Many internet marketers are caught out by the notion that a mere interesting idea makes for a good blog post. If the art of blogging was that simple, 95 percent of blogs wouldn’t end up abandoned.
If you want to become a part of the select group of people that succeed at this game, you need to understand exactly what a kick-ass blog post entails. And you need to use the knowledge you’re about to obtain for every single post you create — no exceptions.
Applying the concepts below consistently will reap amazing rewards. Are you ready to learn?
Why Most Blog Posts Are Useless
In my time working as an SEO consultant, I’ve encountered many blogs that are full of great ideas, but they have no audience. It’s quite tragic really to see so much wasted potential. If only these people knew how to write stellar blog posts.
Before getting started, let’s clarify two important assumptions about a standard blog post written by someone who wants to monetize their site.
- 1st assumption
All blog posts are written with the goal of driving traffic to a website.
All internet marketers share the common ambition of generating leads and eventually converting readers into customers with blog posts.
You’re goddamn right it is, Lionel
The reality is that just 5 percent of marketers are able to consistently meet the goals outlined in the above assumptions. This renders 95 percent of blog posts useless. But why are they useless?
The answer, my friends, is because of content. Or to be more specific – neglecting to pay enough attention to content strategy. As Aristotle once said,
one swallow does not a summer make a good idea does not a good blog post make.
There is so much more involved in content than what you say in your blog posts. Content strategy encapsulates the structure, typography, writing style, images, meta titles/descriptions, and CTAs, to name but a few pivotal aspects.
Ron Burgundy knows it
Common Blog Problems.
In order to understand how to properly write high-quality blog posts, it’s a good idea to look at what most people are doing wrong. Most blogs fail to gain traction because of five inherent issues, each related to poor content strategy.
- High bounce rates. A significant proportion of people navigating away from your site after viewing only the page they entered it on.
- Low CTR (click-through-rate) from searches. People see your blog or blog post in Google, but they couldn’t be bothered to click the link.
- High exit rate. Users read a specific page and flounce from your site – there’s a discontinuity in your website’s conversion funnel.
- Not enough scroll depth. Users aren’t scrolling far enough down your pages.
- Low conversion rates. Readers don’t do what you want them to do, such as sign up to your awesome mailing list.
Much like a therapist, I’m going to sit down and help you solve your blogging problems now. The difference is that my unique brand of therapy helps you gain money, not lose it at a rate of $75 an hour.
By focusing on solutions to the above issues, I’ll paint you a clear picture of what a good blog post should look like. Hint: it’ll be glorious.
1. How To Lower Your Blog’s Bounce Rate.
The majority of people enter a blog to read a specific post, having found it on a search engine and becoming requisitely intrigued to click the link. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to the structure of your content and impress visitors from the outset.
You should be aiming to get your bounce rate ranging between 40 and 60 percent, but how do you do that? The following tips will come in handier than a shirt pocket.
- Limit superfluous fluff. The average attention span of a human being in 2015 was around 8 seconds. To put that figure in context, goldfish have a 9-second attention span. Shocking stuff, right?
This reduced attention span (thanks, internet) means you have only one or two paragraphs to get people intrigued enough to read more of your blog post.
Therefore, you need to put a lot of emphasis on writing short, punchy paragraphs from the outset that aren’t filled with irrelevant crap. Try to pique the curiosity of your readers, and don’t tell them shit that they already know.
Craft a compelling headline. The headline will normally be the first thing that visitors to your blog read. A compelling headline encourages people to read the content underneath it, a bland or complicated headline will have people clicking away from your blog without ever reading more.
Your headlines should use simple diction, correct grammar, and of course, they need to create intrigue.
Focus on the benefit of your post. Tell your readers within the first few paragraphs how your blog post will enrich their lives.
To blow my own trumpet for a moment, you’re reading this article right now partly because I told you within the first two paragraphs that I’d teach you how to write a kick-ass blog post. Any benefit should be communicated swiftly if you want to lower your blog’s bounce rate.
Use a great main image. As the old saying goes, a picture’s worth a thousand
wordsbounces. You need to use every tool in your arsenal to encourage people to read more – a good main image does this.
The best thing that can be said about the value of visual content is that it engages people and makes them feel connected to your brand.
According to this study, “content featuring compelling images averages 94 percent more total views than those without”. A good main image on your blog posts can have a powerful enough impact to significantly reduce your bounce rate.
Sort out your typography. You wouldn’t believe some of the wacky fonts people use on their blogs, just to be different. Sticking with the classics is best when it comes to font type – an unfamiliar font can quickly detract people from reading your blog post. I think Arial looks best, but you’re free to choose your own once it’s clear and easy to read.
Font size should be kept at around 16 px for maximum readability. Don’t try out any crazy font/background color combinations either. Black writing on a white background is what you should aim for with blogs. Any other experiments you want to carry out with colors should be conducted on a blank canvas far away from your computer.
Match your writing style to your audience. How you write your blog posts is a pretty personal thing, but a good rule of thumb is to always relate your writing style to your targeted audience.
For example, don’t use jargon unless you’re sure your readers understand the terms you’re using. To avoid high bounce rates, keep language concise, with a focus on brevity, especially at the beginning of your posts. The worst thing you can do is make it hard to read from the outset.
- Boosting your CTR. The previous section dealt with impressing readers enough so that they don’t click away from your blog. But how do you get them to click on your blog post in the first place? After all, there are probably thousands of search results to wade through. Here’s how to boost your click-through rate.
