Actually, it’s a lot more than 65 million articles – that’s just the number published on the WordPress platform! There are a lot of blogs out there.
So, in a world where everyone wants to start a blog and everyone else is publishing their opinions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, how do we make ours stand out? Is it even possible?
In today’s post I’m going to look at a few strategies I’ve used over the years to help my blogs and online businesses get noticed and stand out from the crowd. I hope it helps a few people out there who are trying to make a bit of extra income for their families, or create happier careers.
But what about all that competition?
When you look at the sheer number of blogs and blog posts created each month it can seem a little overwhelming. How on Earth can one stand out when there is so much competition?
Well, there are a few positive points to remember:
- They’re not all in your niche
The majority of blogs aren’t in your niche. Don’t worry, not all of those millions of blogs are direct competitors.
- They’re not all as good as yours
If you’ve got yourself set up on on your own host you are probably ahead of 90% of the crowd. Even more if you have a brand and a strategy of some kind.
- They don’t all last long
The average blog, like the average business, doesn’t last more than a year. There is a lot to be said for just sticking it out because most people won’t.
I think it’s important to remember these things, especially if it’s taking you a little longer to hit your goals than you had anticipated. Being hopeful in the early days is important, as is committing to sticking at it.
The three stages of a visitor
Before we get into the main points, we need to have a look at traffic and its various stages. There are three ways to think about your traffic, and knowing them is very important to effectively standing out.
Traffic before it actually gets to your site. For example, people that are about to encounter you on Google, social media, or some form of advertising.
Traffic while it is on your website and either ignoring or engaging with your content and is poised to take some action like clicking, subscribing, purchasing, or bouncing.
Once they’ve been fulfilled or bounced from your site and are in a stage where they will either abandon your site for good or re-visit in the future..
In this post we’re going to touch on all three stages and talk about some things we can do to ensure that not only do you get visitors, but that they engage with your content, and then come back again later.
How to make your blog posts stand out
Now we’re going to take a deeper look at what we can do to make our blogs and blog posts stand out from the crowd in a more methodical and strategic way.
1. Craft your headlines and descriptions for humans and Google
If you want people to click through to your blog and read your posts you’re going to need to make sure that your headlines and descriptions are compelling enough to get them interested, without being too “clickbaity” so as to put them off.
It’s also important to note that, at this stage, you need to take care of both human needs and the needs of the spiders from Google.
Yes, we want to write for people, but we also want search engines to pick up the content or else no one will see it.
If you look at any Google search you’ll see some amazing results and some that could use some work. For example, in the image above you’ll see two titles that are a little bit too long and thus aren’t optimized for people who are reading through and looking to click.
Google will generally show around 55 characters for the title as they need to make it fit on both desktop and mobile device display, so we should try to keep within that limit.
Remember, these are just like an advert listing.
You can always write longer titles for your blog and then edit them to be shorter for Google by using an SEO plugin like All in One SEO Pack that allows you to edit titles and descriptions and suggest them to Google.
2. Test headlines on Twitter and with your mailing list
Crafting a compelling headline takes a lot of practice. Jon Morrow once said they he used to re-write each title hundreds of times in order to get good at writing them. And he’s very good at them.
But how do you know if your final choice is the right one?
Well, you don’t. You need to test it.
There are a few ways we can do this. For example, you can Tweet your post and use a different title every time and then see which one gets the most clicks.
Just click the little bar graph at the bottom of your tweet and you’ll get some expanded stats of how that particular tweet performed. Do maybe five tweets over a week and see which performs best. Of course, this is not a fool proof research method as factors like time of day, etc. need to be consistent. But it’s a good start.
You can also do this type of test with your mailing list by split testing different subject lines and seeing which one performs better. Try testing short vs long versions, adding numbers, creating some scarcity, positive vs negative, etc. and slowly build up a picture about what people are reacting to.
3. Get the promotion/ads perfect
The next thing you’ll want to do in order to get people to click through to your blog is ensure that the promotion or ads that you’re running are as tight as possible. For example, I’ve been running the follow ad on Facebook:
The idea here is that you have an eye-catching and well branded image and a call to action that will encourage people to click through or show some interest. This one has performed quite well. To make it even better, you want to ensure that the graphic in the ad matches the post that it leads to as closely as possible.
