If you’re writing for a B2B technology blog, how can you write share-worthy articles more quickly? Do a Google search for “fast blog writing” and you’ll find articles with titles such as “The Perfect Blog Article in 60 Minutes” or “Tips for Writing Blog Articles in Under an Hour.” That sounds great in theory, but while an hour might be enough time to write “6 Ways to Wash your Cat” or “Expert Tofu Grilling Techniques,” experience shows that an hour just isn’t realistic when crafting a well-researched article that includes credible facts, context, data, trends, and expert opinions. Still, a technology blog writer’s time is valuable and you face deadlines. So how can you be more efficient, while still providing high value for your B2B technology audience? Here are some useful techniques to put in your creative arsenal.
1. Stay focused on your “ideal” B2B technology reader.
It seems counter-intuitive, but keeping your audience top of mind when writing a blog article of under 1,000 words is often harder than for longer content, such as white papers. More extensive pieces give you more time to plan, reflect, and get feedback throughout in the process. Blog writers, though, face a very short creative cycle. If, after writing, you realize that the content is not aligned with your audience or topic, you have two choices. One is leaving the piece as is and fail to engage your ideal reader. The second is doing a time-consuming revision or rewrite. Better to save time and get it right the first time. As you write, periodically ask yourself these reader-centric questions:
- Is the reader more technology or business oriented? Are they more interested in the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the product or the effects it has on their business—such as productivity, finances, or operations?
- Where are your readers in the sales funnel? Are they researching, kicking the tires, weighing their options, or ready to buy? It’s best to pick one stage as your “ideal reader,” as each will have their own set of questions and concerns.
- What is their professional level and functional area? Should your writing style lean toward an executive, manager, or specific functional area? This may make a difference in your approach, tone, and language.
- What matters the most to them? To use a now-cliché phrase, what keeps them up at night? It’s always great if you can tie your topic to current industry issues and common problems the face.
2. Use basic SEO techniques to write blog articles that count.
Writers don’t need to be backend SEO experts to help improve search rankings. What’s needed is the ability to apply SEO basics on the front end. Some SEO factors writers should leverage include:
- Keywords or keyword phrases: Without getting into the weeds, keyword research methods range from simple to complex, including purchasing professional tools, leveraging free tools, and using basic manual methods. Once you have your keyword or phrase, use it in your title and the first paragraph, plus sprinkle it sparingly in the article. Be sure not to overdo it; search engines penalize overstuffing of keywords.
- Associated keywords: Include words or phrases that are commonly associated with the keyword. For example, if I’m writing about B2B cybersecurity tools, good phrases to include might be “enterprise security” or “security technologies.”
- Hyperlinks: Find ways to include links to your other content (or references to other resources), such as a blog article, landing page or website content.
- H1 and H2 tags: Using H1 and H2 header tags can help with both search rankings and making the article more reader-friendly. Headers tell search engines what the article is about, what information is included, and how relevant it is to a user search. Headers also help readers scan information, move more easily through the article, and find what interests them most.
The H1 tag: The article’s main title should be the only H1 tag. A strong title helps improve search ranking, grabs a busy reader’s attention, and tells them what to expect from the article. There are several proven types of headlines: One is be specific (6 new technologies…, 4 ways to…). Another is to focus on making their lives easier (Great ways to save time …, Tips for effective…). Also try sharing new things (words like “secret” or “little known”). Or, provide a warning (“dangers,” or “red flags”).
H2 tags: The next structural level down is the H2 tag, which is for subheads. While there is no limit to how many you can include, I tend place them every few paragraphs for structure, to break up text, and to help guide the reader. In this article, the six numbered items are my H2 tags. Without subheads, the reader needs to wade through one big block of copy. More likely, they’ll just click out of the article.
- Meta descriptions: Used as part of the SEO algorithm, meta descriptions are the preview text that appears in the search results. If not included on the back end, Google will pick up approximately the first 120-150 characters of the article. Make it count by including your keyword and being up front about what the article provides. Avoid hype.
3. Outline Before You Jump into Blog Writing.
Typically, you’ll get less done and take longer if you just start writing without any guidelines to follow. Unfortunately, many writers skip this step if it’s “only” a blog article. I prefer to create a more developed outline than many writers, which helps me develop a good flow, create transitions between sections, and build a solid starting point before moving to the drafting stage. Overall, here’s my basic outline format and process:
- Title: Start out with 3-5 title options that give you choices about the article’s format (listicle, how-to, expert advice, etc.). Be sure to use your keyword or keyword phrase.
- Introduction: I like to rough out the intro right from the start, without trying to make it perfect. A good intro sets the theme, the angle, what the article will include. Keep in mind that your first few sentences may be viewed in search results.
- Subtopics and supporting bullet points: Subtopics should relate directly to the title, and bullet points should relate directly to the subhead it’s under. Give each subhead 3-5 supporting points that will flesh out the section. Ideally, each subtopic should be able to stand alone.
- Conclusion and CTA: Give a brief wrap up, remind them why the subject is important, and encourage them to learn more or take action, Include your CTA (call to action), such as a hyperlink to a landing page, Contact Us form, or your website url, phone number, or email.
4. Researching your technology article.
Many technically oriented topics require some background research. Most writers would agree that the least optimal way to do this is to go back and forth between writing your draft and doing Google searches. This can ruin your work flow, result in going down the research rabbit hole, or getting distracted away from your topic. You just want to find several pieces of data, tidbits, expert quotes, or other items that will add interest, provide evidence, or simply spice things up.
One way to keep your flow is by leaving blank spaces for data as you write your draft, then finding the specific data later on. This works for me when I know the topic well but don’t have the specific facts at hand. However, if I’m not as knowledgeable, I often research items just after creating my outline. This helps me be accurate, put the topic in context, and identify expert viewpoints.
Opt for credible sources, such as a major newspaper, trade publication, analyst blog, or a study by a reputable organization. Always mention where the information comes from and provide a hyperlink as needed. If you find a useful data point but are unfamiliar with the source, I recommend verifying it against second, more trusted source. To be safe, I’d scrap the data if you can’t find it anyplace else.
5. Create a rough draft using your outline and research.
With your outline and research in place, you should be able to complete a rough draft without wracking your brain. Wordsmithing during first draft may needlessly suck up your time and slow you down. Try moving fairly quickly. Expand your bullet points into full sentences, and write transitions between bullet points and sections. Add in research items in ways that strengthen the article. If you hit a roadblock, try adjusting the order or rethinking the transitions. Over time, try experimenting with how much time you spend on the outline and your research.
6. Revise, Edit and Proof:
Once your draft is complete, it’s time to use your creativity and expertise. But this is no time to write a novel. Cut where you can to remove redundancy. Make sure that your language is clear, sections are succinct, and topics flow well from intro through conclusion. Check that all hyperlinks work. And finally, proof it (and proof it again). Typos and errors can reduce a writer’s credibility.
My final advice for writing efficiently is to keep exploring what works for your personal style. There are as many techniques for writing as there are writers. And one caveat: while efficiency helps you meet deadlines and move onto other projects, quality should always be your first priority. Make your articles worthwhile, and you’ll prove to potential customers that you’re a valuable, trusted resource. If your article wastes your reader’s time, don’t expect them to come back. For additional information, contact Westebbe Marketing.