Most businesses are not writing and structuring their company Blog posts correctly.
Blog postings can deliver traffic, create sales leads and boost revenue… when created correctly.
Below are 7 key tips for turning your well written Blog posts into a marketing vehicle that increases website traffic, leads and revenue.
Writing a Blog post is probably the best and the quickest way for companies to spread the word about their brand, develop authority in the eyes of customers, and with Google. However, writing a random Blog post without a goal won’t do you any good.
A Blog Posts Must Have a Measurable GOAL
What? Posting on a Blog isn’t just for fun and entertainment?
Each Blog post should have the potential to rank on Google and generate traffic. You need traffic… without it, a Blog post is useless. The purpose of writing a Blog is so that people will see what you write.
It sounds very simple but how do you write a post that will get traffic?
Know the purpose of each post and have a plan for how that post is going to generate traffic and ultimately reach your marketing goal.
Know the Intent of the Target Audience
Who is the Blog post targeting? Is it written for a consumer doing research? Maybe for someone who is ready, with wallet in hand, to buy your product or service?
Notice that people are searching Google with different intentions and that they are at different places within the sales cycle or sales funnel. One is ready to buy, one is researching…
and there are also consumers searching with intentions someplace between the ‘buy’ and ‘research’ phase.
Where in the sales funnel do you want your target market to be when they first interact with the Blog? Focus on writing for an audience that is within the targeted stage of the sales cycle.
Which Keyword Do You Want The Blog Post To Rank For?
For each Blog post first determine which keyword(s) you want the Post to show up for in a Google search. We want people to find and read your Blog.
In order to select this keyword and write content to rank for this word we will need to do a little bit of research.
1. Do keyword research for ideas.
2. How much search traffic does the keyword get?
3. Is it worth ranking for that word?
4. What is the audience searching for this word?
5. Where in the sales cycle are people searching for this keyword?
6. What is the competition like to rank for this keyword?
Base the Blog Post on fulfilling the keyword query. Yes, people enter keywords into a search engine to either solve a problem, gain information or research products or services.
Typically, the web page that solves the query the best, ranks the highest. The goal of Blog writing and content creation is to deliver solutions to web users.
Not solving the query creates bounce backs telling Google not to rank your Blog high. It might be the most optimized post, have the longest content, or have the greatest photos but… if you don’t solve the search query users will click away and continue searching to find what they need.
Don’t send site visitors back to Google! Understand the search intent of the keyword to reduce bounces and remain ranked high.
How Do We Know What The Search Intent is?
Google tells us what the search intent is just by looking at the websites it returns in search results.
The kind of content that is returned in the top 10 results for a specific search query gives a good idea of what users like.
Let’s say that the keyword is “65lb braid fishing line”.
The results that Google returns are all product pages selling that very specific fishing item. A Blog post with a 2000 word article about “65lb braid fishing line” probably would not rank well. Why? The user intent of this search term is to buy and not educate with information.
The keyword they entered to search Google was so specific that we know the searcher is already educated in this market and they are ready to buy. A longer informative article would bore them and it isn’t what they want.
A search term for “when to use blue braid fishing line” is an information search and Google returns articles for this but not very many product pages.
With a few quick searches we can see what the user is looking for when they search for specific words. Google returns what users want by qualifying results based on the bounce rate of those pages.
These pages would not be ranked high if users were bouncing off of their pages and not happy with the content.
It works like this:
1. A web searcher clicks on a highly ranked webpage that Google returns in a search result
2. The user visits the page but it doesn’t offer what they were looking for
3. Web user returns to Google to continue searching
The fastest way to show Google that a website should not be ranked high in search results is by having a high bounce rate. It shows that the content on a web page is not what people want. The search query was not fulfilled.
Users clicking on a page and not returning to Google, but rather, staying on a web page, clicking to the contact page or adding a product to a shopping cart shows that a web user was fulfilled. Solve the search query and keep searchers on your page.
There are many tools to help with keyword research and each has different options and price points.
