Today many companies have a blog, but does every business achieve its goals with blogging? I bet this is far from reality. Creating content for a business blog requires a specific approach that differs from writing to amuse readers and provide fun. Blogging will be beneficial for your company only if you can develop a clear plan, define the major goals of your content marketing campaign and create and publish blog posts effectively.

Let’s find out how to write a blog for strategic business purposes and become a more productive content marketer with our #SEOcafe chat participants and special guest James Norquay, founder of Prosperity Media, SEO and content marketing consulting director, speaker and author of numerous search publications.

What Are Your Five Most Indispensable Blogging Tools?

The right tools can make your content creation process easier and help you improve your blogging. Here are 16 powerful tools that our chat participants use for effective blogging. We divided them by several categories, based on each tool’s purpose.

Searching content ideas

1.  Quora. A question-and-answer website helps you get new ideas and inspiration for brainstorming. By looking through Q&As, you can get an overview of what people are talking about, what they want to know and which problems they face. This is a rich source of fresh and relevant topics that you can develop into blog posts.

2.  BuzzSumo. When you enter a topic or a URL into its search box, BuzzSumo gives you information about what content performs best for social media sharing in your niche.

3.  Feedly. A free service that you can use for tracking posts from the blogs that you’re following in your niche and picking up brand-new ideas.

4. This is a relatively new service providing users with content ideas. Enter your keyword, and it will suggest you results in visual form. You’ll see a “wheel” of questions that are related to your topic and contain your keyword. All the results are divided into questions that start with what, where, when, who, which, why, how and are.

Optimizing your content

5.  Google Trends. Use this tool to discover volume of different keywords. It will show you a relative level of interest for a certain keyword phrase over time, and will compare the level of interest among your target terms. The tool doesn’t give you actual numbers, so it’s worth using it in combination with services like the Keyword Planner.

6.  Google Keyword Planner. All you need to do is enter your target keyword, and the tool will give you a traffic estimation for it and help you find relevant and related terms in your niche.

7. This is a good alternative to the previous one and provides users with a great amount of keyword ideas – up to 750 suggestions. Also, it’s good for generating long-tail keyword ideas.

8.  SEMrush. The recently launched SEO Keyword Magic Tool is an all-in-one tool for keyword research, allowing to estimate potential of your targeted words, group them into niches and export up to a million keywords in a single file.

Organizing your blog posts

9. Editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is crucially important for your content marketing campaign. It helps you define and visualize your plans for content, manage the content production and approval process, archive blog consistency and content balance across your topics.

10.  Trello. This tool provides you with a flexible and simple way to organize your content ideas. Each of your ideas is turned into a card with notes that can be easily moved within lists as you progress through your writing process.

Improving your writing experience

11.  Google Docs. With this free and very easy-to-use service you can create and edit web-based documents and store them online. Also, if you write directly in Google Docs you can integrate other services with it, for example, some spelling and grammar tools.

12.  Grammarly. The writing-enhancement platform is a great proofreading and plagiarism-detection resource. Grammarly checks for spelling, punctuation, style and many other elements.

13.  Hemingway App. This free unique tool analyzes your text and highlights common errors and long, complex sentences, helping you improve its readability.

Working with visuals

14.  Canva. Canva is probably the most popular visual content tool that makes the whole process of image creation very easy and smooth. With its multiple templates even non-designers can create nice looking images for their blogs.

15.  SnappaIO. Another visual content tool, which probably is not that rich in terms of functionality, but has awesome collection of backgrounds and free images, as well as some really cool and handy features.

16.  Landscape by Sprout Social. Recently Sprout Social has launched a free tool for resizing images for seven social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. The process is easy as pie: upload your image and choose the network for which you’d like to resize your image. When you finish cropping, Landscape will export you a ZIP file.

What Are Some Sure-Fire Ways to Grow Your Blog Audience? Is There a Recipe That Works For Everyone?

If your company has a blog, obviously you want someone to read it. Creating content is a waste of time for your business unless your audience reads, shares and engages with it. How one can attract as many visitors as possible and keep them coming back for more? Of course, different audiences require different approach, yet some tactics exist that can work for any blog.

Building relationships with other bloggers

Building and developing strong and long-term relationships with other content creators is crucial for your blog. This won’t happen over night, because this requires time and efforts. More importantly, these relationships should provide mutual benefit.

To start with, engage with other bloggers on social media and share their content. Also, leave comments on their personal blogs – not general ones. Express your opinion, add value and invite others to deeply discuss. And don’t forget to join online communities in your niche, which are a great way to connect with people and help each other.

Show off more of your content

It’s good to show your readers more content options to choose from. When you’re showcasing many blog posts on your homepage, you increase chances that visitors will find something interesting for them. Demonstrate them your latest and the most popular posts. Also, make sure that visitors who are reading an article on the individual page will see related content that can encourage them to read more of your posts.

