The 8-Step Formula for Writing an Amazing Blog Article in 60 Minutes

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, September 04, 2017

by Neil Patel


Have you ever sat in front of a screen thinking, “What the heck am I going to write?!”

You know that content marketing is effective. You know that you need to do it. Sometimes, though, it’s tough to actually make it happen.

Along with the feeling of writer’s block is the experience of taking way too long to write an article. I know writers who spend ten hours on a single article. When it takes this long to produce a piece of content, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up on content marketing altogether.

Is there a secret to publishing high-quality content in less time? I believe there is. One of the reasons why successful people can do so much in a shorter amount of time is because they depend on systems.

A system or process for completing a given task is a formula-driven way to achieve something. Such an approach may sound boring and difficult, but in reality, it makes jobs easier, faster, and far more efficient.

In this article, here’s the system that I use for writing a blog article in sixty minutes or less.

1. Pick Your Topic Ahead of Time

One of the best things that I’ve ever done is decided ahead of time what I’m going to write on.

I used to sit down and try to decide on my topic and write it in the same session. That killed my productivity. I don’t rely on an editorial calendar, per se, but I do have a list of topics and titles that I work from in order to make my process fast and simple.

When it’s time for me to write, I pick a title from the list and get to work. One of the benefits of having these topics ahead of time is that my subconscious mind is working on the topics even when I’m not writing. By the time I sit down to write the article, I’ve already been thinking on the topic. I’m better prepared to write faster, clearer, and better.

Often, when I’m mapping out my titles and topics, I jot down a few ideas under each title. Sometimes, it’s a link to an article that inspired me, an image that caught my attention, or even a few ideas that I have.

The more that I trace out some points for each title, the faster the writing process goes. I have to be careful not to write out the whole article, however, since this will distract me from the task of coming up with topics.

2. Write Three Paragraphs for Introduction

The first thing that I do when writing an article is to create the introduction.

Some writers prefer to keep their introductions and conclusions as the last task. For me, the introduction helps to set the stage and define the progress and flow of the article. Getting an article down helps me to write the rest of the article.

How do you write an introduction? Keep it simple.

  • Paragraph one: Try to get the reader’s attention and share the big idea for the article.
  • Paragraph two: Try to emphasize the need for the article. Prove to the reader that they need to read this.
  • Paragraph three: Explain the big idea of the article. Take a look ahead at what the reader is going to experience and learn.

That’s it. Now, you’re ready to dive into the rest of the article.

3. Create Five Main Points

This is your outline — five main points.

Why five? It’s a random number. You need as many points as it takes to prove your point and get the idea across. Make it twelve. Make it twenty. Whatever. The point is, you need some structure in order to create an article.

An article without an outline tends to ramble. The reader may get confused, bored, or simply frustrated. Make the outline clear, and then you’re ready to fill it out with content.

I often fall back on the technique of numbered content topics. One reason I do this is because readers tend to enjoy them more. Another reason is that they are easier to write. I’m not spending all my time figuring out how to approach my topics. Instead, I have a plan already traced out in the topic or title — five reasons why…, ten ways to…., six techniques for…

Readers like this approach because it’s clear and organized. If they prefer, they can simply skim the main points to get the gist of the article.

For your part, you can load the article up with deep content and research, but you’re frontloading the most valuable and action-oriented portions of the content directly into the outline.

4. Share One Piece of Research in Each Point

Now that you have your points clearly laid out, focus on the research element.

Conduct a few Google searches that pertain to your topic. Find some good case studies, examples, papers, news articles, or other high-quality content that proves your point.

This is the meat of the article, and it’s important not to simply neglect it. Discerning readers want you to back up your claims with actual research.

Because this is the meat of the article, it’s also the place where you will tend to spend the most time. To avoid getting bogged down, you may need to limit yourself to citing or discussing just one research source — a single case study, for example. Yes, the internet is full of potential helpful information, but tracking down all of it will take you too long.

5. Add Images to Prove Your Point

Break up your content with a few relevant images. The quickest way to find images is Google’s image search.

Search for an image by entering the keywords that are relevant to your article or topic.

For example, here I search for “content marketing.”

0612-content-marketing

This is a broad query, so I need to narrow it down. An easy way to do so is simply to click one of the categories at the top of the image search page.

By funneling my search into a specific area of research, I can gain a valuable amount of visual data to back up my points.

Notice that these are images that I’m citing within my article as part of my research. These images are not intended to be the creative lead for my articles.

Every article should have some images, so use the ones that are best for your audience and that fit within your budget. Be aware of copyright laws, and always cite your sources.

6. Create a Conclusion

Sometimes, I write my conclusion before I write the article. Though it seems counter-intuitive, doing so helps me to keep my thoughts focused. Just as often, I write the conclusion at the end.

I don’t try to get cute. I call the conclusion “Conclusion,” and leave it at that. This makes it simple for the user. They know exactly where and how the article will end. It also makes it easy for me. I’m not wasting my time trying to think up a creative twist. I just bring everything to a conclusion.

7. Write Three Concluding Paragraphs

My conclusion consists of three paragraphs on average. There is a way to write a conclusion that doesn’t sound lame or weak.

The best approach is to summarize your article, keep it short, and just be real. Avoid the trap of stuffing your conclusion with all the things that you wish you had said in the article. It’s a conclusion, so use it to put on the brakes and stop the article.

8. Close With a Question

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ll notice that I usually end with a question. I’ve found that this is a helpful way to encourage readers to think. It has the double benefit of providing me with an endpoint, too.

Conclusion

This is a formula-driven approach to writing an article. Are you allowed to break the formula? Absolutely. When you choose to color outside the lines, you’re simply expressing the kind of creativity that makes your content more valuable.

Take the article you’re reading now, for example. I’m all over the board, breaking half the rules I just explained! That’s because I’m using the formula as a guide, not as a lawbook.

Follow the rough process. It will enhance your productivity. But take your own approach. It will expand your creativity. Both productivity and creativity are essential elements of great content.


