These days, it seems like everyone has a blog. For anyone trying to find success with content marketing, the competition can seem overwhelming. The truth, however, is that not all the blogs out there are good blogs. Some of them are downright bad. To rise above the noise, you need to know the eight secrets of good blogs.1. Relevancy
Good blogs are written with an audience in mind, and the topics are ones that readers in that target audience care about.
One way to do this is to create a buyer persona. Think of it as a personification of your target customer. Instead of writing for a vague audience, you’re writing for a fictional character you invented to represent that audience. To get started, ask yourself questions about your ideal customer.
- What is this person’s age?
- Where does this person live?
- How does this person earn a living?
- What does this person worry about?
Use any data you have when answering these questions. For example, if you have information about people who have signed up for newsletters, use it. Once you’ve created your buyer persona, think about the types of blog posts that person would want to read, and write them.
Another way to identify relevant topics is to comb through your previous posts. Look through your data to see what kinds of posts got the most views, comments and shares. These are the posts you need to write more of. On the flip side, if any posts received dismal engagement numbers, you should either avoid those topics in the future or rework them into something more appealing.
If you don’t have many successful posts to learn from, look elsewhere for inspiration. This can be as easy as going to YouTube or Google, typing in your keywords and seeing what ranks. These high-ranking results represent the topics that people in your target audience find interesting. Think about what you can add to the conversation, and write blog posts about that.
Finally, if you’re out of ideas, try HubSpot’s blog topic generator. Simply enter up to three keywords, and it will provide you with blog topic ideas. Don’t expect all of these ideas to be a perfect match for your audience. You’ll need to assess each of them to find the right fit. When you’re out of ideas, though, this can be a great source of inspiration.2. Consistency
Good blogs publish new content at least once a week. To do this, an editorial calendar is essential. Don’t wait until the day you plan to publish to start brainstorming. You need to plan your topics in advance, so you can stay on track.
When you plan out your content schedule, consider these points:
- What are the major categories you want to cover regularly?
- How can you answer the questions on your readers minds?
- Do you want to feature subject matter experts on your team?
- Are their seasonal topics to include? Work these into your schedule.
- Are there news headlines you can leverage? Some topics are timely and need to be addressed immediately.
Your headlines are the first thing readers see. If they aren’t attention-grabbing, they’ll also be the last thing readers see. You need to create headlines that entice people to keep reading.
The ideal headline is specific, informative and interesting. To get a sense of what this means, consider the following headlines. Which do you think is better?
- Tips for Agents
- 12 Simple Ways Life Insurance Agents Can Get More Referrals
The second one is obviously superior, right? The first one is far too vague. Tips to do what? What kind of agent? Both the intended audience and the content are unclear. The second option targets a specific audience (life insurance agents) and explains exactly what will follow (12 ways to get more referrals).
Notice that it uses a number (12) and an adjective (simple). These are both proven strategies.
Also notice that it’s not click-bait. Sensational titles might get some clicks, but they may not reach your target audience, and they probably won’t lead to conversions. You also run the risk of annoying readers.
For more tips on writing catchy headlines, check out the infographic Head to Write Better Headlines.4. Helpful, Rich Content
If your blog doesn’t have anything helpful to say, not even the catchiest titles will keep readers coming back. Don’t just post general ideas that anyone could provide. Provide useful information. Even if you’re an expert on the topic you’re writing about, this will generally involve some research.
Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is provide links to useful sites and tools. While this means that you will be sending traffic to another site, it’s also a great way of establishing yourself as essential source of useful resources.
Providing helpful extras doesn’t always require links, however. You can make your post more useful and rich by including images. Saying that a picture is worth a thousand words might be trite, but it’s also true.
Buffer found that tweets with images get 150 percent more retweets than tweets without images. It’s not just on Twitter, either. BuzzSumo found that Facebook updates with images earned 2.3 times more engagements than updates without images.
People like images. They catch the eye, which is important when you’re vying with all the other content out there for attention. Images can also supply information, especially when you’re dealing with infographics and charts.
Videos are another option, and one that’s increasingly popular. According to HubSpot, 43 percent of people say they want marketers to provide more video content. Creating how-to videos and similar content can be a great way of providing the information people want in the way they want it.5. Subheads
Just as images are good, solid blocks of dense text are bad. Many of your readers will be scanners. They won’t read the entire post from beginning to end, at least not at first. Instead, they’ll start by scanning it to see if there’s anything they can use. This may be all they ever do – and that’s OK.
Make your blog appealing to scanners by including subheads. This makes it easy for people to assess the content at a glance and zero in on the parts they’re interested in.6. SEO Awareness
A good blog’s main purpose may be engaging visitors, but it can easily contribute to your SEO strategy as well. You want people to find your amazing blog posts, after all.
As you create your content schedule, choose topics that support your keyword strategy. If your blog posts naturally include these phrases due to the topic, good SEO will be much easier to achieve. Note that you do not need to stuff your post with as many keywords as possible. This strategy is outdated and leads to clunky material no one wants to read. Use keywords in ways that sound natural.
You also need to consider SEO when writing page titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags for your blog. These items are important when it comes to how Google sees your site, as well as how people search and share your posts. Make your page titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags purposeful and clear.7. Call to Action
A good blog should not focus on self-promotion, but it should have a strong call to action. This is how you can create content that people want to read while still promoting your business.
To understand why this is important, you need to understand how people view ads. Global use of adblocking software grew 30 percent in 2016, according to the 2017 Adblock Report from PageFair. People are bombarded with ads every day. They might actively avoid them. They generally won’t seek them out. If your blog post reads like an ad, this is a problem.
At the same time, people do seek out helpful content. By providing this, you can attract their attention. Then you end with a call to action. This is a short directive that suggests readers take a simple action.
For example, the call to action might direct readers to other blog posts, downloadable content or videos on your site. This can entice them stay on your site a little while longer, thereby becoming more familiar with your brand. If they’d like to share their contact information with you to obtain a valuable piece of downloadable content, that’s even better.8. Promotion
A good blog with no promotion is like a guy dressed in a tux with nowhere to go. No one will know your blog is great until they actually see it.
While your blog writing shouldn’t focus on self-promotion, promotion of your blog is essential. There are many different ways to do this, and you should use more than one.
- Promote through the social channels that your target audience uses, like Facebook and Twitter.
- Share through LinkedIn Publishing. LinkedIn has more than 500 million members. Especially when it comes to B2B content, this social media platform should not be ignored.
- Invite the professionals you’ve quoted to share it with their audiences. It’s a way for both parties to earn recognition.
- Run a pay-per-click promotion through Google or Facebook. Organic methods are great, but sometimes you need to pay to play.
- Make a video of your blog and post it on YouTube. This is a great way to reach a new group of people.
- Deliver it directly to your readers. You can achieve this by emailing it out to your prospect list or by featuring your blogs in a monthly e-newsletter.