11 Best Practices for Results-Driven Blog Posts ↘
Blogging is old news, and has been for awhile. WordPress launched in 2003, and by the late 2000’s, tens of millions of bloggers—from business professionals to angsty teens—had discovered their digital megaphone.
The blogosphere has evolved over the past two decades, and only the strongest brands have survived. By “survive,” I mean showing up on the first SERP (search engine result page), because everything after page one might as well be the frozen tundra of Antarctica.
(No one goes there, and if they do, they don’t trust it.)
Across the internet, there’s chatter about blogging becoming extinct. But it’s not a question of extinction. It’s a question of purpose—is blogging right for your business?
If you decide it is, you’re not alone. Blogging has become increasingly competitive, making it more difficult to do effectively, especially if you’re just starting out.
Wherever you are on the journey, this article will teach you the ultimate purpose of blogging and how to write an effective article that can drive results at every stage of the customer journey.
Hint: It all starts with value.
The ultimate purpose of business blogging
First and foremost, a blog must deliver value. Your audience has a problem or a question. The purpose of your article is to provide a solution or an answer. An article that delivers real value is more likely to come full circle and bring value back to you.
Before we explore the 11 best practices of blogging, let’s breakdown the standard blog post. By understanding its various elements and each element’s purpose, we can write more valuable content that motivates customers to act.
6 elements of the standard blog post
The standard blog consists of 6 elements, and each element has one purpose: getting your audience to read the post and act accordingly.
- Headline: Catches attention, addresses a need, and compels users to read the post.
- Subheader: Gives more info and further explains the headline; not essential
- Section Headers: Makes your article skimmable and less daunting to start reading.
- Photos: Provides context and generates interest.
- Content: Delivers value by answering a question or solving a problem.
- Call to Action: Creates urgency and motivates readers to act, usually by clicking a link.
[Disclaimer: some of these principles have been adapted for blogging from Joseph Sugarman’s philosophy on print advertising, as read in The Adweek Copywriting Handbook. It’s a worthwhile read.]
The first five elements seen above have one purpose—to get your audience to read the first sentence. The goal is to create a “slippery slide” that pulls the reader through your blog post, like gravity, until they’ve read it all.
How to do it? The first sentence must be short and interesting and make them want to read the second sentence. The second sentence should make them want to read the third, and so on. But one thing’s for sure. It’s almost impossible to write “slippery slide” content without delivering real value.
The goal of the sixth element, the call to action, is to get your audience to act. It’s this step that can bring value back to you, but first you have to nail the first five elements.
Sound like a lot of work? Sure is, but it’s worth it.
By delivering real value, you can get value back.
How to deliver value in a blog post
Here are 11 tips for writing a great blog post that gets read, delivers value, and motivates readers to act.
- Know your audience.
Determine the topic of your blog post. It should be specific enough to have a defined audience.
Ask yourself, what’s their question? What’s their problem? Reaching everyone is impossible so don’t even try. Know your audience and talk to them.
2. Research keywords.
Research relevant keywords to optimize your post for search engines. Make a list. Consider using Google Keyword Planner.
Pro tip: By exploring forums like Reddit you can see what people in your demographic are talking about. Keyworddit helps you find top keywords by subreddit and includes forum links for each keyword.
3. Read topical posts.
To get a feel for writing style, read other topical blog posts that seem to have the same audience as you.
4. Become an expert.
People trust experts, so be one. Research the topic thoroughly to become an expert. It’s hard to deliver real value if you aren’t well informed.
Hubspot and Copyhackers do this super well. Subscribe to the Copyhackers newsletter to find out for yourself. Do almost any marketing related Google search and you’ll find a valuable Hubspot article on the first page of results.
5. Follow the 80/20 rule.
Eighty percent of your content should be interesting and informative. In short, it should deliver value. The other 20% can talk about your product or service. In my opinion, 90/10 might be an even better ratio starting out.
You can include one or two brief calls to action (CTA) throughout the article, but the majority of self talk should be at the end. And please, please, make the transition natural. If your product or service actually delivers value, it should be easy to transition naturally into the added value your brand provides.
6. Use section headers.
Use section headers, bullet points, and other text elements to make your blog post more readable. A wall of text with no foreseeable breaks is off putting to all audiences.
7. Incorporate keywords.
Incorporate the strongest keywords into your content, but don’t keyword stuff. Even with keywords included, the post should flow and read naturally.
8. Share a definitive opinion.
Take a stand and share a definitive opinion. Be clear and direct. Be the expert your readers need. Great blog posts aren’t passive or subtle.
9. Finish with a CTA.
The call to action can offer something of value behind an email address form. This lets you gather key contact info by offering something people want. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:
- Case study
- Bonus tips
- Educational resource
- Free Consultation
The CTA can also link to a relevant landing page where your audience can do a specific action like request a quote, learn more about your product, etc.
10. Create meta tags.
SEO makes all the difference. If your post doesn’t show up in the first Search Engine Result Page (SERP), it won’t get the views you’re probably looking for. How often do you go to the second page of Google results?
To help with SEO, find relevant images that give context to your post and use the strongest keywords from your initial research to create the following:
- Image alt-text
- Title tag
- Meta description
11. Write the best headline.
Write a compelling headline that does the following:
- Catches your audience’s attention
- Addresses their need/question
- Compels them to read your blog post
- Includes one of the strongest keywords
How blogging has become competitive, not extinct.
These 11 best practices will help you write a strong article for your business. A strong article delivers real value. And real value can increase awareness, build link juice over time (key for SEO), and move people through your sales funnel.
These insights will jumpstart your business blogging, but here’s the catch—it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do, especially if you’re just starting out, because it has a lot to do with SEO.
SEO has a snowballing effect; it gains momentum over time. So businesses who have been in the game for awhile have an advantage: more valuable content, more backlinks, more blogging experience, etc.
Today, most markets are saturated with content. But how much of it provides real value? Try doing some research to identify opportunities in your market. Search your own keywords and see what comes up.
Here’s the good news: even if your article doesn’t make the first SERP, it’s still worth writing because 1) it demonstrates your industry expertise to website visitors, and 2) it can help convert anyone who’s already in your sales funnel.
What are your business challenges?
Every business has unique challenges. While blogging may be one piece, it’s not the whole puzzle. If you need help identifying and/or solving challenges, contact Big Vision today.
Big Vision is a brand solutions company, which is a fancy way of saying we deliver customized solutions for unique business challenges. Our team generates long-term value through strategic insights, experience design, and digital technology. Learn more about what we do.