Tips for optimizing your business blog for conversions
Answer your audience's toughest questions
Work with sales to determine the right topics
Understand the buyer's journey
Develop a content map
Run a topic litmus test
Hook the reader with a powerful introduction
Follow the 'content compass'
Ensure your content passes the 'blink test'
Speak to your readers like they're human
Infuse your text with personality
Use the 80/20 rule
Have relevant links on your page
Sprinkle links throughout your article
Optimize your anchor text's color
Use great anchor text copy
Check the placement of your CTAs
Play with the designs of your CTAs
Use consistent CTA messaging
Use value-oriented copy for your CTAs
Use smart CTAs
You've done your keyword research, you know how and when to use an H2 header, and you’ve remembered to include alt text on your perfectly sized featured photo.
In other words, you’ve optimized your blog to be found by the search engines. Heck, you might even have achieved SEO nirvana: page one.
But there’s still one problem: your articles aren’t showing you the money.
No matter how much SEO optimization we apply to any piece of content, if the articles we write can’t convert those who read them, as writers and content managers, we’re wasting our efforts.
As a content trainer at IMPACT, I work with content managers worldwide and I can definitely declare that no one has time to waste.
While high traffic to a page might be good (and that’s a debate I’d eagerly engage in), a high click-through rate on that page is monumentally better.
Great blog articles drive traffic to your website, provide honest education, build trust with your audience, and pique people’s interest to learn more about your brand. When done right, your visitors are more likely to convert because they trust you.
Below, I’ll give you the tips I share with my clients to help them boost conversions.
If you’re asking these questions:
How do I turn more visitors into leads?
How do I earn a higher click-through rate?
What can I do to optimize my blog for conversions?
This one’s for you. Let’s dive in and start learning!
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Tip 1: Answer your audience's toughest questions
Trust is the true currency of any business. All too often, as marketers, we create content that will cast the widest net possible. We write to own keywords and improve our search rankings.
The reason we do this is because the wider the net we cast, the better our chances at landing the fish we’re really chasing.
But if you’re trying to focus on revenue, there’s a much better way to connect with your audience than simply targeting popular keywords.
Sometimes the answers to these questions are complicated or uncomfortable, but by answering them upfront and not dodging the discomfort, once again, you’re giving your audience a reason to believe you have their best interest in mind.
Tip 2: Work with sales to start with the right topic
Again, SEO doesn’t mean a thing if you’re spending time writing about topics that are of zero use to your buyers.
Make sure you’re writing what matters by talking with your sales team to determine the types of questions your prospects and buyers are asking regularly. Then turn those questions into article topics.
And, yes, you might be thinking, “But if I ask sales for ideas then won’t I just end up with a long list of sales enablement content?”
Sales enablement content is the majority of what you’ll get from your sales team. After all, that’s the sort of content they want: It makes their jobs easier, it helps sell more, and it drives more revenue.
Wait … isn’t making money the ultimate goal of the content you write?
Tip 3: Understand the buyer’s journey
When reviewing your blogs to improve conversions, understand that not all blogs are created equal; some article topics are more likely to convert than others.
At the consideration stage, folks are better versed in what their problem is and what kind of solutions are out there. They are now looking for resources that will help them zero in on the right one. Entice them to convert by offering product/service buying guides, comprehensive ebooks, insightful videos, a webinar, or a pre-recorded demo.
For those at the decision stage, offer to give them a personalized demo, get on a call for a consultation, or even read a guide that explains what it’s like to work with your company.
There are tons of different types of offers you can use to attract visitors to engage with your brand, but always consider where those readers are in their buyer’s journey and what they would most likely convert on at that stage.
Then, to increase conversions, make sure that the offer attached to your blog article (via calls-to-action, buttons, etc.) is the next natural step for the reader.
Tip 4: Develop a content map
One of the best ways to give the people what they want at the right time in their buying journey is to create a content map.
