Whether you’re new to blogging or just getting started, you want your efforts to be effective and worthwhile.
Although creating compelling content is a large part of that, how you present the information on your blog can contribute greatly to your success.
Yes, the content itself is important. But, if it’s not presented in the right way, you’ll have a tougher time getting traction with your efforts.
That’s why we train our clients how to build and structure blog posts in a way that’s optimized for today’s website visitor.
Checklist: Building Effective Blog Posts
Here are the exact tips we share with our clients to write more effective blog posts that are more likely to be read and shared.
1. Write a compelling headline.
People will choose whether or not to read your post based on the headline, so it’s important to take the time to get this right. In fact, that’s why I often write at least 5-10 versions of a blog post title before deciding on the best one.
Your headline should be snappy, exciting and entice people to read more. Just make sure your headlines match the content.
If you struggle with this, think about the headlines that grab your attention on social networks or in newspapers or magazines. Those are the same kinds of headlines that will work best for your blog posts.
If you need help improving your headlines, here are several resources that will help:
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines – Copyblogger
- 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines – Jeff Goins
- 52 Headline Hacks (ebook) – Jon Morrow
- Your Headlines Suck. Here’s What You Can Do About It – Erik Deckers
2. Include a strong introduction.
Next to the headline, the opening paragraph is the most read part of your blog post. That’s why it’s important to get the blog post introduction right.
Ask a question. Tell a quick story. Start with a problem. Share some statistics.
Make your blog introduction interesting to give the reader a reason to keep reading.
3. Use complementary images or graphics.
Adding visual content to your blog posts will help draw readers in and make the blog post more eye appealing. Not to mention, photos and graphics make the article more attractive when shared on social networks.
You can find images by searching through Flickr’s creative commons (just make sure you follow the attribution license and link to the creator of the picture). Or, you can inexpensive or free stock photos from sites such as iStock, 123rf or FreeDigitalPhotos.
You can also consider other visuals too – screen shots, drawings or cartoons, infographics, presentations or even video – to engage readers.
4. Add subheadings.
Subheadings help chunk up the information and make it easy for readers to digest it. This is incredibly useful since most website visitors scan instead of read.
Not to mention, subheadings are an important SEO vehicle that help tell search engines about the most important content on the page.
5. Use lists and bullet points.
Although not every blog post requires lists or bullet points, it can be incredibly effective to use them. Here’s why:
- It makes it easier for readers to scan the information.
- It encourages to reader to keep moving.
- It’s easy on the eyes and serves as a visual break for the reader.
- Readers see exactly how much information they’re getting.
6. Write tight.
People don’t have a ton of extra time, so get to the point quickly.
Take out the extraneous stuff. Never take three sentences to say what can be said in one.
7. Keep paragraphs short.
Blog posts are not essays or research papers. Paragraphs do not need to be long swaths of text.
Keep paragraphs to 2-3 sentences each to make the information easy to digest. This also helps keep the reader moving through the content.
8. Link to relevant information.
It’s always a good idea to link to articles, blogs and other sources that deal with the topic you’re discussing. Not only does it give readers additional resources, but linking to others can also attract attention to your blog.
As a rule, I typically encourage clients to include 3-5 relevant external links in every blog post.
9. Link to your own blog posts.
Linking to your own content gives readers access to additional information and helps keep visitors on your site.
Internal linking is also important to do for SEO purposes as it can pass authority and “link juice” to other pages on your site.
Although you should link to keywords, be sure to keep your language natural. You don’t want to stuff every blog post with tons of keywords. It’s not helpful and it makes it unwieldy for readers.
10. Include a call to action.
At the end of every blog post, you should tell the reader what to do next. For instance, if you want people write a comment, ask a question at the end of your post to encourage discussion.
Or, if you are using the post to encourage sign-ups to your email list, then tell them that. (i.e. If you liked what you read, sign up to get our posts by email. That way, you’ll never miss another helpful tip from us).
You can also make a direct appeal to buy a product or inquire about a service, but you want to avoid doing this on every blog post. You don’t want to use it as the strong sale every time.
What would you add to the list? What works for you?