Wondering why your blog posts aren’t performing? You know content marketing is important for your small business, but do you know how to write a great blog post?
Blog posts are often tied directly to conversion goals. So your posts need to build trust with readers and solve a customer’s problem to convince readers to take action, but first your content must be found.
If you are struggling to rank content or convert visitors, keep reading to learn our approach for creating content that outperforms the competition. In this post, we cover:
How to Write Blogs that Rank
Before we begin, it is important to note that if you want to rank content, you must first know how to build a solid website and online presence:
Has your website been around long enough to build up some authority?
Do other sites link to your site?
Do you have a social media following? Or another method of promoting your content once it is published?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then your blogs have the potential to rank.
1. Write What You Know
Writing takes time, and there is already a lot of noise on the web, so don’t just write to write. If you want your blogs to rank higher on Google, you need to provide real value to your visitors.
Notice, we aren’t saying that you must begin with keyword research. You certainly can begin there, but often we find that simply starting with topics we know well produces great results. You can always optimize for keywords after the initial draft.
Writing strategies that have worked well for us:
Choose topics that interest or intrigue you and it will be easier to stay focused on the writing process. Just make sure they are relevant to your business.
Focus on evergreen topics that can bring in traffic for years. These posts can be expanded upon or updated at later dates. Example here.
Provide educational material for potential and existing clients. If you find yourself answering the same question over and over, write an article on the topic, and it can serve as reference material for clients. See examples here and here.
Check out your competition. As you begin to generate topic ideas, see who you are going up against. You will need to write a better article than your competitors. If the competition is fierce, how can you differentiate your content?
2. Take Your Time
Google’s goal is to present high-quality content to search engine users. Publishing a blog post that will outperform competitors doesn't happen in a matter of minutes. It takes time to draft a well-written article. Some of the best content can take weeks to compile and fact check.
3. Structure Your Blog Post
Blogs that are formatted well encourage reader engagement. Articles should be digestible because readers scan quickly. Studies show that while most users visit websites for information, paradoxically they only read at most 28% of the words on a page. Your main points and takeaways should be obvious — this is especially important for longer, in-depth articles.
How to structure a blog post:
Format Your Text
Certain formatting techniques help to create an organized flow to a blog post as well as make it easier for your readers to scan quickly, these include:
Keep Paragraphs Short
Long blocks of text are intimidating and difficult to read, so break up longer paragraphs into manageable chunks. Review your article, if you see any blocks that are longer than about five lines long, evaluate how you can break up that text.
Make Font Size Larger
Check your font size. Is it at least 18 pixels? Your content needs to be easily readable by all demographics. If your readers have to pinch and zoom or squint to read, then you’ve created friction in the user experience. Anyone over the age of forty will thank you for a larger font size. When it comes to fonts, bigger is better.
Use Legible Colors and Fonts
Is your font color too light against the background? Can you choose a simpler font? If you currently use a serif font, consider switching to sans serif for the main body text.
Adjust Column Width
How wide are your text blocks? If they are too wide, it makes reading difficult. Try tightening up your column width to a max of 75 characters — this can help make blog content easier to read.
For longer articles, break the content up into different sections. Then include a table of contents near the top of the article with anchor links to the sections below.
4. Optimize Your Blog for SEO
After your draft is written, you’ll want to evaluate SEO elements. Some key points to remember for optimized content:
Keywords — Learn how to find keywords to make your article SEO-friendly and attract readers. Use keywords sparingly as too much repetition is frowned upon by search engines — you don't want your blog post penalized.
General SEO — Consider your title tag, URL, image alt-text, headings, etc.
Proper Structure — User experience (UX) and SEO go hand-in-hand. See the section above on how to structure content in a pleasing manner.
Internal Linking — Remember to link to other relevant pages or articles on your site. Help users find the content they need and guide them around your site. After publishing a new blog, you can revisit older posts and link to the new content where applicable.
