I launched in December last year as part of the plan for my drone services company. I wanted to document my experiences and share what I learned with people growing their own drone business.

To support my goal of creating compelling content for Drone Outlook I enrolled in Income School‘s Project 24. It is filled with passionate content creators. I recommend it if you’re serious about starting a blog or YouTube channel to promote your drone company.

For the past couple of years, Income School has hosted a contest designed to push creators to hone their craft.

Income School used 20,646 words in their challenge feedback

I was psyched! I was going to win this year’s contest and be crowned (belted) the Ultimate Content Warrior! Then I saw the critique of my first challenge entry (write a well-formatted blog article), and I was humbled with a score of 5.7 out of 10, putting me near the bottom of the leaderboard.

After moping around the house for a few days, I decided if winning the belt was an unrealistic goal then I would still learn as much as I could from the experience. The Income School staff spent days reading 669 articles that were submitted for the first challenge.  I studied their feedback and used statistical analysis to identify common trends.  Here is what I learned.

A well-formatted blog post will be easy to read, have original content, and be supported by graphical elements. Including relevant tables, graphs, and images will make your article stand out.  If you want to increase the odds your article is found by search engines add a concise answer paragraph.

Images Can Make or Break Your Article

The word image(s) was used by the Income School judges in almost half of their article critiques (311 times). In the judge’s assessment for images, the most common themes were amountrelevance, and size. It was used in the context of praise with modifiers like great, helpful, and excellent.

The most frequent negative criticism related to images was on their complete absence or a suggestion to add more. Very few internet readers are patient enough to read 1300-3500 words without images to illustrate your points.

Often referred to as the dreaded “wall of text“, an article with no images is going to dramatically increase your bounce rate and hurt your SEO chances.

The images are relevant, but ideally we’d use some images that really illustrate the principle you’re talking about at that point in the article (when that’s feasible) ~Income School

Another theme that was echoed often was that images felt too stock, generic, or not relevant to the article. Be judicious about using images that complement the text and not just to visually break up your article.

Oh, and do me a big favor. Never use this stock image in your drone article – I’m tired of seeing it all over the internet!

Finally, you need to make sure your images are free of technical problems that can distract your reader.  There were many cases where judges cited problems with images being either too large or too small, blurry or low quality, or never loading on the page.

Share Data With Tables, Graphs or Infographics

Mentioned more often than images was the suggestion to add, tables, graphs, and infographics (cited 351 times total).

I like that you added a table and some infographics to give additional understanding ~Income School

The easiest way to illustrate this point is with a graph of my own.  For the first challenge, entries were graded on three criteria and on a scale of zero to ten.  Here is a breakdown of how contestants performed in each area.

  1. Answer: How easy is it to find the primary answer and how good is that answer?
  2. Imagery: Quality and use of images and videos.
  3. Formating: Overall usefulness of the post formatting (lists, tables, bolding, etc.)

After plotting out all of the data, I see my score of 5.7 was in line with the majority of total scores awarded.  I guess that makes me feel a little better.  🙂

Strive to Create Unique, Authentic, and Personal Content

One of the things that nobody is talking about in SEO today is how important it is to inject personality into your articles.  Judges harped on this over and over again – encouraging people to make their posts unique, authentic, and personal.

If you’re not producing original content then there is no way for you to stand out.  If you want organic search traffic flowing to your website you can’t just copy and paste things you find elsewhere on the internet.

When you’re out on a job, consider turning the drone on yourself and snapping a few images before you land. Then include those photos in your next article.

Excellent. I love the authentic images, custom graphics and helpful descriptions. ~Income School

A Properly Formatted Answer Target is Essential

This is one of the most important things to grasp if you want to increase your odds of landing on the first page of google search results. Google introduced featured snippets in 2014 and some say they’re one of the most prominent search engine results page changes of the past decade.

An entire book could be written on how to “win” the featured snippet, but I’ll focus on what the Income School judges had to say on the topic.

The best way to get the featured snippet position in search results is to format an answer target in a way that is pleasing to your readers and to our google algorithm overlords.

Here are some of the best practices that I gleaned from the challenge feedback:

  • Answer target too long for SEO
  • Get the answer target closer to the top
  • Don’t repeat question before answer target. 
  • Bolding the answer target would make it more easily spotted
  • Don’t start the answer target with a yes or no
  • [Answer target] needs to be standalone and not rely on previous content that won’t show up in a google snippet.
  • Answer target shouldn’t have odd spacing between lines. It should be a full paragraph.

Make it Easy to Consume

In the end, the most prevalent theme throughout the comments was whether or not information in a post was easy or hard to find, scan, or read.

GREAT IMAGES! The images, graphs and infographics are incredibly helpful to the reader. The article has many useful elements making it very helpful and easy to scan. ~Income School

Whenever you draft an article for the web, consider how every element you add contributes to (or distracts from) the reader’s experience.  Nothing should prevent the reader from consuming everything you have to offer on a topic and getting to the end of the post satisfied they got what they wanted.

Also, keep in mind that with more than half of all web traffic coming from mobile devices it’s not enough just to make sure you have a responsive website theme. When you’re writing an article you have to consider both the desktop and mobile experience if you want to grow your audience.  For example, this three sentence paragraph might look fine on a desktop, but on mobile it will be a huge block of text.

I had a lot of fun researching and writing this article. Going through the exercise of using the challenge feedback to learn and write a well-formatted post was extremely insightful.

I can better see the missteps I made in my previous attempt and appreciate the hard work that the Income School staff is putting into this contest.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below! Did you find these tips helpful? Have you tried to implement these best practices in your writing?  If so, please share a link to the article you wrote with these tips in mind.

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