This is where you gather all the great topics you’ve brainstormed and the articles and offers you’ve written around a certain topic and plan a natural path for your buyer to take.
Your first step is to divide your assets into the buyer’s journey stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Then decide what offer (or offers) would move the reader from one stage to the next.
Your content map will show you the gaps you need to fill and the areas where you’ve already made substantial progress.
This will help you add relevant topics to your editorial calendar and determine the right article-CTA pairings when the time comes to publish.
This test consists of four seemingly simple questions that you (or the person who suggested the topic) should be able to answer easily:
Is the topic relevant to your buyers? (Bonus points for being able to pinpoint how the topic is relevant.)
At what stage of the buying process would someone need this information?
What are the exact words the buyer is using to ask for this information?
Is a blog article the best format to relay this information to the buyer?
If you or the subject matter expert (SME) cannot answer these questions, then it’s best to put the topic on hold until you can get a better understanding of its relevance. If weeks or months pass by and this isn’t resolved, then you can most likely cross it off your list.
Tip 6: Hook the reader with a powerful introduction
Most case study intros jump right into the who-what-how without providing the context of what’s to come. A “P-E-P” intro, however, hooks the reader by forming a connection with them. To do this, you’ll follow three simple steps:
Identify the problem: Start by connecting with the reader by showing them you recognize the problem they’re experiencing.
Show your expertise: Then you’ll want to provide the context of the article by telling them who you are and the expertise you have to solve their problem. This provides a level of transparency with the reader, which helps build trust.
Offer a promise: Your intro should make a promise to the reader about what’s to come. This is the space where you’ll preview to your reader what the payoff is for reading through to the end.
Here’s a great writing tool that can help you capture your readers’ attention so that they more fully engage with your writing (and therefore are more apt to click on the relevant links and CTAs you’ll include).
The content compassrelies on four questions that you can ask yourself (or your SME) to more easily set up your writing — and your writing efficiency — for success.
At its core, the content compass reduces your article to the basic questions: who, what, why, and how.
Who is asking the question you’re answering in this article? Who are they and why are they asking this? What’s going on in their lives that they have this question in the first place? What could happen to them if they solve the problem their question relates to? What will happen if their problem goes unsolved?
What do they want to know? There’s usually a handful of questions that follow the main topic. What questions does the reader have that will help them fully understand the answer to their question?
Why are you the best person/company to answer their question? What makes you specifically qualified to be their trusted guide in this process? Do you have a shared background? Does your team have decades of experience? Are you uniquely qualified to answer their questions?
How will you help them? Here’s where the rubber hits the road as you pull your expertise together to provide a helpful answer.
Tip 8: Ensure your content passes the ‘blink test’
One of the best ways to increase conversions on blog articles is to make sure you’re giving people a great reading experience.
You might not realize it, but simple things like how your article is structured and how easy the copy is to read can go a long way toward increasing your conversions. In fact, according to HubSpot, you have 3-5 seconds from the time a visitor lands on your page to convince them to hang around. This is known as “the blink test.”
In the blink test, readers quickly scan your article to determine if they think it will answer their question. They’re looking for visual cues that either get them to scroll back to the top and start reading, or head back to Google to review other results.
If you think of your blog article as a textbook, what are the important chapters and sections?
Your articles need signposts, or in this case headers, that help people quickly see how you plan on tackling the subject at hand. Headers help readers understand the important sections and subsections of your article.
Other visual cues that help readers feel like your content is easily digestible are things that break up long sections of text. In your articles:
Make sure you have short paragraphs and lots of whitespace on the page.
Use bullet points and numbered lists to condense information.
Use bolding to draw attention to key points.
While these formatting elements may not seem like they’d increase conversions and would instead increase dwell time, the longer people stay on your page reading your content, the more likely they are to learn from you and build trust, which in turn, makes them more willing to convert.
