Blogging Tips | Smart Local

10 Reasons that Top 10 lists work for Small Business Blogs

small business blogs

There is not a niche in the world that top 10 lists don’t work for, but in recent years the power of the top 10 list has become a little saturated. You see, everybody is writing them, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine which ones are quality.

Still, there is no other format of article with as much social traction. Lists are an excellent way to increase social shares and get potential customers talking about your business.

Here’s 10 reasons that top 10 lists work for small business blogs.


10. Deliver a promise and build trust

How many times have you clicked on an article thanks to its snappy headline only to be left frustrated by the lack of good content? Top 10 lists give a promise to the viewer about what they’ll find and this will help to build trust among a blog readership. So long as you always deliver quality top 10 lists, your local business blog will be able to build a community of like-minded viewers.

9. User-generated content

Local businesses thrive on their customers, but many fail to harness their customers’ passion in the online world. Top 10 lists combined with an easy to use commenting form can lead to lots of user-generated content (comments) and lists combined with polls can too (votes). Lists provide your readers with your opinion, and it is only right that the reader should get to share their own. Whether they agree or disagree, every comment is valuable with regard to building a community.

8. Deliver information fast

Do you have a FAQ page on your website? If you do, chances are it’s full of fantastic information. But does it deliver the information your potential customers are looking for fast? Top 10 lists can be used to rectify this. Top 10 reasons to work with X, 10 killer reasons X is the X service provider for you. Lists do not always have to be aimed at a wider audience. If you have any company or service information you think could be clearer, put it into a list.

7. Scannable content

All content should be scannable online – internet users simply don’t read huge paragraphs of text. Instead, they skim through pages looking for headings and keywords. Top 10 lists are great because they are formatted in this way naturally. Your readers will be able to find the information they want in an instant and lists will give your viewers a pleasant reading experience.

6. Organisation

Humans like to organise things, and the more organised information is, the easier it is to digest and interact with. Lists are well-organised articles that have all of their information laid out in a pre-determined format.

5. Lists are easy to read

Blog posts need to be as easy on the eye as possible – you only have a few seconds to keep the attention of your viewer. Lists are great at keeping attention as they are simple to read and to scroll through, although some websites ruin this by having users load a new page for each point.

4. Lists are easy to churn out

Top 10 lists are, in general, easy to churn out for writers. This means that bloggers can keep up with writing for their blog and focus on delivering good content, rather than meeting deadlines. In order to be effective the lists do need to contain quality content, so easy does not equal lazy.

3. Establishing expertise

There is a huge opportunity to establish expertise with lists. “Have you tried these 10 amazing ways to increase health” is an example of an article that is intriguing and powerful. Use lists to demonstrate your thought leadership and help your viewers out a little.

2. Adjectives grab attention

10 killer tips and 10 stellar tips are prime examples of adjectives at work. These words grab the attention of the reader and drag them into the remainder of a blog post. When these articles get shared, every potential reader will see a catchy and intriguing headline that begs to be clicked.

1. Lists are shareworthy

People are only going to share blog posts if they are worthy of it, and that means that the blog posts need to be valuable, evoke emotion, and connect with the viewer. Combine all of the elements above, and you have share worthy pieces of content. This actually works two ways – a bad top 10 list can draw just as much attention, if not more, than a good one.  The aim of the game with a top 10 list blog post is to get as many shares as possible and list-based posts have flourished in recent years.

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25 Smart Ways to Promote Your Local Blog

Is your local blog working for you? Without getting a decent amount of traffic, it’s not doing you much good. Writing posts regularly is just a part of the equation. Promoting your blog is crucial too. Luckily, there are plenty of effective ways to do so. We’ve hand-picked 25 great examples to get you started.

