Blogging

Blogs are a major part of the modern online culture and environment. While they may have originated as simple personal journals, they have evolved into something much more than their humble beginnings. Blogs are a superb way to develop a personal brand and to make a business seem more relevant to both its customers and potential customers. Blogs are difficult to write regardless of the topic at hand. However, it is not impossible to write blog posts that drive traffic to your website.

Many would-be writers freeze up at the sight of a blank webpage. This is even true for those who write professionally in other mediums. Blogging can come across as intimidating for many. Thankfully, there’s a method to writing blog posts that makes the entire process easier. If you’re willing to put in the work and learn the tricks behind writing effective blog posts that drive traffic to your site, then you’ll have everything that you need to be successful. A well-crafted blog can be the very platform that launches your brand. On that note, the following tips will help you construct a blog that will help you succeed.

Research before writing blog posts that drive traffic to your site

Before you even think about putting a single word on a page, you need to identify the direction that you want to take your blog. Blogging is simply writing about whatever you want – it is a process of marketing your writing to a targeted audience. Early on, the most popular blogs grew from relationships between consumers and individual producers. The internet has grown a lot since then. Today, great blogs are the product of producers generating content that consumers actually want to read.

Blog Research

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The research process helps you decide whether you should start a blog, what you should write about and how to go about forming a strong audience base. Your first time researching a post can be time-consuming, but it will become second nature after you’ve gone through the process successfully a few times.

Choosing a topic for your blog posts

The first question you need to consider is the following: what do you want to write about? This is the very first question you need to ask yourself before you start blogging. If you cannot come up with an idea, there there’s no reason to write at all. Blogs are primarily creative projects. This means that they require some spark of information before they can take shape.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should opt to write about just any topic for your blog posts. If your goal is to publish a successful blog, you should seek out a topic that will interest people other than yourself. While your individual creativity is the engine that moves your blog, your audience should always guide its path.

The goal is to identify the midway point between your passion and the desires of your target audience. As such, it’s a wise idea to start your research by reviewing blogs in your field of interest. Is there something to which your ideal audience is already flocking towards? Is there an audience there that isn’t being tapped just yet?

You best consider the project a marketing effort during the early stages of your blogging career. You need to figure out a segment that has a need for what you’re writing. This may take some of the creative fun out of blogging, but this first step will help ensure that you actually attract and retain readers for your blog.

Understanding the niche for your blog posts

Most every blog fits into a specific niche since it is impossible to craft a blog that appeals to the entire internet. Trying to do so would be an exercise in futility. Instead, you need should find a way to understand and better comprehend the niche in which your blog fits and how best to cater to those in said niche.

Take a moment to consider your audience and do a little research on this population. What do they like? What do they dislike? How are effective blogs crafted for your niche?

This is all information that will help you tailor your content to the people who are likely to read it. While your blog can (and should) have a unique voice, it’s vital that said voice appeals to those who are likely to consume your content. With that in mind, you’ll need to tweak and edit your posts to appeal to that group.

Furthermore, this research will influence just about everything that comes after. Your next job is to figure out when to color inside the lines and when it’s okay to break out on your own. You are creating something similar, yet distinct from, everything else that’s in the same niche as your blog.

Keyword research is essential for blog posts that drive traffic

The final, and usually most boring, preparation tip requires you to look into keywords.

Keywords are, regrettably, not as important as they once were for blogs. There are a plethora of other factors that impact your readership and garner you more subscribers. Thankfully, keywords are relatively easy – figuring them out is often much less work than one would think.

The most simple form of keyword research is largely going to take place in your own mind. Take a few moments to figure out what your blog is truly about and then figure out how someone searching for your blog would go about finding it. How would you summarize the content of your blog in just a few words? This is the very essence of keyword research.

Keyword Research

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Once you’ve brainstormed a bank of keywords, it is now time to look into how other blogs are using them. Does another blog already dominate your ideal keywords/phrases? If so, you’ll need to either figure out a new way to differentiate your blog or search for another way to attract readers.

There are plenty of superb free and paid keyword research tools out there. One of my personal favorites is SEMRush. This digital tool is a blogger’s and marketer’s dream. It can help you figure out both the types of keywords you should chase down and how well your site ranks in terms of the keywords you’ve honed in on. These tools should be used on a regular basis while you create content.