Why You Need a Blog and SEO Domain Name

Barbara Spagnola - Friday, January 20, 2017
Seo, Search Engine Optimization, Color

A domain name that describes your product is best, especially for small businesses. Let your website focus on your target audience and speak to their demands.

2. Include Important Keywords

Search engines are constantly developing and improving their algorithms to help them rank websites and content better when online visitors start a web search. One of the major components that helps in the ranking is the presence of keywords.

When people want to search for anything online, they type in a set of words related to what they are trying to find. Those words are keywords that help search engines bring up the related results online.

To make your website more visible, you should consider including a major keyword in your domain name and your web content, so that when people search for that keyword, your website will be listed in the search result.

Try a quick search for ‘android’ on Google. Among the top 10 results that come up, you’ll notice that two of the websites (android.com and androidcentral.com) contain the keyword ‘android’ in their domain names.

The same goes for many other keywords. They help to bring up related websites in the search results. When choosing a domain name, make a quick list of keywords related to your business and include one of them in your domain name.

3. Select the Right Domain Host

Many people tend to underestimate the importance of a good website host. People often don’t realize that the quality of their domain host impacts on the visibility of their website online. The host is like your house. Your website is hosted by the domain host; like the house your website lives in.

Many companies offer domain hosting services for small and big websites. Domain hosting is generally expensive, so you must be wary of websites that offer knock off deals and cheap hosting services. It is important for you to choose the right domain host. You can start your search here www.freeparking.co.nz/domain-names-nz.

For your website, a few things to look out for in a potential domain host include the reliability, subscription fees, and packages, customer assistance, back up, and speed.

Speed is an important factor to consider. You certainly don’t want a website that takes forever to load because it will lead to a significant drop in the number of visitors to your website.

Also, adequate back up is important especially as more hacking cases are being recorded in recent times. You should select a host that offers regular website backups, and will make it available when the need arises whether your website shuts down or you are working on an upgrade.

Talking about your website shutting down, a 24/7 customer assistance service is crucial for the survival of your online profile. Some website hosts are not always available online and take too much time to help you out when a problem arises. Be it a bug or coding error, the best domain hosts offer a round-the-clock customer service to provide immediate responses when you need them. With this, you can be confident of the smooth operation of your business online.           

To get the right domain name for your website, check out Domain Name Registration | Umbrellar to choose what is most suitable for you from the list of available options.



How To Boost Blog Views In 24 Hours Using These 7 Methods

Barbara Spagnola - Saturday, July 23, 2016

by Neil Patel

Creating a blog is the easy part – you take an idea and you launch it. The real challenge is building your blog with consistent gains in relevant traffic.

If you’ve ever created written content for the web you know it can often be a painstaking process to get any kind of significant traffic to that post outside of your own network of social contacts.

If you’re struggling with traffic it’s not necessarily your fault. Not only are you up against competitors who are publishing content, but you’re fighting to get the attention of your audience from a lot of other sources.

According to Domo, every minute of every day, here’s what happens online:

  • Tumblr users publish 27,000 new posts
  • Instagram users share 3,600 new photos
  • Facebook FB +0.32% users share over 600,000 pieces of content
  • WordPress users publish 347 new blog posts
  • YouTube users publish 48 hours of new video content


Pulling traffic away from all of that isn’t easy, but I’ve got a list of 7 ways you can start boosting your blog views within 24 hours. Here’s how to get a slice of all that attention.


1. Repurpose your content.

Don’t be satisfied with the content resting quietly on your blog.

Repurpose it and place it on other platforms.

I
f you have a post with great ideas or tips and advice, break that content down and post short video clips to Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, YouTube and even Snapchat.

  • Create some slide decks with short presentation slides that gloss the topics and link back to the original post.
  • Create static images with tips and advice that can be posted to sites like Flickr and Pinterest, then share them across your social channels.
  • Include links back to your blog with every piece of content you create – otherwise you’ll see far less traffic from your content marketing.


Whatever you do, find ways to squeeze as much juice out of your content as possible.


2. Find new connections on social, and get your content promoted.

Social networks attract a vast amount of time and interest from your audience – just look at the stats I shared above.

With all those users sharing content, there’s no reason why yours can’t be a part of that.

Use hashtags to find and follow people that are the most relevant to the content you’re sharing and start engaging those individuals. Follow them, start conversations, and work on gaining followers as you share your content.

Use those same hashtags when publishing your content to get it into the conversation stream on a particular topic.

If you consistently employ a strategy of participation and engagement as you share quality content then you’ll make a memorable impression with the people you connect with.

Your followers will grow, your content will get shared more often and you’ll see traffic continue to grow to your individual posts.


3. Make your content more visual.

If you want more traffic from your blog posts then you need to inject with a little more oomph – upgrade the visuals.

Visual content is more than 40x more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, and articles with images placed throughout the content get double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.

When you create a blog post, give it an eye-catching featured imaged. This is the image that will show up when it gets shared across social media.

Be sure to include images every 100-150 words within the content to support the story you’re telling.

And don’t use stock photos – get images that are more impactful and tell a strong story to back up your messaging.


4. Target TGT +0.78% influencers with your content.

When you’re writing blog posts, find influencers in your industry and quote them. Cite their work within your content and name them directly.


When you publish the content, be sure to reach out to them directly and let them know they were mentioned. Don’t be afraid to ask them to share if they enjoy the content.


You can also tag them in a social post to draw their attention (and that of their connections) with a link back to the blog post. Do it manually, or use a tool like
 Notifier from ContentMarketer.io to automatically notify influencers you mention in your content.


5. Promote your posts.

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter TWTR -0.11% all provide paid options for sponsoring and promoting content. If you’ve got a particularly great post you want to spread then try boosting it with a paid ad and target your audience.


6. Use Q&A sites.

You can start answering questions in places like Linkedin Answers andQuora on topics most relevant to your audience. Provide detailed answers to burning questions and, when it fits naturally, supply a link to a blog post that covers the topic in more detail.

Those questions stay online forever, so you’ll start building referral traffic immediately and it will continue to grow as you answer more questions.


