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Too many corporate blogs are the answer to a question nobody asked, serving up generic, me-too posts or even syndicated second-hand content.

Give your content a kick up the social by writing to answer these five searching questions...

Why should I buy from you? 

Try answering the queries you get from customers. Not the flattering questions you’d like them to ask, like ‘what makes you different?’, but the tough ones they really do, like ‘Why do I even need it?’, ‘Why is it so expensive?’ or ‘Can’t I just do it myself?’

Some questions may be implicit in customers’ attitudes, rather than things they actually come out and say. I’m sure you can already think of plenty. 

Connect your offering to the actual situations and problems faced by your readers. Explain how your work has added value for particular people (or types of people). Don’t stretch a point so you can cut and paste content from the corporate brochure – go the extra mile to make your content about the reader, or someone like them. 

Carefully targeted answers to specific questions can sometimes be SEO gold, because they naturally include long-tail keywords in a page that has real value – and that people might actually link to.  

How much do you know? 

This isn’t one to answer directly, but rather implicitly, with really detailed analyses or discussions of specific issues, techniques, products or projects. 

They don’t have to be focused in-house – you can talk about anything relevant from your industry. Commenting on things ‘above your station’ could even be a way to unlock new business, by desmonstrating an understanding of areas you haven’t necessarily worked on. 

Critical analysis demonstrates rigorous and reflective thinking, while also keeping you sharp and outwardly focused. The discipline of writing for an audience forces you to think things through and clarify every point of your argument before your share it. 

What do you really think? 

If you want interest, share some views. Real views. Genuine, carefully considered opinion always draws interest – definitely from industry peers, and from others too if you get it right. 

The sweet spot is a topic that’s important to your industry that you can talk about with authority, but still has wider relevance or general interest. News stories can sometimes provide the right jumping-off point. 

There’s really no point blandly endorsing the party line. Look for the alternative angle, the contrarian view and the unexplored topic. 

Remember, though, that while strident, controversial or downright grumpy opinions can certainly grab attention, only reasoned argument can sustain it. Don’t let your attitude write a cheque that your content can’t cash. 

What’s to come? 

Go out on a limb and talk about what’s coming in your industry. Everyone wants to know what the future holds, so interest and responses will surely follow. 

Don’t worry, the post will be forgotten by the time the future arrives. And just in case it isn’t, you can always position your content as speculation rather than prediction. 

What else you got? 

Blogging on the core topic of your site is important for SEO, since it signals ongoing relevance for your target search terms. However, a tight focus inevitably narrows your appeal – and human readers may tire of your relentlessly self-centred content. 

To avoid reader fatigue, mix it up with some posts on related topics. For example, my own blog is mainly about copywriting, but I roam a bit further from home with posts on SEO, branding and freelancing. Varying your subject expands your credibility and increases your chances of gaining social shares, which in turn drive traffic.  

When you think about it, getting a reader interested is either about offering them something utterly new and intriguing, or answering a question they already have in their minds. Few corporate blogs can do the former without straying hopelessly off-message.

So considering the questions that interested readers are already asking themselves is the ideal place to begin if you want a popular, interesting blog. 

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Published 22 November, 2011 by Tom Albrighton

Tom Albrighton is a copywriter and contributor to Econsultancy. He blogs here and tweets here. You can also add Tom to your Google+ circles. 

16 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Nick Stamoulis

A business blog is a great place to show some personality. If blog posts read like formal documents, visitors will get bored. While it's important to mix up the content, you don't want to go too broad or too off topic. Stick to a particular niche to avoid alienating your core audience.

over 4 years ago

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Tilary

I fully agree with what should constitute blog content.

But I'm still scratching around for what the *real*, tangible benefit of a corporate blog is. Does setting one up just lead to soft outcomes like "greater visibility", "setting yourself apart from the competition", "establishing yourself as an expert in the industry" and all those other generic, buzzy phrases, or do blogs have a real, communicable value?

I'd like to think they do...

over 4 years ago

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Nick Hilditch

Isn't one of the advantages of a well-written blog to improve your visibility to the Google spiders? My understanding was that Google looks for relevant, regularly updated content to index and a blog (incorporating some well researched keywords) would do just that. Please correct me if I am wrong.

over 4 years ago

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Tom Albrighton, Digital and SEO copywriter at ABC Copywriting

@Tilary, Nick H

Nick H is right. Having a blog is one of the easiest ways to show Google that your site is fresh and relevant, by continually adding new content. This can improve your search ranking. Over time, your site has more and more URLs on it, creating a wider 'net' to catch traffic.

Also, if you actively build links to your site, there comes a point where you achieve diminishing returns from adding more directory listings that link to your home page. To continue improving your ranking beyond that point, you need 'deep links' to pages within your site. Few people are likely to link to generic 'brochure' pages, but they may well link to blog posts that offer value. You can also seek guest blogging arrangements where the host will allow you to link back to your blog. More links, again, can improve your ranking.

So one tangible benefit is the improvement of your search-engine profile, which may be of value if customers find your site through that route.

Being regarded as an expert may be a soft benefit, but it's still a very real one. I often receive approaches from people who have 'got to know me' beforehand by reading my blog posts. As a result, the lead is 'warmer' than it would otherwise have been. So blogging is a very important way to generate new business for me - particularly since the cost of having the blog online, once it's built, is negligible.

Whether search or reputation are valuable to you depends on your business, your sector and the way you gain customers. It is certainly possible to succeed without a blog, but in other situations, you could be holding yourself back by not having one.

Talking about 'blogging' as an activity may not be helpful, since it's not a question of 'do a blog post, get this result'. A better way of thinking of it, in my view, is 'building' or 'developing' a blog. If you go about it the right way, your blog gradually develops into an extensive and powerful asset of the business. That can seem a long way off when you start blogging, but the sooner you start, the sooner you'll be able to see the right road to take.

over 4 years ago

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Adam Flynn, Marketing Manager at iTradeNetwork

We're a relatively small company serving a niche market and about to embark on creating a corporate blog for our website. Thanks for the advice - very helpful. Hopefully it will help us avoid the pitfalls of corporate bloging!

over 4 years ago

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