Whether it’s for inbound marketing, SEO, or readability, we use a simple rule to optimize great B2B blog content:
It needs to help readers get to where they want to go.
High-quality B2B writing is content that helps readers more than any other piece of relevant content they could find online.
Wherever it fits within a digital marketing strategy, content needs to pass this test:
Does it meet readers where they are?
Does it help them get to their next destination?
It doesn’t matter if it’s learning how to install a piece of software, gaining an in-depth understanding of a new talking point, or downloading a whitepaper, content should exist to make life easier for readers.
Unfortunately, lots of content fails this test. Here is how we recommend that B2B companies create content that passes (plus, here are our B2B SEO strategy tips).
People rarely read content from top to bottom. According to eye-tracking research conducted by UX experts Nielsen Norman Group, readers usually skim written content in an F-like pattern.
At least in the western world, web users skim content by starting on the left-hand side of their screen and moving down the page. They often take breaks between lines until something grabs their attention.
With any piece of online content, people tend to pay a lot of attention to the first few paragraphs. This is because they are trying to determine if the content in front of them is relevant and worth their attention.
A lot of blog posts and web copy disappoints readers at this point.
Have you ever searched Google for an answer to a question, i.e., “what is x,” and ended up reading a blog post that went something like, “you are y, and that is great, so x is really important to you, but last year x was blah blah…” If so, there is a strong chance you went elsewhere with your query.
What you wanted was a quick answer to a quick question. If the content you clicked on doesn't give you that, there is no point in reading it. Failing to grasp this concept is what holds back many b2b business blogging campaigns from achieving real success.
Tip: Blog articles should answer reader questions as soon as possible.
But this doesn't mean everything should be a bullet point, either.
At Content Visit, our personal version of hell is a world where everything is written like a LinkedIn post:
A world where.
No paragraph can be more than two sentences. And no question is ever really answered.
Are trying to bait readers into getting to the end of their posts with an endless sense of
Your readers end up on your content because they want to be there. They are smart and here to learn. It pays to keep this in mind when you’re constructing a blog strategy.
Keywords are, and always will be, an essential part of any content strategy. We think about keywords differently, though: not necessarily as purely an SEO requirement.
As updates like Google’s Helpful Content make search engines smarter, they are getting better at figuring out what searchers want. Search engine results will use increasingly advanced AI and machine learning to analyze the match between your content and people’s needs.
If a company blog or some other piece of content helps a target audience find out more about a particular topic they’re interested in, it will win the game of SEO.
Hitting a careful selection of keywords will become less important for B2B content marketing teams than actually creating helpful content.
Tip: Don’t annoy readers for the sake of hitting a keyword that otherwise shouldn’t be there.
This doesn’t mean that keywords will stop being important for B2B marketing.
Using keywords will remain a B2B blogging best practice because it helps ensure that content will be relevant to a target audience. Not just to Google’s AI but to real humans who often skim through blog posts looking for the bits of content that are relevant to them. Where to put keywords in a blog post:
Whenever and wherever else it makes sense.
Whenever someone skims through your blog post, they will look for keywords.
Putting keywords in these places will help search engine algorithms and human readers find the bits of blog content that interest them. Just remember to include keywords that people find interesting first.
Tip: Focus your keyword research on what your buyer persona is likely to look for.
Content marketing strategies win by matching content to the distribution channel.
People land on blog posts in different ways. Understanding how people get to blog content should shape how the content is presented. Whether someone comes across a blog post through a social media post or a search query will change their expectations.
Blog content works best when it aligns with what people expect to see.
Take an individual who gets to your blog post through a post on LinkedIn. They saw your LinkedIn post promoting your blog post because they follow your organization. They decided to click on the blog post you linked because the headline/post description/the conversation surrounding it was something they were interested in. When they take this kind of path to your blog post, the reader sees you as a thought leader and wants relatively short-form content that delivers insights fast.
When readers land on your content through a search engine query, they typically have a different intent. Instead of looking for thought leadership, they want information on a particular topic. They might want some quick info or a deep dive. A great blog will give them both by front-loading the most critical points early and then giving them the option to learn more.
Blog posts distributed through social media = thought leadership.
SEO focused blogs = information.
Sometimes your content needs to meet people’s innate desire to skim. Quick questions like “your business name email” should be met with rapidly digestible content.
However, other times people do read linearly. In content marketing, this is what we want and hope readers will do. We want people who might have started skimming content to end up hooked. Caught by a word/sentence/bullet point that grabs them. Something like:
The average reader sees only between 20% and 28% of words on a web page.
Or a subheading that answers part of a question that brought them to your site and keeps them there. When you read something you are interested in, you will loop back and read the rest.
A good tip here is to put “grabby” bits of content at the end or start of paragraphs because:
NO ONE READS IN A STRAIGHT LINE
It's essential to give people little clues as to where they should divert their attention.
SEO needs to be part of the B2B content creation process from the get-go.
Every piece of internet-facing content your organization publishes needs to have the following:
A Title tag.
Alt text for all images.
A meta description.
Including keywords at various frequencies and in particular locations is also essential. While there is no definite rule for keyword use, it’s best practice to include your primary keyword at the beginning of your text (i.e., the first paragraph).
This signals readers and search engines that they are in the right place.
Images serve two purposes in B2B blog posts:
A) Break up text.
B) Present information quickly.
Aim to include roughly two images per 1,000 words in a B2B blog. That way, you can break up long chains of text without taking readers away from the content itself.
Stock images are okay for this purpose. But it’s better to use custom images or illustrations if you have the budget.
Infographics are a great way to both show information and give readers a break from reading text.
Sometimes, such as when you need to display graphs or diagrams, it may be necessary to include more than two images per 1,000 words. In this case, try to reflect this in the text and write the content around the images.
Most B2B blog posts are going to be around 1,000 words. You can do a lot in this space, but you shouldn’t try to do everything.
In 1,000 words, you can:
Demonstrate you are a thought leader in a narrow area.
Increase your reader’s brand awareness.
Help someone fix a small problem.
A blog post's call to action (CTA) should never lead directly to a sales call.
Instead, blog posts make great ladders to whitepapers, case studies, and other middle-of-the-funnel content.
However, giving the reader the best path for them at this point means zeroing in on their buyer journey.
Tip: Choose CTAs based on reader pain points. If they are reading a blog to find out more about a problem they have, link them to a case study showing how you solved the same problem for a client.
Want to talk more about how to create content that will hook readers? Contact us.
Written by Robert Galvin