According to Hubspot’s marketing statistics, 55% of the marketers admit to keeping blogging as their top inbound priority in 2018. Nonetheless, blogging is increasingly being adopted by companies.
The data further emphasize, that the companies blogging more than 11 times a month attract 4 times more leads than the ones who don’t.
It is not a hidden fact anymore that companies selling IT-based product or services are increasingly relying on inbound marketing, especially blogs, to drive traffic and consequently sales– making blogs an important resource type for these firms.
One of the things about companies running successful content strategies is their ability of efficient blog management. Moreover, by efficient, we mean blog posts that directly address user problems and solves them.
Only when blog posts solve a problem for your target audience, it is of some economic value. Also, to do that, the first thing is to identify the issues that your target audience is facing.
This is how we arrive at our first problem in blog management.
How to identify the pain points of your target audience?
To identify the pain points, you need to go to places where your target customers hang-out or look for solutions to their problems. In our Bloggers Guide, we have listed some of these prominent points. They are-
1. Online Forums
Forums are still one of the most popular mediums to obtain valuable information on a myriad of topics. Irrespective of the industry, there are plenty of online forums out there.
One of the best things about forums is that, that they are highly objective at solving problems and queries. You can literally land on questions, for which your product might be a direct solution.
How to look for topics in forums?
Look for threads that have the most replies. This has to be something engaging.
Look for recency of activity on those threads
See if the people who are commenting have the buyer personas you want to target.
Type in search queries or basic phrases for Quora to suggest questions.
These suggested questions will give you an idea on the popular and contextual topics discussed extensively till date.
The next step is to go through the related questions that appear on the right-hand side.
These topics are correlated to the main topic. Concerning the answers and activity on these questions, you can understand the breadth of each topic and plan accordingly.
The next major thing in Quora is to see the recency of the topic. If you want to get more traction from quora, then a topic must generate a lot of questions at regular intervals.
The more frequent the questions appear for a topic, the more fertile it is to infer the intent.
In Reddit, you can start searching with a basic key phrase or word, and then search concerning the recency.
Reddit has got a lot of nerds, and you can stumble upon some serious stuff that may help you come up with a unique blog idea to attract a lot of visits.
From my experience, I can say that it is a great platform to search for controversial topics.
Google auto-suggest and Google related queries are great tools to ascertain the larger search intent.
It gives you a list of suggestions that are popular search queries. Going into the respective search results will provide clear intent of the individual queries.
You can also look for queries that could prefix your search term. Just add a space before the query.
Once we are familiar with the user’s pain points, it is time to segregate them with respect to buyer qualification.
Bucket user pain points into the respective stage of the buyer’s journey
Putting the pain points into the respective stage of the buyer’s journey helps us understand the depth of user qualification about the respective topic. Let’s understand how-
Step:1 The Awareness Stage is where your target customer has come across a problem and started to look for solutions on the web.
Step 2 The Consideration Stage is where the target buyer has understood the problem and has evaluated a number of solutions.
Step 3 The Decision Stage is where the buyer makes the final decision the choose the solutions among all the options.
As a marketer, your job is to engage the buyer across all stages.
In other words, if you have a user searching for sore a throat, fever and body ache, your job is to address their problem and educate them about a sore throat. (Awareness >>> Consideration)
On the other hand, if your target user is searching to cure a sore throat and you are a physician yourself, you need to make them understand as to why they need to visit you instead of going to the Emergency Room or Nurse. (Consideration>>>Decision)
To do that, each stage of the buyer’s journey requires different content-types to push users further into the funnel. This is called content mapping.
Content mapping is a plan to deliver the right content to the right person based on their qualification, or the respective stage in the buyer’s journey.
When we are talking about blog management, we must focus on the awareness part of the funnel. The fundamental purpose of a blog post is to capture and engage users for the top of the funnel search queries.
Julie Kukesh from Hubspot lays out a very effective and methodical framework to map content. It consists of three fundamental elements.
Fundamental elements of Content Mapping-
Keywords and relevant terms
Of these elements, the first thing is to set specific content-types for the respective stages-
As discussed, blogs and e-guides come in the awareness part of the buyer’s journey.
Note: A lot of blog post may contain material that falls within the consideration part or may feature some price comparisons against competitors, making it a decision content. However, the primary purpose is to attract prospects at the early stage.
If the solution is simple enough, you may mention it within the blog post that you built around an awareness based query. However, if the answer is complex and has higher transaction value, more content must be provided for the consideration stage.
Now, as you are aware of the content types, it’s time to specify the keywords and related terms. Look at the terms in each stage, and you can mentally map the unique blog idea into the three stages and go-ahead to form the best blog topics.
