How to Write a Blog that actually gets traffic

You write a blog post, hit that publish button, and then… no one reads it.

The problem isn’t necessarily your writing. It doesn’t mean that people don’t like you. It just means that your content likely isn’t optimized to be found. So in this blog, I’m going to show you how to write a blog post that drives consistent readers to your blog that you probably should be getting.

What’s up bloggers?

Today, I want to help you clear the confusion and turn that blank screen into an absolutely epic blog post that

a.) people want to read

b.) attracts the target audience you want.

Now, rather than focusing on subjective techniques like writing style, I’m going to show you how to build a consistent stream of readers with strategic topic selection and workflows.

Let’s get to it.

First, I want to give you an idea of what consistent readership looks like and what it definitely does not look like. In order to gain readers, you need to get traffic. They’re essentially the same thing. But the way you get traffic to your website will vary.

For example,

I’m sure you’ve seen multiple traffic source channels in your analytics platform like organic search, social, direct, and referral traffic.

All of these people fall into different buckets in terms of how they discover and consume content on your website. You might also be using paid ads or email marketing to send readers to your posts.

These are all great, but paid traffic is only good for as long as you’re willing to pay. The same goes for your email list. You blast out an email, then the traffic fades to nothing.

Now, what about social?  Same thing.

You might get some nice spikes of traffic, but that will likely drop back to normal. These peaks, as Rand Fishkin calls them, are “spikes of hope.” And if you’ve used any of these marketing strategies, then I’m sure you’ve experienced what comes after. The “flatline of nope.”

Organic traffic, on the other hand, can produce the opposite effect. Free, passive, and hopefully growing traffic that doesn’t fade over time. And this is the primary strategy we used to grow Ahrefs blog to over 220,000 monthly search visitors.

Now, I’m not telling you to stop sending emails to your list or reduce your PPC ad spend.

 

What I want you to take away from these examples is that billions of people are searching for informational content. And if you have a blog, you should make its purpose to satisfy the needs of searchers and in return, get the traffic you deserve.

 

With that said, let’s jump right into

Step 1

Which is to come up with topics that are proven to generate traffic. The most common problem I see with new bloggers is that they write “me-centred” posts.

 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with creating content about what you ate for breakfast. But it’s all about how you frame it.

For example, if I had a recipe blog, how many people do you think would search for, “what did Sam Oh eat for breakfast today?”

No one!

People go to Google for solutions to their problems. So as you generate topics to write about, you should focus on the reader, rather than yourself.

 

Here’s an example:

 

Rather than creating a post called, “My kids love these fluffy blueberry pancakes,” go with a helpful approach like, “How to Make Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes That Your Kids Will Love.”

 

Now, this is just an educated guess based on what I think people would be searching for. But you can actually find how many people are searching for any keyword using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

 

Let’s run a search for our main topic, “blueberry pancakes.” Next, I’ll go to the Phrase match report to find keyword ideas on this topic. Right away, you’ll see some great keyword ideas like “blueberry pancakes recipes,” “how to make blueberry pancakes,” and “vegan blueberry pancakes” along with keyword metrics like search volume beside them. Now, the thing with search volume is that it can be a bit misleading.

 

For example, “how to make blueberry pancakes” gets 1,000 monthly searches in the US alone. Now, if we click on the SERP button, and look at the traffic column for the top-ranking pages, you’ll see that these pages get significantly more traffic than the estimated search volume. And this often happens because these pages are ranking for hundreds or even thousands of keywords.

Now, if we look at the SERP for the keyword, “vegan blueberry pancakes,” you’ll see the opposite effect. Top ranking pages only get around 27% traffic compared to the main keyword’s search volume. This is why it’s critical to look at the total traffic potential of a topic so you can get the most bang for your buck.

Now, this is just one topic you might want to write about. You can generate a whole list of content ideas by entering a more general topic related to your niche.

 

So let’s change this to “recipes. “And just like that, you have a list of over 2.4 million keywords that contain the word “recipes.”

Let’s narrow this down to some low-competition topics with high search volume. I’ll set the Keyword Difficulty filter to show keywords that have a maximum score of something low like 10. And then I’ll set the Search Volume filter for keywords that have at least 1,000 monthly searches in Google. From here, it’s just a matter of clicking on the SERP button and analyzing the traffic potential of each topic that might be worth creating a post on.

 

Another thing you can do is find topics that are generating traffic for your competitors and then create content around those topics too.

 

So since I have a recipe blog, I’ll go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and enter in one of my competitor’s domains. And it looks like they get around 874,000 search visitors per month!

 

Next, I’ll go to the Top pages report, to find out which pages are generating the most search traffic for them.

So looking at this report, I can immediately see that chocolate chip cookies, lo mein, and cooking tofu might be good topics to write blog posts about.

 

And as you can see, finding topics that people care to search for isn’t hard. Just make sure you check the total traffic potential behind the topic, so you don’t waste time writing content that people don’t care to read.

 

Let’s move on to

Step 2

Which is super important and that’s to assess search intent. Search intent represents the reason behind a searcher’s query.

 

For example, if someone searches for “how to make pancakes,” what do you think they want to see? Probably recipes, right? But what about if someone searches for the query “slow cooker?”

 

What are they looking for? Do they want to buy one? Read reviews? See a list of recipes or something entirely different? The good news is that search intent is really easy to identify. All you have to do is search for the keyword phrase you want to rank for in Google and the search results will reveal what I like to call, “the 3 C’s of search intent.”

 

The first C is content type. This can usually be categorized into blog posts, product pages, category pages, and landing pages. Looking at the top 10 results for “how to make pancakes,” you can tell just from the titles that they’re all blog posts.