7. Comment on other blogs.

Blog commenting can be dicey. You don’t want to seem like you’re spamming links and you certainly don’t want the search engines to think you’re trying to game the system by building comment links.

Instead, provide thought-provoking comments to posts within your industry and include a link to one of your blog posts to support your point of view.

There’s a lot you can do to start earning traffic quickly for your blog, but unless you swing a lucky strike and have a post go viral it can take time and devotion to build significant traffic.

Earning traffic isn’t rocket science, it just takes perseverance. When Rand Fishkin started Moz in 2004 it took his team nearly 2 years to get it to the point where it was receiving nearly one million visits a month.

Don’t give up.

Stick to your schedule and remember that everyone has posts that don’t perform well. It’s slogging through the mediocre content that teaches you how to produce the amazing stuff people love to share.

What are your go-to methods for boosting blog traffic?


Want to Produce Viral Blog Posts? Follow These Steps

Barbara Spagnola - Saturday, July 23, 2016

by Sujan Patel

If I could guarantee that every piece of content I created would go viral, I could spend a lot more time throwing myself out of airplanes. Since there’s no magic wand to wave that guarantees content will go viral, I’m stuck with just skydiving on the weekends and promoting content during the week.

That doesn’t mean you can’t work a little science (that’s like magic, right?) into your content marketing to greatly improve the odds that content will go viral. It’s not impossible when you think about what viral content is.

It’s some or all of the following: entertaining, engaging, trustworthy, easily digested, relevant, and shareable.

How do you translate those characteristics into actionable content when you create it? Hopefully there are some best practices that you’re already employing in your content strategy, like putting images above the fold, shorter sentences, and emotional triggers.

Some steps aren’t as obvious though, like using images to boost social sharing – not because images ‘look cool,’ but because images improve engagement. According to Media Blog, which analyzed the content of more than 2 million tweets, adding a photo to content can boost shares by 35%.

I can’t guarantee anything will go viral, but I can break down the elements of good content marketing to show you, with data, the best ways to boost the viral potential of your content.

1. Better headlines

Hubspot and Outbrain compiled data showing that headlines with numbers are 2x more likely to generate clicks vs. “How to” headlines. What’s more, a study of 150,000 headlines revealed that odd-numbered list headlines have a 20% better click-through rate than even-numbered headlines.

“Your prospects have questions and want answers,” says Neil Patel, founder of KISSMetrics. “If you can provide them with an ultra-specific headline and the answer to their questions, you can convert them into loyal readers and customers.”


2. Capture attention with images

Based on consumer research, Xerox found that colorful visuals, especially when placed front-and-center, made people 80% more likely to read a product guide. Skyword research also found that content with at least one image generated 94% more views on social media.

And that’s not all: setting a featured image ensures that your social shares will include that image. Social shares with images get 150% more retweets on Twitter and 53% more likes on Facebook.


3. Focus on long-form content

The days of 300-500 word pieces of content are gone. Professor Jonah Berger found that longer content was 76.8% more likely to be heavily-shared – so shoot for at least 1,500 words per post if you want to leverage long-form content.

“When we promoted our 18,000-word guide via a sponsored Facebook post, it got 949 likes and 180 shares. That’s a lot for the $1,000 we spent!” says Emma Siemasko, content marketing specialist for Grasshopper. “Because we had custom illustrations to complement the content, plus a ton of different topics within the guide, people were excited to share. It was a lot more compelling than a standard blog post.”


4. Make sharing easy and obvious

A Google study found that elements above the fold are seen by 58% more people than anything pushed further down the page. If you want content to go viral, then your call to action is sharing, and your share buttons need to be front-and-center.


5. Use “scannable” text

Don’t write walls of text if you’re going for long-form content. Break it into lists, short paragraphs, and subheadings featuring a fair balance of white space. Dr. Jacob Nielson discovered that scannable online content boosts readability by 47%.


6. Make an emotional connection

The best way to connect emotionally with your audience is to tell a story, and that can have a big impact on content going viral. A study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that content that elicits emotions like awe, surprise, or anger is 28% more likely to go viral.

“Don’t neglect the emotions of your audience,” writes John Unger, in a piece for Jeff Bullas.

“Sometimes content marketers get so caught up in the latest technology and SEO techniques, analyzing traffic, and the content itself – they forget that buying is about 85% emotional and only 15% logical.”


7. Tag influencers in your content

It works just like tagging people on Facebook: influencers see your content, and so do their followers and the people they’re connected to. Link to influential people in your posts, then let them know about it with a tool like ContentMarketer.io. For your content to go viral, influencer shares are critical.


8. Always ask

Every piece of content should have a call to action included at the end of your post, and make it personalized to your audience. Hubspot discovered that targeted CTAs (“Share these tips for going viral”) outperformed generic CTAs (“share this post”) by 42%.


5 Steps to Take to Start Your Small Business Blog Today

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, October 06, 2015
by Kim Garst

You know you need to be blogging for your small business, but you have no idea where to start. Sound familiar? If so, read on, for exactly what you need to do to start a small business blog today.

If you already have a WordPress website for your business and simply want to add a blog, you can do this through your their dashboard. Here is a good primer on how to do this.

To add a blog to your existing non-WordPress site involves a more technical process that may require the help of a web designer or developer.  

But if you’re starting from scratch, here is a step-by-step process for starting your own small business blog today.

1. Decide on a blogging platform.

This is an important decision. Choosing the wrong platform may not make or break you, but it can make things more difficult than they need to be.

There are many different blogging sites you can use, but the most versatile and user-friendly platform out there is WordPress. There are two types of WordPress sites and it’s important you choose the right one. There is WordPress.com, which allows you to set up, in minutes, a blog and its domain (e.g., www.yoursite.wordpress.com). For reasons that go beyond the scope of this article, I do not recommend using this version for your business blog.

I do recommend using WordPress.org to create your own self-hosted blog. This site is simple to use, although non-techies might need a bit of help with the initial setup.

Both versions are free. Hosting and registering a domain will cost a bit, but more on that later.

