Every author who creates or manages a blog has heard the saying: “Content is king!” That’s probably because every marketer and marketing influencer has regularly repeated the phrase for years. And that’s because in the age of digital marketing, it’s absolutely true.
Most bloggers are passionate about creating great content – that’s why they started a blog in the first place. So they don’t need to be beaten over the head with a phrase about content. Instead, bloggers want to find ways to improve the content they’re already presenting to their audience.
If you’re new to blogging, it can be difficult to identify the things that can help your blog standout – versus all of the buzz and distractions that gobble up your limited time and resources. Based on more than four years of full-time experience as a copywriter, these are the questions I recommend new bloggers ask themselves:
Is my blog site lightning fast and user-friendly?
First things first — the quality of your content will not be enough to save a poorly designed or slow to load blog. If a web page takes more than a few seconds to load, most people give up and go back to Google. And once the page loads, your visitor needs to immediately see what they are looking for, or they’ll give up and hit the back button in their browser.
And of course this is assuming that they even find your blog — if it’s not indexed and optimized for search engines, you’ll have a lot of trouble getting your content in front of the people it’s designed to help inform and entertain.
You need to have a solid website if you want your content to perform well. Everything from properly assessing your domain options to leveraging a powerful content management system (CMS) – probably WordPress – has an impact on how your blog will perform.
Is my content original?
Posting duplicate, unoriginal content is not a good idea. First, Google will penalize you in its search rankings. Their bots crawl the web everyday and catalog anything they can access. If your article, or large portions of your blog content have shown up on another site, Google may penalize your content as plagiarized or unoriginal. Plus, if the original author finds out, you can expect to find a take down request in your inbox, or worse.
Sometimes new bloggers publish duplicate content unintentionally. There are numerous technical reasons that content can be inadvertently duplicated on your site. No matter how it happened, Google will find out and your site traffic will suffer.
But the real penalty will come from your readers. People will not read something they have read many times before. And posting rehashed versions of other people’s content will not make you stand out. It will not make your readers come back to your blog. They will go straight to the source if they can find it. So if the content you wrote reminds you too much of something you have seen before, you should work on it some more.
Still, you should recognize that your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You might need passages from other people’s work to illustrate your points. You might need results of someone else’s research to back your claims. That’s fine, but you will have to attribute those parts of your content to the source. At the very least, you should link to it.
Are you using sensational headlines?
Clickbait headlines owe their success to two key characteristics – They tug at our human emotions and curiosity. It’s enough to net clickbait articles great click-through rates. But that doesn’t mean you should use titles that look like clickbait – more sophisticated readers dislike content that looks spammy with over-the-top titles.
The first couple of words people read in your content — usually the headline — are crucial to the success of your content. Writing strong headlines is one of the strategies you should be using to increase your readership. You don’t have to start writing clickbait headlines though. You can have strong, thought-provoking, or just provocative headlines and still see results. Whatever you choose, you should remember that those couple of words are probably the most important words in your content.
How will the reader benefit from my blog post?
If you want to ensure your content is high-quality, you should start looking at it as a value-delivery vessel. Your audience will spend time reading your content. The time they spend is an investment, so it makes sense they get something for it.
It all starts with defining your blog’s target audience. What are your audience’s needs? What do they need, and how can you leverage your personal experience to help them?
As one of my blogging friends once put it: “When the reader lands on your page, you can’t give them any excuse to hit the back button in their browser.”
Is your content easy to read and digest?
Finally, you should understand how people read content. When presented with a wall of text, people will usually give up reading it. You can do many different things to break the monotony of text walls. Most of them will significantly increase the readability and appeal of your content.
You can use things like subheadings to break your content into manageable chunks. Better yet, you can use pictures to give your readers something pretty to rest their eyes on. Your choice of font can also make a difference, and so can the overall design of your blog.
Asking these questions after you’ve written a piece of content will help you gain insights into your writing, your blog, and your audience. They won’t do magic and create high-quality content for you. But they will point you in the right direction. Often enough, that’s all we need.