How to come up with unique blog topics?
The go-to strategy to come up with relevant and most popular blog topics is to touch prospects at their first sign of problems. In other words, you need to focus on keywords that fall on the awareness part of the buyer’s journey.
Overall, to form blog topic ideas, you can follow this 5 pointer rule:
Check the volume of the keyword
Map keyword to the buyer’s journey
Check related queries
Check Phrase match keywords
Create a blog topic
Let us talk about lead generation. It is one of the hottest things in B2B businesses right now.
Consider a buyer persona contemplating a new B2B business. For such users at the initial stage, they must be merely typing “B2B lead generation”. Let’s try that out using SEMRush.
The query has substantial volume so we can go further to map it into the buyer’s journey.
Mapping keyword to the buyer’s journey
Look at the types of content being returned for the search term you have chosen.
If you see a lot of blog content for the results, that means the keyword falls in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.
On the contrary, if you see a lot of product pages being offered, it means the keyword is of transactional nature and may be very near to the zero moments of truth or ZMOT.
These keywords generally have high CPCs and fall in the consideration part of the buyer’s journey or on the cusp of consideration and decision.
Let’s map our keyword to the buyer’s journey.
For our query “B2B lead generation”, you can see that a lot of blog content is being returned as results. Hence, it proves that the keyword B2b lead generation can be considered to create blog posts to capture prospects from the awareness stage.
Check phrase match and related queries
Phrase match terms often have the same context but variation with prefix and suffixes may go into other contexts, hence different set of results.
If you check the results for B2B lead generation companies, you will find links for companies that provide B2B leads as service.
Now, if you are a product-oriented company such as Marketo or HubSpot (who want to lead the way with thought leadership), this search context is not relevant.
Related keywords, on the other hand, are beneficial to gauge the recency of queries connected to the main query. The context may also be similar.
Funneling users deeper
As people land on your blog from an awareness query, your job is to push them further into the funnel.
For our query, B2B lead generation, let’s check out the second link.
The HubSpot blog gives strategies and presents CTA to a comprehensive guide on lead generation. The guide further directs them to the business page of the HubSpot marketing software.
In any condition, the leads captured from the guide is put into marketing automation, and emails are sent to the prospects to take action.
After analyzing all the 5 factors we can finally create a unique blog topic for the keyword “B2B lead generation”. Some of these can be-
Top strategies for B2B lead generation
How to go about B2B lead generation?
Top 10 tactics to capture B2B leads
Create more blog topic ideas –
To create more topics write down all the pain points (as shown in the previous section), and repeat all the 5 steps as shown in this section. Always make sure that you can plot the keyword at the right stage of the journey and accurately map the blog post.
After we have decided to on awareness based blog topics and conceptualized the funnel, it is time to decide the type of the blog post you are going to write.
What are the different types of blog and which one should you chose?
In order for your blog management exercise to succeed, you must create a mental map of the blog types that you would be targeting for your business.
This will streamline the writing tone, thematic accuracy and the X-factor of your overall communication.
Selection of blog type will ensure the resources you are going to put/hire on specific blog posts concerning the anticipated output. Here are the major blog types-
How to guides-solves the user’s problem. These are often long form of content.
“How to” blog posts are used extensively by B2B companies as the buying process is complex and has high transactional value. These“How to” posts are used to address the buyers problems and show them, as to how the respective product or service solves their problem. How to content pieces can often be cornerstone/pillar content that is meant to capture the lead.
Checklists-great for getting blog topic ideas that may contain a to-do-list of items
Checklist blog posts are like cheat sheets or class notes that people tend to revise before a test. Checklists are great to generate curiosity among the top of the funnel buyers.
They can also be used for drip campaigns when users do not take action on the decision content.
Checklists can also be given for downloads on blogs to capture leads after the reader has shown some engagement with a particular post.
Checklists are used equally by B2C and B2B companies in their content marketing efforts.
Trending stories- news stories that may get a lot of traffic-
Trending stories are great to attract traffic to your website within a short period. These are often based on the recent news stories that attract a lot of search volumes.
Trending stories must contextually relate or augment your main blog topic, products or services to get the maximum benefit.
Debatable Posts – posts that express some sort of opinion often controversial
Debatable posts are often written to attract viewers to the post comments and express their opinion (capturing their email address in the process) followed by sending them more content further.
Infographics – blog posts with infographics must be made on something that’s worth saving
Infographics help in digesting complex content (data and analysis) in a matter of moments. Due to pleasant aesthetic appeal, infographics also motivates readers to use it for their content using the embed link.
