11 Jul 2017

The Do’s & Don’ts of Running a Results-Driven Corporate Blog

Only 19% of B2B marketers believe their company’s content marketing is “very successful,” according to the 2017 report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

The rest of you: What gives?

Don’t languish on the sidelines, running a so-so corporate blog while the other guys kill it with theirs.

Good content marketing increases brand awareness, establishes you as an authority in your field, drives traffic to your site, generates leads and moves your prospects down the sales funnel.

But not if you’re doing it wrong.

This post highlights several content marketing best practices, so you can reap the benefits and start growing your content marketing KPIs.

CMI pie chart

Good #contentmarketing increases brand awareness, drives traffic and generates leads. Click To Tweet

Here are five do’s and five don’ts of running a corporate blog:

5 Do’s for your Corporate Blog

1. Create High-Quality Content

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: One of the most important things you can do as a marketer is publish high-quality content on your blog.

But don’t take our word for it – take the word of a Google search quality strategist named Andrey Lipattsev.

In a live Q&A with WebPromo, Lipattsev said that high-quality content and a strong backlink profile are the two most important factors Google uses to rank your site (the third is RankBrain, if you’re wondering).

What constitutes high-quality content? Google has a really long report on this, but we can boil it down for you:

How to Create High Quality Content

  • Create content for users, not search engines. If Google didn’t exist, would you still do what you’re doing, if your only aim was to be helpful?
  • Create content that’s useful and informative. Help your readers solve their problems. Be an authority. Be credible. Educate.
  • Create unique content. Google hates duplicate content. When in doubt, use Copyscape to check that your content is unique.
  • Create timely and relevant content. Publish regularly and on topics that your audience is searching for.

The beautiful thing about creating high-quality content is that if you do it, you’ll automatically build links to your site. Sure, there are additional link-building tactics you should implement to build your portfolio, but the best thing you can do is create content worth linking to.

2. Include Keywords in a *Natural & Relevant Fashion*

We love keywords.

Keywords are good; they help people find you, and you should use them. And now, a caveat: Please only use them where natural and relevant.

Keyword stuffing is outdated, and it makes people around these parts want to set stuff on fire. Google frowns upon the practice (to put it mildly) as well, and they will penalize you in search results if you do it. Be judicious with your keywords. The guiding principle here is always do what is natural and relevant for the content you’re creating.

To make sure you’re on the right track with the keywords you do pick, try any of these keyword tools:

3. Optimize for Mobile

Last year, mobile overtook desktop as the primary device by which people accessed the internet, StatCounter reported. And according to Zenith’s Mobile Advertising Forecasts report, 79% of global internet use will be via mobile in 2018.

If your site is slow to load, doesn’t display correctly or is otherwise annoying to use on a mobile device, your blog will not succeed, no matter how much else you have going for it.

Start by using these two free tools from Google:

If you fail either one, get thee to a web developer, pronto. This Vertical Measures post has additional mobile optimization tips.

Keywords are good; they help people find you, and you should use them. But only where natural and relevant. Click To Tweet

To learn more about how to do semantic keyword research, watch our video:

4. Leverage Video

Cisco predicts that video will account for 85% of U.S. internet traffic by 2019, and four times as many people would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, Animoto reports.

How can you use video as part of your content marketing strategy? You could create:

  • Video testimonials
  • Product demos
  • Educational clips, how-to’s and Q&As
  • Announcements using the “go live” feature on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat

Outdoors outfitter REI runs a great corporate blog that excels at using video. Their video repertoire includes tips, guides and step-by-step instructions on camping, hiking and biking to moving and motivational short films on such topics as “Women’s Equality in Climbing” and “What Does Adventure Look Like in Real Life?”

Check out their recent video letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke titled, “Speak out for Your Public Lands:”

5. Post (at least some) Long-Form Content

We’re not saying all your content needs to be those 2,000-word massive pillar posts. But some of them should be.