Below is list of common keyword research tools that you can use to determine the keywords that you want to target for your Blog post.
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner
- SEM Rush
- MOZ Keyword Explorer
- Keyword Sheeter-(Free)
- Answer The Public-(Free)
- Keyword Surfer-(Chrome Plugin)
You can also find many tools with a simple Google search. You don’t need to spend a lot money.
Once you have a list of potential keywords that you can target:
- Look at different keywords, do they fit your target market?
- Run the sales cycle test to see if these words deliver the correct online audience for your Blog.
- What are similar words that could be easier to rank for?
- Can you base an article on 2 or 3 words rather than just one to increase traffic and online visibility?
- How much traffic do these keywords get?
It can be time consuming to write really good Blog content, add images and valuable resources. Does the amount of traffic a keyword can potentially generate warrant the amount of effort it will take to write a great Blog post and market the article?
Also look at the top ranking competition for these keywords on Google and dig in a little deeper. What words are competitors using and how do they use them on pages?
How Long Should A Guest Post Be?
Bloggers often ask, how long should a Blog article be?
The short answer is, as long as you want and as long as you’re fully able to articulate your ideas.
Data below from QuickSprout shows us that despite the value of the content, Google prefers longer articles because it wants to ensure that the content is able to provide in-depth information on a particular subject.
It’s also true that long-form content performs better in social sharing, search indexing, and organic SEO.
There is a lot of debate in the digital marketing community about the proper length of Blog content. Searching for the answer to content length will return results supporting both sides of the short versus longer content argument.
Simply, look for results that back their findings with data. Longer, in most cases, is a better Blogging option.
But writing lengthy content for the sake of just length is foolish.
This chart by Wordstream shows a breakdown of content length based on specific markets. But looking at specific competitors for specific words will return better data to determine the length of your posts.
It’s not surprising that bloggers often write haphazardly and stuff keywords into their articles hoping that Google will catch their attention. In reality, it’s a losing strategy because Google hates to see an incoherent Blog that doesn’t make much sense.
When your writing has a purpose, it gives readers clarity giving them a better understanding of their goals.
Sure, we want great Blog content for people to read but let’s not forget about Google.
A search algorithm (a mathematical computer code) is what determines how your Blog post will rank in search engines. Rarely is a human involved in the process of ranking web pages.
How do we get people and a computer to like your content at the same time?
Key Tip: Unless you have expensive software or can spend hours looking at correlation percentages, hypothesis testing and P-values for search engine optimization (think back to your college data analytics classes) let’s just look at the top 5 ranking pages for the keyword that you want to rank for.
- Cut and paste the content from each of these ranking pages into 5 separate Word documents.
- Look at the Word count of each of these and shoot for something around the average word count of these top 5 ranking site pages.
That gives you a ballpark guess as to what content length Google likes for that particular search term. And we know people like this length as well because it has a low bounce rate if it is ranking high. It is a great place to start!
These numbers will be different depending on the keyword because the competition for each word is different.
Using a template for every Blog post that you write does not make a Blog post competitive as one size-fits-all does not apply to ranking Blog content.
Google has different expectations for ranking each keyword and each piece of content should match these expectations.
Analyzing competitors is a good starting point to get a grasp of content length.
Thin Content, Duplicate Content and Citing Sources
Two content creation warnings:
Thin Content in Blog Post Articles
It is believed that Google has a “thin content” and “duplicate content” penalty it applies to web pages.
As a rule of thumb, you should regularly create articles that are around 1,400 to 1,600-word range. Articles that are less than 500 words are considered too short to have an impact.
Even in the MOZ tool set they mention site pages under “Content Issues” that have lower word counts.
A free tool that can be used to find Thin Content on web sites is called Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog lists, among many other valuable data points, the word count of each page on a website. With this data a webmaster can quickly see which pages have below 500 Words of content. These should be fixed to avoid a thin content penalty.
More often than not, the longer the article, the better the chances of ranking higher in Google.
Earlier we mentioned looking at the length of competitor content to gauge an appropriate length for a post or article.
