With all the countless millions of blogs and bloggers battling for eyeballs out there in cyberspace, just how DO you make your blog stand out from the crowd?
If you’re just serving up bland and boring content on your blog you can’t hope to succeed in the long run however much time you spend Tweeting and Facebooking and Pinning (not that you should neglect Social Media – far from it!)
And writing great content is only part of the battle – how you present it is also extremely important if you want your readers to keep coming back for more.
But don’t be discouraged – just remember that every successful blogger out there started with one post and zero traffic; if they can do it so can you!
And don’t forget – there may be a lot more blogs around today but there’s also far more resources for learning to blog properly than there were even just a few years ago. So if you’re prepared to put in some effort to learn you can take full advantage – it’s not rocket science after all!
1. Use Great Headlines
All bloggers want their posts to be read, but what is it that draws people to their writing in the first place?
Obviously a catchy, clickable, shareable headline!
And with many studies showing that 80% of people will read the headline while only 20% actually read the content, you’d better make sure it’s a good one.
What’s the point of spending long hours laboring over the content of your post, if people are only going to ignore it because you couldn’t be bothered to spend the time to give it an eye-catching title?
A great title will help to ‘sell’ the content of your post for you, since it’s what people will see most clearly on social media, email and search engines.
For much more on writing headlines along with many inspiring examples see this post.
2. Have A Professional Looking Design
With millions of other competing blogs out there your blog design needs to look professional if you want to stand out from the crowd. This includes things such as:
- Use a consistent color scheme throughout
- Make use of White Space
- Use a large readable font (12 pixels may be fine for books, but closer to 16 pixels is much better for blogs
- Keep the line width fairly short (it’s normally recommended to be no more than 80 characters for scanability reasons)
- Incorporate headers and sub-headers
- Keep paragraphs short (two to three sentences maximum – avoid the dreaded ‘Wall of Text‘!
- Use images (and videos where appropriate, which also help to improve your Bounce Rate)
- Create a unique logo
- Careful proofreading
3. Focus On One Particular Niche
If you want to stand out from the blogging crowd, you’ll have to “go deep, rather than wide.”
In other words, find one topic you can excel in blogging about and focus on beating out everybody else who blogs about it.
Consider Traffic Generation Cafe for instance, which focusses on blogging about generating traffic for websites. After many years Ana Hoffman and her team still manage to punch out the social media traffic generation posts every week, and their audience continues to grow and keep returning for more.
This is due to their niche strategy, where Traffic Generation Café are now seen as reliable and reputable experts.
If you’re not already an expert in your chosen niche, focus on learning as much as you can from the successful bloggers on the topic, without directly copying them of course.
Don’t worry that you’re shutting yourself off from other options by just focussing on one – just remember it’s not forever and you can always come back to those other options later if your first choice doesn’t work out as you’d hoped.
4. Graphics And Video – Add Bling To Your Blog!
It also adds to the ‘readability’ factor that’s so important for both SEO and to keep eyeballs on your site for longer.
Most blogging experts recommend that you add plentiful amounts of graphics and video (a minimum of at least one graphic at the start of the post) and it definitely helps with the average time spent per page view.
Videos are particularly useful for this, especially the longer ones for obvious reasons (so long as they’re interesting and relevant of course!)
To embed a Youtube video, click ‘SHARE’ under the video, then ‘EMBED’ on the popup. Then copy and paste all text within the <iframe and /iframe> brackets into the ‘Text’ box of your post.
You can change the numbers in ‘width’ and ‘height’ for a better fit in your post – I usually change width to 615 and height to 345, as in this (interesting and relevant) video by Neil Patel:
5. Include Social Sharing Buttons
The simpler you make it for people to share your content with their social media network, the more likely they are to do so.
There are many different plugins available that make it easy to provide some colorful buttons for sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ etc on your blog pages.
Make sure you position them where they’re obvious and easily found – if they’re tiny or hiding down the bottom of the page then they’re much less likely to be used.
