There’s a lot that goes into launching and maintaining a successful blog — strategic content, SEO, CMS systems, social media, image selection, article promotion, and more. In this article, I want to show you how to design your company blog for success.
Websites with blogs have 434% more search-engine indexed pages and 6x more revenue. They are the driving force behind a great content marketing strategy, and research has found that content marketing is more effective than any other tactic.
Your company needs a blog, and we’ve created a step-by-step guide for making it succeed. Let’s dive in.
- The technical aspects of setting up your blog ensure it is optimized for SEO and audience engagement.
- Great blogs use categories, dates, and authors to organize their content and make it easier for readers to navigate.
- Consistency is key: publishing frequently and at optimal times will drive better blog performance.
- Blog posts with visual images are viewed and shared more than those without them.
- Your blog should always aim to drive customers toward the next logical action step like starting a free trial or scheduling a consultation.
We have looked at hundreds of the best content marketing examples, large company blogs, startup websites, we’ve also covered how to create an amazing company blog before. Here, we’re getting a little deeper and more specific with tips, tools, and actual plug-in you can use and settings you can configure!
How to Start a Blog: The Set Up
First things first — taking care of setup. One mistake companies make is diving straight into publishing content without spending time on the technical details. These details may not be thrilling, but they play an essential role in optimizing your blog for search, driving traffic, and growing your audience.
Add the Blog to Main Navigation
Your website’s main navigation menu is the map that visitors (and search engines!) use to explore your content and ultimately decide if it can help them accomplish the goals you claim it can. Without intuitive navigation, even your best content can get lost in the mix. When that happens, your organic search traffic will suffer the consequences.
The takeaway: be sure your blog appears on your main navigation menu.
But what if you have an optimized landing page designed to send users on a path straight to conversion? Won’t adding your blog potentially send them in the wrong direction?
It’s a valid question, but the truth is that on average, web visitors only spend 15 seconds or less on a landing page. Research estimates that up to 95% of visitors will never return after their first visit. That perfect path toward conversion? Most people never take it.
Your blog may indeed divert visitors from the most direct conversion path, but it will also give them a reason to stay on your site and increase the time they spend there. Blog content builds trust with consumers and, when done right, provides more opportunities for you to put them back on that road to conversion.
Add Recent Articles to Homepage
Add more links to your blog on your homepage? Yes! Here’s why:
Blog posts that appear on your homepage establish brand authority even before your web visitors click through to read them. How? Because your blogs have killer headlines (duh) that tell people you’re an expert whether they read the whole article or not. They show that your brand is covering timely, relevant content that matters to your customers.
And if someone does click away from your landing page to read one? Even better. You’ve got awesome content and more strategies in place on your blog to help convert them into leads.
Create Blogs Page
Now that we know why your blogs page should be linked on your landing page, let’s talk about what it should look like.
There are many different ways you can approach your blog layout. It should be consistent in design and theme with the rest of your website, but you can get creative about how you want to position and highlight content to emphasize what’s most important for your brand.
Your optimal layout will depend on your industry and what exactly you want your blog to help you accomplish. A B2B consulting company would likely want case studies displayed prominently on their blog page, while design firms would be more focused on including feature images to highlight past work.
Here are some blog layout best practices and examples to get you inspired.
Create Article Page Template
Customize your blog theme to use a standard article page wireframe to make your blog more engaging and encourage higher conversions.
The wireframe design should include a featured image and a strong call to action encouraging readers to take the next logical step in engaging with your brand. That next step could be:
- Subscribing to your newsletter
- Starting a free trial
- Sharing your content on social media
- Downloading an ebook
- Visiting another page on your website
- Scheduling a consultation
- Reading another blog article
This “wireframe” is something I created using my limited powerpoint skills but it should be enough for a designer to create the main elements of an effective company blog:
Your blog categories or themes are key to strategic content organization. They’re important to help you stay on track and they provide a guide for search engine algorithms looking to figure out what value your content offers to its target audience.
We’ll talk more about what makes for great blog categories later, but for now let’s just note that you should create them when you’re setting up your blog. Think of categories like you would the sections of a traditional newspaper — news, sports, business, classifieds, etc.
These newspaper sections tell people where to go to get the kinds of articles they want to read, and your blog categories will do the same for your readers. Ideally, you should create 4-6 blog categories to organize your content and always assign an article to one category only.
Configure URL to Custom
Custom URLs help your blog rank better on SERPs and create a custom identity for each blog post rather than the date or a generic tag.
Instead of this:
You’ll get a URL that makes it clear to searchers and search engines what your content is about:
To configure the right URL structure in your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalink Settings. Set your blog URL structure to include the keyword or category name along with the article title.
Create an RSS Newsletter
RSS stands for really simple syndication and means exactly what it says. It’s an easy way to syndicate your content and share it to other sites or tools — like your email marketing platform.
It’s a bad idea to depend on your audience to come back to your website frequently and check for new content (read: it won’t happen). Creating an RSS email newsletter ensures that your readers receive your latest content when it publishes and gives you an opportunity to also share other promotional messages or CTAs.
It also gets people back to your website, keeps them engaged with your brand, and encourages more social sharing.
You can use Mailchimp to set up your RSS email newsletter in a few easy steps.
Publish Frequently and Consistently
It’s important to publish on your blog both frequently (research has shown 2-4 times per week yields the best results) and at consistent times (so your readers know when to expect new content). Posting 11+ times per month has shown to create the most noticeable impact on content performance.