This is why an effective infographic has the potential to earn a lot of quality backlinks without many efforts.
Quiz and Polls- Blog posts are often formatted in the form of questions
These are followed by MCQs, and then solutions are offered in return for the lead. A lot of times quiz and polls are used along with a debatable post to create user engagement.
FAQs- highly useful for high-value and feature-rich products and services
Over time, emphasis on easy discovery of FAQs has taken center stage due to the value they provide. As a result of which, FAQs are listed in a separate section on the site these days. At times they are also called Help content or support content.
Customer messaging platform Intercom allows you to create FAQs using its backend.
You can access the complete analytics of that content from the intercom backend and take decisions accordingly.
FAQs are highly useful for feature-rich products such as a smartphone, or services such as insurance that generates a lot of queries from customers.
Videos- videos may augment your blog post.
Videos are highly effective for product demos with sophisticated features that can only be understood while the product is in-action.
Once we have learned to map keywords, create the blog topic idea and set the theme of blog posts, it is time for SEO Optimization.
How to write SEO friendly blog posts?
Making your blog posts SEO friendly is extremely important. Only when your blog posts are search engine friendly, readable, contextually relevant and have proper navigation, you can expect to gain the maximum out of them.
Here are some points to make your blogs SEO in a friendly way-
Proper Keyword Research-
We have already learned about keyword research in section 4 on how to choose and approve keywords for blogs.
Overall, you must choose keywords that are within the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey and make then create the post title and outline. Refer section for more information.
Make a table of content-
Making a table of content on your blog is extremely helpful for SEO. People can instantly land on the desired subtopic and read the part they are interested in.
Title and Meta-
The title is important as it gives a direct signal to the search engines about the keyword and the respective context associated with it. Some of the things to keep in mind while writing the title-
The title should be around 60 characters long.
It should contain the keyword (natural orientation and not stuffed).
Can be a question or may include numbers for better CTRs.
While the title is the primary determinant of earning a click, the meta-detail supports it further.
While google randomly picks up the meta title these days, you should still write a relevant meta detail that summarises your blog posts within 300-320 characters.
Title and meta description optimization is best-taken care of by the Yoast Plug-in. Most of the part of the plug-in is free. However, you can buy the premium Yoast plugins for better insights.
“H tags” are like markers, using which, Google understand the overall structure of the post. While the heading of the blog is H1, there is some confusion about setting H2s & H3s.
The basic idea is to follow the rule of correlation. In other words, set subtopics for the blog idea as H2s that have got some search volumes and connected to the main blog topic. As you expand, those subtopics set some H3s that are mini blog topics themselves.
If you are writing an 800-word post, categorizing up to the H2s is enough.
There are a few important points when it comes to URL optimization. These are-
Google has already stated that they are indexing mobile first these days. Hence, it is essential to give your users a satisfactory mobile experience. As a blog post might be the first interaction of your site with a user, it must be flawless.
Use the google page speed tool to check the performance of your site on mobile devices.
Look into the suggestions listed by Google to make the experience better. Hire a developer if needed.
This is one of the MOST important factors that make your blog work. Do you know someone who does it best? It’s Neil Patel!
Just go to neilpatel.com and randomly pick a blog post. You will hardly find paragraphs that go beyond three lines.
In addition to that, the posts also contain a lot of bullet points and images at regular breaks. This cuts boredom and helps to interpret the content easily.
Proper internal linking
What happens when they land on your blog post? You try to push them further down the funnel, and this is where internal linking come to use.
Some of the points to take care while setting internal links for a blog post-
Link to the relevant business pages wherever necessary.
Give natural anchor texts and avoid putting the keyword into it all the time.
Try to link it to other blog posts that support the blog topic idea.
Add link it to the respective blog category contextually.
Proper External Linking
External linking is as essential as internal linking, for it assures deeper understanding of the subject by readers. Some crucial points for external linking:
Always rely on the primary source of information. Primary sources are the one who creates the data or information themselves.
Make sure that the domain you are linking is trustworthy.
Give natural anchor text that exactly tells the reader what they are going to find.
The page you are linking must have substantial PA or Page Authority.
Check the page you are linking must have a substantial number of backlinks.
Image optimization is easy but affects the loading time of a page by a large degree. If you have a blog that has a lot of images, it may load slow.
While cutting down on the number of images is not a solution, you can apply a few tricks to make them load faster.
If you have large image files, compress them for faster loading. You can use tinypng.com to compress big files.
Consider the width of the web page of your blog posts (at 100% magnification). Measure the width in pixels using tools such as pixelzoomer. Create blog images of this size. It will be lighter and look sharp as well.
