B2B Blog Writing Best Practices for 2021
If you’re like most B2B business leaders, you’re probably thinking about investing more in content marketing in 2021. And you would be on the right track. 46% of B2B companies plan on increasing their content marketing spend within the next 12 months (Statista). And, 89% of B2B marketers consider blog content as a top marketing tactic (Content Marketing Institute) Nearly half of B2B organizations are planning to boost their content budget in the next year. Just 4% of respondents plan to slow down their spending.
Why? First, thoughtful blog articles are a centerpiece of most content marketing strategies, and a great way to boost your SEO. Second, an active blog demonstrates that your brand is an authoritative source of knowledge and solutions for target customers. In other words, content marketing is still an instrumental part of marketing strategy for B2B companies.
That’s why we wanted to prepare this guide for you to improve your blog writing. This guide is written especially for B2B professional service companies.
Here are our 8 steps to writing awesome B2B blog articles.
- Step 1: Pick a Topic
- Step 2: Think About Your Target Reader (Ideal Client)
- Step 3: Think of a Focus Keyword
- Step 4: Think of Visual Content
- Step 5: Think About the Headline
- Step 6: Time to Write
- Step 7: Add a Call-To-Action
- Step 8: Tune It Up & Post It
Now let’s review each step in more detail.
Step 1: Pick a Topic
Consider what you do, and the problems you solve. Those problems are what your potential buyers are searching for! If you provide an answer, they’ll learn to trust you – and ultimately think about buying from you.
In other words, if you make employee scheduling software, give tips and templates to help managers schedule their employees. If your software helps police departments manage investigations, produce useful content for investigators.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when brainstorming topics
- What are the most frequently asked questions you hear from clients?
- What do your clients most need help with?
- What do you wish people knew more about your industry / field?
- What are leaders, influencers, and competitors in your space talking about?
When brainstorming your topic, try to generate a few topic ideas and variations on them. You can use a mindmap to help organize topics into a visual hierarchy. Generating more ideas will help you build a more comprehensive content strategy and pipeline future topics that support your business objectives.
Step 2: Think About Your Target Reader (Ideal Client)
The ability to understand someone else’s perspective to achieve a goal (a valuable skill called tactical empathy) is what truly separates great blog articles from those that don’t produce results.
Think about your ideal client decision maker. Try to picture them in their workplace, doing a search online at their computer or on their phone while on the go. Then, try to imagine yourself in their position. Given their business, their role and their level of understanding of the topic, what questions would they have that you can answer for them?
Consider the following about the target audience / reader:
- What is their title / role? Are they a tactical user or a more senior level executive decision maker?
- How familiar are they with the topic? Are they an expert that wants detailed, specific, technical information, or are they more likely a beginner who just wants the basics? Or, maybe they are in-between and need a blend of overview summaries with links to more details.
- Where are they in their purchase journey? Try to determine what their most likely ‘intent’ is in reading your article. For instance, are they just in discovery research (learning) mode, active consideration (shopping) mode or ready to decide (buying) mode? You want to write content that matches their intent and journey stage as closely as possible.
- What are their biggest goals, problems to solve, jobs to get done – that you can help them with? This depends on their role. their topic familiarity, and where they are in their journey.
- What questions would they have about this topic? Which of these questions can you best answer?
Step 3: Think of a Focus Keyword
Now that you have considered the topic and audience, it’s time to determine a focus keyword or phrase and do some keyword research. A focus keyword is what your target audience would most likely search for, given the topic, and their context. Determining the right keyword can be difficult, so just think of a few variations and Google them. Then look at what content is returned on Page 1 of the results.
Before clicking into any of the results, do the following.
Scan down to review the types of Google results returned, and take note of the following:
- Are they from reputable sources? You want to focus on reputable sources of information written by people who are experts in your field.
- Are they from competitors, similar companies?
- Which ones are near the top?
- Which results are organic vs. paid ads?
- How well do the results match to your idea / keyword?
- Do any results produce a featured snippet, video or other rich result?
- Review the ‘People also ask’ recommendations for additional ideas.
- If you’re using a multi-word search phrase, enter just the first word to see what Google auto-suggests, based on search trends.
Does the content look something like what you have in mind? If it does, you’re probably in good shape. But if it’s way off – like a different industry using the same phrase in a different way – you probably need to try a different focus keyword.
If the Page 1 content is written by companies much larger than you or massive content organizations, you probably need to use a longer or more specific focus keyword. If it’s companies around your size or smaller, you’re good to go.