  1. Facebook logoFacebook – If you’re not already sharing your blog posts on Facebook, it’s time you started. There are even ways to automatically share new posts as they go live. By including some thought-provoking comments in your posts, you can attract even more attention.
  2. Twitter logoTwitter – You never know who’s on Twitter looking for information that you provide. Sharing links to new blogs on Twitter is simple, and it’s a highly effective way to cast a wider net. You can also actively search for users who are talking about topics that relate to your blog and promote it to them as well.
  3. Pinterest logoPinterest – Sure, Pinterest is a highly visual social media site. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used to promote a blog. Simply share photos that relate to your blog and embed links so that users can find it.
  4. Instagram logoInstagramInstagram is similar to Pinterest in that it’s primarily visual. Like Pinterest, you can use the service to share photos and links with your followers. Links on Instagram aren’t clickable but if you then share to Twitter or Tumblr then they become so.  The popularity of this service is growing by leaps and bounds, so it’s well worth it to get on board as soon as possible.
  5. LinkedIn logoLinkedIn – Although LinkedIn is mostly about maintaining and developing professional connections, it can also be used to share new blogs with followers. You just have to include a link while sharing an update. Be sure to add a link to your blog to your LinkedIn profile as well.
  6. Google Plus logoGoogle+ – What better way to get love from Google than by sharing and promoting your blog on Google+? As a local business owner, you should already have a Google+ page for your company. Whenever a new blog post is made, be sure to share it with your Google+ followers.
  7. Social Media Sharing Buttons – It only takes a few seconds to add buttons for sites like Facebook and Twitter to your blog. This provides visitors with a quick and easy way to share what they’ve read with their social networks, which can enhance your blog’s visibility in a major way.
  8. Google Authorship – You know how some Google search results include the author’s photo? This makes a listing more visible, right? You can accomplish this by adding Google authorship tags to your posts. Detailed instructions are readily available online.
  9. Email Newsletters – Most active Internet users check their email at least a few times per day, so it’s well worth it to send email newsletters from time to time. When you do, you can highlight a few of your most recent blog posts to ensure that everyone is aware of your blog’s existence.
  10. Signatures – Like many people, you may use a signature file for emails and forum posts. Adding a link to your blog to your signature is a fantastic way to quickly and easily spread the word. Every time you respond on a forum or to an email, the recipient will receive a link to your blog. If you use Gmail then an app like Wisestamp makes the process pretty simple.
  11. StumbleUpon logoBookmarking Sites – Set up profiles on popular bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon, Reddit and Digg and make a point of getting actively involved in relevant threads. When it makes sense to do so, post links to your blog.
  12. Scoop.itCuration Sites – Curating content from around the Internet and putting your own spin on it is an excellent way to draw traffic to your blog. Curation sites like Scoop.It make it easy to do. With a click or two of the mouse button, you can create posts highlighting content from elsewhere online, which can draw in traffic from many different areas.
  13. Forums – Online forums continue to be very popular. No matter what kind of business you own, there are sure to be at least a few forums that relate to it. Get to know them and post on them regularly with links to your blog. You could also check business networking forums and local business or Chamber of Commerce forums as well.
  14. Quora logoQuestion and Answer Sites – As a business owner, you’re an expert in your industry. Share your knowledge with people who are looking for help on question and answer sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers. While you’re at it, link back to relevant blog posts so people can learn more.
  15. YouTube logoYouTube – Take a few of your most popular blog posts and create videos based on them. Post the videos to YouTube and write detailed, keyword-rich descriptions. Some people simply prefer to watch videos, and this is a great way to attract them to your blog too. YouTube is owned by Google so you can probably guess the benefits!
  16. Slideshare logoSlideshows – You can also take popular blog posts and create relevant slideshows. Share them on a site like Slideshare and include highly detailed descriptions. You can also link back to your blog so people can get more information. Slideshare is owned by LinkedIn and so it’s a great way to link your presentations together.
  17. IFTTT logoSyndication – With the click of a button, you can instantly share your latest blog through syndication. Sites like and are incredibly useful for this kind of thing.
  18. Guest Posts – Find blogs that relate to yours in some way. Read them for a while to get to know them, and then (politely & professionally) approach the owners with offers to write guest posts. Your guest posts can include brief biographical information, and most of the time it’s perfectly fine to include a link back to your own blog.
  19. Press Releases – When you have news to share with the world, a well-written press release should do the trick. In addition to being packed with information, your press release can and should include links to your website and blog. In fact, you can issue a press release for the sole purpose of promoting your blog. Just make sure there’s something newsworthy to share.
  20. Flyers – Printed materials still have a place in promoting a business. Why not print up some flyers with information about your blog? You can then pass them out to customers. It may also help to promote your blog on company letterheads, business cards and other printed materials.
  21. Comment on Other Blogs – There are sure to be blogs out there that relate to your business. Seek them out and visit them often. When it makes sense, post related comments to engage in the conversation. Include links back to your own blog. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you can generate by doing this.
  22. Identify Influential Bloggers – Perhaps there are dozens – or even hundreds – of blogs that relate to yours. In that case, zero in on the most influential ones and focus your efforts there. From posting comments to writing guest blogs, there are all kinds of ways to make effective use of popular blogs in your industry.
  23. Tell People – During the course of a normal business day, you may interact with many customers directly. Try to mention your blog whenever you do. Encourage your employees to do likewise. If you’ve written a post specifically to answer a client’s question then make you let them know!
  24. Interact on Your Blog – By fostering a sense of community on your blog, you’re more likely to attract return visitors. This is also a great way to generate buzz and to increase the odds of people sharing your blog with others. Make a point of chiming in on the comments section from time to time to show people you’re paying attention.
  25. Have a Contest – Create a contest that requires people to visit your blog in order to participate. Even those who wouldn’t regularly consider visiting your blog will be encouraged to do so for the chance to win something.