If you'd like to explore your options, there are several other platforms that are completely free and give you the ability to set up your site in a few steps; they include Weebly, Joomla and Drupal.  However, you should be aware that most of these sites won’t work for a business blog in the long run. Restrictions in terms of design, functionality and SEO will make it very difficult later on to have a successful business blog.

2. Choose a WordPress theme.

One of the best features of WordPress is that it allows you to easily customize the look and feel of your blog, using themes. There's a large list of free themes available in the WordPress Theme Directory, or try checking out premium (paid) themes at a site like ThemeForest.

When choosing a theme, keep in mind the following:

  • Is it responsive? Does it display properly on a variety of devices, including desktop, tablets and mobile devices?
  • Does it come with some level of customer support and/or a support forum?
  • Does it allow a level of customization (e.g., changing colors, navigation menu, buttons, widgets, etc.)?

3. Register a domain name.

Once you’ve decided which blogging platform you’re going to use, choose a domain name. This will be the URL used to access your site (e.g., www.yoursite.com). You can do this through a domain registrar like NameCheap, 1&1 or GoDaddy.

Your domain will cost you around $10 a year; the price goes down if you’re willing to pay for more than one year up-front. Try to choose a .com domain (as opposed to .net, .biz, etc.), if possible, and use your trademarked business name if it’s available. Make sure your domain is easy to remember yet specific enough to differentiate you from sites or businesses with a similar name.

4. Purchase web hosting.

While your WordPress site is free, you’ll still need to pay to have your blog hosted, which costs more than the domain rental. You can purchase your web hosting service through a number of different companies, but some of the more popular are GoDaddyHostgatorBluehost and 1&1

5. Make a plan, and get writing!

This is the fun part, the reason you decided to get a business blog in the first place. Before you dive in, however, it’s important to think about the purpose of your blog.

  • What is your main objective? Is it to get leads, build your email list or become an expert in your field?
  • How often will you commit to blogging? Two to three times a week is ideal, but blogging once a week is better than nothing.
  • What’s the “voice” of your blog? Casual and fun? Authoritative? Academic?
  • How will you get your readers to take action while on your blog? An email opt-in box? A link to a sales page? Or a call to action to fill out a request for a quote?

Once you have a plan in place, go ahead and write. Focus on topics where you have unique insights to share, or where you can really add to the conversation. Don’t just rehash what everyone else is saying. Be original and write about topics that are of value to your audience.

Wondering what comes next? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Building a Successful Business Blog, or Secrets Of a Killer Blog Post, or 21 Types of Blog Posts That Get People Talking.


5 Ways to Convert Casual Blog Readers Into Social Advocates

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, October 06, 2015
by Aaron Agius, Search, Content and Social Marketer


Do you know the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle)? Essentially, it states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your inputs -- or, in practice, that 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your blog readers. While that’s great in theory, it doesn’t always apply if you’re an entrepreneur that’s just started a blog.

When you first launch your site, you’ll have two brand advocates (if you’re lucky). Who? Your mother and your best friend. And I don’t know about you, but when I first started out, these loyal advocates just weren’t sharing my stuff with the people I needed reading my work.

Growing a blog can be frustrating in the beginning. You spend countless hours planning, preparing and optimizing your posts. You’ve heard about how epic content should:

  • Increase revenue
  • Drive conversions
  • Generate leads
  • Create raving fans

But instead, you just feel like you’ve wasted your time.

If you feel like you’re not getting the results you want, don’t give up just yet. You may just need to position your content to your audience in a slightly different way. If you really want to convert those casual readers into advocates, you’ll need to employ the following techniques.


1. Write hyper-targeted content.

Too many new bloggers waste their time writing broad, generic content. Look at that Buzzfeed headline. You’ll know within seconds whether it relates to you. Why? Because it’s targeted content.

Without targeted content, you’re just writing to a mass of random people. Trust me, that’s not going to generate results for you.

Instead, start by crafting audience personas that speak to the specific needs, challenges and pains of your audience. That way, you’ll be in a much better position to write content that attracts the right people to your blog at the right time.

2. Infuse a bit of flair in your writing.

Don’t be boring. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, there’s no reason to create boring content. Adding a bit of fun to your writing will keep people engaged and coming back for more. But most importantly, it’ll make an impression.

Your content will take on a life of its own and people will feel more connected to it. That’s the perfect recipe for creating advocates. After all, no one wants to become an advocate for a faceless brand that lacks personality. Find your voice and share it with the world.

3. Train readers to get involved.

Once you have your targeting and voice down, it’s time to go a bit deeper. Becoming a social advocate doesn’t happen overnight. Before visitors can become advocates, they have to take that first step -- or, in this case, make that first share. That’ll only happen if you ask them.

Subliminal messages are a myth. You can’t hint at what you want. If you want people to share your content, ask them. As my mom always says, it never hurts to ask.

4. Develop deeper connections.

Sharing is the first step. Now it’s time to start transforming your visitors into advocates -- and you’re going to need a more personal relationship with the reader to make that happen.

The following are a few of my favorite ways to forge a deeper bond:

  • I like to imagine that I’m writing to just one person. If you want to do the same, keep that person in mind as you write the post. This will create a more casual feel, and will naturally include more personal, connection-building pronouns such as you and I.
  • I also like to call or email my five best customers and make sure they’re happy. During the course of the conversation, I’ll ask about their latest business challenges and how they’ve overcome them. I take this time to really listen. You’ll be amazed by what you learn and how it can help you create even more valuable content.

5. Reward sharing with sincere gratitude.

Once people really start connecting with your blog, the advocates will naturally rise to the top. It’s vitally important that you reward their efforts with sincere forms of gratitude. In fact, sincere gratitude is one of the best things you could ever do for your business.

People have spent time reading your blog post, which is an investment in and of itself. But then, they took that a step further and shared your content with their audience. Don’t ever take that for granted.

A few ways to show gratitude include:

Whatever you do, make it sincere. Not only will people appreciate the gesture, it’ll make them more willing to advocate on your behalf again and again in the future.

