If you're looking to increase your web traffic, you've probably heard a bazillion times that you need to have a company blog. Write a blog, and soon you'll be drowning in visitors and social shares, right? Wrong (here's a Joshism - this is what I call the "Field of Dreams approach," and it's just that - a dream). Unless you're a sleep consultant, making your readers pass out while reading your content shouldn't be your goal.
In doing a quick search for “the most popular blogs”, you’ll find all sorts of lists (more on lists later) that have their own criteria. The “main types of blogs“, “top earning bloggers“, “most inspirational bloggers” and more are all great, but how do they apply to your company’s own blog? Digging a little further, I came across a theme – a large number of the most popular or effective blogs are in the forms of guides. Here’s some further anecdotal evidence:
On our website, the top 5 most visited posts are (as of 2015), in order:
We helped one of our clients, The Local Bark, push out a blog, 5 Common Mistakes Adopters Make When Bringing Home a New Dog, that earned them over 380,000 visits to date (as well as hundreds of new links). I also went through about 10 websites that we manage and have fairly popular blogs, and took a look at which blog posts were most visited.
None of the most popular blogs I ran across were the most humorous, self-promotional, or most inspirational. The were almost all instructional. So, if you teach your readers something, you’re more likely to get them engaged, and promote shares.
Don’t spend the whole blog post telling your readers how amazing you and your company are, or what you think they should do. Instead, spend the time giving them something actionable – something they can learn from and use.
Vanessa here at Creative California always asks me, “Hey, do you have any idea what I should write about for my next blog?” And I tell her, time and time again, “well, that thing you do to organize your social media posts and make your work day smoother? Why don’t you write about that?” She has little things she does on a daily or weekly basis to make her job easier; why wouldn’t she share that with our clients? (Note to readers: I will update this spot right here when she finally writes the blog post. Note to Vanessa: write the darn post already!).
Take a look at your daily life. You have so much knowledge about your line of business. If you’re an exterminator, you know all sorts of tricks that homeowners can use to help with their pest problem. If you’re a plumber, and you see the same problem over and over (seriously, people, stop pouring bacon grease down your drains) – why wouldn’t you teach people about how to best maintain their plumbing? And on that note…
When I tell clients to write educational articles for their website, one of the first responses I get is something along the lines of, “If I tell them how to fix that problem, then they won’t need to hire me.” Sure, this may be true for some things, but if someone is looking to hire you, they already decided to have someone else do the job. They just want to know that you are the company with the most expertise. I share a number of SEO “secrets” or strategies right here on my website. It’s not because I want businesses to “steal” my information and do the work themselves, but rather because I am transparent about my knowledge and expertise, which helps them make a decision to hire me.
So, while your competitors are being secretive and tell clients to “just trust us,” you can tell your clients “trust me, and here’s a thorough explanation why you should.”
This part is just a personal pet peeve, but tell me if this typical trip through the internet sounds familiar:
Oh, hey, Joe on Facebook shared this article titled “Toddler Encounters Stray Dog, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!”. Wow, I wonder what happens? [clicks link]….Oh, he pet the dog and the dog kissed him. Exactly what I expected… sigh.
Yes, the title of the post got me to click, but then I saw it and immediately left. The website succeeded in getting me to visit it, sure, but it didn’t get me to do anything other than leave. If you’re a business, odds are a high bounce-rate and no engagement are not your goals (the exception would be if your business in the blog, and your goal is to get impressions for advertisers).
Same goes for those lazy top-ten lists we see everywhere. I really don’t care what your personal top-ten Pepsi variants are (if Crystal Clear Pepsi isn’t your #1, you’re wrong). These lists have their place, but most of the versions you see are just there to play with the psychology of favorites – to get people riled up over what the author ranked (if you don’t believe me, look at the comment section on these types of blogs).
Another Joshism: I’d rather have 10 quality website visits that generate a lead than 10,000 that don’t. So, when you write your blog, keep in mind the end-goal: it’s to establish your expertise, to teach your readers something, and to get them to eventually contact you. If you’re not achieving these goals, then it’s time to revisit your content strategy.