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13 Must-Have Elements Of An Exceptional Blog Post

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13 Must-Have Elements Of An Exceptional Blog Post

One in five bloggers reports their blog delivers strong marketing results – 22%.

That’s it – and this percentage has been steadily declining over the past three years.

That can’t be true, can it?

Why are the vast majority of blogs not delivering strong marketing results?

My theory is that there is a lot of overly generalized advice in the content marketing industry:

“Write for users, not Google.”

Google rewards high-quality content.”

“It’s about search intent.”

Okay, but what is high-quality content?

The bar is high. This article will help you get your content the respect it richly deserves by breaking down 13 essential elements of an exceptional blog post.

1. Compelling Topic

Your audience has to care about the topic.

If you’re not entirely sure what topics your audience cares about, there are a few places to start.

Find which pages support your business objectives in Google Analytics.

Ask your sales teams what questions potential customers are asking most frequently.

Or, look directly at your on-site search to see what products or services people are looking for.

Interact with members of your audience within social media channels that are related to your industry.

These are all great places to source content topics that are of great interest to your audience.

2. Search-Friendly URL

Google recommends keeping a simple, short URL structure whenever possible.

Do not use long ID numbers in your URLs or time-specific elements such as date and year. Overly complex URLs can cause problems for crawlers and are not helpful to humans.

For instance, this:

https://www.example.com/blog/2022/06/thirteen-elements-of-a-good-blog-post-that-delivers-results/

Can become this:

https://www.example.com/blog/elements-of-a-good-blog/

Be descriptive with your URL so that someone who sees the link will know exactly what to expect when they click on it.

3. Include An Author

Showcasing the author gives a blog article more credibility, context, and authenticity.

Link the author’s name to a profile page (with a photo) where readers can explore other articles by the author and feel like they’re reading something from a real person.

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Doing so will encourage your readers to engage with your brand on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

4. Table Of Contents

Using a table of contents at the top of posts organizes your content making it easy for users and bots to navigate.

Anchor links in a table of contents help your readers quickly get to the information they are most interested in.

Search engines love a table of contents! It’s not guaranteed, but they are often pulled into Google search and displayed as sitelinks.

5. Powerful Headline

A powerful headline attracts your audience to your blog and gets your post page views.

Without a headline that attracts eyes, a good blog post is lost among the vast sea that is the internet.

Spend time crafting the perfect catchy title to reel in readers and make them want to read your article.

SEJ provides 12 tips to turn an average headline into one that is exceptional and entices clicks.

6. Interesting Introduction

While a good headline attracts clicks to your site, it is the introduction that turns a site visitor into a reader.

For an introduction to resonate, readers need to understand what you’re talking about and care about what you have to say.

You don’t need to give them the answer to their question yet, just enough information to give them a reason to care.

SEJ provides seven ways to write blog introductions your readers and Google will love.

7. Compelling Subheadings

Headlines and subheadings highlight the main elements of the topic making the article easy to scan and leading the reader through the content.

Using keywords in subheadings helps search engines identify the content and quickly tells the reader the main points within the article.

This does not mean you should force keywords into subheadings. Keywords need to make sense and sound natural.

Subheadings should be formatted with the title tag hierarchy. This means that you use progressively smaller heading formats.

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For most articles, you only need to use H2s, but if you need to separate an H2 with a lot of content, you can use an H3.

Make sure you’re using header tags properly as recommended in this SEJ article on SEO best practices.

8. Length

I frequently hear studies claiming anywhere between 1,500 to 3,000 words is the ideal content length for articles.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter.

Length will vary by content style, topic, and audience.

A good blog is as long as it needs to be and as long as your audience will read.

Use page depth (scroll) tracking in Google Analytics (or Hotjar) to see how far users are reading your blog articles.

Try hiding a subsection answer within an accordion for users to interact with, you can tag this event to see if you’re keeping users engaged that far into the article or not.

