Too often business owners start blogging in the hope that it will drive traffic to their business, only to quickly fall into the trap of posting stale or sales-heavy content that gets no or few views. Then they become frustrated and either blog less frequently or abandon their blog, wondering why they bothered.\n\n\nBut it doesn\u2019t have to be that way. Business blogs, when done right, can help businesses (of all sizes) attract potential customers \u2013 and increase sales. Just follow these simple tips from SMB and blogging experts.\n\n\n[ Related: 11 ways to build your online brand ]\n\n\n1. Think about and write for your target audience. \u201cThink about the audience you are trying to attract to your blog and share content that is relevant, interesting and valuable to that specific demographic,\u201d says Arsineh Ghazarian, cofounder & CEO, Zveil.\n\n\n\u201cWhat are their most pressing questions and what information do you think they would find most helpful?\u201d adds Shawn Graham, founder, Deep Varnish, a strategic marketing consulting firm. \u201cEvery post should provide interesting and relevant content and be written with your target audience in mind. If you\u2019re not sure what questions they have, just ask! Doing so creates an opportunity to have a conversation with your readers and that\u2019s ultimately what\u2019s going to keep them coming back.\u201d\n\n\n2. Create a click-worthy headline. \u201cThink of a headline as a billboard,\u201d says Vincent Scatena, CMO, IMP Corporation, a supplier of new-surplus & used power generation equipment. \u201cIf [it\u2019s] eye-catching [enough], people will click [on it] and read your blog. Simply put, the headline is your first impression. Our headlines have gotten us enough attention to be cited on major news outlets. I\u2019m not saying you should put all your focus on headlines\u2014having appropriate content is just as important\u2014but it opens the door.\u201d\n\n\n3. Skip the jargon \u2013 and the sales pitch \u2013 and use a friendly, conversational tone. Write as though you are having a friendly, yet professional, conversation with your readers, keeping in mind that many of your readers may not know, or like, industry lingo. And even if they do, they probably don\u2019t want to read something loaded with jargon.\n\n\nSimilarly, your blog posts shouldn\u2019t all read like ads for your product or service.\n\n\n\u201cHard sales pitches are a surefire way to ensure a high bounce rate and encourage visitors to look elsewhere for the information and services they need,\u201d says Andy Lindus, COO, Lindus Construction.\n\n\n4. Answer your customers\u2019 questions.\u201cAsk your sales team and customer service reps which questions are asked again and again and write posts that answer those questions,\u201d says Julie Graff, social content liaison, Pole Position Marketing. \u201cThese are also the types of things [people] are typing into search engine queries, so this will help you gain some SEO traction. Not only that, but you will be providing truly useful information your audience will enjoy and appreciate. Doing this also helps establish you as an expert in your field, so even if searchers aren't ready to buy now, they will remember you when they are.\u201d\n\n\n5. Ask experts to guest post. \u201cReach out to experts to contribute to your blog about topics where you are not an expert,\u201d suggests Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.com. \u201cFor example, I share tips on running a business as well as various topics relating to incorporating or forming an LLC. When it comes to marketing, social media, HR, accounting and other topics I don\u2019t know much about, but want to share on the blog, I find experts in those areas to contribute a post,\u201d she explains. \u201cWe [then] share that post with our community so that person gets exposure. So it\u2019s a win-win!\u201d\n\n\n\u201cHave a diversity of voices on your blog,\u201d says Eric Quanstrom, CMO, KiteDesk, a sales prospecting tool. \u201cBy tapping influencers and experts you bring strong ideas to the table [and] enhance your brand.\u201d\n\n\n\u201cLook to your customers, vendors and colleagues for guest blogs,\u201d says Armita Ayrempour, marketing manager, MotherG. \u201cFor example, we are an IT managed service provider and one of our guest posters runs a software company. We cross-promote the content to both our companies\u2019 contacts, [as well as in] LinkedIn Groups, which significantly increases reach.\u201d\n\n\n6. Look for trending topics and add your unique perspective. \u201cInstead of just regurgitating the information that everyone else is discussing, put your own spin on the topic, [providing] additional insight or [discussing why or how it\u2019s relevant to your target audience],\u201d says Adam O\u2019Leary, president, Encite Marketing. Doing this \u201cwill differentiate your [blog posts] from other articles while capitalizing on the popularity of the subject.