I wrote my first blog post in 2011 on a website called “The Colinpreneur”. The website isn’t alive anymore because it was an awful excuse for a blog!
I had spent the night before building the website and as soon as it was finished, began writing my first blog post.
I felt empowered. Free. It was wonderful. I could write about anything I wanted!
Long story short, I was really proud of my first attempt at a blog, but it wasn’t successful. When I finally hooked up Google Analytics and saw my Average Session Duration was 7 seconds.. I shut it down.
Fast Forward to My Current Blog.
I’ve learned a lot over the past 6 years.
I obsessed over my writing, tried different things, was criticized, hurt, and embarrassed. I listened carefully to feedback and gradually became better.
As of this post, my new blog and website proudly earn an Average Session Duration of 1 minute and 18 seconds with a bounce rate of 79.89%. These metrics aren’t great, but for the time and energy I’ve put into it, it’s not bad.
Typically, I suggest businesses that blog strive for an Average Sessions Duration of 2 minutes and 38 seconds with a Bounce Rate of 70%.
A good goal blog target is achieving an Average Session Duration of 2 minutes and 38 seconds with a decent Bounce Rate of 70%.
Specific Tips for Blogging Success: 8 Valuable Lessons
If you’re striving to achieve blogging success, here are my top tips and techniques.
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1. Blogging Achieves Brand Awareness (Enabling Sales).
Social media is today’s word-of-mouth; you are what you post. If you always post gym content, you’re word-of-mouth tends to revolve around fitness. If you often take photos of burgers, you’re a burger person!
Tip: People tend to post a variety of content types (gym, music, food, hiking). If that’s you, I suggest slowly introducing your network to the content you want to be known for. Then you can gradually ramp up.
Blogging does the same thing for you, but on a much higher, professional level. When you write about a topic, you strategically position yourself as an authority of that subject.
Eventually over time, you’ll build depth in your field and officially position yourself as an expert in your industry. This leads to increased confidence and comfort when speaking about your industry; enhancing your performance on sales calls.
Blogging is the number one way to position a person or company as an industry expert.
2. Find Out Where Your Audience Is and What Types of Content They Like.
Before building a website and doing keyword research, gather a sense of what people respond to and what content-style they prefer.
Finding out what content people respond to.
Use social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to share messages/posts related to your topic. Then see which channels yield the most amount of engagement.
In my own experience, LinkedIn was the winning channel for my marketing blog.
Either way, this is an effective (and free) method for seeing what drives engagement for your content.
Test content types to see what people enjoy.
Businesses don’t focus on content types enough. Today’s media-filled world is full of opportunities to deliver unique and customized experiences.
Try leveraging technology to help you test different content types and determine what your audience enjoys about your brand and information; what’s valuable, and what could be improved.
If you’re not sure what kind of content types to try, here are a few I recommend:
- Facebook Notes
- Facebook Posts
- LinkedIn Articles
- LinkedIn Posts
- Instagram Posts
- Instagram Stories – Behind the Scenes
- Instagram Stories – Micro-Magazine Content
- Snapchat Stories – Behind the Scenes
- Snapchat Stories – Micro-Magazine Content
- YouTube – Short Explainer Video (in-person or animated)
- YouTube – Long Explainer Video (in-person or animated)
- YouTube – Screenshare Tutorial
For example, I received feedback from my Snapchat friends that they prefer short, educational, bite-sized pictures and clips that teach them new things about marketing.
For Instagram, I received feedback from followers that they really enjoyed artsy-styled blog posts similar to what you’d find on Snapchat accounts like BrotherHQ, Cosmo, and more (they’re like micro-magazine stories).
For both Snapchat and Instagram, people have shared they enjoy seeing a blend of personal life experiences AND business life. From a personal branding perspective, this is great; people are getting to know my interests, intent, and passions.
3. Average Session Duration is the Most Important Metric. Here’s How to Increase It.
While a lot of marketers will give me grief for this, it’s true. The number of Users and Sessions that visit your website is not as valuable as having a really good Average Session Duration.
A high amount of Users/Sessions will tell you what titles and headlines drive clicks, but not necessary what content engages visitors.
How to Increase Average Session Duration
There are 2 kinds of content that earn the most amount of attention: how-to tutorials, and list-styled content.
How-to Tutorials are interesting because viewers will carefully read each and every line. Obviously their intent is to achieve their goal by following the process outlined in the tutorial.
List-Styled Content arguably leads to more scrolling and less engagement, although people will linger on some items they like; taking screenshots, saving pictures, liking, and sharing.
As for content length, popular marketers like Neil Patel suggest blog posts should be about 2,450 words in length.
But as blog posts get longer, they move away from being functional for mobile-users who are on-the-go. This is why it’s important to format your blog posts to be digestible and readable for your audience.
A great way to make your longer blog posts more readable is to summarize key concepts with numbered and bullet-pointed lists.
Popular marketing blogs like Neil Patel suggest that blog posts should be about 2,200 words in length.
Outcomes of Achieving a Higher Average Session Duration
Once you know what kind of content your visitors engage with, you’re on your way to understanding their interests, wants, and needs.
