5 Tips to Writing Better Blog Content

Content is king for your blog. As a result, your content should be your #1 priority when trying to grown and improve your website. But what is good content? And why do some blogs get better results than others?

Below, we shared our top 5 tips for writing better content on your blog.

1) Include Images/Graphics

Humans are visual creatures. Although are accustomed to reading, we prefer to look at images. It is no coincidence we start children out with picture books. As adults, we put a larger emphasis on reading written words, but the desire to look at colorful and intriguing pictures never quite goes away.

If you are publishing a blog post, the first thing the reader should see is your title. But directly beneath that should be some image. An image related to your niche is best, but really any image will do. Many times a plain stock photo does the job.

Notice, that in this post I’ve adhered to this rule. In fact, I’d venture to say that 95% of successful blogs also follow this rule.

If you are looking for places to find free images, check out unsplash.com However, don’t limit yourself to stock photos.

Infographics can be extremely insightful. If you are listing a bunch of data, why not put into a graph? Your readers will appreciate being able to examine the data in a visual manner.

And don’t limit yourself to 1 image per blog post. In fact, the longer the post, the more images you should have! If you’re talking about some software, include a screenshot. This makes the software seem much more tangible and increases your authority.

Don’t forget, this doesn’t have to be complex. Sometimes all you need is a quote in picture form. That can have a wonderful effect on your readers, and your content.

2) Create Strong Headlines

You can have the best content in the world. The most useful, most holistic information on your subject matter online. However, if your title doesn’t call attention, then it makes no difference. No one will ever click on your content.

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to improve your titles without drifting into clickbait territory.

One of the best tips I ever received was to write in list form. Humans like lists. They are easy to break down. Easy to comprehend. And we can decide what we want to absorb, and what we want to ignore. It is no coincidence all the articles on this site are in list format.

Another tip is not to oversell your content. Don’t promise the moon. Your content may be good, but if your title promises unrealistic results, then your readers will become upset. And above all else, you want to avoid upset readers. Not only will they not return, but negative word of mouth can be extremely difficult to recover from.

A final tip is to be clear in your titles. Your titles should communicate in an instant what the reader will find inside the post. If you find your titles are hard to make concise, you might benefit from splitting your post into multiple posts, each with their own focus and title.

3) Be Concise – Cut Out the Fluff

People have short attention spans. This is even truer online. As humans, we value our time. We are used to instant information delivered in short tidbits.

This is especially true when writing for online blogs. You aren’t writing the next great novel. You’re not writing a research paper. You’re writing content for everyday people, just like you.

Don’t try to show off your vocabulary. Don’t add content for the sake of adding content. That’s called fluff, and not only is it unnecessary, but it will turn readers off of your content.

Keep sentences short. Keep paragraphs short. And your readers will love you for it.

4) Cite Your Sources

When posting online, we are posting information. Most of the time, this doesn’t just come out of thin air. This information comes from elsewhere.

When you make a statement online, back it up. Show where you found your information. Not only will this give you credibility, but your readers will be thankful to have a new resource to explore.

You don’t need to put a full MLA citation; a simple hyperlink will suffice. But make sure you set the link to open in a new tab/window. You don’t want users leaving your site!

5) Write for People, Not Search Engines

Although it is search engines that crawl your content and decide your ranking, your end focus should be on readers. That is, human readers.

When someone writes for a search engine, it is very obvious. The text contains keyword stuffing, the tone is robotic, and the information does not flow freely.

The way you write is how you would like to read. Keep a simple, conversational tone. Organize your thoughts clearly. Try to avoid any confusion.

Break down your information, even if it seems very straightforward. Many of your readers will be unfamiliar with your subject matter. They will appreciate you making it easy to understand.

When you write, imagine that your audience consists of five-year-olds. Although this may seem like a silly technique, it can help keep you grounded. And it can help you keep your target audience, and their preference, in mind.

If your content is written for humans, humans will spend more time on it. They will share your content and explore the rest of your site. They will come back for more. That results in great rankings!

 

Follow these 5 tips, write consistently, and your content will gradually improve. What are your tips for better content? Share them below in the comments.

