Anyone who’s ever tried to write blog posts that funnel lots of organic traffic to your site knows how hard it can be. With over 150 million blogs on the internet, how do you make yours stand out and win those valuable clicks? Luckily, consistently standing out in a crowd that dense is easier than it sounds.
Discover how to write blog posts that will boost your web traffic:
Prioritizing certain blog elements and simple structural tweaks to your writing style can mean the difference between a blog that gets views and ones that no one ever reads. As a content professional, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to write tons of blog content and get little to no engagement from potential customers in return.
Despite the online saturation I mentioned earlier, quality blog content can be a major factor if you’re looking to give your website’s overall traffic, engagement and revenue numbers a boost. It allows you to rank well on Google and other search engines for long-tail keywords that are specific to your industry and valuable to your customers.
So how do you get the job done? Before we really get started, let’s talk about three standards your blog posts should always adhere to. Make sure whatever you write is:
Clear doesn’t mean oversimplifying or dumbing down your concepts. Concise doesn’t mean downsizing your sentences, paragraphs or word counts. Informative doesn’t mean overly technical or academic.
Explain your subject matter in a non-confusing way, get to the point as quickly as possible and, above all else, add value to your reader’s day-to-day by educating them. If your prose isn’t accomplishing these global objectives, the intrinsic value of your blog will suffer as a result.
That said, if you’ve got those mantras stuck in your head or somewhere on your workspace via Post-it notes, it’s time to move on to a detailed practical blog writing breakdown. The tips I’m going to outline for you are based on both my personal experience and advice I’ve absorbed from some of the biggest names in content marketing.
But How Long Should My Blog Post Be?
Before I get into the inner workings of what makes an individual blog post great instead of mediocre, I want to answer the one question I get asked most often as someone who gets paid to create content:
How long does your blog post have to be to generate lots of web traffic?
My response is always the same: Length shouldn’t be your priority.
That doesn’t mean your word count per blog post doesn’t matter or is irrelevant when it comes to SEO. The problems start when companies or writers start to make hitting a certain word target their goal versus making sure their content is as exhaustive and engaging as possible.
The internet isn’t great at giving you or I a solid range of acceptability. I’ve read articles that suggest 400-500 words is fine and will not do any damage to your SEO reach and I’ve also read pieces that suggest anything less than 2,000 words per blog post is a waste of time. That’s not exactly helpful when it comes to informing your own strategy.
For what it’s worth, CoSchedule says that, as of 2017, the average blog word count stood at 1,142. In addition, they revealed that 69% of professional bloggers are writing posts longer than 1,000 words. The consensus seems to be that long-form content mostly outperforms short-form articles (500 words or less).
The exception? Timely pieces from news or gossip outlets like TMZ, Reuters and more. However, those kinds of publications still rank highly on Google because they’re known as entities who consistently break news stories, not because of post length. This scenario probably isn’t relevant to your business or the content you want to create.
Other sites like ProBlogger and The Write Practice can give you even more insight into what blog post length you should angle for. However, the most important part of any successful blog post is how helpful, educational or informative it is overall. The best thing you can do is write pieces that are as in-depth as possible.
Cover more small aspects of a topic in detail, instead of assuming your audience knows about them or won’t care. Really spend time in the outlining and preparation phases and, by breaking larger pieces into manageable sections of 200-300 words (write one section per day for a week if you need to), you’ll be hitting those seemingly massive word counts in no time.
Blog Headlines: How to Set the Table
If the usefulness and thoroughness of your blog content is Priority No. 1, then Priority 1A is your headline.
Essentially, your title sells your content. It’s the first thing an internet user will see, especially if they’re looking up information via Google or another search engine. It’s also arguably the biggest factor in creating content that’s evergreen, which means it can generate leads in a month, a year or five years from now.
Its purpose is to declare the blog post’s intent (i.e. – what topic they’ll be talking about), demonstrate its value to the reader and, taken together, entice that person to continue reading (or not).
Writing blog post headlines are a skill that, with consistent use, will improve over time, so don’t worry if your titles aren’t perfect when you’re just starting out or trying to publish more regularly. That said, you get out of your organization’s blog what you put into it, so, to see that growth and a return on that investment, you’ll need to spend time honing your writing skills.
Totally in the dark when it comes to writing blog headlines that consistently hook readers? Here are some basic must-dos to get you started:
- Research your topic ahead of time. This will help you figure out if the subject matter has been written about before (spoiler: it probably has) and which angle(s) best suit your organization’s voice;
- Use keywords in your headline. Google’s free keyword planning tool (there are others like it online as well) can help you make the language more specific and target to your audience; and
- If you’re stuck, get some feedback. Online tools like CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer or even running title ideas by friends and colleagues can help you break out of a creative funk.
Finally, remember that you shouldn’t be overcompensating when optimizing your title for SEO and social media. Keywords and trending topics are nice but creating content that will add value to your organization long-term by sounding natural and informative to the consumer is better.
Blog Images: What You Should Use
Behind many successful blog posts that have gone viral or, over time, generated huge traffic numbers for its parent website, there is some visual spice.
Whether that means high-quality images, infographics, video content or even animated GIFs, giving a reader’s eyes something else to feast on besides just blocks of text is crucial to upping views and clickthrough rates for your blog articles. The use of images will also further your organic reach and SEO performance since Google and other search engines can crawl your image’s alt-text for additional keywords.
