Get your waders on and grab your plunger. We’re about to learn how to write better blog posts and fight crap content. Are you ready for this (slightly gross) battle?
There’s a lot of crap content on the internet. Honestly? It’s kind of a cesspool. Now, much of the garbage is SPAM created for clicks-only. It serves no real purpose on its own and simply contributes to the throngs of online noise pollution. Buy now! Join this! Do the thing! It’s filler. Crap.
A search engine’s ultimate intent is to direct users to the best answer for their query. They favor authoritative, well-written, non-crap content. Search engines are constantly using their complex algorithms to filter out the garbage and find the good.
Here’s the deal, your blog likely isn’t part of the crap content extravaganza! Yay! Chances are, you want to help your readers, share your knowledge, and drive traffic to your site. Your intentions are good, and you don’t want to get flushed down the bowl mistakenly. It’s important to remember, not all of the crap content is intentionally – well – crappy, of course. Some of the content clogging the internet just needs a little adjustment.
If you want to know how to write better blog posts, it starts by separating out the bad habits and not-great-practices from the good ones. Become part of the solution, not part of the problem. Here are 8 ways to avoid crap content and write better blog posts.
1. Go Long, But Stay Focused
Long-form blog posts are key when fighting the battle against crap content. How long should your long-form content be? In general? 2000+ words, but the answer isn’t as simple as upping your word count. If you want to create good long-form content, you need to keep it focused, tight, useful, and well-written.
We’ve all stumbled on a cookie recipe that reads like an epic poem. The title says, “Best Cookie Recipe” but when you get to the post, you find yourself wading through a tale about the writer’s grandma’s cocker spaniel, Bentley. You read about her trip to the pumpkin farm last weekend and what she bought on sale at Target. You keep scrolling. Finally, at the bottom of the page: the cookie recipe!
The point of long-form content isn’t to lull your readers to sleep with a long-winded tale. Long form content should provide value. From the opening paragraph to the close, it should be meaty, interesting, on-topic, well-written, and thorough. The reader should easily follow along and enjoy themselves from the beginning to the end.
2. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Shoehorning, jamming, stuffing…whatever you want to call it, when it comes to keywords, don’t do it. Many content creating newbs (and some not-so-newbs) hear search engine optimization and think, “add tons of keywords.” Yes, keywords are important to your content and they should be strategically worked in throughout your blog posts, but nothing sounds worse than a bunch of crammed in keywords.
Here’s the deal, you can’t trick search engines. Take it from the mouth of the Google Gods themselves: “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
Keywords will occur naturally in your well-written, singularly-focused, thorough (aka not crap) content. If you stick to writing the post about one topic and one topic only, your keyword will fit easily and smoothly…and you’ll improve your SEO, automatically.
3. No Pandering Clickbait
Oh, clickbait. You are part of our world now, aren’t you?! Headlines tantalize us with, “Shocking Secrets You Need to Know,” or “You Won’t Believe What This Terrible Person Did…” The internet is often viral and if we want an article to spread, clickbait works temporarily and superficially. It leaves us wanting more and we click to get the full gory picture.
But remember, if the hope is to write better blog posts then clickbait is essentially the counterfoil. If you want to entice readers to click, write an intriguing and compelling headline (and a post) but don’t write content that’s just plain spammy. Instead, adjust your mindset to think like your reader. What are they asking? What do they need to know? What value will they get when they click your post? How will you give them what they need?
Social media has made many bloggers jump on the clickbait train. Some clickbait titles and tactics are better than others for getting social shares and likes. But at the end of the day, a sensational headline won’t fix crap content and may hurt your reputation. Build a lasting readership and trusted audience based on the merit and value of your content, your business and the services you offer, not on a shocking headline.
4. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Search engine optimization sounds intimidating. At the end of the day, though, it’s simply creating content prepared for search (a.k.a. optimizing). This means deliberately choosing keywords that reflect your content (see #2—no keyword stuffing).
SEO also includes cleaning up the backend of your website and implementing best SEO practices to keep your site healthy. Ensure each post has metadata and alt tags on the backend. Make sure the metadata accurately reflects the focus of your post and includes your keyword. Fix your broken links and examine your low performing content.
Need help with the SEO process? An SEO audit from Posts by Ghost will set you on the right track for success. An audit will assess the health of your site, tell you where your data is missing, and help identify your top performing content. It’s a great tool for strategically planning your future content and ensuring your blog and website are on the right track.
