The world of SEO has changed, and instead of just worrying about keywords and backlinks, we now need to think about user engagement. In this episode of Coffee Break Blogging, we’ll talk about what is going on with Google, and how this has everything to do with getting your readers to SCROLL and reach the end of your blog post.
Now today we are going to continue on the theme of our Blog Content and we started it in the last episode. And today, we’ll talk about how to actually get your reader to go down to the end of your blog post. That’s a very important thing and it is actually more important now than it used to be.
And here is the reason why: SEO is changing.
Search Engine Optimization is changing. It used to be a game where primarily we were all worried about putting keywords in there, having keywords in our sub-headlines; our headlines, trying to get up in the rankings inside of Google and ultimately get lots of traffic, be happy and brag. But here is the thing; SEO isn’t really like that anymore. Those things are still valid, however they are not the complete picture of SEO. If you put yourself in the perspective of Google these days, all they are trying to do is find the best content and surface it to the top and so that people feel like they are getting exactly what they want from Google.
Now, one of the biggest indicators, in fact really the only big indicator of whether people like the piece of content is what is called “User Engagement.” It is whether the user, whether the reader or the surfer, whatever you want to call them; is engaging with the content. And that is actually a huge signal to Google on whether your piece of content is any good.
So it is not just about keywords anymore because we all know that SEOs were keyword-stuffing and doing all these bull crap to try to gain Google and it is just a stupid game and it does not even work well anymore. It is about user engagement.
Now what are the different things that go in the user engagement? Well, it could be whether they share your post in social media; it could be whether they scroll. Yes, that is a really big one.
Here is the thing, if they go to your blog post and they immediately bounce off so you got a high bounce rate, then they are obviously not engaging with that blog post. And Google knows! Especially if they are using the Google Chrome web browser or if you have got Google Analytics installed on your site; Google knows, man… They are not dumb.
Now if they click on a Google search result and then they go to your site; even if Google cannot track what is happening on your site but then they immediately hit the back button and go back to Google… If Google sees that they immediately came back, trust me, they can put two and two together. They know if your blog post is just boring the snot out of people and people are bouncing off of it.
So getting people down to the end of your blog post or even scrolling down a little bit is not just about getting them to your call to action, getting them to post a comment or getting them to click on something that is going to make you money; that is what we will talk about in the business model, but it really is about increasing user engagement on that blog post which is SEO as it stands today. So it is important that we get people to scroll. It is important that they don’t just come to the blog post and then bounce off.
So here we go… Let us talk a little bit about…
How to get them down to the end of the blog post:
Link to the blog post matters but I’m going to give you some information on this. It does not mean that it needs to be something that you follow religiously just blindly. Here’s the thing; from an SEO perspective, longer blog posts are actually better. Google loves getting 2000+ words, high-quality blog post. And generally they are going to rank well. But that is if the other things are in place like we are talking about here.
Now, the thing is; we also know, we can know from personal experience that typically longer blog posts require a lot more effort to read them and therefore, if it is not structured right, it is going to make more people leave because they are going to come to the blog post from Google, they are going to see how big it is, and they are going to be like “Ah, crap… I don’t have time for this” they are going to back off and they are just not going to read it.
So here is what you can do… It does not mean that you have to keep your blog post short. It just means that you got to structure that blog post in such a way where you can have high quality content of a decent link. I think I saw a study one time that said the ideal blog post link was around 1600 words. I tend to shoot for about 2000 words or higher.
And I think that is really good for SEO but you got to structure right in order to get them to engage and not make that lazy decision at the beginning and be like “Damn, I don’t have time for this” they just want to take off.
Have Short Paragraphs
One big thing you definitely want to do is have short paragraphs. Paragraphs should not be this big blocks of text like you would do in a college essay or something. Do not do that on a blog. A blog post paragraph is more about controlling their flow through the blog post. It is not only about putting liked ideas together or synthesis about a common idea together like you are talking in English class. You can violate that rule when it comes to your blog post. It is really more about controlling the flow.
One of the reasons why hypnosis work is because they kind of get you in a pattern that repeats. And the stereotype is that they have got that little necklace that has just this repeating pattern going back and forth and the person talks to you in some incessant way and to some people; that will knock them off. So the thing about it is the repeating pattern. Now here is the thing… if you vary the pattern, people are less likely to do that.
So what can you do with your blog post? You can actually have paragraphs of different lengths. And the thing is; shorter paragraphs are going to be easier to read. A paragraph with just one of two sentences is going to be easier to read than one that has 5 to 10 sentences in it. You can even have paragraphs that are only one word long. You would do that for the purposes of emphasis.
So think about paragraphs as a form of flow control. I have talked about this before but you want to flow your reader through the blog post but you want it to be approachable, easy to read and you want to vary the link around a little bit so that they are not going to get that incessant pattern which kind of puts people to sleep.
The other thing is you definitely; definitely have to have sub-headlines inside of your blog post. Now the sub-headlines are just as important as the top headline, almost. It is really all about getting them to continue to read. People are going to scan the blog post at first. They are not going to read it. They are going to hit the headline and they are going to be like “Ah, this looks interesting” and they are going to scroll downwards. The purpose of that scrolling downwards is to decide whether they want to take the time to read it.
