Every blogger wants to write better blog posts. They want more shares, more views, more conversions. But when it comes time to writing blog posts that perform, a lot of bloggers tend to fall short. But why?
Great blog posts aren’t only interesting to read, they usually follow a certain structure. And it’s important to have at least a few of the elements below in your posts in order to get the best performance. It doesn’t matter if you’re a business blogger, a fashion blogger, a parenting blogger, or a lifestyle blogger, these are applicable to any types of posts to ensure that people click through, read your article, and share.
1. Write A Captivating Headline
The most important part of your blog post is the headline. When you see an article in Google, on Twitter, on Facebook, or in your RSS Reader, what draws you to click on the link is the captivating headline. Go to the store, and walk in front of the magazine isle. Look at the magazines in the first row, and pay attention to the headlines. Anything attract your attention? Now look at the magazines in the back shelf – how interesting are the headlines? The ones in front are better, right?
It’s the same with blog posts – the better the headline, the better chance that people will click, read, and share your article. So what type of headlines can you write?
The provocative headline
You often see these types of headlines at major news sites (like the Huffington Post), or in magazines. Here are some great examples from the Huffington Post:
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- New and Improved Oil Spills!
- Let’s Talk About Kaetlyn Osmond’s Talent, Not Her Crotch
Use psychology to help with headlines
Search Engine People wrote a great post about the psychology of a great headline. People are prone to read articles that help them do a certain task, help them avoid doing something bad (fear), or that’s really easy to read (because people are lazy). If you can write a headline that induces psychological factors, you’re definitely going to get more views. Here are a few examples of these types of headlines:
- 7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work (list – laziness)
- 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work (list – laziness)
- Warning: Use These 5 Headline Templates at Your Own Risk (fear)
- How to Write a Killer “How To” Post That Gets Attention (how-to – learning)
2. Use Quality Images
The second most important thing in my opinion (right after the headline) is the image. Think about the nature of social media and sharing content over the internet. Think about what Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, and G+ all have in common. When you share an image on any of these networks, there’s a snippet that shows the headline, and the featured image in that post. People are attracted by quality images on these networks. If you want people to click through, you better have a good image attached to your post. Use a tool like photopin.com to find images using flickr’s creative commons agreement. It has multiple search filters that you can use to find the best, most interesting image for your blog keyword. You can also filter by commercial and non-commercial image rights as well.
*Bonus: Change the name of your image when you save it to your blog post keyword to help with search results. Also, add that keyword in the image Alt Tag. This should help with SEO.
3. Make Use of Subheadings and Formatting
If you want people to read through your whole post, you need to make it easy for them. Use subheadings, especially when you’re writing long-form content. This will let people know what the paragraph is about, in case they only want to skim through your post. Also, when using a list type post (like the one I’m writing here), it lets people know how many more points you will be making in your article.
Don’t be scared to use bullet points and numbering as well. It helps break the text, so it doesn’t seem like a long-form essay. Quick bullet points can help with:
- breaking down text
- highlighting key-findings in an article or paragraph
- make big ideas easier to digest
Also, use italics when you want to add bonus notes or opinions, and use bold text when you want to highlight an important point in a paragraph. If people were to skim through your article (which they most likely are), could they still get the gist of what you’re saying?
4. Make It a Conversation
A blog post is not a news release, and it shouldn’t be. Blog posts are meant to be conversation starters. What I hate the most about reading a bad blog post is when someone makes a statement like “one must look at all aspects if one wants to form a proper opinion…. blah blah blah…” Are you kidding me? Are you really going to use “one” to refer to a person in your blog post?
The point of your post is to spark conversation. To write like if you’re speaking to the the reader directly. Don’t be scared to use “you” or “I” in your posts!!! It makes it a lot easier to read. Oh, and don’t use any words you wouldn’t use naturally in a conversation – it’s just weird. And don’t be afraid to start a sentence with “and” or “but” (see what I did there?), this isn’t a university essay. It’s blogging. It’s conversation. Make it happen.
5. Know What Your Readers Want
Often when we write as bloggers, we tend to write about stuff that we like, or stuff WE want to talk about (I’m definitely guilty of this myself). But what makes a blog post exceptional is when we write something that our readers really want. And there’s no way to figure this part out unless you put yourself in the shoes of the reader, and do a bit of research.
Use a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find out what people are searching for. You can often find long-tail keywords that will help spark ideas for headlines and articles that match what people want. You can also use Google Trends to see what keywords are making way in people’s search results, and try to capitalize on that.
Another way to get information from your audience is to simply ask. Use a plugin like “What Should I Write About Next” to get information from people. You can also use something like “Lead-Converter” to get more information about what your audience likes, or doesn’t like, or if they’re ever interested in trying out your products. You can also use the good-ol’ Survey Monkey to find out basic information about your readers, and send it out in your newsletter.
6. Use a Call-To-Action
One of the biggest mistakes that we all make as bloggers is we tend to forget to use call-to-actions at the end of our posts. We spend so much time researching and writing, but what do we want people to do once they’re done reading? Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Do you want people to participate in a conversation in the comments? Do you want people to register for your giveaway? Or do you want people to buy your products?
If you don’t let people know what to do at the end of the post, how are you expected to get results? People can’t read your mind. Don’t waste all of your content by not having a clear call to action.
So there you have it! These are my six points to help you write better blog posts. What’s your advice? What am I missing here? What don’t you agree with? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below! :) If you’re interested in finding out more about what we do at InNetwork, start a 30-day free trial.