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by Lenka Istvanova on 17th January 2014
Content is not enough! The look and presentation of what you write counts too. You can have very good content but your readers don’t stick around or share it. Why? Because your content is not engaging or in other words hasn’t been packaged in the correct way. Let’s look at how this can be done.
“Content is the king….”
“It’s all about the content…”
“You need to create fresh content….”
Well this is all true but I think that these statements are half-finished and are missing something important, so I had a go and finished the sentences;
Content is the king….and presentation is the queen.
It’s all about the content… and the way you present it to your readers.
You need to create fresh content…and make sure that is easy to scan and read.
With this in mind I’ve come up with my top 8 elements that make up a good blog post that your visitors would want to read.
An attention grabbing headline is the most important element of every blog post or article. The title is the first reason people will want to read your blog post so make sure it’s eye-catching. If you get this wrong don’t expect to have many readers (if any) even though your blog post content might be good.
I’ve seen so many business blog posts with super-boring headlines such as ‘XYZ Case Study’ or ‘IT Tips’. If you’re one of them please stop wasting time here. Remember that the words you use in your headline/title are probably the most important words out of your entire blog post.
If you don’t believe me I will use the words of Advertising guru, David Ogilvy to back me up here;
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar” David Ogilvy
Looking at all the points I mentioned above here’s a quick formula you need to follow when creating headlines;
Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rational + Promise
For example take a look at how Econsultancy rocks their headlines; I like this one so much;
Did you see what they did there? Well, then go and change your headlines to make them irresistible too.
If I really struggle I sometime use Portent’s Title Maker to get some inspiration. It’s a free tool where you paste your keyword or subject and get some title ideas.
For example; I entered ‘SEO Tips’ and got this pretty interesting title:
Or ever better, for ‘SEO’ I got:
Pretty good, right?! I’m not saying that it’s the best tool but it will give you an idea how your headline could look.
Here’re a couple of other sources you can use to create compelling headlines:
The introduction or opening paragraph is another key element of an effective blog post as it gives readers the answers to their key questions:
At this point you still have their attention; however this can easily change if your intro doesn’t provide the right answers. Similar to the Headline rule, you need to make this part the best paragraph of your blog post because if the intro isn’t good enough, readers will skip the rest of your masterpiece.
The main body of your article is the longest part therefore you need to do everything in your power to make sure it’s doesn’t look boring. What you really want to do is make is scannable as, according to Nielsen’s study people only read 28% of the words during an average page visit. This means that most of your blog post won’t be read, just skimmed through by visitors. Yes, that’s right; with the amount of blog posts created every day you shouldn’t be surprised.
In order to make your blog posts more scannable make sure you include all of these;
If the headline is the only heading in your blog post than you’d better go and add sub-headings. Headings or sub-headings help to optimise your content for Search engines but they also guide your readers around the content. Good heading structure will ensure high level of readability/scannability for your visitors. You should have a sub-heading for every new section to help readers know what the section is about so they can skip the parts they’re not interested in.
Heading and Sub-headings Guidance
You can have a look at a blog post from Joost de Walk where he gives detailed information and recommendations on blog post heading structure.
Images are good but relevant images are crucial for your blog post to be engaging and not boring.
If your blog posts/articles have no visuals you may be missing out on high number of readers as 65% of the population are visual learners (source). This means that they tend to learn and absorb information best through seeing it; not by only reading or listening.
The right image or video can increase engagement among your readers and, most importantly, it can stop your blog post from being boring. Let’s be honest, words alone are boring so make sure you add some relevant image to your content. Good visuals will make you readers stop long enough to actually read your master piece.
For the best results make sure that;
Some of the websites where you can get good quality images;
If you’re struggling to find an image that would fit to your content, why don’t you try Google Image Search. Obviously you can just ‘google’ it and download the first image you see; however there is a way around it.
Go to Google Image Search, click on Search Tools – > Usage Rights and then Labelled For Reuse or Labelled For Commercial Reuse
Everyone likes freebies or other additional sources that can provide extra information. Think of your blog post as a hub of useful information, lists, studies and tools as readers will appreciate and will be more likely to bookmark your article than content that has no added value (no links to other valuable sources).
Also please avoid linking to only your blog posts; if all the links point to one domain (your website) it will look dodgy, sales-y, you name it. Instead, when you do you initial research save/bookmark the articles you used as sources and link to them in your blog post. Share the link love and you will be rewarded by your readers.
Type of links your blog post could include are;
A recent study done by BrightEdge proved the power of Social Media Share buttons when they happened to make the content 7 times more spreadable that content without them.
Therefore, including these buttons in every piece of content you produce is a no-brainer unless you don’t want anyone to read and share your blog post.
It’s your choice but I suppose you will love the extra readers so here’re a couple of plugins that will generate Social Media share buttons for you (for free!).
The final short paragraph should quickly summarise the key findings and suggest the next step or include a Call-to-action. Try to think what you want your readers to do now they’ve read your masterpiece. Do you want them to download something, leave a comment or just share it?
Some of the common Calls-to-action include;
Hopefully you’ve managed to learn everything about the anatomy of a perfect blog post and now you’re ready to hit the publish button. However, before you do that I recommend going through the below questions inspired by Ahava Leitbtag’s content checklist
If you can’t answer these questions I would definitely wait before publishing it.
What are your thoughts?
Is there anything you would add that works for you and your readers? I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes up a good blog post.
The Word Content via BigStock