More than 2 million blogs are published each day.
How many are read in their entirety?
Whatever number comes in mind, I am willing to bet the actual number is far far less. Readers are not apathetic. In fact, the most active demographic of readers are millennials who actively search for blogs on several topics.
It’s the quality of the content that puts them off.
Content quality is an umbrella term. It encompasses a number of elements – all critical to the readability aspect of a blog post. One element that I’ll discuss today in this article, and that I have had in my “to-do” list to increase blog traffic is identifying the shortcomings preventing your blog from growing.
There are three shortcomings that I have so far identified. These shortcomings are:
Long-form without action statements
Drafting long-form content is the rule of thumb. It’s a trend that almost every blogger follows. This trend was reflected in Orbit Media’s study that revealed the recommended content length has been increasing with time.
Take a look at the infographic below:
Between 2014 and 2015, content length increased 109%. Between 2015 and 2016 the increase was 118%. The increase in percentage over the years was 108%. The rate of percentage increase being the same, content length needed to increase 127% in 2017. Since 2016’s optimal content length was 1054, that of 2017 was projected to be 1338.
This was in line with Medium’s research in this area. The research led to the observation that readers prefer reading 1400+ words long blog posts.
Now, most bloggers religiously follow the “long-form content” rule. How is that working out for them? Well, not in the way they expect. Most are struggling to build a stable visitor-base. The reason they are failing to make a dent in the blogosphere despite writing long-form content everyday is their content – albeit long in size – has only a handful of action statements.
Content that’s reasonably long but with action statements few and far between, is destined to fail to engage readers. In the absence of action statements, long-form content appears plain boring to readers. More than 40% admit they skim blog posts because the posts are overly long and devoid of actionable tips.
In the past, bloggers were advised to write posts around the 3 “Ws”. The 3 “Ws” were “what”, “why” and “what now.” But now, this technique is deemed archaic. Bloggers who are still following this outdated technique are finding it hard to get their posts read multiple times, by multiple readers.
So, what’s the new trend then?
The new trend is writing around action statements.
This new trend is intrinsic to the millennial lifestyle. Millennials want to quickly get down to business. Action statements, at the end of each paragraph, inform them how the insights shared in that paragraph can benefit them and what tasks they must undertake to avail those benefits.
If you are a blogger reading this, make sure the posts going live on your website have plenty of action statements, which are easy for your readers to grasp, and even easier for them to implement in real life.
Each paragraph must have narratives leading to action statements. The very first line must give the impression that the blogger is attempting to get to the heart of the discourse i.e. deriving actionable takeaways. That will hook readers to the blog.
The reason I prefer niche blogging is it gives you access to a pool of loyal visitors. Blogs covering miscellaneous areas attract sporadic traffic, which is why, growing them is a gruelling task. This was one of my early realizations when I first entered into the blogging foray. Over the time, I realized several subcultures exist within a niche area.
It’s wrong to think niche audiences are homogeneous. I first figured it out when I was into auto blogging. I was rating energy efficient cars and gave favorable reviews to 2014 Toyota Prius because of its unbeatable fuel economy owing to an electric motor alongside the combustion engine. The car made way to my “2014’s Top Picks” list.
Shortly after I reviewed the car on my blog, one fellow from India wrote that soaring gasoline price in his country compelled him to repeatedly switch to electric mode. Nickel-metal hydride batteries were super costly in that country. Also, quality-wise, those batteries don’t stand anywhere near to products from international brands.
Another example. One guy from Milwaukee wrote he likes to own a hybrid car. But he also wanted to purchase a bundled insurance package in which home and auto insurances are clubbed together. The problem for him was discounted insurance existed for hybrid cars, but very few insurance companies allowed home and auto bundle.
Both were niche readers. And both received the same information about hybrid cars. But they had different reasons for visiting my blog. And that’s because of demographic differences between them. Demographic factors like region, gender, age and financial status are key components of niche subtypes. Discovering the subtypes and writing around them allow you to dig deeper into audience’s needs and mine solid insights. Posts drafted this way get good response from readers. The comment section of the blog bears the proof of that.
So, if your blog belongs to a niche area, collect micro-level insights that give you a fair idea of the demographic characteristics of your readers. If you are doing it already, then by now you must have seen its benefits.
In case you are new to this, and wondering how to get hold of your audience’s demographic details, this brings us to our next point.
Harness big data
Big data analytics tools don’t have much of use outside enterprise environment. The tools are used to mine customer data and track history of transactions. Bloggers, on the other hand, round up news and offer tips and “how-to” advice. The two don’t seem to add up.
Most bloggers think along these lines and intentionally keep themselves from exploring big data. That’s a grave mistake. Readers want authentic information from credible sources. Big data insights come from industry-approved sources. When you acknowledge those sources on your blog, your blog’s credibility index goes up. And as human mind tends to associate things that are loosely connected, readers may subconsciously connect your blog to the source of the data, even though no direct connection exists.
Business blogs can reference big data to turn a moot point into a strong argument. They can tinker with big data in several other ways. We know big data aids in pattern detection. How about making pattern detection interactive as though you are doing it live? Even better if it’s a vlog, because then it would be accompanied by audio scripts and visuals. Scouting for a definitive pattern based on small clusters of raw data can be fun. If your writing style is persuasive, you can hold readers for long, they will bear with you and won’t get bored.
All the above are off-key benefits of leveraging big data. The most obvious benefit is understanding your audiences. Big data tools can arm you with relevant insights. From how long your readers stay active on social media to how often they activate ad blockers – big data can disentomb a list of audience details, allowing you to see through microscopic filters and scan your readers in a way you’ve never done before.
I have seen bloggers refusing to venture beyond Google Analytics, WordPress stat plugins and similar other cursory tools. That’s not big data. Big data tools are paid subscription-based. Begin searching for one today. And when you settle for one, register for premium membership.
After overcoming the three shortcomings, my blog received three times more incoming traffic. The same thing may happen to you. Be patient and improve your blog’s look and feel. The tips are hand-picked, and they will bring you better traffic. Only it may take some time. So, don’t lose patience.