By trying as many of these techniques as possible, you’ll have a much easier time promoting your local blog. Before too long, it should be receiving plenty of attention!

How to Find Content Marketing Ideas that Connect with Your Audience

A few years ago, the typical business blog was created with one major goal in mind: to boost a site’s ranking on the major search engines. As a result, keyword density was the top priority, and little thought was given to the content itself. That’s all changed. Keywords still matter, but the most important thing is connecting with your target audience and giving them content that they actually want.

content marketing ideas

A great way to achieve this is by considering what your target audience is actually searching for online, but brainstorming alone will only get you so far. By implementing a few simple strategies and thinking about your content marketing ideas, you can create interesting content that’s actually useful to existing and prospective customers alike.


Consider Your Customers’ Questions

Odds are that you are asked the same handful of questions again and again. Some questions may pertain to your products and services while others may be a little more general. You may already have a FAQ on your site that addresses these questions, and that’s smart. However, you can also create a lot of terrific content based on commonly asked questions as well. A blog post allows you to go into greater detail about a particular question too, so it will be all the more useful.


Ask Your Customers

Every time a person does business with your company, you gain a valuable opportunity to learn more about his or her needs and wants. If you have a bricks-and-mortar store, strike up conversations with people when they are paying for their goods. Ask them what kinds of topics they’d like to see addressed on your blog. Find out what kinds of products or services they’d like to see offered by your company. By asking these and other questions, you can come up with a variety of interesting and quality content marketing ideas for your blog.


Do Online Research

There’s a plethora of incredible tools out there that can help you learn more about what people want to know. Ubersuggest, Google Trends and Keyword Planner are just a few examples. These tools may not always give you extremely specific ideas, but they can point you in the right direction. When they’re used in conjunction with other strategies, they can provide you with enough ideas to keep your blog plugging along for a long time to come.


Use Website Statistics and Data

You probably already use Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and similar tools. They can come quite in handy when brainstorming new content marketing ideas too. For instance, take a look at the history of your blog. Which posts have generated the most buzz? Which ones have fallen flat? This can give you a really good idea about what your target audience wants. This isn’t to say that you should just regurgitate the same content over and over. It just means that the tone and theme of the most successful posts seem to work, so you should keep those things in mind when coming up with new ideas for content.


Stay on Top of News and Events

It pays to keep things local whenever possible, and that’s certainly true when it comes to blogging for your business. When interesting news items regarding your industry pop up, go ahead and write blog posts about them. Whenever relevant local events are on the horizon, create posts about them too. People love reading about things that relate to where they live, and those who are interested in your products and services will appreciate being kept up to speed regarding topics concerning your industry.


Without putting thought and consideration into the topics you cover on your blog, your results are going to be lackluster at best. By putting a priority on generating high quality content, you will dramatically enhance the impact of your blog.

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Know Your Target Audience so You can Blog More Effectively

When it comes to blogging for your business, the biggest mistake you can make is to create what is essentially a personal blog. With a personal blog, you write about whatever you’d like. The only person you aim to please is yourself.

your target audience

With a business blog, you need to write to please your target audience. If you don’t keep your target audience in mind while writing a business blog, your efforts will be for naught. You can’t write for your target audience if you don’t know it, of course, so you need to take care of that first.


Ready, Aim, Blog

Without a target, your blog will have nothing to aim at, and it won’t be able to help you achieve your goals. Like most businesses, your main goal in creating a blog is probably to attract new customers and to keep existing customers coming back. A regularly updated blog can work wonders when it comes to SEO, but strictly worrying about the search engines is a big mistake. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to create content that appeals to living, breathing humans. In terms of blogging, you must know the basic needs and wants of your target audience.