5. Write a Clear Headline
Headlines should be descriptive, clear, and concise. Potential readers want to quickly determine if a post is something they'd like to read. Do your blogs generally perform well in search? If so, then your headlines are probably clear on topic keywords. Catchy titles may be fun, but they're not descriptive.
Do analytics show your readers primarily find your content on social media and forums? If so, then you have more leeway with headline wording. But no matter how readers find your content, a headline should clearly indicate what to expect.
6. Craft an Introduction
After a great headline, give your readers a little information about what the post will cover. Let readers know how the content will help them. Grab their attention and keep them interested so they continue to read, otherwise you risk having them bounce on to the next article.
7. Include a Short Conclusion and Call to Action
If someone reaches the end of your blog post, give them a conclusion of what was covered in the post. You have one last chance to encourage your reader to spend more time on the page or explore your site further.
Finally, ask your reader to take relevant action. Perhaps your readers will want to subscribe to a newsletter, shop for a product, follow you on social media, or download more information. Whatever it is, make the conversion easy for them to do.
8. Optimize for Mobile
This step often gets overlooked. Use your phone to make sure content is optimized for mobile. Is the post responsive? Does your content display as expected?
9. Publish & Promote
After publishing your article, you need to promote it. Share the blog on relevant social media accounts. Build links to your content. Promoting content can be just as time-consuming as writing.
10. Analyze & Revise
After a couple of weeks, if your blog post is not performing, take a fresh look at how you can optimize your content for ranking or converting visitors:
Is your post as high-quality as it can be? Don’t be afraid to make additions or revisions.
Use analytics to determine the keywords your content ranks for — you might want to rethink your keyword strategy. Can you target less competitive keywords?
Can you add more value? Can you further differentiate your article from the competition?
Struggling with conversions? Reconsider the placement of CTAs. Test different language. Reevaluate your offer.
Continue to analyze and revise over time as needed.
How long should a blog post be for SEO?
Common sense tells us there is no ideal length for blog posts. The answer: it depends. It depends on the industry, the subject matter, the reader, etc. For success, you will want to match your content goals with your searcher’s goals — don’t make the average word count of blog posts a top priority. Instead, go for high-quality and value.
Long-Form Content vs Short-Form Content
What is your audience looking for? Long-form content is often regarded as more authoritative, but a short-form post might be all that is needed to answer a particular question. You can look to see how others handle the same topic to determine what is effective. Even then you might identify an opportunity to more fully answer a question or provide a more succinct answer.
And don’t confuse a short blog post with “thin content”. Google defines thin content as low-quality or shallow pages with little or no added value. Shorter blogs providing unique or valuable content and matching searcher intent can and do rank. On our own blog, our best performing posts range anywhere from 700 words to 3000+ words.
How often should you publish blogs?
Again, the answer is: it depends. It depends on your goals, your industry, the size of your organization, etc. Your posting frequency could range from daily, weekly, monthly, to quarterly. No matter how often you post, focus on quality over quantity and your content will earn attention from others which can help your conversion goals.
How do you earn featured snippets?
What happens when you write great content and structure it properly? Well, besides ranking higher in the SERPs, Google might use your content as a “featured snippet”. Featured snippets, or rich answers, are the answers to a Google search question that appear in a box at the top of the SERPs. This is often called position zero.
Becoming a featured snippet has the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your site. And for voice searches, Google begins most responses with, "According to site name," which helps promote your brand.
Featured snippet example:
How do you get featured snippets? To increase the chances of your content becoming a featured snippet, identify long-tail keywords searchers are using and create content that addresses that specific query. And following the steps listed above, make sure the information is structured so that it is easy to read.
Note, if desired, you can always opt out of featured snippets.
Building a Better Blog
If your small business publishes content, you want that content to stand a chance of ranking and engage your audience. The process boils down to high-quality content, proper structure, and promotion.
The tips above on how to blog are the same ones we use for our clients. Follow this approach and you will be one step closer to ranking your content. Good luck!
Related Resource // Content Strategy for Small Business
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