Thirty-one percent of Fortune 500 companies and 46 percent of today’s fastest-growing enterprises use corporate blogs, according to the latest annual data from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. The reason blogging is so popular is simple: blogging gets results. Blogging yields more substantial results than any other form of inbound marketing, with marketers who prioritize blogging 13 times more likely to see a positive return on investment from their efforts, according to HubSpot’s 2014 State of Inbound Report. But in order to benefit from blogging, it’s critical to do it effectively. Studying successful blogs to see what they’re doing right can help ensure that your blog delivers results for your company.
What makes a successful blog? To measure blog success, blogRank ranks blogs using over 20 factors, including RSS syndication, social popularity, Alexa ranking, and SEO performance on Google and Bing. By any such measures, for years, Seth Godin’s blog has consistently ranked as the top business blog on the Internet.
When AdAge asked Godin how he does it, while he cautioned that he can’t bottle what he does, he identified a few habits that other bloggers can imitate. Godin blogs frequently and regularly, making a point to write down at least one idea a day. He saves extra ideas he likes for future blogs and replaces ones he doesn’t love with ones he likes better. He writes the way he thinks, with focus on clarity. This keeps his blogs short, pointed, and readable. To keep his focus and avoid distraction, he doesn’t accept comments, and he restricts his Twitter activity to posting links to his blog posts.
Godin also underscores the fact that he loves blogging. He does not see a conflict between fun and business. Godin’s passionate, from-the-heart approach enables his blog to express his thoughts and personality, making his blog synonymous with his brand.
Ecommerce Platforms’ list of the top 100 business blogs includes one worth noting for its content marketing strategy: Forrester. A technology and market research company, Forrester provides in-depth research summarizing key technological and marketing trends, making projections, and exploring practical implications for businesses. The company’s blog comments on this research with summaries and analysis, and also provides expert commentary on business news developments. Providing this type of vital business intelligence lends authoritative weight to Forrester’s blogs, generating quality backlinks from authority sites such as Amazon, Yahoo, Reddit, and Wikipedia. Forrester’s site illustrates the publicity value of using your blog to position your company as an authority in your field.
InTheSwim Pool Blog
Attracting publicity from your target market also requires your blog to engage the concerns of your customers. One blog that gets this right is InTheSwim, a site serving the pool equipment and supplies market. InTheSwim posts content providing information of interest to pool owners, such as how to close your pool for the summer, how to host a successful pool party, and how to properly maintain your pool. Additionally, the blog takes into consideration pool owners’ overall lifestyle, providing interesting articles about relevant non-pool maintenance subjects. By providing this type of relevant information, InTheSwim effectively engages its market by addressing the needs of its target audience.
The English Student
A picture is worth a thousand words, and the way your blog looks is another key component of its success. Each year, the Weblog Awards select a winner to receive a Bloggie for Best-Designed Weblog. This year the award went to The English Student, a site that assists visitors learning the English language. Adopting the strategy of using art to make English easier to learn, the site combines eye-pleasing graphics with text lessons in order to appeal to both mind and eye. In keeping with current minimalist design trends, the art is kept elegantly simple, using colorful cartoons with lots of white space and a readable black-on-white font style. The site’s opt-in form illustrates its design style, using a cartoon of an envelope on a postage stamp to invite readers to sign up to receive emails.
Since its arrival on the scene in 2005, Mashable has grown into one of the most successful blogs on the Internet, currently holding an Alexa global rank of 265 and a Google PageRank of 8. When Venture Harbour founder Marcus Taylor sought to identify the secret of Mashable’s success, he discovered that founder Pete Cashmore was driven by a desire to outperform himself each day. In the early days of the company, Cashmore would post an average of two to three blogs per day, and sometimes as many as five, asking himself each day whether he had attracted more visitors than the previous day. Within 18 months, Cashmore had established Mashable as the leading blog in technology and digital media and had attracted two million monthly readers. Further expanding its outreach, Mashable hired 43 editorial staff members and increased their output to 7 to 15 articles per day. The company also optimized its blogs’ social sharing and SEO performance by shifting its focus to producing infographics and ranking on the names of companies it blogs about. By persistently producing optimized output, Mashable demonstrates how regular, targeted blogging can pay off.