The most important thing is that your focus keyword matches your content as closely as possible. You don’t want to begin writing until you have a focus keyword in mind.
Tuning your article for SEO is not about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible. This is actually a bad practice and doesn’t make for a good reading experience. You should use keywords in your content in a way that enhances the flow and readability.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on one long-tail keywords per article. While you can use more than one keyword in a single post, keep the focus on your selected keyword or phrase.
Why Long-tail Keywords?
These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post focused on the specific goals of your target audience. People who are searching using long-tail terms are more likely to read your article and become interested in what you have to say. In other words, their intent matches your content, and you’ll generate higher quality lead response from your content marketing. This in turn generates more likely conversions and positive business outcomes.
You also want to explore and expand on sub-topics. To find the most common, most relevant sub-topics. Try these free keyword research tools:
Answer the public
Enter the main topic and it returns questions.
You can also use this fun keyword research tool.
When you start searching for a phrase and Google makes suggestions, that’s inspiration for subtopics. Use a Keyword Tool to scrape them all out of Google at once.
Step 4: Think of Visual Content
Think about what kind of images, video, infographics you can use before you start writing. This is important for two reasons:
- It helps you focus and start to shape your content. If you have your screenshots, infographics or stock images selected ahead of time, you’re less likely to go off on tangents.
- If you don’t get images ready ahead of time, you’re going to want to post your content and move on to the next thing.
Visual content is very important important to B2B blog articles. Visual content adds appeal and gives the reader explanatory context so they can better understand, appreciate and enjoy the article. Plus, Google loves them.
Also, start writing some ‘ALT text’ phrases and tags for all of these visual elements.
Step 5: Think About the Headline
The purpose of the headline (the blog article title) is to clearly and immediately communicate the benefit of this article. It should make a promise to your reader that the article is worth their time in reading it. The more specific the benefit, the more likely the reader is to click and read the article. Ask yourself as if you’re the reader. “What’s in it for me?” The answer should jump off the page. If it doesn’t, get ready to hear crickets.
Great headlines do the following:
- Make a specific promise.
- Use trigams and numbers.
- Ask a question.
- Have high priority keywords at or near the beginning.
Start by creating a working title to “work” off of as you begin to write. Don’t worry too much about getting it right at first. The working title is just a starting point to build from.
Next, try to incorporate the long-tail keyword into the headline. It should fit naturally and be as close to the beginning as possible.
Be specific about the promise delivered by the article. If you are providing a ‘guide’, an ‘infographic’, ‘steps’, ‘best practices’, or ideas about ‘B2B marketing strategy’ then include these in the headline.
Tip: write a few headlines, step away for a little while, then come back and decide.
Here are a few guidelines on headline length:
- The ideal blog article title length is 60 characters.
- Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on Twitter.
- Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on Facebook.
You can use a free tool such as the Moz title tag preview tool to see how the title will appear on a search engine results page and when it’s shared on social media.
Technically, Google measures by pixel width, not character count, and it recently increased the pixel width for organic search results from approximately 500 pixels to 600 pixels, which translates to around 60 characters.
Step 6: Time to Write
Yes, I know that is a lot to do before you actually sit down to write. But, trust me, this up-front strategy and planning is well worth your time.
Remember the KISS principle: “Keep it simple, stupid.”
First, set up the outline and structure, deciding what the sections and subheads will be. Start sketching out some paragraphs.
Then, think about what kinds of supporting evidence you can add to strengthen your point of view. This can be links to outside research, contributor quotes, data and statistics, case studies, examples, links to other articles.
Grab attention with a good intro.
This is where understanding your ideal client (using tactical empathy) really pays off.
The introduction to your article must be captivating and capture the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few sentences, they will stop reading even before they’ve given your post a read through.
Grab their attention using a question they have been likely asking. Surprise the reader with an interesting fact or statistic about their industry or business type.
After the intro, succinctly describe the purpose of the article and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be having. For instance, if you have organized the article into sections or steps, summarize those at the top, with links to the sections below.
Also try to use a variety of copy formats, in addition to normal paragraphs, including large quote blocks, headings, lists, featured blocks that link to related topics.
Mention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, but only in a natural, reader-friendly way.
Make the article easier to scan and read.
Use lots of whitespace and short paragraphs. Long paragraphs with large blocks of text make your content look dense and harder to read.
Split up key ideas into sections and add sub-headings above them. Sub-headers also improve your on-page SEO, as they signal to Google (and your reader) what the key ideas are included in the article. Use the H2 or H3 tags for sub-headings, (not H1 tags, which should be reserved for the title).