I’ve been using a lot of little Blog Tyrant characters around here lately. My designer makes them for me and it has slowly been getting associated with the brand more and more. I even got a comment on the ad above saying:
This is exactly what you want – as people start to recognize your brand and images and tone they’ll start to pick it out from among all the other noise that is out there and engage with you more. This is a good start when it comes to standing out.
4. Make sure your brand and content is distinctive
Once people land on your blog it’s important that they encounter a quality website that is filled with information that helps people.
But you also need to be distinctive.
I’ve talked about a book called How Brands Grow before but it’s worth mentioning it again because their research shows that it’s not vital to be first or original, but you do need to be distinctive and memorable.
So, how do you do that within a blog environment?
Well, one way to start is to jump on Google and spend a day or two analyzing the competition in your niche. I’ve made a very simple little spreadsheet to help you do that.Download the template (Excel)Download the template (Numbers)
The idea here is to look at the best performing and best ranking blogs and see if you can figure out any distinctive features that might be giving them an advantage in any particular area. Examine the colors, logos, and their most popular articles.
Most importantly, however, you want to see what their specific focus is and whether or not there is any angle that might be missing from your niche. It might even be a small shift in the way you offer a free download or the specific approach that you take to solving a certain problem.
Once you’ve identified something that is missing you can start emphasizing that on your own blog. It doesn’t mean you have to do an entire re-brand – but maybe do a promotional test with a new landing page or long-form piece of content and see whether that starts to perform better.
This really is key because once you know what your competition is doing and how you’re going to be different you will feel like there is a thread that ties your whole brand together.
5. Follow up with niche-matched value
The next thing that you’ll want to do is make it as easy as possible to get in front of people again in a way that stands out. For example, a very niche-matched email series is a popular method.
I’ve talked about this extensively in this post on blogging strategy as well as my article on affiliate income over at ViperChll but, essentially, the point is that you position your blog in a way that makes new visitors feel like this is the best place to get solutions for a very, very specific problem.
If you look at Nerd Fitness you’ll see how tightly everything is branded towards helping geeks and nerds get fit, but also fit in. The paid areas are all massive communities and the branding is heavily geared towards geek culture like gaming, Star Wars, etc. You can even make your own gaming character!
After a few minutes on this site you start to feel like this is the only place that “gets” me and that it will be the only place where you can achieve your goals because of who you are. From a standing out point of view it is absolutely perfect.
You don’t need to go to the same extent that Steve has here – a simple download or email course is enough if it hones in on your blog’s brand and its solutions and gets you in front of readers over and over.
Some final tips to help your blog stand out
In case all of that stuff above wasn’t that useful, here are a few reminders and extra tips to help your blog and its articles stand out:
- Consider the various stages
Remember that you need to stand out before, during and after a visitor lands on your site.
- Be distinctive
Try to find ways to be distinctive. That doesn’t always mean first, just memorable.
- Pay for it
If you need help with graphics or developing a strategy pay for it like I do with my characters. You can get good results for hardly any money.
- Constantly aim to solve problems
Focus as best as you can on helping people and solving their problems in whatever niche you are in.
- Consider injecting your personality
Sometimes the difference between being remembered and forgotten is a photo like I have on my homepage. Maybe put you and your story on the blog and in your post more often.
- Tie together your goals and branding
Try to make sure your content, images, ads, etc. all tie together to help solve one single problem in one single niche.
- Analyze the competition
Regularly assess what your competition is doing and see whether anything is working and whether or not you can improve on it in some new way.
- Be stylistically consistent
Try to make sure the style that you use in your posts is always similar so that people will recongize it when they encounter it. Certain websites like the New Yorker and Wait But Why do this very well.
- Be an early adopter
Sometimes people make huge progress with their careers because they are an early adopter of a new social network or platform or tool. Keep your eye out for this in your niche.
- See what’s working offline
Sometimes offline media, advertising, etc. has good ideas that aren’t being applied online. Maybe a magazine, product, invention or event has something relevant to your niche?
The last thing I want to mention is asking your readers and peers for advice or feedback. Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to make a huge difference.
What blogs do you think stand out?
I’d really love to know whether you know of any blogs that stand out in your niche. Have you ever noticed a particular blog post that really caught your attention? Leave a comment below and let us know. It would be fun to get some new ideas from parts of the web I’ve never visited.
60 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
Yes I think I got top comment 🙂
As usual an amazing post full of value and awesomeness
Thanks a lot!
