January 20, 2019 | Sean Foo
If you’re here, you probably know about the incredible benefits that blog posts provide, from higher SEO rankings for your websites to establishing your brand as a thought leader.
In fact, according to HubSpot, businesses and brands who create content are 13 times more likely to get a positive ROI on their efforts!
If you are looking to attract more quality inbound leads over time, blogging is a strategy that can’t be overlooked!
But to achieve real results and to claw your way to the top, you will need a plan. A clear strategy is required to not only guide you to create a gem of an article that helps and connects with your audience, but also allows your article to be found by your target audience.
In this guide, we will go through a systematic 6 step checklist you can use to immediately create compelling and relevant content that rises to the top (it’s exactly the methodology we use here at SpeechSilver to create content for our clients and ourselves!).
Step 1: Decide If You Are Creating A Timeless Classic Article Or Using A Hot Trending Topic For Maximum Exposure.
A good content manager will understand that most quality articles usually fall into two main categories:
1. An article that adds value and functions as a guide that will last for a long time.
2. Content that piggybacks on a trending topic allowing you to strike while the iron is hot.
A timeless article that solves a specific challenge for your reader could include examples like:
’25 ways To Save 50% Of Your Downpayment On Your Second Home’
‘The Comprehensive Guide To Effective Instagram Marketing On A Budget’
Using a trending topic to ride on and spin your narrative around it is definitely possible and in fact, might help break the monotony of your blog and spice it up by adding short bite pieces of content.
However, choosing the right topic with direct relevance is key.
For example, during the 2016 US Presidential Elections, it was known that Donald Trump had a very powerful and targeted digital marketing strategy from the get-go.
So if your blog is about digital marketing, you can spin your content around that post.
For example: ‘The 5 Secret Online Strategies That Helped Trump Get Into The White House.’
How To Find Trending Topics
When it comes to tools, BuzzSumo is one of the simplest but most effective tools I use to help cut through all the noise to find the top trending news and articles for any given industry or keyword.
Let’s say I am running a gaming software company and my blog is about the latest gaming technology and I’m curious about virtual reality.
I key in ‘Virtual Reality Gaming’ in the search bar. Focusing on Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter shares to confirm which topics are being widely talked about.
So it seems virtual reality is getting so hot that it is being used in employee training in companies like KFC and people are teaching VR to create a new generation of VR game programmers.
Definitely something to check out.
Seek To Add Value, Not To Go Viral.
Whether you decide to create an original article from scratch or hop on a trending topic, your end goal is to ensure your reader has valuable and actionable takeaways from your article.
What you are seeking is for timeless articles that will be relevant for many months and even years to come.
You are looking to create valuable content that will act as an asset for your business for a long period of time.
Sure, it is definitely great if your article picks up steam and becomes a viral piece and gets shared throughout your community…but there isn’t a fixed formula in the world that can give you the Midas touch to turn every article you create into a super hit with thousands of shares.
There is, however, a formula that allows you to create an original timeless article that allows you to consistently add value to your customers and readers.
Step 2: Keyword Research
An often overlooked step, keyword research is critical in helping to rank your post in search engines well for what your readers are searching for.
When it comes to the content creation, especially the headlines, it has to be engaging and compelling WHILE ranking well for keywords that people have an interest in – which is no small feat.
Now there are two types of keywords out there:
Short-tail keywords: These are the keywords that most people immediately think of. These are one or two words that are broad and encompass what your article is generally about. These keywords generally have a higher search volume.
Some examples: Shoes, golf clubs, computer games, email marketing, best-selling book.
Long-tail keywords: These are keywords that are highly relevant to your niche, industry, product or service. These are the phrases that your readers and customers type in to find a product or a solution to their challenges. These specific keyword phrases have a relatively lower search volume and are less competitive / easier to rank for.
Some examples: How to SEO my new website, cheat codes for Diablo 3, learn Instagram marketing, how to find co-founders for my startup.
So which of these two keyword types should you focus on?
Ideally, it should be both. A mixture of long-tail and short-tail keywords.
But if you are just starting out with a new blog or looking to fight it out in a highly competitive niche, long-tail keywords are the way to go.
In fact, long-tail keywords are more specific and will allow your blog post to attract highly interested readers who are looking exactly what you have to say.
So How Do We Conduct Our Keyword Research?
Let’s firstly assume your blog is about venture capital and finance. How do you decide which are the better long-tail keywords you can use to better optimise your article and craft more relevant headlines?
