Blogs are a great way for businesses to drive traffic to their website but they only work if their quality is good enough.
Taking the following steps every time you write a blog post will make people stop and take note of what you have to say. Then, as more people read your blog, search engines will notice you are offering something valuable and start to show your content in their results pages.
Put Your Audience’s Needs First
Your blog is no good unless it contains information people consider worth reading.
You should only begin to write your blog post once you have a clear reader who you are catering for in mind. Ask yourself why they would spend time reading your blog rather than any other piece of online content. Would they find it entertaining, informative, or inspirational perhaps?
To really engage your audience, you need to understand what their needs and concerns are and write a blog post that delivers something they will find valuable.
Make Your Heading Enticing
Readers will initially decide whether or not to read your blog post based purely on its heading.
The approach you take to writing a heading generally depends on the purpose of your content. If you want it to be found by search engines, then be sure to include keywords in the heading but don’t stuff it full of them.
You may have noticed long headlines on social media but if you are mainly writing for SEO, it’s best to keep your headlines short. Make it easy for people to quickly work out what your blog post is about. This way you’ll be more likely to attract the right audience who won’t simply click away once they land on the post.
Similarly, you may receive emails with witty headlines designed to entice you to open them but if you are writing for SEO, this is risky because you could end up being ambiguous.
And then of course there are the clickbait headlines that are everywhere nowadays. I’m sure you find them annoying, so don’t even consider using them. No one likes misleading headlines and search engines certainly don’t. If readers simply click on your headline, then quickly click away, search engines will realise you are not offering people what they are looking for. So, next time they offer search results for that topic they’ll be less likely to rank your content.
Instead, you can write a headline that intrigues people by using emotive words like perfect, strong, incredible, quick, timely, proven….you get the idea. You can also show them that your blog post will teach them something by using words like how and why.
I often write out several headlines before committing to the one I believe is the strongest. I tend to start with a working title and once I’ve finished my blog post I’ll go back and revisit it to make sure it still reflects what I’ve written.
Example of a strong heading
Draw Readers in with Your Introduction
Once you’ve grabbed your reader’s attention with your headline, you need to write a strong introduction to make them read on.
The approach you take will depend on your subject matter but here are some techniques you can try:
- Ask a question that gets people thinking.
- Create suspense by drip feeding them information that will keep them reading.
- Tell them what valuable information you’ll give them.
- Share an emotional story – people love stories about other people.
- Share a quote – this can be a clever way of summarising what you have to say and making an emotional connection.
- Highlight a surprising statistic people will want to know more about.
Use Subheadings and Bullet Points
How many articles do you read every day? I mean really stop and read? Many of us simply snack on lots of online content and tend to scan rather than read articles in detail.
That’s why large blocks of text can instantly turn readers away. Aim to write short paragraphs, with no more than three sentences at a time. Occasionally, you can write more if it makes sense to link all the information in a single paragraph.
Use subheadings to break up the text on the page and summarise what each section is about.
Keep your sentences short too. Rambling long sentences that don’t get to the point are a turn off. A good rule of thumb is to keep sentences to no more than about 25 words. Any more and you’ll make it hard for readers to follow what you are saying.
Blogs written as lists are another great way of breaking up content into manageable chunks and readers love them. You can also use bullet point lists within your content to make it easier for people to scan for key information.
Make It SEO Friendly
Stuffing lots of keywords into your copy will only get you noticed by search engines for all the wrong reasons. They will see it as an attempt to dupe them into showing your content. The number one rule is to write naturally and not to force keywords into your content.
Instead, you can signal to search engines what your blog is about by using keywords in strategic places. Most importantly, use them in your:
- Title tag – This is the text search engines often choose to use in the clickable headline in their results pages. It should be unique and keywords should ideally be placed at the beginning. It’s best not to make it too long, so it doesn’t get truncated in the results pages. Including your brand name as shown below is also a good idea.
- H1 tag – This is the heading we talked about earlier on that appears at the very top and tells readers what the blog is about.
- Subheadings – Add keywords here if they fit in naturally but don’t overdo it.
- Snippets – Search engines sometimes choose to use the text from your snippet underneath the clickable title tag link in the results pages. They may choose to use text from elsewhere in your blog but it is still a good idea to write a snippet that will entice readers to click on your link. It should give readers a preview of what your blog is about and include the keyword you are focussing on, as shown below.
- First paragraph – Keywords are most important early on in your article – however do include them towards the end of the article too (again, add them in naturally).
- ALT image tags – If you’ve used an image of an ipad to illustrate content marketing, name the ALT image tag “content marketing” not “ipad” because the later won’t carry any SEO value.
Choose the Right Tone of Voice
Using natural, conversational language will make it easier for people to read your blog.
You’re also more likely to make a connection with your audience if you sound human. So don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your writing. You can even use humour, if it’s appropriate for your brand.
Show Readers Why They Can Trust You
We are now more aware than ever of how easy it is for wrong information to spread on the internet. So, give your reader some assurance that you are the real deal by using some simple trust signals.
- Include links to your sources.
- Use statistics to make a point.
- Add quotes from experts and give them credit.
- Include your job title and name to let people know who you are and why you are qualified to write about that subject.
Make sure you’ve also filled in your about page, so people can find out more about you.
Edit, Edit and Edit Again
The first draft of your blog is when you simply get your ideas down on the page. At this stage, it’s best to concentrate on the flow of your writing and not worry too much about writing perfect sentences.
Afterwards, you can edit it and make sure it reads well. Get rid of any unnecessary words that don’t move the story along.
Asking someone else to proofread your work is a good idea because they’ll come to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
Whatever you do, don’t skip this process because sloppy writing won’t help your credibility. A study by communications company Global Lingo found that bad grammar would make 59% of UK shoppers reconsider making a purchase from a website.
Don’t Forget Images
Even if your copy is great, if your post has no images, the page will look stark and unappealing. Great images can bring a blog post to life and help you illustrate a point too. They are also useful when sharing posts on social media.
If you have a large file, use an image compressor like tinypng to reduce its size. Lots of large images will slow down the speed of your site.
Categorise Your Blog Post
Blogging platforms include the ability to categorise your posts, so readers can easily find what they are looking for.
Don’t leave blog posts uncategorised before you hit publish. It’s best to have a set list of categories your blogs fit into, rather than adding new ones every time. Having numerous categories gets unwieldy and confusing for readers.
You can select several categories for your blog post, as long as they are relevant.
Consider What You Want the Reader to Do Next
If you’ve got your reader to the end of your blog post then they must like what you are doing. So why not give them a little more? You could signpost them to some other relevant articles, or ask them if they’d like to sign up to receiving your newsletter.
Or, perhaps you could work on building a deeper connection with them by inviting them to leave a comment. Whatever you decide on, it is good practice to end your blog with a call to action that leads readers onto the next step.
So, in the spirit of practising what I’m preaching, if you have any questions, why not leave a comment below, or contact us on 0115 948 0123?