To Craft a Small Business Blog Post That Ranks: Be Useful, Build Trust, and Create Value
When writing a small business blog post, there are three constituents to consider: readers, bloggers, and search engines. We want to attract readers, to reach a larger audience. This can be accomplished by providing them with something valuable and useful. It’s like a unique online partnership where we’re looking for their attention and readers are looking for solutions from reputable sources. The end result of this is value, value for the readers, and value for the blogger. If your post provides more value, the search engines will notice and rank your post higher than others.
I know, it sounds easy. Conceptually it is easy to understand. It’s much harder to achieve. For a quick guide to writing a small business blog post, consider reading How to Quickly Write Effective, Attention-Getting Content in Six Easy Steps.
For a more in-depth look at writing blog posts that rank, this article will help get you there.
It Starts in the Beginning
The blog process starts with keyword research, follows a specific structure, and ends with SEO optimization for the best results.
It’s been over twenty years since Bill Gates predicted the future of the internet with his powerful quote, “Content is king.” More recently, his statement has been expanded to include, “But distribution is queen and she holds the purse strings.”
When he said this, it was a simpler time. With the proliferation of online content today, authors need to do more than just create it – to rank a small business blog post has to be useful. Consider Google’s mission statement, you can find the complete statement on their about page, that reads in part:
“Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”From Google’s Mission Statement
In this light, to be “…accessible and useful,” it’s clear that your post or article needs to match a user’s search intent to rank for better distribution and ultimately more traffic. It also needs to be better, more useful than content that already ranks for the keyword. This is the primary consideration that bloggers use to put together a post that will rank higher on the internet.
Writing effective, attention-getting content is challenging, but completely doable when following some simple steps and recommendations.
How Being Useful Builds Trust and Provides Value
Trust and value are used to build a solid relationship, a key part of an effective marketing funnel. Once trust has been established it becomes an important part of the conversion process. Trust and value are commonly created with a succession of emails. Website content in general and blog post content, in particular, must be developed with this in mind.
The search engines reward websites that consistently deliver high-quality content, content that’s linked to by other websites with high domain authority score. Domain authority is a score from zero to 100. When sites with high domain authority link to your content it tells the search engines that your content is valuable. It’s not something that can be bought, it can only be earned. High-quality content, content that’s fact-based and useful will be linked to, which will increase your domain authority.
When penning a small business blog post, content should be fact-based. If you quote something or state something, provide a link to a source. Link to sources with high domain authority. in addition to being honest and fact-based, authors should refrain from coming off like a pushy salesperson and instead provide the persona of a trusted advisor.
For the sake of argument, let’s say your company builds, sells, and services sprockets. Rather than going after a hard sale, provide consumers with useful and valuable information about sprockets. Instead of crafting a post about why your sprockets are the best on the marketplace or your sprocket technicians are better than the rest, consider some of these topics or titles:
- How to Thoroughly Clean and Maintain Sprockets for Success
- When Replacing a Sprocket Makes More Sense Than a Repair
- Sprockets 101: A Complete Guide to its Many Features and Performance
- Top Ten Ways to Get the Best Bang for Your Buck When Purchasing Sprockets
- Common FAQs on Sprocket Use and Abuse
This approach will be in alignment with search intent, readers are looking for solutions, which means your blog post will more likely rank above other content because it’s more useful. Shouting your sales message into an empty abyss is not very effective. Generating visitors by creating useful content, content that others will link to attracts high-quality traffic, a receptive audience for your sales message.
Once readers are there, don’t be shy. Readers understand that it’s a commercial relationship. A strong, but still friendly and useful call to action (CTA) will be well received. For example, if you’re looking for leads, invite readers to sign up for a free newsletter so they can receive more valuable information similar to what you’ve just shared.
PRO TIP: Using terms in titles like “Guide” or “101” or “How To…” will attract beginners and regular users. FAQs, Top 10 lists, and small business blog posts that provide answers to questions will rank higher.
What Content will be Useful?
