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Writing Strategic Content to Increase Engagement and Traffic

Do you have a system for choosing what you write about? If you are anything like me when I started blogging, you probably just write whatever comes to mind. I know this is what I did. I had a list of post titles (I still do) about future posts that I wanted to write about. Whenever a topic came to me, I’d take 30 seconds and add it to the list if I didn’t have the time to write the post out. This saved me a lot of headache when trying to write something at the last minute.

Lately, though I have been re-thinking this system. While it saves me time when it comes to the writing process, it costs me engagement and traffic in the long run because it fails to consider the reader. If you want to increase your traffic and engagement, you NEED to consider your reader. Making it interesting and relevant as well as timely can make a HUGE difference for the success of your blog. While I am still learning how to do this successfully, I have come to understand key principles for success.

strategic content

Is it Valuable for Your Readers? Does it Help Them?

After defining who your target audience is, the first thing you need to do is to determine whether it is valuable for your readers. Would the people you are writing for find this worth their time to read. Does it help solve a problem that they may have? These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself.

For a long while, I was writing stuff on 20’s Finances about anything and everything. I wanted to keep it personal, so I would share experiences from my life that could apply. Sometimes I took it to the extreme, one time even noting how an ATM fee actually saved me money. I thought it would be a fun, catchy title that would spark interest. What I failed to consider is that I wasn’t offering anything valuable. Back to the drawing boards…

After brainstorming about my site’s focus, I realized that I wanted to help college graduates with the many challenges that they face following college. This included getting their first job, finding a place to live, budgeting, investing, etc. All of the things that most of us who have been doing it for a few years (or decades) wanted to have at our fingertips. I started re-focusing my energy on providing material that would give the readers something. Not just share my experience, but HELP my readers.

Is it Interesting? Does it Catch the Reader’s Attention?

The next obstacle that I had to overcome was balancing the informational pieces with keeping it interesting. I am a personal finance BLOG, not a news site or government site. This is supposed to be a place where insight is shared FROM my personal experience. The simple fact is that if you don’t keep it interesting, no one will read it. While people may want information when they are ‘googling’ something, you’re only chance of getting them to stay on your site is to keep it interesting. How do you do that? Well, here’s a few tips on how to keep your readers interested:

  • Catchy Titles – That’s right, titles aren’t just for search engines. They are also for your readers. People are busy enough in their days and have hundreds of other things on the internet telling them that they should come to another site. You have to catch their attention early. This is best accomplished with a catchy title. It’s most likely something unique or counter-intuitive that will do the trick.
  • Pictures – I used to think pictures were unnecessary. The more I learn, the more I know how important pictures are. I now make sure to include a picture in almost all of my posts. This helps you keep the reader’s attention while also providing a picture that can be pinned on pinterest.
  • Controversy – Have you ever heard the saying, “Bad press is good press”? Well, this applies here too. Sometimes, it is worth putting your neck on the line by jumping into a controversy. People love to tell you how you are wrong or why their position is correct. Why not give them a space to do that?

Is it Timely? Is There a Relevant Topic that Increases Interest?

Another key trait to writing strategic content in order to drive traffic is to write content related to popular events. I recently wrote about the cost of an iPhone 5. I was completely surprised about how much traffic I got in such a short period of time. It turns out that people were just waiting to discuss this topic and share it on twitter and other social media sites. I even had lots of other blogs linking to me because I was one of the first to bring this topic up.

The truth is that there is a lot of seasonal interest. People want new stuff to read that relates to their lives. A popular topic over the next month will be the upcoming presidential election and politics. While I tend to stay out of political debates, it sure does provide for an easy connection to popular media. When you are planning out your content, think of related topics that can drive discussion and traffic to your site. What Holidays will people be celebrating or planning their spending around?

Thinking about Traffic Differently

Too many people think about increasing their traffic in terms of optimizing SEO on their page, increasing backlinks, and cheating the system. I know all about this. I spent months trying to learn as much information on SEO as I could. Now that I have given up that never-ending pursuit, I not only have a lot less stress, but I am focusing on what is important: readers’ engagement. If you focus on your readers and developing a community around your site, it will grow so much faster. It will allow your readers to do all of the marketing for you (sharing, pinning, tweeting, linking to your post, etc.) and keep you focused on what is most important: valuable, interesting content.

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2 Responses to Writing Strategic Content to Increase Engagement and Traffic

  1. Great article with some interesting points. I definitely need to consider the reader a bit more, but more importantly I need to learn more about my readers first.

  2. I need to develop more readers to determine what they want to read and determine content to attract readers. Chicken or the egg?