Now the big part of what is going to sell them on reading the entire thing is going to be the sub-headlines. So the sub-headlines have the exact same function as the main headline at the top; and that is to get them to read what is underneath it. So every single sub-headline that you put in the blog post should be engaging. It should be such that it makes them want to continue in reading them that pulls them through a storyline to that blog post.
There is nothing worse than having a blog post which is long; you know, 1500 to 2000 words or higher and there is nothing breaking it up. It’s just a big bunch of paragraph. It’s just too hard. They do not know if it is any good. So they need to have those sub-headlines. If from an old school SEO perspective it does help because Google use those index.
Use Bullet Points
You definitely need to be using them inside of your blog post because they break up the monotony of all that paragraph crap all over the place. Bullet points are scannable. As one is scanning through the blog post, they are going to see the bullet points and they will probably going to read them. They are probably going to read the bullet points and it is much easier than reading the standard paragraph text. So you need to put in bullet points. And it really doesn’t matter if they are un-bulleted or un-ordered or ordered list; the whole idea is to set that text off visually from the other stuff around it because it is easier read, easier to scan over and get them an idea.
Get Into Style
Another thing that you could do; and this is something that you would have to get into the style sheet of your theme, and I’m not going to get into that right now, but you can actually modify your team so that whenever you have ordered list or un-ordered list inside your blog post it will actually format it slightly differently. Make sure it is indented, you could even make it bold; to make it standout even more, you could customized the bullet points so that it uses little images of some kind to make that thing standout because that is really what it is all about, to make those things standout.
Now, images are really important one. And another thing that you can do, by the way; is videos. Videos work really well too. As you can interlace those things throughout in the blog post but not just in a random haphazard way, you know, “I’m going to go get some stock photo and throw it in hear kind of a deal. You want to think about it in terms of “they are scanning through the blog post.”
The other thing too about videos is that they increase time on site. And we were just speaking about user engagement. Well, time on the page is a factor that they use to determine engagement. You know, if somebody comes to your blog post and they were there for 30 seconds, they are not really as engaged whether they are there for 5 to 10 minutes. And what is going to get people to really stick around longer? A video… because they might watch it, right? And they are going to be at your site while it happens. So videos are great and they are also from the thumbnail perspective because they haven’t hit the play button yet, it still kind of works as an image on that blog post so it is really going to work well in terms of scanablity.
Put Teasers/Open Loops
Another thing you can do as a good tactic, actually, is to put teasers or what I like to call “open loops” inside the content itself. So a really good place to put that is at the beginning because the beginning text is going to be the most likely to get read. So what you can do is make a bold promise as what they are going to get in this blog post and you can give them a few teasers as to what is coming up. Or maybe something that they are going to get at the end and you can put that at the top or what is that more likely to do… it is a lot more likely to get them down to the bottom of it, to be honest with you. So put teasers in your blog post. If you are going to give them something at the end of the blog post, tease it at the top because it is going to get them a lot more likely to come down to the bottom.
Quite frankly, even if they do not read the entire post; they just scroll down to the bottom of the thing, it is still good. It still helps you in the eyes of Google because they are a lot more engage with the blog post at that point and that can help your SEO. Okay?
Plug-in “Scroll Top And Bottom”
Now one little tactic that I can share with you is a plug-in and this is called “Scroll top and bottom.” Very simple plug-in, totally free. Just go Google it; scroll top and bottom. Now what this can do is it will actually put a little icon, like a little arrow on the bottom of your blog that kind of points downward. And what it will do is it will entice people to scroll down. Very, very simple tactic. Now where I found this… actually I heard about this over at Traffic and Conversion when they were talking about this on stage. But he showed the Apple Website for that Apple Mac Pro Computer. Weird little computer, by the way, looks like a trash can… It’s a funny looking thing. But anyway, if you go to that site, it is a very well designed site but you will see this little arrow there which gets people to want to scroll down and of course, their page has all these fancy stuff as you scroll down. But it is a very simple tactic and just having that arrow there is like “Ah, I guess I should scroll.” That increases user engagement. It is going to get them to scroll down the page. Okay?
So a simple way to do this, and there are other ways; but it is a simple plug-in just simply called “Scroll top and bottom.” You might want to give it a whirl, find it out and see what it does on your site but it really is about increasing user engagement. It is not just about the call to action at the end of the blog post, it is about getting them to engage because you are sending those signals to Google that your article is worth something and they are more likely to give you a little better ranking.
But, are you really going to get to the top?
Who the hell knows? Because there are just a lot of factors that go into this stuff. The keyword stuff all still matters. Incoming links still matter. But social signals matter as well, and engagement. Reducing bounce rate helps. Getting them to scroll down helps. Getting them to post a comment; getting them to remain on the blog post for a longer period of time; all those things help with user engagement metrics in the eyes of Google. So, multiple reasons why you want them to the end of your blog post.
Hopefully you put some of the tactics in this episode to use to get more engagement on your blog posts, hence get more search engine rankings, and I will see you in a few days on the next episode of Coffee Break Blogging!
Talk to you next time! 😉