The Huffington Post Blog has approximately 110,000,000 unique visitors every month. It is closely followed by Lifehacker and Mashable. How does this happen? How do whole blogs somehow go viral? The answer, of course, is they give their readers what they want. Granted, these are comprehensive blogs – they cover a huge variety of topics, and readers can run keyword searches based upon their interests.
Your blog may be focused on a single industry niche and appeal to a much smaller audience. Still, you want the largest share of that audience you can get. You need to do on your scale what these mammoths do on theirs – give your readers what they want. And here are 10 things they do want.
1. Timely Topics
If your blog is niche-related, then how do you find the topics in which your readers will have the most interest? Well, there are several ways to do this:
- Here’s a concept – ask them. It may be that simple. If you have current readers/followers, run a quick survey and ask. Most people love having input, and you will likely get a fairly good response
- Check out your competitors’ blogs and make a list of the topics that are the most popular.
- Use a tool like Buzzsumo. Type in some keywords related to your niche and see what’s trending right now.
2. A Simple Read
The KISS concept totally applies to blogs. Dump the jargon and large vocabulary; dump the long and complicated sentences. The reading level should be no higher than the 7th grade. No one wants to struggle to understand what you are saying. If you are not sure about the reading level, use a tool like Read-able.com or Grammarly. These will give you reading levels, and some, like Hemmingway Editor will give suggestions about how to simplify.
3. Information/Problem Solutions
Yes, it is all about getting information that is usable.
- When someone has never stained a deck before, they want to know how to do it. A company that sells these products must provide accurate and up-to-date information about how it is done. This might be in the form of a series of explainer videos on the business blog.
- If someone needs to know how to get specific stains out of a carpet, then a cleaning product business will want to provide solutions to those problems on its blog.
- If a content marketer wants to know how to create catchy, intriguing headlines, then a content marketing website needs to have blog posts that help them do this.
Your job is to identify those problems your readers want to be solved and the information they will find useful and choose those for topics.
When Shakespeare wrote his famous tragedies, he always added comic relief – it was something the audience needed after a particularly gruesome scene. This applies to blogs as well. Remember, you are not writing a custom research paper on your topics. And while people are serious about the information they want, they are also human and like humor and entertainment. It doesn’t all have to be dry and humorless. You can write entertaining posts; you can add humor to your posts on serious topics. You can link to a particularly funny post on one of your social media accounts.
Some highly talented bloggers have a knack for adding humorous phrases and asides that make their posts just a great fun read. You should read some of these, as well as blogs focused on humor, and take some lessons.
Entertainment does not necessarily always have to be funny. Using your customers’ stories is another great way to entertain your readers.
5. Places to Dig Deeper or Consolidate
You may write a blog thousand-word post on a topic that is rather complicated. When you do this, do not try to cram in all of that complicated detail. Give your readers a briefer summary and then provide links where they can dig deeper into those sub-topics. This way, you keep your post simple and allow readers to pick and choose those elements about which they want more information. If you write a longer post, give your readers the chance to link to a more consolidated form. Neil Patel of Quick Sprout is great at doing this.
Popular blog posts that get shared usually have homework in them. These are actionable tips that readers can practice and use right away. Give specific action steps; use words such as “try this,” or “here’s what you can do.” This makes the “homework” stand out, and the reader leaves with something to chew on and try himself.
7. Ways to Respond
People tend to want to voice their thoughts and opinions. You must give them a way to do that on your posts. Directly asking them to do this will usually generate more comments in your conversation thread. And you must also respond to their comments lowers and feedback. When readers/followers know that they will be able to engage in conversations, they tend to come back.
No one wants to read a wall of text, even if it is broken up into those sub-headings and bullet points like you know to do. If you can make your point and explain something through any type of visuals or media, always choose that. Statistics show that they engage far more than any other type of content.
9. Perks in Exchange for a Conversion
If you want your readers to subscribe to your blog/newsletter or to provide an email address for some other purpose, give them something valuable – more important information, a discount, a freebie.
10. Emotional Connections
Readers want to feel an emotional connection with you and with what you post. You can inspire them, tell stories about yourself and your team, humor and amaze them. A blog is a place for human connections and relationships, so be human, let them know you as a person as well as an expert.
Over to You
There may be many other things that you do to satisfy the wants and needs of your readers/followers. The important thing is that they come back and that they share you with their communities so that your readership grows.