“If you build it, they will come” is perhaps the biggest lie in the blogging world. You’ve got to get others to spread the word for you.

Which of these techniques will you use first to transform those readers into raving fans? 

4 Simple Reasons Your Blog Still Isn't Getting Traffic

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, October 06, 2015
by Neil Patel, Kissmetrics

Here’s the number one complaint after starting a new blog: Why aren’t we getting traffic?!

I’ve heard this complaint once. I’ve heard it a million times. Eager blog writers get burned out, discouraged, and quit. The decline is simple: They start a blog. The traffic does not materialize. The blog fizzles and dies.

The why-am-I-not-getting traffic question basically sums up the entire industry of SEO, so that doesn’t provide much of a focus for a helpful article. Instead, I want to focus on one angle.

This is my angle: Why isn’t my new blog getting any traffic?

New blogs are the ones at the greatest risk for vanishing in a puff. Without a sturdy understanding of the blog basics, a business’s content marketing may get derailed.

Let’s set a few things straight for the record

In the interest of setting expectations, let’s deal with a few common misconceptions. Having a long-lasting blog doesn’t just require just the teeth-gritting endurance of writing something every day. To have an enduring blog, you need to understand a few principles.

Just because you have a blog doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get traffic.

Blog does not equal traffic.

Here’s what a lot of people think will happen after they launch a blog:

easons-blog-isnt-getting-traffic

 

Source

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

In reality, there may be no increase in traffic or a gradual increase in traffic.

You don’t simply need traffic. You need the right kind of traffic.

And what if you do get traffic? Life is good, right?

Yeah, sort of. But what’s the point of having a blog? Is it really just traffic?

I’d argue that the answer is no. Most of the time, a business starts a blog in order to serve a higher purpose — marketing, brand visibility, more clients, higher conversions, etc. A blog does not exist for the sole purpose of publishing more content. The web doesn’t need more content.

A blog exists for conversions, revenue, information, etc. Traffic is simply an indication that your blog may be achieving its real goals.

Gaining traffic is not a good thing unless your blog is also achieving its other purposes. What if you’re getting traffic from all the wrong sources? That traffic is not going to convert, and your blog becomes essentially useless.

Did you know? The Kissmetrics Funnel Report allows you to segment your traffic so you can see where your highest converting traffic is coming from. For more info, check out our blog post or sign up for Kissmetrics today!

Instead of frenetically grasping for traffic, you need to be pursuing the right kind of traffic. What is “the right kind of traffic”? Look for it in point two below.

Maybe a blog isn’t the best strategy for you.

I’m writing this as a die-hard content marketer. I get content marketing. I do content marketing. Heck, I helped write the most extensive and detailed guide of advanced content marketing techniques that exists today.

In spite of this, I’m willing to admit that content marketing may not be the solution to your woes.

Every business is different. Most of the time, content marketing works. That’s why more than 90% of B2Bs and B2Cs use content marketing as part of their overall strategy.

The lingering 10% who don’t utilize content marketing may be doing so intentionally and strategically. There are plenty of other ways to do marketing, and even to do so effectively. Some of the businesses that are doing content marketing might be wasting their time and resources.

I didn’t write this article to help you diagnose your business’s particular situation. I’m simply raising the question. Is content marketing really the best strategy for you?

You have to decide.

Now, let’s dive into a few of the specifics. Remember, we’re asking the question, why isn’t my new blog getting any traffic?

Here are the answers.

1. You Aren’t Sharing it Socially

Issue: Social Signals and Visibility

We’re in the era of the social web.

The social web refers to the fact that the Internet is a place of social interaction and collaboration. As proof, consider this: 74% of all American adults use a social networking site.

reasons-blog-isnt-getting-traffic

Source

When people “go online,” they are likely to do several things — research, email, etc. — but increasingly all these activities are integrated socially.

For example, someone doesn’t simply read an article. They share it, comment on it, tweet it, etc.

It naturally follows that an online strategy devoid of social sharing is missing out on the vast and viral potential of the social web.

Solution: Promote your content

Writing content is only half of content marketing.

The other half is spreading that content. Don’t expect the traffic to come flooding in after you click “publish.” Publish your content, and then promote it.

Here are some tips:

  • Add sharing buttons to your blog article.
  • Share content at the peak times for your audience’s social activity.
  • Share your article on Twitter with images.
  • Share content multiple times on every social site.
  • Keep up with your content as it circulates on social, and be sure to participate in the conversation.
  • Encourage blog authors, contributors, and team members to use their existing social networks to share the article.

2. You Aren’t Focusing on Any One Keyword or Subject

Issue: Keyword Optimization

Much of SEO is fairly common knowledge by this point. Most people are at least aware of keywords, and title tags, and have at least a vague idea of how it all works together.

But in spite of the widespread knowledge, it can be hard to strategically apply it to one’s own blog.

Keyword optimization is one such shortcoming.

Often, a blog writer starts by assembling an editorial calendar, which is basically a list of blog articles with dates. She may select these article titles based on the fact that they are interesting or perceived to be relevant to the target audience.

Solution: Research and target long tail keywords

This approach described above is misguided. Content marketing should not start with articles. It should start with research.

  • Understand your marketing persona.
  • Understand what they are searching for.
  • Understand the intent behind their queries.
  • Understand the keywords that would gain traffic from these queries.

At this point, you can come up with a list of longtail keywords.

From the list of keywords, you can develop a list of articles. Using the list of articles, you can create your editorial calendar.

Each article should use the selected longtail keyword in the 1) page title, 2) article title, and 3) one or two times in the article itself. Be sure not to stuff the article with the selected keyword.

3. It’s Boring as Heck

Issue: User Experience

I’m convinced that user experience is the sine qua non of Internet marketing. It trumps all other marketing techniques, and stands as the supreme methodology for gaining and retaining customers.

Obviously, user experience is an extremely broad subject. It effectively encompasses nearly every other aspect of digital marketing — from conversion optimization to search engine optimization.

Content marketing falls within the broad realm of user experience. When a user goes to visit your blog and read your content, what is he experiencing? Does it satisfy his needs? Does it answer his questions? Is it easy to read? Does it match his expectations?

