Blogging is one of the most effective forms of content marketing. Don’t believe me? Just check out these stats!
- 80% of marketers use a blog for content marketing
- 57% have gained customers specifically through blogging
- Small businesses saw 126% greater lead growth than those who don’t blog
- 77% of people online read blogs, and 47% of Americans age 18 to 29 still read blogs
But what makes a blog successful?
What is the purpose of your blog?
The most important part of your blog is the content- what you are providing to your readers. To create content that will be of interest and value to readers, you must have a clear purpose in your post. What problem or topic are you addressing and what type of answers or information are you providing?
Why define the purpose?
Blogs perform best when focused, so have a solid plan for what the point of the blog is before you begin writing. Without a clear goal of what information you are trying to communicate, your blog will be less coherent and engaging to readers.
Consistently providing accurate and useful information will make your blog a resource for readers and establish your brand as a trusted source in your industry. Carefully planning topics so you can ask and answer questions that will continue to interest your readers will bolster your blog, website and the reputation of your brand.
One of our recent blogs, The Pros of Having an Agency Ghost Writing your Blog, is a strong example of providing exactly what was promised. As stated in the title, this straightforward blog outlines the top advantages of outsourcing content creation.
Defining and understanding the purpose of this blog also made it easier to write because the goals were clearly defined, making it easy to provide the expected information.
What is your target audience?
One of the most important factors to consider when creating content is your audience. Knowing your target audience will help you fine-tune your content to fit the needs, wants, and expectations of your readers.
How to define your audience?
Creating a buyer persona for your ideal reader is a great step towards understanding who is in your audience. Review any market research or analytics you have collected to get more information about your audience to better understand consumers in your industry. Buyer characteristics you should pay attention to include age, industry, education level, social media usage, and anything else that might be relevant to your specific industry.
Once you have an understanding of who you would like to be reading your blog you can better tailor the information for those readers.
If you want to skip a few steps, you can also check out HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool, which will quickly create a buyer persona based on information you enter regarding your business and goals.
Top 10 Origami Projects for Beginners by the Spruce Crafts is one example of understanding the type of readers the post is meant to attract. Because they are targeting beginners, this blog includes a list of beginner-friendly patterns with links to step-by-step guides for each project.
The writer for the blog was able to imagine what a beginner would need or want from a blog tutorial and provided accurate information clearly and concisely.
What is the buyer’s journey?
Just like buyer personas, the buyer’s journey can be used to better understand the needs and expectations of your readers.
The buyer’s journey has three stages- awareness, consideration, and decision. Approaching the customer during each of these stages requires a different approach and understanding of what the buyer is thinking.
In the first stage, a buyer/reader has just discovered the product/topic at hand; to help the buyer in this stage, you must provide information that answers the reader’s question or introduces a product/service. Downloadable guides, infographics, how-to’s, and other explanatory content is ideal for attracting readers in the first stage.
Readers in the second stage are already aware of their problem/question/need and are now looking to educate themselves on the available options and solutions. Here you want to provide expertise that will guide the viewer to the last stage, which can be done through product comparisons, lists of pros and cons, or expert guides.
Finally, in the last stage the reader knows exactly what they want and is now making their final decision in their journey. Here you must provide the viewer with information that will convert the lead. If you are trying to convince a viewer to try your product or services, you can offer content like free trials and special deals to motivate the reader.
Why use the buyer’s journey?
Understanding where your reader is in the process and tailoring content to address those needs will make your blog a much more valuable and effective tool. Just like having a defined purpose for the post, knowing where the buyer is in their journey will make your content speak to your reader in a more effective way, making your blog a conversion machine.
This Best Dishwashers of 2019 blog is an example of content tailored for the consideration stage of the journey.
At this point the reader has already defined his or her need (a new dishwasher) and is researching and comparing the options available.
Included is an image of the product, a brief description, pros and cons, the price and availability, as well as the option to read a longer description of the product.
With a comprehensive post like this, the writer has provided the reader with all of the information needed to move towards the next stage of the buyer’s journey.
What can imagery add to your blog?
Many readers will only skim an article, so visual content may help the viewer find the information they need.
Writing out an explanation can be helpful to some, but often times readers prefer to consume information visually. Depending on the content of your blog, you might benefit from using visuals to convey information instead of a long-winded post.
There are many forms of visual content you can include; keep the purpose of the article and your target audience in mind when creating visual content to ensure you are providing your readers with valuable information. Depending on the topic, you might choose to include infographics, graphs, photos, or videos.
Why include images?
By including at least one image in your blog you are adding attractive and engaging visuals that ideally push the message of your blog. Readers love visuals because they make reading more interesting and usually help the reader’s comprehension of the topic. Also, splitting up large blocks of text with an image can make reading long blog less intimidating.
Infographics are three times more likely to be shared than text-based information, and graphs and photos provide the visual representation some readers need to fully grasp a concept. Although 27% of marketers say blogs are their most important content, imagery actually took the number one spot with 32% of marketers prioritizing visual content.
Additionally, images can make your blog much more memorable- when listening, we are likely to only remember 10% of the information three days later; if you add an image, you can remember 65%!
