- Optimizing your content for search results requires search intent.
- Understanding search intent will help you generate effective content.
- Target search intent by examining high ranking search results.
- How-to and listicles are the most shared blog post ideas.
- Focusing on key on-page SEO elements drives higher search visibility.
When it comes to blog posts, not all content formats are created equal.
What’s more, with more than 500 million blogs out there all vying for attention, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out amidst the noise.
For a blog to be successful these days, it takes more than just shareable images or enticing headlines. While these elements are undoubtedly important, writing blog posts that attract the right kind of reader requires careful ideation, optimization, and outreach.
Fortunately, SEO content is not rocket science. Whether you’re struggling with content ideas or looking to monetize your ideas better, below are the seven most popular types of posts that will help your blog gain better traction and drive traffic to your site.
Why understanding search intent matters
Before I identify the blog post types already proven to deliver results, we must first talk about search intent. If you don’t know what search intent is, search intent is the why behind a specific search.
Each type of search falls into one (or several) intention types:
1. Informational intent
The search user wants to learn something. While this type of search typically includes words like “how-to,” “what is,” or “who,” not all informational searches are posed as questions (for example, JFK International Airport directions).
2. Navigational intent
The search user wants to visit a specific site. People would rather ask a search engine than type the full web address in the URL bar because they may be unsure of the exact website. Examples include “Facebook” or “WestIn contact number.”
3. Transactional intent
The search user wants to purchase something. A transactional intent typically means the search user is wallet-ready. They’re merely looking for a website to make a purchase. Typical search queries include “buy iPhone 12,” “spa package,” and “MacBook air cheap.”
4. Commercial investigation
The search user has the intention to buy but is still at the research stage. People performing these types of searches require more information about the product or service that they have an interest in buying.
They search for terms like “top restaurant in New York” or “best android phone” to compare a specific product or service.
By understanding the specific intent behind a search, you can optimize your blog post for the right search terms. And when the correct type of searcher finds your content, your blog can generate relevant and targeted traffic.
How to target search intent with your blog
With Google’s perpetual goal focused on providing the most relevant information for a search query, aligning your content with your audience’s search intent allows your blog to rank high for relevant search results.
For SEO success, relevance is a core tenet not to be overlooked.
So how can you infer search intent and create content that drives significant traffic potential?
The answer lies in the search query itself.
Let’s look at the search term “how to bake a cake,” for example. For those keywords alone, it may appear like the search has informational intent. But, don’t just guess search intent. A quick way to confirm the specific intent of a search is by performing a Google search.
By inputting your keywords into Google’s search, which in this case is “how to bake a cake,” it’s clear from the results that users are looking for cake recipe ideas and baking guides. To rank competitively high for this type of search intent, you should focus your content around a how-to post or a list article.
Now that we have a better grasp of search intent and its role in content creation, let’s look at the most popular blog post ideas that you can use today to start producing high-quality content.
Seven blog post ideas that deliver valuable, engaging content
Ready to put virtual pen to paper? Take the guesswork out of content ideation with these top-ranked content ideas.
1. How-tos and tutorials
With 80% of all Google searches being informational, how-to and tutorial posts are a staple for any blog, no matter your niche or industry. Since the goal of a how-to guide or tutorial is to solve a problem, readers of your article will be more inclined to invest in your product or service.
And as you’re an authority in your business, how-to type articles are simple ways to connect with your audience and establish credibility while showcasing your expertise.
To maximize the effectiveness of these types of post ideas, be sure to include visuals like images and videos in your articles. Not only do visuals enrich the content, but they also help readers comprehend the information provided better.
Readers are also more willing to take action when content is easy to process.
A great example of how-to content is Ann Smarty’s blog post, “Google’s featured snippets: How to get your YouTube video featured in Google.”
Another content powerhouse, list articles (listicles) help to streamline information. Just how powerful are list articles?
In a comparison between list-based articles and non-list articles, SEMrush found that the presence of lists resulted in 4x more traffic and 2x more social shares. What’s more, 36% of readers are more likely to click on an article with list headlines.
With content typically formatted as a numbered list, readers can quickly consume the content of your list posts. It being easily digestible also helps readers better share the post and act on the information.
Like how-to guides, list-style articles can be a useful tool for informational intent, as well as transactional intent and commercial investigation.
As an example, here’s an excellent list-based post on web development tools.
3. Case studies
A case study post is a highly valuable marketing and brand promotional tool. In B2B marketing, case studies can provide the following five benefits:
- Showcase the tangible value of your product and capabilities
- Highlights how your product resolves customer pain points
- Establish credibility with real customers
- Provide social proof for prospective customers
- Uncover your brand evangelists
In several content marketing surveys, B2B marketers identified customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) as being the most effective content marketing tools for lead generation. And three-quarters of B2B marketers found case studies accelerated leads through latter stages of the funnel quicker than any other content marketing format.
To realize the power of case studies, structure your process from challenge or problem to potential solutions and, finally, the results and conclusion. Here’s a great SEO case study example showing off this structure without being dull or boring.
4. Predictions and trends
The brilliance of writing posts on future trends is that you’re able to display your expertise and industry knowledge. What’s more, as people are always looking for advice or information about the next market trend (commercial investigation), prediction posts can generate great responses, and even spark debates.