It is quite possible that your competitors are missing the mark. If they all have 700 or less words on their Blog pages, this gives you a great opportunity to create more powerful and lengthier content to outrank them.
Thin content can mean page content that is too short to explore a topic but it can also mean not enough value.
Below is an example of a thin content page:
Notice how this web site page only has a video and a title but no text or written content describing what the video is about. Thin content pages like this are all over the web. Many times WordPress creates a unique page for each image or video loaded onto a blog post.
These pages are thin content just like the example above. To prevent this, block these pages and take them out of the XML site map.
Duplicate Content in a Blog
The other Google penalty is for duplicate content. Basically, this is stealing content from other sites to use as your own. It is called plagiarism.
The easiest tool to test for duplicate content is Copy Scape.
Simply enter the URL of a web page or Blog post to see if any other sites use the same content.
The Copy Scape example above shows the sources of duplicate content across the web. I recommend running each Blog post or article that you write through Copy Scape to ensure that the Blog is written in 100% unique language.
We’ve all read articles on the internet that are a re-hash of other articles and do not provide any sort of value for the reader. Your reader will not be impressed if all you offer is what has already been said a thousand times.
Simply stating a point is not enough. You need to intrigue your audience by writing something unique and out-of-the-box.
It doesn’t have to be something novel, but differentiating yourself slightly from other websites will help instill your unique identity and persona on the user.
Unique Content can be your style of writing, your subtle use of humor, or even using a weird analogy to clarify your point.
To accomplish all this, you need fresh content. Don’t borrow content from another post and publish it as your own.
However, if you do feel that you have to repeat what has already been said before, then do it sporadically. Getting ideas from others is beneficial as long as you can add to the existing knowledge.
Unique content will also help establish your brand and attract new readers.
Remember, Google favors unique content as it’s more likely to be linked and shared across the Web. People will prefer your content because it enhances their knowledge and gives a new perspective on a topic.
When is using content from another Blog acceptable?
1. Quoting another site is fine or using a small block of content from another site will work… if you cite them as a source.
2. Most ideas are not 100% unique. But making an idea unique by putting your own spin on it, injecting an opinion or expanding on the idea in greater detail makes content unique. Again, cite the source of the original idea and shoot for 75% unique content in a post.
Duplicate content appears on a lot of web pages and Blogs.
The worst offender of this is web sites that have shopping carts that sell products from other vendors. Some of these are affiliate sites and some of these are everyday products being sold in major box stores.
The above content highlighted in green is the manufacturers product description. This same description appears on Walmart, Amazon, Target, Ralphs, Kroger, Sams Club, CVS, Home Depot, Ebay and hundreds of other web sites.
If any of these Big Box stores had the goal of separating themselves from their competitors they could simply write unique product descriptions.
Making a unique product description that has some length and that is not duplicate can really build value and power to a product web page.
Duplicate Image Issues
Another form of duplicate Blog content is having duplicate images. This happens a lot with sites that use stock images.
When a stock image is purchased you should realize that the same image could also be on hundreds of other sites.
You may think that an image represents your content well or proves a point in your Blog post. But if Google sees this same image appearing on other web pages with entirely different content, the correlation between an image and what it represents becomes distorted. The below image used in a Blog article appears on many sites with entirely different content.
Is your image a solid representation of your content? How can it be if it appears on many sites that Google is connecting with topics outside of a marketplace?
Make the images unique.
Use Google image search to validate the uniqueness of your images.
Go to —> Google.com —> Enter a search term —> Select The Images Tab
Click on the Camera Icon —> Upload your image
Google will then try to match that image against the images in their database and notify you if they find any duplicates.
Pro Tips For Making Images Unique
Here are a few tips to make images unique. Let’s use a Stock image as an example. We can use these techniques to manipulate stock images because we paid for them. I would not do this with images from artists that have a copyright.
An image is made up of pixels, little dots of color. Google is a computer so to determine if images are similar, it is matching the color and placement of pixels against the color and placement of other pixels to see if they align.
