Your blog should reflect your voice. Whether you’re writing for an employer or for your own business, your voice is what makes your content stand out.
In this post, we won’t be talking about how to change your voice to attract more readers, but how to amplify it in a competitive online market.
In this day and age, it’s not enough to simply bomb your copy with keywords or share your content with your friends on social media. If you want to gain traffic and get noticed organically, there are several key features that every post should include.
With this easy checklist, you’ll be able to write compelling, user-friendly copy in your own style. Whether you want to attract new readers or generate more shares or conversions, it’s important to remind yourself of the essentials.
An attractive headline
If you want your blog to attract new readers, nothing is more important than a good headline. No matter how visible your post is, it is your headline which will convert a browser into a reader.
A good headline should appeal to your potential readers’ needs, without misleading them about the content. Using misleading headlines and clickbait to boost your site traffic does not go hand-in-hand with building trust or attracting new customers.
It helps to include keywords whenever possible, but at the most basic level, it should deliver accurate information that makes the casual browser want to learn more.
An engaging lead
Your headline will get your reader on the hook, but it takes a compelling lead to reel them in. At the outset of your blog post, you must get to the point as quickly as possible. There’s nothing wrong with getting creative with your opening paragraph, but it must compel the reader to continue.
Moreover, it should use most of or all of your keywords in context. For example, if you’re offering gardening services, there’s no point in writing “gardening landscaping free quote stockton on tees”.
On the other hand, “Get a free quote from our gardening specialists when you choose our landscaping company in Stockton-on-Tees” is a more direct and engaging sentence, which includes all of the relevant information.
Whatever kind of blog post you’re writing, subheads are not only a great method for breaking up large blocks of content but also a handy way to help your readers navigate your post.
Including secondary keywords for SEO purposes, subheadings create a kind of index for those who are quickly scanning your blog for relevant information. Making your blog scannable works for casual browsers and those who will read each post from top to bottom.
It’s not just about where each section starts, but where it ends. Think of the last part of each section as a cliffhanger ending, urging the reader to find out what happens in the next instalment of the post. Internal cliffhangers are just one of the great methods we use to improve the flow of our copy.
Informative and engaging copy
Once you’ve got the structure down, it’s what you fill the space with that counts. Keep things conversational and make sure your copy is informative and engaging. Aside from standing out, your content should establish what makes you unique.
As mentioned, there’s not much point in going doo-lally with keywords if you don’t know what to say once you’ve been noticed. Only you know your own voice and it’s more important to be authentic with that voice than it is to warp your copy to make it more generic and search-friendly.
These tips aren’t designed to tell you how to write, but how to make your point well. Ask yourself what your blog has that no other blog does and whatever the answer is, make sure your readers know about it from the content you create.
A mix of original and curated content
It’s useful for both you and your readers to have a mix of original and curated content. Whether this entails research on a post-by-post basis or a round-up of content you have found elsewhere, this may be especially valuable to readers.
For instance, maybe you have a number of go-to sites and resources relevant to your field. Create a list post including links to these resources and you’ll have a saveable, shareable resource that will bring readers back to your blog time and time again. This is a great example of how curated content pays off for bloggers.
Additionally, you might want to reach out to other bloggers in your field to write a guest post, or curate a post that comprises quotes from a number of different influencers on a certain subject. Make sure any guest writers know when your post is published so that they can share your link with their followers.
Appealing images and other visual elements
Illustrate your point with images, videos, and other graphics throughout your blog post. As well as keeping visitors interested, these serve to break up long blocks of content in the same way as subheads do.
If you don’t have your own images, choose relevant stock photos. It’s important to make sure that your visual elements complement your copy, rather than distracting from it. You don’t want to send your readers off down a YouTube rabbit hole halfway through your post.
Moreover, using images in your post will help with promoting content on social media. A strong, relevant thumbnail image will make your post stand out in social feeds and will be included automatically when you post links.
A compelling call to action
Convert your readers into customers by being direct about what you want them to do. When you write, you’re talking to your reader, you have the opportunity to point them in the right direction and suggest further steps.
Traditionally, your call to action will feature at the end of your post, but it should also serve as a starting point when you write. Keeping your preferred action in mind and writing directly to that purpose will produce more focused copy.
Above all else, your goal is to direct your reader towards your intended response. This can take various forms, from converting a click into a sale, to pointing them to other pages and articles on your site.
Relevant internal links
The longer your reader stays on your site, the more likely they are to heed your call to action. In order to promote conversions, your blog posts should link to previous posts and other pages on your site where relevant.
You needn’t try to shoehorn these links into your copy, but as you write posts about your business, you’re building a frame of reference in which you will be able to direct readers to your other works.
As well as getting your reader to stick around and read your blog for longer, internal links serve to show your openness and experience. If you reference a topic you have written about at greater length before, your reader will appreciate any additional information.
Relevant external links (in new windows!)
If you want to reference your research or you don’t yet have a large archive of blog posts to which you can refer, you may also wish to include links to external sites. Again, this shows that you are knowledgeable and open, which in turn helps to build trust with potential customers.
It’s important to note that if you include external links, these should always open in a new browser tab or window. In addition to keeping readers on your site for longer, it’s also more user-friendly, allowing readers to browse with ease.
A strong meta-description
Your meta-description is the short passage of text that is displayed underneath your headline when your page appears in search results. It's advisable to write your own meta-description in order to control how your blog is displayed by search engines.
In no more than 160 characters, your meta-description should deliver a short summary of your blog post that features keywords and a call to action. In addition to boosting your SEO, this gives browsers a clear idea of what your post offers.
If you don’t provide your own meta-description, most search engines will simply display a 160-character excerpt from the beginning of your post. As well as improving the presentation of your blog in search results, writing your own meta-description will increase the lifespan of your post, allowing it to be discovered by more people over a longer period of time.
Carefully selected categories and tags
Some blogs go overboard with different categories. While categories and tags are a useful way to collect all your posts on a certain subject, it’s important to keep these organised. In general, you want four or five main categories based on specific topics.
These core topics should be relevant to your business. For more specific groupings, you can include tagged keywords, which connect up posts within and even across different categories for those who are looking for that content.
For instance, if your gardening company offers hard and soft landscaping, posts about each of these can be tagged, rather than categorised. Keep your categories simple and use tags for additional detail and your blog will be easier to navigate in general.
An invitation to opt-in
Finally, when writing, it’s important to be mindful that every post is the first post that someone has ever read on your blog. Taking this into consideration, each post serves to boost your site’s readership and retain those new visitors.
This can be achieved with internal links and engaging copy, but another great way of doing this is to include an invitation for readers to subscribe or opt-in. If you don’t already have an existing e-newsletter, blog providers often offer this service so that readers will be notified when you post new content.
Serving as a secondary call to action that is consistent across your blog, this feature gives your readers the option to engage with your blog in the future. Having engaged your readers by following these steps, you’ll have them looking for that option to hit “subscribe” before they even reach the end!