9 Essential Blog Post Types for a Successful Business Blog
What makes a horror movie a horror movie? What makes a fantasy novel a fantasy novel?
Different genres use tropes (elements and styles unique to that genre) to establish a familiar and predictable structure for the audience, making the story more accessible and easier to follow. Genre tropes create a sense of familiarity, offering a narrative shorthand that helps the audience keep their bearings and focus on what matters.
Believe it or not, many of these rules apply to your content marketing strategy! Your business’s blog deals in genres and tropes, just like any blockbuster or best-selling novel, and knowing how to utilise those tropes can help you craft blog posts that convert!
Discover nine of the most common (and effective) blog post types below, and see how you can drive engagement and build trust by playing to type.
How-to guides and tutorials can empower and inspire your readers to take on new projects and engage more actively with your business. These blog posts function as digital instruction manuals, with detailed information to help readers tackle common challenges independently. Providing this information adds value to your products or services and makes them more accessible.
The structure of a how-to guide or tutorial should be highly straightforward and intuitive. Simplicity lends to the article’s credibility and utility for readers; the linguistic flourishes and idioms you might associate with your brand voice should take a backseat here.
Top tips for writing a how-to guide or tutorial
Use active verbs and imperative sentences to make your content concise, detailed, and easy to follow. Short, quick directives are the most effective way to engage with readers repeatedly looking away from the text as they proceed with the task at hand.
Don’t waste your reader’s time with excessive flavour text. The most famous example of frustrating and wasteful flavour text is the paragraphs of content that precede online recipes. Understand and acknowledge that your readers are here for actionable instructions.
Use an ordered list for your key points. Use headings to break your guide into milestones. Write your headings as concise directives to make the guide easier to skim and present a broad-strokes outline ideal for featured snippets on search engine results pages.
Popularised by Buzzfeed, listicles are among the most common and digestible types of blog posts on the internet. These articles break content into a numbered or ordered list of items or ideas within a given topic, such as the top ten Italian restaurants in Auckland or the best games to play at the beach. You’re even reading a listicle right now!
Listicles should use headings or bolded text to make list items more prominent. Doing so makes the article easier for readers to skim. Succinct, intuitive list items, followed by content that elaborates on them, give readers more flexibility to engage with the content to the extent they choose to. Remember to put essential information about a list item upfront so that readers don’t have to dig for important nuggets.
Top tips for writing a listicle
Include the number of list items in your meta title and H1. A numbered list clearly indicates what to expect from the content, and studies suggest users engage more with these titles. Numbering your list items will also give readers a clear sense of measurable progress.
Keep the focus on your business. Your list should focus on your products or services, such as lists of benefits or situations where a product or service will be most helpful.
Use ordered or unordered lists for your key points. Ordered and unordered lists designate list items, which can help search engines extract the core information from a listicle and present it as a featured snippet (a block of content that appears directly on the search engine results page). Use an unordered list (ul) unless the exact sequence of list items is important, in which case use the ordered list. Both lists use (li) for each list item.
Checklists and cheat sheets
Checklists and cheat sheets offer sustainable benefits for businesses because they are the type of blog posts that people bookmark and return to, improving brand recall and trust. However, this type of content is harder to write effectively than many believe.
With a checklist or cheat sheet, you’re taking the role of a project manager. That means that readers must trust that you’ve thought of everything. This content must offer more insight and objectives than the average reader already knows. A good checklist or cheat sheet will outline the most obvious and easily overlooked points to deliver real value.
Checklists can cover various topics and tasks, from daily organisation to more situational undertakings. Remember that checklists should not be confused with a generic to-do list for a business’s content marketing strategy. Your checklist should be content, not just a blank scheduling page. While you want your checklist or cheat sheet to be clear and concise, you should also view it as an opportunity to add detail and insight to the tasks you’re helping readers navigate.
Top tips for writing checklists and cheat sheets
Balance sequence with priority. Many checklists will bear similarities to a how-to guide or tutorial but assume a more advanced level of understanding from readers. While your checklist or cheat sheet should remain sequential, you should also order by level of importance. A sound heading structure can break your cheat sheet down by a sequence of milestones and then by priority. You might also order some items by the level of expertise required to action them, from beginner to advanced.