On this blog for instance I’ve installed the Social Warfare plugin and set it to display the buttons at the top and bottom of each post.
They also show how many times each post has been shared to each site (apart from Twitter which has removed their count, though there are apparently ways to get it if you desire.)
6. Update Regularly
Writing blog posts on a regular basis can be difficult, especially if you’re not a fluent, practised writer.
Most studies generally show that the more often you can post (while still maintaining good quality) the better you’ll do in terms of both SEO and traffic.
However most experienced and successful bloggers usually recommend that you try to post at least 2-3 times per week, though some claim success with only posting a lengthy (at least 2500 words) quality post on a weekly basis.
Outsourcing at least some of your content creation is an excellent option for many, as well as being frequently recommended by successful bloggers.
I’ve previously written an article about my own experience hiring freelance writers online.
The most important thing though is to be consistent with your publishing schedule, so your regular readers come to know what to expect.
7. Include a ‘Related Posts’ plugin
When a reader reaches the end of one of your posts and sees nothing more of interest to click on then they’ll usually just leave your website.
This is where a good ‘related posts’ plugin is useful, displaying an assortment of posts relevant to the one just read to encourage them to stay on your site (see the bottom of this post for an example.)
This also adds to the ‘stickiness’ of your website, making for longer average browsing time, lower bounce rates and more page views.
The related posts plugin I use on this website is Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP), which as it’s name implies bases it’s post choices on the content of the title as well as the post text.
I’ve tried several plugins over time and currently prefer this one over the pack.
You have a choice of ‘List’or ‘Thumbnails’ view – currently I’m using List view so as to maximize my page loading speeds, which of course are important for bounce rate as well as being one of the SEO metrics that Google utilizes.
8. Select A Great Hosting Service
In my reading of site hosting reviews I’ve noticed that a lot of new bloggers are being misled due to reviews by affiliates with dollar signs in their eyes.
First of all I should mention that if you’re even remotely considering monetizing your site at some future date, you should be self-hosted (as opposed to using a free website.)
For more information on self-hosting and why you should be using it see this post.
One hosting company in particular, BlueHost, is constantly being complained about in regards to poor service and “slow as molasses” site speeds.
So why are so many reviews praising it to the skies? Simple – they’re offering the highest affiliate fees, so be warned – those reviewers don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart.
After much research (including consulting with successful, experienced bloggers) I chose SiteGround for this, my latest website and have had excellent client service (including a great ‘Live Chat’ feature) and fast loading speeds thus far.
The only review for a hosting company I’ve written is for SiteGround – I’m not interested in reviewing inferior services.
9. Create Unique Content
Unless you’re referring to cutting edge research, the statement, “There’s nothing new under the sun” is very much the truth on the internet today.
However you should certainly try your best to give your own unique take or angle on the topic you’re discussing if you want your post to stand out from the crowd.
Failing that, a popular choice of bloggers is to curate a list of useful or interesting articles pertaining to a topic, otherwise known as a ‘link roundup’ or ‘best of the web’.
The majority of blog readers don’t have the time or inclination to search through dozens of sites and articles themselves, so such articles can be a very useful service and can even ‘go viral’ if done well.
10. Select A Great Theme
If you’re using WordPress as recommended by most experienced bloggers, they have a full library of themes to choose from, either for free or a small fee.
I personally use Genesis Framework and Child Theme from StudioPress on this blog.
Genesis is optimized for mobile platforms and SEO, is well coded and supported, is more secure from hacker attacks, and you can update to new versions of WordPress without losing your customizations.
Most themes aren’t easy to edit and that’s where page builders come in handy.
Page builders are plugins that work on top of any theme and allow you to build and customize your layout with a simple drag and drop interface – no need for coding. Some recommended ones are:
Do you have anything to add to the above to make your blog stand out from the crowd? Let me know in the comments.
FREE PDF: 'How to Write Great Headlines That Get More Blog Traffic'
Enter Email For Instant Access!