Editors Note: What follows is a specific process for finding good blog posts and making them great. If you’ve been writing a blog for more than six months or so, this process is a better use of your time than writing another article.
Some blog posts are better than others.
They sound better, rank higher, and convert more visitors than the other posts. They jump out in your Analytics. You know which ones they are.
But what about the posts that are on the edge of greatness? They could do more, but something is holding them back.
They’re almost awesome. They just need a little help.
It’s easier and faster than writing and promoting a new post. It’s also a more certain way of getting results, since your next post might stink.
Two kinds of posts have the highest potential:
- Almost awesome at getting traffic
- Almost awesome at getting conversions
It’s almost a traffic magnet
You likely have blog posts (and web pages) that are ranking in the first or second position …on page two.
That’s not all bad. The top of page two is almost the bottom of page one. A few simple changes might improve your rank a bit and improve your traffic a lot.
Like aces in blackjack, it’s good to find 1s and 11s in your Analytics. (That’s why I call it Keyword Design Blackjack). Here’s how to find those posts with almost-awesome rankings:
1. Go to Analytics and set the date range for at least a year.
2. Go to Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries.
3. Sort by Average Position (rank).
4. Set an Advanced Filter so you only see queries that have a rank of more than 10.
Now you’re looking at a list of phrases. You rank at the top of page two for these. Filter out the brand phrases (your company name), and start scrolling through. You should recognize the ones related to blog posts.
Search for them in Google to confirm which posts they are and the general rank for each. You’ll soon have a list of posts that are on the edge of SEO greatness. Now, let’s make them rank higher.
These posts probably never got much SEO attention. Maybe you never did real keyword research. But it doesn’t matter now, because Analytics just gave you your target phrase. You can just go back and edit the post for it using these best practices for on-page SEO:
1. Make sure the keyword appears in the beginning of the page title.
2. Make sure the keyword appears at least once in the H1 (header) tag.
3. Make sure the keyword appears at four to six times in the body text if possible.
4. Make sure there are at least a few links on other pages with the keyword in the links
The first three recommendations are fairly straightforward but let me explain #4 a bit further.
In SEO, we call this cross-linking and it is best illustrated by example.
In the example, we could link the term social proof examples from this post to the post that is ranking on page two. Linking to that article with those keywords will funnel more relevance for the term ‘social proof examples’ to that page. See what I did there?
Don’t try too hard. If it feels like keyword stuffing, don’t do it. You just want to indicate the relevance for the phrase a bit more. The post will be less awesome if you compromise too much for the sake of search traffic.
It’s almost a conversion machine
The other kind of near-awesome posts are those that turn visitors into leads and subscribers, but they don’t get many visitors. Here’s how to find those hidden gems and put them on display.
Russ Henneberry once showed us how to find which posts have the highest conversion rate. We want to do the same thing here. Here’s where to look:
1. Go to Analytics and give yourself at least a year of data.
2. Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Funnel Path.
3. Filter this report so only blog posts appear.
4. Sort by Goal Completions.
You could set a filter to include only pages that are, for example, in the /blog/ directory
Now you can see which of your posts convert the most visitors. But the real test is the conversion rate, not the total conversions. To find this, roll up your sleeves and export this report to Excel.
Next, look up the total page views for these posts under Content > Site Content > All Pages, and filter so only the blog posts appear.
Enter this data into another column in the spreadsheet. Divide the total conversions column by the pageviews column and you’ve got your conversion rate for each post. Anything above 1% is considered awesome.
Surprised? Did you find a few older, almost-awesome posts that visitors love? Already thinking about ways to drive more traffic to these? Good.
If you’re not sure how, try these ideas:
1. Go back to older posts that still get traffic and add a link.
2. Write new posts on similar topics and add a link.
3. Write a roundup of your top posts. Put this one at the top.
4. Share it again: Twitter, FB, G+, and LinkedIn.
5. Add it to your email signature.
6. Put it in your home page slideshow.
7. Use that $100 Google Adwords promotion in your desk drawer to buy some traffic with PPC.
Also Awesome: Increasing Quality
Since you’re already working on these posts, look for other ways to make them better for readers. Give them an upgrade.
- If it didn’t have an image, add one. If it did but the image wasn’t great, find a better one.
- If it didn’t have a strong call to action, add one. If it did but it wasn’t compelling, try another one.
- If it was longer than necessary, edit it down.
- If it didn’t have examples, add them.
- If text wasn’t formatted for easy scanning, add headers, bolding, and bullets. Shorten paragraphs and sentences.
- If it included options, but they were weak, strengthen them. Remove language such as “it would seem to me,” “in my opinion,” “sometimes,” and “maybe.”
All great posts meet certain blogging criteria. When it’s all said and done, this is the root of awesomeness.
More Traffic + More Conversions = Awesome
This process takes time — it’s worth it. Once you’re done, set an annotation for today in Google Analytics: “Awesome Day.”
Last step: add a reminder on your calendar to do this again in six months: “Increase Awesomeness.”