Content Editor Heather Hobbs shares 5 tips on blog writing to engage readers that search engine robots will also appreciate
We spoke with Content Editor Heather Hobbs about her advice on how to write a great blog post. From SEO improvements to general blog writing advice, learn her tips for creating content that’s built around your target audience and brand strategy. Here’s what she had to say:
While a lot of the advice for strong writing does transfer from print to digital, there are key differences that distinguish blog writing as an art form of its own. A blog post has to embody your audience and resonate with them—building trust, raising brand awareness and furthering readers down the sales funnel at the same time. Follow these five tips for drafting an engaging and effective blog that your audience will want to read.
1. Define your purpose
Ask yourself how you want readers to feel and what you want them to take away when they get to the end of your blog—even before you begin writing it. That will help make sure the post resonates with your audience. While blog content focuses on increasing the website’s search visibility by targeting strategic keywords, the specific purpose of each blog will be more nuanced.
Writing with a purpose in mind will help make sure the post is truly written for the target audience and reflect where they are in the marketing funnel. Consider: How does the blog align with the brand’s business? Where is the target reader in their buying journey?
Here are some common purposes a blog may target:
- To provide an overview that answers a common question related to the brand
- To share informational content that positions the brand as a thought leader in the field
- To help a prospective customer determine which product to buy
- To promote a brand’s products or services
- To teach readers how to do something related to the brand
- To build trust in the brand by sharing news or awards
Every blog should have its own distinct purpose that helps meet business objectives. Whatever that purpose may be, use it to not only guide the angle from which you approach the topic but also to guide readers’ next steps—but more on that later. Learn more about planning your content with purpose in our blog on how to create an editorial content calendar.
2. Do the research
Whether you’re writing about a topic you’re familiar with or one that’s completely new, don’t underestimate the value of in-depth research. Being intimately familiar with a topic helps writers include not just factual information but also communicate it from a place of expertise. Research also makes you more aware of what’s being shared online about your topic and allows you to add a unique perspective to the conversation.
You don’t want to write a blog that already exists. Your blog should provide even more value for your audience than what’s already available on the Internet. This attitude allows you to provide a comprehensive take on the topic and keeps readers from clicking away from the blog and heading to a competitor for more information.
Remember, a key purpose of blog posts is to bring in organic search traffic and grow a brand’s audience. Performing SEO keyword research into the topic before getting started will also let you create a blog that fully satisfies the user experience. For more information on how to write blogs geared toward SEO, check out our pillar pages how-to guide.
3. Know your audience
The main difference between blog writing and any other kind is the proximity to the audience. A blog post, especially because of its length compared to email and social marketing, has to reflect the audience’s identity, questions and needs, and that resonance has to carry the whole way through—whether for 1,000 words or 4,000. That’s why it’s especially important to get inside readers’ heads and know exactly what they’re looking for.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the target audience for the brand in general and the blog post in particular. Then you’ll be able to tailor writing, tone, explanations and the length of the piece to those readers. Your audience should read it, connect with it and wonder how you know them so well.
How do you get to know your audience? Research! Go-to spots to check out include questions submitted to a brand’s social media and email accounts, customer reviews and comments and social posts by the audience that use branded hashtags or mention the brand. Our social listening checklist provides even more tips to find and hone in on your audience.
4. Readability is key
Clear writing is easy to read, feels natural and sticks to the point. Decluttering isn’t just for closets: When reviewing your work, cut out extra words that don’t help clarify the message. Make sure your content is skimmable. While this may seem counterintuitive because, as writers, we want readers to pay attention to every piece of information and appreciate our quirky turns of phrase or genius metaphors, creating skimmable, organized content helps readers find what they need faster. Remember the audience’s purpose in landing on the page: They have a question they need answered. A writer’s job is to make sure the answer is as easy to find as possible.
Along with making sure the message is clear, word- and sentence-level edits also make the writing more engaging. Sentences shouldn’t be consistently too long or contain too many examples. If readers are constantly running out of mental breath before they reach the end of the sentence, they’ll feel bogged down. So vary sentence structure and rhythm as well as the lengths of paragraphs. Pro tip: Reading aloud can help you catch this—and you might naturally simplify some of the ideas in speech.
While the best blog content is comprehensive, it is also organized with clear headlines and subheads so that readers who are looking for a specific piece of information can find it easily. Another plus: these organizational practices benefit a website’s presence in search because they help search engine crawlers understand what’s on the page—boosting rank over pages without an easily understood structure.
5. Include an actionable CTA
Before starting the first draft, determine what readers should do when they finish reading the post. While informing readers is the primary purpose, consider the CTA a secondary purpose. This next action should be clear and tied to the particular blog’s message and audience. Depending on where the piece falls in the marketing funnel, a call to action may include linking to another blog on your site with related information or sending readers off to a product page for something they’ll want to buy after reading. Either way, be sure to include information that directs readers’ next steps.
Here are some example CTAs:
- Follow us on social media
- Subscribe to our newsletter
- Make a purchase or donation
- Hire our services or reach out for more information
- Compare our products
- Share our message
- Continue to another related post
- Leave a comment on the blog
Once you know where you want readers to go, craft a CTA that stands out. Test options on different posts to determine what works best for your audience—whether it’s a text CTA that naturally fits into the end of the blog, an eye-catching image, a subscribe button or something else.
If you need a hand with writing blogs that wow both readers and search robots, Yakkety Yak can make it happen. Reach out to our team. We’re experts at strategizing and developing content that stands out.