Writing blogs and online content isn’t always as easy as it seems. It’s not just a case of putting a few hundred words together and expecting readers to fall willingly upon your favourite recipe or the way you feel about this year’s Summer blockbuster movies! Getting your articles and opinions read and shared depends hugely on two main factors: the people you are writing for, and how many people you are likely to reach on a regular basis.
If you want readers and search engines to love what you write, it’s absolutely crucial to make sure that your content is engaging, as unique as possible, and that you keep at it! If you’re looking for regular readership and for your work to grow steadily in popularity, there are a number of important tricks and techniques you can use to increase traffic to your website. Luckily, you don’t have to be an internet marketing whiz to boost your potential audience!
Any blogger or online journalist will give you this advice first and foremost – if you want to captivate an audience and you want to keep them that way, write about the topics that interest you on a regular basis. This may only be three times a week if you can spare it, but providing that you are writing articles of a good length (e.g. over 400 words) consistently and with passion, you will find a readership that will reward you for it.
The same goes for Google – is a search engine likely to highlight a well-written blog that has only four or five posts over a six-month period, or will it promote a regularly-updated site that provides interesting and varied content several times per week? If you are passionate about writing, put the time in, and you’ll reap the rewards.
In all walks of journalism, whether it be for fun or profit, headlines are crucial. It’s the first thing your potential readers will see, and there’s many techniques in making sure people will follow through on reading your full article. There are a number of different schools of thought on effective headlining, but most sources agree on a few key areas.
You need to make sure that your headline summarises your article effectively – that it’s not too vague, or likely to get lost amongst a vast number of pieces with the exact same title. Therefore, you need to be as unique as possible – has your reader seen the feature Ten Ways to Cook With Bananas’ elsewhere on the internet? It’s likely that they have. How about ’Ten Weird Ways You’ve Never Used Bananas in Cooking’? This title may be lengthier, but it’s more unique, and it emphasises that there is something oddly different about the article. It’s this emphasis that you need to look for when writing a punchy opener.
It also works on a personal level – the phrase ‘you’ve never used’ is assuming a lot about the reader! However, it immediately sparks interest. People are naturally curious and are fascinated by the new and the strange – not always in a positive way, but it’s a great idea to captivate curiosity in the first line of your article. If you’re writing a list feature (which it’s proven that people absolutely love), what makes your list any different to anyone else’s? Focus on the unique, summarise your piece, and make it snappy!
Incorporating key phrases and words that fetch big search results on Google will also help drive traffic to your website – and the more unique the phrase, the more likely you’ll have a chance of sitting at the top of Google’s lucrative ladder. This is using techniques in line with Search Engine Optimisation.
SEO is a process in which content is written and edited to ensure that an online piece is more likely to be indexed higher in search engine listings – this will then obviously grant the article far more readers and regular traffic than anything stashed away on pages two or three of any given search!
SEO can be quite in-depth and it’s a lucrative skill to learn and master correctly. Google in particular are known to change how their listings and ranking systems work on occasion, and it’s therefore a case of playing catch-up and experimenting with what brings up the best results. While learning SEO can take some time, its core ideas are quite simple – work out the keywords and key phrases that searchers can type into Google to find your content ahead of everybody else’s!
This often means being quite creative with the way you phrase your articles, and it’s also very important therefore not to overdo it – if, for example, you’ve written an article about ‘horse grooming for beginners’, you could also benefit from rephrasing this within your piece as ‘easy ways to look after your horse’, and drawing on different ways to describe the process. This is just one of the ways in which SEO works, but it’s important to remember that variety in your content is also key.
While SEO can be tricky and can require much research into which keywords or phrases best fit the content you produce, if you are particularly keen to make money from writing via a blog or website, it’s a good idea to start looking into how optimisation can help you long-term. There are a vast number of further in-depth guides, tutorials and even distance courses that can help you learn how SEO can help aid your future writing.
Using the same terms and descriptions over and over in one post can not only impact negatively on where you’re positioned with Google, but it can also come across as boring and repetitive for your reader. If you’re passionate about writing, then you may well be passionate about reading – what engages you as a reader, and what will it take for you to bookmark a website or blog?
Apply your own preference to your writing – if you read it back and it wouldn’t engage you if you browsed across it, try adding or changing descriptions, make your tone less formal, or add gentle humour where appropriate. Every reader is slightly different, but if you write for yourself, you’ll be more likely to appeal to the right people you’re looking for.
This final tip is one of the biggest and most important, particularly when it comes to entertaining your readers, and of course, keeping them (Click here for details on social media marketing). Don’t write like everybody else – write like you. This may sound fairly cheesy on the face of it – but emulating a writing style or focusing on delivering cold, hard facts in a monotonous wall of text is hardly likely to help engage the people you’re looking to reach.
Write your piece as if you were talking about it passionately, at length, or as if you are trying to persuade someone to your way of thinking. What made that movie particularly awful for you? Why do you think watering your plant at one particular time of day will bring healthier results? Regardless of your topic or your opinion on it – it is once again about being unique. If you read it aloud, does it convey passion and an argument people can latch on to?
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There is sadly no absolute rule or hard and fast way, short of buying ad space, to entice Google into throwing your blog into the coveted #1 spot for certain searches. However, these are just a few of the ways in which you can drive a loyal, dedicated fan base for your content, and how to help influence many more to follow in their stead.