Understanding Your Audience
You want to attract users to your small business website so write a blog post that people will actually read, a post that covers things they want to learn about, and not just what you want to tell them. Understanding your audience is more than doing keyword research (next topic), it’s figuring out what your audience wants to know, why they are searching, and then answering their questions in a way that relates to your business, products, and services.
Search engines are getting much better at ranking the best, most reputable, trustworthy, and authoritative content over other pages. Don’t try to game the system. Answer readers’ questions in the best, most useful way possible.
Ask yourself these questions to better identify with your audience and understand their needs:
- What are readers’ most pressing needs long-term?
- Which concerns do they have today?
- What are their ability and skill levels?
- Is there a general focus area they’re concerned with?
- Do they have specific goals?
- Are there relatable struggles and solutions I can share with them?
Use your insights to start a list of potential topics, subjects that will interest readers.
Keyword Research for SEO
Before you start to craft your small business blog post but after you’ve come up with a topic, it’s time to do some keyword research.
But what keywords are readers using?
How are they looking for answers to their questions?
There are plenty of free resources available on the internet to find the words, terms, and phrases that real people are using to answer their questions. We will describe the ones we like here.
What makes the best keyword?
Basically, it’s the keyword that your ideal reader uses with sufficient frequency to generate significant traffic and that isn’t being dominated by websites that you cannot compete with, websites with higher domain authority than your website.
So how do you find keywords to focus on? This is where the research tools help.
Key Factors to Consider When Finding Keywords for Your Small Business Blog Post
As mentioned above, there are two broad factors to consider: Search volume and competitiveness.
You want to focus on keywords that your target audience is actually using (volume) to answer their questions. A keyword with a limited search volume is going to be easy to conquer. But so what? Ranking high, being on page one for a keyword that nobody uses is good for the ego but not much else.
You also need to assess how difficult it will be to rank for the selected keyword(s). Targeting a keyword that’s dominated by sites with much higher domain authority than your site is a fool’s errand. You can work away at it for many months and you still won’t rank. Too much competition.
Focus on keywords with reasonable volume and where the competition isn’t too strong.
Here are two superior tools you can use to find quality keywords that really “count” when it comes to ranking:
- Keywords Everywhere has a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, that lets you see, in real-time, both the volume and competitiveness of keywords. It also provides “People also search for…” data. This is a quick and dirty tool that you can use to start making a list of potential keywords.
- Ubersuggest, brought to you by famed content marketing guru and internet entrepreneur Neil Patel, gives you all the data you need to assess keywords and it suggests alternative and/or additional keywords. It also tells you the domain authority of sites that already rank for a keyword and provides links to the ranked pages so you can assess the competition.
Find Relevant Questions
Invest some time into polling readers to truly understand where they’re coming from and you’ll learn how to write a post that cuts to the core of their needs. Content like this will be judged more useful and is more likely to rank.
Here are a few ways to uncover small business blog post topics your readers are interested in learning:
STRAIGHT-UP ASK THEM: It might sound obvious or oversimplified, but if you want to know what people are seeking, ask them what they want. Social media platforms are an excellent resource for getting answers to these types of questions. Add a survey to an email. Talk to your customers.
USING GOOGLE AUTOCOMPLETE: As the number one search engine in the world, Google’s Autocomplete feature will deliver the top results regarding your topic. Check out the blog post, Google Autocomplete: 3 Clever Tips to Improve Your SEO from Keyword Tool.
USE UBBERSUGGEST: Enter the keyword into Ubbersuggest and review the content that already ranks. This will help you understand what readers are looking for. Google wouldn’t rank the pages if they didn’t think the content was useful.
USE ANSWER THE PUBLIC: Enter a keyword into Answer the Public and it will give you the questions that real people are using that contain your target keyword. Use these questions as subheads in your content and do a better job answering the question than pages that already rank for the keyword. This quick and simple research technique is a gold mine for discovering exactly what readers want to know.
It’s More Than Volume
It’s important to note that your content is competing with pages that are already ranked. A new post needs to be clearer and more useful than what’s already out there. Basically, you need to outwrite what already exists. You need to deliver content that’s more powerful and more practical to push the other content down in the rankings.
