I think you’ll agree that great blog posts don’t just happen. Sure there is the one-off surprise hit, but most times the posts that do well and continue to do well require putting in the work.
Most people think that if you just do a bit of keyword research, then bam! Your post will start ranking and doing well in Google, Pinterest, and on other platforms, but really there is so much more to it.
In this post, I’m going to share with you step by step everything I look at and take into account before finally hitting publish on a blog post.
How to Create an Engaging and Effective Title
The bare-bones rules I follow based on taking tons of courses and learning from SEO geniuses like Brian Dean at Backlinko are these:
- It must include the keyword
- The title should use modifiers – Ex.: How to, (the current year), Review, Best, Easy, Fast, Checklist, Guide, Tips, Simple
- It should have strong emotional words – Ex.: Amazing, Incredible, Powerful, etc.
- Finally, the title should use numbers if applicable
The Title Must Include Your Keyword
You can absolutely rank for more than one keyword and you don’t want to stuff a bunch of different keywords into your title.
However, you do want to make sure the main keyword you want your post to be known for is included in the title.
Don’t Forget to Include Some Kind of Modifier
A modifier can be used to help define your target audience. If you are talking to an advanced audience, you might not use “simple” in your title. But if you’re writing to someone just getting started, they are going to gravitate towards a post that breaks things down simply.
You can also call out your audience directly, for example, you might say “Best social media scheduling tools for bloggers”. It demonstrates that you aren’t writing about social media tools for writers, or brick and mortar stores, you’re specifically targeting bloggers. You could also take it a step further and say “new bloggers” or “bloggers on a budget”.
The more specific you can get the more likely you are to get quality traffic.
Does Your Title Evoke an Emotion?
Does your title make a reader want to click? Or gloss over it?
“The best social media scheduling tools for bloggers” is okay, but “The most powerful Social Media Scheduling tools bloggers should be using” is stronger.
Great copywriters usually write out a list of at least 25 different titles before settling on one. Now, I know not everyone has time to do that, but you should at least brainstorm 5-10 before settling on one.
If you’re struggling with figuring out good titles, CoSchedule as a Headline Analyzer that can give you a good place to start. It’s not an end all be all, but it will help you figure out what might work best.
Using Numbers in Your Title
According to the research conducted by Content Marketing Institute, “titles that began with a number performed 45 percent better than the average. “(contentmarketinginstitute.com)
People like lists, they like knowing what they are getting into when they click on a title. Is it going to be a quick and easy 5 steps or 75 quick hacks, or 39 tools? Numbers help readers gauge if they want to dive in.
Create a Strong Introduction That Spells Out The Benefit to The Reader
Readers don’t typically dive in and read every word, usually, they start by skimming to see if the post is going to answer their question or concern. Think about it, isn’t that how you look at content?
On the average web page, users will read at most 28% of the words during a visit, with 20% a more likely expectation. (wyzowl.com).
So if you don’t want to end up part of that statistic, then you need to make sure you write a brief but strong introduction that pulls in the reader to keep reading.
Make sure you explain what they’ll get from reading the article and how it will benefit them. I use the Agree, Promise, Preview approach I learned from Backlinko. Here is what that means:
- First, you find a viewpoint on the topic that your readers will agree with.
- Then you promise them a better way.
- Finally, you preview what is in store for them if they keep reading
Punch Up Your Subheadings (and Don’t Keyword Stuff)
Don’t be boring, make sure your subheadings not only help the reader understand the content, but also makes them want to read by explaining why they should.
The subheadings should answer the reader’s question, “what’s in it for me”. How will the content in that subheading help them? You need to spell it out.
Make sure you also include related keywords you came across from keyword research in your subheadings, but without being spammy about it.
Instead of “How to craft Pin descriptions” try “How to Craft Pin Descriptions that will drive tons of traffic”. See how both tell you what the content is about, but the second really points out why you would want to read that section.
Tips for Creating Content Readers Will Love
Like I mentioned earlier, if we’re being honest, we all skim content. Which is why your headings and subheadings need to be awesome, they are going to help the reader continue to read. But once you’ve hooked them into reading your post, you need to keep them hooked, which is where these elements come in.
No one like to stare at a wall of text, so breaking up the text with:
- videos (even if they aren’t yours – don’t steal just embed from youtube),
- Quotes that are broken out and set up to be tweetable,
- Section banners – if it’s a really long post consider adding section specific graphics
Using phrases that entice curiosity can also keep the reader moving down the page. Some examples could include:
- ellipses (…..)
- “but here is the thing”
Great Blog Posts Have to Be Great on Mobile Devices Too
In 2019, 52.2 percent of traffic came from mobile phones. (broadbandsearch.net). Additionally, Google has prioritized user experience particularly on mobile, which means for your post to do well it needs to be optimized for traffic from mobile devices.
It’s not just about page speed if you’re like most bloggers you probably are blogging on a laptop or desktop and hardly ever look at your site on your phone or tablet.
Take a minute right now to do that, go to your phone and open up your website, I’ll wait….
Is it easy to navigate? Easy to read posts? Is there a ton of unnecessary space? Too many ads? Is stuff squished and hard to read?