\u201d Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as \u201ctools such as Technorati and Google Blog Search, can help you find [trending topics].\u201d\n\n\n7. Vary your posts (trying different formats to see which work best).\u201cYou can\u2019t just produce posts hoping they will get picked up, shared and bring leads,\u201d says Ewa Puchalska, outreach manager, GetResponse. \u201cExperiment with different types of content around the same topic: blog post, infographic, SlideShare presentation, podcast, video.\u201d Then be sure to \u201cpromote [your posts] and check what works best for your audience.\u201d\n\n\n\t\t\t\t\n\t\n\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\n\nAlso, \u201ctry to publish different article styles to see which ones resonate the best with your target audience,\u201d says Zaki Usman, CEO, Pagezii, a digital marketing app. \u201cTry the regular article format that is meaty and a solid read. Then experiment with an FAQ-style post or an instructional or how-to post. Another favorite of mine is to post a listicle, a shorter article that is in the form of a list.\u201d\n\n\n\u201cInfographic posts [also] work very well,\u201d he says. \u201cIf you opt for this, [just] make sure you use the ALT IMG attribute to tag your infographic. This way the image gets indexed properly by search engines and you get more organic traffic.\u201d\n\n\n8. Make your blog visually appealing and easy to navigate\/search. \u201cMake your layout easy to digest,\u201d says Darren Green, founder & CEO,\u00a0Roman Blinds Direct. \u201cSure, it\u2019s great to have a snazzy-looking blog. [But] if it doesn\u2019t look great, it\u2019s not very likely that people will trust you as a source. Break up your text with images to help the reader take a break from all the writing and give them something else to look at. In many cases, the simpler the blog, the more effective it is to draw attention to the written content.\u201d\n\n\n\u201cImages play a huge role in creating a must-read blog, because they break up the text and illustrate key points,\u201d says Vladimir Gendelman, founder & CEO, Company Folders. \u201cWhile it's easy to just buy photos, you should always create your own images. Then you'll know for sure that no other blog is using the same image as you, and you can create a signature style that defines your posts.\u201d\u00a0\n\n\nFinally, \u201cmake sure visitors to your blog can easily find topics of interest [by]\u00a0sorting and listing [posts] by category [and having a search box],\u201d says Ayrempour. \u201cFor example, we have eight categories, including Guest Posts, IT Tips & Tricks and Security. This makes content [easily] searchable.\u201d\n\n\n9. Blog regularly. \u201cKeep your blog up to date with fresh content on a regular basis,\u201d says Linda Pophal, owner\/consult, Strategic Communications. \u201cHow often you should post depends on your business and your target audience, but at a minimum you should post at least once a month.\u201d\n\n\nIf possible, write \u201con your blog at least twice a week,\u201d says Erin Wasson, vice president, marketing, UrbanBound, relocation management software. \u201cThe only way for people to get in the habit of visiting your blog and using it as a resource is if there is new information regularly being published.\u201d Just be sure you have something newsworthy, helpful or entertaining to share.\n\n\n10. Ask readers to subscribe. \u201cA good way to build readership for your blog is to offer a \u2018subscribe to our blog\u2019 call to action (CTA),\u201d says Usman. \u201cMake sure this CTA is clearly visible [on your home page and on each post]. You can [also] get fancy and use a lightbox (pop-up style window) to capture readers\u2019 attention as they scroll down to the bottom of the post.\u201d Whatever option you use, make it as easy and as simple as possible for readers to subscribe.\n\n\n11. Share links to your blog posts on social media. \u201cDirect current and potential clients to your blog by sharing [links to] it on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest,\u201d says Lindus.\u00a0Also, \u201cencourage employees to share [posts] on their social media profiles as well, to extend [your] blog\u2019s reach.\u201d\n\n\n12. Use analytics to find out which posts get the most views. \u201cAs you start to gain traction, see which [posts and] keywords gain the most traction, by using either Google Analytics or a CMS, and then target those [topics and\/or words] as you continue writing. [This] will help [improve] your organic search,\u201d as well as help you deliver what your audience wants to read, says Wasson.