To follow on from our previous blog post, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Business: Getting Started, this post will discuss how to generate content ideas, what types of blog post structures are out there, and how to get people to read your blog.
Generate content ideas
When it comes down to creating content, it can be difficult to know what to write about. But whatever you choose as your topic of discussion, your blog post needs to add value. If it doesn’t your content won’t be shared by others, readers won’t come back for more, and viewers won’t convert to customers.
So with value in mind, some general topics you could discuss
- Your opinions or ideas on an industry topic. This will help position your business as an industry leader and demonstrate your business’s expertise
. Interesting company news such as new projects, completed projects or new employee appointments. But again make these posts engaging and consider ‘why should my audience care?’
- Information and resources that will help your target audience, including advice, FAQs answered, ‘how to’ guides and more.
- Trending topics. A timely blog post about a trending topic, such as Christmas, Game of Thrones or Brexit, is always worth considering. However, make sure the blog post is still relevant to your customers and fits alongside your branding.
Any blog post that you create should aim to answer questions your potential customers will be asking. These questions could be about your product or service, or your industry in general. So to help you generate content ideas, it is always a good idea to find out what your target audience is talking about right now.
Google trends allows you to determine what keywords and phrases people are currently searching for in Google. You can also enter a search term or topic that is related to your industry to see how it has been trending over time. By using this tool you might be able to determine a popular industry topic that you could discuss in your next blog post.
Answer the Public
Answer the Public allows you to search for a keyword to find out what questions people are asking based around this keyword. You can use these results to answer questions your potential customers are asking about a certain industry topic.
Using Google Analytics you can determine the interests of your target audience, whether it be sport, technology or travel, by navigating to the audience tab and clicking on interests.
Finally, when choosing a topic for discussion always consider your aim. Do you want to simply drive engagement or to increase your company’s sales leads? Considering your aim will help you to tailor your content towards reaching these goals.
Choose a blog post type
Comparing products or services is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and share your own opinion.
To set the scene for your review, begin by introducing the products or services you will discuss, their producers and their description before leading into your discussion. Include what you like and don’t like about each product (don’t make it too one-sided) before concluding with a recommendation.
In this type of review you need to be honest and – as always – add value. However, if you resell products from multiple clients you should not compare these products as you will damage your business relationships.
Another great way to demonstrate your expertise is to curate content. This might be in the form of lists to help summarise the best tools, resources or sources of information in your industry.
It is also worth including your own opinion here, as you are aiming to save the reader time instead of curating lists just for the sake of it.
Introduce the first item, resource or tool and add a short analysis before moving onto the second item, resource or tool and so on. For an example see where to find the best free stock images.
Step-by-step or ‘How to’ guides are a great way to demonstrate your value. These should consist of step-by-step instructions paired with an image of each step, as images make it much easier for the reader to follow your discussion.
However, to make it easier for Google to display your answer in relation to a search query, you need to make sure you discuss the problem and your solution early on in your blog post. And remember the purpose of a guide blog post is to help, so make sure you arrive at the solution again in your conclusion after discussing the problem in more depth.
By conducting interviews with your senior management or experts in your industry, you can obtain insights that your potential customers wouldn’t usually see.
When conducting an interview, begin by introducing the interviewee and demonstrating their level of expertise. You can then continue the rest of the interview in the usual question-response format.
Producing a video blog (perhaps with the transcript) would be a good way to present this interview as video content and is great for capturing a reader’s attention. But if this is not possible or will not look professional, producing this as a text blog post is also a good idea.
5. Case studies
A good way to generate internal website links and demonstrate your business credentials is to create blog posts based on case studies.
Start with a summary (including the main points of the blog post) before discussing the customer’s problem, your solution and the impact/outcome of your work.
Also try to include a testimonial from your client or customer alongside the details of the person you are quoting. This will demonstrate the true value that you provided and make the case study more authentic.
6. Thought leadership
Thought leadership is one of the hardest blog formats to get to grips with. The aim of a thought leadership piece is to tackle a broader industry conversation, so you need to begin with a strong position on a meaningful topic that is relevant to your industry.
You could choose to make a stand against a common assumption that plagues your industry, make predictions about the future of it, or provide a new perspective.
However, make sure the content that you produce contributes to the ongoing dialogue in your field and remember to align with your company’s ethos.
For example, we chose to discuss the absence of diversity in some marketing campaigns.
Create a great headline
A blog’s headline will be the first thing that people see when considering whether to read your blog, so creating an attention-grabbing headline that encourages participation can make all the difference on reader numbers.
In general, your title should provide the answer to a question or demonstrate exactly what the post is about. Examples include:
- Why you should…
- Top 10 tools for…
- Our step-by-step guide to…
- Is your…
- 10 tips for…
- How to…
The title that you choose should depend on the structure of your blog post. If you have written a guide, choosing a ‘How to’ title will demonstrate this to potential readers.
When creating a headline try not to use puns or play on words. Instead include keywords that people looking to read your content will be searching for. But do not overemphasise what your blog post offers – titles like ‘10 mind-blowing things you should know about…’ will make your content seem like clickbait.
Use imagery to your advantage
Including images in your blog post helps to engage the reader, demonstrate your points and attract attention. Choosing an image to go alongside your blog post heading can also boost the number of clicks.
To find free images for your blog post, check out our favourite resources.
Get people to read your post
- Use keywords in your blog post title, subheadings and main text that people use to find your type of content.
- Post regularly and consistently. However, this should be at a pace that suits you and one where you can continue to add real value.
- Generate inbound links to your website by posting on social media. Create several snippets for each blog post and share these with a link to your blog.
- Share your blog with people that have contributed to it. This could be by @mentioning the interviewee in a tweet or emailing them to say the content is live.
Finally, when people have read your blog post consider what you want them to do next. If this is not obvious from the context of the blog then add a call to action. If you are discussing one of your products or services people might want more information, so encourage them to get in contact.
However, don’t be afraid to give without needing anything in return. A discussion about a general trending topic, such as Game of Thrones or Brexit, might not warrant a call to action – it might feel out of place. If your customers want more information they should easily be able to find your contact details on your website.