Tip 9: Speak to your readers like they’re human
Anyone who works with me knows I spend a lot of time talking about robots versus humans. This isn’t just because I adore Battlestar Galactica (though I do), but because we spend so much time writing for the robots to love our content (by optimizing for SEO) that we can forget we’re actually writing for our fellow humans.
You’ll find that the more you write with a human-first mindset, the SEO layer (especially the coveted keywords) will work their way organically into your writing. That doesn’t mean you should ignore SEO — you absolutely should not. But it also shouldn’t be your only goal.
Write as if you’re sitting across the table from a prospect. Better yet, picture how you’d speak if it turned out a friend were a future customer or client.
Skip the jargon, omit the sales pitch, stop stuffing keywords, and be your (human) self.
Tip 10: Infuse your text with personality
When’s the last time you sat down to research something you were thinking about buying and wished for a dry, textbook-style breakdown of features?
So why would we expect that our audience doesn’t want to read something fun or, at least, personable?
Showing personality can help you stand out in an arena crowded with information written by people who are more than likely still trying to mimic the five-paragraph essay they were taught in middle school.
A big problem a lot of businesses have is that when it comes to answering questions, they always find a way to steer the conversation back toward themselves.
These “articles” they create end up sounding like advertisements or boring sales sheets. That’s because they’re more salesy than they are educational.
If you really want to build trust with your audience, focus on answering their question as honestly and transparently as possible. Think about the buyer, their pain points, and what they really need to hear rather than what you want to tell them.
Sure, you want to tell them all about your brand and all the amazing ways you can help them, and I’m not saying you can’t do that. All I’m saying is focus on education first and save your pitch for later.
Honesty and transparency are the foundation for building trust. When people feel like they can trust you, they’ll want to learn more about you and begin to explore other areas of your website beyond the blog they landed on.
Tip 12: Have relevant links on your page
It seems obvious, but it’s shocking how many blog articles I read don’t have a single link or CTA for the reader to further their journey. While you don’t want to distract from the topic at hand, relevant links can be used to go deeper into a subject and nurture leads so that they are closer to being ready to convert.
Each blog article should answer a specific question on a topic, but it’s really only one piece of the topic pie. If your audience is hungry to learn more, give them what they want and lead them to the other slices of the pie.
Tip 13: Sprinkle links throughout your article
Look for conversion opportunities beyond the big button. It’s far too common to see pages that have tons of links at the beginning of an article, nothing in the middle, and a handful at the end. To increase your chances of people clicking on your links, add them throughout your content.
A great way to further catch your reader’s attention is to provide key, relevant links at the end of paragraphs or sections. This helps further guide the reader and stands out from the rest of the body text.
Tip 14: Optimize your anchor text's color
The anchor text itself can often determine whether someone will click on the link or not.
Choose a color for your anchor text that helps the link pop off the page. There’s a very good reason the anchor text on this page is underlined — it’s hard to miss. Check your own anchor text and see if it’s easy to blow right past as you scroll down your page.
Your anchor text should give clear context as to where your reader will end up if they choose to click. Choose text that is descriptive of what the linking page is about.
You’re not trying to create a surprise for the reader here. If people see your links, but can’t guess what kind of page is on the other side of that link, they’re simply not going to click it.
And remember to use phrases and sentences rather than single-word links to increase visibility and provide context. This is a helpful practice to keep in mind for your visitors who might be visually impaired. Screen reading software that jumps to links won’t provide much help if the anchor text is simply “Click here.”
Tip 16: Check the placement of your calls-to-action (CTA)
Links are meant to drive people to other pages of your site. The idea behind keeping people reading your content is to build enough trust with them that they feel compelled to connect with you.
But left to their own devices, that could take quite a while, and they might wait until near the end of their buyer’s journey.
To get them to take you up on these offers, you need great calls-to-action, but what are some CTA best practices to follow?
First, you need at least one CTA per blog article. If you don’t have any CTAs on your page, how do you hope to convert people immediately after they read your content?
