Having an on-site blog is vital for SEO, customer engagement and establishing authority, but too many businesses use it as an ad delivery system or a dumping ground for ideas that didn’t quite grow into feature articles. That isn’t why your blog exists, and if you’re spending more time talking about “we” than about “you” in your blog, you could be losing your visitors’ interest. On the flip side, some topics instantly attract more attention, more traffic and more social media sharing. Fill your blog with more of these posts and fewer ads, and you’ll see engagement metrics rise.
How-to articles give readers evergreen content – that is, information that stays relevant over time – in a format they can immediately use. A great how-to article also demonstrates your own knowledge of the topic, and knowledge builds authority. Once you and your content creation team have pinpointed areas you know your visitors would like to explore in greater depth, coming up with a few related how-to articles is just the beginning. Those ideas can also become video demonstrations or form the foundation for a new white paper. One caveat: Don’t invest too heavily in how-tos that have already been covered extensively by content mills and crowd-sourced answer sites. Make your how-to content specific and focused, not shallow and broad. Sites such as eHow succeed on volume rather than depth, and no company site can match their output; instead, compete on quality, not quantity.
The opposite of a how-to list, an article that focuses on mistakes or problems the readers might be making can also have a powerful draw. Any reader who has a particular problem will read on to find the solution, while those who don’t know they have a problem will check out the post to see if they do. We all want to be a little closer to perfection, and finding out about the mistakes we’re making gives us a chance to improve. The concept of “new and improved” is powerful in advertising, and it’s equally potent in content; by giving your readers new ways to improve, you’re bound to hold their interest.
If you’re reading this, you already know how appealing a list structure can be. Readers love lists because they’re easy to scan quickly, and we tend to skim when we read online instead of poring over every word. Content creators also love lists because it’s a straightforward way to organize material in a logical, usable format. Without the need to establish narrative flow, list articles translate well into video, too. Numbered lists, top-10 articles and even acronym-based lists can provide the framework for a piece.
News isn’t evergreen content, but it’s critical to include some of it in your blog. When a major change rocks an industry or represents a tremendous leap forward, blogs in that industry ignore events at their peril. An accounting firm’s blog, for example, needs to address major changes in tax law or how the Affordable Care Act might affect business expenditures for their clients. Unless the focus of your blog is news, you don’t have to cover everything that goes on, but make room for the big events. If you or your content creation team are close to the epicenter of a news story, your blog post could even be one of the primary sources of information, earning you significant authority.
Google has tightened the guest-blogger loophole that some spammy sites and gray-hat content creators used to beef up traffic artificially, but that doesn’t affect legitimate, content-rich interviews with guests. Maybe you have a client whose unique perspective on the industry can contribute to other readers’ knowledge base. You might be lucky enough to have an influential expert in your address book who wouldn’t mind spending half an hour sharing his or her wisdom. Your interview subject should be talking about something, though, and not just sharing the good news about how wonderful you are; that’s a testimonial, not an interview.
Take a look at your most recent month or two of blog posts. If you see more ads and brief announcements than substantive posts, it’s time to add some depth to your content and give your visitors more of what they love.
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