9. Appealing Visuals

We respond to and process visual data far better than text.

And not just a little bit – 60,000 times faster.

How the human brain processes complex information is what makes visualization so important.

Using charts or graphs to explain complex data is much easier than trudging through a large amount of text.

Just be sure to optimize your images for search. SEJ shares 12 important image SEO tips you need to know.

10. Conclusion

By the end of your article, your reader may have forgotten a few of the points you made earlier in the piece.

A good blog post will summarize the key takeaways from the article and guide your reader on what to do next.

The point is not to reiterate your points, but to help your audience draw actionable conclusions from your blog post.

Decide what action you want your blog reader to take. Maybe you want them to sign up for email, follow on social, or check out a product or service you offer.

The point here is to inspire your reader to take your desired action.

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Without links, the internet would be an organized mess of pages. It would be really difficult to navigate (find what we were looking for.)

A good blog post makes navigation intuitive for users and easy for search engines to crawl.

Internal links help connect related topics for search engines and provide further research that may interest the reader.

John Mueller explained in an SEO After Hours video:

“…internal linking is super critical for SEO.

I think it’s one of the biggest things that you can do on a website to kind of guide Google and guide visitors to the pages that you think are important.”

External links are best used to cite sources and act as an endorsement for high-quality content.

12. Schema

Schema markup is an essential element of a good blog post because it helps search engines identify your page as a blog post instead of product pages, system pages, or other content.

There are a few schema markup types that apply to blog posts, articles, and news.

There is also FAQ, How-To, Breadcrumbs, Speakable, and more.

13. Suggest Related Blog Posts

At this point, you have a well-structured blog post that includes the technical aspects of ranking a page and an engaging copy that entertains and informs the reader through to the end.

Now, you want to improve the likelihood that your readers will stay on your site and ideally convert at the end.

At the end of your blog post, display a few (three max) blog articles that are related to the same topic cluster.

Final Thoughts

The 13 elements in this article help users care about your blog article and help search engines better understand how the topic relates to your website as a whole.

Aside from these technical elements, there is a strong argument for style, delivery, and prose.

To continue learning, browse Search Engine Journal’s contributors and on-staff writers. Select five writers you enjoy reading and follow their content to study what makes them great.

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Featured Image: Lyubov Levitskaya/Shutterstock



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8 Secrets From Popular Blogs

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8 Secrets From Popular Blogs

How do you get more traffic to your blog or website? There are plenty of ways to increase web traffic, but some methods are better than others.

If you look at popular blogs, you can see what they are doing right, providing insight into different strategies or tactics you can take for your content strategy.

Now let’s break down the eight ways you can increase website traffic with insights from popular blogs and brands:

1. Get The Story First

Business Insider is one of the world’s fastest-growing financial, media, and tech blogs.

As it generates more than 49 million website visitors per month, there’s no doubt there’s some golden knowledge to uncover about its content strategy.

The key takeaway from this high-performing website include:

Creating Great Digital Content Fast

The news site was before its time because it focused primarily on digital content from the beginning. Not print content. Not broadcasting content.

They knew where their target audience was heading and got ahead of the curve.

Today, the need to create digital content is a no-brainer. So, what makes their existing content strategy different?

Timeliness

Business Insider always gets the inside scoop first. They stay ahead of the latest news stories, constantly chase leads, and update their articles with new facts as quickly as possible.

They don’t thrive on evergreen content, and that works for them. Instead, they aim to get the story first, attract the first clicks, and circulate trending content quickly.

This means that you, too, can have an ever-present content strategy by creating timely content and circulating it to the right platforms.

While having evergreen content is fantastic, there’s something to be said for creating fresh, “trending” content.

That’s because users not only look for answers to age-old questions but also for content relevant to what’s happening worldwide.

