The other day, I spent some time on Neil Patel’s website reading up on his marketing blogs. Neil Patel is a marketing “guru” who promises to increase your traffic and revenue, and is generally respected as having good advice. But I have to admit, his blog left a lot to be desired.

As I read some of his blogs whose titles seemed useful, I ended up finding almost no special information within. They were mostly fluff, in the guise of being valuable content.

Don’t believe me?

His first tip on “9 Powerful LinkedIn Marketing Tips (That Actually Work)” is to create a LinkedIn profile… Seriously Neil? If I’m struggling on LinkedIn and looking for tips (“that actually work”) to get better at my LinkedIn marketing, I think I may already be past the stage of making my page.

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Other than a couple tips about using LinkedIn ads, every “powerful” tip in the blog is literally just how LinkedIn works. It mentions posting content, joining groups, and searching for people. This blog should have been titled “How to Use LinkedIn”. It has nothing really to do with marketing, it’s a glorified tutorial on how to set up your profile and get started.

Articles like this are bad, that much is clear. But then why does Neil Patel, a proven marketing expert, create blogs that fail to deliver on the promises in the title?

It’s because he doesn’t really care if you read his blog or not. That’s not his money-maker. His website’s revenue source is in the tools and consultation services he sells. He just needs to get people to his website, then bombard them with reminders to give him your contact information or book a consultation. His blogs are full of data, but they intentionally leave a lot be desired so that you will want to give him a call and tell him that whatever you do in your marketing, it’s just not working. With over 4000 blogs under his belt, Neil Patel has mastered the art of SEO. No matter what you want to learn about marketing, your search terms will likely take you to Neil Patel’s blog. And just like that, the hardest part of any online sale has been accomplished – getting you to the website to begin with.

Now granted, I have far less experience than Neil, and my name is not a household name amongst marketers. But I know for a fact that brute-force search ranking is not the only way blog content can be used.

There’s an interior design firm I’ve done work for over the years, and when I got there initially their most popular blog was “How to Clean a Brick Fireplace”. It attracted a lot of traffic because it did the following:

  • Identified a niche question that there was a lack of good answers for
  • Delivered on the promise of how to clean a fireplace
  • Gave a relevant and accurate answer to the question

There was no fluff in this article, and it ended up being a successful piece of content in terms of traffic. Unfortunately, it didn’t relate to the business itself enough, so it was not successful in terms of conversions.

But their second most popular article was one that I wrote after my first few weeks on the job as their marketing intern, which was titled “Interior Design from a Newcomer’s Perspective”. This blog was not informative at all. There were no questions to answer, no knowledge to be gained. But it told a story, and it was entertaining and interesting. The audience of readers were people who cared about the interior design field, not people just looking to clean their fireplace then move on. This was a highly engaged audience of readers who wanted to learn more about the interior design firm behind the blog.

A story-driven blog can be very valuable, because it makes people care. I always see people complain about recipes that have a novel’s worth of exposition about how the author’s husband is allergic to nuts so she has to make shrimp scampi, yet somehow this is a recipe for a strawberry smoothie. But that kind of content is great for the people who actually care. The people who laugh at these recipe blogs are the people who are never going to remember where they got that recipe from in the first place. Story-based blog content is extremely effective. If information is presented in a story, readers are 22 times more likely to remember that information than if it is just listed out to them.

Speaking of which, here’s a real LinkedIn marketing tip.

Try telling a story in your content. It seems cliché at this point, but some of the most compelling LinkedIn posts I’ve seen are long posts that start with a single attention-grabbing sentence, and tell a story line-by-line. The structure works, because it builds tension like a good story, ultimately reaching its climax with a lesson learned, or a turning point in a person’s life.

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This post from LinkedIn user Quentin Allums is a great example. It hooks the reader with an attention-grabbing first sentence, then leaves blank space for the reader to digest what they just read, and wonder what comes next. Then it hits you with some good tips based on personal experience, followed by a simple call to action.

What I want you to do now is review your blog and ask yourself what the goal is. Are you answering important questions? If yes, then you’re on a good track. You just need to make sure that you are answering questions that have not already been answered, or are providing a better answer than anyone else. If you’re not answering important questions, then are you at least targeting relevant SEO terms? If you don’t know how to answer any of these questions, the answer may be “I’m just writing a blog because I’m supposed to.”

I can’t tell you how to write your blog and how to run your company, but here are three ways you can make your blog work for you, and not waste your time on content marketing that doesn’t help.

  • Create SEO-centric content like Neil Patel, and create a lot of it
  • Create content that answers questions – make sure you are the only answer or the best answer
  • Create story-centric content that allows readers to follow a narrative and be transported into your world

And of course, an overarching tip for blogging is to always relate it back to your marketing goals. If you have a product or service to sell, make sure there is a relevant call to action attached to your content – this goes back to the fireplace cleaning blog.

At the risk of adding too much fluff to this blog, let’s sign this one off for now. If you liked what you read and want to learn more, consider reaching out to Storify to book a consultation. We cover all aspects of marketing, including content marketing strategy. Go to our website and give us a call at (541) 543-0634 today!