Creating Quality Blog Content that Your Audience Loves to Read
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
All effective blog posts have a blueprint. You may not easily see it, but it’s there, and it’s meant to help you, the reader, through your journey to making a well-informed, confident decision— whatever that decision may be. Here are a list of reasons why your blog posts need structure. To start, it gives you direction. The last thing you want is to stare at a screen frustrated that you don’t know what to write about. Next, it will make your content creation time more effective and efficient. Using a template creates helpful guardrails. Without it, you could easily spend your time creating content that may get cut out before publishing. Next, you want readers to easily comprehend what it is you’re trying to tell them. If your content is too complicated and unending, then chances are readers will abandon it and go elsewhere. There’s thousands of blog posts being published every minute, so it’s safe to say you’re not the only resource out there competing for attention. And lastly, you want your readers to remember what you write about and feel excited and inspired to take the next step in their journey. So if your goal is to attract your ideal audience, engage them with helpful, useful content, and ultimately delight them to the point where they become promoters of your brand by sharing your content with their network, then you need to create content that has structure and tells a story.
How to choose a topic and a title for a blog post
Before getting started with a blog post, you need to first determine the direction of the content. Let’s review an effective way to approach this. To start, choose a topic to write about. At a high level, write educational content.
Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas. What will they be searching for? What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them? Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you're coming up with a topic for your blog post. And when it comes to a topic, make sure to write about your industry, not yourself. Remember, you’re trying to attract strangers to your blog who have never heard of your company before — so they’re not going to find you through search engines if you’re just blogging about yourself. You have the rest of your website to provide that information.
If you’re looking for a place to start with creating content that’ll positively impact your audience, then ask your coworkers from other teams like sales and services for some ideas. Here are a few questions that you could ask and they could answer: What are the most frequently asked questions you hear? What do our prospects and customers need help with? What do you wish people knew about our industry? What are industry bloggers, social media, and even our competitors talking about? Before you write anything, you need to pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start with. For example, if you provide running shoes, then it might be a good idea to write about the topic of running. Expand off of this topic — in other words, iterations or different ways of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing. For example, you might decide to narrow your topic to "the top ten running shoes for marathons" or "how to create a running routine." When picking your ideas to write about, do keyword research. Keywords are the words and phrases typed into search engines. They’re the topics that people are trying to learn more about. Which keywords do your buyer personas use? Which are associated with your industry? Optimizing your blog posts for keywords is not about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible. Nowadays, this actually hurts your search engine optimization because search engines consider this keyword stuffing. It also doesn't make for a good reader experience — a ranking factor that search engines now prioritize to ensure you're answering the intent of your visitors. You should use keywords in your content in a way that doesn't feel unnatural or forced.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on one long-tail keyword per blog post. A long-tail keyword is a very targeted search phrase that contains three or more words. It often contains a head term, which is a more generic search term, one or two words in length. The head terms you choose should align with the topics that you want your business and website to be known for and build authority around. For example, if you want your business to be known for “content marketing,” then a blog post on “Three Steps to Organizing a Long-Term Content Marketing Strategy” is a great example of a long-tail keyword in support of this topic. Or if you want your business to be known for “full-time RVing,” then a blog post on “Full-Time RVing | The Benefits of Trying Before Buying” is a great example of a long-tail keyword in support of this topic. And why should you focus on long-tail keywords for blog post titles? These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post focused on the specific goals of your audience. Website visitors searching long-tail terms are more likely to read the whole post and then seek more information from you. In other words, you'll attract the right type of traffic to your website. If you’re brainstorming ideas to write about, there’s a good chance you’ll create a long list of ideas for topics you can cover and posts you can create. This will help create a longer-term blogging strategy, making a list of topics that support a specific conversion. For example, if you have an ebook or guide that you want to create and promote, then consider making a list of blog ideas that support this guide’s content. This way, if someone finds your blog post and finds the content helpful, that increases the chances of them wanting to click a call-to-action, aka CTA, to access a relevant offer. If you’re looking for assistance with blog ideas, then check out HubSpot’s blog ideas generator. This free tool will help jump-start your creative process.
Now, let’s talk about creating a title. Think about how you read things online. You read the title first, before you commit. It needs to catch your interest, especially since it’s the first thing that will catch a reader’s attention. Start by creating a working title for your blog post. A working title is something to "work" off of as you begin to write your post. Start here to narrow your topic down and focus on one angle. A broad term, like “social media,” could breed multiple blog post ideas. A working title, like “top social media channels for live video in 2019” is now long-tail and specific. Once you finish the piece, you’ll come back to this title and refine it to be more aligned with the direction you ended up taking in the post. For almost every piece of content, come up with at least 5–10 different titles. Make it a rule that you spend a minimum of five minutes brainstorming titles. And once you make a list, send to a co-worker to get their opinion. Also, make the value of the post clear in the title. Your title should help readers and search engines understand what your post is about. Set the right expectations — what is the reader going to get out of your blog post? What information is covered? What format is the blog post going to take?
In this example, the blog post title explicitly tells you that you’ll be reading about how to create an infographic. Not only that, but it sets the expectations that it only takes an hour to do, and there’s also free templates included. You know exactly what you’re going to get from this blog post — how it’s valuable to you and how much information it contains. When it comes to the art of the perfect blog post title, HubSpot did some research and looked at how our own titles have performed.
Here are the consistent principles that were found:
1. The ideal blog post title length is 60 characters.
2. Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on Twitter.
3. Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on Facebook.
HubSpot also found that headlines ending with a bracketed clarification — like the earlier example with “15 free infographic templates” in brackets at the end of the post — performed 38% better than titles without that clarification. If you're having trouble trimming down the length of a title, run it through Moz’s title tag preview tool to see how the title will appear on a search engine results page. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly. Title too long? That’s okay! Make sure to create a title for your reader first. When you have a lengthy headline, it's a good idea to put your primary keyword (aka the head term) at the beginning of the title since it might get cut off toward the end on a search engine results page. In this example, the title got caught off, but the focus keyword, “data visualization,” is at the front.