. Your sentences usually need a subject and object.
However, occasionally breaking a few rules of grammar can allow you to achieve a conversational tone and add a little emphasis. A few short sentences never hurt the right web audience. Like this. Or this.
Also, don't overdo it with industry jargon. Use too many faddish buzzwords and you'll come off as salesy and trite.
Myth #2: Keywords Don't Matter Anymore
Google has changed a lot over the last 20 years. The algorithm is better than it used to be at understanding the way humans communicate through language. And, while you don't have to be meticulous about getting the exact right keyword density in your blog post, you also can't ignore keywords.
Optimizing for keywords is just as important today as it has ever been.
You still have to do keyword research up front to learn what topics people are interested in and if you can reach the top of search rankings. If there isn't enough interest in a topic, no one will search for it. And, if the competition is too stiff for it, you'll never get high enough in the rankings for people to find your posts.
If you'd like to learn more about how we do keyword research and on-page optimization, check out our Ultimate Guide to Increasing Organic Website Traffic.
3. Results Are Quick
Business blogging is the best long-term investment in marketing you can make. We've seen it work over and over and over again. Blogging can bring in more leads in the long term than our clients thought was possible.
I hope you noticed the use of "long term" in the previous two sentences. If you expect to turn on the marketing microwave and get a lot of qualified leads in minutes, days, or even a few weeks, take our advice: don't start blogging.
The timeline to substantial results with blogging is usually measured in months and quarters. But when those results start coming in, they arrive in big quantities. If you'll invest in the traffic snowball and be patient, you'll love the results.
For more on this important topic, check out How Long Does It Take to Rank In Google? (How to Get the Snowball Effect).
4. Never Mention the Competition
One of the biggest hurdles in the sales process is gaining trust. If you can earn the prospect's trust, you're well on your way to earning their money.
A great way to earn the prospect's trust is by being transparent about where your company or product fits in the market.
This often means acknowledging that you're not the only possible solution to the problem the prospect is facing. A prospect who is lower in the funnel is going to look for a few options. Don't put your head in the sand and think they aren't comparing you with other solutions. They are, so it's best to guide that conversation yourself.
Some of the most successful blog posts we've ever written are titled "The X Best ..." That's a very common search that prospects perform toward the end of the buyer's journey and our posts rank at the top of Google for those questions. We mention competitors by name and talk about who they work best for, along with our client and the type of customer they work best for.
The "Critical Comparison Post" (emphasis "Critical") is one of the no-no's we talk about in The 5 Blog Post Types We Never Use. Melissa Randall writes:
When it comes to comparison posts, don't go negative against competitors. Comparison posts can be productive when they're impartial, but many brands still find a way to show bias. For instance, the side-by-side feature lists are notorious for finding creative ways to make the brand look better than all other competitors.
While it's good to show the differences in your product, customers are savvy. They can tell when you're trying to make another brand look bad, even if you think you're subtle. That can result in an instant loss of trust between you and your would-be customer.
By talking about the competition in a non-negative light, your prospects will trust you. And, by being specific about who your solution is best for, you'll also weed out some potentially bad leads who would waste your sales team's time.
This disarming approach gives you the opportunity to clearly articulate your unique value proposition and show why the right prospect should choose you over the other guys.
5. You Need to Sell in Every Post
One of the hardest things to do as a marketer is to be patient. It's going to be hard not to try to ask the reader to become a customer in your posts, but you have to fight the urge.
Be respectful of where the reader is in the buyer's journey. If they're at the top of the funnel and just starting to understand their own problem and that there are solutions to them, don't ask them to talk to your sales team. That's like walking up to someone you just met and asking them to marry you.
You have to get to know each other first. Make sure to create content for every stage of the buyer's journey and that each piece strategically leads the prospect down the path toward becoming a customer.
As Ryan Scott, our head of Inbound, states in Why We Fight Against the Sales Pitch in Our Clients' Blogs, people are looking for answers, not pitches.
If I'm on Google searching for, "what are the best mousetraps," I want to know. I do not want someone to point to their brand and say, "this is the very best you can possibly buy." I want them to show me why a mousetrap is considered the best, and what the pros and cons are.
It's okay to share your opinion, even if you honestly believe your mousetrap is best; but show me why you believe that.
6. Business Blogs Should Never Include Personal Stuff
"Don't talk about your dog in a business blog post."
That's true if the story about your dog has nothing to do with your business. But, if a story about your basset hound Wilbur ties into something you can teach your prospect about their problem and your solution, then, by all means, talk about Wilbur and include his picture if you can.
In Dotcom Secrets, Russell Brunson advocates the use of an "attractive character" in business marketing. By attractive, he means likable or relatable, not necessarily easy on the eyes. Brunson often tells the story of how simply mentioning how he and his wife struggled to get pregnant drastically increased the response to his message.
Brunson describes the attractive character effect in the first couple of minutes of this video.
7. Each Post Should Position You as a Thought Leader
We naturally want to demonstrate our expertise in the topics we cover in business blogging. And while thought leadership posts are definitely one type of blog post to tackle, it's usually not the first kind we go after.
The key to developing a successful blog in the long term is to build a strong base of organic traffic. So, it's best to let keyword research guide your blog content at the start, rather than giving your opinion on the newest trends in your industry. You'll want to look for opportunities to capture search traffic on terms with high volume and low competition.
Cover the basic educational topics first, then move to thought leadership.
Ryan Scott makes this point well in his post, Thought Leadership vs. Educational Blog Content: Which Is Best?
This is where a lot of companies with low traffic make a critical error. They believe thought leadership creates long-term growth. They've read a lot of blogs about creating content that is "valuable" and they spend too much time trying to push the envelope of thought.
This is great, don't get me wrong. Thought leadership content is the best way to set yourself apart from the competition, and stake your claim as an industry leader. It's the only way to keep traffic.
But if you have no one to read those deep thoughts, do they do any good?
Our Business Blogging Advice for Organic Traffic
Whether yours is one of the stale business blogs with posts older than your pets or you're just getting started with a new blog, if you approach it with the right mindset and expectations, you can build growth for the long term.
By taking advice from bloggers who have built huge traffic snowballs over the years, you can create valuable, worthwhile content that attracts tons of readers.
We've compiled 12 of the tactics we use for organic growth in The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Organic Traffic. Access this free resource now to learn about:
- On-Site optimization - Send Google the right signals.
- Content optimization - What content performs best on search?
- Content promotion - The best ways to promote your content without spamming.
- Video marketing tweaks - How to turn your videos into hyper-searchable traffic-builders.
- The Fresh Test - How to keep your content sparkly clean and fresh in Google's eyes.
- Plus more...