Updated on Aug. 17, 2021. Originally published on March 16, 2017.
Remember the ’90s? Who knew that amid the fads of chokers, platform jellies, and tube tops, the whole blogger craze would transform into something like what we see today: a valuable element of a company's content marketing strategy.
That transformation is important. Treating a business blog like an online diary and publishing company updates only every few weeks isn’t what blogging should look like. Your blog strategy needs to engage your audience, reinforce your expertise, and capture leads for your company.
At Influence & Co., we pour a lot of energy into our blog. From helping us generate leads to improving our website's SEO to serving as a resource for our team, clients, partners, and peers, The Knowledge Bank has been integral to accomplishing our business goals.
There isn’t one clear path to successful blogging. But based on our journey, here are some B2B blogging best practices you can put into practice to strategize, launch, maintain, and grow your company blog.
Before you do anything, you have to have a firm understanding of why you're blogging in the first place. What are your main goals for publishing blog content?
Are you looking to lead readers to your gated content so you can capture their contact information? Are you focused on creating keyword-rich, search-optimized content to reach your target audience in search results? Maybe you'd like to create content your sales team can use to nurture leads toward a sale? Or are you primarily working to build your company's reputation as a thought leader by sharing industry-leading content?
While your blog content might work toward multiple of these goals, there should be one primary goal that you're focusing on as you plan and create blog content and measure its success.
Your blog needs a home, so you have to choose a content management system. This software can be as simple or advanced as you want; the key is selecting a tool that’s intuitive and meets your needs.
WordPress is a popular option for a lot of brands to start blogging, and its various plug-ins can amp up your efforts from simple publishing to lead capture. Our marketing team uses HubSpot for our website and blog to help us manage content, measure its performance, and monitor how leads interact with us. HubSpot also offers a CRM that’s valuable for our sales team, and together, the two help us align our marketing and sales efforts. Whatever program you choose, make sure it sets up your team for success.
If you want to actually brand your blog and help it stand apart as more than simply a bulletin board for company updates, give it a name. Don’t let it simply default to “The Company Blog.”
Your blog’s name can be anything you want, but don’t go overboard. Its name should ultimately reflect its purpose. Our blog is called The Knowledge Bank because we see it as just that: a bank of valuable knowledge, advice, and insight on all things content.
Before you start pumping out articles, you have to establish some guidelines so your content is cohesive. These guidelines should work within and boost your documented content marketing strategy. That means you’ve got to think about what your goals are, who your audience is, and what your readers need from you so you can narrow down specific guidelines like categories, tone, length, and more in a custom content style guide.
Need a starting point for creating your blog guidelines?
Inspiration for blog content ideas can come from pretty much anywhere. When those ideas come to you, don’t forget to write them down in an ongoing list so your content marketing team can develop those ideas when it’s time.
But don't limit your blog content to ideas that come to mind here and there. Be intentional about developing topics that your target audience is actually looking for. You can do this by conducting keyword research. This will help you make sure you're filling your blog with relevant content your audience actually wants to read.
Now that you have your blog content ideas, you need a schedule to prioritize those ideas and keep your publishing consistent. Your team should commit to sticking to your blog’s editorial calendar because without some consistency and organization, you might as well flush your blog efforts down the toilet.
Your company’s calendar will depend on a lot of considerations, from your team’s capacity to when your audience is most engaged. At Influence & Co., we usually publish content on our blog once a week.
You don't have to start from scratch!
After your calendar is squared away, it’s time to start bringing those ideas to life to meet your publishing deadlines. Remember the goals and guidelines you set earlier as you begin your content creation process.
As you're writing your blog content, put yourself in your readers' shoes. What are their pain points? What challenges might they be working to overcome? How might they prefer to consume information? Remember: Write for your readers, not yourself.
During the writing process, don't forget to optimize every blog post with relevant keywords that your target audience might Google when searching for content like yours. Include the keywords naturally — they should not detract from the reading experience.
Also, be sure to include a few links to other related content on your website to give your readers natural next steps to stay on your website.
A professional editor needs to comb through and clean up your blog posts before you upload them into the CMS you’ve chosen to house your content.
While your blog isn’t exactly Harvard Business Review or Fast Company, quality should remain a priority. An editor should review your content to make sure your ideas are clear and your content is free of any plagiarism. The editor can also confirm that target keywords are included appropriately and naturally within the copy.
Once your blog post is written, edited, and ready to go, upload it into your CMS. This is usually as simple as copy and paste, but you’ll still want to format the post to make it appealing, easy to read, and enticing to share.
Add a relevant header image and any other relevant graphics to make your content engaging. Our team uses Canva to create our header and in-text images. Use your content management system's settings to designate H1, H2, and H3 tags for your title and headings — that way, it's easier for search engines to crawl the page.
Within the copy, don’t forget to include related calls to action in your blog post. Most standard blog posts feature one or two in-text CTAs, as well as one at the end. You can run tests on the placements to optimize your blog over time.
Lastly, include alt text for all images so your blog is accessible for all visitors. And be sure to add a descriptive, keyword-rich meta description and page title. Because Google cuts off snippets at about 155-160 characters, Moz recommends that meta descriptions be between 50 and 160 characters. As for your page title tags for blog posts, Google usually displays 50-60 characters, so keep them within that limit.
You’re almost done — how exciting! Now that everything looks good and you’ve double-checked the format in a preview to make sure your readers will see what you want them to, you can schedule your blog post to go live on the date you’ve outlined in your editorial calendar.
Now it’s time to get your blog post into the hands of your audience members and leverage it as a tool for your company.
Share blog content through your company account on your major social channels. For us, that’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Take it a step further and encourage employees to share content from their own accounts and in emails to clients or partners. You can even put that content in the hands of your sales team as sales enablement content. There really isn’t a wrong way to share content, so get creative.
Just letting content sit on your blog untouched is a missed opportunity. Historical optimization gives you the chance to keep your blog up-to-date with relevant, timely content — without always having to write new blog posts from scratch. Check out this blog post to learn about some indications that a piece of content could use a refresh.
Blogging has come a long way from personal confessionals on LiveJournal. But unlike platform jellies, creating a successful company blog is not just a passing fad. Now that you know the ins and outs of launching and maintaining a blog for your own company, you have no excuse not to get started!
I'm a content-obsessed word person with a passion for finding the coziest coffee shop in town. By day, I'm the director of content at Influence & Co. In my downtime, you can find me reading a book, sipping a latte, drawing, hand lettering, or watching "The Office" for the zillionth time.