When all is said and done, keyword research is just one of many facets one must master in order to launch a successful blog. If you’re willing to put in a little time, you’ll figure out how to get the most out of a few key phrases.

Writing blog posts that drive traffic to your site

Now that you’ve taken care of the research portion of crafting your next post, it’s time to shape the very soul of your blog – the written content.

Blogs can function as an extremely engaging medium through which to share your ideas. However, they require a very specific style of formating. A strong blog is going to follow a few core rule and expand from there.

If you take a look around online, you’ll likely notice that most blogs follow a similar format. These suggestions aren’t exactly strict enough to be labeled as rules. However, they’re certainly good guidelines that new writers should follow for the utter sake of convenience.

You may very well decide that you can avoid certain guidelines as you become more seasoned, but you’re bound to notice that these tips help you develop a more effective blog. There’s a reason why this sort of format is so well-loved by so many successful bloggers.

Start with an attention-grabbing headline

There’s no getting around this one…every good blog post starts with a strong headline.

A good headline serves as the bait that lures in potential readers. If you want to produce a successful blog, it is vital that you distinguish your content between clickbait headlines and headlines that provide a preview of what your post is truly about.

Great headlines serve an essential purpose. They ask a question, provide guidance, or pique the interest of a potential reader. Strong headlines tell a potential reader that there is a darn good reason to visit your blog instead of moving on to another resource.

Effective headlines are short, punchy, and generally incorporate your keyword(s). They provide enough information to readers to tell them that they should read your post, but not enough to give away everything that is in the blog post.

A superb way to better understand how to write an effective headline is to look at the comments on other blogs in your niche. Look at what readers are talking about and turn those talking points into questions or statements. A headline helps readers find the material for which they were already searching. It’s your first chance to impress a reader, so make sure to craft all of your headlines with great care.

Understand the importance of a strong introduction

Once you’ve successfully captured the attention of your audience with a stellar headline, it’s time to get them to keep on reading. The introduction is arguably one of the most vital parts of your blog post. The greater majority of readers simply will not make it past the first few lines of your post, so it is critical that you catch as many as you can early on.

A strong introduction will cater to the reader’s needs on a personal level. While you may have been taught to lead off with statistics in school, you simply don’t want to be that impersonal in a blog. You want to connect with your readers on an emotional level as soon as possible.

Blog Post Introduction

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In general terms, the purpose of an introduction is to convince the reader that they should keep reading. This means that your opening needs to capture their attention enough so that their eyes continue on down the page. You want to provide just enough to keep the reader going, but not so much that you answer questions too quickly.

Furthermore, don’t overlook the value of an introduction. It’s something that far too many novice bloggers tend to do and it’s a huge reason why so many blogs struggle and find themselves with disinterested readers.

Develop a strong hook for blog posts that drive traffic

Once you’ve captured the attention of your audience, it’s time to keep it. Every great blog post has a rock-solid hook.

If you’re a great blogger, your hook is always going to be your prose. Your audience will follow you through just about anything just to admire your writing. Sadly, most bloggers aren’t great writers. You might be a good writer, so you can use your writing as a method of supporting your hook.

For some, the hook of a great blog is in the formating. Many blogs rely on the top ten formats to engage the reader and keep them moving through a constant stream of content. This is an effective way to structure some blog posts but is anything but a surefire solution.

Another great way to hook an audience is to engage in emotional engagement. If you’re funny, make sure that you keep the jokes coming at a reasonable pace. If you’re sharing something dramatic, weave your story through the post. Make the reader feel like they have to keep moving down the page to get the whole story.

Hooking your readers is just a form of increasing engagement. The harder you work to develop your hook, the easier it will be to adhere to that format in the future.

Close with a sound sale

Odds are that if you’re blogging, you’re likely selling something.

It may not be a product or service. You could very well be selling yourself as a brand. You might be selling a community. Heck, you could very well be selling the concept of a blog in itself. No matter what, you’re making a sale of some sort.

Every effective blog ends with an attempt to make a sale. This is called a call-to-action, or CTA for short. It’s the way you motivate readers to do something that you want them to do. Make sure to check out Hubspot if you’re looking for examples of awesome CTA’s – they’re basically the gold standard when it comes to inbound marketing.

It’s critical that you stop and think about how you’re going to make this pitch. If you’ve ever written a lengthy, emotional piece, you probably don’t want to blatantly plug a product at the end. On a similar note, it’s probably not a great idea to end a complaint about a project with a link to the very same project you just bashed.