Google likes long-form content. The average number one result in a Google search has 1,890 words, according to this Backlinko report. And in an analysis of 1 million articles, Moz and BuzzSumo found that long-form content – that having more than 1,000 words – received more shares and links than shorter content.

Moz and Buzzsumo study

Figure 1: From the Moz and BuzzSumo study

Mix it up. Shorter, 500-ish-word posts are fine, but also make sure you’re publishing long-form content regularly, too.

5 Don’ts of Business Blogging

1. Skimp on Editing

Editors are important (full disclosure: I am an editor. But we’re still important). We do more than strike errant apostrophes and fix comma splices all day – although those are noble pursuits, for sure. An editor:

  • Shapes the direction of the content, optimizes it for search and implements CTAs
  • Makes sure that voice, tone and branding are consistent throughout your publication
  • Manages the editorial calendar and the relationships with your writers

We editors do ensure that copy is accurate, well-written and grammatically correct, and that really is important. Good grammar is a brand ambassador; it tells the reader that your brand cares about quality and pays attention to detail. For more on this, check out the post I wrote about why good grammar is important.

2. Publish the Dreaded ‘Wall of Gray’

Nothing turns off readers more than arriving on your site to find a wall of gray text. Don’t publish content that looks like a research paper. Today’s users won’t stand for it.

The antidote to this is something we refer to in our 8 steps to content marketing success as “content chunking.” This means making the content more easily digestible and visually appealing by including:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Multiple subheads
  • Plenty of images and custom graphics

How many images are ideal? BuzzSumo found that articles with one image every 75-100 words got shared twice as much as articles with fewer images.

Top Cat Toys in 2017

Figure 2: The post on the right is far more visually appealing after content chunking

3. Breeze through the headline writing part

You’ve likely heard that most people share content without actually reading it. But eight out of 10 people will read the headline, Copyblogger reports.

Resist the urge to slap a quick headline on your post and be done with it. A strong, clickable and searchable headline is vital.

Figure 3: This is *literally* the conversation I had with the editor of the Vertical Measures blog, Quinn Tempest, about headline ideas for the post you are currently reading

Figure 3: This is *literally* the conversation I had with the editor of the Vertical Measures blog, Quinn Tempest, about headline ideas for the post you are currently reading

4. Constantly Sell Yourself

People don’t like being sold to, and they’ll tune you out if you’re overly self-promotional.

Case in point: A Kentico Software survey found that three out of four people trust corporate content – but the moment a company tried to pitch a product, that content’s credibility dropped by 29%.

It doesn’t mean you can never mention your brand. Aim for the 80/20 rule:

  • 20% of your content can feature your company and its products
  • 80% of your content should solely be useful, educational or entertaining – no sales pitches or brand mentions allowed

Tips for Writing an Attention-Grabbing Headline

  • Force yourself to write 10-15 headlines for every post – a lot of times, the winner is hanging out around number 12 or 13, but you’ll never know if you quit after number three
  • Follow these headline-writing tips from HubSpot
  • A/B test some headlines – you might be surprised at what you discover

5. Hit ‘Publish’ on a Friday

Don’t publish in the afternoon, either.

Lots of studies have been done about the best days of the week and the best times of the day to publish. For example, here are six of them. There are too many variables (your industry, audience, channel/platform, etc.) to make one blanket recommendation.

But one thing all the data seems to bear: Don’t publish content on Fridays.

Morning posts do better than afternoon/evening ones. Page through those studies to find your optimal publish days and times based on the factors most important to you, and also do some of your own testing. Sometimes we just need to pay attention to what gives us the best results and use that information to inform our strategy moving forward.

Corporate Blogging is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

A well-run company blog can earn you all the benefits discussed in the beginning of this post – greater brand authority, increased traffic, more and better leads – but here’s the rub: You must be patient.

No one starts implementing these best practices and then watches their site’s analytics go up, up, up. There are many variables that affect when you’ll start seeing your KPIs start to budge, but most experts agree that it takes a good six to 12 months to see results from content marketing. But if you put these tips into practice – consistently – you will see results.

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