According to Wordpress, 409 million readers are viewing more than 22.2 billion blog posts overall each month.
With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that 53 percent of marketers list blogging as their top content marketing priority, as HubSpot points out. And at least one out of ten of those blog posts is compounding, which means organic search increases their traffic over time.
It’s hard to debate that blogs are important to businesses. After all, they drive growth, create brand awareness, and can help situate your site as an expert in your field.
Still, blogs have become ubiquitous on the web. Everyone from knitting crazed grannies to high-level company executives are writing their own blogs and that means it can be difficult to stand out from the pack.
But the fact remains, marketers who prioritize blogging are 13-times more likely to see a positive ROI (return on investment), according to Hubspot.
So how do you stay ahead of the fray? Here are a couple handy tips to make your blog stand out.
1. Quality Is King
Before you start employing any SEO tricks or fancy marketing angles, you have to ensure that the quality of your posts are up to snuff.
Offering useful, quality content is the best way to develop a loyal following online and ensure that readers will return to your site and share your content.
“Blogging, at its core, is about offering something of value to your audience,” according to Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and chief technology officer of the inbound marketing software company HubSpot, and the author of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. He spoke with Forbes. “Whether it’s a great story or useful insight to help your audience solve a common challenge, your aim should be to create content that people want to [read] and share. Far too many people associate blogging with self-promotion, but that’s a common mistake. Your blogging strategy should be about building and cultivating an audience, and that objective is rarely achieved if you’re only talking about yourself.”
A good rule of thumb is to write content specifically aimed at the type of people you would like to receive links from, rather than by focusing on keywords.
Once you’ve created some quality content, you can reach out to anyone you linked to in your article. These people are more likely to share your blog and link to it.
Essentially, make people look good and they’ll do the same for you.
2. Be mindful of your word count
If you want your content to perform well in search engine rankings, it should contain a minimum of 300 words, according to Yoast. Those studies reveal that 300 words is the minimum word count necessary for blog posts to be recognized and ranked by search engines like Google.
The minimum word count may be 300, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the ideal length. It seems that 300 is simply the lowest possible amount of words that can include content and things like keyword research. So, what’s the optimal length?
According to Forbes, blog posts which contain more than 1,500 words gained 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes.
Popular blogging platform Medium pegs the ideal post length at 1,600 words, which amounts to about seven minutes of reading for the average visitor.
They looked at the “average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length.” They found that interest tended to plateau around the seven minute reading mark and fell off sharply thereafter.
Still other results pin the ideal length of a post slightly higher. Search Engine Journal says that “the average content length for Page 1 results is around 1,900 words, according to a 2016 study.”
3. Keep your reader in mind
While word count may be a good metric to keep in mind, it certainly won’t be the breaking point of a good blog post. Again, refer to rule one: quality is king.
And to create quality web content, you need to have an audience in mind.
Take some time to study your target audience, the people who would naturally search out and consume content like what you’re creating.
User intent is an important aspect of this rule. Are you targeting a person who is looking for basic product information, or does your ideal reader want to buy something in as little clicks as possible? Your blog posts should keep that in mind.
Ultimately, the best content is mapped out before its written, connecting the goals of your site and the content you’re creating with those of the readers looking for it.
“Be true to the goals you set out for your blog: Are you providing product information? Are you provoking conversation? Are you commenting on trending topics?
All approaches are valid but you need to determine what the value is that you will provide to your audience and continue to deliver that value,” Mike Merriman, vice president of marketing at Mzinga, a social services and software firm, told Forbes.
4. Internal linking will help people (and Google) navigate your site
Internal links are simply links that lead from one part of your site to another. These are extremely important for search engine optimization (SEO).
They also help readers navigate around your blog and can help encourage new readers to read your older content.
Additionally, if you have an already-high ranking blog post on search engines and you’re receiving a lot of backlinks as a result, any internal links from that page to other pages on your site will help boost those pages’ rankings as well.
Plus, these are fast, easy, and free for you to create.
5. Write guest blogs to generate more traffic
Guest blogging is an excellent strategy for generating more backlinks and traffic to your site.
By writing guest posts, you can take advantage of the authority given to another website or blog and increase your own site ranking as a result.
Begin by finding a blog that you’d like to write for. A good tip is to look for industry leaders that specialize in your niche or one closely related to it.
Indeed, Social Marketing Writing’s research shows that nearly 63 percent of people believe blogs with multiple authors are more credible. In short, guest blogging will give you an air of authority and bring with it qualified traffic, relevant links, and motivated leads.
6. Branch out beyond the written word
Don’t think of content as only about the words you can write. Keep in mind that one of the most important metrics when it comes to SEO is how much time the visitor spends on your page.
And what’s one of the easiest ways to increase time on your page? By adding video.
There’s a relative drought of people taking advantage of videos on their blog posts – but this will likely change as more people catch on. After all, video is a great way to inject a certain amount of personality and originality into your posts, as well as increase the overall engagement.
And with phones these days, you don’t need to be a trained cinematographer or spend tons of money on fancy gear to make quality videos.
Indeed, it’s 2019 now and experts have been predicting that this is the year that 80 percent of global internet traffic will come from videos. Additionally, the majority of marketing executives say that video content is their most profitable return on investment.
