A website’s content marketing strategy is only as good as its ability to fill up its blog with meaningful posts that gain the trust and attention of its prospects. While a lot of website owners understand that blogging is an important part of doing good online business, not many of us really know what it takes to run a blog that actually draws traffic and converts visitors into legitimate prospects.
Ask yourself: why do some blogs have rabid followers that consume its content every time it puts up a post, while others continually publish material that barely even gets read? Why do some blogs that post twice a week outperform blogs that post several times a day?
The secret sauce is called authority, cuzin. If you show your readers that you know what you’re talking about, there’s no way that folks in your niche can ignore your existence and not acknowledge you as a source of legit information.
In the past, I’ve taught you how to get recognized as an authority by moving the free line. Giving away free stuff helps you validate yourself as a figure of knowledge in your line of business. In this post, however, we’ll discuss how to supplement that authority by making your blog posts more compelling and more credible. Writing content that impresses people and lets them know you’re not just pulling stuff out of you-know-what allows you to gain their respect with everything you put up, softening up your target customers for the day you eventually pitch an offer. Here we go:
1. Cite your sources – Let’s face it: as good as we are in our own lines of business, we didn’t invent all the knowledge that we talk about in our blogs. What we know is a combination of stuff we discovered for ourselves and things we learned from other people. Therefore, when sharing something that you learned from someone else, don’t forget to give credit to the source. If you’re sharing some hot news, some research data or even some simple words of wisdom, don’t claim anything that you personally didn’t come up with for yourself. If the source of the awesome information is an authority in his field, there’s no shame in citing him for his work.
I’ve heard some misguided ideas from people who think that they actually give credibility up by giving credit to sources. That’s just not true. Citing credible sources lets people know that you’re in the know about the latest buzz in your industry. It also makes you look bigger as a person and as a writer because people know that you aren’t making it a habit to infringe on other people’s intellectual property.
2. Make historical references – Contrary to popular belief, understanding history and letting people know about it doesn’t really mean that you’re old: it just means that you’re wiser and you have a better perspective on a subject because you know what’s been going on right from the start.
When writing a post, especially if it’s a piece that analyzes a current issue, be sure to research how the whole thing started out before giving it your take. It’s always easy to jump in with a head full of steam and just let loose on what you think based on what you see, but better bloggers understand that they have to know everything about a situation so they can deliver the most educated opinions possible. Always check your facts and make an effort to understand why things are the way they are. If you have a good grasp on the history of your topic, you’re bound to deliver richer ideas and stronger arguments.
Historical references also make “how-to” articles that much better. If you can share with your readers how a certain process of doing something was conceived and how it evolved over time, you’ll give them a better sense of appreciation in what you’re teaching them. Bottom line, give your posts a solid foundation by getting a clear historical background of the matter at hand.
3. Share test results – If you’ve been doing your Internet marketing homework like you should, you probably have a treasure trove of information from past campaigns that are guiding your business optimization practices. Information from surveys, split tests, multivariate tests, SEO campaigns, PPC campaigns, analytics and other sources of stats can be leveraged for the creation of great content.
If your data is non-confidential and it won’t compromise any of your business interests, I don’t see why you shouldn’t share it with people in your niche. Their interests and yours should be similar in a lot of ways, which means you’re giving away instant value to them. This creates a sense on the part of your customers that you may publish even more data in the future and they should keep coming back to your blog to find more useful information in future posts.
4. Use Visual Aids – You may fancy yourself a great writer, but if you pile up enough walls of text on top of even more walls of text, your potential readers will leave your pages even before they get started reading.
There’s no getting around it: pure text is boring to look at and a chore to read. Breakup text walls by using images that give your readers a better ability to get some visual clues on what you’re talking about helps alleviate this effect. Without pictures, a blog post leaves everything to the imagination of the reader and people can have a very diverse set of interpretations of what you’re blogging about. Make sure the message is made clear and nothing is left to the imagination by supplementing your articles with relevant pictures.
Visual aids are not exclusive to images. Charts, graphs and diagrams add a lot of authority to your blog posts. Even if you’re illustrating simple data, using graphs and charts makes your blog posts look smarter because they’ll project a very scientific and analytical aura. In one glance, a reader can see your graphs and figure out that your blog post has the data to back up what you’re trying to say, galvanizing trust and credibility in the process.
5. Cite case studies – For proving points that can’t be measured by sheer data, you can cite case studies that either you or someone else performed in the past. Case studies provide nice qualitative material that you can leverage to strengthen whatever arguments and claims you want to make. Just make sure that you put the case studies in the right context and that you’ve done some serious fact checking before you start citing them.
6. Use social proof – Social proof is a psychological concept that explains why people usually assume that the action of others is the correct one. Essentially, people have the tendency to think that being different isn’t a good thing and that blending in with the crowd is the much safer choice.
Everyday examples include kids wanting to be in tune with the latest clothing trends and assuming that a product is good just because reviewers tell you that it is even if you haven’t tested it for yourself. In blogging, social proof is an effective tool if you’re writing posts that seek to persuade readers to favor an idea that you’re raising.
If I’m writing a blog post trying to persuade people that stealing office supplies is fine, I’d probably research a stat that says something like “82% of all American adults working desk jobs have admitted that they’ve taken home office property at least once in their careers.” If you were reading that and if you ever really wanted your office stapler badly, you’d probably go “hey, since everyone is doing it, I might as well do the same. It looks like a normal thing to do.”
While I don’t suggest using social proof for persuading people to do things that will get them in trouble, I’m sure you get the idea and you can use it your blogging advantage.
7. Use trackbacks – Trackback links allow you and your readers to see who’s been linking to your blog posts. If a popular and respected site does this, readers will get an actual dose of social proof that they should be reading your site even more. After all, if other blogs are linking to you, why shouldn’t the average reader treat you like a credible information source?
Just make sure to set trackbacks as automatic nofolow links. There are a lot of link spammers who’ll plant links on your site to try and siphon its link juice for their own SEO gain.
Alright, that’s it for blogging tips that will help you make your articles more authoritative than they already are. Remember next time you blog that articles aren’t just about the content you put in: it’s also about how you present your case that makes people really dig in. practice these techniques and I’m sure you’ll look like an even more respected authority in your niche every time you post.
Andy “Respect My Authori-tah” Jenkins