Consider checkboxes or printable PDFs to make your checklist or cheat sheet interactive. Readers use checklists and cheat sheets to gauge their progress or thoroughness. Provide a means for readers to mark and track that progress with clickable checkboxes or by providing a printable PDF version of the content that readers can write on.
Use simple, concise headings and descriptions. Checklist or cheat sheet content should be neither vague nor bogged down in details. Clearly define each task.
Expanded definition blog posts offer a deeper understanding of your business’s terminology and ideas. This type of blog post targets users earlier in the conversion funnel than how-to guides and checklists. You’re establishing a base knowledge that will empower readers to engage more directly with your products or services.
The ideal topics for expanded definition blog posts are terms and ideas that people may have heard of but know little about or misunderstand. A home construction company, for example, may see that the keyword “what is fascia” receives many searches each month. Reaching these people with content that answers this question will establish trust with readers who may—now that they know—someday consider installing, replacing, or repairing their home’s fascia.
If nobody has heard of a term, they won’t know to search for it. Your keyword research will bear this out. We’ve developed a detailed Keyword Research Guide to help your small business get its SEO efforts off the ground. Check it out below.
Top Tips for writing expanded definition blog posts
Start broad and work your way into the weeds. Expanded definition blog posts are harder to skim than listicles and checklists. Still, you can improve your user experience by hitting the essential information early, so readers can bow out when they’ve dug as deep as they wanted.
Use H2 headings to break the content into digestible pieces. Expand on the base definition of your topic, looking at it from different angles or answering related questions about it. Use H2 headings to label these sections and subsections.
Use the five Ws (and one H). This type of blog post is a great fit for the five Ws (and one H): who, what, where, when, why, and how. Specifically, “What it is,” “Why it matters,” and “How it works” offer a reliable framework.
Case studies are detailed accounts of specific success stories, typically including information about the client, their problems or challenges, what your business did to address those challenges, and the outcomes you achieved. They provide potential customers with concrete examples of how your business has helped other customers solve problems or achieve goals.
As a form of blog content, case studies work as highly validated testimonials, typically with quotes from the client and facts and figures to quantify their success. They make great marketing material for your social media channels, and many businesses even present them as part of their sales proposals.
Top tips for writing case studies
Focus on the outcomes you hope to profile. A great case study will have clearly provable outcomes or results.
Give the spotlight to your client early.You’ll take it back later. You’ll likely want your customer to give you some time to provide quotes and information for your case study, so make the exposure worth their time. Take the time to tell the company’s story and pitch its unique selling points before you start congratulating yourself. Your customers will be more inclined to participate if they get something out of this.
Use H2 headings to break your case study into essential sections. Case studies can rely on a sturdy template: profile of the client, the challenge they faced, what your business did to help them, and, finally, the measurable outcomes you achieved.
Interviews and Q&A
Interviews often make for persuasive blog content because readers can hear directly from a reliable source.
Interviews with members of your internal team can exemplify the individual brilliance behind your business’s façade, but interviews with other experts in your field can build an association between your business and their credibility. This content demonstrates your network’s reach and authority. You also appeal directly to your interviewee’s online following, which can help direct new traffic to your website.
Top tips for writing interviews and Q&As
Record your interview. Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have options to record your call. You can also invest in a handheld voice recorder if you intend to sit down with your interviewee in person. Once you have an audio or video file of your interview, tools like Otter.ai can give you a text transcript of your full interview in minutes.
Screen your questions in advance. Stumping your interviewee benefits neither them nor your readers. Provide your questions a day or two in advance so your interviewee can prepare. Also, ask them what they’re most comfortable speaking about and which topics they feel best equipped to cover.
Ask open-ended questions. Your questions should be specific but not leading; you want to direct your interviewee into their areas of expertise while leaving them space to expand on the ideas in question. Stay away from yes-or-no questions or questions that elicit short responses.
