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How to Write Blog Posts That Drive Traffic From Day One
1. Identify a topic your audience actually cares about
Your very first step will be to figure out what your audience wants to read…not just what YOU want to write about.
Writing GREAT content starts with what your audience wants to read...not what YOU want to write about.
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This is absolutely the foundation of writing blog posts that will drive traffic, and that will eventually make money. (link make money to How To Make Money From Your Blog Part I) If you carry out all the other steps in this post perfectly – but don’t write something your audience cares about – you’re doomed to fail.
Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find popular topics to write about
Finding popular and relevant topics takes some detective work, but is well worth the effort. The process will involve looking at a variety of sources to find topics, questions, and issues that your target audience is already talking about.
Some of the ways you can find what your audience cares about:
Using keyword research tools: Using tools like the Google Keyword Planner (pictured above) and Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool, plug in general themes you think your audience would be interested in. Look for phrases that seem to be relatively popular (but not TOO popular; these will be harder to rank for), and that you know you could write a great post about.
Survey your audience: Survey your audience using Facebook surveys or a tool like SurveyMonkey to see what they really want to learn about.
Look at your analytics: Your website and social media analytics can be powerful tools for figuring out what’s worked with your audience in the past. Consult your analytics to see which posts have gotten the most likes, shares, and traffic, and find related topics you can write about.
Listen in on relevant conversations: Using a tool like Hootsuite, track social media mentions of words and phrases related to your business or industry. You can also join industry Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or online forums to see what topics come up regularly.
Listen to what your audience has already told you: Look through your emails, blog comments and social media mentions to find questions or problems your audience has already asked about.
Use Buzzsumo to see which topics have already done well: This is one of my all time favorite tools! Buzzsumo lets you search for a topic, and then shows you the web’s most popular articles on that topic. This will give you an idea of what people really want to know about and what they are sharing! Use what you’ve learned to inspire new topic ideas.
Buzzsumo lets you search for a topic, and then shows you the web’s most popular articles on that topic.
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Note: If you’re currently writing your very FIRST blog post, you’ll need to take a slightly different approach. But for every post after that, you can use the strategy outlined in this post!
2. Niche down
This is a great tip, both for determining the topic of a new blog and for writing new blog posts.
Once you’ve found a great topic you want to cover, ask yourself this VERY important question:
Has this topic already been covered a thousand times before?
If the answer is yes, I highly recommend “niche'ing down”. What does this mean? It means narrowing down the topic even more to cover subtopics or angles that no one else is writing about.
For instance, let’s say I figured out that my audience really wants to know more about how to train a puppy. My keyword research showed me that “dog training” and “puppy training” are both highly competitive phrases, meaning it would be nearly impossible for me to rank for those terms in Google.
Dig down to find specific topics you can write about that haven’t been covered a thousand times before
However, I also found some other, longer phrases that don’t seem to be quite as popular, but that also don’t seem to be quite as competitive; for instance, “crate training a puppy” and how to potty train your dog”. I call this low hanging fruit that is just waiting to be swooped up!
Pro tip: Before you decide on a topic you’re going to write about, I’d also encourage you to type it into Google and see what comes up. If the top results are all big-name sites (e.g., PetSmart, Ceasearsway, etc.) you’ll probably want to choose another niche topic that’s being covered only by smaller blogs.
Make a list with a variety of subtopics you can cover in your post, and then move on to #3.
3. Include all the subtopics you’ve written down
Now that’s you’ve come up with a specific topic and subtopics, it’s time to actually write your blog post. However, it’s vital that you cover the topic in sufficient detail so both Google and your readers find value in your post.
Gone are the days of writing a very general, 400-word post and attracting traffic with it! The trend now is to write much longer, more comprehensive posts that cover all angles of your topic.
Gone are the days of writing a very general, 400-word post and attracting traffic with it!
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For instance, if I were writing about “how to potty train your dog”, I’d want to come up with a variety of subtopics to cover in my post. These could be “The most common strategies you can use for potty training”, “The most effective method you should use”, and “The best age to start potty training a puppy”.
This post does a great job of covering subtopics related to dog training, and uses subheadings to break the post into easy-to-read sections
Put yourself in the minds of your readers: What topics and sub-topics will they want to know about? What burning questions are they likely to have? Once you’ve answered one question, what other questions will naturally follow that one?
Generally speaking, in-depth posts will tend to rank better in Google. Research seems to indicate that 1,500 words should be your minimum length if you want your post to rank in the search engines. Some experts recommend shooting for 2,000-3,000 words. Be sure to test out a variety of lengths to see what works best with your audience and in your niche!
Test a variety of blog lengths to see what works best with your audience and in your niche!
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4. Use keywords in strategic locations in your post
While the precise use of keywords isn’t quite as important as it used to be (Google has gotten REALLY good at figuring out what posts are about!), you still want to make sure you’re using them in your post.
The Yoast SEO plugin will help ensure you use your keywords appropriately
Try to use them in your:
Page URL: yoursite.com/your-keywords-here
Headings and subheadings
In the caption and alt image tag of your images (where appropriate)
Throughout your content
If you want to make sure you’re using your keywords appropriately, use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO (you’ll need to have a WordPress blog for this). It will help ensure you’re using your keywords in important areas of your post.
5. Take advantage of internal linking
Internal linking is one of the most important things you can do to rank in the search engines – and yet many bloggers completely forget to do it.