Statistics by Hubspot found that few people who regularly read blogs do so to learn about a brand’s products. Instead, people commonly read blogs for three reasons:
- To learn something new
- To be entertained
- To learn about news or trends in their industry
And when it comes to content formats, 47% of bloggers have found trend pieces to be highly popular among their readers. Prediction and trend post ideas are only outpaced by lists (57%) and how-to articles (77%).
5. Ultimate guides
Ultimate guides are the most definitive blog posts you can write. These types of long-form post ideas typically exceed 3,000 words. Some guides can even take as many as 10,000+ words to write effectively.
So why would you want to commit to writing a detailed, comprehensive blog post? Here are a few benefits to ultimate guides:
- Produce evergreen content that produces traffic year-round
- Positions you and your brand as a subject matter expert
- Indicator of relevance, which is vital to search intent
- Provides your brand with marketing campaign assets
- Receives more social shares, increasing content engagement
- Expands keyword opportunities
Regardless of the topic or niche, long-form content outperforms shorter blog posts. In a study done by Brian Dean, blog posts longer than 3,000 words had 77.2% more referring domains than short-form content. And thanks to Google’s RankBrain, long-form content gets rewarded with higher-ranking positions.
Bloggers who work on long reads experience 54% better results and receive 3x more traffic than blogs who only write up short content.
Interview posts are a great addition to any blog as it diversifies your site’s blog content and relieves some pressure to content creation. Interviews allow your brand to:
- Expand its influence
- Broaden its network
- Generate more quality backlinks
- Increase its authority
- Diversify its blog content
As an influencer outreach tool, interviews are undeniably powerful. With 69% of consumers distrusting traditional advertising, collaborative content like interviews enables your brand to reach and connect with audiences in a more natural way.
First Round Capital, a seed-stage venture firm, knows all too well the transformative power of interviews. A single interview about Slack’s launch strategy earned First Round Capital a total of 2,243 backlinks from major publication sites like Fast Company and Entrepreneur.
If your blog is relatively new and you’re unable to attract any influencers to interview, consider writing expert round-up posts. Influencers love participating in round-up posts as these provide them with opportunities to demonstrate their expertise.
Both post ideas can contribute to more significant blog traffic as influencers are more willing to share your content with their network.
As images are more attention-grabbing than text, consider adding infographics to your blog content calendar. Infographics are not just attractive or exciting to read; they are also shared 3x more than any other type of content.
Admittedly, infographics work best when professionally designed. Fortunately, there are many online infographic tools like Canva and Piktochart that enable you to create beautiful infographics at a freemium price.
Now that you have plenty of post ideas to keep your content calendar full, let’s look at specific on-page SEO elements that will help attract the right visitors to your blog.
Three on-page SEO factors for greater searchability
Whether you’re looking to write a listicle, tutorial, or ultimate guide, include these three on-page SEO factors into your content before hitting publish.
1. Target one or two medium-tail keywords
As the primary goal for any blog is to attract an audience, keyword research is vital. After all, no content can compete in search results without keyword research. If you don’t know what your audience is searching for, how can you get your content in front of them?
With that said, though, don’t try to rank for short-head search terms like “chocolate cake.” These search terms are highly competitive, making it difficult to rank high against already established blogs. Instead, focus on medium-tail keywords like “chocolate pound cake recipe.”
Medium-tail keywords, like the previous example, are more specific than short-head terms. People using medium-tail keywords are more likely to read your content. They are also more motivated to take action, resulting in a positive interaction with your brand.
Once you’ve done your keyword research and compiled a list of medium-tail keywords, include them into these important places in your blog post:
- Title tag
- Meta description
You can also add your keywords into the body but don’t over-optimize your content.
Over-optimization is a form of keyword stuffing, which goes against Google’s guidelines. Just add your target keyword in the first 100 words of your article.
2. Link to important pages
Internal links are hyperlinks that point to a different web page on the same domain. Internal links are an SEO best practice because it helps search engines find and index relevant content. Visitors also use internal links to check out high-value pages, increasing site dwell time.
When linking internally, aim for two to three links. Use a descriptive anchor text with keywords that are relevant to the linked-to page. Another way to include more internal links to your blog post is by adding a related post section at the bottom of the page.
3. Optimize images for maximum shareability
Blog posts that only contain text are flat-out dull. Adding quality images to your post better explains complex information and makes your content more visually appealing. Because visuals stand out, images can improve the scannability of your post significantly.
But don’t just pop images into your post and hit publish. Images can also be optimized for SEO, allowing your visuals to rank for Google Images. When optimizing images for search, be sure to:
- Write a descriptive alt text with your keyword.
- Keep alt text under 125 characters.
- Include your target keyword in the filename.
- Compress the image for faster load times.
- Use unique images rather than stock imagery.
- Use the proper file extension for your image.
- Resize your image to optimum proportions.
Putting it all together
By writing for relevant search intent and incorporating these SEO best practices to your post ideas, your blog will gain more opportunities to appear high in search results. More visibility in search means increased organic traffic to your blog.
After you’ve published your blog post, let the world know about it. Promoting your content via outreach can be done by sharing your post on social media, engaging in forums like Reddit, reaching out to influencers, and advertising through Facebook.
Karl Tablante is Inbound Marketing Manager at SEO Sherpa.