2. Publish With Purpose

Arianna Huffington’s namesake blog, Huffington Post or HuffPost, was never meant to be a business. Yet, since its start in 2005, the site quickly climbed the ranks to being one of the most popular blogs in the world.

The Huffington Post has become a massive success in web traffic and notoriety – bringing in thousands of daily visitors and becoming a household name as a political blog.

So, what made Huffington Post a traffic success? They publish with a purpose.

The Huffington Post originally started as a political news site to inform the public about critical global issues. It was the founder’s direct response to the corporate-controlled, money-hungry news sites. This resonated with people.

Finally, a website offered unbiased news stories and opinion pieces from both sides of the aisle. It fulfilled the public’s need for honest and raw political dialogue.

Avoiding Burnout

The Huffington Post’s shift from purpose to profit is a somewhat cautionary tale. Burnout is inevitable if you lose track of what value you aim to provide your audience.

Huffington experienced this when her site quickly grew far beyond what she originally envisioned. It became too much of a business.

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Many content creators get into this predicament.

They create content focused on keywords, conversion rates, and click costs. But unfortunately, they forget that traffic and conversions are often proportional to the amount of interest their audience has in the content.

Before you create content, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I asked my audience directly what they are interested in reading?
  • Do I know their pain points, fears, needs, and desires?
  • Do I have the data to support this, or am I assuming this is what they want?
  • What is the primary purpose of this content?
  • What is the ultimate goal that I want to achieve with this content?
  • What action do I want users to take when they read this content?

Don’t veer too far away from the purpose of your content. Focusing on pleasing Google or optimizing for clicks will get you part of the way, but it won’t be enough to keep users interested in and engaging with your content.

3. Attract Reliable Sources

If Business Insider is the king of world news, then TMZ is the drama queen of Hollywood news.

TMZ is known for breaking the biggest stories in celebrity gossip and entertainment.

While TMZ hasn’t graced us with much insight into their traffic stats or strategy, a little detective work reveals a big secret about their success.

The Secret: ‘Tipsters’

As a content creator and writer, I was curious about where TMZ sources its writers (and how they find the juiciest stories).

Their website only uncovered that they hire a few “field reporters” and “researchers.” But, I wondered, who tips them off to the hottest celebrity gossip?

The answer, I discovered, is “tipsters.” Tipsters are their people “on the ground.” People who go digging for the inside scoop.

These people don’t work directly for TMZ but are incentivized to offer expert knowledge or reveal sensitive information to the magazine. As a result, they typically receive payment or notoriety.

The concept of “tipsters” sounds unsurprisingly similar to another type of content strategy: expert-generated content. TMZ has created a low-cost, consistent content creation model based on incentivization. And you can do the same.

Expert-Generated Content

This can take the form of expert interviews, roundup posts, webinars, podcasts, guest posts, and video content.

The idea is to incentivize industry experts to create content for your site, tip you off to new content ideas, and then share your content with their audiences.

You can hack this strategy for your site by inviting experts to create content for you or to participate in a piece of content you are making.

Open your site to guest posts, video contributions, exclusive interviews, or expert quotes. This will help you create a greater volume of content and broaden your reach.

In addition, a little ego boost can go a long way.

4. Boost Referral Traffic

The Verge is a “Jack of all trades” publication covering everything from entertainment to tech to science and product reviews.

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Launched in 2011, they publish a combination of new articles, guidebooks, podcasts, and feature interviews. A common marketing saying is, “The riches are in the niches.”

Since The Verge doesn’t have a clear niche, it begs the question: How do they get their content to rank and generate so much traffic?

Verge’s traffic comes in via referral sites. The sites primarily reference the blog’s product reviews.

Not only do these referral sites send traffic to The Verge via external links from their content, but they boost the blog’s authority as well.

Affiliate Marketing

Verge’s content strategy reveals an excellent opportunity for websites to generate traffic from sources beyond organic search. This is especially the case for affiliate websites.

