The Why and How of Great Blog Posts

By Anne Giles

The audience for blog posts has changed radically in the years since Handshake 2.0 launched in 2008.

Most blog posts on Handshake 2.0 and on other blogs I manage are now read, not by a loyal readership of the blog, but 1) by those using search engines, primarily Google, and 2) by those who click on links shared via social media.

Anatomy of a Blog Post Handshake 2.0

Traffic detour

The top source of traffic to Handshake 2.0 used to be “direct,” i.e. people knew of Handshake 2.0 and typed in its URL or clicked a link in an email sent to them by a colleague. According to Google Analytics, from January, 2013 through September, 2013, the top sources of traffic to the site have been 1) Google and other search sites (62%), 2) direct (20%), 3) Facebook (3%), 4) various (15%).

If search engines are the top sources of traffic to sites, then one might feel tempted to optimize the blog’s content for search engines. However, the best SEO then – and now – is great content.

Why we’re trying to write great blog posts

What makes for great content in my experience? To start, we need to know what we’re doing and why, i.e. as Steven Covey urges us, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Essentially, the objective of every blog post is this: “Contact me. Find me and the content I have written so interesting, knowledgeable, credible and authoritative, find yourself relating so much to what I have written by both mind and heart that you want to contact me – to do business, to form a partnership, to hire me, to discuss whatever ways we could be of mutual benefit to each other.”

How to write great blog posts

To meet the objective of “Contact me,” great blog post content:

  • is invitational.
  • relates to human emotion (here’s why).
  • is brief because people scan posts.
  • opens powerfully because people scan posts.
  • offers high quality solutions to problems or answers to questions.
  • cites credible sources and links to them to help the readers evaluate for themselves the quality of your research to back your points.
  • is so beautifully written, offers such value, and is so well-founded that people feel confident about sharing it in their social networks. (They put their reputations on the line every time they post a link or “like” a post.)
  • is an entity unto itself with a consciously written beginning, middle and end to meet the needs of answer- and solution-seekers.
  • says something about a topic or subject that’s never been said before and/or presents a compilation of data in a way that’s never been done before. Being one-of-a-kind competes with all other writers hoping Google’s algorithm will “like” them enough to put their content on page one search results.

Art, craft and value of writing online content

To help writers create content for Handshake 2.0, I’ve developed

Is it tough to be an online writer? Yes, it is. I estimate this post took me at least a dozen hours to research and write.

But it’s a great time to be a writer. Content is king and queen online! Writers rule! Non-writers? If they want to be part of those one billion searches per day on Google, they’ll have to contact us.

Contact Anne, founder of Handshake 2.0 and co-founder of Cognichoice, here.

Graphic by Kelsey Sarles was created in 2009 and is still looking good.

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