Hi Ramsay, a good job well done to you. I really do appreciate your concern towards the success of people, am a Nigerian who just made up her mind to have a blog but I just seem to be confused on how and where to start from. Please I would like you to help me get started. Thanks very much as I wait patiently for your reply.
Another great read. Thanks Ramsay.
Thanks, Ramsay. I’m still working on most all of these points. But just to encourage those who are starting out, I recently completed my first year of blogging, passed the 50 posts mark, and as a result, have seen a slight jump in traffic.
I appreciate the advice on titles. Sometimes, mine are too long. Also, my about page and a few other important areas need work, so that people stick around. I find it difficult to balance between creating new material, maintaining my website, and fixing older work. Do any of you feel the same?
This is such a helpful post, as always. I enjoy returning to reread so many of them. But I would like to add that even though I’m still a newbie, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t discovered your site in – drum roll – a Google search. He’s right, you know. All that SEO stuff is important.
Glad it’s been helpful for you. I’d recommend always focusing on creating new stuff over other things.
Thanks for the heads up – good to know, especially since that’s what I’m doing. 🙂
Great article and AWESOME tips.
True if one wants to stand out from the crowd hard work is needed.
You don’t expect a blog post that was written in a couple of hours will go viral.
Blog posts that stand out are well researched and a number of hours or even days were spent before it gets published.
And this reminds me of “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin, become remarkable.
Thank you Ramsay.
Haven’t heard of that one – I’ll take a look.
Ramsay, for me, smartblogger and copyblogger are two real standout blogs. The reason is their sheer quality of content and depth in the topics they cover. All your points are super useful, thanks for a gentle but very valid reminder. Cheers
Yep, they’re amazing.
A great read on a Friday night in the States. I know that when I pushed myself to write more and more content, I lost my voice in my writing. It sounded textbook. Had a long time reader tell me he missed the way I used to write. Write your personality into everything you do online. Personality can be seen in video but when it comes to writing, you have to make a point of outing yourself out there.
To answer your question, I’ve seen two new sites in my niche starting and I’ll say this, when in a very small niche you watch the competition but it’s also a great way to keep you on your toes. 😉
I meant “putting yourself out there.”
Very, very true.
Great tips Ramsay! I’m just starting out and I’ve learned a lot from your blog. Actually, that’s an understatement. Most of the things I know about blogging I have learned from you.
Here are some great blogs in my niche:
The Change Blog
Some day soon I hope someone mentions my site too. 🙂
I love your blog. I just checked it out. But I want to subscribe through email. Is there a way to do that?
Hi Laura, glad you like the blog! I just emailed you with directions. Hope it works. If not, you can use the subscribe widget on the site.
P.S. Love the owl!
Just saw your response. 🙂 will head back over there.
Marjana – You have a nice blog with good pics, but it’s very hard to find your sign up on most pages. Maybe fix that and see if it helps 🙂
Thanks Wendy! Originally I didn’t want the sign up link on the main page because I wanted focus on the content but I realize if I want traffic the sign up form needs to be on every page.
I’m sure they will!
Outstanding piece of writing..
Well I’ve something to share with you guys..
1. To stand out in the crowd, you must produce eye catchy heading. While searching on Google or in email, reader select content based on heading.
2. Readers don’t read they scan, so draft your content with sub headings, images, info graphs and stats.
3. Data backed content always get more shares than simple blog post. We have a great example of Backlinko.
4. Write lengthy posts but to the point.
Great tips! Thanks for sharing.
Yes I agree most of the blog nowadays survives for max 1 year. Because the main reason is they are not earning anything from their blog and not even getting good traffic.
So one who have patience will win in the blogging industry.
Patience is so important.
Wow! Awesome post, Ramsay.
Recently, I have noticed that doing videos (tuts, webinars etc) helps a lot in making your blog and brand stand out. It shows who you really are and it also builds trust.
Thanks again for the post.
Another great post, a lot of hard work ahead to make your blog stand out. Good content and alot of backlinks hopefully..
There is no way I won’t click to read a post of yours, Ramsay.
Your blog is still among my favorites.
After a while, when we have already read thousands of blog posts, we choose to follow only a few that stand out.
This is what I do, not only as a reader anymore, but also as curator of a blog.
