Create engaging, fascinating posts your audience will read through to the end, bookmark for later and share with their friends.
What You Will Learn
- How to create blog posts that attract high click-through rates (without relying on clickbait to cheat your readers)
- The single ‘X factor’ that will make your posts more engaging (and send your social shares and comments through the roof)
- The reason why many brilliantly-written blog posts fail (and how you can avoid making the same mistake)
Rising to the Top
With over 2 million blog posts published every single day, standing out from the crowd is clearly something of a challenge. So with such a tsunami of content drowning your readers, how do you get attention and encourage people to click, read and share your blog posts?
For sure, it’s a problem — but not as big an issue as you might think.
The truth is that 99% of blog posts are mediocre at best. If you can write blog posts that are interesting, enjoyable and informative, you are already well ahead of the pack.
To get the most reads, clicks, and shares, you just need to go a little bit further than everyone else. A little more effort, and a little more attention to detail — that’s all it takes to rise to the top.
Creating Great Content
Generating content that is truly worth reading is not difficult, but it does take time, effort, and commitment. The days when you could knock out 500-word, keyword-optimized blog posts and succeed are long gone.
Readers have too much content to consume, and not enough time to consume it. If you want to get attention in an increasingly noisy world, you need to have something of value to say. And you need to express your thoughts well.
The creation of great content begins with understanding your audience. Who are you writing for? What are their hopes and desires, fears and frustrations? Once you have the answers to those questions, you can start creating blog posts that they find irresistible.
Selecting Your Topic
So what’s your topic going to be? What will your readers find interesting enough to pay attention to?
There are many ways to find out. A good place to start is by checkout out the forums, chat groups, and other communities in your niche. Find out what people are talking about, what questions they ask, and what worries them. These will give you a broad picture understanding of the topics to cover.
The next stop is keyword research. While it’s certainly not essential to optimize every blog post for search engines, it’s a good way to go for most. Google has the ability to drive huge amounts of free traffic to your blog post, and you don’t want to pass on that opportunity lightly.
There are plenty of tools to use for keyword research, and the best one will make a serious dent in your wallet. But for simple blog post research, the free Keywords Everywhere Chrome (or Firefox) extension is hard to beat. You get keyword suggestions right in your browser as you search, complete with search volumes.
Don’t worry about optimizing specifically around long-tail searches. Google is smart enough to figure out the meaning of most phrases, so you should aim for a keyword that fits naturally with your content.
Most importantly, you need to know what the searcher’s intent is. Google is getting much better at understanding intent, and if you are off base your chances of ranking will plummet.
If people search for ‘freelance graphic designer,’ what is their intent? Are they looking to hire a designer, or to find graphic design work? Maybe they just want to know what a freelance graphic designer does.
But search is only part of the story. We also want to create content that people love to share. BuzzSumo is a near tool that helps with this, and you can get as much info as you need from the free version. Do a keyword search to see what is getting shared, or check out your competitors’ domains and see what is working.
Getting the Click
Nothing happens until someone clicks on your blog post. So how do you make that happen? Let’s start with the title (or headline)…the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to getting attention.
The purpose of the headline is to get your viewer to read the first sentence. Every headline should call for attention. ‘Attention’ simply means mental focus and serious concentration on a given task.” (Neil Patel)If your title is weak or wimpy, your chances of getting the click will go straight down the toilet. So be prepared to spend plenty of time writing a strong headline. Better still, write a dozen and choose the best one.
Get the headline right, and you are off to the races. Here’s a fantastic example of an irresistible headline that generated over 3 million views and tons of social shares:
If you are optimizing for search, your keyword definitely needs to be in the title — this is still a huge factor in getting ranked in search. But you definitely don’t want to create an awkward headline just so you can cram in more keywords.
Pick one key phrase, ideally 3–5 words in length, that accurately reflects the searcher’s intent. And then write a powerful, magnetic title around that key phrase.
These formats still work great for all kinds of titles and headlines:
- Listicles (10 Top Tips to…)
- How to…
- Curiosity-based (Do You Make These Mistakes in English?)
- Warnings (What You Should Never Eat on an Airplane
- Stories (How I Lost 100 Pounds without Dieting)
Run your headline through the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to see how powerful and effective it is.
Next work on your meta description — the snippet of text that shows up below your title and URL in search results, etc. Bloggers often neglect this, or simply stuff it with keywords (don’t do that!), but this is a wasted opportunity.
Think of the meta description as a sub-head. It follows up on the promise of the headline and delivers more information. This is a great opportunity to secure the click, so don’t throw the chance away.
Finally, put some effort into your choice of URL, too. Make sure your URL also tells a story and helps to get the click. Once you’ve got the click, your job is far from done. In a world where people have short attention spans, you have to work hard to get them to read all the way through to the end.
To create good content, you need a perspective. What makes you different to the gazillions of other bloggers and marketers out there? Make the content easy to read by presenting it in a visually attractive manner. You don’t want to present readers with daunting slabs of dull-looking text. Instead, make it easy to read and skim by using:
- Short paragraphs (one or two sentences is fine)
- Short sentences (break long ones into two)
- Sub-headings (but no more than three levels deep)
- Active voice (‘she congratulated’ rather than ‘he was congratulated’)
- Bold text and italics (great for emphasizing your important points)
- Images and video embeds (but keep your pages fast-loading)
- Pull quotes (try to avoid clichés, though)
Your content needs to be engaging and interesting throughout. Deploy stories, quotes, case studies, and statistics to keep your reader on the hook until the very end of the post.”Your opinion is valuable, but life experiences and real-world examples are priceless.
Try to back up your writing by citing sources, using case studies, quoting experts, and using as many types of examples as you can. It will help establish authority for you, your post, and your brand.” (Entrepreneur.com)Once the reader has made it to the end of your post, your next objective is to get them to share it.
Don’t rely on the reader taking the initiative to share the post — you need to encourage them to take action.
A social sharing plugin is a great way to do this but make your choice carefully. You need a plugin that is fast and efficient so that it doesn’t slow down page loading (see below). You also want a setup that encourages sharing without being too obtrusive.
Social Warfare is a great option for this. It’s a lightweight plugin, yet it’s packed with features that make sharing easy. Another great way to get more shares is to include a Pinterest-friendly image. Many bloggers get a huge amount of traffic from Pinterest, so don’t underestimate the power of a good pin. Make sure your website is set up for rich pins and include a 1.5:1 ratio pin in every post.
Focusing on Tech
Blogging is not just about writing. You need to get good at the tech side, too — or at least know how to get the important things right.
As a minimum, your blog should be secure and mobile responsive. These are basic requirements, yet an astonishingly-high percentage of websites still do not meet these basic requirements.
These are not optional anymore — they are essential. Google, in particular, is flagging insecure websites (in its Chrome browser) and downgrading the rankings of sites not optimized for mobile.Another major factor is page load speed. Ensure that your blog:
- Is hosted on a fast server
- Has a fast theme
- Uses a CDN (content delivery network)
- Has optimized images (the smaller the better)
- Is not slowed down by inefficient plugins
If your blog post takes more than three seconds to load, your visitor may abandon the post before even seeing it. Try to get to load time to under two seconds if possible — it will make a big difference to the number of post reads.
Get Better Blog Posts
We’ve covered the basics here, but there is a lot involved in creating quality blog posts that people love to click, read and share. To find out how you can get more from your blog and content marketing efforts, get in touch today.
Content marketing has huge potential to generate leads for your business, and first-class blog posts are the primary way to attract attention. Let’s make it happen!
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