Image: Hourglass with written words in background to illustrate wasting time business blogging

Don’t get me wrong…I’m a big advocate of business blogging. Content marketing is a great way to connect with existing and prospective clients and to get your business found via online searches. But if you’re going to do it right, there are a number of things you don’t want to do wrong.

What not to do when you blog is as important as what you should do. Your followers will remain faithful if you provide information relevant to them. If your audience finds your posts informative, helpful, educational, thought-provoking and entertaining, they’ll listen (or read). If not, they’ll hit “Delete” and maybe even (horrors) click “Unsubscribe.” There are also many factors that affect SEO, readability, blogging effectiveness and the overall success of your content marketing strategy.

From a business blogging “Best Practices” view, here’s a list of tips to make sure your blogging efforts are successful and you’re not wasting your time.

When creating, publishing and promoting your business blog:

Post consistently — if you commit to business blogging, you need to publish no less than twice per month. Weekly is best. If you can’t do that, consider doing a monthly newsletter or client bulletin. Once you start, stopping after a few weeks or a few posts, is worse than never having posted at all.

Use only visuals you have the rights to – create a chart or infographic, upload your own photographs or buy an existing image; just because you find a visual on Flickr, Google or someone else’s post or website, doesn’t make it fair game.

Don’t pitch your product or services — a blatant “hire me” or “buy my stuff” is a turn-off; a call to action (CTA) is okay.

Have a strong/captivating headline – as famed adman David Ogilvy said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.“ If the headline doesn’t draw them in, you’re through.

Include a Call to Action – you want your readers/viewers to Take Action; for example: click to find out more, link to your website, ask for the free whitepaper.

Incorporate SEO – Use your keywords in your headline and body copy, in the meta Description, the Excerpt, Alt Text, links and tags.

Ask for comments, shares and feedback. Sometimes, to receive, you have to ask.

Provide relevant content – your content is about your clients, not you. Their Points of Pain are your meat and potatoes.

Repurpose your material – once you’ve researched, written, optimized and promoted your content, get some more “marketing mileage” out of it. Re-post it as a guest blog on other sites your customers might see, compile related posts into an ebook or add detail and lengthen to create a “giveaway” whitepaper.

Include a visual – (not boring or stock-y). To get attention, the visual may be even more important than the headline. There’s a reason that sites like Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook are so popular: they prominently feature large images. The selection of an attractive, thought-provoking, intriguing visual is crucial to viewership.

Don’t make it too long – the optimal size for most blog posts is 250-300 words. Periodically, a longer post may be warranted (like this one) but in general, write short. Attention spans…and thoughts…wander.

Tell stories and give real world examples – these will draw readers and viewers in and keep them riveted.

Use video – they get higher search engine rankings than pure copy posts.

Make it “skimmable” – using short, one- to two-sentence paragraphs, headline fonts, subheads, bullet points and bold words allows the reader to move through copy quickly.

Don’t forget a signature line – at the end of your post include a Call to Action and a link to a page on your site (Blog page or About page), and, using keywords, provide a brief description of the author or business and contact information. You may also want to invite readers/viewers to connect on other social media platforms.

Use your “Voice” and your “Style” of writing — don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. The “Voice” and “Style” you use to create your posts should be representative of your personality, knowledge, expertise and approach to your business.

Use Tags and Categories – keywords and keyword-phrase Tags help in Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Categories allow viewers/readers to find post topics on your site that are of interest to them.

Use Excerpts – in the SEO section of your Write Post panel, copy and paste a short portion of your post. This snippet is picked up by Facebook and Google+. If you don’t include an Excerpt, search engines may just pick up the first 55 words of your post…which may not adequately describe the entire post and may not be beneficial to SEO.

Use a Description – also found in the SEO section, it’s a keyword-focused 150-word overview of your article. This description affects Search Engine Page Ranking (SERP) and is picked up by search engines and by social media platforms.

Use Alt Text to describe the visual – this box pops up when you upload an image. Fill it out, using keywords, to describe the image (as visuals are not searchable) and the scenario or concept you are illustrating with this image. For example: “Colorful infographic illustrating the top 10 top search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.”

Include a byline – Enroll in Google Authorship (must have a Google+ profile) to improve SEO and have your profile picture next to your search result!

Don’t Ramble – one idea per blog and most importantly… quickly get to the point! Make a promise (what your reader will learn or “get” from your post) and deliver.

Focus on Structure – build your post with a beginning introduction, use the middle to substantiate your premise and end with a conclusion or summary.

Edit — be sure that grammar, spelling and punctuation are flawless.

Include Links – to reference sources and to other pages within your website. Links help SEO and direct readers to other pages on your site, which keeps visitors around longer. Anchor Text is the words that are hyperlinked…also good for SEO.

Include an email opt-in sign up – make it easy for those who want to hear more from you to get on your email list (an invaluable promotional tool). Consider putting an email opt-in sign-up on both your home page and blog page.

Provide Share buttons – these allow readers to retweet your content on Twitter or share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media platforms. More shares equal more eyeballs and better SEO.

Promote your blog – be sure you’ve updated all social media platforms on which you’re active with your latest post. Then tweet about it (multiple times over a few days).

Respond to Comments – periodically check your Blog Dashboard or any Guest Post locations for comments. Answer any and all comments, positive or negative. Have comments that are too negative? Hit delete.

Send your post to your Prospect and Client email list – content marketing helps increase your credibility and build trust in you and your business and keeps you top of mind.

As you can see, an effective business blog is about more than just words and pictures. To achieve greater content marketing success, incorporate some or all of these tips. It’ll be a good use of your time.

If you’d like to learn more about blogging, buy my new ebook, The Cure For Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish and Promote Your Business Blog. Free on Amazon April 24 – 26.

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