5. Include (But Don’t Rely On) Bells and Whistles
There’s no avoiding it–visual content like video, infographics, and images, are important. In fact, according to 32% marketers, visual content is the most important form of content driving traffic to their website. Savvy bloggers take this knowledge and use it to their advantage. This means spending time on the look of your website, working on your social media strategy (including Pinterest), and ensuring your images include alt tags.
So is blogging dead? Should we throw in the towel on written content? Of course not! We hear this fear expressed all the time, but there are no signs that well-written content is becoming less popular. Crap content, on the other hand, is always moving downward on the popularity scale. Search favors great, authoritative content, including content that is visually appealing.
Like a popularity contest, however, beauty is more than skin deep. You may create a visually beautiful blog, but if you don’t write better blog posts, no one will ever see the awesome photos and cool graphics. In fact, too many bells and whistles detract from your site, slow down the speed, and scare visitors away. The formula for a great blog is clean, simple, easy-to-read, visually appealing and of course, chockfull of significant expert content.
6. Quell Your ADD…Oh Look, a Squirrel!
We’ve all written about a topic, only to get bored with it as the post is coming together. Here’s the deal—if your topic bores you, you probably shouldn’t write about it. If you aren’t interested in your topic, your reader won’t feel excited either. Like bees sensing fear, readers can sense your lack of enthusiasm. Avoid blogging about topics you aren’t pumped about—even if you think it’s going to be super popular on Pinterest or Facebook.
There’s a tendency for bloggers to start jamming in more topics when they aren’t writing about the right topic to begin with. This results in the “random rambling” post. For example, your blog post that includes what you did this weekend, a story about your aunt, and your hot take on Megan Markle’s outfit might seem friendly and real to you. But to most readers, it feels disjointed and confusing.
If you want to write better blog posts and drive organic traffic to your website, keep your focus on one topic. Write evergreen content as interesting to your reader today as when they discover the post in six months or a year. Posts flitting around between great sales you found (out-of-date by next week) and your random discoveries may be more suited for social media or another spot. Keep your blog content informative, on-point and thorough.
7. Recycling is Great, but Don’t Take it Too Far
Roundup content is popular. Why? Because it often gets tons of shares. After all, if you quote 10 expert bloggers, you’re guaranteed 10 reposts or shares (and traffic from their respective audiences). Plus, it’s easy! There’s no need to create your own crafts, recipes, or makeup tips because you can round up the 25 best on Pinterest, right?
Well, round up content is often overdone. In the business and content marketing world, roundups are generally frowned upon and often seen as spammy. Roundups are also not terrific for search because they’re typically a collection of links or quotes and don’t contain much in the way of compelling content. Plus, typical roundup posts aren’t as visually appealing as a how-to post or other forms of content because they contain fewer how-to photos and other details.
So should you ban roundup blog posts? Not necessarily but use them judiciously. If you want to write better blog posts for your recipe roundups, for example, include details about each recipe (always write your own copy, don’t steal content from other bloggers). Aim to create a long-form post, implement SEO best practices and offer readers unique and useful information. Include your own blog posts in the roundup as well and add your photos, videos, and other visual elements to pop the post.
8. Avoid Too Many CTAs (or None At All)
Blogging stems from a desire to share information, help your readers, solve a problem, or answer a question. If you’re avoiding crap content, chances are your heart and intentions are in the right place. It’s important to remember, though, blogging is also a business. It’s YOUR business.
Whether you’re enticing readers to buy from your affiliates, encouraging them to sign up for coaching services, or selling your own products, you’re hoping to compel them to an action. Maybe you want your readers to subscribe to your channel on YouTube or buy a product in your Etsy store. Most bloggers need to build their list and promote a product, rather than simply relying on money from running ad banners.
So you need to encourage your reader to act. There’s no better way than a strong call to action. In every post. Every time. Visit my Etsy store. Download my guide. Sign up for my budgeting course. Subscribe to my channel for more meal planning ideas. Each and every piece of content should direct the reader to take the next step.
But with CTAs, it’s also important not to overwhelm your reader. This means asking them to like your blog on social media, visit your Pinterest board, download your product, and click your affiliate links is simply too much. Narrow your focus. Write better blog posts with a focused call to action. Ask yourself, “what action would I most like the reader of this post to take?” Then make it clear.
Crap content is completely avoidable. With deliberate planning and following SEO best practices, you will write better blog posts for your blog. You’ll drive more organic traffic, connect with your readers, win friends, and influence people…Best of all, you won’t clog up the internet with more garbage! Together we can fight crap content!
Are you inspired to create better content, but need ideas? Are seeking guidance to become an SEO rock star? Do you feel SE-Overwhelmed? No worries, we can’t wait to help you! Contact Posts by Ghost™ or leave a comment below!