The Ability to Test and Validate Demand for New Products and Services. Having engaged readers allows you to test and validate ideas for lead-generation offers, products, and services. When you learn what gets people to sign-up for your products/services, you’re in the sweet spot.
The Opportunity to Collaborate with Industry Experts in Your Field. When you acquire active readers, your networking potential skyrockets. You will be able to quickly identify people to feature on your blog and, in the process, grow your network.
4. Advice for Ranking on Google.
Google’s algorithm determines a lot of factors when deciding where to rank a blog post. Their algorithm includes things like social shares, comments, likes, page layout, and more.
Advice for Brand New Websites & Startups
If your business is new, you likely have a low Domain Authority. Increasing this number will give your website a big lift on Google and increase your odds of ranking on the first page.
- Make sure your pages are optimized for mobile.
- Make sure your navigation items are labelled clearly.
- Get your website’s sitemap and upload it to Google Search Console.
- Manually request Google’s bots to crawl your website and pages/content you link to.
- Create content consistently and aim for long-tailed keywords.
- Run a direct email backlink campaign that asks people to link to your website.
Advice for Existing Websites & Businesses
If your business is new, run your website’s URL through a Domain Authority Checker. If your score is below 30, revisit the list above for some prep work. Next, start focusing on these projects:
- Do keyword research with Ubersuggest to get a sense of search volume and competition.
- Next, hone in on what specific term/phrase you want to use.
- Use the KeywordsEverywhere Chrome Extension to cross reference your selected keyword.
- Create your content and run a direct email backlink campaign.
- Collaborate with others, inviting them to write Guest Posts.
5. Review Your Work with Fresh Eyes.
When you finish writing a blog post, don’t rush to publish it.
Take a break so you have fresh eyes to review sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and consistency.
Read each line carefully (out loud if you have to). You’ll be shocked at some of the sentences you use.
The big thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the sentence flow and transitions.
I personally pay an editor for all my content. If you have a friend or relative who doesn’t mind helping you out, take advantage of that! Just remember to buy them lunch every so often.
My Editing Process
- I write content in a Google Document.
- Once finished, I share the document with my editor.
- I take a break, go to the gym, work on other projects, etc.
- I get an email when they’ve finished reviewing the work.
- I return to the document and do a final edit.
- Then I go into WordPress for publishing.
6. There’s a Happy Medium Between Academic and Casual Writing Styles.
When I first started blogging, readers felt it was too casual. When I started writing professionally, readers felt it was too academic.
What I’ve learned is that people want your content to be informative, brief, and to the point. There’s no need to create long run-on sentences, use fancy words, or to make something simple complex. Otherwise, you could run the risk of losing your readings.
Summary Tips for Writing:
- Use short sentences.
- Use short paragraphs.
- Use simple words.
7. Legitimize Your Content with Quotes, Links, Charts, and Reports
People care about the accuracy and legitimacy of the content you share.
Source: What Consumers Want from Brand Content (February 2018).
By referencing charts, research, and publications, you build a healthy rapport with other Brands and Search Engines.
- Use images of charts, research, reports, and quotes.
- Link to the specific source, not just the company’s website.
- Don’t go overboard with facts and stats – there’s a healthy balance.
The downside is that research adds a lot of time to producing a blog post, but THIS is what eventually makes you a subject-matter expert.
8. Make Your Website Browsable.
My first few websites emphasized user experience. I didn’t want people to see ads, links, chat widgets, NOTHING! I wanted them to focus strictly on the content I put in front of them.
This was a bad decision.
My Pages Per Session and Average Session Duration took a nosedive. Next, I stopped getting newsletter signups and ebook downloads.
Long behold, my blog was not converting ROI.
It’s important to leverage items like side navigation bars, in-line CTAs, and end-of-post CTAs.
By giving your readers a playground to explore, they’ll spend more time on your website.
If ignoring these items, the readers’ experience will be cut short at the end of your blog post.
Summary of Driving Browsability:
- Include in-line text CTAs.
- Include a side navigation bar with information about authors, other posts, and resources.
- Put a nice image CTA at the bottom of your blog post.
These are the biggest lessons I’ve learned from blogging over the years. They cover everything from Domain Authority, Ranking on Google, Writing Styles, and more.
It’s been a long road of experimenting and trying different formats and techniques, but it’s working.
My blog isn’t a mass publication for marketers around the world, but it helps me position myself as a working professional.
For your convenience, here’s the shortlist of takeaways mentioned in this blog post:
- Blogging is for brand awareness; building trust.
- Use social media channels to find out where people engage with your content.
- Try different types of content like LinkedIn Articles, Instagram Stories, and more.
- The most important metric for measuring the success of your blog is average session duration.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices.
- Clearly label your navigation items.
- Submit your sitemap to Google Search Engine.
- Create content for long-tailed keywords.
- Run direct email campaigns to get backlinks.
- Reach out and collaborate with others to do projects like Guest Posts and interviews.
- Thoroughly review and edit your writing.
- Legitimize your content with charts, reports, research, and more.
- Make your website browsable with side navigation bars, in-line CTAs, and CTAs at the end of your blog posts.