How to make your blog more successful
For many marketers, blogging is not just a key part of their role, but also a labour of love. So it can be frustrating if the posts you spend time researching and writing aren’t getting the attention – and results – that they deserve. Here’s a troubleshooting guide to the barriers you may unwittingly placing in the way of blogging success
What’s the use of blogging?
Having started in the 90s as the pastime of tech nerds, hobbyists, ‘citizen journalists’ and niche communities, blogging has emerged as a fundamental element of online marketing.
Effective blogs drive traffic to a website, generate leads and build brand authority – both in a traditional and SEO sense (Google loves sites with fresh content).
Good content, targeting and promoted to the right audience, can generate inbound links from relevant pages.
But just because anybody can create a blog, doesn’t mean anybody can create a successful blog.
Here are some common blogging problems and how to fix them…
Problem 1: You’ve no idea how your blog is performing
Google Analytics is a vital tool to keep an eye on blog performance, and to check which blogs are driving the most traffic to your website. Any blogger should do this regularly to find out what’s working, so that they can do more of it.
How to find out which blogs are performing best
In Google Analytics, go to Behaviour>Site Content>Content Drilldown>Page Path Level 1 and click on ‘blog’:
The stats here allow you to learn a lot about the success of each blog post, including:
This gives you a top-level view of which posts are getting the most views (don’t forget to adjust the date range in the top right corner).
Time on page
This will give you a sense of which blogs are the most engaging, and you can look for patterns in terms of the subject matter, titles and formats that are resonating with your audience.
Page Views and Time on Page metrics in Google Analytics
Problem 2: You’re not getting enough traffic (or any traffic)
It can be a little soul-destroying to know that no one’s paying attention to your lovingly-crafted content. But this isn’t a matter of hit-and-miss: there is action you can take to increase your chances of getting more eyes on your blog.
Are you reaching your audience?
People will only visit your blog if you’re offering them something relevant and valuable. You can only offer relevant content to your audience if you have an insight into the topics that they’re interested in – the questions they’re asking and the problems they want to solve. Ask yourself how you can provide specific answers, solve problems, and address their interests and intent.
Know your audience
To hit the mark with your content, you really need to know your audience inside out.
- Identify customers’ values, goals, challenges and interests.Which brands do they follow? Are they members of any groups or forums?
- Identify what they search for. This is a vital exercise to inform your content strategy. Get into the mindset of a customer, who is more likely to use natural, casual language than industry jargon or the terms you use to refer to your business. Once you have assembled lists of key terms and questions, use Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool and Google Trends to quantify search volume and which of these should be the focus of your efforts.
- Deliver it in the optimum format, place and time. How do they use the internet? Which platforms and channels do they use? When are they active online (times/days/frequency)? Knowing where and when they spend their time online will help you to determine the best methods of distribution for your content.
How does this compare with who’s actually visiting your site?
Google Analytics’ demographics tracking allows you to see a breakdown of visitors to your site by gender and age group and interest categories, to track whether you’re successfully reaching your target market. You can also track by Interest, Location and Language, which can help you to ensure that the language and branding is appropriate for those visiting the site:
Overview of audience by interests
Are you promoting your content effectively on social media?
Using the Acquisition tracking view allows you to see which Channels led visitors to your site over a set period of time (eg, direct visit, email, social, organic search), their behaviour once on your site and the number of conversions, if you’ve set up goals for your posts. This can be found here: Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels.
Want to find out which social platforms are generating the most blog visits? Dive into Analytics: Acquisition>Social>Overview. You can then click into the listing for each channel and explore which blogs people have been clicking on.
Now you’ll have an idea of which platforms are most effectively driving traffic to your blog, allowing you focus on where to amplify your presence and activity…
With vast numbers of users and the ability to target niche audiences, social media offers huge opportunities to promote your blog content. When your assets are shared, this helps to spread your message and increase brand awareness. The higher the relevance and quality of those shares, the greater the chance your content gets seen by the right audience, and attracts the right kind of traffic.
Many people assume that social media sharing is easy – but if you’re not getting the traction you hoped for when sharing your blog posts, it might be time to overhaul your social media strategy with the tips below:
- Identify which social platforms are most relevant to your business, industry and target audience.