If your organization’s picture inventory is on the low side, you can always start with stock images. Sites like Pexels, Unsplash and more offer content creators the chance to download striking photos for free that fit under a variety of different topic umbrellas. Upgrading a blog post’s look can be as simple as inserting a handful of these images in order to get that visual pop.
Be warned, however: reusing the same pictures or style of pictures will result in your blog and, by extension, your brand having a repetitive feel to it. Also, no matter what site you pull images from, make sure you have any copyright permissions in order before publishing. If not, your organization may be on the receiving end of legal action, all for something that takes a few minutes of double-checking to avoid.
Blog Post Introduction: Keep Them Reading
Okay: Someone read the headline, saw the featured image and clicked the article. Now what?
Structurally, next up is your blog post’s introduction, a piece of text that functions similarly to your blog headline. The key difference is that, while your title makes a promise about the “what,” your introduction’s purpose is to clarify the “why,” as in why they should continue reading.
You must hook consumers with your introduction by framing the text as a breakdown of the topic. You’ll want to address the following points in the first 2-3 sentences:
- Bring up a pain point/issue that your target audience cares about;
- Present a way the reader could potentially resolve said issue; and
- In a nutshell, demonstrate how your blog post will help the viewer reach that resolution as easily and/or efficiently as possible.
Don’t overexplain here – short and punchy prose are ideal for a blog introduction. Droning on for too long is going to do the opposite of piquing a reader’s interest. If you want to map things out with more clarity, you can follow that first paragraph or two up with what’s typically called a teaser.
Also called a lead-in, this breaks down exactly what you’re going to cover, in terms of subtopics, in your blog article. You can do this in a bullet-style list, but make sure you preface it with an additional sentence or two to give it proper context. When done correctly, this should feel like a seamless segue into the meat of your article.
Speaking of which…
Your Blog Post's Body Text: Voice & Structure
You’ve set the stage, now it’s time to give your audience what they’ve clicked through to see.
I’ve already covered some general writing tips (always be clear, concise and informative) and answered the dreaded word count question and, beyond that, I don’t want to impose any stylistic or vocabulary preferences on you or your brand. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone.
The only overarching writing tip I have left is this: to have fun with it. Doing so will automatically your writing more relatable and, in turn, more engaging for a reader.
From a formatting standpoint, doing the following can help improve your SEO visibility:
- Break up different sections with H2 and/or H3 subheader styling to ensure that the blog’s structure can be easily followed;
- Use different keywords and variations on those keywords to avoid redundancy;
- Don’t fall into a “keyword stuffing” trap by including search terms that are not 100% relevant to what you’re saying. This will torpedo your SEO performance; and
- Make sure you’re writing for the human eye, not just for search engines.
Finding your voice and molding it in your organization’s branding image takes time, patience and a lot of trial and error. That said, stick with it. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint; you may not necessarily see the fruits of your labor in a day or two but, after being online for 2-3 months, if your material is engaging and SEO-friendly, you should start seeing some results.
Conclusion: Tying Everything Together
How does one wrap up a blog post, especially one that’s over 2,000 words? Simple: By offering up a more spiritual summary than a technical regurgitation.
You want to avoid any college essay-style bookend to your informative piece of content – the beats are familiar and the reader, if they make it all the way through your article, will leave feeling like you’ve just phoned it in instead of, to paraphrase The Dude, tied everything together.
Instead, end things off in a way that makes the reader want more of your content. Demonstrate the value of your blog and your organization as a whole to the outside world by positioning it (and you) as a bearer of wisdom and knowledge in your industry. If leave the viewer hanging in limbo without a satisfying emotional conclusion, it can have a big impact on clickthrough rates going forward.
Related Posts, Social Share Buttons & Feedback
You want your content to bee seen and/or heard by as many people as possible, so don’t pass up chances have your readers help you get the word out.
One way to accomplish this is use “Related Posts” links in the body of your text. You’re essentially curating a list of suggested articles, eBooks and other text-based content that can take their learning to the next level. Hyperlinks and clickable CTA buttons can both work to connect different blog posts with one another and build up a dense ecosystem of content for your audience.
Pop-ups can also be an effective way to up traffic and engagement, as can shareable social media quotes for platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Both tactics work wonders with consumers who may be new to your site and at least somewhat unfamiliar with your brand. You can prioritize different pages and/or articles to ensure that they start engaging with you through content that they’ll find appealing.
Finally, we have the topic of feedback via the comments section. Despite the number of trolls out there on the internet, inviting users to leave comments at the end of blog articles can establish trust in your brand and help you build lasting relationships with your readers. Making them part of your process will position your organization as one that’s open to feedback, suggestions and discussion – something that’s becoming rarer site as the years progress.
Whether you’re just starting out in the world of blog writing or you’re looking to upgrade your organization’s content, writing quality posts that will interest your audience and engage them on an educational level are the pillars to blogs that benefit from lots of web traffic.
For any tweaks that you make, track your results and optimize your content creation process over time. The more you refine your blog content, the more likely users will get only the best of what your organization has to offer.
Once you’ve created an amazing blog post, using it as collateral in your next marketing blitz is a different challenge altogether. Get practical marketing advice that your organization can use today by downloading our free eBook today!\