A great and free tool is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Maybe you are curious about people’s interest in venture capital.
Put in the main keyword ‘Venture capital’ into the search bar and see what keyword ideas and search interest pops up.
Now you can see a quick list of keyword ideas you can target for your blog post. Using the most popular one ‘angel investors’, you can immediately come out with 2 potential topics:
– 11 Guaranteed Ways To Get In Front Of Angel Investors.
– Need Funding? Discover How To Get Angel Investors To Fund Your Startup.
The short-tail keyword is quite obvious: ‘angel investors;.
The long-tail keyword for the second topic is: ‘Get Angel Investors To Fund Your Startup.’
Now, these keywords are to be used throughout your article and not just in your headlines.
We will cover this shortly, but first, we need to touch on the 3rd step which is just as important as your keyword research.
It’s time to learn how to create a winning structure for your blog post, a structure that is easy to read and showcases value easily.
Step 3: The Anatomy Of An Engaging Blog Post.
According to MarketingProfs, more than 2 million blog posts are published every day.
In fact, here is a life-counter of how many blogs are being published in real time drawn from real and current data, historical trends and projections.
The big question here is how do you stand apart?
What are the factors of blog posts that rank?
Sure, one post can have superior information and quality of ideas over the other, but if the overall structure is messy, it won’t be able to keep the reader’s attention and all the hard work put will go down the drain.
Great blogs from Neil Patel to Rand Fishkin’s Moz blog all practice two things when it comes to the content of their posts:
1. Each post gives massive value with actionable advice
2. Every post is wrapped up in a proven structure that holds and develops attention.
The infographic below is a great example of such a time-tested structure, so good that I myself even use it to this day.
By following such a structure, you are assured that your blog post will convey the information you want your reader to get in a clear and systematic fashion.
A good structure provides clarity
Step 4: Create Value Your Reader Really Wants
Now we can really begin to dive deep!
While the first three parts were just the preparation, this is the part where the quality of your content will start to take shape.
Remember that each and every of your blog posts is ultimately geared to add value to your reader’s life.
It has to add immediate practical value. What I mean by that is: After reading your article, your reader can close it and immediately use the information he learned to immediately solve his problem, or at least part of it.
The 3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Write A Single Word
1. What is the exact problem am I trying to solve here?
The more specific the problem you are trying to solve, the better and more actionable your article will be.
For example, instead of an article teaching people how to build a website, you could go specific and teach them how to select the best platform for their website.
2. Are the ideas in the post bite-size steps my reader can take action on?
Whether your article is long-form or short-form, you will want to make your sections or steps easily digestible.
This means only including the essentials, omitting away any fluff and ensuring they understand how to go from point A to point B.
3. Are there examples in the post my reader can refer to in case they are lost?
Perhaps nothing is better to help your reader understand your concepts or ideas better than real-life examples.
Resources like infographics, screenshots, interviews, videos and even snippets from your own online experiments not only help your reader understand better, but improve the authenticity and credibility of your content.
Step 5: Use The AIDA Structure To Engage Your Reader Without Fail
Most online marketers know this term, it is like a mantra to follow if you are looking to convert attention into sign-ups or sales.
The same strategy works exactly the same for the structure of a blog post, supercharging it into a persuasive and engaging piece of writing.
You get to capture attention and interest and get your audience reading from start all the way to the end, and guess what? Google notices.
The longer a visitor stays on the page without bouncing away immediately, shows one thing: quality content & Google loves to rank quality content higher.
AIDA comprises of 4 parts:
AIDA stands for:
A – Attention
I – Interest
D – Desire
A – Action
A Is For Attention
When someone types an enquiry into Google search, what is the first thing they see?
A headline title and a description, in SEO lingo, these are your meta title and meta description.
Now, maybe you have crafted an incredible article that you personally love, but the only way someone will discover it is if they click on the link that brings them to the post right?
That means your title and description must immediately capture your reader’s attention and get them to click.
Let’s say I’m a startup founder and I’m desperately looking for funding but I have no idea how to get it.
I’ll probably type in ‘how to raise venture capital’ into Google’s search bar and I get the following first 3 ranked results:
Notice the headlines of the first three results are not only closely optimised for the long tail keyword ‘how to raise venture capital’ but also a similar formula of:
Number of steps + Desired Outcome / End Result?