Contribute to other blogs

Guest posting on other blog in your niche is a great opportunity to get more visitors to your website and grow your reading audience. Ideally, you contribute to the top blogs in your industry.

There’s a specific approach to guest blogging, which can be very tricky, especially if you're trying to write for the most popular blogs. Adam Connell describes important steps to take when you want to pitch a guest post idea in an article “ How To Achieve Incredible Results With Blogger Outreach.”

Promote your content on social

One of the best ways to grow your blog audience is promoting every post that you publish on social media, which is a key source of consistent traffic for your blog.

Paid social guarantees visibility from a relevant audience because it allows you to promote your content into news feeds of social media users. If you haven’t tried it yet, maybe it’s time to experiment.

Build an email list

Building an email list is an effective way to keep readers returning to your blog. There are several ways to encourage visitors to subscribe to your content. Share knowledge and help people solve their problems. For example, you can offer them a free resource (e.g., guide, template, checklist) in exchange for their email address.

You can also use tools for building and growing your email list, such as Campaign Monitor and List Builder by SumoMe.

Can Marketers Combine Blogging and Lead Generation? What Strategy Has Worked For You?

Many companies consider producing and distributing highly shareable content around their key messages an effective way to drive new leads. Let’s find out how marketers can combine blogging and lead generation.

Be an expert and establish authority

Producing quality, relevant and searchable content is a great way to establish credibility with your audience. Be an expert, maintain consistency with your blog, communicate clearly, effectively and confidently with your readers. Make sure that you have something new to say and be honest.

If you produce content that can educate, people will be willing to return for more and subscribe to your blog in order to know when something new happens on your website. And you’ll be able to establish authority with your audience. This will allow you to generate new leads naturally.

Create content that solves problems

You know that people are searching for solutions to their problems. They need information that addresses their issues properly. If you provide your blog visitors with good answers to their questions, your content will be much more valuable for them.

There are diverse options for you to generate educational and valuable content: ebooks, case studies, video tutorials and customer testimonials to name a few. These types of content require more work, but the game is worth the candle.

Provide a personalized experience

Delivering personalized experience to your audience can bring amazing results. Think like a real publisher and consider your content a specific product. Segment your readers and learn more about them – the better you understand these people, the higher chances you have to influence their behavior. Segmentation is a key step, because it helps you organize your blog content, make it more methodical and manageable and create specific topics and categories. The more personalized a piece of content is, the more relevant it is to your leads. It also allows you to align marketing with sales.

Don’t forget to test your content and measure the results. Modify and improve your content strategy based on this information.

Cross-promote your content

Distribute your content via multiple channels to ensure your reach is as wide as possible. Here are a few cross-promotion strategies:

  • Add links to other content pieces. Publishing new content can be also a good way to introduce people to your previous blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc. Include relevant links to related posts and link to another good content published on other websites. Their owners can return you a favor by linking to your blog.

  • Update old content. You can breathe new life into your old content by updating it. Some information might have been outdated. But you can still make it look fresher. If you add links to your content, also update them to make search engines notice them, since the search bots always pay attention to new content.

  • Create joint content with niche experts. You can offer an opinion leader in your industry to create an educational content that will be valuable for the audience. The more useful information you provide to the attendees, the more in-demand your content will be for them. For example, this could be an interview with an influential expert or a roundtable discussion of controversial questions. You can try to invite more than just one industry professional to make the interview highly attractive to your readers.

These are just few examples. Don’t limit your cross-promotion to just one strategy; think about other options and test them, measure results and choose what fits to your blog content best.

Place a clear call to action (CTA)

A good and clear call to action works effectively, capturing attention of your audience. Make your CTA button attractive and appealing by using nice-looking visuals and, more importantly, making valuable proposition. Explain why users should click on your CTA and do what you want them to do.

How Can Marketers Measure the Impact That Blogging Has on Their Brand's Overall Performance?

Now that we've figured out how to effectively grow your blog audience and combine blogging and lead generation, let’s discover how to measure your efforts. You need to know how to demonstrate your blog’s success to your CMO appropriately in order to get continued support and funds. For this you need to measure the impact of your blogging on audience engagement and, ultimately, on your brand’s overall performance.

Establish goals

Regardless of your niche and topic, one of the most important elements that help your blog to become successful is a solid and measurable goal. It’s always difficult to move without a clear direction or a map that shows you where to go.

Make sure your goals match the following criteria:

  • Specific. Never set vague objectives, for which you won’t be able to track your progress. When creating a goal, ask yourself specific questions about what you want to get with the help of your blog, why you want to get it, how you’re going to do this, etc.

