Transform Your Blog Into a Book Readers Can’t Put Down
What good is your content if people don’t spend time reading it? Goldfish now have longer attention spans than humans (yes, you read that correctly), so attracting and retaining users who actually read your blog posts is an even trickier task.
We worked with a media sales company that needed help refreshing its blog strategy. At most, the company’s marketing team would publish one blog post every couple of months (a big no-no). Needless to say, blog traffic was poor and visitors spent an average of one minute and two seconds on blog pages – well below the two-minute industry benchmark. This is a benchmark you want to remember.
We turned things around and doubled the average session duration of their blog posts after one month with a number of tried-and-true SEO strategies. When target audiences spent more time reading the media sales company’s blog posts, they became more familiar with the brand and its services.
But first: What is average session duration?
Average session duration is the total duration of all sessions, in seconds, divided by the number of sessions, per Google Analytics.
Why should you care about this metric? Average session duration tells you how much time web visitors spend looking at your content. In other words, this metric reveals how relevant and engaging your content is to people visiting your blog posts.
SEO strategies we applied to extend web visitors’ stays
1. Identify target audience and their needs
Knowing your target audience inside and out is essential. It’s the foundation of virtually every marketing strategy. Who are you trying to reach with this particular blog post? What do you want to make them feel or discover? What challenges are they facing, and how can you help them address these pain points?
Answering these questions before you write your blog post will help you determine your topic, keywords, word choice, visuals and more to make it resonate with your readers. They’ll subconsciously know you wrote this blog post specifically for them, and in turn, they’ll reward you by reading it!
2. Optimize Original Visuals
Humans are visual creatures, and statistics show that people process visual data better than words alone. Including original visuals, from photos to infographics to charts, can help your Google search ranking and add more context to your content. Don’t forget to apply proper alt tags and photo sizes and dimensions.
Remember, humans typically see things before they learn to read. Use your instincts!
3. Improve readability
White text on a yellow background? No thanks. Believe it or not, Google takes font size, type, color and background color into consideration when ranking your blog post. It also evaluates grammar and sentence structures to determine readability. Apply these best practices to strengthen your blog post’s readability:
- Shoot for text colors and backgrounds with high contrasts (i.e., black text, light gray background).
- Use sans serif fonts. They’re easier to read.
- Make sure your font size is legible (not too small, not too large).
- Shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier to digest and add more white space to your content, making it less intimidating to read.
4. Include internal links
Internal linking (linking to other pages on your website) is a surefire way to boost average session duration. Internal links direct web visitors to relevant pages on your website, enhancing the user’s navigation experience when searching for more information on related topics.
Not only does internal linking help web visitors find what they’re looking for (or introduce them to information they can’t live without) – it naturally increases the amount of time they spend on your website. It’s a win-win situation!
5. Focus on quality content
Here are my mantras when it comes to crafting quality blog posts people actually want to read:
- Write engaging, thoughtful content. In other words, write something your audience, not a robot, would read based on your research. Sharing anecdotes helps here.
- Make sure your blog post truly relates to your keywords. Forced keywords = lackluster content.
- Provide insightful knowledge to arm your readers with actionable takeaways.
- Be relatable. Be human. Be unique.
Remember, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to provide your target audience with valuable information and enhance their customer journey. Never forget this!
Hundreds of SEO best practices exist. Which ones are most applicable to your content marketing strategy to help you achieve specific business goals? Reach out to me to learn how to harness the power of content marketing and SEO.
Jonathan Ochart is CEO of The Postcard Agency, a creative content and social media marketing agency based in Miami, Florida. He blends his love of writing and data analytics to write powerful blog posts your audience (and search engines) will love.