Writing a great professional blog is a balancing act. Without traffic, SEO and most of all, reader interest your blog will never be read and even your most passionate and expert writing will go unnoticed. This is the one thing that many aspiring writers struggle with, especially in the growing blog industry. You can write for your brand and you can write for your SEO rate, but can you write for the audience?
How do you write blog posts that people actually want to read? As a writer, you can create compelling and expert content. You can process facts into reports and explain the steps of a process. But how do you write article after article that compels readers to come read even months after publication? Much less ensure that content supports your business or brand’s conversion funnel goals. To do this, you need to balance the three elements that make a great blog.
The Triforce of Blogging:
- SEO Potential
- When it comes to great blogging, you have three driving goals. The first is to appear on search engine results. You can call this SEO or inbound marketing; they are the same. You are writing for the web crawler bots that report the structure and content of each website to Google.
- Reader Interest
- The second is to draw traffic based on user interest. Your potential readers and customers need to be looking for the keywords you optimize and – more than that – they need to care about what you’ve written and find your work valuable. Without reader interest, there is no traffic for your keywords and no readers for your great content.
- Personal Expertise
- Finally, you are trying to write on things you know and are interested in. Work your expertise into your writing and incorporate the expertise of others in your brand. Or learn something new and share your discovery with the audience. Convey your passion, enthusiasm, and knowledge depth in a topic and your readers will be along for the ride.
You will need to balance all three of these elements to write a great blog post. You can hone your SEO. You can become a great expert. But what about the readers? Let’s zoom in on reader interest.
Knowing Your Audience: How to Know What Readers Want
Writing an article that someone wants to read is about knowing your audience. There are two ways to do this: programmatically and intuitively. You should definitely try both.
First, let’s start with intuition. It will give you a framework for understanding your readers.
Who Are Your Readers?
Your blog readers will, ideally, be people interested in your brand. If you are blogging for a company, consider who your potential customers are. For example, a hardware store is writing for their local community, and especially those DIY handypersons who swing by for new drill bits regularly. A brand of baby food, however, would have an audience of almost 100% parents of very small children.
Are you an industry technician? A lifestyle guru? An interview host? Determine what your message is to identify who you’re writing for.
Create Reader Personas
Then imagine your readers. Visualize the kind of people who might read your blog. What can they gain from your content? What might they need from your brand? Think about the lives they live and why they would be interested. Make your readers into people in your mind and, when planning your blog, you will have a better idea of what your readers want to see.
Imagine the handy neighbor looking up what size drill bit they need for their deck. Imagine the mother of a fussy baby looking for answers online. These are your audience. What would they want to read?
Where is the Traffic?
The other side of the coin is to look at where people go en-masse. There are several online tools that will help you break down the keywords in any topic or industry, then see just how many people are searching for each thing. Some keywords, though they fit the SEO formula, are much less-searched than others.
You can break up your traffic analysis into search frequency and hit frequency. What do people search for most? What sites do they click on most? Determine this to build a picture of where the numeric interest lies in your industry and niche. We spend a lot of time working with our manufacturing web design clients on this in particular.
Combine the Two
Now take your data and your intuition and combine them. Ascribe the questions you saw top the charts to the people you know are behind search queries. Is your DIY customer also searching for bird feed with equal enthusiasm? Probably. Now you’re imagining someone building a deck to watch the backyard birds.
Providing Value to Your Readers
If you did have a following of readers who were reading every new post, what are they getting out of it?
You will want to build a plan based on why your readers are looking for content and reading through blogs in the first place. Traffic doesn’t just happen. It’s not a number everyone gets for publishing. Each ping of traffic is a real human who is searching for and reading blogs for a reason. What value does your blog offer readers? Why are they reading to the end and, if they come back, what do they gain from reading your series?
It doesn’t have to be profound. Sell yoga classes, or pants? Share a lifestyle blog with a blend of smoothie recipes, yoga guides, and stress management tips. Now you are a source of advice for yoga participants. Repair appliances? Create a blog of appliance repair guides and before-you-call troubleshooting tips.
Map Your Content
Take everything you have learned and use it to build your content map. The trifecta of great topics are those with good SEO potential, high statistical traffic, and are topics you can write your best with expertise in your industry or the passion of an industry leader – or both. Your personal interest in the topic will determine how powerful it is, and the depth of information you can convey.
Consider blog series that explain an interesting set of facts or guides. Consider a series of interviews with team members or industry leaders. Blogs are often blended with a little ‘lifestyle’ as well – lighthearted pieces that pack an SEO punch.
So how do you write blog articles that your audience really wants to read? How do you choose topics that earn SERP and attract clicks, then write compelling content that readers come back to read again? It all comes down to understanding your audience and respecting the trifecta: SEO, reader interest, and personal expertise.