A blog post should compel its reader to engage with your site or business – use the following pointers to increase the conversion rate from an interested viewer. This article provides more than your usual beginners guide to blogging!
Fitting your Blog into Search:
There are three ways that people use search engines
- Navigational – the visitor knows which site or company she wants to see and searches for it, e.g. facebook.com, ebay.com, yell.com, amazon.co.uk
- Informational – the person wants to find out something and starts looking for it, e.g. best family car 2013, how much music can I fit on an iPad
- Transactional – the person wants to buy a product or service and is searching for a supplier, e.g. Mercedes dealer, Dark Knight trilogy on Blu-ray
Brands have their main sites and pages for navigational searches and some transactional searches.
Most businesses with something to sell have pages designed for transactional searches.
A site’s Blog posts are normally informational and a way of developing an informational search into an enquiry or sale either then and there or down the line. Sometimes blog posts are transactional such as special offers or time limited deals.
As Blog posts are mainly there to provide information and further develop a brand (for future navigational searches) rather than transactional your visitor expects your blog to be informative.
People hate being sold to when they are trying to find out information.
Making your blog articles informative and unique:
Have you noticed that there are bucketfuls of information on the web of the “Introduction to …”, “10 Tips on starting …”, and “The beginner’s guide to …” type?
Apart from a Basic information page, an FAQ page or a glossary of terms, I think there is enough of this on the web.
How many more articles do we need on “An introduction to divorce procedures” or “The beginners guide to investing in the stock market”? I think that zero is a good answer.
On the whole, the online audience has matured into a knowledgeable bunch. They know the basics of the subjects they are looking into. Or know how to find that information rapidly using Google. There is already a wealth of information on the basics, so your basic blog posts are going to be far from unique.
My solution to this is to offer information that is valuable to the already somewhat informed visitor. If there are “1,000 Beginners Guides to …” there is probably only a handful of “Specialist Guides to …” or “Advanced …”.
Copy should still be very easy to read and avoid a writing style that requires the reader to use a dictionary or have to concentrate hard to get through the material, however, by offering insight and technical details for a more informed audience you find yourself 1. Dealing with visitors that are more likely to become transactional and 2. Creating unique posts that fill a need: more advanced information in an easy to consume manner.
Ensuring Audience Readability:
Readability is made up of design, formatting and copy structure. Below are the most important parts of writing a post that is actually going to get read.
- Dark text on a light background – people just prefer to read the way the are used to, which reduces eye-strain
- Clean design that allows the viewer to focus on the content – readers should not be distracted from the content
- Legible fonts – fancy fonts do not work for reading and belong in visual media not for reading
- Images that enhance the user experience – images that are disjointed or irrelevant, no matter how pretty they are, distract from the reading experience
- Maintain classic design principles! Keep it aesthetic both in design and typography, this means good line-height, headers and titles proportionately sized, and approximating the golden ratio as much as possible
- Descriptive article title – let the visitor know they have found what they are looking for
- Eye-grabbing, relative title image that draws the eye into the content – an image at the top which communicates a concept covered in the article and draws the person in to read the text
- Clear subtitles – communicating to a more informed audience generally means longer articles – make sure the content is scannable so they can find the information snippets they are after if not interested in the whole article
- Visualise statistics – you can write two paragraphs on a number or a statistic which can be summed up with an image and a caption. A reader will assimilate the image and caption in seconds and make the reading experience much smoother
- Left aligned text – Keep the text on the left, news articles can be justified also however, up to date research suggests left aligned, unjustified text reads best
- Use text markup sparingly – by using italicised or bold text sparingly you can ensure when you do use it, the reader knows it is important to the article
- Introductory paragraph – by providing an intro you further show your visitor what to expect in your article – this either compels your reader further or stops them from reading on if it is not what they are looking for minimising the chances of any friction for your reader.
- Leading Sentences – The first sentence in a paragraph should be a leading sentence, meaning it should set up for the reader what she should expect from the rest of the paragraph. This, in coordination with a good subtitle makes your content approachable and scannable.
- Short and narrow paragraphs – 4-6 lines across 600 pixels is an ideal length of a paragraph
- Short bullet point lists – don’t make your bullet point lists too long, keep it under 6 points for each item, divide your data up into chunks to increase scanability and the chances of the reader getting to the end
- Calls to action belong at the end – Each blog post requires a purpose, once the person has read the article either fully or scanning through it tell the reader what to do next
- Conversational style – blog posts are meant to be quite short, the reader will best take in the data if it written in a conversational style. This does not mean you do not take into account the sort of reader you are looking for, just write the content in a conversation style that is appropriate for your audience!
I hope this has given you a good primer in creating good blog posts – more so than a “Beginners guide to blog posts” would!