Prefer images which have a single color (lesser color variation)
Buy stock images or download free stock images and make an image repository. Pixabay:
Pixabay provides free stock images. You may go to a lot of other sites to look for free stock images.
Add Videos where applicable
Videos can generate a lot of engagement. When embedded in your blog they can increase “on page time” by a significant degree, hence expanding the participation as well.
Whether you are making your videos or choosing something from YouTube, make sure that you put the video contextually in the right place.
The video should sort of increase the depth of the blog topic idea but should not leave the user less informed even if they wish to skip it.
After you have engaged the users with your content, allow them to share the content. Integrate a plugin to share the content.
While there is no direct benefit of social media shares on SEO, however, Google has filed a patent to detect fake social media accounts in 2013, so there may be a correlation.
From my personal experience, I have seen a large number of social shares ensures quick ranking of content within the SERPs.
A lot of facts within your blog post, such as statistical data, tax rates, price charts, etc. needs to be upgraded on a regular basis.
Stale information will result in more bounce, less page on time and eventually make your content lose its ranking.
Evaluating Blog Performance
After we have published our post, we must evaluate their performance and take necessary steps.
While a lot of blog topics gain fast traction, a majority of them need some buffer time to appear in the SERPs. If you have a strong brand, it helps you get traction and earn SERPs immediately.
To analyze blog performance, analyze the performance of the individual posts on specific parameters.
Number of leads
The first measure of success for a blog post is the number of leads it has been able to generate. If you have the lead capture form on the blog itself, it is relatively easy to track the conversion using google analytics.
However, users often go around the entire website, maybe come back after days to put their inquiries. In other words, apart from the blogs, a lot of business pages or other forms of content might be helping in conversions.
In such cases, you need an attribution analysis software to track the entire user journey and see the effectiveness of your blog in creating a lead.
Hubspot, Act-on and Marketo are some industry standard tools that provides amazing attribution analysis. However, they come for a price.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly software for attribution, you can go for Matomo.
CTRs over time
While the CTR varies from one industry to the other, as a convention, a minimum of 1% CTR is considered as respectable. On the other hand, anything with less than 0.5% CTR is not a good sign.
A blog post that has 3% CTR or more can be considered a success.
When you have a low CTR, (lower than 0.5%) for individual blog posts, you may tweak the SEO title and meta description and publish it again.
If it still does not work, you may consider deleting the post altogether. You can use pull the CTR data for from your Google Analytics admin account.
On-page time is also a crucial factor that tells a lot about the engagement a blog post is drawing. Lesser on-page time means people are not able to find what they are looking for, or maybe, the information provided is too thin.
Number and Quality of Backlinks
One of the determinants of a successful blog post is the number of high-quality backlinks it is generating. If the backlink profile is good with anchor texts, the content can be deemed as successful.
You can create a Moz account to examine your backlink profile.
Bounce rate must be observed along with the “on-page time” to get a picture of engagement. Overall, a high bounce rate means, your blog posts are not able to push users further into the funnel.
Blogs, on a general note, are expected to have a high bounce rate. On a general note, anything less than 85% is quite good. According to custom media labs, blogs may have bounce rate, ranging from 65%-90%.
Using tools such as buzzsumo, will give you insights into the personas that are sharing your content. A large number of social shares generally means valuable content.
While B2C content enjoys a fertile social landscape, the same logic is partially applicable for B2B businesses.
Comments are one of the most valuable signals a blog can earn. It suggests that the blog is helping users and also generating further queries.
One of the best things about comments is that they give content ideas for posts that can lay within the awareness stage itself of the later stages of the buyer’s journey.
Comments also add to the post by increasing its freshness score. One of the things you should take care while approving comments is to check the links they are posting. A lot of time, spammy links are posted, and you would not want that to be on your site.
The best scenario is to have comments that extend the blog topic of the post vertically or horizontally. It is not uncommon to find answers for many Google queries within the comment section of some website.
To conclude, we probably agree that blogging is a tedious and time-consuming process. This is why it matters that the blogs that you write must score substantially in SERPs on Google.
Blogs have a lot of potential, not only in getting direct leads but also to create an online brand that gets you a constant flow of leads over a period.
If this entire thing looks a bit too much for you, you can always hire a professional company that provides blog management services. Go through their blog management packages and decide.
I hope the points given in this Bloggers Guide will help you chart out your blog management pathway. If you have any questions or inputs, feel free to include that in the comment section below.
Arup Dey works as Content Marketing Manager for Stan Ventures. He has more than 6 years of experience in formulating Digital and Content Strategy for mobile apps services and B2B SaaS products.