I followed blogs on different niches than mine and this helped me not only to improve as a blogger but to start writing and working for other blogs, which have nothing to do with my profession.
I am a designer and I know that a well branded blog is almost as important as its content.
It’s not just about aesthetics, it’s about professionalism and credibility.
Those who’ll tell you it’s not, they’re simply ignorant and unaware.
The wrong image can really sabotage our blog or business and this happens unconsciously.
I write about the power of image in my recent post: “The most common mistake that can sabotage your business in 3 seconds”.
So, I find your characters as cute as you and I think you have already connected your blog to them.
Something very simple but of huge importance.
Choose an easy to read and elegant font type if you want people to read your posts. Don’t make it difficult for your visitors, they’ll easily abandon your blog!
Apart from Blog Tyrant and Neil Patel’s blog about blogging, I find Copyblogger an amazing blog, but my most favorite blog, the first one I subscribed a few years ago, is Millo, a great blog for freelancers.
Now I write for it!
Something I like to add is the importance of interaction with our readers.
I’ve noticed that among my favorite blogs are those that the authors are interested in what their readers are thinking or suggesting and they show it.
This is something you do perfectly, Ramsay!
I have unsubscribed from a blog that the owner didn’t even bother to say thanks to the only one or two flattering comments he received.
I perceived this as arrogance, impoliteness or stupidity.
The comments are my favorite part! I really enjoying getting involved in that way – but I know that a lot of bloggers or business owners say that they don’t have time. I understand that too.
Thanks for one more energy booster.
Can you check your email list once if I’m subscribed or not? Because I’m getting less mails from you!
I’m only publishing about once a month these days.
Hi Ramsey, 2 things got my attention, one don’t get scared – all those millions of blogs aren’t in your niche and two – most don’t last over a year. I’ve been in it over 5 years and I am toying with a redesign. You gave me an idea, to get some graphics done to stand out visually. Thank you for that and for the rest of the great tips!
Have an awesome weekend.
Let us know if it helps!
That’s what I believe is responsible for creating an impeccable blog and making it stand out.
Most blogs, the ones which are phenomenal (and outstanding) have certain elements which first attract their readers and then give them enough reasons to stay.
Take Blog Tyrant for instance. I didn’t knew who are were. But I loved your writing (It reflects honesty). So I’m here, commenting and reading every post after the first time I read your post here.
Similarly, I’ve felt a certain inclination towards some other blogs.
Like, I didn’t want to miss any post by Jon because of the way he talked from the readers perspective on Boost Blog Traffic (Smart Blogger).
Gavin of Zen Pencils makes comics which represent some inner truths and feelings. His effort is visible through every piece of art he creates.
Neil Patel gives his readers enough attention and makes everyone feel important by being helpful.
Jeff Goins simply shares his struggles and stories of success which induce optimism in his readers with every line and word.
To be honest, you and all these blogging heroes were not known by me. But each one of you received enough attention because you deserved it. You had that ability to ‘connect.’
So maybe that’s how it goes.
At first, readers randomly come across your blog. If they find something which makes them connect with you, then they give you some more shots to prove your excellence.
Soon, you get a chance to earn their loyalty with your hard work. Slowly they form a certain bond and begin to feel familiar with you, after which they stay forever.
Seriously, I mean look at the basic design of Steve Pavlina’s website or ViperChill – it doesn’t affect what they have to say.
We all bloggers ultimately find our share of readers who adore us or our work – we reach a stage after which the competition doesn’t affect us anymore.
It’s our ability to connect with the readers and our willingness to serve them which decides whether we’ll succeed. Sometimes, it’s just those loyal readers who make us outstand.
P.S. – I often feel like that shadow in the header image. The one in the sixth row. But the one thing which makes me go on is the love for what I do itself. (And your words keep alive the hope in me.)
At last, great post! (Consider it to be my default response from now onwards 😉 I’m already a fan.)
You are an absolute legend, my friend. Always love your comments. Thank you.
Ramsay, long ago you advised me to stand out of the crowd of online marketing bloggers. Thank you! I followed your advice and as an upshot I’m getting some awesome results.
Each of my posts is commented averagely by 90 people and gets more than 1k of shares. I should be happy 🙂
How am I different from the others?
All my posts are based on research and in-depth analysis, personal experiments. They are huge! Averagely 6,000-8,000 words each, moreover, I have a post that’s 17,000 words long. In each of my posts, I’m sharing some very personal and honest details of my life with a view to being closer to my reader.