You can learn a lot just by looking at your site on your phone.
Next enter your blog name and a topic into a google search, what comes up on the search engine results page- is it showing up how you would like? Or do have some work to do on your meta descriptions?
Embedding Videos Can Increase Your Time on Page and Help Long Term SEO
People love to watch videos, oftentimes more than they want to read:
Currently, one third of all time spent online is accounted for by watching video and it is predicted that 80% of all internet traffic will come from video in 2019 Videos are engaging growing numbers of users and are consequently having an impact on the SERPs. (searchenginewatch.com)
So if you primarily have text-based content you might want to consider adding video to the mix.
And no, you don’t have to add create videos to your to-do list, if it’s not something you want to do.
Run a search on Youtube and see if there is a video that helps to explain your point or demonstrates it well. Grab the embed link and add it to your post. You help that YouTuber get more views, and encourage readers to stay on your page longer and lower your bounce rate.
A lower bounce rate tells Google that you have good content that provides readers with the answers they are looking for. The time on site is known as the “dwell time” and “According to SEO experts, ‘dwell time’ will take great prominence in your 2020 SEO strategy. (impactbnd.com)“Help Your Readers Find More Relevant Content
Keep Readers on Your Site
Keeping readers on your post is good, but keeping them on your site is even better. If you have related content on your own site, be sure to link to it using relevant anchor text.
In case you don’t know anchor text are the words that are linked, instead of a general “click here” you can link to the title or a phrase what they will learn when they click.
For example, while this post has been about blog post optimization, I’ve also got you covered when it comes to crafting strong search engine optimization for Pinterest.
While you definitely want to link to some of your own content to help your content strategy and keep people on your site. It’s wise to link to other sites as well.
As you can see in this post, I’ve linked to several for data and statistics that help prove my points.
Set Your Business Up For Success with Smart Lead Generation Built Into Your Blog Posts
Once you’ve done all the work to get a reader to your site, you don’t want them to just read and leave. You want them to DO something. Despite how much work content creation is, it doesn’t actually pay the bills if readers don’t do something….
- Click an affiliate link
- buy a product
- or ideally, sign up to your email list so you can stay in touch
“According to HubSpot’s marketing statistics , businesses that nurture their leads through email generate 50% more sales-ready leads and they do it at a cost that is lower, by 33%. (neilpatel.com)”
Don’t just have them join your “newsletter”
Which is why using your blog to grow your email list is one of the best goals to have. But a general “join my newsletter” opt-in form isn’t going to cut it. Try and target your readers by offering relevant offers to get them to sign up (though make sure you aren’t running afoul of GDPR).
This does not mean you need a different freebie or offer for every single blog post, those are called “content upgrades” and it used to be the standard, but it is a surefire way to stress yourself out and have a mess of a backend when it comes to your email marketing service (I use Convertkit).
The more common practice now is to have one offer/freebie for each overall category or topic on your site. So maybe 3-4 different freebies in total.
It allows you to present the most relevant freebie in various blog posts (you can use tools like Convertbox, or ThriveLeads to automate it) without the stress of creating a new freebie for every post.
Also, just a side note, if the post is just a one-off for some reason, even if it’s doing well, you don’t have to create a freebie to go with it.
Shout it From the Rooftops – Make Sure Everyone Has a Chance to See Your Blog Post
One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make, is that they focus all of their energy on creating content, they hit publish, and then they are done. They don’t spend nearly enough time marketing the amazing content they created.
If you’re marketing well, you may find you don’t need to create new blog posts as often. Make sure you’re getting the most out of every blog post you create.
At a minimum, you should be marketing each post by:
- Sending it to your email list and asking them to share if they think it’s worthy
- Contact any person or business you referenced in the post (email, twitter, etc, email before content goes live)
- Pitch it to be included in other’s guides to roundups (ex. Weekly or monthly roundups)
- Share it on whatever social media platforms you are active on
A Few Warnings
The strategies covered here will help you optimize your blog posts for search engines but there are a few things that if you do too much of, will actually hurt you….
Don’t Keyword Stuff
Yoast SEO or similar plugins can be great to help you see your keyword density. If you are using a keyword too much throughout your post, it’s going to look spammy and search engines will notice.
But remember, while Yoast SEO is a great tool to help you see how well optimized your post is, it’s not the end all be all. And it doesn’t actually tell Google what the post is optimized for.
Don’t Write for Algorithms
There are some incredible keyword research tools out there, some that will even help you come up with an outline of your post. While it’s totally fine to use them, make sure you aren’t just writing for algorithms.
If you do, you might rank pretty quickly, but if people get on your post and find it hard to read or not very helpful, you won’t rank for long.
Remember to write for people not just algorithms.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, one of the great things about having a blog is that there is very little that can’t be changed later. And in fact, updating older posts with new information can actually be a great way to improve SEO.
So remember, the most important thing to focus on is the user experience when they read your blog. Is it skimmable, mobile-friendly, does it tell them how it’s going to help them? Is it easy to look at, meaning it’s not just a wall of text?
The more it helps your reader the better it will do when it comes to bringing in more traffic.
So what are you going to do to make sure your next blog post is a hit? Let me know in the comments!