You start a business blog, you set aside time to plan and write diligently every two weeks—and then nothing happens. Many business owners have had this experience, and you’re probably wondering how to get people to read your blog once you start it. You might even be wondering what the point is, or why you started doing this in the first place. Let’s take a closer look to see if blogging is right for you, and what you can do to get people to read your blog.
Should You Have a Blog?
If digital marketing is an active part of your marketing strategy, or you want it to be, you should have a blog. A well-maintained business blog does a few critical things for your website, which is the keystone piece of your digital marketing plan:
- Keeps your website current: Search engines prioritize current content, and regularly updating your blog will keep new content coming in.
- Improves organic traffic volume: organic traffic is anything on your site users find with a regular search, not through an ad. A blog allows you to target more organic keywords and get more searchers coming in.
- Builds domain authority: Search engines prioritize websites with higher domain authority. Domain authority is determined by backlinks, number of visitors, time spent on your site, and outbound links, among other things. A blog allows you to bring in more visitors, gather more backlinks, use more reliable outbound links, and keep users on your website longer.
In short, a blog helps to improve your average search engine results page (SERP) rank, get more clicks, more visitors, and ultimately more links and sales.
However, blogging is not for everyone, and this task should not be undertaken lightly. If you’re simply blogging to check a box, this won’t be a good use of your time. You should not have a business blog if:
- You do not have a content strategy
- Your website is not useful to you
- You do not have a digital marketing plan
- You do not know how blogging fits into your overall marketing plan
If you don’t have these things yet, now is a good time to start. Making your blog a useful part of your overall marketing strategy is a critical part of getting people to read your blog. Let’s see how.
How to Get People to Read Your Blog
As you’ve probably already discovered, the old adage “build it and they will come” does not always hold true when it comes to blogging. To start with, your blog needs four key elements. It should be:
- Accessible: users should be able to find your blog content easily on a search as well as your website, social media, email newsletter and even links in your store.
- High-quality: it should be well-written, the information should be accurate, and the topics should be interesting.
Current: your blog content should be current and updated on a regular schedule. If your blog sits for months at a time with no updates, it will be difficult to get people to read it.
- Well-designed: Your blog should be easy to read on a desktop or mobile device.
These are only the basic elements you’ll need to get people to read your blog, but they won’t guarantee traffic. Let’s explore some other strategies you can use to get people to read your blog, share it, and make it effective.
Use Customer Questions
The first step to creating a blog that people want to read is to address real questions. What do customers want to know about you or your business? What advice or expertise can you offer that will be helpful or interesting? Work with your sales team or other staff members to find questions that they frequently answer. Look at online groups like those on LinkedIn, Facebook or Reddit to see what people want to know. Take a look at Q&A websites like Quora or Yahoo Answers. You won’t always be able to write about a direct question that someone has asked, but this is a great place to start.
Show Off Your Answers
You’ve taken a customer’s or potential reader’s question and answered it in your blog. Now, position your answer so the original asker and others like them can find it.
First, if you found the question online, post your answer. Though it might seem counterintuitive, it’s a good idea to answer the question directly, and not just rely on the blog link. Paraphrase your blog post when you answer the question, and add the link so readers can learn more if they choose. This way, you show that you are a helpful member of the community, not just fishing for readers.
It’s very likely that other potential readers have the same question. Add the post to other forums or groups you’re a part of. Again, state the question and the answer in the post itself, and add the blog link so readers can find more information if they choose. Remember that the idea is to be helpful. If the community thinks you’re only trying to get more blog traffic, you may be kicked out.
Do Keyword Research
Answering customer questions is a great way to put your blog right in front of interested readers, but you also want readers to find you organically. This is where keywords come in.
Keyword research is not about “tricking” search engines or readers. It’s about finding the search queries that are most logical for your content, so search engines can more easily show it to readers who are already looking. Once you have a topic, do keyword research to find how searchers are asking this question or looking for this content.
Let’s say you own a landscaping business. You decided to answer this question you saw in a group; “My lawn has a lot of brown spots in the springtime, and I’m not sure why. Help!” There are a few ways you could title a blog post answering this question, such as; “Why Your Lawn Looks Dead in Spring,” “How to Get Rid of Lawn Brown Spots,” or “Causes of Lawn Brown Spots in Spring.”