PRO TIP: Enter your selected keywords into Google or Ubersuggest. Go to the pages that rank on the first page. Read what they have and analyze their content. Using the resulting insights, craft blog content that’s better, that’s more useful than their content.
Now that we’ve done our homework, you have a plan, it’s time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards (depending upon your process you could use both) and get started writing your small business blog post. Here we’ll get into the nuts-and-bolts inside the structure of the post Craft itself by following these instructions.
Content Structure is Important for Small Business Blog Posts that Rank
Do you remember your school days when the teacher assigned a term paper or an essay? Students were taught to plan these projects using an outline. This made the paper easier to write, read, and digest.
This type of planning, “using an outline,” is an important part of the blogging process and will lead to more successful small business blog posts. The following provides a way to layout and plan your post including tips and tricks for improving SEO results and connecting better with readers.
WORD COUNT: Along with an outline, teachers often requested a specific word or page count. Authors should have a general idea about the length of their posts before getting started. In the past, search engines were giving more attention to articles in the 500-700 word range, but according to recent statistics, lengthier posts are getting more online love these days.
PRO TIP: Make sure the content is useful and refrain from using “fluff” to reach your word count. Google, other search engines, and readers alike will quickly look the other way when recognizing unnecessary and useless information.
WRITE THE INTRO AND CONCLUSION FIRST: This will guide both writers and readers through the journey. The intro is important because this is where readers will see what they will get from the post, which will encourage them to read on. The conclusion is also important because many readers, especially scanners, will jump to the end before they invest their time reading the entire piece.
When penning the intro and extro along with the body of the content, follow this important and “telling” advice:
- Intro: tell them what you’ll be telling them
- Body: tell them
- Conclusion: tell them what you told them
PRO TIP: Write and assess your writing using the tell-them rule: tell them what you’ll be telling them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.
While this may seem repetitive, it’s a concept that’s backed by science. According to experts in education, this is where the rule of three applies. It establishes that students need to be given the opportunity to learn something at least three times before they can be expected to know and apply the lesson.
HEADERS AND BODY: Before beginning to write the body, put subheads in place. Use Answer the Public and Google autocomplete to determine the questions that real people are asking related to your targeted keyword. Craft your subheads using these questions. Again, this type of planning and initial outline will guide both the reader and writer through the article.
Along with headers, include bulleted and numbered lists, blockquotes and/or Pro Tips to break up the content for the majority of readers who are “scanners” by nature.
PRO TIP: When writing a post if something comes to mind that seems important, but it doesn’t fit within the outline put it in a virtual “parking lot” where these ideas will be available for further consideration and a source for future blog posts.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKS: Another SEO-friendly method is the use of internal (linking back to content or another blog article within your site) and exterior links (only to reliable sources on the internet). As a general rule of thumb, 1-2 interior and 4-5 exterior links are considered the norm in the 500-700 word range. Use more for lengthier pieces.
CONCLUDING SECTIONS: Do your best to close off each section in the body in a way that makes sense, and that draws readings into the next section. Use the section conclusion to set up, and introduce the next section. This will not only reinforce the information you’re sharing but also helps keep readers moving through the post.
SUPPORT SECTIONS USING IMAGERY: Scanning readers love pictures and photos. Using images is an entire blog post all by itself (parking lot?) Look for images, videos, infographics, or other visual media that supports the subject matter.
Optimize for SEO in Four Steps
Now that you have a post, your content needs to be SEO friendly. You need to add clues to the content that search bots will use to assess what you’ve written.
In this section, we’ll describe how to optimize your content using ALT tags, keyword synonyms, and density. And we’ll describe how to optimize social share snippets and SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) snippets.
These four steps will play an important role in getting better search engine results and higher rankings.
1. ALT Tags
ALT tags (also referred to as alternative text or ALT attributes) are used to describe the image for screen readers. ALT tags also help search engines associate images with accompanying content to properly index pictures inside their results.