The CTA for some blogs might be as basic as asking people to leave a comment after the article. Remember that you don’t have to sell a product in order to have a viable CTA – you just need to help remind your readers that you are trying to accomplish some sort of goal.

All in all, never end a blog post without a call-to-action.

Ease of consumption

Writing a blog post isn’t just about what you write – it’s about how you write said content.

A good blog post should be relatively easy for any consumer to access. If you’re unsure as to whether your content is easy to consume, consider applying the Flesch Reading Ease method to your work. Remember, you’re not writing for a prestigious academic journal. While the tone might be serious, don’t make your readers find a dictionary to keep up with your text.

Great blogs should assume that the average reader is that of an individual with an education of a high school graduate. This means that they can keep up with most content and ideas, but might get thrown off by some higher-level word choices. If you can think of a large word to cover a concept, do your best to figure out if a more simple word will do the trick.

It is also wise to keep your sentences short. Don’t let them drag on. Vary their length and keep them punchy. The longer the sentence, the harder it is to read. All in all, make things easier for your audience.

You should also make it a point to keep your paragraphs short. It is far easier to keep track of concepts and ideas with shorter paragraphs. It’s also easier for readers who are reading your post on a mobile device. Four lines should be the maximum for most blog post paragraphs.

Don’t feel as if you need to dumb down your material. Keep the same core information, but make it easier to read. This will help you draw in more readers and keep you from turning away potential followers.

Edit, edit and edit some more for blog posts that drive traffic

You’re likely already a strong writer if you’re interested in writing a blog. However, you’re not a perfect writer by any means. Every post needs to be edited for content and grammar. Editing can be a lengthy process, but it’s better to spend time editing than it is to publish an unedited post.

Your initial edit should always be to find spelling and grammar mistakes. Whatever you do, do not rely on a word processor for this – it’s extremely easy to let certain issues slip through the cracks. However, you don’t need to slavishly follow the rules of grammar, but do make sure that everything makes sense.

Blog Post Editing

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Upon completing your initial edit, go back and edit for wordiness. Are there words you can eliminate from the post? It’s better to stick with short and sweet language than to go for long and elaborate sentences in most cases. The core focus of the second round of editing consists of the following three actions:

  1. Eliminate
  2. Condense
  3. Extract

Once you’ve done this second pass, you can then go back for a third and final round of editing. You’ll want to check for grammar and spelling once again, but your primary goal this time around is to check for flow. You need to know whether your post will read well. This is totally a judgment call, but an important one that only you can make.

Technical information behind blog posts that drive traffic to your site

Presentation means quite a bit in the world of blogging. While most of your work will revolve around plain text, there are some formatting tricks that can make your blog both look and read better. These tactics don’t require any in-depth knowledge of website design, but they are a sure sign that a blogger knows what they’re doing.

These basic technical tricks can help you create a blog that’s easier to read and far more engaging. Make sure to pay attention to what your platform of choice will, or will not, allow you to do. You might be surprised by how basic some software can be.

Headings are essential for blog posts that drive traffic

Headings are used to break up articles into easy to read chunks. They’ve been in use for many years, but most novice bloggers forget them in favor of massive mounds of text.

Your typical reader will either be intimidated or bored at the thought of reading a single, unbroken, article. They want to be able to get at least the gist of what’s going on without having to read the whole thing. This is where headers come into play.

Headers are simple HTML coding that usually appear as <h#>. Larger, title-level headers are <h1> or <h2>, while smaller paragraph headers are typically <h3> or <h4>. Using these helpful tools will help your content look better and read more professionally.

It’s typically a good idea to try to work your keywords into these headers whenever possible. It will make it easier for search algorithms to figure out what your site is about and to rank your content appropriately.

As a rule, you’ll want to either have a heading per paragraph or a heading per section. If you can find a chunk of text that stands alone, it should have its own heading. It’s anything but a science, so put the headings where you feel they are most effective.

Images also help develop blog posts that drive traffic

Simple images can work wonders for a blog’s popularity. The saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words is true…as long as it is the correct image.

You don’t exactly have to have images to make a blog successful. However, most successful blogs do make use of images. They are a great way to keep readers engaged and add a bit of color and flavor to any blog post.