Connect with Your Target Audience by Creating Personas

It’s one thing to write a blog that’s ostensibly geared toward a specific audience; it’s another thing entirely to make it happen. By creating personas that represent individuals from your target audience, you’ll find it much easier to create compelling, interesting blogs. Personas are basically character sketches. Each one will have a specific age, gender, income and other demographic information. When you understand these basic things about the people for whom you are writing, you can cater your content for them more effectively.


Collect Data about Your Target Audience

You can’t create useful personas without knowing key demographics about your target audience. You can cull a lot of this information from existing customers. If possible, create surveys to try and glean as much information as possible. Social media is also a great place to collect information about the people who buy your products and services. Be active on social media and interact with current customers on sites like Twitter and Facebook. You probably learned a lot about your target audience while developing your products and services, and that’s the exact kind of information that you should call on when creating personas.


Tailor Your Content to Suit Your Personas

Once you’ve created three or four personas, imagine their reactions as they read your blog. How would they respond to the kind of writing style that you’re using? Is your target audience well-versed with common jargon from your industry, or will you alienate people by using it? How educated is your target audience? You can use Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar tool to get a feel for the average reading level and grade level of your blogs and adjust them accordingly. More than anything, your writing must be accessible and appealing.


Adjust Your Blog as Needed

As with anything else that relates to online marketing, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the kinds of responses you get from your blogs. Are they favorable, or are people mostly just ignoring your posts? Depending on what happens, you must be willing to make adjustments as needed along the way. It might take a while to get into a groove, but the process will be worth it when your blog consistently attracts new customers and keeps existing customers coming back. The best part of all is that a blog can help you learn even more about your target audience, so it tends to become more effective and worthwhile over time.

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5 Reasons Why You Need a Blog For Your Business

Creating a website and expecting it to be automatically found by your target audience without doing any additional work isn’t realistic. Think about it: These days, nearly all businesses have websites. Many of them also have blogs. If you haven’t started a blog for your business, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to increase your online visibility and to enjoy many other advantages. For small investments of time and effort, you can enjoy some truly incredible returns. Five reasons to start a blog for your business include:

 Blog for your business

1. Give Your Business a Personality – The last thing you want is for your business to be another nameless, faceless presence on the Internet. There are already plenty of those, and they tend to be ignored by just about everyone. With a blog, you can cultivate a unique voice for your business and give visitors an idea about what they can expect when dealing with your company. A well-written, informative, interesting blog can also make your business more approachable.


2. Build Trust – You can’t expect the people who stumble upon your website to instantly feel comfortable with buying things from your company. They have all kinds of options, and they’re going to choose businesses that have proven themselves to be authorities in their industries. Through your blog, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to the world at large. It’s the perfect way to express your opinion and to gain credibility in the eyes of your target audience. By establishing trust, you dramatically increase the odds that visitors will ultimately become customers.


3. Improve Your Ranking with the Search Engines – By now, you’ve probably read a lot about how to boost your site’s ranking with the major search engines. All search engines put a top priority on fresh, unique content. If anything, well-written content is more important than ever. What better way to share it than with a blog? By creating an editorial calendar and regularly posting new blogs, you can quickly and easily increase your website’s visibility on the major search engines and attract more visitors.


4. Have Fresh Content to Share on Social Media – There’s nothing wrong with sharing relevant content from around the Internet on your company’s social media profiles. However, you should make a point of mixing in some of your own content too. When you have a blog, that’s easy to do. There are tools you can use to instantly share new blog posts on all of the most popular social media sites. Your followers will be alerted whenever you post a new blog, and you can even use your social media posts to generate buzz and start conversations.


5. Increase Traffic to Your Website – At the end of the day, you can’t hope to make more sales through your website without drawing in more traffic. There are many ways to increase traffic, of course, but a well-written, engaging, informative blog is among the best options. It’s worth it to pour a lot of time and effort into your blog posts to ensure that people actually want to read them. Over time, your blog will develop something of a following, and the amount of traffic that flows to your site will steadily increase. This will eventually lead to increased conversions, sales and success!


The idea of a blog may leave you cold, but the truth is that it can work wonders for the online fortunes of your business. Once you get into the habit, it will be like second nature. As soon as you start realising some of the best benefits of this strategy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

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