Pwn those meta titles and descriptions. The meta title and description are both key influencers in your click-through rate. I could write an entire article on both but I’ll keep things short and sweet.
Your meta title should be less than 60 characters, it should describe the content of your blog post, and it should contain your targeted keywords first. For example, “Best Street Food In Bangkok: 8 Stalls You Can’t Miss”.
Your meta description should further elaborate on what your blog post is about. The description should also be persuasive so that readers want to click it. Essentially, a good meta description reads much like a PPC ad. You want to stand out among all the other descriptions in SERPs so that people click on your blog post more often than your competitors’ blogs.
Structure your data. Structured data involves manipulating code to help search engines return better results for your website. The code isn’t displayed to users, but search engines can pick it up. The use of structured data gives meaning to the information on your site.
So, instead of a food blog post displaying just its title and description on the SERP, structured data will trigger Google’s Rich Snippets to appear, providing information such as user ratings, cooking time, and calories for recipes.
Of course, the beauty of structured data is that it can be tailored for your specific niche, giving you control over what information your site displays in the rich snippets. You have the freedom to display engaging information that users are more likely to click on.
You can read more about structured data here.
2. Addressing high exit rates.
A high exit rate for your blog is not always a bad thing – readers may have found what they were looking for or reached a concluding point in your conversion funnel.
A high exit rate becomes an issue when users are constantly viewing just one page and leaving. Maybe they want to view some porn because you’ve not offered them a reason to stick around.
Preventing people from exiting your blog to view porn is tough work.
So how do you get people to stick around, read more posts, and avoid the alluring temptation of NSFW sites or social media in the process?
- Naturally link different posts together. When briefly referring to something you’ve covered in an alternative blog post, drop a link to that post so users might not just leave after they reach the end of the current article.
- Write blog posts in a series so that visitors to your blog have an incentive to keep reading. This is an easy and clever way to structure your content in such a way that people aren’t inclined to leave after one page.
- Make sure to show related posts at the bottom of your pages. If people have read as far as the bottom of your post, they’ll probably want to read more. Make it easy for them to find more content similar to the current blog post.
3. All about scroll-depth.
Encouraging users to read all the way to the bottom of a long blog post is a tricky matter. This ties into the attention span issue that I referred to before – human beings aren’t capable of following posts containing large walls of text. How do you get people to read all the way to the end?
- It’s all about layout. Break large paragraphs up into two or three smaller paragraphs. Utilize bullet points, images, infographics, and bold font. The idea is to keep things interesting and readable.
- You also need to naturally lead users down the page with interesting questions and promises that’ll be answered and delivered further down the page.
- Incorporate tools that measure scroll-depth into your analytics, such as this one. The key is to constantly measure and optimize your scroll-depth. Look at the 25%, 50%, and 75% scroll points. Try to improve the layout of your content between each point and use this blog post as a reference.
4. Convert like a boss.
The idea behind all blog posts is to convert readers into paying customers eventually. To do this, all of your blog posts need a CTA. This could be something like signing up to an email list, subscribing to future blog posts, or filling in a quote form.
There’s no point in working hard on your content if you fail to get readers to take action after reading it. It’d be like digging to the bottom of a diamond mine, getting glimpses of the sparkling jewels, and deciding “fuck it, I’m going home for a coffee and a nap”.
So how do you convert like a boss?
- First, have a clear idea of what you want the reader to actually do. This great post by Hacking Revenue shows two clear CTAs – download a PDF and subscribe to a weekly email list. Simple and effective.
- Place your CTA either in the middle or at the bottom of the article. Nobody is going to sign up to an email list without actually knowing what your content is like.
- Offer something to prospects in return for their ‘action’. People love free stuff — you can leverage the universal love of freebies by offering a cheat sheet, PDF or some other valuable upgrade in return for readers’ emails or other action.
My thoughts exactly.
Tools of the trade.
While it’s great that you now have a clear picture of what a good blog post should look like (told you it’d be glorious), you also need to understand that measuring and optimizing is the glue that holds everything together.
You see, successful bloggers understand that this is a process of constant refinement. You need to set goals for the above metrics – key performance indicators (KPIs) for your posts that tell you how well you’re doing.
There are many useful tools that can help you out with measuring and optimizing your blog posts. Here are some of my favorites:
- Yoast. This awesome plugin is a prerequisite for any serious blog that uses WordPress. Yoast analyses the SEO of all your blog posts and helps you optimize for better search engine rankings and more traffic.
- A/B Testing. A/B testing is the most interesting statistics lesson you’ll ever take in your life. And it optimizes the shit out of your blog. The process involves splitting traffic between two versions of your blog post — the existing A version and an upgraded B version.
The team at Quality Score, who run the program, then compare the performance of both pages based on a number of key metrics, such as CTR and conversion rate. This method is awesome for ongoing optimization for blogs and it can transform your site from a desolate landscape to THE place to be.
Metrics for optimizing and measuring blog success
An excellent post by Avinash Kaushik highlighting six crucial metrics for optimizing and measuring your blog’s success.
- There is a lot more to writing a good blog post than a good idea. Most blog posts don’t reach their goals – attracting traffic and generating leads.
- Bloggers don’t pay enough attention to content strategy. The five most common blog issues can all be traced back to problems with content.
- It’s not enough to understand what makes a good blog post. You need to constantly enhance your content strategy and utilize some crucial tools to measure and optimize the performance of your blog.