Bolding important text can also help readers quickly understand the key takeaways from the post.
Enhance visual appeal with multi-media.
Include relevant visuals and multimedia elements to break up your text.
At minimum, every article should have a featured image at the top that reflects what the story is about, intrigue readers, or provoke them.
In addition to a featured image (or video), try to incorporate additional visual design elements such as icons, infographics, arrows, or lines that enhance readability and understanding of the topic.
Do you use video in your content marketing? What about podcast recordings? If so, these players would be a great addition, as long as they relate to and support the topic.
Links to related content (other articles, your services, case studies) in a visual format are also a great addition, again as long as they relate to the purpose of the article.
Add links to your other content.
Another very usable way to enhance readability and SEO is to include relevant internal and external links within the article. Link text and images to related articles, your services, solutions and example work.
Finally, make sure you cover your topic in full and have fulfilled the promise of the headline.
Here are some more tips for writing more effective B2B blog content:
- Write at least 1,000 words. The more comprehensive your content, the more value it will give readers.
- Try to keep sentences and paragraphs short. You want to be easy to read.
- Use sections with headlines above them, separated by white space for better scannability.
- Stick to what you know. Deliver on what the headline promises.
- Have someone outside the industry read the post. Can they understand it? If not, it might be too hard to read.
Step 7: Add a Call-To-Action
Remember the purpose of the article. It should be to inform, yes. But ultimately, it is to drive business outcomes, i.e., new leads, consultations, sales. So, you want to include a highly visible call-to-action (CTA) strategically placed inside the article.
A good call-to-action should be a helpful and logical next step request for action that your reader can take. The best next step depends on where they are in their journey. It could be to continue reading more of your articles or subscribe for them to be sent via email. It could be to download a guide or some other helpful content that provides additional detail. It could be to register for an event or webinar for more learning. Or it could be to contact you for more information, or to schedule a consultation.
The CTA shouldn’t disrupt the user experience.
Remember, the goal is to be helpful, not pushy.
A good place for the primary call-to-action is near the end of the article. This could be to ‘Schedule a consultation’ or ‘Request more information.’
In addition, you could also have a call-to-action element inside the flow of the article for downloading a related content piece such as a whitepaper or infographic. You may want to call readers to register for an upcoming webinar.
In either case, the call-to-action should link to a dedicated landing page for that other content with a lead generation form to collect the reader’s information for CRM profiling and further nurturing.
Not all CTAs have to be buttons. You could also try secondary or passive CTA through hyperlinked text inserted throughout the body copy. However, these should be in addition to a primary CTA placed near the top or bottom of the article.
Step 8: Tune It Up & Post It
Use a relevant URL
The URL could be just your title, or you may want to customize it. The URL should make it easy for users (and search engines) to understand the structure of your website and how the specific article fits into it.
Tune and tag
Most content management systems allow you to enter a summary or abstract of the article. This will appear in search engines which helps users understand the content and may increase their likelihood to click. Google limits the display length of your description in search results, so shoot for a target length of between 100 to 160 characters. Note: meta description isn’t a Google search ranking factor; however, it still helps with the user experience.
Include relevant internal and external links within the post. Link to related blog posts or your site pages when appropriate. If you’ve written about a topic that’s mentioned in your blog post on another blog post, ebook, or web page, it’s a best practice to link to that page.
Also, make sure all images have a descriptive alt-text tag included. These are usually short and should include focus keywords.
Check for keyword scoring
If you’re using WordPress, use the Yoast SEO plugin (ideally the premium one) and strive for Readability Analysis and Focus Keyphrase fields green and smiling:
Remember, SEO tools are only as good as the focus keyphrase you enter. It scores based on that. If your keyphrase is a non-starter – like if we used “blog” instead of “how to write a B2B blog post” for this one – you’re not going to rank.
After an SEO evaluation, preview your post for grammar, or additional edits.
Then, you’re ready to publish!
We Can Help
At Bevelroom Consulting, we believe a customer-centric approach is essential for growth because thoughtful experience design is essential for differentiation and advantage in increasingly competitive and disruptive markets.
We understand that the heart of a great SEO strategy is great content that matches the intent of your buyers and the context of your industry. Business owners and others involved in the buying process want answers to their questions easily, immediately and on their terms. Content that builds trust and authority is a must to engage and convert these prospects to new clients and build long-lasting relationships.
Let’s Get Started