Suppose the purpose of your website is to promote affiliate products. In that case, your traffic strategy will benefit greatly from you creating content that draws attention from other industry-leading websites.

Not only will users venturing from these websites be interested in your content and products (making them more likely to convert), but high authority backlinks could give your site that added SEO boost.

What this looks like is creating content that provides value to your preferred referral sites – content that:

  • Reviews their products.
  • Offers comparisons of their products over competitors.
  • References other articles on their website.

By publishing content that provides value to other sites in your industry, you have the opportunity to create a whole additional traffic source beyond organic search.

5. Publish User-Generated Content

Lifehacker’s tagline “Do everything better” is a bold assertion that users can hack their way to success in life. (Ironic, perhaps, that we are doing the same regarding your content strategy here.)

The blog offers helpful, often time-saving and money-saving tips for how to work better, live longer, and lead a happier life.

Many of their articles are bite-sized posts that reveal one or two hacks or a bulleted list of tips.

Lifehacker doesn’t rely on keywords to come up with click-worthy content ideas. Instead, they generate a treasure trove of blog topics by asking their audience what they want to read.

How Do I Come Up With Blog Post Ideas?

Despite countless SEO and idea-generating tools, website owners still have difficulty finding topics that draw in traffic and keep their audience engaged.

That’s because we – myself included – often overcomplicate the process.

We try to guess what our readers want. First, we dig into the search data to see which keywords get the most volume. Then, we try to imitate the content our competitors are creating.

Your readers will often tell you exactly what they want. All you need to do is ask.

If you have an existing presence on social media, you can easily reach out to your target audience to get their input on what topics they are interested in.

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You can also source ideas from the comments section, email responses, reviews, or feedback from past clients or customers.

Don’t overcomplicate. Start with your audience and generate a list of topics they want to read about. Then, use SEO tools to identify the appropriate keywords to target in that content.

6. Check Your Facts

VeryWell Health was founded in 2016 and quickly became a reliable source for health enthusiasts and trainers. They exceed at multiple aspects of establishing a popular blog, but none more than creating well-researched and accurate blogs.

The first step when writing any article is to check facts. It’s the foundation of creating a blog that people rely on and trust.

This includes checking your resources and spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Just think when you’re reading a blog, and there are grammar errors, links to outdated or broken resources, or purely incorrect facts. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy to stop getting return visitors.

But there’s a simple fix. Between tools like Grammarly or having another set of eyes fact-check and copyedit your work, you can easily avoid these pitfalls.

And remember, providing reliable tools and resources for your readers is a reliable way to keep people coming back.

7. Establish Editorial Guidelines

Treehugger is an excellent example of establishing editorial guidelines.

With the structure created by founder Graham Hill and their growing team, they established a foundation for research, making it easier for their consumers to get the information they need quickly.

Creating a vigorous and thorough standard operating procedure (SOP) can help brands avoid the previously discussed difficulties and streamline the editorial process.

This way, businesses can get blogs out quickly and efficiently.

8. Incorporate Interactivity

If you engage on social media, you’ve most likely taken a Buzzfeed quiz or read one of their engaging articles.

The amount of interaction they see with their content and through comments on social media or reactions on their site is unparalleled.

They are a prime example of creating an interactive space for readers and consumers. Through their site, you can have an inclusive and fun experience.

In addition, they allow their followers to rate articles with relatable themes such as “LOL” and “Win.” This helps readers feel like they are engaging in a like-minded community.

We can learn from Buzzfeed. For example, creating an interactive capability for a blog can help develop a sense of community.

You can accomplish this by properly organizing your information and leaving options to add comments or questions to your blog posts.

Final Takeaways

Regarding increasing website traffic, bloggers have been doing it right for years.

Taking time to understand why popular blogs perform well can give you ideas about what you need to do to improve your blogs.

Using these insights for your blogs can provide a steady stream of eager visitors to read what you produce.

More Resources:


Featured Images: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock



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