home-office-336378_1280Business owners realize that a company blog is a great way to engage customers online, but setting up a new blog may seem like a daunting task.

There are many designs and functionality options to choose from, and what should you write about to drive traffic to your website? If you’re going to create a blog, you want it done right – right from the start.

Here are several key elements you will need to build a successful business blog:

Choose a well-designed layout
There are three layouts that are most often used for business blogs:
• One column, featuring only the main content
• Two columns, featuring one sidebar and a main content column
• Three columns, featuring two sidebars and the main content column

As with any editorial web design, there are pros and cons to each of these blog layouts. You must pick the one that functions best for your business. If you think you’ll have a great deal of content that you’ll want to promote, in addition to the posts on your blog, the three-column layout may be your best option.

The three-column layout can also distract your readers from focusing on your main story. But the greater the content, the more likely they’ll remain on your website the longest since they’ll have pages of related content to read and click through.

A two-column layout is a bit cleaner to read, keeping readers more focused on the main blog post while providing a sidebar for other things, such as promoting your products, providing additional content and links to social media profiles and email newsletter opt-in forms.

The one-column layout is your best bet if you want readers to focus their attention solely on your main content. The drawback is that you don’t have any room for other promotional content, except perhaps within or at the end of your blog posts.

The most popular option is the two-column layout, giving you a main column plus sidebar. The best way to leverage this layout for your business is to focus your sidebar on topics that boost your business goals, with the most important material at the top of the page.

Choose a responsive design
If you want higher rankings with Google, you’ve got to be mobile-friendly, no matter what layout you decide to go with for your blog. A responsive design is one that will resize itself, based on the device the reader is using, whether it be a laptop, mobile phone or mobile tablet.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find a responsive design or theme for your blog, no matter what blogging platform you decide to use. There also are blog plug-ins for WordPress that can make any blog mobile-friendly.

Add several opt-in forms
You don’t want your blog readers to remain anonymous. You want to convert them into email subscribers as a way to promote the products and services that your business provides. There are several options on how to build opt-in forms into your blog. An opt-in form could be added at the top of your website, or you could decide to go with a scroll box that would appear at the bottom right of your website. Some businesses have gone with pop-ups that appear over the website after your page loads. The options for opt-in forms are endless. You can add them anywhere, including slide-ins, floating bars, after each blog post, at sidebars or footers. It’s important that opt-in forms don’t overlap or end up next to one another, but they are helpful for business blogs, providing opportunities for readers to subscribe whenever they want.

Optimize your SEO fields
As you build pages and add blog posts, it’s important to remember to fill in the SEO title and meta description, using these fields to optimize them for specific keywords. This will give your blog posts greater visibility during internet searches.

Don’t forget your Social Media sharing buttons
Social media sharing buttons are critical for your blog content. They make it easy for readers to click and share your content on social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. If you use a social sharing platform, rather than manually installing the social media buttons, you’ll be able to access analytics that allow you to learn more about who is sharing your content and how they’re using it.

Install analytics to see how well your content is performing
There are many analytic tools you can install to provide you with critical information on the traffic being driven to your website. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools will allow you to optimize your digital marketing strategy and help you tweak your content to make sure you’re continuing to get better results from your blog content.

Create custom user accounts for your bloggers
If you hire popular bloggers to write for your blog, this will allow you to gain additional visibility during web searches and drive more traffic to your blog.

Business blogs are a valuable tool that businesses can create to engage with potential customers, while also building relationships with their existing clientele. If you’re not blogging, you should be.

Let’s get started now.

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