Altering these pixels changes the structure of the image making unique. Here are a few easy ways to accomplish this.
Flipping an image horizontally creates a 100% unique image. Unless, of course, someone else also flipped this image and posted it online.
This example shows that switching an image to black and white will do the trick. It makes it nearly impossible for Google to recognize the image with the color data stripped out.
Another simple and subtle trick is to rotate an image by 4 degrees and then crop it. At first, most people don’t even notice the difference. But look at the top of the computer to see the difference between these two images.
With a tiny bit of work it is really simple to strong make images 100% unique.
Importance of Citing Sources in a Blog
Just like a research paper that students write in High School or College, Blogs should also cite their sources. We find that sites rank better when they cite sources or link out to supporting content.
Linking out to terrible resources makes for a bad user experience. Don’t be afraid to link out to valuable resources that help boost and validate the content on your Blog.
Open the resources in a new window to avoid sending traffic off of your post.
The top link formatting example takes a user off of your page while the second example opens the new site in a new window, keeping your site from being lost.
Examples of Ways To Cite Sources In A Blog
There are several ways to cite sources within Blog content.
Sources section with full URLs. Here is an example of a Blog that cited their sources at the end of their article using full URLs. The title is “Resources” but it could also be “Sources”, “Bibliography”, “Article References”, “Blog Resources”, etc…
Footnotes: Like a research paper you can use a footnote style citing sources within a Blog. Notice the little [R] that links out to a ‘resource’.
Links within content aren’t technically citing sources but it is considered acceptable because it shows a site reference or a vote for another web page that has value. Webmaster are happy to get free links to their web site.
Be nice… give credit to image sources. Don’t just steal images for your site without giving credit.
I like her artistic style and her photograph so I mention her as the photographer and included a link to her site.
Blog Post Page Structure
How a Blog post is structured, both for users reading the post and with HTML formatting, is crucial to driving traffic and ranking.
This should go without saying but… The Article must be Coherent and Organized in a logical manner.
When writing is organized and structured well it will help clarify ideas. Writers should include headings, subheadings, and use small paragraphs. Try to avoid technical terms and jargon that may put off some readers.
The final structure should create a smooth flow of ideas.
Without coherence, even a good piece of writing may not make any sense, which may leave the reader clueless. The lack of structure and flow deters readers from understanding the concept and ideas presented to them.
Organize Blog Post Content With An Outline
This sounds very basic but let’s follow this idea through.
An outline makes content easier to write because it is in a hierarchical structure. An outline starts with the broadest and most important theme and then drills down into very specific aspects of that larger topic. As Bloggers you know how to write and mentioning an outline is not surprising… stick with me here. Let’s use the example Microsoft Office gives us for structuring an outline.
Let’s now observe how Google looks at your content
Google can understand how a web page is organized by looking at the HTML header tags.
Paying close attention to Headers in a Blog post will allow you to feed the content, ideas and keywords to Google very easily.
Google likes to see content in a hierarchical format starting with a main topic and then expanding the content into more precise aspects surrounding a subject.
This is like an outline only instead of Roman Numerals to order items a Blog posts uses header tags. H1 through H6 headers are used to classify important items in a Blog post or informational article.
Creating an outline to help with organizing and writing the Blog content is also a way of creating the Header and html structure for organizing your Blog page.
Page Header tags should go in a logical order like in an outline. Often websites use Header tags in a random order making the flow of content confusing to search engines. Creating an outline creates the HTML structure of your Blog post and keeps it nice and neat.
Here is a great FREE tool for analyzing how competition has their website organized or to make sure that your pages are organized in a logical flow.
Go to –> SEO META in 1 Click and add this extension to the Google Chrome Browser.
Simply go to a competitor Blog page and click on the plugin icon to get the listing of their site headers.
The above example shows a poorly structured Blog post. Notice how this first tag is the H4 and there are four H2 tags before Google can even see the H1 (the main header). But this post also uses two H1 tags. Have you ever seen an outline with two main headers? This formatting isn’t even logical.