  • Measurable. When creating your goals, think whether or not you can measure your efforts and success.

  • Time-bound. Some bloggers and content marketers leave their goals open-ended. But this approach doesn’t always work for everyone. It’s better to give yourself an exact deadline; this will keep you motivated and focused.

  • Realistic. Always think whether or not you can achieve this specific goal. Be ambitious and goal-oriented, but stay realistic.

Set and measure KPIs

When you established your goals, you should also understand how you’re going to way. Keep track of valuable key performance indicators and you’ll be able to work more proactively and with purpose.

The following 10 KPIs are very important for bloggers for keeping track of their progress:

  1. Overall blog visits

  2. Blog homepage visits

  3. Traffic distribution

  4. Time on site

  5. Bounce rate

  6. Number of posts published

  7. Average views and comments per post

  8. Top viewed posts

  9. Shareability of posts

  10. Call-to-action conversion rate.

Use analytics

Finally, the important KPIs can be found in analytics tools. One of the ways of gathering this wealth of information is using Google Analytics. This tool allows you to easily measure, monitor and analyze data. It offers plenty of data-related features for websites and serves diverse purposes. You can find a great deal of video tutorials on the web to learn how you can effectively use GA. In this post you can reveal some strategies for using Google Analytics for content marketing and blogging.

What Are Some Common SEO-Related Mistakes That Bloggers Make and How Can You Fix Them?

As we know, numerous factors are affecting your ranking in Google, and keeping track of each one of them is a daunting task. Nevertheless, there are some most common SEO mistakes that many blog owners and publishers make. Search optimization is crucial for your blog’s performance and neglecting its importance usually brings very disappointing results.

Make sure you’re not making the same mistakes on your blog or fix them, if detected.

Not optimizing title tags

Your title tag says both to your readers and search engines what your page is about. A keyword rich title improves your chances of ranking for your targeted terms. Some bloggers simply forget about this important step. Don’t let the same happen to you!

Not using proper anchor text

Search engines also use anchor text to understand content on your page. Will they get the idea about your content, if you use anchor text “Click here” or “Now?” I think the answer is obvious.

Not using the right WordPress plugins

Yoast SEO is probably one of the most widely-used WordPress plugins. It provides a serious functionality and helps you optimize your content, titles, meta descriptions, images and much more.

Not doing keyword research

A thorough and smart keyword research helps you discover what people are looking for and get inspiration and new ideas for your content. And then you can create informative and entertaining blog posts that will provide real value to your readers and solve their problems.

Not thinking about your readers

If some bloggers are neglecting keyword research, others are focusing too much on their targeted terms. The thing is that keyword stuffing will get you kicked down the rankings. Also, it provides zero value to your audience. Instead of trying to achieve a certain keyword density, think about your readers. What are they searching for? What do they want? How can you help them?

Not linking to other pages on your website

People who read, comment, and share your posts will obviously want to read more. Provide them with this opportunity by linking to other articles in your blog post. What’s more, search engines use links when moving through your website. You can include related posts in your articles.

Not optimizing images

Some blog owners simply forget about image optimization, which is also a serious mistake, since search bots can’t see your images. Use alt texts to explain them what each of your images displays.

Not optimizing for mobile

The number of people browsing the internet via their smartphones is rapidly increasing. Your competitors may be already optimizing their blogs for mobile devices. If you’re not doing the same thing, it will be extremely difficult for you to pull ahead of other digital players.

As a Reader, What's Something You Wish Bloggers Would Stop Doing?

We’ve discussed important things that bloggers and publishers should do to improve their blogging efforts and achieve success with their content marketing. But there are some annoying things they definitely need to stop doing.

Being dishonest. Respect your readers and they will be willing to read and share your content and return to your blog. If you’re blogging only for the sake of leads and sales your visitors will eventually find out this and simply leave you. Don’t just give them promises, but prove that your content deserves their time and provide them with what they’re searching for.

Stealing content. If you want to build credibility with your readers and overall online audience, never steal someone else’s ideas and work. If you use information from other sources, link to them. This will be much more beneficial for you than plagiarizing.

Creating content you don’t like and believe in. There’s no use in generating content you’re not interested in only because it’s mainstream. Of course, it’s important to create relevant content about things people want to know. But if you don’t care about the topic, you’re likely to produce only moderate and mediocre, but not amazing and thrilling content. Direct your efforts towards some relevant topics that you’re truly interested in, and readers will appreciate your passion, individuality and authenticity.

I hope these tips will help you modify and improve your content marketing campaign and make people fall in love with your blog. If you have other tactics for great blogging, leave a comment to let us know!

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Anastasia SidkoAnastasia Sidko, Content Manager at SEMrush. I have four years of experience in content creation and public relations. My areas of interest include SEO, digital marketing and content marketing.
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