Google’s Keyword Planner tool can show you approximately how many people are searching related terms, and how difficult it might be to rank for these. It’s also best to do a search yourself. You’ll also see other related terms at the bottom of your SERP. These related terms are commonly searched, but they might not have enough search volume to appear on the Keyword Planner.
A variety of other platforms, like Moz, Raven, and Ahrefs, among many others, are also useful for keyword research, though they will probably return slightly different results. Keep in mind that is may not be ideal to choose the keyword with the highest search volume, since it will also be very competitive, which we will discuss later in the post. Once you hone in on the right keywords, use SEO blogging best practices to ensure search engines can recognize these keywords in your content.
Previously, we mentioned domain authority, and the impact that links can have. More content improves your chances of gaining backlinks, therefore improving your domain authority and moving your site higher on a SERP. Ideally, other websites will link back to your content when they find it helpful. However, you don’t have to leave this to chance.
Send emails to colleagues, coworkers, customers, other bloggers, magazine or ezine editors, local publishers or others that might use your link in their own content. You might also approach writers that link to competing posts. You can find backlinks to a competing post by putting it into a backlink checker tool, like this one from Ahrefs below. Using our previous landscaping example, you can see which sites link to a competing post from Greenview Fertilizer. You could then contact those sites and tell them about your new post, which should be better written and more informative than the competing post.
Remember, it only makes sense to contact sites with more domain authority (domain rating, in the above example) than yours. It will take time and patience to build your backlink profile, but this will help to boost your entire website’s organic search traffic in the long run.
Select Competitive Keywords
Keywords with the highest search volume might seem the best to target. However, when you search for these keywords, the top SERP spots will most likely be taken by popular sites with high domain authority. These will be difficult, if not impossible, to compete with.
Instead, try keywords with less search volume and lower competition. As you do your keyword research, take a look at the top posts already ranking well. Is your content more in-depth, accurate, engaging, or better laid out? If so, aim for that keyword and that spot.
The best place to start is long-tail question-focused keywords, like those discussed in previous sections. As your blog gains traction and authority, you’ll have a better chance at snatching up top spots on broader keywords with more traffic.
Use Guest Posts and Interviews
Guest posting can be a viable strategy to gain readers when your blog is new. The idea behind guest posting is to expand your network and gain links while adding high-quality content.
Work with business partners, colleagues, coworkers, researchers, local leaders, bloggers or other writers with applicable content. With their permission, you might repost one of their pieces verbatim, expand on their content, or invite them for an interview. Ask if they will also repost the link to their social media and email newsletter.
Consider Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads
Can you measure the value of your blog? Can you calculate the value of your readers, subscribers, and site visitors? If organic and referral traffic is an important part of your digital marketing strategy and you’re confident that you can estimate a value, you might consider giving your blog a boost with a PPC strategy. By targeting non-competitive keywords, setting strict budget limits and using PPC ads in the right place, you can get people to read your blog without spending too much.
PPC ads may be especially helpful if you are confident that your blog content plays an important role in the buyer’s journey or sales process. Since blogs are typically intended to inform, you might design a particular post around the consideration or awareness stages, where customers are assessing problems and solutions. Place applicable calls-to-action (CTAs) in the sidebar, mid-text, and ending of your post, so potential customers can easily transition to the next buyer stage.
Use Original Information or New Formats
There is a lot of content online, and a lot of it is text-based. However, more and more websites—as well as more and more users—are looking to different formats. If you can make your post genuinely different than the top posts, you have a better chance of getting more notice, which means more visitors, backlinks, shares and likes.
Here are a few ways that you can make your content different:
- Use video: use a video tutorial or walkthrough on all or part of your post. Though better quality is always preferred, this can be as simple as a video taken on your phone, as long as it gets the job done.
- Add original pictures: show your personal experience by adding real-time pictures you’ve collected on the job.
- Use original data: show off the data you collected through a survey or other data you’ve collected. You don’t have to be a scientist or a researcher to make this impactful.
- Infographics: maybe you don’t have original data, but you can make existing data easier to understand with an infographic. Be careful, as some research or original sources may be copyrighted.
A content calendar can help you organize your topics, writing, marketing and other aspects of your blog strategy. If you don’t have the time yourself to keep up an informative blog with SEO best practices, consider giving the task to another staff person or outsourcing your blog to an SEO expert or digital marketing agency.