By now, you've probably heard the advice: you should be posting to your blog consistently, and regularly adding new content to your website. Strive for one blog post a week. Supplement your blog posts with social media postings twice a week. Make sure you're doing email blasts to get more eyes on your posts.
Look, none of these things are what I would consider to be "bad" advice. But too often, people get caught up in the scheduling aspect of creating new content and they start to lose focus on the *value* aspect of it. They start to care more about reaching their quota than they do about helping their customers, clients or communities. And that's when things start to go downhill. Most people, myself included, would prefer quality over quantity any day. And today, I'm going to help you out with that.
Today, we're going to look at what quality actually looks like, and what sorts of things determine whether that blog you wrote is a "good" blog, versus one that people are going to ignore. Below is a list of 10 criteria that every blog or article or video that you post should have, before it gets posted.
A title that hooks you
One of the single best things you can do to increase engagement with your blog posts is to spend the time thinking about a title that hooks the reader. Humans are naturally curious, and so if you can come up with a title that piques that curiosity, you will enjoy substantially higher engagement rates. For example, instead of "tips for a healthy morning routine", you might say "the one thing you should be doing each morning". Notice how instead of outlining what the article is "10 tips...", you are piquing curiosity by saying "the one thing...". When people see the second title, they begin to wonder "What is that one thing?" Even if they really aren't super concerned about having a healthy morning routine, they will often click on a title that piques their curiosity, just to have that curiosity satisfied. To read more, check out this formula for writing more engaging blog titles.
Have a clear intended audience
Any content will come out better when it is written to "somebody" instead of "everybody". Whenever you write a blog, it should be written to a very clear audience of people. There are very few universal topics that you can write about, that will apply to everybody. So, increase your effectiveness by identifying who your core audience is, or who would be most likely to benefit from your blog... and write directly to them.
Have a "large enough" audience.
Once you've identified who you will be writing to, the next step is to make sure that audience is large enough to where it actually reaches a good sized group of people. I'm not saying that it has to be an audience of several million people. But, there should be at least 1000 people in your core group of visitors who would take value from what you're saying. If you run a business that sells motorcycle accessories, then writing a blog that talks about the latest Harry Potter movie is likely going to fall flat to your readers. Not necessarily because it's a bad blog, but rather, because it doesn't really cater to your audiences core reasons for reading your blog.
Have a clear goal.
While this is not necessarily something that will be explicitly written in the blog, as the author, you should have always a clear idea of what you want the outcome to be when somebody reads it. Whether it is scheduling an appointment, leaving a comment, signing up for a newsletter, or registering for an event... each post should have some action that the reader takes, that helps grow your business.
Be about something that people actually search for.
Use the Google keywords research tool (https://adwords.google.com/) to look up keywords associated with the subject you are writing about. If you do a keyword search and see that there are only 3000 monthly searches for that topic, then chances are your blog is not going to get a lot of eyes on it. Some might argue that if there are a low number of searches, then it will be easier to stand out, as there is a lot more noise with more popular searches. But, I think the key here is to not mistake a low number of searches with the amount of content out there for it. Just because not a lot of people search for something, doesn't automatically mean that there aren't a lot of pages out there with content for it.
Include a call to action.
Every blog or video should end with some statement inviting the user to interact. "To get started, schedule your appointment", or "Get regular updates by joining our newsletter." Always give users a "next step".
Include an invitation for discussion.
Encourage people to comment, share, and respond with their own stories, thoughts, rebuttals, etc.
Include a story or a personal touch.
Human beings are naturally drawn towards a good story. Whether it is being told in a book, a television series, a movie, or by a friend - something told in the form of a story will always cause us to be more engaged listeners than simply listening to a list of statements that are not leading to some kind of resolution. So as you write blogs, if you can weave a personal story throughout, it will certainly have more sticking power than if you simply string together a bunch of talking points.
Be written with passion.
Passion is contagious, and something that people can sense. Whenever people are excited about something, other people tend to notice, because they want to take part in whatever it is that is exciting. An article or video published that lacks passion tends to read like a book report. However, when there is interest there, and the author clearly loves talking about their area of expertise, it causes people to want to listen.
Have a clear value to the reader.
I've been saying this over and over and over again to anybody who will listen. Every single thing we put out in the world should have a clear value to the reader. This builds trust, establishes you as an expert, and creates a camaraderie between you and the reader. If the value is lacking, then essentially you are merely wasting your readers time, and that changes how people feel about you. I'm not saying that every blog you release is going to be equally valuable to every reader - but every blog you release should have a clear value to SOME reader. With everything you post, you should do a gut-check. Is this something that if you yourself came across, that you would share it? If not - why are you posting it? Create genuine value for people, and avoid writing just for the sake of writing.
At the end of the day, there is no real one-size-fits-all solution for writing effective blogs. However, there are always some timeless best practices available, which can make the difference between a well-read blog and a blog that nobody reads. What do you guys think? What are some things that you have noticed cause you to click on and read something? Share your two cents by commenting below.