- Share a link when you create fresh content, such as publishing a new blog post.
- Create shareable content. People share content that engages them emotionally, reinforces how they want to be perceived (helpful, insightful, edgy or funny, for example), reflects their values and beliefs, and, ultimately, helps to strengthen their own relationships. As with everything in marketing: understand what’s important to your audience and tailor your approach to tap into it.
- Make it easy to share your content. Ensure your social channels are prominent on your website; research and use relevant hashtags. Similarly, include a link to your website in your social profiles.
- Engage with your audience. Social media isn’t designed for one-way communication. Participate in discussions, start conversations and comment on others’ posts.
Get some more tips on increasing engagement on social media in our best practices for sharing on social media series of blogs.
Problem 3: Writer’s block
If you can’t think what to write about, the first thing I’d advise is to revisit the previous point and make sure you have a thorough knowledge of the people you want to read your stuff. This alone should surface some themes on which to blog about.
- Solve problems. Suggest solutions to problems or barriers in your industry, or explain a complex subject in an innovative way that makes it easier to understand.
- Mine your own industry expertise. You and your colleagues are probably sitting on a wealth of valuable insights that be channelled into consumable content assets.
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner. A secret goldmine of topic ideas. Also check out Google Trends.
- Use a content research tool. For example, BuzzSumo is a great resource for researching popular topics and formats.
- Monitor social media. LinkedIn Groups and Twitter’s powerful search function in particular are excellent for ‘social listening’ and uncovering trends.
- Keep an eye on your competitors. Look critically at both what they are doing well and where there’s room for improvement and use this to refine your own content tactics.
- Survey your audience. Take the direct approach and ask existing and potential customers about the kind of content they’d like to see using tools such as SurveyMonkey or Google Consumer Surveys.
The psychology of influence and persuasion explains how to cut through the content clutter.
Problem 4: High bounce rate
So you’re getting people to your blog, but they’re not sticking around for very long. You need to improve engagement.
Create content people want to read
- Write headlines and titles that capture attention. If it isn’t enticing the content won’t be read. Create headlines that solve a problem, create a debate or offer guidance. Bear in mind that the headline will be used when shared on social networks.
- Your content needs to deliver on the headline. Most people skim articles first and if they don’t think the copy delivers on the headline, they won’t stick around, giving you a high bounce rate.
- Make sure it’s substantial, unique, relevant and engaging (the ‘SURE’ principle). Your content should be relevant to the site as a whole as well as your topic.
- Grab your audience’s attention. Write a killer intro: pose a question, use a quote, tell an anecdote, use an analogy, paint a picture in your reader’s mind or quote an interesting fact to engage your readers’ from the start.
- Use visuals. It’s well established that posting visual content such as photos, GIFs, infographics and slideshows boosts engagement.
- Make sure it’s high quality. This means well written in terms of punctuation and spelling etc. Have someone proof it before it goes live.
Revisit the structure of your posts
It’s not just about the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’. Structure, style, layout and navigation are all part of the blog optimisation process.
Source: Social Triggers
Motivate readers to take action
It’s estimated that customer buying decisions are based on 80% emotion and 20% logical, and you can use that when formulating your headlines. Create an emotional response to motivate people to take action, eg, What your competitors are asking this chatbot about you. A study by CoSchedule found that posts with a higher ’emotional value’ got more shares.
CTAs (calls to action)
Don’t be afraid to be explicit about asking people the next step you want them to take, whether this is signing up for your newsletter, whether this is following you on social media, commenting, sharing. Keep it clear, simple and easy to take action.
This post explains how to improve the readability of your blog.
Problem 5: Your blog never shows up on Google’s results
Go back over points 1 to 4. In its mission to return the most relevant and useful results to answer users’ queries, Google rewards those who provide a great customer experience and who
- regularly publish high quality, customer-focused content
- provide advice on topics relevant to the reader, and offer real value
- provide a great customer experience
That means that, as well as raising brand awareness, building trust and credibility for your brand and creating connections with customers, the quality and relevance of your blog posts – as with any content – is a major influencing factor for SEO.
If you want to find out more about how you could improve your backlink profile and other ways to enhance your search engine visibility, request your free bespoke organic search (SEO) site analysis today.