In order to compete with and differentiate yourself from other online businesses today, you need to invest in content marketing. You have to go out of your way to develop original, helpful content that can build brand awareness, boost web traffic, and land more customers. But it’s not enough to simply publish mediocre blog posts on your website week after week. You have to take the time to create outstanding, memorable content that your followers, prospects, and customers will love. It’s the only to get any real ROI from your efforts.
Not sure where to start? Here are 7 ways to craft a high-quality blog post:
Look at search engine results to research similar posts first
If you have a unique idea for a blog post that has never been written about before, then that is fantastic. But thanks to the fact that there are millions of blogs and bloggers on the internet, the chances that you will come up with a 100% unique idea for a blog post is slim.
So instead of struggling to find that unique topic idea, take a topic that has been done and do it better. Start by coming up with an idea that you want to write about and research similar posts that have been done in the past. Your goal is to find out what other people have left out when covering a specific topic and make sure that your post covers those missing elements.
For example, think about recipes. You can search for slow cooker pot roast recipes on Google and get 1.6 million results.
After looking at just the recipes on the first page of results, you will find that no one talks about buying specific brands of ingredients, such as buying Lipton Onion Soup Mix instead of just generic onion soup mix. No one talks about how to pick a good onion or what exactly constitutes a medium-sized carrot. No one talks about how to choose the best-looking piece of meat either. So effectively, an absolute beginner cook would be at a loss just getting the ingredients.
Now that you know what's missing from the top results, you know what you could include in your recipe that could make it the complete slow cooker pot roast recipe for beginners. The same goes with blog posts. Find the top results, see what they are all missing, and make sure your post contains those missing elements.
Perform Topic Research
Review the top 10 to 20 pages of the SERPs for your particular focus topic. Analyze those pages to better understand user intent, what important questions the top content is answering and any content gaps from which the competition suffers.
Usually this takes some time to accomplish. So it's unlikely you'll have the resources to do this for each and every post. On the other hand, a tool like MarketMuse enables you to accomplish this, and more, in mere minutes. So every post can get presidential treatment!
Make it Lengthy
No, you don't want to stuff your blog post full of unnecessary fluff in order to make it hit the 2,000-word mark. But when you do your research as noted in step one, you should have enough to cover to make your blog post a long one.
Why should you equate length to quality? That certainly seems to be what Google does. This infographic by Capsicum Mediaworks provides a good summary of various studies on the SEO impact of content length. It appears that longer content tends to rank better..
Social sharing also points towards longer content as better content. In a study by BuzzSumo, the number of social shares increased as the number of words in an article. Since people tend to share quality content, you can infer that more shares for longer content means that people consider longer content to be of higher quality.
Writing a long post is by no means easy, but it's not impossible either. Start with your research and missing elements and outline your main points. Then, instead of thinking that you have to write 2,000 words, aim to write 500 words for each of your four main points or 200 words for each of your ten main points. It makes the task at hand feel much more reasonable.
Include Supporting Media
Not everyone wants to read lengthy pieces of text. [Point taken! --Ed] This is where headers and images come in. Headers are simply larger pieces of text that break the content into sections, much like the numbered headers found in this article.
With images, you can help your readers visual some of your main points. You can do it symbolically, with the images that show a happy person on vacation when writing a post on why people need to take vacations. Stock photography sites like BigStockPhoto have these by the ton.
You can also use literal photos, like a screenshot of how someone can add a Twitter user to a list.
The key is to break up the text so that it isn't one massive piece of text. Blog posts are meant to be written in an easy-to-consume way, so by making yours easy to consume, you make it of higher value to the reader and thus higher quality.
If you want to make your content more powerful, don't let the reader assume that everything you are talking about is opinion. Back it up with data. Use Google to search for statistics related to the topic you are writing about. For example, if you wanted to tell people that WordPress is the most widely-used content management system, do so, and then back it up with statistics like this.
You don't need a statistic for everything you say, but one or two per post helps increase the post's credibility. But you do need to be able to backup anything you say in the event that someone questions your reasoning. Always be ready to respond to a comment questioning something you mentioned in your post with a statistic or other piece of data.
Check it Twice
Blog posts, unlike academic research papers, do not have to be perfect. But they should be polished. If you don't have a professional editor on hand to review your content, you can use automated proofreaders. Since Microsoft Word alone doesn't catch everything, run your content through tools like Grammarly first, and then through Microsoft Word to catch any other small errors that Grammarly might have missed.
Between the two applications, you should catch most of the basic errors. The final review should be done preferably 24 hours after writing the content. That way, you can catch any flow or logic errors that automated proofreaders will miss.
Optimize the Headline
Last, but not least, you will need to optimize your blog post headline to be as high-quality as the post itself. Headlines (or your blog post titles) need to be optimized for people first, and then search engines.
Optimizing for search is simple - just find a good keyword phrase and stick it in the headline. Optimizing for people can be a bit trickier. You have to think about your headline as the one thing that people will see when your post appears in search results or a social media news feed. It's approximately 65 characters or less that can be the difference in someone clicking on your blog post or someone else's.
Widely viral sites like Upworthy use a strategy where they rewrite their headlines 25 times. Not all of the headlines you write will be golden, but you will end up with a few to test drive to see which is the most popular when shared on social media.
If you're not sure what types of headlines are popular in your vertical, try entering topic ideas and keywords into BuzzSumo.
You will be able to see the most-shared post headlines for the last week, month, or year. This can give you an idea of specific formulas that work.
In addition, you can also try using the Blog Post Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule before hitting the publish button on your post. This tool will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.
If you follow the above steps, you will be well on your way to creating high-quality content that your fans, your customers, search engines, and social media users will love!
About The Author: In his more than 10 years as a marketer and entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has helped hundreds of companies boost online traffic, sales and strengthen brand reputation online. Sujan is the VP of Marketing at When I Work -- an employee scheduling software solution for small businesses.