5 Ways to Write Engaging Blog Posts
An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…
Although primarily funny, this clever tweet hides the purpose behind so many blog posts published on a daily basis. If the algorithm were to suddenly delete all content fluff and all blog posts that only aim to please the search engine for better ranking without providing any value, we’d likely be left with a very thin newspaper to read.
Yes, you want your blogs to generate search engine juice, if you will, but you also want them to live. Living, thriving content that inspires shares, comments, likes, conversations, overall engagement, is the kind of content that retains its relevance for readers. It’s the kind of writing that gets link-builders all tingly inside, and your marketers dizzy with bliss.
To write such posts, you need to look past the catchy headlines, the keywords, and the fluff. You need to mind all of those and many other factors and mold them into a singular piece of writing that guides the reader one sentence at a time. Here are your five blog writing commandments to live and write by.
1. Treat first sentences like first impressions
Or make them short, sweet, and memorable. There is no way to write a catchy blog if your start is lukewarm at best. We’ve opened this particular blog with a culturally relevant, funny tidbit, and it likely drew a smile on your face.
Some blog posts open with mysterious, thought-provoking concepts, others introduce you to the blog with a proper bang. No matter what kind of storytelling vibe you’re going for, make it short, concise, and remember its sole purpose: to get your readers eager for the second sentence and every single one that comes after it.
2. Give your blog some meat
Sure, your SEO team will bug you until you add certain keywords and phrases to your blog post to appeal to the search engine gods. Crafting your writing around them only, though, won’t grant you a huge hurray from your readers, since they have come to your website in need of concrete, substantial, and yes, captivating writing. Relying on the latest research gives you credibility, but wrapping it up in brilliant writing provides your blogs the substance they need to make your readers stick with you ‘til the end.
Now that is the kind of content that not only makes your readers ignore their Messenger notification ping, but that also generates links to become an invaluable resource through other blog posts, reputable websites, and experts. Without data, your writing may just be an opinionated rant by a rambling loon. Without that storytelling angle and unique insights, you’re just reiterating someone else’s research paper – so they’ll quote the research paper instead. A blend of both is the best of both worlds for your blog.
3. Do the grunt work – it pays off
The overly romanticized idea that the best writing happens in an uninterrupted flow of inspiration is a load of hooey. Writing blogs is even less romantic than that. It takes research, planning, strategizing, editing, and some hair-pulling to get the work done. If you want those backlinks, comments, shares, and other forms of engagement, that is. For starters, you need to find a crossroads between what you’re truly expert at and what your audience is currently interested in. This enables you to find a trendy topic your audience will actually want to read and that you have an actual opinion about.
Then, you need to collate the needed research and the latest relevant data (for the meat, remember?), analyze it for key points, and start connecting the dots with the help of your own professional input. As glorious as your first draft may be, it will be mercilessly sliced and diced by your editing team to weed out the extraneous fluff and keep building upon the backbone that is your idea.
Outline the goals for each blog post, the timeline of publishing them, the optimization, the editing calendar, and other details that will affect the creative process. All of this goes into crafting every single blog, but it will also help you provide meaningful, purpose-driven content based on quality writing.
4. The devilish details that matter
The bottom line is, there is no one-size-fits-all for anything in life, blogging included. Some audiences respond to brief, 500-word blogs rich in images, while others love the in-depth articles over 2000 words in length. Their reading preferences can include the kind of headings, titles, subheadings they find the most useful, sentence length, tone of voice, and other details.
Some trial and error is always necessary, but unless you’re writing your very first blog, you already know what your audience likes based on your on-site analyses, engagement rates on existing content, and other research. Certain rules of thumb do apply:
- Active voice is always a better option, because it’s easier to follow, and has the potential to inspire action.
- Rely on simple words because blogs aren’t supposed to sound like studies, they’re meant to decipher the most complicated topics in the most digestible possible way.
- Shorter sentences are easier to follow, and they get your point across better.
- Use emotion in your writing, because you are ultimately writing for humans.
- Divide your blogs into meaningful chunks. It helps your readers find what they need, and allows them to skim and scan with ease.
5. Bring your blog to life with visuals
Writing snappy punchlines is even better when people can visualize them immediately. To enable your readers to do just that, give them a glimpse into your own imagination. Use gifs, animations, and pure images to depict bits and pieces of your topic. It’s easy enough to find stock images that will reflect your subject and your stance, but it’s much more difficult to find images that actually help your readers engage with your blog.
Images can add a humorous touch to your blogs. They have the power to evoke emotions much like your words. Graphs, charts, diagrams, and other illustrations help you get your point across and they help your readers understand the big picture and the fine details. Blogs are so much more than piled up sentences – they are a vessel for your brand’s voice, reputation, and your way to connect with your readers, so use all assets at your disposal, especially visual ones.
Finally, before you rush to write your next post with all of this information in mind, remember that you’ll fail. Some blogs will be works of art that search engines and your readers will reward with endless attention and interest. Others will collect digital dust and sit at the bottom of the second page of Google – where no one ever ventures.
It’s up to you to learn from each successful and failed blog you write, and use the knowledge to write better content in the future. In the meantime, use this as the foundation for your blogging, and you’ll have plenty of time to hone your writing and marketing expertise.