There are other factors that come into play, though — most notably industry, audience, and company size. Check out our deeper dive on blog post frequency here.
Share Articles via Social Media and Email
Social media platforms alone are not enough to deliver business growth. But they are great platforms to share the content from your company blog.
If you’re not acting as your own best promoter, you’re missing out on big opportunities to expand your audience and increase organic traffic. Sharing your blog posts on your social media feeds and to your email list increases brand visibility, expands your reach, and encourages others to share your content, too.
Sharing your content on these channels has a compounding effect that can yield significant results for your brand over time.
Components of a Great Blog
OK — you’ve got your blog set up. Now it’s time to think about how to make it awesome. Here are 7 things to incorporate into your blog to make it more organized, engaging, and effective for you and your audience.
Let’s start by going back to blog categories. Why are they so important? Mainly because they provide a guide for everyone that uses your website — your consumer audience, search engines, and you as the publisher — for navigating your content. Here’s why categories matter to each of these groups:
- Consumers: Categories gives your content a clear organization structure that helps your audience quickly find the content they’re looking for and that is most relevant to them.
- Search engines: Well-organized blog content categories allows search engine algorithms to navigate your content efficiently, understand what each page is about, and rank your content accordingly.
- You: Blog categories give your strategy direction. They help you stay more intentional in your content creation, perform content gap analysis, and avoid the common pitfall of lopsided content (too much in some categories, not enough in others) or veering off course into categories that don’t align with your strategy.
Dates and Authors
Dates and blog authors may seem like insignificant additions, but they can be important to your audience for a number of reasons. First, including dates shows your publishing frequency, which can play a role in drawing in subscribers.
Second, dates show that your content is timely and relevant. The world is changing fast and so are the facts and statistics we use to support our content.
Including dates on your blog posts tells your audience they can trust the information to be true at the time they’re reading it. Dates also matter to other brands and content creators who want to backlink your content in their articles.
And what about authors? Including the author of your blog (and ideally a photo and short bio somewhere on the page) builds trust with your readers.
It helps to show the author’s experience and credentials related to the topic they’re covering, and it’s okay if they aren’t an established expert or leader in their field. Just putting a name and face to your content makes it more authentic and tells your audience it was created with care by a real person.
Learn more about how to find volunteer authors for your website.
Visual content is an absolute must for every company blog. Statistics tell us that 90% of bloggers currently use images in their posts and blog articles with images get 94% more views than those without. People also process images more quickly and completely than they do text content.
Adding visuals to your blog posts breaks up text and makes your content more digestible. Here’s our guide on finding engaging images to include in your posts.
But don’t stop with images either — video is the fastest-growing and most-preferred form of visual content right now. It’s predicted that by next year it will make up 82% of all internet traffic! Infographics are currently the most shared type of the content (shared 3x more than any other type).
Get creative with your visual content! Search for different types of visual content that best support your topics, create your own visuals, and choose engaging images and videos that make your content more compelling.
There’s a reason your top-performing posts are performing so well — they’re resonating with your audience! Highlighting your top posts on your blog page drives more reader engagement on posts you know are already yielding results.
You can easily highlight your top posts using the WordPress “Popular Posts” plugin. Here’s how:
Encourage Social Sharing
There are easy ways you can encourage your readers to share your content. You can also automate the process for yourself and your team so that every blog post you publish is being shared on company and employee profiles.
To make content more shareable for your audience, use social sharing buttons on your blog. I use the “Ultimate Social Icons and Share” plugin to do this. I also use the “Revive Old Post Pro” plugin to automatically retweet 3 old posts every day to renew engagement and sharing.
My team also uses IFTTT (short of If This Then That) to share MIG posts on their LinkedIn pages.
These aren’t the only plugins and tools out there for encouraging and automating social sharing, but they have worked for our team. Do your research in WordPress and other places to find what works best for you!
Check out this 20-point checklist including an infographic for creating the perfect blog post.
Opportunities to Capture Subscriptions
Great blogs contain several different tactics for capturing subscriptions. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a sign-up form for your RSS email newsletter prominently displayed on your main blog page and every article page.
Another way to capture contact information is with strong lead magnets like checklists, ebooks, and PDF guides. CTAs throughout every post should also drive readers to take specific action like subscribing to your newsletter, scheduling a free consultation, or downloading content — all of which would provide you with their email address.
Offers for Deeper Engagement
What else are you doing to engage more deeply with your audience? Some brands offer free consultations. Many companies host video series and webinars. Others hold in-person events at their locations. Your lead magnets and other high-value digital content count here, too.
Whatever your tactics for engaging with your audience, they should be included on your blog so that your readers always know what next steps they should take.
You can share these offers through banner ads, with pop-ups, by strategically mentioning them within your content, and of course by including them in your CTAs. Whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to keep your blog audience engaged and guide them to the next step in their customer journey.
Jumpstart Your Company’s Blog
If you’re a business owner, you probably don’t have a lot of time to write blog posts and manage your blogging strategy. And, hiring in-house staff may not fit into the budget. So, how can you create an amazing business blog that attracts traffic, generates leads, and increases sales?
Outsource. What you can’t do in-house, you can do with outsourcing. In fact, by partnering with professional content creators and strategists, you can build an even more impactful blog without having to go through the time-consuming and expensive trial and error that often comes with nailing business blogging. Over 70 percent of brands outsource their content creation to specialized content agencies!
And, you’ll save money. When you outsource, you can pay for the services you need and then scale up or down accordingly. You’re more agile and always ready to pivot.