Images should always relate to the content of your post. They provide a bit of easy commentary and give your readers a good idea abut that which you are posting. They also help to illustrate some of your points without requiring you to seek out the precise words you need.

Blog Post Editing

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However, you need to be careful with images. Offensive images can turn off readers even if they are relevant to your content. Larger images can also make it difficult for those with slow connections to access your blog. If your site loads slowly once, you can be certain that you have lost potential readers.

Images are typically worth the risk. Make sure that you have a good image to go with each blog post before you hit publish. A good picture won’t always work wonders, but it almost always helps.

Lastly, it is important that your images are optimized for sharing on social media.

Formatting is crucial for blog posts that drive traffic

Finally, it’s a wise idea to break up the formatting of your blog by employing italic, bold, and underlined text. THis is just another small trick that can work wonders to break up walls of plain text.

However, it is important that you don’t overuse formatting. You want every formatted word to mean something and provide an extra sense of emphasis. You may go multiple paragraphs without any sort of special formatting, but make sure that you can put emphasis somewhere.

It’s also worthwhile to format your hyperlinks whenever possible. Some blogs do put plain web addresses, or URL’s, on their pages. However, this doesn’t look particularly professional. You can link to a webpage and add blog-relevant anchor text to help clean up your writing and make your blog appear cleaner.

How to engage with your audience

All of your hard work on your blog should go towards one goal – engaging with your audience. Blogs are great because they allow for connections with real people. Figuring out how to make the most of this connection is a massive part of figuring out how your blog will succeed.

Blogs that typically fail are those blogs that put too much of a focus on the writer. When all is said and done, you are creating something for the consumption of others. If you can’t put the focus on them, you will eventually lose them to someone else.

Comments and questions

Effective blogs almost always have a way for the writer to interact with readers. While there are numerous ways to do this, the most useful method is typically a comments section.

Comments sections play a number of vital roles in a blog. First and foremost, they provide readers with a place to contact the author. The reader can share their thoughts without ever leaving the blog.

These sections also help to build communities. Some readers will stick with a blog for years not just because they enjoy the content, but because they also enjoy interacting with other long-time readers. A strong comment section is practically a social network in itself.

Finally, the comments section can be a goldmine of future content. If your audience talks about something, you should probably address it in a future post. Your readers will be more than happy to see the things they care about discussed in the meat of the blog itself.

Social media

Blogs and social media are closely related. However, most blogs aren’t necessarily on a social media platform. However, these platforms will be an important method of sharing your content.

Make sure to always have relevant social media buttons on your blog. The vast majority of blogging platforms make it easy to add social sharing buttons. However, if you can’t find the buttons on your own site, it’s fairly easy to find the HTML tag to add the button on your own.

It’ s important that you don’t abuse social media. Update it to bring people to your blog. However, you want to make sure that you don’t overshadow your blog with social media comments. This will make it so that there is no reason to visit your blog.

social media job search

Social media is without question a double-edged sword, so be careful with your usage. It’s a promotional tool and a way to connect, but be careful that you don’t push things too far. The very last thing you want to do is to lose blog readers over your social media statements.

If you’re looking for a tool to share your posts across multiple social channels, make sure to check out Buffer.

Reach out

It is essential that you are willing to reach out to your readers when necessary. If you feel like there are fewer comments than usual or that your visitor numbers are dropping off, you should try to figure out the root cause. Your readers will often have more answers than you could ever imagine.

Don’t directly ask these questions in the comments. Instead, offer reader surveys every few months. Let people who read your blog to share what they think in a pressure-free environment. You can then read this material and make any necessary changes.

The more you reach out to your readers, the more your community will come together. When authors can trust their readers, they can get more genuine feedback and will often be forgiven for their mistakes. Whatever you do, do not take your audience for granted. They’re without question your most valuable resource.

Closing thoughts

Developing a great blog takes time and a lot of effort. The guidelines above give you the tools you need to start crafting something that you can be proud of. Don’t be put off by the effort you’ll have to put in – the rewards are more than worth the work.

At the end of the day, anyone can write an amazing blog. Take what you’ve learned here and put it to work for you. You might even surprise yourself by what you’ll be able to create!

About Andrew Roche

Andrew Roche is an underwriter by day at United Wholesale Mortgage and a digital marketer by night. Andrew is currently pursuing an MBA in Marketing & Finance through the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.