It seems like everyone is writing blog posts these days, right?
I realize the irony here — this being a blog post after all — because I’m among the people trying to get a share of your attention and help you out with what I know.
The thing is, even the most well-written and interesting blog posts don’t just magically bring in the traffic. You have to get it right and promote your content (a topic for another time).
This post will help with that first part: getting it right. Use my experience and knowledge to help write better content and retain people who visit your site.
I’ve put together seven tips (although I could do like, 100). Read on to be a better writer:
#1: Understand Your Readers
If you’re writing blog posts, you need to know who you’re targeting. For instance, on the Spynr blog we know we’re talking to people in the laundry industry. That’s why I try to give examples based on what you know.
You can do the same thing with your audience. You know people need laundry tips — and you know your unique area. Those are part of understanding your readers and writing a message that resonates with them.
The thing is, you have to exercise some discipline here. Not everything you want to say is helpful — and not all elements of your customers’ feedback is going to be beneficial to your content. You have to balance your listening with strategy to find out what will work.
Once you have a clear idea of who your target audience is – you can create messaging that will resonate with their major issues and concerns. If you don’t know what their issues and concerns are, or you feel like you’re guessing (and maybe getting it wrong) – then ask them.
#2: Write Better Headlines and Titles
One of the brands that I’ve helped improve content for had a pretty common issue at first. They wanted to write titles and headlines that they felt were clever and catchy. Never mind the fact that they really didn’t benefit anyone — or even speak to the copy.
Coaching them through that was a process, but totally worth it.
Headlines are the hook you use to catch and keep attention, so give them some thought before you start writing. They’ll make or break
And there’s a ton of great resources to help you keep this in mind. I particularly like this “cheat sheet” as a basic guideline:
Even if it feels formulaic, it’s helpful to start off with a title you know will work — then find ways to rehash it into something unique.
Another important element to consider is keyword usage. If you want to maximize your post’s visibility, you want to make sure you are including keywords in your headlines.
If you haven’t done any keyword research in a while, I highly recommend you do so. Now (ish).
Here are some tools that can help you do that:
These provide the data you need to find and utilize keywords effectively. It’s an important aspect to help optimize your content for those pesky search engines — so don’t neglect it.
#3: Beef Up Your Copy
Here’s the thing:
Most people don’t read blog posts. Sigh…
Once users hit your blog post, they are likely going to start by skimming the content. They want to find out if you’re actually saygin something valuable before they read. It’s sort of like judging a book by its cover — and that’s okay.
So how do you compete with your content in these scenarios?
You need to have a killer, descriptive opening in order to capture their attention and keep it.
Part of that is tied to your headlines (above), but it’s also how good of a storyteller you are. The better your hook, the better you’ll be when it comes to keeping attention.
Also try and use different styles of writing. I like to use the PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solution) formula to help draw attention and boost engagement:
It’s easy to use, easy to follow, and has been proven to help keep people on your site longer.
And it’s just one method — there are plenty of others! Do some research and find what works for you.
#4: Use Subheads To Divvy Up Content
No one likes a wall of text. It’s a surefire way to disengage your reader and lead them away from your page in short order.
So how do you break up complex topics that need more info? Subheadings!
Introducing an idea then breaking it down into subheadings (using those H3 and H4 tags) can help you clearly convey information in a way that’s easy to understand and skim. It also has the benefit of letting you add more keywords into the highly visible parts of your blog posts — boosting that SEO value just a little bit more.
#5: Use Bulleted Lists And Varied Sentence Lengths
While it would be great if everyone spent a lot more time reading (we’ve been over this) – the fact is they likely won’t.
If they are looking for a solution to a problem and come across your blog, chances are they aren’t interested in spending hours pouring through the text. They want the quick and dirty information they need, and you can give it to them with bullet points.
You can fulfill this need by breaking up your content into bulleted or numbered lists and shorter paragraphs.
You should also write in shorter paragraphs and sentences — at least within reason. Studies have shown that people comprehend less when reading digitally versus print – so you need to write clearly and concisely. Most experts recommend that you write digital content that a 4th or 5th grader could comprehend.
That said, Gary Provost’s evergreen advice rings true. If you haven’t read this, it’s something every writer should keep handy:
#6: End With Value
Despite your best efforts, some users will jump to the bottom of your post to get the gist of your post — and make sure you answer their question somewhere along the way.
While it might seem redundant, you should definitely include a strong summary at the end of your post. Include all of the key points you’ve made in your article.
But beyond that, you should give them direction. A good conclusion won’t leave people hanging — it will steer your reader into what you want them to do next. Don’t be pushy, but don’t ignore this vital step either.
#7: Encourage Engagement
Besides organic search listings, another way you are likely to receive readership on your blog is through sharing or forwarding. It’s why social sharing and promotion should be an important part of every content strategy.
It’s easy to imagine that people will just share your content on their own, the fact is you need to encourage it.
Do small things, like including social sharing buttons on your post, and remind people at the end to share if they found you helpful. You can also ask a question that you’d like your readers to answer in the comments.
The more engaged your readers are with your content, the more likely they are to come back in the future — and pretty soon you’re a thought leader!
Your Final Checklist For Better Blog Posts:
Alright, there’s your seven tips. They can quickly help you improve, and to give you a quick cheat sheet, here’s a bullet point checklist that you should keep handy:
- Do you have a strong understanding of who your target audience is? Do you know what their pain points or concerns are? Are you adequately addressing those?
- Did you include keywords in your headline? Is your blog post the answer to the questions your target audience is asking?
- Did you start strong? Is the opening of your post interesting? Do you give the most important point right up front?
- Did you separate your content with keyword-rich subheads?
- Did you write in short, concise sentences? Have you used lists or bullets where appropriate?
- Did you summarize your content at the end of the post?
- Have you included ways for your audience to further engage with your post, or share the content with others?
If you follow this checklist, you should be well on your way to writing engaging content that will attract new users and retain existing ones.
Like any marketing channel, it is no longer enough to talk at your audience – you need to provide information they want, and also provide a way for them to give feedback to you. Utilizing these strategies will help the success of your blog posts.
We don’t have comments on our posts (yet), but we’d love for you to share this post if it’s helpful! And as always, you can click below to see how Spynr can help you grow your business.