2. Keyword Synonyms and Density
Along with locating specific keywords, searches for these terms will also return “related keywords” or “relative keywords” also known as “keyword synonyms.” These similar words and phrases are valuable and should be used in the content.
There is also keyword density, the percentage, or the number of times keywords are used inside content. There’s no ideal number or ratio when using keywords, but the primary keyword should be used early, ideally in the first sentence, and then distributed throughout the article.
The primary keyword and synonyms should also be used in some of the subheads.
As with Alt tags, don’t force it, don’t cram keywords into content where they don’t naturally fit.
3. Social Share Snippets
One of the better ways of distributing blog content is on social media platforms. The search bots, especially Google, see what posts are gaining traction in social media and will reward the post and ultimately the website. In essence, traffic from social media back to the article will contribute to its rank.
This is great but how do you maximize the impact of Social Media posts?
After penning your piece but before posting to these networks, add a concise, eye-catching, click-worthy synopsis of your story to the social share snippet. The Yoast plugin has a tool that makes this easy. Consider the target audience and how they use the Social network. Write a headline and description that communicates the benefits that this audience will receive if they click through to the post. Add an image that’s been selected and sized for the Social Media channel. You want the snippets to grab readers’ attention and encourage them to click through to the post.
4. SEO Snippet
When users enter a search query using keywords, the search engine delivers a Search Engine Results Page or SERP. Your hard work has resulted in your post being ranked and presented on the first page. But you are still competing with all the other posts that are ranked for the keyword.
Like we did with the social media snippets, write a title and description for the SEO snippet. This is the information that appears on the SERP. Write it to entice this audience to click, to pick your article over the others that appear on the page. To be effective, the snippets should include the keyword that they searched for and tell them what they will find if they click. The Yoast plugin is where this happens.
For both the Social Media and the SEO snippets you want to take control of the message. You don’t want the channels to select what to display. You’ve worked hard to craft the post and have been rewarded with improved rank, so bring it home by maximizing the click-through with well-crafted snippets. The search engines use this to help them determine which post is most useful and thus, better matches search intent.
Reality Check – Writing Small Business Blog Posts that Rank is Hard
Honestly, let’s get real here. You won’t see long-term results from blogging tomorrow, next week, or even next month. It takes dedication, hard work, consistency, and effort. However, statistics reveal it’s worth the effort. Consider the following:
- AUDIENCE: 77% of internet users read blogs regularly spending three times more of their attention on these posts compared to emails
- SEO: Companies with a blog generate 55% more website visits and receive 97% more links compared to those without posting
- TRAFFIC: After posting 52 or more articles on a blog, traffic increases by 77% overall
- LEADS: Nearly 70% of businesses attribute their lead generation success to blogging with almost half of consumers reading 3-5 posts before making engaging with a rep
Attaching an active blog to a website will reap many rewards from both an SEO standpoint and a consumer relationship status when it’s utilized correctly. While you may not see immediate results, it’s worth the time and effort to achieve these types of results.
If you don’t already have a blog, get one! If you lack the time or skill set in writing or implementing this tool with regularly updated creative contact, please feel free to contact me today.
This could be a part of a long-needed upgrade to your existing website, an upgrade that takes your online presence to the next level.
PRO TIP: Email marketing is a good way to nurture customers and prospects. Blogging is an excellent way to attract interested customers and when combined with a valuable lead magnet, like this ebook, build your email marketing list.
Wrapping It Up
Once you’ve learned how to understand your audience, craft useful, and valuable content to attract them.
Just as we are doing here, use the three-point learning system of telling them what you’ll be telling them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve just told them.
Use plenty of headers to make it easy for readers to scan through the post.
Use of images, videos, infographics, bulleted and/or numbered lists, blockquotes and Pro Tips to lighten the presentation.
End sections with a brief explanation of what they’ve just read and set up the next topic to draw them into reading further.
Be sure the package is polished with SEO techniques like Alt Tags and keyword distribution.
To be effective your small business blog post should have enticing social and SERP snippets.