Whether you’re a blogging veteran or you’re taking your first steps into the world of content marketing there’s one problem we all deal with at one time or another. You’ve spent countless hours and more cups of coffee than you’d like to mention creating posts on every topic you can think of. Channelling your blood, sweat and tears into words on a page and yet after pressing publish and sending it out to the endless hordes of blog readers online what do you see?
. . . and let’s be honest, at least two of those are probably you refreshing the page.
You see the internet is a mind mindbogglingly big place and while there are quite literally billions of internet users (3.578 billion as of 2017 to get specific, I am a data man after all), there are also an estimated 440 million blogs according to the team over at Mediakix. That’s a lot of blogs and with those sorts of numbers it’s really easy to get lost in the crowd even if you are creating insightful, useful content for your readers. So this begs the question, what can you do about it? How can you make your blog stand out from the rest?
So what’s the solution?
One of the easiest ways to drive traffic to your blog is by using tried and tested blog post styles that are proven to catch people’s eye, getting them to click through and even encourage higher engagement on social media and in the comments section. With this in mind I’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most effective types of content to try out on your blog and some pro tips on how you can master each of them. Take a look and see what fits your brand but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and experiment.
1. How-to guides and tutorials
‘How-to . . .’ posts are a staple of blogs on almost every topic and there’s no surprise as to why. One of the key reasons people use the internet is to find a solution to their problems. How many times have you turned to a search engine when you’re unsure of how to accomplish something and landed on a how-to blog post or even a YouTube video? If you can provide a solution to a problem people are searching for then that’s a perfect content opportunity!
When writing a how-to blog post the first step is to identify a problem that your readership has, something as close to your industry or niche as possible. The next is to ensure people are actually looking for that information, a great way to do this is with tools like Google Trends. This nifty tool lets you see search volume for certain questions, terms or keywords completely free. In fact John Hughes over at Elegant Themes has a great post on this very topic!
Once you know your new post will solve a genuine problem people have get writing and remember, the more detailed your solution the more likely people are to share it, so don’t be afraid of writing a lengthy post. After all, nobody ever complained about being taught something too well.
Pro tip: Include images, videos and other multimedia in your post. Some people are visual learners and visualising the solution can not only help them to understand your solution but also encourage them to continue reading.
Believe it or not there’s a reason you read that post on ‘The Top 10 Cloud Formations That Look Like Toy Story Characters’ and no, it’s not because you love Toy Story (even if you do), it’s because you love lists! Lists are hardwired into our brains as humans as they present information in an easily digestible form. To back it up with some data, Econsultancy found in 2010 that 9 out of their top 10 most popular blog posts were lists. So what are you waiting for, if you can count to 10 you can write a list style post.
Pro tip: Consider using a multiple of 10 for the number of items on your list, it’s proven to increase engagement as discussed by Eric Jaffe in his post ‘Why We Love Top 10 Lists’.
Interview style blogs are a win-win for everyone involved. Readers love them because they offer exclusive information and insights from thought leaders in your industry. Your interviewee loves doing them because it gets their name out there and they’ll score a backlink to their website, but most importantly you love them, because they’re proven to boost blog readership and take significantly less time to write than your average post. Win-win . . . and a win for you too! If you want to read more about the benefits of interview blog posts Stacy Willis over at Impact has a great article.
If you’re unsure about going about getting people to interview for your blog, don’t be. As mentioned above most industry thought leaders are happy to contribute as it’s a win for them too. If you’re unsure about who to approach think about who you’d be excited to read an interview with, chances are your readers would be too.
Pro tip: If you’re conducting your interview in person or over a video call service such as Skype, it’s well worth taking an extra few minutes prep time to film or screen capture the conversation. You can then upload the video straight to your blog for those readers that may not be quite so into reading.
4. Case studies
Believe it or not case studies are one of the most engaging types of content you can create. In fact when looking at the heavily B2B space of LinkedIn (yes LinkedIn has blogging features), they are the single most engaging type of content on the platform!
The best part about them is that not only do you already know the topic (your company and its clients) inside out but they’re your chance to show the world how your product or service can work for them. If possible develop case studies to appeal to as many of your potential customers as possible. A great example of this is Salesforce who have a case study for just about every company size and industry you can think of!
Pro tip: Ensure you backup every case study with statistics. Not only do they quantify the success your product or service can provide for them, but they instill a sense of trust in the reader.
5. Reviews and comparisons
How many times have you searched for a solution to a problem only to be bombarded with more solutions than you can shake a stick at? I recently went through this when searching for a new CRM for our company. Software Advice suggested there were 501 different solutions to my problem so what did I do? Turn to the blogosphere!
If you’ve recently researched an answer for your business it’s well worth typing out your findings and publishing them for others to see. Reviews of single products or comparisons of multiple solutions are huge business online and it would be silly for you to miss out on your slice of that traffic. It could be an industry related book, a piece of software or even a comparison of other companies competing with your own, just ensure that your solution stands head and shoulders above the crowd.
Pro tip: Even if you feel reviews that don’t involve your product are a waste of your time as they don’t lead straight to a sale, remember that blogging is about getting your name out there. If you’re able to help solve somebody’s problem today, they’re more likely to return to you with a potentially more relevant problem tomorrow.