So far, we’ve covered why your business should have a blog, how to set it up, how to create your blogging strategy, and where you can find good topics to write about. The next step is creating a great blog post. Today, we’re going to look at the most important elements that go into composing a successful blog post.
There are lots of differing opinions about how long a blog post should be. Some stick with the 300 word minimum for SEO purposes. Some think that no one wants to read a post longer than 600 words. Some won’t publish anything less than 2,500 words. And then there are those in between.
As a freelance writer, I have noticed that the most popular posts in terms of social shares tend to be the longer ones with 1,000+ words. It’s not to say that shorter posts won’t get lots of shares or that longer posts always get lots of shares. Some of it depends on the topic and the audience.
The best way to determine what is best of your target audience without having to just resort to trial and error is to look at blogs similar to yours and what length they go with. If you plan on having a social media blog that updates once a day like Social Media Examiner, you may want to go with longer posts. If you plan on starting up the next Mashable with several posts daily, you can probably go with mostly shorter content.
One thing that will make your posts a surefire hit is if you can tailor your content to appeal to everyone. It’s a bit tricky as we’re talking about appealing to both the beginners and the experienced, but it can be done. It’s a matter of explaining things in a way that beginners can start from scratch and apply what you’ve written and experienced people can still find something new.
On the business side of things, your potential customers will love the fact that you can explain things in a way that everyone can understand them. Your current customers will love the fact that you are sharing new tips and tricks they can use. To cover all of these grounds, you typically have to write a longer post, but if done right, it will be worth it.
No one wants to read a huge block of text. Be sure to use formatting elements such as:
- Headers (like the one above).
- Bolded and italicized text when applicable.
- Bulleted lists (like this one).
- Short paragraphs.
This will make your blog posts easily scannable so people can essentially preview the content without committing to it. Your headers and bolded text also help search engines get an even better idea what your post is about.
Social networks are becoming more visual. Facebook’s new newsfeed will use larger thumbnails for status updates with links. Twitter has released Twitter Cards that allows for a preview snippet and thumbnail to show below tweets with links.
You can use Creative Commons images from Flickr, stock images from sites like BigStockPhoto and Fotolia, screenshots using Jing (free image capturing tool), and even quotes like the one above created by Quozio.
Also note that if you plan to advertise a link to your blog post via Facebook Ads, you have to watch out for images with too much text. Sometimes they will not approve your ad fi you go over the 20% text limit. That’s why it’s nice to have an image that represents the topic of your post without any text.
Want your readers to stick around on your blog post longer? Then add some media to the mix. YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations… anything that people will have to spend some time with will make your visitors make a longer commitment instead of a passing glance.
The perk is that the longer they stay on your blog post, the more likely they are to look around at other things like the items in your sidebar. Better yet, put your video near the end of your post so that it is close to the mailing list sign up or call to action at the end of your posts. Then people might notice it more too!
Links are a touchy subject for most business bloggers. Some fear the wrath of Google, others fear that they are just giving their visitors a re reason to leave. But resource links (quality ones at least) are good for your blog. Here are the types of links you should include in your posts and why.
- Internal Links – These are links to other blog posts and pages on your website. These help keep your readers on your site longer. They also help if your content is ever stolen by another site – chicness are, that site will leave the stolen post in tact, meaning that you’ll be gaining backlinks.
- External Blog Post Links – These are links to other blog posts that are relevant to the topic you are covering. These show your readers that you are committed to giving them the best information possible, regardless of whether that information is on your site or not. Some links to other blogs will ping the blog owner, leading them to read your post and maybe even share it with their followers.
- Links to the Stuff You Talk About – If you mention something not that common, then link to it. While people may not need a link to WordPress, they might need one to . Don’t make people have to search for something you consider a good tool, product, or resource.
Call to Action
If you want to make sure your blog posts translate to conversions, then you need to incorporate a call to action into every blog post. The common thing to do is add a standard footer at the bottom of every blog post that encourages people to sign up for your mailing list, start a free trial for your product, or take another action relevant to your business. You can also squeeze calls to action within the text, although some readers may be turned off if your post seems like a sales pitch. Hence why most add their main call to action at the end.
Once you have composed a great post, you still have some optimization to do. In the next articles for this series, we’ll look at optimizing your posts for search and social media!
What other things do you do to ensure the success of your blog post? Please share in the comments!