One of the reasons why user experience in content marketing is such an issue is because Google says it is.

According to the document, the Quality Rating Guide, Google rates content based on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Human raters review selected content on the blog in order to refine and streamline the algorithmic formulae behind content quality grading.

Low quality content gets downgraded. High quality content gets upgraded.

Only high quality content will get the ranking improvement that will produce higher traffic levels.

Solution: Improve quality

This is why the quality of your content matters. I’ll point out a few of the issues that are considered low quality — i.e., boring.

  • It’s all about you. Content marketing should not be exclusively about your business, your products, your awesome sauce, and your employees. It should be about subjects that are relevant in the industry. For a great example of B2B content marketing for a company not tooting it’s own horn, check out TopTal’s blog.
  • No images. If your blog doesn’t have some sort of visual engagement like pictures, graphs, charts, or videos, it’s boring. Sorry.
  • Not relevant. If you are producing articles that aren’t relevant to your target audience, you lose. No one cares about content that doesn’t answer a question, solve a problem, or meet a need. For example, on the Kissmetrics blog we aren’t going to write any articles about parenting. Would it get traffic? Probably, but it doesn’t target our audience. And it would alienate our readers.

What happens when you commit these content marketing mistakes?

Your bounce rate rises, your dwell time drops, your clickthrough rate sinks. Google measures these metrics and reduces your site’s rank accordingly.

Read up on what Google views as quality content. It’ll only take 2 minutes to read, and you’ll have a good set of guidelines to follow. You can also read up on what Bing views as quality content.

The better your quality, the better your traffic.

4. Your Blog Design is Horrible

Issue: User Experience

Another user experience issue is blog design. Why does it matter? The way your blog looks, feels, and functions affects how users engage with your blog.

If the design is awful, then your users will not engage with the blog.

Solution

Based on my research and analysis, here are the ingredients of a great blog design:

  • Your website should be responsive. If your website is not mobile optimized, it won’t be featured in mobile search results. Use this tool to see if Google views you as mobile-friendly.
  • Feature blog snippets on your main blog page. Snippets are brief excerpts of a main article that people can skim through at a glance.
  • Make your main content prominent. Place it on the left side, where users are most likely to look first.
  • Use scrolling social buttons to encourage social sharing at any point in the article.
  • Use an 11px font or larger for the body text.
  • Use a 17-25px headline font.
  • Use a sans serif font.
  • Use a light colored background with dark colored text.
  • Use headers and short paragraphs to break up the content.
  • Use plenty of images.
  • Use headers, bullet points, short paragraphs, and easy vocabulary.
  • Include the name and possibly a brief bio of the author.
  • Provide a CTA for users to subscribe to the blog.

Improving your blog’s design can dramatically improve your blog’s quality, readability, and traffic.

Conclusion

If you want your blog to not die, you may need to make some improvements. The reasons your blog may not be getting any traffic are pretty simple. Thankfully, the solutions are relatively simple, too.

Keep in mind that traffic may be slow in coming. Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. If traffic doesn’t spike overnight, don’t be dismayed.

Be patient. Give it a few months; things will improve. If not, read this article again.

What’s your experience with blog traffic, and the reasons for growth or decline?




6 Tips for Wooing Customers With an Enchanting Business Blog

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, October 06, 2015
by Henneke Duistermaat, KISSmetrics

Let’s admit it. Blogging can be difficult. And we all wonder sometimes whether it’s worth all the effort.

Can you really create a business blog that generates an endless stream of leads and customers? Can you write a business blog so good that readers desperately want to work with you and buy from you?

Getting your blog readers to fall head-over-heels in love with your company, may sound like a daunting, perhaps impossible, task. But it really doesn’t need to be. You just need to observe a few simple rules.

Follow these 6 rules and you may find yourself winning more business than you can deal with.

Sound good?

Rule 1: Stop spreading sales messages

Are you writing your blog for your company or for your readers?

Your objective of blogging may be to generate leads, to increase web traffic, or to raise your profile as an authority. But if you use your blog just to spread your sales messages, you may struggle to find readers. You might not win the clients you’re looking for. And your blog may remain a lonely voice whispering quietly while no one pays attention.

Most people aren’t interested in your sales messages. Most people aren’t even interested in your business. They want to know what’s in it for them.

To gain business with your blog you should stop thinking like a salesman and start acting like your reader’s mentor. A salesman wonders how to get his next sale. A mentor cares about his students. He wants to help them get ahead and live a more fulfilled life.

By providing solid advice on a regular basis, you build authority and trust; and that’s how you win new customers. To start wooing customers with your blog, answer these two critical questions:

  1. Who are you writing for? Try to be specific. When you can visualize an ideal reader or buyer persona, your writing becomes more vivid, more personal, and more engaging.
  2. How can you help your readers? Consider what your ideal reader is dreaming of, and how you can help him achieve his goals.

Don’t you enjoy reading the KISSmetrics blog exactly because it’s so helpful and virtually free from sales messages? In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger describes practicality as one of the triggers for content to go viral.

When you write your next blog post, forget about your company for a moment and consider how you can help your readers. When you stop pitching on your blog, you start selling more.

6 Tips for Wooing Customers With an Enchanting Business Blog

The Shopify Blog serves helpful tips for anyone running an e-commerce website

Rule 2: Get rid of a corporate tone

Nobody chats with a robot. Nobody bonds with a call center menu. Nobody gossips with a corporation.

To engage your readers, make your writing more conversational. Have you noticed how I’ve sprinkled questions throughout this blog post? And how these questions address you as a reader directly because I’m using the word you?

That’s how I try to engage you. A blog post shouldn’t be a monologue but a conversation; and questions are the most important tool of good conversationalists.

You might think that writing conversational content requires you to record yourself talking and then typing out your text. But have you ever seen a full transcript of an interview?

It’s full of wishy-washy words, grammar mistakes, and sentences that haven’t been finished. Writing conversational content doesn’t mean you write as you talk. Instead: you edit your text so that it doesn’t sound like writing.