Internal linking is simply including links to other pages and posts on your own site. For instance, if I’m writing a post about how to use social media for your business, I might link to my other posts on my favorite social media tools or the best ways to use Twitter for marketing.
This strategy is not only great for keeping visitors on your site longer, but it boosts the ranking of those posts and pages in the search engines.
So…once you’ve written your post, think about which other posts on your site would be helpful for your readers and include links to those posts.
Link other related content in your blog post to give you a boost in the search engines.
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You’ll also want to go to other posts on your site and link back to the NEW post you’ve just written. This will help your visitors find your new post, and will also give your post a boost in the search engines!
6. Promote your post to your audience
This step is critical!
Writing and publishing your post will NEVER be enough. People who are subscribed to your blog may visit the post, but that’s about it.
Every time you publish a post, have a plan for how you’re going to promote it to your audience. There is no use in publishing content without a plan to amplify it.
There is no use in publishing content without a plan to amplify it.
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There are a number of ways you can do this:
Post a link on social media
Promote it to your email list
Pay to promote it via social ads
Share it in industry groups (if you’re allowed, of course)
If you mention certain people in your post, let them know. They may share your post with their audience!
Send your post to past clients or customers who you think would be interested. Just do this very carefully or you could be accused of spamming.
Mention or tag relevant people when you share the link on social media
This is the step that will start driving traffic to your post from day one, so it’s SUPER important that you’re intentional about it.
I share (and re-share) all my blog posts on all of my social media channels
As your post gets read by more people, it will start to get shared and linked to. And as your post gets shared and linked to, it will reach even MORE people. These links and shares will also seriously boost your search engine rankings, which means even MORE traffic in the long-term.
This means your post can start driving traffic NOW, but will continue to drive traffic for months or even YEARS to come – not bad for one little blog post!
Are you at the beginning of your blogging journey, and aren’t sure where to start? I’ve compiled some resources just for you!
Writing a blog post is a little like driving; you can study the highway code (or read articles telling you how to write a blog post) for months, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing like getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road. Or something.
How to write a blog post student driving
“Wait for it… wait for it… BASS DROP.”
Now that I’m done thoroughly mangling that vague metaphor, let’s get down to business. You know you need to start blogging to grow your business, but you don’t know how. In this post, I’ll show you how to write a great blog post in five simple steps that people will actually want to read. Ready? Let’s get started.
How to Write a Blog Post in Five Easy Steps [Summary]:
Step 1: Plan your blog post by choosing a topic, creating an outline, conducting research, and checking facts.
Step 2: Craft a headline that is both informative and will capture readers’ attentions.
Step 3: Write your post, either writing a draft in a single session or gradually word on parts of it.
Step 4: Use images to enhance your post, improve its flow, add humor, and explain complex topics.
Step 5: Edit your blog post. Make sure to avoid repetition, read your post aloud to check its flow, have someone else read it and provide feedback, keep sentences and paragraphs short, don’t be a perfectionist, don’t be afraid to cut out text or adapt your writing last minute.
Now let's review each step in more detail.
How to Write a Blog Post, Step 1: Planning
First, a disclaimer – the entire process of writing a blog post often takes more than a couple of hours, even if you can type eighty words per minute and your writing skills are sharp. From the seed of the idea to finally hitting “Publish,” you might spend several days or maybe even a week “writing” a blog post, but it’s important to spend those vital hours planning your post and even thinking about your post (yes, thinking counts as working if you’re a blogger) before you actually write it.
How to write a blog post planning stage
Does your blog post have enough circles and crosses?
Long before you sit down to put digital pen to paper, you need to make sure you have everything you need to sit down and write. Many new bloggers overlook the planning process, and while you might be able to get away with skipping the planning stage, doing your homework will actually save you time further down the road and help you develop good blogging habits.
[ Learn how to write better ad copy with our free guide: 10 Tricks to Get the Click ]
Choose a Topic That Interests YOU
There’s an old maxim that states, “No fun for the writer, no fun for the reader.” No matter what industry you’re working in, as a blogger, you should live and die by this statement.
Before you do any of the following steps, be sure to pick a topic that actually interests you. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – will kill a blog post more effectively than a lack of enthusiasm from the writer. You can tell when a writer is bored by their subject, and it’s so cringe-worthy it’s a little embarrassing.
how to write a great blog post
Don't go there.
I can hear your objections already. “But Dan, I have to blog for a cardboard box manufacturing company.” I feel your pain, I really do. During the course of my career, I’ve written content for dozens of clients in some less-than-thrilling industries (such as financial regulatory compliance and corporate housing), but the hallmark of a professional blogger is the ability to write well about any topic, no matter how dry it may be. Blogging is a lot easier, however, if you can muster at least a little enthusiasm for the topic at hand.
You also need to be able to accept that not every post is going to get your motor running. Some posts will feel like a chore, but if you have editorial control over what you write about, then choose topics you’d want to read – even if they relate to niche industries. The more excited you can be about your topic, the more excited your readers will be when they’re reading it.
If you're really desperate for inspiration, check out our list of eight blog topic generators to get you going.
Write an Outline For Your Post
Great blog posts don’t just happen. Even the best bloggers need a rough idea to keep them on-track. This is where outlines come in.
An outline doesn’t need to be lengthy, or even detailed – it’s just a rough guide to make sure you don’t ramble on and on about something tangential to your topic.
For example, this is the outline for this post that I sent to my editor before getting to work:
[Quick summary explaining what the blog post will cover]