Data studies and surveys
Data studies and surveys are research methods used to collect information and data on a specific topic. Surveys involve asking questions to participants, while data studies involve analysing existing data.
Data studies and surveys can be useful for creating effective blog content because they provide real-world data and insights that can support and bolster arguments or points made in a blog post. They can also add validity to new and interesting topics or provide a fresh perspective on a familiar topic.
To use data studies and surveys effectively in blog content, ensure that the data is reliable, credible, and properly analysed and presented. It’s also important to provide context and explain the significance of the data so that readers can understand the relevance of the findings to the topic. Additionally, providing visual representations of data (charts, graphs) is a good way to make the data more engaging and easier to understand.
Remember that data alone is not interesting; you must use it to tell a story. Like any effective blog post, your data study or survey should be engaging, concise, and digestible. Your readers must trust you to make sense of complex data if you want to be an authority in your field.
Don’t bring an agenda to your data analysis. Readers can tell when you’re trying to spin results to suit a pre-determined narrative. Be transparent about any limitations or biases in your data and survey methodology.
Offer a path forward. Conclude your blog post with actionable insights and recommendations for your readers.
Infographics and other visual content
Infographics are visual representations of information or data designed to make complex information easy to understand and remember. They often include elements such as charts, diagrams, and illustrations and can present a wide range of information, such as statistics, timelines, or process flows.
Infographics make great blog content because they are highly engaging and easily shareable. They can help to break up long blocks of text, making your blog post more visually appealing and easier to read. They can also be used to present complex data concisely, making it more accessible to your readers. Additionally, infographics are often shared on social media and other platforms, which can help to increase the visibility and reach of your blog post.
Top tips for infographics
Trim the fat. Don’t try to squeeze a blog post into an infographic. Begin with a clear and concise message. This will help you to focus your design and ensure that your final product is easy to understand.
Use simple, consistent visuals in an austere design. Use a consistent design throughout your infographic to keep it visually appealing. Charts, diagram, and illustrations should be easy to read and interpret. Make effective use of white space to create a clean and uncluttered design.
Optimise for different platforms. Optimise your infographic for different platforms. Consider different sizes and aspect ratios for different social media platforms.
Company and industry news and updates
Company or industry news and updates make great blog content because they provide readers with valuable information about the latest developments in a particular field. Examples of such news and updates can include new products or services, changes in company leadership, or updates on industry trends.
SEO is a long game. At Pure SEO, our topic research and content strategies focus on the type of keywords that enjoyed continual, sustained interest on search engines, so that your content can continue to perform. News and updates are a great option to supplement your long-term SEO goals with more immediate short-term successes. However, news and updates tend to precede any measurable search engine activity, so keyword research won’t and shouldn’t be an indicator of the value this type of blog post can provide.
Timely and reliable news and updates can position your blog as a reputable source of industry information and help establish your blog as a go-to resource for readers interested in staying informed about the latest developments in a particular field. Furthermore, by providing analysis and commentary on news and updates, you can demonstrate your expertise in the field and provide valuable insights for your readers. Instead, you’ll be anticipating—and even generating—interest in a given topic by being among the first to shine a light on it.
Top tips for company and industry news and updates
Be timely and stay current. The shelf-life for more most news stories is short. Publish your blog post quickly if you feel the story is newsworthy.
Check for keyword trends. As we mentioned above, news and updates won’t be validated by heaps of keyword research data going back years or even months. However, an understanding of your business’s keyword footprint—the network of keywords broadly and specifically relevant to your business and industry—can offer some insight into the types of news and updates your readers will find interesting.
Update your blog posts if the story evolves. Posting news and updates promptly sometimes requires publishing content before the big picture has come into full view. A story with staying power may start to generate search interest over time. Your coverage of the story will perform better if readers feel it’s up to date.
Rollan Schott is a copywriter with Pure SEO. Rollan was born and raised in the United States, having moved to New Zealand after 4 years teaching and writing in Asia. When he's not churning out quality content at breakneck speed, Rollan is probably busy writing the next great American novel. He may also be idly watching true crime documentaries in his Auckland Central apartment with his wife, Lauren. The latter is more likely than the former.
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