Here are the basic B2B blog post (and other content asset) best practices to follow for writing your next invaluable gem. They’ve been proven in action by the consistent results they’ve generated over the years for anyone who’s applied them.
Unfortunately, even B2B digital marketers that have successfully followed these blog post writing best practices for years sometimes stop following them. Why? Often as not, it’s because they’re re-assigned their blog to a writer, not a content editor. The former may turn out good basic content; the latter will make sure it’s readable, sharable, sticky and effective.
The inevitable result? The ROI from their blogging begins to drop off.
The lesson? Adopt these best practices and stick to them religiously.
1 • Keep your audience in mind
Who’s going to be reading it? What are they looking for, and what do they need? Be sure the tone, language, and organization of the content you create is right for the audience you want to have reading it.
Also, avoid writing pieces that focus too much on the “why” — most visitors will already know why they need to learn more. They’re interested in the “how, when, where” of solving a problem or adopting a new product.
2 • Be short, sharp, and to the point
Blog post writing (or web page writing, or even ebook writing) should be clear and direct. A few good guidelines?
- Titles should shoot to be about seven words long. Don’t shy away from using wordplay or an impactful, conversational style. Question-style titles work well, too.
- There are certain types of titles, like those used with list-style articles (“listicles”) which should include the number of items in the article at the front; these draw more attention. “7 Tips On Writing Really Great Listicles,” for instance.
- Keep sentences short as possible – 15-16 words maximum. But energetic and lively.
- Keep paragraphs short – 3-4 sentences maximum.
- Avoid a long word if a short one will do.
- Use the active voice whenever you can.
- Use “you” to draw in the reader and make the content more relevant to their immediate need. “Here’s how you would put this idea to work,” “What should be your do’s and don’ts for using the product?”
- Use transition words to lead off the next in a series of sentences (“So,” “And,” “Plus,” “Moreover,” and other constructions). This helps readability, which in turn helps Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- If you’re given keywords and keyphrases to include, use them, but follow the guidelines in this quick reference.
Don’t shy away from using wordplay or an impactful, conversational style.
3 • Make it the right length
The client or editor should tell you what length they want from a blog post, but there are some basics to know about what length of post works best for different subjects:
Commentary/Insight Post: 350-750 words
Observation or POV regarding a single topic, especially if it’s of current interest.
Example: How a specific regulation might affect an industry, or a review of or opinion about newsworthy activities by an individual or company.
Product release posts and “feature focus” posts should be this length, as should company culture posts and byline posts by the CEO. A typical case study or use case post should aim for this length, too, unless it’s technical and in-depth.
This is a good post for delivering punchy, provocative opinions and hot takes on current issues or industry trends. If you hit the mark with one of these (and syndicate and promote it properly), you’ll be amazed at the amount of visits/follows you reap.
Landscape/Overview Post (750-1200 words)
This provides an overview of a topic area where there may be multiple examples that can be included/linked.
Example: A post about how a specific best practice is being applied to different types of situations and client needs, or an overview of multiple trends impacting an industry or market.
The classic “listicle post” is usually of this length.
An in-depth “how-to” exploration of a situation, best practice, procedure, product use, or process.
Example: A walkthrough of how to build a specific operational process, or a technical / scientific exploration of a subject. These, especially, can be directly transitioned to a downloadable asset like a white paper/ebook.
Some might question the reasoning for doing post of this length, but the facts don’t lie: The longer these posts are, the more likely they are to be shared (provided they’re well-written, in-depth explorations of topics, and offer real value).
Remember: The audience is always looking for quality, sharability, and usefulness from content.
4 • Make content scannable
Very few readers will read a post or online article front-to-end, unless it really intrigues them. Some of the ways to make a post scannable so you ensure they’re seeing key ideas or content?
- Insert a short subhead every 3-4 paragraphs that sums up what the next section will cover or “teases” the reader onward; test these by seeing you can spot the gist of the post just by scanning the subheads.
- Use highlighted or bolded text to draw attention to key ideas or phrases.
- Use bullets or numbered lists wherever they make sense, especially anywhere you find a string of three or more items/elements crowded into a sentence or paragraph.
- Indicate pullquotes or callouts for the CMS stage to further emphasize elements within the post or article.
- Be judicious in using elements like pullquotes or images, though. Make sure the post is, first and foremost, a good, clean read.
5 • Converse, don’t proclaim
Use a conversational tone and avoid too many buzzwords or anything else that makes your writing sound like an announcement, a press release, or ad copy.
Technical language is perfectly suitable if you are addressing a technically versed audience, of course. But even then you should slant toward readability and scannability.
In a blog post, you’re out to share information and inform the reader. One tactic that’s guaranteed to deter return visits? Using a blog to tout your products or your corporate greatness. That’s not what most B2B content explorers are looking for.
6 • Include useful links
Next on our list of blog post writing best practices? Please embed external links in your posts that go to relevant content on other sites (so long as they’re not a competitor’s!), especially news sites, trade journals, research sites, even Wikipedia that can add dimension and depth to what you’ve written.
This helps with SEO, since Google will view your content as being more authoritative because it’s referencing other good sites. In time, those sites will link to your blog, too.
Also include internal links to other pages and posts that help illuminate your subject. Putting a product link and mention of how your offering might address the topic just discussed is permissible in the very last paragraph, after you’ve provided the reader with good content. You’ve earned the right – but not until then.
7 • Understand, incorporate, and even celebrate SEO
Final SEO will happen at the CMS/publication stage, but it’s important for content creators to ask at the start of the writing process if there are applicable keywords or keyword phrases so they can smoothly incorporate them into each draft.
A well-written piece that follows blog post writing best practices won’t obviously be keyword-stuffing.
See what we did there?