Not all blog posts are created equal. If you write or read blog posts, that quickly becomes apparent. What’s less obvious is, why? The difference between an okay blog post and one that glues eyes to the screen can be difficult to pinpoint. We instinctively feel it, even if we can’t verbalize it while reading.
So, the question must be asked — why is there a big difference? And more importantly, how can you apply this knowledge to your own blogs?
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of making sure your posts are winners. Below I’ve laid out 8 essential elements to a winning blog post.
1. Strong Title
Before you have a winning post, you need a fantastic title. A title should be specific, engaging, and SEO-focused (more on that further down). It should also preview the content of the post and entice readers with a hint of the value they’ll glean from it.
Some suggestions for making titles that pop:
- Use “How to” or other instructive verbiage.
- Include numbers. Example: 5 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Facebook Ads.
- Don’t use clickbait. In other words, make sure you have a value-packed post to backup your awesome title.
2. Readable copy
You may think your blog post is enjoyable and easy to read, but would others agree? A stellar post requires stellar copy.
Here are a couple tricks to create blog post eye candy:
- Vary your sentence length. Your blog shouldn’t be monotone, so break it up with shorter, snappy sentences and longer, more thoughtful sentences.
- Break up paragraphs. A good rule of thumb is keep paragraphs to five lines or fewer, though this partially depends on your audience. A deeply scientific or tech-based blog may be suitable for long paragraphs
- Shorter is better. Attention spans are waning, and people would much prefer bite-sized content that’s easy to skim and digest. Bullet and number lists are an easy way to accomplish this.
Another aspect of the content is headings. They help break up the post into digestible chunks, as well as mark the various sections and guide the flow from the opening, through the middle, and to the conclusion.
Headings also provide variation to the copy, which prevents readers getting scared off by a monotonous wall of paragraphs. They also make your blog post easier easier for search engines to crawl, helping with SEO efforts.
Linking to other posts is a great habit to get into. You don’t want to go overboard, throwing in hyperlinks willy-nilly, but every time you can include a link to a relevant post, do so.
Generally, you’ll want to link to other blog posts on your site, as well as other related pages. However, it’s also good to link to external sites. Known as outbound links, they help improve your Google ranking and build the quality of your post in the eyes of Google.
Linking to other sites is also a best practice when mentioning them or including them as a source for information in your post.
One final tip is to be specific with the wording you use for hyperlinks. If, for instance, you’re posting about a new eBook and have a link to the download page, use the title of the eBook for the hyperlink, rather than a generic “get it here.”
5. SEO keyword(s)
SEO (search engine optimization) is just a fancy way of referring to best practices to help your blog (and website) appear higher in the list of a search engine’s results.
Without getting too deep into the weeds, SEO keywords are one of the best ways to ensure people find you. Select industry or product-specific keywords based on what people will search for, and write about those words. For example, if your blog post is about 10 fun vacation spots in California, you should select a specific keyword that will cause your blog post to rank high in the search results for vacation spots in California.
Tip: Make sure your keyword isn’t too generic or popular, otherwise your post will have more competition.
Finally, once you pick a keyword, placing is important. Ideally, it should appear in the following:
- Blog title
- First paragraph
- At least one heading
- The body of the post (at least a few times)
- Meta description
6. Meta description
This is that little snippet of text that shows up beneath the post title and URL in search engine results. Usually 1-2 sentences, the meta description is a brief summary of the post.
Consider it the advertisement. If someone Googles “social media marketing” and your post appears in the list (because you used strong SEO keywords), the summary, or meta description, should be so compelling that people choose to read your post over the other choices.
We live in a visual world. Including images or custom designed graphics in your posts is another way to catch people’s attention and draw them in.
Within the post, images also help break up the flow of text and can add extra info to the written content through the use of infographics and images with text.
And remember those SEO keywords? They should get incorporated into your image file names.
8. Mobile optimization
This one is easy to overlook, yet it’s crucial to your blogging success.
Google gives better ranking to sites that are mobile-friendly. Over 70% of traffic comes from mobile devices, and since Google boasts over 90% of the market share, optimizing your blog posts to display properly on mobile devices greatly increases your chances of success.
Winning at Blogging: From Zero to Hero
There you have it — the main components that take a blog post from zero to hero. Invest time and effort into your blog posts, and you’ll see the rewards.
Blogging, while valuable, only comprises a piece of your content strategy, which funnels into your social strategy. If you’re looking for help taking your social channels to the next level, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to assist you!
What practices have you found most useful in your blogging? Share them in the comments below!