Sweet friend, I see you over there right now, reading the literary masterpiece that is this all-important internet blog post.
WAIT! Not literally, y’all. Nobody call the police. We're just working with a metaphor, here!
As I write this, I imagine you curled up on your couch in a luxurious silk bathrobe. You’re under the world’s coziest of blankets, glass of wine in hand, hanging onto my every word as you devote your best relaxation time to this very important, life-changing, New York Times bestseller list worthy blog post.
Did I get that right?
Ha! Seriously, friend, if what I just described sounded accurate to you—can you send me an email right now and invite me over for dinner? Maybe share your productivity, time management, and general life tips? Could we instigate a little trade, Freaky Friday style?
Let's be real, y'all. What I just described is nobody's life—particularly not if you're balancing blogging and business ownership with a 9-5 day job, the demands of raising young kiddos, or both.
In reality, for most of us—and most content readers in general—our Internet scrolling, blog reading time looks more like this.
According to HubSpot's research, the average Internet reader spends under 30 seconds per page on a piece of blog post content.
Half of you bounced away from this post within the first 10 seconds of being here, meaning almost none of you are actually reading this copy.
Seriously. I could say anything!
I can say that I danced with a unicorn before breakfast, and most of you will never know!
So, for those of us actually doing the writing of blog or email newsletter content that we hope will inform, entertain, and even persuade our readers to make a purchase—shouldn't we start writing and formatting content in a way that's actually consumable for our audience?
Here are five ways you can improve the structure of your business or personal blogs to add more value for your audience and ultimately improve lead generation for your brand:
Tell Your Story In Subheads
See that big, fat, bright pink line of text right above this one?
That, my friends, is a subheadline—sometimes called a subheading, or subhead for short. If you're not already using these in your online content, they should become your new best friend.
Not only do subheads help to lead your reader's eye down the page—showing them where to look next so their eyes never glaze over—but filling these subheads with great keywords related to your brand is the world's easiest way to give yourself a big ‘ole Google boost.
My personal rule of thumb is to include a subhead at least once every 200 words—and often more—to minimize those walls of text and keep my readers moving down the page.
Oh, look! Here comes another one!
Keep Blog Paragraphs Short And Sweet
If you were paying attention in ninth grade English, you probably learned to write paragraphs that were about six to eight sentences long. You had a topic sentence, 3-5 sentences of supporting evidence or commentary, and a conclusion that restated your topic sentence.
Am I the only one who got drilled with the hamburger paragraph?
However, while that formula is great for academic writing—there are different factors to consider when half of your readers are tuning in from a 5" smartphone while standing in the grocery store line.
In that scenario, six sentences becomes a never-ending wall of text.
For best results when blogging, limit paragraphs to two or three sentences maximum.
Not sure how your own blog stands up in this arena? Grab your smart phone, navigate to your latest blog post, and start scrolling. If at any point you see your entire screen filled with body sized copy? Your paragraphs are Too. Long.
Repeat the Important Things
I said, "Repeat the important things!”
As my favorite sweet Sunday school teacher likes to say about the Good Book, "the repeated things are the important things, and the important things are the repeated things."
And as it turns out, that advice doesn't only apply to the New Testament.
Remember that the majority of your blog readers are doing a whole lot of scrolling—so they’re NOT catching every word you say. It's not only okay, but critical, that you repeat the key message you want your audience to take away.
I'm not saying to copy and paste exact paragraphs or sentences, but don't be afraid to restate your key message over and over again in different ways.
In case you missed it, in this blog post the key message is to make your copy more user friendly for busy Internet readers—so you're going to hear me restate some version of that idea over and over and over again.
It's in here 12 times, in fact. (Wanna count, Where’s Waldo style?)
Of those twelve restatements—if I'm lucky—half of you who clicked on this post will notice it at least three times.
Yep. It’s still true! No one is reading this blog.
And I’m okay with that.
As the writer, when you're so intimately tuned into your content, it's easy to feel like a broken record. But I promise that your average reader doesn't feel the same way.
Keep it interesting, then keep right on repeating, my imaginary, still-reading friend!
Include a Clear Call to Action
What do you want your reader to do as a result of the content you're sharing?
Or, to put that another way,
Why are you writing this blog?
If you're a business owner, you might be looking to build your email list. In that case, share a content upgrade at the end of your post, and make it clear where you want your readers to click in order to exchange their email for that information.
Maybe you want to lead them down the rabbit hole to more content—particularly if you're relying on page view advertising—or to visit your product shop or services page.
The last line of your blog content shouldn't feel like a skeezy infomercial, but it should tell your reader what to do next.
Give your reader a clear and immediate action step, make it stand out with bolded text or formatting and, wherever possible, make it a step that adds value for the reader while also bringing them to another level of interaction with your brand.
Even if your action step in a given blog has nothing to do with generating leads or making a sale, slowly training your readers to take action at the end of your piece of content will set the stage for when you are ready to turn that “jab, jab, jab” into a right hook.
Follow a Consistent Blog Post Structure
So, to recap… So far I’ve told you that nobody (not even the people who click through or who even share your posts) is actually reading your blog content—and that you’ve been formatting your blogs totally wrong for the search engine bots (i.e. the only ones actually paying attention)!
But wait! Before you decide to declare me the official Debbie Downer of business blogging, there’s good news I want to share.
Because those Google bots ultimately make a big difference in your bottom line. And if you can dust off yourself off, update your content process, and follow a set blog writing structure that implements these best practices, you’re going to get results even better than improved readership and higher rates of lead generation.
Working from a standardized writing formula will actually make your marketing content faster and easier to write. As in, like, TWICE as fast.
And once you have a clear blog writing skeleton or formula to work from, you can start to outline posts in your head and assemble copy in little bits at a time, meaning you never have to stare at a blinking cursor on a blank page again.
You read me right, y’all!
HALF the writing time.
Sounds like a plan. Am I right?
To make this crazy easy for you, I've assembled a ready-to-go, templated worksheet for every blog post you'll ever write. So, sign up below, print this baby off, and get to writing, friends! You've got a business to build, knowledge to share, and the world needs to hear your story.