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Video: Why Does Blogging Help Grow Your Business? (6:27)

Learn why blogging is so important to helping grow your business. Blogging is an effective way to regularly publish and promote new content related to your business and industry.

Hi, I’m Justin with HubSpot Academy. Welcome to the fundamentals of creating a blog post.

Let’s start with the big picture here – why does blogging help grow your business?

When people first started blogging, they mostly wrote personal accounts sharing their lives or their travels. And while people still do this today, blogging has evolved into a much more valuable content medium.

Today, blogging is an effective way to regularly publish and promote new content related to your business and industry. What you’ll be learning here is business blogging.

And it helps your inbound marketing in two ways.  It helps you attract new visitors, and it helps you convert those visitors into leads.

So how does it attract new visitors?

Think about a stranger searching for information online.  They have questions or problems that they’re looking to solve.  If your blog posts provide those answers, those strangers will find your posts, and will want to click through and read them, turning them into visitors. This is the attract stage of the Inbound Methodology.

In addition, every time you publish a blog post, you’re creating a new, unique page online.  This means that you’re increasing your chances of ranking in search results, having other websites link to you, and being shared on social media. And all of this results in new traffic to your site.

Now, how can your blog help to convert those new visitors into leads?

Once people visit your site, you’ve opened the door to them.  Think about it -- if they’re interested in your content, they’re more likely to be interested in your offers and convert into leads. 

Your blog can strategically promote offers from your business – anything from your latest ebook to a free consultation. If your visitor wants to learn more, you can provide them with that next step.

Finally, your blog can help you stand out as an expert in your industry.  The more you blog, the more that people will start to look to you as a reliable, trustworthy source of information.   And building that trust with your prospects will help them turn into customers down the line.

Speaking of the power of blogging, let’s get Marcus Sheridan on the line. Marcus has seen tremendous success with his blog for his company the Sales Lion. And if that wasn’t enough he also runs marketing training and hosts two marketing podcasts. Marcus, would you mind shedding some light on your experience blogging.

Thanks, Marcus! What an inspirational story.

So, now what? Well, in the next video, you’ll learn how to create the most effective blog posts for hitting your goals. See you there!

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Video: How to Create a Successful Blog Post (12:02)

Okay, so now that you know how blogging can help your inbound marketing, how do you create a blog that successfully gets those results? Let’s dive into some blogging strategy and best practices.

Okay, so now that you know how blogging can help your inbound marketing, how do you create a blog that successfully gets those results? 

Let’s dive into some blogging strategy and best practices.

The first step is to pick a topic and a title.

At a high level, write educational content.

Remember those people searching for information online?  Well, in order to attract them to your blog, you need to answer the questions and problems that they’re searching for answers to.   Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas.  What are they going to be searching for?

Next, make sure to write about your industry, not yourself. 

Remember, you’re trying to attract strangers to your blog who have never heard of your company before – so they’re not going to find you through search engines if you’re just blogging about yourself.

Next, brainstorm a list of specific topics that you could blog about.

If you’re looking for a place to start, then ask your sales and marketing teams - what are the most frequently asked questions?  What do your buyer personas need help with? What do you wish people knew about your industry? What are industry bloggers, social media, and even your competitors talking about?

When picking your topics, do keyword research.  Keywords are the words and phrases typed into search engines.  They’re the topics that people are trying to learn more about.  Which keywords do your buyer personas use? Which are associated with your industry? Write about those topics to get found and start ranking higher in search results.

Next, pick one topic to focus on per post.  Don’t try to solve every problem in one fell swoop. This will make each post clearer for your readers and for search engines.  It will also make sure that your post gets more qualified traffic, because you’ll know that the people clicking through are looking for information about that specific topic.

Lastly, and this will help create a longer-term blogging strategy, make a list of topics that support a specific conversion. For example, if you have an ebook that you want to promote, then consider making a list of blog topics that support this ebook’s content. This way, if someone finds your blog post and finds the blog helpful, the chances of them wanting to click a call-to-action to access a relevant offer increases. Think of your offer as a heart and your blog posts as the arteries. Your blog posts keep a steady flow of relevant prospects connecting with your offer.

Now, let’s talk about picking a title.

Think about how you read things online.  You probably scan the content first, before you commit, to see if it catches your interest.

And the title is one of the first things that you see.

Start by creating a working title for your blog post.

A working title is something to "work" off of as you begin to write your post.  Start here to narrow your topic down and focus on one single angle.  A topic, like “choosing paint colors” could breed multiple different blog posts.  A working title, like “The best colors to paint your kitchen” is specific to one single blog post.

Next, include a long-tail keyword in the title. A long-tail keyword is a primary keyword--usually 2-3 words, like “Internet Radio Show”--that’s expanded upon with additional context, like “How to Produce an Internet Radio Show”. Be sure that the keyword fits as a description of what the page is all about.

Also, make the value of the post clear in the title.  Your title should help readers and search engines understand what your post is about.  Set the right expectations - what is the reader going to get out of your blog post? What information is covered? What format is the blog post going to take?