This is how you get rid of a dull corporate tone:

  • Scrap gobbledygook like cutting-edge, world-class, and customer service excellence. You don’t really use those words when you talk, do you?
  • Slaughter the passive voice. Rather than write Your email will be answered(passive), write: We’ll answer your email within 24 hours (active).
  • Kill long paragraphs and dense blocks of text. To enter a conversation you need to give your reader time to breathe - that’s what white space is for.
  • Use contractions like they’ll, he’s, and we’re, because they’re more informal.

Conversational content makes your reader feel you’re talking WITH him--NOT talking AT him. You’re engaging him in your conversation, and encourage him to leave a comment, send you an email, or buy from you.

6 Tips for Wooing Customers With an Enchanting Business Blog

The Unbounce blog has a conversational tone

Rule 3: Compose deliciously seductive headlines

Do your blog posts receive the attention they deserve?

Are your headlines so delicious, so tempting that people feel compelled to click through and read your posts?

A lipsmackingly good headline fulfils two crucial requirements:

  • Attract attention by using sensory or emotional words. Numbers also work well in headlines because they stop wandering eyes in social media streams.
  • Make a reader curious enough to click through by promising a specific benefit when reading the post.

The specific benefit I promised you in this post’s headline, is that you learn how to write blog posts that help you win customers. To make the headline more compelling I added a number (7 tips) and the emotional words to enchant and to woo.

Seductive headlines help you gain more readers and more customers. Spend time practicing your headlines and study the headlines of popular blogs.

Rule 4: Create enticing opening paragraphs

We live in a distracted world.

Each piece of content is battling for reader attention. Emails pop up. Twitter streams and Facebook updates distract your readers. You need to work hard to grab attention and keep it.

To captivate your reader and entice him to read your post, you need to write a seductive opening paragraph. Follow this simple 3-step formula:

  • Empathize with your reader and tell him he’s not the only one struggling with a specific problem.
  • Promise your reader your advice will make his life better.
  • Reassure your reader that your tips are easy--everyone loves shortcuts, simple tricks, and straightforward formulas.

In the opening paragraph of this post I empathized with your doubts about blogging, and then promised you that your blog can generate an endless stream of leads and customers just by following these six simple rules.

Rule 5: Write inspirational conclusions

A blog post isn’t an academic essay in which you sum up the findings of your research. Your final paragraph provides you with an opportunity to inspire your reader so she can take away your advice, remember it, and act on it.

When you reward your reader with an incredibly useful tip each time she reads your blog posts, she’ll come back again and again for more tips. But serving up a useful tip isn’t enough. You have to inspire your reader to act.

How? Consider the issues that sabotage your reader’s good intentions. What blocks her from acting upon your advice? If your reader feels overwhelmed, remind her of the first step she should take. If she lacks confidence, give her a pep-talk. If she feels it’s too much work to implement your advice, then remind her how much better she’ll feel after implementing your suggestions.

A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never been opened. Your job as blogger is not just to share useful advice, but to encourage your reader to act. Don’t let your blog posts fizzle out.

Rule 6: Create an email list

A blog without an email list is like city without any transport links. People might fly in or turn up by accident, but they’ll find it difficult to find their way back after a first visit.

Email allows you to build a connection with readers and coax them back to your blog to read more. When you turn up once a week in a reader’s inbox, he can get to know you, like you, and trust you. That’s how you earn an opportunity to sell.

To boost your email list:

  • Tell readers the benefit of signing up. What will they learn? How will you help them save or make money? Or help them become happier or more productive?
  • Consider a relevant bonus like an ebook, video, or free e-course.
  • Place your sign-up form in strategic locations, like at the bottom of a blog posts, in your side bar, on your home page, and on your about page.

Consider it an honor when people allow you into their inbox. Build a relationship with them over time, and you’ll earn the opportunity to sell to them.

6 Tips for Wooing Customers With an Enchanting Business Blog

The Daily Egg promises a great bonus when you sign up to their list

The truth about your business blog ...

Let’s be honest.

Writing a business blog is hard work. Damn hard work.

You need to know your stuff. You need to polish your writing skills. And most of all, you need to sneak into the heads of your readers and potential clients.

But magic will happen when you truly care about your readers.

Understand what they’re trying to achieve. Know what they’re struggling with. Understand exactly how your advice can help them.

Persevere and your traffic will multiply over time. Your social shares and comments will skyrocket. Other bloggers will start linking to your content.

And most importantly, an endless stream of quality leads will flow to you.



6 Strategies for Launching a Successful Blog

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, October 06, 2015
by Entrepreneur Press and Jason R. Rich

This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com's Second-Quarter Startup Kitwhich explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.

In the book Start Your Own Blogging Business, the staff at Entrepreneur Press and marketing expert Jason R. Rich explain how to start a profitable business as a blogger by generating income from advertisers, subscribers, merchandisers and more. In this edited excerpt, the authors reveal the six steps you must take if you want to create and maintain a successful blog.

The following are basic blogging strategies every professional blogger should implement to help ensure success:

1. Define the target audience for your blog and cater to that audience. The best way to build a dedicated audience for any blog is to carefully and clearly define its target audience right from the start, and then create content that caters to that audience.

Focusing on a niche audience and developing appropriate content specifically for those people helps to ensure there will be strong interest in your blog's content, plus it makes promoting the blog easier.

The more narrowly you define your target audience, the easier it will be to identify those people, cater to their needs with your content, and reach them with your advertising and marketing messages.

The target market or audience you identify for your online content can be defined using one or multiple criteria, or various demographic characteristics, such as:

  • Age
  • Club memberships
  • Education
  • Geographic area
  • Hobbies
  • Income level
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Special interests

Reaching a target demographic on the web is relatively easy (much simpler than doing it using traditional advertising practices in the real world). Carefully designing your online marketing efforts to appeal to your target audience will help set you apart from your competition and pique the interest of Internet users who are inherently interested in what online content you're offering.

