Why do you have a blog? Because you want to sell something, spread a message, connect? Your content might be better than anyone else’s, but if nobody reads it, it doesn’t count. It’s ‘Schrodinger’s content’: until someone actually reads it, the verdict is out on the quality of the writing. Website traffic is essential if you want to get your content read.
That’s a depressing place to be as a writer – and believe me, I know, I’ve been there. To preserve your sanity as a writer, you need to attract internet traffic to the blog. This means convincing Google your ideas are worth reading. Without Google’s endorsement, your blog’s unlikely to take off.
Google wants to know that your content is valuable and relevant to internet users. In the past, it was easy to convince them. Those of you who’ve worked in SEO and Digital Marketing will know of the – now frowned upon – SEO techniques used to “trick” Google to rank poor content more highly. Keyword stuffing, content farming, artificial backlinks, and other Black Hat techniques were common back in the day.
The Wild West of the Internet is over. It’s 2018 and the Google algorithms are awake to the underhand tactics of Black Hat SEO and its attempt to artificially attract website traffic. In 1998, you might have shot to the top of the search results with a blog that sandwiched 100s of keywords between spammy content, but to do that now is madness; you’d kill your blog.
Penalising low-quality content has been great for internet users. The number of nonsense webpages we stumble upon is rare – I feel an odd nostalgia for those days…back when the internet was a free for all. That only lasts a second, though, and I realise I’m suffering from a mild case of Stockholm syndrome. The content was terrible back then.
Google now favours SEO techniques that genuinely engage users. This is great for internet users because we’re benefiting from the changes. It’s great for SEO professionals and copywriters who value integrity and want people to enjoy their work. The only people who lose out are those who don’t offer value in their content.
If you’re failing to entice traffic to your blog, then it’s time to learn the principles of quality content. Rework your content – keeping in mind the three principles below – and you should start to see your traffic improve.
Write Content For Your Readers, Not Google
Content Comes first. SEO comes second.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a digital marketer is to create content with SEO-optimisation as the primary concern. This is a mistake. First, you create content that focuses on providing readers with information they want to read/watch/hear, then you optimise it.
Optimisation is the final step in the process, not the first.
Some keyword research is involved in the first stages, so there’s an element of SEO at the start. It’s how you work out what people want to read. E.g. if you’re writing a blog about cooking, do some keyword research to establish relevant trending topics and write about those.
The most important thing is to write content worth reading.
This isn’t necessarily easy but with research and experimentation, you’ll learn to write for your audience.
Use Google Analytics to measure how well your content engages readers and how much website traffic your blog is receiving. If your ‘bounce rate’ is high, it could lower your organic position in the search engine rankings. That means less exposure to your site, meaning less traffic. Tweak your content and work out what makes people stay.
For extra help on writing good content, Coursera’s ‘The Strategy of Content Marketing’ is a free course that offers excellent advice for creating content people want to read.
Avoid Dirty SEO Tricks
Not only is Google very much aware of black hat SEO techniques, it’s also the type of content that drives people away from your blog. Who wants to read a blog that’s clearly stuffed with keywords or is completely off topic? No one.
When creating your blog, think about the techniques you’re using and ask these three questions:
- “What would my customers think if they knew what I was doing?”
- “Did my competitors have to use these strategies to hit the front page in the search results?”
- “Would I be annoyed if I read content that used these techniques?”
If you can’t answer these questions well, it’s a sure sign you’re using bad techniques to generate content. That means your content is likely to be low quality, irrelevant, and deceitful. Do you want people to feel negative towards your blog? If not, use better strategies.
Capitalise On Things That Set You Apart From Competitors
Blogs on topics from within a single industry can sometimes feel ‘samey’ – they all look and sound the same. If the content feels generic, readers won’t care more for one blog (i.e. yours) than for another blog.
To succeed, you need to give readers something they can’t get elsewhere.
Adopt an objective view of your blog and look for things that make you valuable and unique – your voice, your witty charm, your interesting anecdotes, your expertise, etc. Create your content so it reflects these differences.
You must differentiate your content from that of your competitors, and do it in a way that’s genuine, unique, and interesting.
Rework your content with these principles in mind and Google will reward you for it. Best of all, your readers will too, and they’ll keep coming back for more.