In this example, the blog post title explicitly tells you that you’ll be reading about 3 tools to help you prepare for Google’s next algorithm update.  You know exactly what you’re going to get from this blog post - how it’s valuable to you, and how much information it contains.

Lastly, shorten the title.  This is vital for search engine optimization, because Google only shows the first 50-60 characters of a title in search results. Avoid having your awesome title get cut off. A cut-off title could ultimately hurt your click-through rate on a search engine results page.

In this example, the title, 11 Ways to Make Your Content Appealing to International Audiences” is 65 characters.  You can figure the character count out by typing the title into a word processing program or by using an online character count tool.  As you can see, this title is a little too long - the last word of the title gets cut off in the search results page. 

Moving on to the body of your blog post, format and optimize the post so that both people and search engines can easily read and understand it.

When you blog, whitespace is your friend.

Whitespace is the empty space on the page. It allows the visitor to focus on the content, not the clutter. Don’t write long paragraphs that form into huge blocks of text - this will make your information look dense and hard to read.

As you can see in this example, there’s plenty of whitespace on the side margins of the post, around the title and first image, and between the paragraphs of text within the post.  The space makes the post more easily digestible - nothing is crammed together, and though the post is long, it doesn’t feel overwhelming or hard to read.

You can also break up the text in your blog post by using section headers, and bullets or numbered lists to highlight your points. 

Within this same blog post, you have a section header - “The Advantages of Geo-Targeting” - which lets the readers know what they’re about to read.  You have a numbered list as a sub-header right below that, which adds some clarity - you know how the post will be structured, and it’s easy to understand.  And you even have another numbered list within the first section, which makes the information in the paragraphs of text easier to digest. 

Bolding important text can also help readers quickly understand the key takeaways from the post. 

Elements in this post have a bolder font, making it stand out - but even more importantly, your eye catches the line, “Always focus on the wants and needs of your user.”  This is the key takeaway from this section, so even if you skimmed, you’d still get that valuable nugget of information.

And include images to visually break up your text. Images grab attention and help your readers understand the post at a glance.   Place one at the top of every blog post to entice your visitors to read further. Your photos don't need to directly illustrate what your post is about, but they should be loosely related to your content. While most people enjoy a great cat photo, it may not always be relevant to your content.

Next, you want to optimize the blog post for search engines. When search engines crawl your blog, they don’t read every word. Instead, they scan certain parts of your post to understand what you’re writing about and how trustworthy the content is. 

To help search engines understand what you’re trying to communicate, you’ll want to optimize the page around your long-tail keyword, placing it in the page title and the blog post title, which are typically the same thing; in the URL, the image alt-text, the body and the headers.

In this example, the long-tail keyword would be “calculate value sales incentive”.  You can see it in the page title and post title, and in the URL for the post.  Even if you can’t see it here, that long-tail keyword is in the alt-text behind the image.  Alt-text allows a search engine to understand the image and have it show up in image search results.  Moving down to the body, the first paragraph reads “There is a definite connection between sales incentives and a profitable return on investment (ROI)” - so you have the keywords “sales incentives” right off the bat.

Moving down, the paragraph reads “Many times, there are intangible benefits that are difficult to measure, but just as valuable” - you’ve got the keyword “value” in there.  In the next sentence, “First and foremost, there is an equation you can use to calculate your ROI”, which has the keyword “calculate” in it.  And in the header, you’ve got “Sort out your incentives”.  As you can see, the post doesn’t repeat the long-tail keyword over and over - so don’t be afraid of breaking up your long-tail keyword, or using synonyms or variations of the words.  Search engines are pretty smart, and will still understand what your post is about.

And include relevant internal and external links within the post.  Link to related blog posts or your site pages when appropriate.  And while it may sound counterproductive, link to outside resources.  Google Webmasters encourage this - it shows that you’ve done your research.   Don’t go overboard - link to one or two sources per paragraph at the very most.

The next step is all about lead generation - promoting your offers on your blog.

As you attract more and more visitors to your blog, that increased traffic means an increased opportunity to generate leads. If you really want your inbound marketing efforts to pay off, then it’s crucial that you strategically promote the majority of your blogs to corresponding or relevant offers.

The goal should be to attract someone and provide content around the topic they’re trying to learn more about, then be helpful and offer them a relevant next step. 

Make sure the CTA doesn’t disrupt the user experience. Again, the goal is to be helpful, not pushy.

Additionally, you might want to insert a CTA after the first few paragraphs. To avoid looking too pushy too soon, try including a passive CTA through hyperlinked text. It’s important to include these passive CTAs, as you can’t always count on your visitor reading your entire post and converting. Think about it, when’s the last time you watched a YouTube video to the end? By not including a CTA near the beginning, you may be missing out on a valuable conversion opportunity.

HubSpot performs CTA tests all the time--from image and text CTAs to placement of the CTAs--we’re always looking for ways to improve click-thru rate. Interestingly enough, we found that text CTAs near the top of blogs posts produce the highest click-thru rates. Something you might want to keep in mind and test on your blog posts.

