Alright folks, we’re in the home stretch – ‘How to create a popular blog’ is the final piece of the three-part experiment on effective blog marketing I’ve conducted over the past 4 months.
If you recall, my first post  was simply the story of how I became a blogger – no analytics, no backlinks, no strategizing on how to reach my audience, or even who my audience was.

In the second post, things got a bit silly. I went to town with Dtermin, a search insight tool I had helped develop, unearthing all manner of search terms relevant to the subject of blog promotion. It was over the top, but it did prove a point. There are big pools of readers out there, typing very specific search terms into Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the others. In order to write an effective blog, you need to pick a term they’re using, and use it in your content. That way (I say while crossing my fingers) the next time one of these information-hungry readers types a query, your post is the first thing they see.
Now, I hope to bring this exercise to its logical conclusion. Crafting a blog post that provides useful information, and is targeted to reach as many readers as possible. Here’s how we’re going to do it.

How do you craft a blog with useful information that gets as many readers as possible?

First, the easy part. Use ‘popular blog’ in key places.

As you may have surmised, ‘popular blog’ is the search term I chose to wrap this post around.

I chose the term carefully. According to Dtermin, it has terrific traffic – 6,600 people a month use it in their search queries. Even better, it’s relatively decent when it comes to organic competition – the space is cluttered, but not onerous (you can see that on Dtermin when you compare terms). And best of all, it’s reasonable (max $2.35 a click) to buy for an Adwords campaign…something I intend to try out.

Make sure to choose your blog post’s search term carefully.

That’s the technical stuff. Let’s not forget, though, that people typing in the term need to find my post in good company. I typed ‘popular blogs’ into Google, and was pleased with what popped up – lists of interesting-to-read blogs in all categories, not simply ‘how-to’ stories. My post would stand out, but not be completely out of context.
So that’s why I chose it. But how to use it effectively?
I started by putting it in the headline and first subhead, then peppering it throughout the text. What’s more, I included the term in the permalink URL, in the meta description (which I wrote as a teaser, instead of just letting wordpress auto-use the first paragraph as a meta), and the file name of the photo you see above. Each of these are picked up by search engines, and they all create a stronger and stronger beacon pointing at my post.

Now the harder part. Making the post worth reading.

I’m a writer by trade. Ads, articles, even a book. I’ll be the first to say if your story has no value to readers, all the SEO in the world ain’t going to save it.

If your story has no value to readers, all the SEO in the world ain’t going to save it.

In the case of a blog post, that means three things:
1. If you’re going to honour me by reading this post, I need to honour you by providing a nugget of information or advice that you can actually use. I hope that this post helps you blog more effectively.
2. I can’t waste your time. Max value, min reader effort. Keep it short and snappy. No long paragraphs. Edit edit edit.
3. Make it emotional. In the case of business or motivational blogs, that means keep it light and if at all possible, fun. Life is miserable enough. Reading my story shouldn’t make it worse.

Unlike SEO, you’ll never ‘nail’ these three points. It’s something you work hard at every time out. And every post will have areas that work, and don’t. Make it your mission to dial up the good, and dial down the suck.
Creating great content isn’t the only thing you have to remember, though.
You need to create a great on-ramp for your content. That is, make your headline memorable. If it isn’t Hemingway, at least make it a good telegraph of the content to come.
You need to put in at least one tweetable quote. And if possible, use WordPress’s tweet out plug in to make it easy for readers to share.

The fun part. Marketing.

Alright, your post is ready to go. So what can you do to pull more eyeballs?
First, publish with friends. I used to simply publish on my own site. Now my stories appear on Unreasonable first, or on Huffington or Triple Pundit. Publications like these make it their business to offer readers engaging stories, and belonging to their stable of feature writers enables me to get to more enthusiastic eyeballs.
Of course, every story I write ends up on my website – usually a week after appearing in the pub. It gives me an opportunity to market the story to my own tribe, and get more eyeballs.

Next, announce the story. Each time I write, I create a two week twitter campaign of soundbites, and send the story through my linkedin network. I usually attach it to the end of each email I send out, too – with a thought provoking question inviting readers to read on.

Once you’ve written your blog post, reach out to people who might like it. Engage!

Finally, engage. Every day I interact with dozens of people. Some of them might benefit from my latest story’s advice. I make sure they see it, and ask them to pass it along. I do the same thing with twitter feeds – I dial in a twitter topic, and for half an hour every day or so answer questions on the topic posted by folks.
While we’re on the subject of engaging, send a shout out to people who helped you write the post. For example, David Risley at the Blog Marketing Academy put out a simple ‘tape to wall’ blog checklist that is absolutely essential reading . And Lindsay Kolowich created an awesome infographic that is fun, informative, and inspiring. If you use material, give credit. If you do a good job of it, your sources might actually share your post around to their friends, too.
Oh, and let’s not forget the point of the whole exercise. Put a call to action at the bottom of each post. Usually something like click here to get my newsletter and more great content that will probably change your life forever or longer.
So there you have it. The conclusion of our exercise. For all of you who followed our progress to this point, thanks for hanging in there. Send me your posts!