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The Proto-Blog: Blogging Best Practices

Here it is! You found it! The blog that began all blogs. Well…maybe not the first blog. This blog is the one that unpacks all other blogs. Shows you how they work. This is like the answer key to writing a blog. Like this paragraph. I’ve caught your attention and introduced our topic at hand—how do you write a good blog? You start with a clear introduction that states what you will teach. Now, we begin.

Blogging History and Blogging Basics

The purpose of a blog and what it looks like has changed a lot since 1994 when the form was invented.  When Swarthmore College student, future WIRED writer, and web pioneer Justin Hall created Links.net, he didn’t call it a blog. Instead, it was his personal homepage. Still, this site is widely recognized as the first blog and established some blog best practices we still use today. Hall’s site was (and still is) a collection of links, in essence, a log of his web activity and his thoughts about it. By 1997 people were calling it and other sites like it a “weblog” and by 1999 it had been shortened to “blog.” In-between, during 1998, was the first instance of a news blog, when Charlotte Observer reporter Jonathan Dube blogged about Hurricane Bonnie.

In 1999, there were something like 20-23 blogs on the Internet. By 2006, there were 50 million or more.

I share this fact not only to drive home the point that blogs became a big deal, but also to conclude this section of the blog. We focus back on a broad perspective through the statistic rather than keeping on with a big list of details. Showing a little of where you’ve been to justify what comes next is one way to set up compelling content. This is a tactic you should use for yourself as you are building the story of your blog for a reader. Remember, you can’t just say what you are thinking and expect them to follow along. A reader needs context, and history or data in your early sections is what establishes that context.

How Do Blogs Work for Online Marketing?

None of the original blog content going on the Web in the 1990’s was intended for marketing to internet users. The original idea of a blog was to share the writer’s personal opinion, not necessarily change the reader’s opinion. But for a B2B marketing blog, the purpose is obviously to increase brand authority and win customers. So how does a blog achieve marketing goals?

In marketing jargon, a blog is something known as “ungated content.” This means it is content your audience can find, read, and share without having to give you their contact information or other identifying details. And they certainly aren’t going to pay you for it. When developing a content strategy, the blogs you are working on should be the kind of educational content marketing audiences will trust and learn from. Blogs work because later on, when you do want their contact info, an audience will believe you will give them something of value in return. In fact, a lot of SEO content strategy may rely on writing about topics of interest and recent news to drive web traffic, even when those items may not be direct sales collateral for your products or business.

 Types of Blogs for Online Content Marketing

At its most basic, a blog can serve as a foundation for the rest of your content marketing. By consistently publishing valuable content, you’re constantly broadening your website’s net to potentially find new customers who are searching for solutions to the kinds of problems you know how to solve. But blogs can find new purpose in your strategy beyond organic search rankings.

When a blog happens to be a solid piece of content that drives directly to your business value, you may choose to invest in it as a PPC landing page. PPC, or pay-per-click, means advertising on Google (or other search engines, but come on) by setting a budget and targeting certain keywords users might enter. Using PPC, or even paid search ads, to drive traffic to your most valuable blogs will not only increase the number of potential customers in your marketing funnel, but may also help to increase the organic search value of your website.

Earned media is another type of internet marketing content that can include blogs. This would be a situation where your content is shared on an affiliate blog, or a leader from your company gets a PR opportunity to write a guest blog for another organization’s website. In this case you don’t have to worry how to market your blog, just the content and copywriting to make sure readers still find value whenever they encounter your brand online. The value here comes from increasing your brand’s exposure to new audiences who may not have found you otherwise.

What Should Go in a Business Blog?

Whether you’ve noticed them or not, this blog has been structured and supported by different headlines. Each headline in this blog includes a keyword that we want the blog to rank for. Before setting out to research or brainstorm about this blog, I decided what my headlines were going to be and worked backwards. This allows the writer to organize ideas and find data in advance, rather than the struggle of sitting down and trying to figure out how to turn a blank white page into a business moneymaker in one fell swoop.

It also helps to make sure your blog is answering questions your potential customers will actually have. To go back to keyword research, that process is often a part of our topic exploration during both brainstorming and writing. If I sit down and don’t know what to write about, a keyword planner is a great place to turn. The same is true when I know what to say, but don’t know exactly how my client’s audience is searching. Getting that language integrated into the blog is part of making sure it brings the highest possible organic search and PPC search returns.

Ultimately, what should go on your business blog at first is what your clients and customers ask to learn more about. If you’re listening closely, they will tell you their pain points and frustrations. We always advise finding ways to spin these into positives and offerings from your brand, as opposed to just dwelling on the negatives and using them to appeal to the audience. You may get their attention that way. But at the end of the content, they are unlikely to feel inspired, excited, and ready to take steps to solve the problem.

In our case, our clients are always sharing the wish that they knew more about writing or felt more comfortable taking on writing projects themselves. A piece of marketing content like a blog isn’t always going to be easy to structure, research, write, or edit, but like every piece of writing ever created, it follows a formula. Focus on a point of education that your audience is eager to learn more about, and actually teach them something about it. Use keywords to confirm your ideas are solid and to focus in on the phrasing your audiences use to speak about the topic. And lastly, have fun! Remember, one blog doesn’t have to share everything there is to tell. Just say one thing, say it well, and wrap it up before you go on too long repeating yourself.

 



In 1922, Winston Churchill commissioned the world's first white paper. In 2019, Metonymy Media's Creative Director, Amber Peckham, created The Meta Paper in that first paper's image. The result? A white paper about white papers and how to make them. Download now for best practices and insights into how you can make your next white paper the absolute best it can be.

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