Not only can they be used to help the reader, but images can help your blog too. By including photos with proper alt-text, you are improving your SEO and potentially boosting your ranking, which can help more people find your blog!
SocialMediaToday shared the blog Social Media Statistics That Matter for Your Business in 2019, which included a very long and comprehensive infographic regarding social media statistics.
Had they written out the content, the blog would be very long and dense. Displaying information, especially statistics, visually can help the viewer quickly consume the information without having to dig through a long blog post.
The visuals also make reading the content more enjoyable and viewers are more likely to share this attractive visual representation.
What can examples do for a blog?
Providing an answer to a question or information on a specific topic is the most important part of a blog, but explanations can only go so far. If you include examples in your post, you are applying the concept to the real world which can help the viewer better understand the topic.
Something as simple as including a few related statistics demonstrates to the viewer the legitimacy and importance of the information.
Why use examples?
Even with a thorough explanation of a topic or concept, an example helps the viewer understand how the concept can be applied in the real world. Often times, seeing a related statistic or a visual representation of something can help to solidify our understanding.
If you include concrete examples in your blogs, your readers are more likely to leave with a stronger understanding of the topic, making your blog much more effective.
In our Vermont Website Design Examples post, we wrote descriptions and explanations of the most effect elements of each example. Although the descriptions were very informative, we also included screenshots to further emphasize what the text was describing.
Including image examples in a blog such as this can be a huge help in quickly providing the viewer with valuable information.
What is a CTA?
Blogs are a great way to share resources with your readers, but they can also be utilized to drive leads and conversions. A call-to-action (CTA) is anything, usually a button or image, that encourages the reader to take the next desired step and continue down the sales funnel.
CTAs are an incredible resource for all types of businesses because they can be tailored to address any goal or need. Some of the most effective forms of CTAs include buttons encouraging a user to join a mailing list, connect or share on social media, or explore product/service offerings.
Why use CTAs?
When a reader engages with your blog, they are interested in what you have to say, which means they’re probably also interested in what your company has to offer. Take advantage of these leads by including at least one strong CTA in each blog; this will encourage users to continue exploring your website and hopefully lead to a conversion.
Because CTAs are so versatile, the wording and function can be tailored to your needs. Including CTAs that are relevant to the topic of the blog is key, as well as understanding what stage of the journey the buyer is in to ensure they take the appropriate next step.
We always include a CTA somewhere in our blogs. In our Facebook for Business 2019 post, we included this CTA at the end of the text.
Because the post is about Facebook, we included a CTA that we felt was most relevant to the reader’s interests. The content offer in this CTA is directly related to the content of the post, so users who were interested in the blog might also be interested in what the CTA has to offer.
This CTA is also extremely beneficial to us because it encourages the viewer to share their information with us, which will give us the opportunity to re-engage after the viewer has left the site; most CTAs can be tailored to work on multiple fronts like this.
What are heading tags?
Heading tags are used in HTML coding to create a structure for a webpage.
H1 is used as the first heading, and will have a larger and bolder font than the body text of the page. H2 will then be used to break up content under H1, H3 to breakup content under H2, and so on.
Why use heading tags?
Not only do these tags tell the viewer about the content of the blog, but they also help search engines comb through the page. Having properly tagged content will create a strong structure for your blog that can help the reader consume information as well as improve ranking and visibility.
On average, visitors will only spend about 37 seconds reading an article. This doesn’t necessarily mean that readers aren’t consuming your content! Forty-three percent of readers skim blogs and 36% prefer list-based articles, meaning heading tags could play a huge role in how your readers consume your content.
Cater to these readers by including headings that can break up large sections of content into easier-to-read pieces.
HubSpot’s blogs, such as The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing in 2019, are always carefully structured to create a hirarchy of information. Here, the H1 tag is the title of the blog, with H2 tags breaking up the content into smaller, more digestible sections. Using lower-level headings makes it easier for readers to skim for the information they are most interested in.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is a method of coding that improves search engine ranking and visibility. This method of increasing site traffic is free and vital to all websites.
Without proper SEO, your post is less likely to be discovered by viewers using search engines.
The basics of SEO include headings, keywords, alt-text, and descriptions. When trying to improve SEO for a blog post, you want to focus on the topic of the blog. Start by choosing specific long-and short-tail keywords that will be used throughout the text and within descriptions. The more consistent you are with keywords, the more likely your blog is to show up at the top of a SERP.
Why use SEO for blogs?
Just like any other webpage, you want every one of your blog posts to be optimized for search engines. By improving your SERP ranking, you are increasing brand recognition, as well as driving leads, conversions, and sales. Attracting readers through organic traffic will also increase your authority, which will continue to boost your ranking. Without SEO, much of the hard work and time invested in your blog could be for nothing if no one can find your blog.
In all of our blogs, we are careful to complete every aspect of SEO that we can. We do so by having a title that includes at least one keyword, focusing on long and short keywords, including alt-text on all our images, and writing concise but thorough meta descriptions.
Doing so not only improves our blog’s ranking, but also helps us to organize the content on our site.
Blogs can be an incredible resource for your website and your viewers. To make the most of your blog, try incorporating these elements in each post. For more information on blogging, check out our blogs here!
Thanks for reading,