2. Put a unique twist on your blog's topic and content. It's virtually impossible to brainstorm a totally original topic to blog about. Instead, your primary and ongoing goal should be to continuously develop innovative content and put a truly unique spin on whatever topic you're blogging about.

You, as a blogger, are a unique individual with your own personality. To set your blog apart, be sure to incorporate your knowledge, voice and personality into your blog. This is one of the easiest ways to set it apart from your competition.

You can also set your blog apart by including proprietary information, publishing extremely timely facts or research, or by incorporating your own unique thoughts, ideas, perspective or expertise into each of your blog entries.

Be sure to research how other bloggers and website operators are presenting similar information, and then develop innovative ways to do it better or in a more unique, attention-getting, and memorable way. You'll want to keep constant tabs on what your competition is doing, plus stay up-to-date on trends happening within the blogosphere.

Another important strategy for creating and publishing a successful blog is to develop content that isn't readily available elsewhere in the blogosphere or on the web. The more unique and innovative your content and the better you target your audience, the easier it will be to build a following.

3. Add new content on a regular basis. To build and maintain a steady audience, regularly add new content to your blog. Every new blog entry should cater to your blog's target audience, offer content that's perceived as valuable, and build upon previously published content.

For a blog to be successful, you must stay on topic and cater to the wants, needs and expectations of your target audience. This means developing a thorough understanding of who your audience is, then adjusting your focus as trends and demands change over time.

Once you set a schedule for posting new content, it's essential to maintain that schedule, so plan accordingly and don't be over-ambitious. You're better off promising new content once a week then posting twice or three times per week on occasion, as opposed to promising new content daily (or several times daily) and not being able to deliver.

4. Transform your blog into an interactive online community. Instead of focusing exclusively on publishing content, develop your blog into an interactive online community. Encourage your audience to post feedback and comments, interact with each other, share their ideas, and enhance your content by adding their own information.

Be sure to incorporate a "Share" button into each of your blog entries. Make it very easy for readers to share your content via email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn. Virtually all the popular blogging platforms offer a widget that makes it easy to integrate a "Share" button into your blog. Doing this can help you build your audience through virtual word-of-mouth.

5. Adopt a multifaceted approach to promoting your blog continuously. It will take some time to build an audience in the hundreds of thousands or millions. To achieve this level of success will typically require ongoing marketing, promotions and even paid advertising. Many of the world's most successful bloggers have relied on the mainstream media to generate publicity for their blog to help build an audience. Promoting your blog on an ongoing basis is as important as regularly adding new content.

6. Keep the blog's look, overall design and content professional. Always convey a professional image, regardless of the subject matter or your audience. The look and overall design of your blog should be professional, and easy to read and understand.

Also, be sure to edit and proofread your work carefully to avoid or correct any errors. Spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in your blog take away from your credibility and make your blog appear amateurish.

Blogging Is an Art But Attracting the Right Audience Is a Science

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, October 06, 2015
by Pratik Dholakiya

You are convinced you have a great gift to offer mankind. You also have the resourcefulness to channel this gift through a business, and you understand the importance of digital marketing in an Internet-driven world.

But, indispensable though they may be, great intentions and content alone do not take one far in the larger scheme of things. Finding and connecting with the right audience is crucial for the success of a venture. Here are a few effective ways in which you can attract the right kind of people to your business.

Related: 6 Strategies for Launching a Successful Blog

Send Out a Consistent Message

You can’t find the right people until you know exactly what you stand for and are making it clear in unambiguous terms.

Confusion attracts confusion.

If you don’t define your brand, you are going to have a tough time attracting the kind of audience you want.

Say you are a life coach who wants to attract more clients through her blog. But life coaching is a vast field. Is there anything specific within this field that you excel in? Perhaps it’s your insights into romantic relationships? Or you are good at helping people overcome personal blocks and fulfilling their potential?

At some point the above may overlap. After all, everyone has romantic problems. We are all fighting some personal demon, or another, at any given point. But it’s important to realize that you cannot be everything to everybody, even if you are in a position to help most people.

It’s therefore crucial for you to delineate your area of expertise, and create marketing messages that reinforce your strengths.

Whom Do You Want to Reach Out To?

We know who this blog reaches out to: all kinds of entrepreneurs.

Is that specific or broad? A bit of both. But for the purpose of this post, let’s narrow it down further and look at the subsets within this broad set of people.

  • Mom entrepreneurs.
  • Young entrepreneurs.
  • Post-60 entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Turns out, the readership of this blog covers all of the above and more.

What is your blog about? Can you handle such a broad sweep?

If not, exactly what kind of readership would you like to attract? Who are these people, what are their interests, roles and the problems in lives? Would they be able to buy what you are trying to sell them? Would they want to buy what you are trying to sell them? Where in their life do you think your product/service would fit, and how will it benefit them?

Start digging. Creating detailed buyer personas is a great way to clear your own mind about your target audience and move from confusion towards clarity.

What Are Their Popular Internet Hangouts?

Once you know who you want, it’s time to figure out where to find them.

If you have created rich buyer personas, you must know their interests, which in turn will take you to places on the Internet they are most likely to visit.

Start following popular groups in your niche on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Quora (depending on which kind of social media platform would be the most attractive to your target audience).

There is, of course, a lot of overlap as far as users on various social media platforms are concerned, but it makes more sense, for instance, to first seek out fashion and food lovers on Pinterest than on Twitter.

Participate in groups and blogs dedicated to your niche to get your name known. Take interest in people’s problems and try to help them out in a genuine way, and don’t push the link to your blog into their faces. Establish credibility first.

Start speaking their language

It’s now time to create good, targeted content.

People cannot help but pay attention when you are speaking in a tone that is familiar, sharing thoughts that seem almost their own, giving advice that seems so timely as to be god-sent.

Of course, none of this is going to happen without effort.

You have been hanging around in the right circles, studying your target audience, paying attention to their comments and questions, learning their problems, and have found a way to create content that is tailored to their needs and promoted in the right places. How can they not respond to it?

Finding your right audience is initially a process. Knowing where you want to be and being obsessed with the details of the kind of people your product would resonate with are the best places to start.