Writing good business-to-business content is hard. But with a list of templates to fall back on, things get much easier. In this post, I’ll break down my six favorite types of B2B blog posts. Then I’ll tell you how to use them in your content.
Every art form has defined structures that creators use as templates.
There’s an infinite number of ways to structure a song, but 90% of all music is written the same way: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus.
Screenwriting is the same. No matter how experimental filmmakers try to be, they’re all doing the same three act story.
Thirty minutes of set up, 60 minutes of conflict, 30 minutes of resolution. Roll credits.
B2B blog content is no different.
As a creative writer by training and content writer by trade, I’ve learned that the best blogs are just stories that follow the same few patterns.
And for good reason.
There’s a reason certain types of B2B blog posts exist. They work. Readers love them. And because readers love template structures, so does Google.
Plus, if you’re a writer, they make your life simple. Writing with predefined structures makes writing content easier, faster and more successful.
Like song structures, you can’t copyright a blog structure. Anyone can use them. So, here’s six types of B2B blog posts that you can reference to get more traffic fast.
#1: The ‘101’ Blog
Before you start writing about technical topics, you need to lay a solid foundation first. The 101 blog is the backbone of any great content marketing initiative. Particularly if you’re just launching your blog.
The goal with this type of B2B blog post is to address the concepts that you will cover in your future content. Then, as you create more content, you link back to the 101 blogs.
Think of them like pillars, or the hub of the wheel.
But what constitutes a 101 blog? It’s the simple, core topics in your industry that you shouldn’t overlook. At Altitude, a B2B marketing agency, those blogs would be What is B2B Marketing? and Onboarding a Marketing Agency.
While 101 blogs are critical to getting started, you’re never really done creating 101-level content.
If you expand your business, you should create new 101 blogs for new products and services. If you’re a SaaS company, and you add a new feature on process automation, you should probably write a blog about process automation.
Additionally, you’ll need to refresh old 101 content that is outdated. For example, a blog on the basics of B2B social media from 10 years ago would be missing a lot of the new tactics marketers now use every day.
In this case, we would go back and create a new 101 blog about the basics of B2B social media now.
#2: The List Post
The list post is the backbone of any blog. It’s an easy type of B2B blog post to write. And for businesses operating in complex spaces, it’s a digestible way to communicate important concepts.
Readers love list posts because they’re great for both skimming and diving into the details. Plus, there’s something so eye-catching about having that number in the title. They really draw attention on the SERP.
Typically, a list post will be 3-10 ideas with paragraphs below them. The number of items on the list tends to evolve throughout the writing process. New ideas appear and old ones merge together. This makes it difficult to know the actual number until the blog is finished. Because of this, I just put a “#” in the title where the number should be during the draft.
The ideas of the list are supported by a subtitle, intro and conclusion like any other blog. Sometimes you’ll need an extra section at the beginning or end to introduce or clarify important concepts. Occasionally, you can have a preview of the list at the top of the blog. This helps readers and makes Google happy.
To get very meta, this blog reading is a list post. It has a subtitle and intro to set the article up and convey why the list matters. Then it dives into the list. The headlines are (theoretically) easy to skim, which offers great readability.
(We call this the H-P-H-P-H-P format. It’s great for getting Position Zero listings on Google.)
There are a lot of different things you can list in the list post. This posts includes a list that provides information to a reader curious about blogs. Common lists include benefits of product or service and steps to do something.
(An example of this type of blog post is Analyst Briefing Best Practices: 6 Steps to Success.)
There is another variation on the list post. While most blogs in this style highlight a few items with a fair amount of writing, sometimes the list is substantially longer, but includes minimal writing.
For example, our blog on our favorite B2B marketing acronyms is essentially a dictionary of 50+ terms and what they mean. The writing explains the concept as quickly as possible, provides a link if applicable and gets out of the way.
#3: The Year Blog
We’ve all read this one. It’s that type of B2B blog post that talks about the year ahead before it happens. It’s full of predictions and advice for the new year. (Usually arranged as a list. See above.)
Often a company will write several of these. Partly because there’s a lot to cover at year end. But mostly because you have to play the law of averages to get one post that takes off. It’s rare to strike gold and get a lot of clicks from a single post.
Year Blog season is August to January. During this time, companies write about things like predictions and trends for the year ahead.
A cousin of the year blog is the season blog. This is relevant to industries like outdoor equipment and accounting that are driven more by industry relevant dates than New Year’s Day.
#4: The Comparison Blog
Everyone knows how to compare and contrast. Now you’ve just got to do it for subjects like multi-protocol label switching and software-defined networking in a wide area network.
Fortunately, this type of B2B blog post is pretty straightforward. You explain what the two subjects are, then compare them. Often, you can knock these out with 300 words in an hour.
Outlining this comparison blog is obvious. I’d do an intro that sets up the concept and why you should bother reading. Then a section introducing SEO, then one on SEM. After that, a section explaining the difference, and a conclusion that reiterates why the difference between the two concepts matters.
#5: The How-To Blog
Every blog should address a problem or question. But sometimes potential readers have very specific and application-related problems.
An easy way to snag some inbound traffic is to just answer those questions through a tutorial.
For example, there’s a lot of B-to-B marketers out there who ask, “How do I map Unbounce forms to HubSpot?” So, we wrote a guide on how to map Unbounce forms to HubSpot.
That’s it. That simple.
As for the structure of this blog, just explain things in steps with specificity. The more screenshots and videos the better. (Just make sure you optimize them for your blog.)
#6: The Ultimate Guide
Blogs are great for explaining concepts to readers and potential leads. Frequently, the concept is simple and requires a short blog to explain it.
Sometimes, the concept you need to explain is complex and nuanced. To provide a comprehensive explanation of the subject, you need to give it a lot of time and attention.
That’s what this type of B2B blog post is for.
They’re long. Think 3,000 words. And they are thorough. This blog is basically just a white paper pretending to be a post. It explains everything a reader could want to know about an in-depth topic. There should be plenty of research and examples.
Writing these blogs is a ton of work. Because of this, they should be an infrequent part of your blogging mix. But every once in a while, when you need to dive into a complex concept worth the page count, these blogs are great.
The insane thing is, readers don’t seem to mind the absurd length of these blogs. They love it. A common average read time on a blog is around two minutes. I’ve seen 10-minute read times on ultimate guide blogs on several occasions. If you write a useful guide that gives readers the information they want, they’ll read.
As for the form of this blog, there isn’t a defined one. Gone are the comfortable lists and simple compare and contrast templates. You’ll have to rely upon … your skill.
What you should do, though, is make heavy use of different heading levels. This creates sections within sections, which helps for readability. (And if you’re writing a 4,000-word blog, you better make the darn thing readable.)
The Bottom Line
If you’re stuck on a blog you’re writing, or need some more definition to your style, give one of these structures a try. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Just copy like any other artist.
If you do a good job with one of these types of B2B blog posts, we guarantee writing will be easier and traffic will come fast.