By Nancy Dahlberg
By Chris Brencans, Guest Contributor
If your company is one of the millions of businesses worldwide that has a blog, you know the biggest challenge that comes along with it: attracting readers.
Here's the truth:
Nowadays, approximately two million blog posts are published on the web every day. How the heck are you supposed to stand out and make people come to your blog, read your articles, and, at the end of the day, become your customer?
The best part? This increase in blog traffic significantly contributed to the company's growth as well. In a recent article on YFS Magazine, DeskTime reported a 94% revenue growth.
Here are Krista's best tips and tricks that ensured a steady increase of organic traffic for the DeskTime blog.
Tip 1: Put your audience first, SEO second
Many think that organic traffic starts with keywords and other SEO tactics. But the truth is – SEO only becomes useful when you have already learned to write for the reader, not search engines.
The first step to building a successful blog and attracting readers is asking this question – what does my audience care about? There are several tactics to find that out.
First, you can go through your incoming customer support requests and see what issues your customers are facing. ''Most of the time, those questions will be about the product and how to use it. Those are proven to be great topics to cover, as they can be useful both for your existing and potential customers,'' Krista explains.
Second, you can look for inspiration in niche forums where your target audience hangs out. See what people are discussing there, and you'll notice what they care about, what problems they are dealing with, as well as discover new trends in your industry.
''For example, the idea for the article on how to deal with problematic employees came from a Reddit discussion. I noticed it because it had over a thousand upvotes, which made me realize – that's a hot topic. We wrote this article, which is still one of our best-performing pieces,'' Krista reveals.
Once your article is written, go back to the forum discussion and share it with the participants – they care enough about the topic to participate in the discussion, which means they're also likely to click on your link. This is a great way to promote your article.
Finally, you can find ideas for topics using Google Trends. ''Basically, what I do is – I go to Google Trends, type in a keyword related to my industry, and scroll down to ''related queries''. This is where you can find gold – trending, thus possibly high-traffic topics in your industry that people are already interested in,'' Krista reveals her secret.
Tip 2: Don't be afraid to write long, comprehensive articles
When you've chosen your topic, you can get to writing. ''Our rule of thumb is that an article must be at least 1500 words long. There are some exceptions, of course, but that's our standard length.''
Krista says they write long-form articles for two reasons. First, because Google seems to prefer long and comprehensive articles over short and superficial ones. This observation goes hand in hand with a study by Search Metrics, which found that the average word count of top-ranked content in Google is between 1140 and 1285 words.
And second – Krista believes that comprehensive articles are more useful to the reader. In fact, she thinks that readers actually prefer long and extensive articles.
''Studies show that modern people have short attention spans, so we automatically assume that people prefer short articles. I disagree with that. I believe that people prefer articles that contain a complete answer to their questions – so that they don't have to read ten different pieces to put the picture together,'' Krista says.
According to her, as long as your article provides useful information, is well structured and easy to skim through, you'll be able to keep the reader's attention.
There's another benefit to writing all-inclusive articles – it's easier to earn backlinks to such articles. And more backlinks mean better rankings on Google.
''Some time ago we wrote this A to Z guide of office improvement tips. The topic itself wasn't unique, but the article is over 3000 words long and gathers 26 ideas in one place. We get a lot of backlinks to this article from other bloggers who write about this topic and want to suggest their readers a resource for further reading.''
If you need proof for Krista's words – this is the actual growth of backlinks DeskTime experienced after publishing this article back in 2017:
Tip 3: Use expert opinions and other third-party commentary
Finally, Krista suggests complementing the article with expert opinions, examples, and case studies. She argues that this tactic has multiple benefits.
''One thing I learned during my journalism studies was that including an independent third-party opinion makes your article more objective. In relation to branded content, that objectivity means your piece will look more trustworthy and reliable,'' Krista says.
She also uses many case studies and examples in articles – that helps her better illustrate her point, as well as make articles more interesting to read. ''Theory is one thing, but when there's a story that features real people or businesses that have tried something, learned a lesson, and now share it with the readers – this is when the article becomes attention-worthy.''
However, the main reason Krista includes opinions and quotes in her pieces is rather practical: it helps when it's time to promote them.
''Look – when this article is published, I will, obviously, share it on all my personal and company's social media channels – bragging about positive publicity is what people do because, you know, we all have big egos,'' Krista laughs.
Similarly, when she quotes or mentions someone in her articles, she always reaches out to these people when the piece is live and encourages them to share it via their social channels.
There are several ways to find case studies or experts to comment on your topic, including tools like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and Twitter – tweet out your request with the hashtag #journorequest.
Here are the top three takeaways from the article:
- Write for the reader first, then optimize your content for the search engines later. Always prioritize quality content over simple keyword stuffing.
- Don't make your readers look for information somewhere else. Write complete articles and don't stress if they end up being long – as long as they're useful and well structured, you're good.
- Use the help of third parties – industry experts, other companies and individuals – to distribute your article and reach more readers.
Chris Brencans is Chief Marketing Officer of On the Map Marketing, an Inc. magazine “5000 Fastest Growing Companies.” He has launched dozens of highly-successful internet marketing campaigns for his company’s clients.
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