In software engineering, there’s a term called MVP, or minimum viable product. An MVP has the minimum features necessary to deliver on the promise of the product so the market will buy it. Until the software reaches this point, it can’t be sold.
We think that blog posts also need to reach a minimum standard before they become useful to your success. Blog posts that meet the MVP requirements keep readers on the page for longer and lowers bounce rate percentages. A reader of an MVP post shouldn’t feel like they’ve wasted their time or their intelligence insulted.
Many of the things we’re going to talk about are basic, but you’d be surprised how many companies write pieces that don’t adhere to these standards.
Meet Reader Expectations For Topics
First, the topic must be relevant to the audience. Let’s say a visitor lands on your website thanks to a Google search. They want to read more information and they move to another blog post through an internal link.
Through the search they used to get to your site and the content they’ve just read, they arrive at a certain expectation of the kind of content they’ll get. But what if they got something that didn’t match that expectation?
If we took one of our pieces on content marketing strategy and linked it to a post we wrote about raising long-haired chihuahuas, anyone who clicked that link would be really confused, right? Dog-raising has nothing to do with our brand. All this to say that choosing your topics correctly is crucial for creating coherence in your content marketing blog. (Say that a few times fast!) This is just one of the things CONCURED does for our clients through AI analysis.
There’s another benefit for keeping your blog post topics within a certain range. It makes it much easier for search engines to classify your content together on SERPs. Don’t forget your keyword research!
Use Audience Feedback And Personas
Once you have a topic, now it needs to be explained in a way that resonates with your audience. That is, you must write to a persona. The topic explains what you’ll write about. The persona explains how you’ll write it.
If your audience isn’t resonating with relevant content, it could be because the persona you’re using isn’t matching the audience. This is why you need to gather audience feedback about your content style and your topics. You can do polling, solicit comments on social media, and look at quantitative data to see which topics and styles of writing have the most traction.
For more information about tweaking your writing style to make it more resonate with your audience, read our past posts on personas and creating a brand voice.
Break Up Your Posts
The scholars and the deep non-fiction readers may despair at this, but the facts don’t lie. People are far more likely to skim your content first to decide if it’s worth reading. The internet has trained us to skim for information. If that first pass does not deliver on our expectations, we’ll move to another page.
This is why many popular blog posts break so many writing rules you learned at school. Single-sentence paragraphs? Lots of headings? Bullet points everywhere? To the scholar, this looks like clutter, laziness, and a lack of writing ability from the author. It’s bad writing, right?
However, for the skimmer, it gives them pieces of content their eyes can read in one go. The rules of web writing are different! Plus, all those headings give search engines something to chew on.
Don’t Forget These Basic Parts
In addition to headings, all blog posts must have three other parts: a headline, an intro, and a conclusion.
- Headlines are the first thing your readers will see in the search results. Use keywords and adjectives that resonate with your audience and keep it short. If your headline is more than 12 words, you’re too long
- Introductions should also be short and punchy unless you have a compelling story that will grab readers right from the start. An eye-catching statistic will also work. Most people will read some of the intro as part of their skimming pattern, so make it count
- Conclusions do several things. They tell the reader they’ve reached the end. It should summarize what they’ve seen. Finally, it should present a call-to-action to the reader on what to do next now that they have this new information
Avoid The Typo
Despite how texting makes our spelling and grammar worse, we’re still sticklers for them for blog posts. Years of schooling have set up an expectation that typos show a lack of care and intelligence from the writer, or the brand.
At the very least, you should run your content through a spellchecker and a grammar checker. Grammarly is a good place to start. Even better, hire an editor to go over your pieces. A second set of human eyes can catch things you skipped over.
If you make a misleading or false claim in a content piece, that reader will begin to doubt everything about your brand. And if that reader tells other readers, you can watch your brand’s reputation evaporate overnight.
Business blog content is non-fiction. Readers expect the truth. At the very least, they should see supporting material for any claims made. They may not agree with your conclusions but they can see how you arrived at them. Despite claims that “all writers are liars”, do your best to be truthful in your content. This post from Poynter on non-fiction writing has some excellent pointers. (Pardon the pun)
Good content also avoids bait-and-switch tactics. The expectations set up by the headline and intro should flow through into the rest of the piece. Leave the long-form sales letter copywriting tactics to that kind of writing. Blog content is meant to inform, not sell.
Remember, if you don’t have these basics in place then the average reader will get turned off by your content. Bad typos, irrelevant or misleading topics, poor structure, and wrong tone in your post means that it isn’t ready for the public yet. Keep polishing.