5 Common SEO Mistakes

SEO can be very straightforward, and it can also be extremely complex. A lot of times we are so focused on our rankings, metrics, and content that we overlook simple mistakes. Below are 5 of the most common SEO mistakes in 2016:

1) Broken Links

Broken links are links on your website that don’t work properly. There are different types of broken links, the most common being a 404 error. A 404 error is a link that leads to a page on your website that no longer exists. Another example would be a URL that is incorrectly entered to the website, meaning the link doesn’t go to the right location. Broken links can be frustrating for users, and as a result, Google penalized websites with a lot of them.

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No website is immune to broken links. Here is a 404 error on the White House Website.

As time passes and a site grows, it is inevitable that some links will break. But if your site has dozens or even hundreds of pages and links, how are you supposed to stay on top of all of them? The best way to do so is to regularly perform web crawls of your website. Software like Screaming Frog (LINK) use a robot, or “spider,” to go through your website page by page and uncover errors such as broken links. Performing monthly, or even weekly crawls of your site is an effective way to prevent broken links and improve/maintain your rankings.

2) Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is exactly what its name would imply: content that is repeated on your site on more than one page. Search Engines want to give the user the best, most relevant content. When that content is repeated on multiple pages, Google doesn’t know which web page to pick and send users to. As a result, websites with duplicate content can be penalized in their search rankings.

But what if your website needs duplicate content? For example, many e-commerce websites need to link the same products across different web pages. There is a solution. That is to establish a 301 redirect hierarchy. This is a way of telling search engines which version of your duplicate content to send visitors to. That way, search engines know your preferred page, they aren’t confused, and you receive no penalties.

3) Non-Unique Meta Description/Title Tags

Meta descriptions are the short blurbs that show up on search engines giving a short description of your web page. The easiest way to explain meta descriptions is with an example. When I search “news” in Google, CNN is the top result. The short snippet that says “View the latest news and breaking news today for U.S., world, weather, entertainment, politics and health at CNN.com.”

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The highlighted region is the meta description.

Title tags are even shorter, and arguably, more important. They are the short description that gives a quick preview of what the page is about.

They are the blue text shown on search engine results pages. They are also shown at the top of tabs in web browsers. For CNN, their title tag is the blue text : “CNN – Breaking News, Latest News and Videos.” When I click into the CNN website, that same description is at the top of my browser in the tabs.

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The CNN Title Tag.

A great way to check to ensure you don’t have duplicate meta descriptions or title tags, is to use Screaming Frog web crawler. Not only can Screaming Frog find broken links, as mentioned above, but it can also find duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. And best of all, the software is free!

4) Not Allowing Search Engines to Crawl Your Site

How do search engines find and list your website? They use robots called spiders to sift through your website’s content, “crawl” it. After they crawl your content, they get a better idea of what you are writing on, how to categorize your site, and ultimately how to rank your website.

However, you as a website owner have to give Google and Bing permission to crawl your website. If you don’t do this, your site won’t ever be listed, as the search engines won’t even be aware that it exists. Google and Bing both offer “Webmaster Tools” for site owners to manage how their websites are doing on the search engines, if they can be crawled, etc. This link shows is a great guide for beginners on how to use Google and Bing Webmaster tools.

5) Having a Slow Loading Site

People are impatient. We don’t like waiting, and will actively avoid places that make us wait. This is as true for your coffee as it is for your website. Waiting for a web page to load can be extremely frustrating, and extremely annoying. This is especially true for people accessing your site on mobile devices. When this happens on multiple links on a site, the user may just give and leave the site. Not only does this cost you traffic, but search engines take note and will penalize you accordingly.

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways of improving page speed on your site. The first is to update your hosting. If you are using shared hosting, the servers your site uses are under considerably more strain and have less bandwidth to dedicate to your site. This results in longer load times for web pages. Although using dedicated hosting may be more expensive, it can be a worthwhile investment. It loads faster and can improve your search rankings.

Another way to improve site speed is to use plugins like Smush to compress images. This reduces your bandwidth and puts less strain on your servers. Another way is to enable browser caching. When a user visits your website, content of the site is temporarily stored on their hard drive, like the text and images of your site. If they visit the site again in the near future, their browser can use this stored information to quickly load the site.