What’s more is that blog posts with video have three-times the number of inbound links when compared to blog posts that don’t include video.
7. Look at your load times
How quickly your pages load is important regardless of the type of site your running. Regardless of whether its an ecommerce store, a business website, or a bird watching blog, page load times matter.
Google notes how long your blog’s page loads as one of its ranking factors for search results. Facebook has also started prioritizing links in its news feed that load quickly over those that load slowly.
Not to mention, visitors hate being slowed down by lagging load times. This is especially true on mobile, where the majority of people do their browsing these days.
Slow loading times can actually account for a significant drop in revenue, according to studies by Amazon. Some estimates say it could be as high as a 1 percent loss for every 100 millisecond delay in page loading time.
Ecommerce beauty site Adore Beauty even found that faster pages led to a 16.5 percent increase in conversion rate as well as a consistent improvement in revenue.
Indeed, research by Section shows that bounce rates increase in tandem with page speed. So, if a page has an average load time of 2 seconds, the bounce rate is a low 9.61 percent.
This jumps to 13 percent with a one second increase in load time, and exponentially higher thereafter. If a page has a load time of 7 seconds, the bounce rate is an incredible 32.3 percent.
If you notice your page is slow, there are a few steps you can take to increase the speed:
- A caching plugin will help speed up your blog by serving static HTML rather than using PHP for each page load.
- Optimized images will also decrease the speed. Images make up more than half of the average website. A free image optimization tool like Optimole will let you compress and resize images without impacting your users’ experience.
- When all else fails, find a faster host. The host will always impact your page load time. Take a look around for better managed hosts to decrease your load time.
The ultimate goal here is to be performance minded when you’re managing your blog.
8. Don’t procrastinate
Have you ever heard the expression “a stitch in time saves nine?”
That isn’t just a bit of incoherent folksy wisdom. It’s meant to teach us that a little bit of maintenance now will save us from a lot of work later.
The simple fact is that maintenance is boring. It doesn’t directly demonstrate results, help build up your content, or generate revenue.
Still, keeping things running smoothly will prevent everything you’ve built from the ground up from tumbling down around you at an unexpected and inconvenient time.
This means you need to be aware of things like checking for broken links, optimizing your database, backing up your site, and updating your software and plugins.
We know. It’s tedious and dull. But it needs to be done.
In 2017, 1.5 million WordPress pages were defaced thanks to a vulnerability. But this incident was entirely avoidable because the vulnerability was actually fixed before the hackers discovered it.
If those website owners had updated their core WordPress software they would have been fine.
This is so important we’re going to say it again: A little work now will save you a lot of work later.
9. Don’t neglect your email list
Email may not be the most exciting thing in the world these days.
In a time when we can create custom apps and give them to people through QR codes photographed on their phones, email can seem downright quaint. Afterall, it’s been around since the very beginning of the internet.
But the fact remains – everyone uses email.
You can’t sign up for anything without an email address. So it’s obvious that everyone has one, and usually more email addresses.
Over time, this email list can become your biggest source of traffic and sales if treated with the proper respect it deserves.
Building an email list should be one of your biggest priorities from the get go with your blog. You should be compiling addresses before you even write the first letter of your first sentence of your first blog post.
If you haven’t been doing that, get started now.
The best time to start an email list was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.
To get started:
- Begin with an email marketing platform like Mailchimp or one of its competitors.
- On your blog, add exit-intent and on-scroll popups with a tool like Sumo. This is a good place to offer a content upgrade or a lead magnet.
- Create a strong landing page for your offers.
All of these offer opportunities for people to sign up for your mailing list so you can start sending them updates and information about your latest posts and/or products.
10. Stick to a theme
If you want to see better SEO results and a stronger follower base, a throughline will help you create that.
It can make sense for you to want to write about different aspects of your personality. We all have our own diverse interests. You could be a baker who also loves skydiving and dropshipping. But you should avoid talking about all three of these things.
Finding an audience is difficult and not everyone will fit into the same very specific niche as you. By creating more general content you’re more likely to find your people.
Additionally, SEO will be more difficult as a result. Google prefers websites that are dedicated to a single topic because then it knows exactly what the site is about and your authority rating will be increased.
It’s also more difficult to monetize a blog like this. Money is generated through targeted traffic. If you’re content is too diverse, you won’t get that quality traffic that you’ve been working so hard to attract.
If you’re so into your other hobbies that you’re chomping at the bit to write about them, I’d suggested starting a new and separate blog.
11. Ask your audience for direction
Avoid picking random topics based on what you think readers might enjoy. It’s like playing the lottery and a lot less fun.
After all, you can’t really tell if people will engage with what you write.
Luckily, the denizens of the world wide web love to provide feedback. So why not ask them what they want to hear about?
Here are a couple simple ways to do that:
- Use social media or email to just ask them what they like to read.
- Use your email list to send out a survey.
- Look through other forums or message boards in your niche and see what people are talking about.
- Read comments people have left on your competition’s blogs.
It’s indisputable that blogging is an integral part to modern web-based business practices. By not having one, you’re turning away from a great opportunity to engage with your readers and help drive conversions.
But creating a quality blog is only the beginning. It also needs to be thoughtful, well-maintained, and properly promoted to make a difference. Hopefully, some of these tips were able to help you in that journey.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.