If you’re thinking about starting a blog, then you’re probably familiar with the many benefits of it. For business blogging, it can mean more traffic on your site, more leads, and higher search engine rankings.
But one important thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter how often you blog if your blog posts don’t resonate with readers and provide a pleasant experience for them. If you ignore the quality of your posts, you won’t reap the many benefits you’ve heard blogging can have.
So how do you create content people want to read and search engines want rank? Start with these best practices for content creation.
Start With a Professional Web Theme
You may not think of your web theme as part of your content, but it is, and ignoring it can impact your blog’s success (and not in a good way). When people land on your site, the first thing they’ll notice—before they even start reading—is your blog’s layout. If your blog design seems cheap or you have a lot of ads that appear spammy, site visitors are going to have a harder time trusting your content.
Start by framing your content with a beautiful theme that communicates the same level of quality that your blog posts do. Pay attention to the design elements others in your niche are using. You don’t just want beauty; you want something that sets the tone for your topics.
Take the example of Blogging.org. Zac has chosen a clean theme with a white background, simple but prominent navigation buttons, and a customizable sidebar. That’s fairly standard for the industry, and it quickly connects with readers familiar with blogging and marketing blogs.
If you’re working with WordPress, start by looking for premium web themes in a market like Theme Forest. Here, you’ll find plenty of themes that suit your niche while offering additional tools that will make your site search engine friendly, such as responsive designs.
If you’re working off a website builder like Wix, you’ll have fewer theme options. However, you should still think carefully about your choice so that web visitors feel a sense of quality when they land on your site.
Focus on What Your Audience Wants
“Quality content” all starts with your audience. In the end, it doesn’t matter how well-written your post is; what matters is that it resonated with your readers. They’re the ones who are going to talk about your post, share it, and link back to it.
This all starts with understanding what your audience wants. If they have questions about topics in your niche and you’re the one to answer them, they’ll perceive your content as valuable. There are many ways to come up with ideas your readers will love. Start with these simple suggestions:
- Pay attention to the comments left on your previous blog posts. If a reader is confused about one point, you can always take that idea and expand it into a more focused blog post.
- Keep an eye on online forums. Quora, for example, receives countless new questions each day, and the feeds are organized based on industry. By simply browsing through the questions pertaining to your niche, you’ll find plenty of ideas you know people are looking to be answered.
- Look at what other bloggers are writing about. Pay attention to which topics perform well, and then try to identify if there is any missing information that you could offer insight into in your own posts.
Focusing on your audience doesn’t end with your topic idea. Think about what they want in terms of content presentation. For example, some audiences prefer a conversational tone. Others want a more professional tone. Some audiences learn best with graphs and charts. Other industries might focus on personal stories.
Link Out to Relevant Blog Posts
Links are important to both readers and search engines. Relevant links will expand on your topic and point readers in the right direction for taking your advice.
It’s also good for search engines. As Rand Fishkin of Moz says, “Not only does linking out NOT harm a site’s rankings, it appears to carry some positive correlations with ranking, trust, etc. on both a page and domain-wide level.”
But you don’t have to only link out to other sites. If you’ve gone in-depth on a topic before and briefly mention it in a future post, link back to your own posts on your site. Again, this helps readers get more information. It also shows Google that the page you’re linking to is important, and it helps Google index your site more efficiently. If you’ve just started your blog, then you won’t have any internal posts to link back to, and that’s okay. You’ll be able to build these links up over time.
A healthy mix of both internal links (linking to other pages on your site) and external links (linking to pages on another site) is the best approach to take, both for the sake of your readers and for search engines.
Back Up Your Claims
A simple way to boost the perceived quality of your content is to back up claims using information from trusted sources. Not only does it show that you did your homework and that you can be trusted, but it gives extra information that allows readers to better understand the concepts you’re presenting.
For example, let’s say you blog in the financial industry. You could say this:
Most people in America don’t have an adequate emergency savings.
Or you could say this:
According to Forbes, 56 percent of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.
Although both statements allow readers to come to the same conclusions, notice how the second example delivers a greater perceived value. It teaches readers something concrete. They can trust the information, and they can do something with it.
Aside from including statistics, you can also add value to claims by including examples through stories, case studies, or screenshots, as well as using quotes from trusted authorities in your field.
Bonus tip: Always make sure to attribute your sources and link back to them whenever possible so readers can confirm claims.
Make Your Posts Easy to Scan
People don’t want to strain to read your blog posts, and you can add value to your content by making it easy for them. Sue Anne Dunlevie of Successful Blogging points out that blogging rules are based on two ideas:
- People skim pages when they read on-screen.
- It’s more difficult to read on a screen than in print.
Because of this, it’s important to get into the habit of formatting your blog posts in a way that’s pleasant to read. Otherwise, readers won’t come back. A few tips to keep in mind include:
- Use headers and sub-heads to break your content into digestible chunks.
- Use bullet points and numbered lists when it’s appropriate to do so.
- Bold important points when you want to draw the eyes.
- Use images and block quotes where relevant to break up the content.
- Use short paragraphs, usually no longer than 100 words.
- Use large sans-serif fonts; they’re easier to read on screen.
Content creation is a very involved, multi-faceted process. However, these five tips should get you started in the right direction toward creating quality content on your blog.