Writing blog posts that help your audience and showcase your expertise takes time and effort. If you want to grow your audience through blogging, you don’t want to waste your time writing blog posts that don’t generate traffic, or worse – don’t get read.
But here’s the good news: There are three simple steps you can take to write blogs that your audience actually wants to read.
1. Write Attention Grabbing Blog Titles
The most important part of your blog post is your title. If you don’t grab your reader’s attention with the title and get them to actually read the post, nothing you put inside the post matters. It doesn’t matter how great and helpful your content is. It doesn’t matter what offers or affiliate links you have in your post and it doesn’t matter who sponsored you to write it. If you can’t get them to read it, the blog post doesn’t do you much good.
And when it comes to getting free search engine traffic, your title is important as well. It is the most important factor when it comes to getting your content to rank. Yes, there are plenty of other factors, but a good title with the right keywords in it will do more good than anything else you do.
How do you go about writing a good, attention grabbing blog post title then? I suggest you start with a working title for your post and craft your content. Then come back and work on the finalized headline, implementing as many of the tips below as you can.
Make it Interesting and Tell The Truth
You want to write an attention grabbing headline. With that comes the temptation to hype it up and stretch the truth just a little bit. While that may get you some extra clicks, there’s a trade-off. You’ll lose credibility if you’re exaggerating or telling little (or big) white lies. You see a lot of those headlines on social media. You click through and end up disappointed because the post doesn’t fulfill what the title promised.
Instead, make it interesting without all the hype and stick to the truth. A great way to do that is to think about what’s in it for your readers.
Keep It Short and Engaging
Shorter titles tend to do better both with click-throughs on your blog and social media. Keep it short and to the point and think about engagement straight from the title of your post. Ask your readers a question. Make a statement that makes them think. Put numbers in your titles to get them thinking about what’s in the content (i.e. My 5 Best Tips To …)
Keep an eye out for titles that catch your attention. Copy and paste them into a swipe file and see how you can tweak them for your own needs and market.
Work In Your Keywords
Last but not least, don’t forget to work your keywords into the title. I tend to do this last. Always write for your readers first and then work in what you need to do to make sure the search engines recognize what your content is about.
Ranking well for something your readers don’t want to read or don’t want to click on doesn’t do you much good. Focus on your audience and then optimize for search as an afterthought and you’ll do well.
2. How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?
Every few months we get some new advice from a blogging guru saying that our blog posts need to be longer, or shorter, or that they should be broken up into 10 pages of bite-sized chunks… it can make you crazy. Let’s talk about this. How long should your blog posts really be?
It would be great if there was a magic number that guaranteed best results, wouldn’t it? But that’s like asking someone to tell you how long your conversations with other people should be. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a few words or sentences; sometimes you have a nice long talk. It all depends on how much you have to say to each other, doesn’t it?
The same approach works well with your blog posts. Sometimes you’re sharing just a recipe, for example. In that case something around 200 to 300 words will do just fine. Add a pretty picture and call it good. We’ve all been there – we’re trying to find a good recipe for gluten-free pancakes but we have to go through a long story about the blogger’s dog who chased a squirrel and got bitten by a bee. Skip the fluff. (Take a look at my dear client Lesya’s site Eat, Be Fit, Explore to see how it is done well.)
Other times you want to go into a little more depth. You want to cover different aspects of a topic, share some examples and give your readers as much information as you can. In those cases make it as long as you need to make it. Long posts are great. They help establish your authority and if the content is great, they are often shared on social media. Plus long posts give the search engines a lot of text to sift through and give you more chances to rank for long-tail keywords.
The best advice is to mix longer and shorter blog posts. It will make your blog seem more natural and organic. Don’t force yourself to reach a certain magic word count if you don’t have that much to say on a topic. Keep it short and to the point. Your readers will thank you.
If on the other hand you have a lot to share in a different post, go for it. Break the longer content up into small paragraphs and help your readers stay on track with subheadings and bullet points. Make it easy to scan longer posts so your readers can get an idea of what the content is about before they commit to reading it all.
And if you’re finding yourself writing a few thousand words, consider breaking it up into a series of blog posts instead. It will help both you and your readers from getting overwhelmed with one long post. Link from one part of the series to the next to make it easy for your blog readers to follow along.
Above all, enjoy the process of writing and pay attention to what your readers prefer. If your short posts tend to do better, consider keeping your posts short and to the point. If you’re getting a lot more engagement and social media shares on longer posts, combine a few of the shorter blog post ideas into a longer one. And whatever you do, don’t get hung up on a number of words.
3. Break Up Your Content And Make It Easy to Scan
Let me ask you something. How much content is thrown at you on any given day? It’s a lot, isn’t it? We’re bombarded by articles, social media posts, emails, podcasts, videos etc. We come across a lot more content than we could possibly consume any given day. And chances are that a lot of it is good stuff.
As a result, we’ve all gotten pretty good at scanning and then picking and choosing what we actually want to read, watch, or listen to. And that’s why it is important to break up your content and make it easy for your readers to scan through it.
If you can’t show them at a glance what the post is about, chances are pretty good that they’ll move on to something else. Here are a couple of different things you can do to break up your post and make sure it’s easy to scan.
Use Headlines and Sub-Headings
Take a look at this post. Do you see how I’m breaking the different elements of making a post easy to scan down into subheadings? You can do the same with your blog post. Think of the outline of your post. Each point in your outline could be a subheading. Start with those and then fill in the content.
Or if you prefer, start with the content and then go back and add the sub headings. Create the content and work in the subheadings in whichever way works best for you. The only important thing is that they are in there before you hit publish.
Keep Your Paragraphs Short
Reading online is a lot different than reading something on paper. Books, newspapers and magazines can get away with long paragraphs. Online it’s a different story. Text is harder to read on digital devices and our attention span keeps shrinking.
One of the most effective things you can do to keep your readers reading is to keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Don’t make it much longer than three or four lines.
Use Lists And Bold Important Key Terms
Next you want to go through your content and see if there’s anything you can present in the form of a list.
- Use a list instead of several related sentences.
- Use a list to share examples.
- A list is a great way to break things up and grab your reader’s attention.
- Lists can be as long or short as you need them to be.
And let’s not forget about other formatting options. Bold important key terms, italicize them, or underline them for emphasis. All of these formatting options make it much quicker and easier to scan a piece of text and figure out what it’s about without having to read every single word.
Pull Them In With Graphics
Last but not least, let’s talk about graphics. A picture is one of the best ways to convey within seconds what your blog post is about and generate interest. Just scroll through your Facebook feed and look at what’s getting your attention. Or how about browsing through Pinterest? Images hook you and grab you in. They are also a great way to break up longer sections of text. Make sure you use them to their fullest advantage.
Implement these tips and get a few blog posts out there. Pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. Each market, each blog, and each readership is different. Use these tips as guidelines to help you find your own style that resonates well with your audience and gets you the results you want.