How is Google going to understand which items on this page
have more value?
The above example from an article on Entrepreneur.com shows much better formatting. The order of the headers would make logical sense if they were turned into an outline format. This makes is very easy for Google to read and classify items on a web page.
Other Blog Post HTML Attributes
Remember when we were looking at content length and picking apart competitor websites that were ranking high to determine word count?
Let’s do that again. But, this time instead of making note of the length of Blog posts pay attention to the structure of the posts. Use the tool above to see how many header tags the top ranking Blogs are using.
Then look for other site attributes.
- How many un-ordered or bullet lists are in other ranking in posts?
- How many ordered or numbered lists are used in other Blog articles?
- How many images do other ranking Blogs use?
- What other types of media are on competitor Blogs? Video? Infographics? iFrames? Maps, Charts or Graphs
Here is an example page outlining the highlights of Samsung Gear VR. If I were doing a similar post and this was my competitor I would have made note of these structural items. (in green).
If most of your competitors are using any of the above structural elements to easily deliver ideas and content, then consider adding these as well.
The goal is to be slightly better than your competition without going overboard. Ie. If they use 2 bullet lists, you use 3.
In Google or anywhere else on the Internet, you will rarely see a popular article without any images. It’s also very rare to see published articles in the online news media without pictures or an accompanying video.
While content is the most critical factor for search ranking purposes, images in a Blog are important too. Remember, your audiences need attraction and nothing works better in grabbing their attention than the use of images.
The rule of thumb for both Google and people is that there should be a new image every 200 to 300 words or content.
Visuals are also known to help readers understand the content easily.
Charts, graphs and images that easily show data allow users to grasp ideas very quickly making for a better user experience.
Blog Post Content Ideas
How does a Blogger find great topics to write about in a Blog?
Google is an amazing resource for Bloggers to find topics to write about.
Start by entering a topic into the search bar of Google and see what similar topics it suggests.
“People Also Ask” returns loads of on-topic questions that people are asking about.
Look at the results from top ranking web sites. Look at their titles and descriptions to uncover ideas.
Also scroll down to the bottom of a Google search results page to see a box with “Related Searches”.
Click on over to Google Trends.
Enter your keyword to see what the fastest growing topics are related to the keyword.
Select a related keyword to see how fast searches for that word are growing. This will show you how relevant a keyword is and help you to determine if it is a potential phrase to write a Blog post about.
But there are ample other resources as well.
- Look at Quora for questions that are highly searched on and discussed. This will show you HOT topics to consider writing about.
- Software like SEMrush or Ahrefs can tell you what questions searches are looking for.
- Look at competitor FAQ sections. These are typically questions that they are commonly asked.
- What questions are you often asked in emails or phone calls with prospective clients?
- Or ask your current clients what the biggest questions were before hiring you or buying your product.
Again, the goal of a good Blog post is to fulfill a search query. Most Google searches revolve around answering a question. Sometimes web users ask very specific questions or sometimes the question is assumed.
Understanding what the user intent of a search query is makes content creation much easier.
The search query of “Blog Post Ideas” can be fleshed out to a searcher asking “What are some Blog posting ideas that I can use for my Blog” or “What are some ways that I can generate ideas for Blog posting topics”.
Chances are, those are the full questions a web searcher is looking to solve. Take the 2 or 3 word query and ask yourself what the user is really looking for when they enter those keywords.
Let’s do this approach with a product. We had a client in the cleaning industry that offered al-natural cleaning products.
What is someone looking for when they enter the search query of “cleaning products”?
Of course, “cleaning products”. But why?
Clearly they are unhappy with their current product if they are searching for a different one. What are the consumer pain points that would make them unhappy? Is their current product too expensive? Is the smell too strong? Does it streak or not clean well? Is it hard to find and buy?
In Blog posts we solve the deeper meaning behind the simple search query. We created compare and contrast charts between top cleaning products and our client’s product shows a better rating for price, odor, and it had data with scores for how well it cleans, etc…
We also wrote Blog posts discussing each one of these pain points that linked to the data we had in the compare and contrast graph.
