In today’s world of blogging, it’s hard to get noticed. After all, there are some 31 million active blog sites in the United States only at any given time, and to make your own content stand out from the crowd is certainly no easy chore. There are lots of questions to ask yourself: what kinds of posts are going to drive the most traffic? What are the current trends that dictate what today’s online readers are seeking out? How can someone avoid regurgitating tired old topics that have been done to death? Depending on what successful bloggers your poll, the answers to these questions can vary widely
However, given the uncertainty of what makes a good blog post a great blog post, there are some tried-and-true formulas and rules you can follow to give your site a leg up in the virtual world. And remember this important tenet: many expert bloggers look at their work as a mix between art and science: the right words can get you started, but if you aren’t applying a good bit of logic to your target audience it may all be for nothing.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when cranking out content that people want to read.
- Start with your title. It draws traffic like no other part of your blog because it’s the first thing a reader to your page sees. Keep it under ten words and, if possible, make it actionable in that it will inspire a visitor to do something beyond continuing to the body of your post. Also, remember that search engines thrive on good titles with the proper keywords—pull those keywords from the body text and make sure they’re interesting.
- Consistency is key. Once you’ve got an audience interested in your posts, feed them content on a regular schedule so they know when to check back for new posts. This creates a good relationship between you and your readers and, if you’re creating interesting and engaging content, they’ll start to look forward to your next post. So don’t make hem guess when the next piece of content will be available.
- Foster feedback. A host of studies show that the most successful blogs are those that allow for readers to comment on a post, offer an opinion, suggest another line of thinking etc. Start by researching blog comments that relate to the topics you post and determine what sort of content drives the most conversation. And once you have a comment section up and running don’t neglect it: respond to readers quickly even if the comments aren’t positive. Remember, the goal is to foster feedback, not to start a war of words with those who don’t agree with your line of thinking. And of course, a comment section is the best way to get to know your audience.
- Write like you talk. This means always using the first person voice (I, I’ve, me etc.) rather than the third person, which is boring and dry. And be very clear in what you’re trying to say by ditching big and “cool” words that you would never use in typical conversation. Pro blogger Neil Patel puts it this way: a good blog is “about being plain, not fancy. If you can be clear, you will be more interesting.”
- Consider your audience when considering your word count. For some blogs—especially those written on highly technical subjects—posts will naturally be longer as there are more details to be covered. But as a general rule it’s the shorter posts that readers digest in their entirety. Remember that, in our go-go online world, the average attention span is decreasing. So use short sentences, avoid unnecessary words, don’t over explain a concept and when possible use sub headers to break up long stretches of text: they’re a great tool for dividing up the post into manageable bites that can hold the average reader’s attention.
- Lastly, at some point in the article tell a story that somehow relates to the overall theme of your post. You can put the story at the beginning—this will give a nice sense of foreshadowing as to what’s coming later—or drop it in right after you make you specific point as this reinforces said point and gives it legitimacy. And of course stories are relatable: everyone likes to tell and hear them, so including one in every post will build a connection between you and your readers.