Lastly, include a CTA at the end of each post.  This offer should be relevant to the blog content that a visitor has just read.  Your visitor is there to learn something from your blog post, so provide an offer that gives them more educational content to continue learning. 

This is a CTA at the end of the same post that was shown earlier.  The title of the post is “Education Blogging 101: How to Attract More Students Online”, and the CTA is for a free SEO ebook targeted towards schools.  The offer is about the same topic as the post, so a reader who wants to learn more would be interested in clicking through.

Alright.  Now that you have some great blog posts, you want to make sure you’re allowing visitors to easily share them on social media.

If a visitor finds one of your posts helpful and valuable, then they’re likely to share it to one or more of their social media channels. Take a look at this example, over 40 people shared this post to their LinkedIn networks. If this post didn’t offer social sharing buttons, then it would’ve been a missed opportunity.

At the end of the day, it’s important to write consistently and frequently.  You have to think of the process like a savings account. Maybe your goal is to retire in 30 years. The only way you’re going to get to retire is to have a plan and be consistent with installments. If you stick to your plan, then over time you’ll earn returns on your investment, bringing you closer towards your end goal.

Commit yourself to a blogging schedule. The more often you blog, the more likely you are to get found.  After all, each new blog post is an opportunity to attract new visitors as well as a continuation to your overall content savings account. The more often you post quality content, the more you will see your blog grow and influence your business.

To recap, Let’s review the strategies and best practices needed to create a successful blog post. You’ll need to pick a topic and a title, format and optimize the post, promote offers on your blog to increase lead generation, and add social media sharing buttons to your post.

And there you have it - the fundamental strategy and best practices for getting your blog up and running, so that you can begin to attract new visitors and convert them into leads.

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Quiz: Creating Blog Posts

Now that you understand how to create a successful blog post, let's test your knowledge!

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Blog Post: How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can't Resist

An easy-to-use formula for writing titles and headlines people can't help but click.

Customer Examples
  • The Naked Eye (B2C)
  • Hub (B2B)

The Naked Eye (B2C)

The Naked Eye, an authoritative resource to understanding laser vision correction, created a B2C blog post explaining various laser eyey surgery methods to consider.

Hub (B2B)

Hub, a video specialist company, created a B2B blog post explaining how financial services marketers can create effective creative briefs.

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Video: Example of a Successful Blog Post (2:39)

Let’s take a look at a company Trade Area Systems to see what a successful blog post looks like.

Let’s take a look at a company Trade Area Systems to see what a successful blog post looks like. 

This company helps retailers and shopping centers make their processes more effective and efficient.

Let’s see how many best practices they’ve followed with their blog post, “4 Steps to Enhancing the Art of Retail Site Selection”. 

First, did they pick a good topic?

They have an educational subject- enhancing the art of retail site selection, which seems like it answers the question “how do I improve my retail site better?”

And they’re writing about their industry, not their company - looking at the first few sentences, they’re not mentioning Trade Area’s solutions, just focusing on helping their reader learn more.

Finally, you can assume that this is a topic that their buyer personas wants to hear about.  The second line speaks right to that persona, stating “people pick the best sites” 

Next, did they pick a compelling title? 

There is a long-tail keyword in the title- you can imagine a stranger searching for “retail site selection”. 

The value and structure of the blog post is clear - we’re getting four steps which detail how to enhance your retail site selection. 

The title pops too - the use of the word “enhancing” brings a growth-driven, exciting element to the post. 

And it’s short enough - the character count is 53 characters. If you want to preview what it will look like on a search engine results page, then try Moz’s free title tag preview tool.

Next, which formatting best practices do you see?

The post has good whitespace - there’s enough room to digest all of the content easily.

They also use section headers to make it easy to scan, which is great.

And they have a nice image of some paint brushes, which is relevant to the title.

Next, is the post optimized for search engines?

They’ve got the long-tail keyword - which is most likely “retail site selection” - in the page title, URL, body, and though you can’t see it, it’s behind the image in the alt-text.

Next, are they promoting their offers?

They have a call-to-action that’s relevant to the topic at the bottom of the post - “Understanding the “art” of site selection and how it fails” whitepaper. 

Finally, are they allowing visitors to share their post?

They have social sharing buttons at the top of the post, meaning that the reader can share this post with their personal networks.

Looks like an educational and optimized blog post! 

So there you have it - the fundamentals of blogging in action.  Now, take this knowledge and get writing!

User Guide

User Guide: How to Create and Publish a Blog Post

This article explains how to use HubSpot's blog tool to write and publish optimized blog posts on your blog.

Project Template

Project Template: Setting Up and Publishing Blogs on HubSpot

SUGGESTED TIME TO COMPLETE: 3 HOURS Blogging is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to implementing Inbound Marketing and increasing traffic to your site. But if you're just getting started with HubSpot, it can be a challenge to learn how to set up your blog and begin using the tool. This project will walk you through the steps of setting up your HubSpot blog and getting your first post published so you can get on the path to increasing traffic.