 

The second C is content format. When it comes to blog posts, a few common formats would be “how-to” guides, step-by-step tutorials, list posts, or opinion editorials. There are a lot of different formats, but this should give you an idea of what you should be on the lookout for. So for our example, “how-tos” are the dominant format.

 

The final C is the content angle. The angle is often depicted in the title as the “benefit” as to why someone should click and read their article. So this page is talking about creating “perfect” pancakes, this one is pushing the “easy pancakes” angle, and this one down here is about “fluffy pancakes.”

 

Generally speaking, you don’t want to stray too far from the angle that the top 10 results are taking, but note that angles will vary from topic to topic.

 

Now, just to show you how important this step is, let’s type “slow cooker,” into Google. Immediately, you’ll see that the search results are dominated by Ecommerce category pages.

 

If you don’t have a similar page on your site, you probably shouldn’t target the keyword, because your chances of ranking will be slim to none.

We have a full tutorial on doing keyword research, assessing search intent, and also knowing how hard it will be to rank on Google, so I highly recommend watching that tutorial which I’ll link up.

 

For now, let’s move on to

Step 3

Which is to write a data-driven outline. A data-driven outline might sound strange, but hear me out. A page doesn’t rank for just one keyword. In fact, our data shows that on average, the #1 ranking page also ranks for nearly a thousand other keywords.

So when you’re creating your outline, it’ll pay to know which keywords the top ranking pages are ranking for so you can get the most mileage out of your blog posts. To do this, go to Keywords Explorer and search for the target keyword you want to rank for.

 

Then scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see the top 10 ranking pages along with their SEO metrics. And as expected, a bunch of these pages are ranking for thousands of keywords.

 

To see the keywords that this page ranks for, let’s click on the number in the corresponding row, which will open up the Organic Keywords report in Site Explorer.

 

Now, to keep these keywords relevant, let’s set a filter to only show keywords that rank in position 1 through 10. This will weed out a lot of irrelevant keywords that we don’t need to target.

 

A few interesting words that pop out to me are “from scratch,” “recipe,” and “batter.” Now, rather than trying to stuff these keywords into your post, it’s best to think of these as subtopics. You can also use them to solidify the angle you want to take for your post.

 

So I may take the angle of creating homemade pancakes from scratch. As for the subtopics, I would likely have a section on “making the batter.” And under the subheadings, I may include descriptive words people are searching for like “delicious and fluffy.” And I may even include a substitute to make the batter without milk.

Finally, just add some bullet points below each of the subheadings to ensure that you stay on topic once you get to writing the draft. Speaking of which,

Let’s move on to

Step 4: That’s To Write Your First Draft

Now, the purpose of this step isn’t to write a perfect blog post that everyone’s going to love. It’s to get your thoughts on screen and into full sentences. If you’ve created a detailed outline, it’s just a matter of looking at your bullet points and making them flow together. These are two tricks that I use that work particularly well for me.

 

First is the Pomodoro technique. In short, you set a 25-minute timer and a goal you want to achieve in that time.

 

For example, my average typing speed is around 115 words per minute. But since blogging requires more critical thinking than a typing test, I’ll set my goal to 20% efficiency. So this translates into around 575 words every 25 minutes.

 

Now, the key to succeed using the Pomodoro Technique when writing blog posts is to not hit the back button because of spelling mistakes or to reword your sentence 15 times before you find the perfect phrasing. After your first 25-minutes are up, take a 3-5 minute break and rinse and repeat until complete. This step is all about efficiency and you don’t want to do anything that would stop you from reaching that goal.

Step 5: You Need To Edit Your Draft

 

From my experience, it’s best to take time away from your piece before editing it. There are usually two parts to this.

First is to fix spelling and grammatical issues. This is pretty straightforward and tools like grammarly can help ease the process. The second part is to make sure that your blog post flows and provides value to readers. Common blogging advice is to “write as you speak,” so reading your post out loud as you edit can definitely give some perspective. If you find that it sounds unnatural, robotic or whatever, then make edits where needed. Remove anything that’s fluffy, or add in bits and pieces to provide additional clarity or evidence.

Hemingway Editor

One last tool I recommend is Hemingway Editor. Just paste your post in there and it’ll give you a readability grade. A general rule of thumb is to aim for sixth grade level readability. This will ensure that your blog posts are easy to read and understand.

 

Step 6

is my favorite part of writing blog posts and that’s to get honest feedback. In my opinion, this is one of the most critical steps in our content creation process. And it’s what allows us to consistently get positive feedback from various online communities.

 

Here’s how we do it at Ahrefs. Josh, our resident blog master, is responsible to ensure that every post that goes live on our blog is absolutely epic. But epic is subjective. So for each post that he writes, my job is to provide feedback, question any claims, and offer suggestions where relevant.

 

Now, my job is to create videos that are always providing value to you, our viewers. So Josh will review and provide feedback just as I do for his blog posts. And to add an extra layer of quality control, we loop in Tim and Nick to make sure that everything we publish is top notch. I cannot recommend this step enough. Ask your colleagues, friends, or whoever to review your content, so your team can consistently produce your best stuff.

 

Last And Final Step: Create Your Final Draft

By this point, all feedback should have been given. It’s now your job to take that feedback and make decisions on what goes in the final version and what’s not. Go through each touchpoint, and once all points have been resolved, you just need to do one final read-through. Then upload, publish, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

Now, if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like, share and subscribe, and if you have any questions about the writing process, leave a comment below, and I’d love to help.

 

So keep grinding away, and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.

Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kOT39l0omU

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