Our goal was to solve the user query and be the solution to the problem that the consumer was experiencing with their current product.
Understanding what a search query is really asking is a great way to develop content.
Asking and answering questions that consumers have is a great way to deliver Blog content to a specific marketplace that solves consumer pain points.
Here is a great example of how to ask and answer a question in a Blog.
Follow exactly how they do this:
- They ask the question at the top of the Blog in the H1 tag.
- Then they state “Real Simple answers your questions”. They are telling Google exactly what they are going to do and what the web page is designed to accomplish.
- Then they ask the question… notice the bold “Q.” followed by the full question.
- Then they answer the question in a short and concise way. Notice the bold “A.” followed by the truncated answer.
- Then they dive further and explain in greater detail why they answered the question the way they did. This makes up the majority of the page content.
This web page is also featured in Google as the “Featured Snippet“. Google often posts the best and most concise answer to questions at the top of a results page in a box.
By clearly stating what the question is, clearly answering the question in a short and easy to understand sentence, and then outlining the reasons for their answer… Google selected their answer as the best.
Write Blog content with Internal links in mind.
The goal of any Blog post is to gain as much traffic as possible by fulfilling a search query but then to turn that traffic into new customers or leads.
Drive Blog Traffic To Interior Site Pages
Links to internal website service pages can lead traffic to portions of a website that converts them into paying customers.
Blog posts can discuss the value of products or services but eventually the goal is to have the traffic buy those offerings.
The above example of interlinking shows a link to another Blog post and a link out to a service page. Internal links work well for the site owner to generate income but it also works well for ranking web pages and posts.
Google likes interconnecting resources and websites that allow users to gain information. Take note of how Google ranks pages from Wikipedia really high? Why?
The setup of a Wikipedia pages is based on information and links to other informative pages on similar topics.
Notice that there are 15 links out to other resource pages in the first paragraph of the content.
If you’re writing a post about a specific topic then try to link the article to any of the previous articles that you have written on that same topic.
Above we discussed citing sources and one way to do this was to add a link to a source within the body content. Linking to external resources like this also helps boost the relevance of your Blog content.
It turns a Blog of just ideas into a web resource about a specific topic.
One successful marketing theory is as follows:
- Create several blog posts for your site on similar but not exact topics so that you can link one article with another.
- Create text links to these new posts and interlink these articles and Blog posts together.
- In these Blog posts also link to other site pages. Link to service pages or pages on your website that are buried deep on the site that don’t get a lot of traction but that are still important.
- Don’t make random links. Only create links that the user will find interesting.
- Only link to pages that will be used as a “pillar” to support your current content.
- Use Wikipedia as an example for how to use interlinking to build page authority and deliver information.
- Don’t keep your site on an island. Link out often to both internal and external resources.
Create Call To Action In Every Post
Your writings must urge the user to take action. If you’re trying to sell a product, tell your readers to contact you or visit a specific page to buy the product. Always create a Call-To-Action (CTA).
Every article must have a call to action
A Call-To-Action tells the reader what to do after reading the content. It also gives them a direction urging them to follow a particular path.
As a blogger, you should be the leader telling your audience what and how should they act.
Anyone who has taken the time and the energy to read an article is ready to take the next step. Don’t miss this opportunity to help them engage with you and your services. Does the offer example below get your attention?
The call to action can also encourage the readers to share the article or comment on it. Or a call-to-action can be as simple as signing up for your newsletter or giving a discount for your products.
Use phrases like Buy Now, Try For Free, Join Us, Subscribe, Sign-up, etc… This is what content marketing is all about…
Most effective calls to action have a strong and compelling feel.
Write your Blog post, but don’t stop there. In the end, write your call-to-action for a better return on your investment.
In your Blog posts, feed people the answer to the query. Be the Blog that is a solution provider… Don’t write a single post without a measurable goal. Spend your time and resources wisely.