This is a classic and proven headline strategy that grabs attention and tells the reader up front what to expect.
Let’s take for example you are running a coffee company and your blog is about the different coffee beans around the world and why people should drink them, here are some examples of this strategy in action:
– 12 Reasons Why Colombian Coffee Will Supercharge Your Day
– Better Than Starbucks? Discover These 3 Cafes That Will Put Any Frappuccino To Shame
Below is an example of a killer headline that just sucked me in.
As a digital marketer myself, I always want to know how to make more money.
This headline combines the tactic of odd & specific numbers together with the benefit (money) and ties it in perfectly with the power words ‘Behind The Scenes’ that hint of a secret that is exclusive to just a few.
If you’re looking for more examples of headlines and formulas of how to create your own, your in for a treat!
Click here and discover 27 Headline Formulas That Are Effective & Flat Out Convert.
I Is For Interest
Now that you have gotten your reader’s attention and the oh so important first click, the next logical step is to stimulate their interest to read more.
It really doesn’t have to be complicated, just introduce in a mixture of the following:
– State the importance of the topic.
– Explain what will happen next in the article
– Drive home the benefits of the blog post and show remind them of the benefits of solving the problem.
Let’s say I am selling digital marketing services for doctors and this post is teaching them how to correctly optimise their website for search engines.
How would I capture their interest once they click past the headline into the article itself?
This is how I would do it:
“Do you know that 90% of doctors are missing out an average of 20 leads a week, and if you’re a specialist, that number is actually doubled!
In this post, we will guide you through the 7 core elements to optimise your web page to rank above your competition giving you access to qualified leads that close faster and pay more!”
D Is For Desire
Now that your reader is probably half-way through your article, how do you continue to build their desire to read to the end and ideally share it / tweet it to their friends and community?
When it comes to writing out your main points, which looks better?
A wall of text versus bullet points that clearly divides the section and showcases the big idea in the paragraphs below?
While it’s quite obvious we human beings as readers will appreciate bullet points to guide us better through the article, bullet points also help your search engines rank your article better.
Using bullet points is really very simple:
– Showcase the important benefits of the article
– Highlight the important steps your reader needs to take action
– Help deal with the short attention span everyone has.
Take a look at this point form used by a post in the Smart Passive Income blog.
It captures clearly the main points and benefits of that topic, giving quick value without burdening me with too much information for a single section.
A Is For Action – Your Call To Action
Now that your reader is truly engaged in your content and is probably reaching the end of the post.
How do you follow up with this success to benefit you and your business?
It’s time to get them to take an action of your own choosing.
It could range from giving them more value to capturing their contact details. In your call to action you can:
– Lead your reader to more blog posts on your blog or website.
– Capture their email details to build your subscription list and readership.
– Guide them to a landing page to sell a product or book your service.
– Get them to leave a comment to kickstart a conversation with readers.
– Give them a link to download your post in PDF form to distribute around.
The options are varied depending on the situation.
Best of all, your call to action doesn’t just have to be a wall of text, you can create awesome banners that you can place right at the end to make it easy to click and learn more.
Like how Neil Patel and Derek Halpern does it for their blogs.
Step 6: On-Page SEO Your Blog Post
Now that you have your entire blog post created, the last step is to properly SEO the post.
Here is a secret, If you followed the steps above, especially if you
– Created a post filled with real actionable value
– Used the AIDA format
– Understood the anatomy of a winning blog post and applied it
Then almost 50% of your on-page SEO is done!
So let’s talk about the other 50% of your on-page SEO, which is centred around the usage of your keywords we discussed earlier in this article.
You probably now should have your primary keyword identified. Let’s say you are writing running a post about how to cook steak and you want your blog post to rank for the keyword ‘How to cook steak’.
How frequently should you repeat the keyword so that your article ranks well in Google?
Let’s take a look at what the SEO specialists at Moz have to say, or in this case, show:
It is quite clear that there isn’t a real need and it is actually bad to just spam your keywords all over the post – that might have worked before 2010 but ladies and gentlemen we are in 2018!
Google will consider it as spam (even though it might fit in naturally) and you risk getting penalised because of it.
A good guideline is to repeat the keyword in your content once or at most twice every section.
There are 4 places other than the content where those keywords should exist:
– Title Tag
– Meta Tag
– Page Url
– Image alt text
Congrats now you have a compelling post that is optimized to rank well in Google!
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