I am happy, but unfortunately, I can’t do things faster at the moment. Each post takes at least 1-2 months of work. This time includes not only the creation but promotion too.
The ability to stand out is very important, but you have to be prepared that it will take a lot of time and effort. And you shouldn’t worry about it as much as I do. 🙂
Perfect mate! I always take a look at your new things and really enjoy it.
I’ve been reading your blog A LOT and I finally got to see an article before the comments section is closed 😀 I’m just starting with my own travel blog, but I’m thinking about publishing in a “long” term when it comes to blogs (a year from now), since that’s when I’ll a start a trip that should give me a lot of the material I want to publish.
Considering that, do you think it’s worth going over the content created before the go-live over and over again, to try to tweak it and make it as good as possible, or is it better to wait until it’s out there and check what’s working and what’s not?
Btw, some of the ones I think stand out in my niche are:
– Ytravel (this is a no brainer to include)
– Nomadic Matt
– Expert Vagabond
But there’s a lot of competition out there!
Thanks again for a great and useful post!
PS. I think it would help to have the spreadsheet available for people who doesn’t use Mac, or let them know it’s easy to convert online in case they got a little bit lost 🙂
Don’t wait! Publish yesterday!
Oh, I forgot to do the CSV version! Thanks.
[ Smiles ] I believe that once you have a unique style and you associate yourself with like-minded bloggers, you should stand out.
Let’s hope so.
Really good advice! All the information is extremely relevant and on point! You are the first one I started following about a year ago, when deciding whether to start this venture or not.
Hard work and quality. Your website is top!
I enjoyed the tips on how you need to stand out. I think your exactly right too. I am trying an approach that includes good content, decently long, a personal anecdote, and a graphic to spruce up my titles. Thanks for the great post.
Glad you enjoyed it.
Love the Nerd Fitness example – Great imagery, branding, and you hit it on the head when you said it’s the only place that community feels like they fit, and everything that site does serves that specific person. I feel that is the hardest thing to do & I still struggle with it (finding your perfect reader).
Half the blogs I religiously follow give great content & the blog owners are very helpful and sincere – Ramsay, Pat Flynn, etc. The other half have beautiful blogs (I love photography & design) with personality and I enjoy being inspired by the owner’s creativity and small business endeavors.
Great post, thanks!
Glad you enjoyed it!
I’m not sure what you used to make your spreadsheet, but I couldn’t open it in Excel (for Windows). It said the file was corrupt.
There aren’t really any blogs in my niches that stand out. Well, there are sites that get a lot of traffic, but that’s mainly because they were first.
In other niches, ViperChill is one of my favorite blogs! I love it because he writes about things virtually no one in his space does. I read a lot of posts about blogging and internet marketing for my job and I’ve found originality to be sadly uncommon. I swear, if I come across another post about how to get 10,000 hits by doing keyword research on hrefs and reaching out to influences, I’m going to lose it!
That should be influences, not influences.
Doh! Wish you had an edit feature!
influencers, not influences
Ah I made it for Mac and forgot to do the Excel. Will do that now!
Considering that, do you think it’s worth going over the content created before the go-live over and over again, to try to tweak it and make it as good as possible?
Your blog and advice is great – thank you.
Do you still recommend Market Samurai now that they have had to switch to Bing and, if not, what alternatives do you use for analysing keywords?
Hi Rob. I have just been in the process of reviewing all that. At the moment I’m leaning towards a combo of AHREFs and Majestic SEO.
Hi there Ramsey,
As I see you always keep your blog updated with great content, that’s what I like mostly about bloggers, when they put just worthy content, and not bullshit just to make a blog. Of course great content takes time, but it will worth right?
Thank you. That’s why I post so infrequently – don’t want to publish just for the sake of it.
I’m only commenting here to see the Thank You / Squeeze page you mention in your Redirecting Blog Comments post (https://www.blogtyrant.com/redirect-blog-comments/).
By the way, the plugin you mention (Comment Redirect by Yoast) is now Yoast Comment Hacks and contains some additional and worthwhile features: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/comment-hacks/
Excellent post, Ramsay! I agree with everything you said. I also use Audacity and blubrry and have been pleased with both. I use a Blue Snowball USB mic that I bought on amazon and love it.