If you’re only going to use a single CTA, it’s often best to place it at the end of the article. People are most likely to make a decision on what to do next after consuming the content; however, it’s often better to have more than one CTA on the page, especially if your content is particularly long.
You can place a relevant CTA at the halfway point of the article, or split the article up into thirds and have three CTAs on the page.
If your blog has a sidebar, you may want to include CTAs and/or forms in the sidebar as well.
Tip 17: Play with the designs of your CTAs
CTAs can come in many shapes and sizes.
The most common CTAs are buttons. These often are small rectangular or pill-shaped boxes with some actionable text on them.
Image CTAs set themselves apart a bit more as they’re more visually striking and often take up more space. They contain more helpful text, but often still include the traditional CTA button within them (so as to not be confused with a regular image).
To really up your game, try using video CTAs. They are similar to image CTAs, but instead of a static image, you can use a looping gif, which can draw more eyes with their movement and also provide even more context into what the offer is.
Tip 18: Use consistent messaging with your CTAs
Your CTA copy should give clear and accurate context about your offer. In other words, the messaging around your offer — what it is, how you get it, and what its value is — needs to be consistent.
One of the biggest killers of conversions is when people click on a CTA after seeing certain promises, but your landing page doesn’t match their expectations.
Be very clear and consistent about what your offer is to avoid any confusion when people arrive on your landing page. I’ve seen many times where marketers may twist what their offer really is in order to get people to click through, only to lose them once they’re on the landing page.
Even if your intentions are good, when the CTA leads to a landing page that doesn’t match exactly, visitors first become suspicious and then turn to someone else’s website.
I don’t want that for you.
A clear CTA leading directly to its relevant landing page is a match made in marketing perfection.
Tip 19: Use value-oriented copy for your CTAs
It’s amazing how powerful verbs are for getting your readers to take action. Improve your CTA clicks by using strong, actionable verbs that emphasize the value being received.
It’s also worth noting that people are more likely to do what you ask them to do than they are to guess at what you want them to do. That’s why strong language is your go-to when writing a CTA.
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Create an account
Book a demo
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All of these phrases use strong verbs to tell you exactly what to do, but also focus on what you’ll be getting, not losing.
Tip 20: Use smart CTAs
Smart CTAs are incredibly powerful for converting more leads. It doesn’t make sense to show everybody the same CTA because not everyone who lands on your article will necessarily be at the same stage of the buyer’s journey, performing the same role in their organization. The same offer may not be of use to them.
Knowing this, you can change the CTA that is shown to them based on what you know about them. Create custom CTAs in HubSpot based on things like their location, the device type they’re on, what source they came from, any contact list they’re already part of, etc.
By using smart CTAs, you’re creating a more targeted experience for specific types of prospects, and by doing so, you increase the chances of converting them into leads.
Use conversion optimization to take your articles to the next level
By now, you’ve learned that SEO, while crucial, isn’t going to save the day when it comes to converting your audience. But you’re also savvy enough to know that the work ahead will equate to dollars if you convert your traffic in the right way.
With 20 conversion optimization tips to choose from, it will take some sleuthing to determine which will work for your high-traffic, low-converting articles. As you look at your blogs, audit the following:
Do you have the right topic? (Tips 1-5)
Is your article compelling enough to keep the reader engaged through to the end? (Tips 6-11)
Do they have a natural next step to take once they’re done reading? (Tips 12-15)
Is it clear where you want them to go next? (Tips 16-20)
Use these tips to reach your audience, keep them engaged, and entice them to convert.
And remember, there’s always room to improve. Even the best blogs can be better, so keep your eyes open as you make your own purchases on the internet. What designs prompt you to click? What topics keep you on a page? What blog layout is more engaging for you?
When we adopt this mindset, we’re always striving to make our site better for our readers — which is the surest way to bring in more leads.