15 Key Elements Every Blog Post Needs
Every blogger prays each blog post is a home run yielding lots of readers, social media shares and comments. As Mack Collier has pointed out and I strongly agree, you need to focus your blog on achieving your blog goals, not just chasing social shares or comments. To this end, writing consistently strong blog posts yields results over time. (Don’t take my word for it, check out how SEO whiz Rand Fishkin shows this for his wife’s blog.)
While every blogger will have a relatively weak post once in a while, if you’re phoning it in your readers will know. Therefore, each post has to include every critical element.And, just because you write one amazing post, don’t assume your next one will be equally strong. What in your opinion is a strong post may not resonate with your readers.
Here are fifteen points to help ensure every post you compose has a fighting chance of being a success.
- Know your audience. Face it, you can write the most useful content in the world but if it’s not positioned for your target readers it will fall flat. This means understanding your readers’ needs and how to get their attention. Develop marketing personas for the various segments of your audience to help you create content they seek.
- Speak in a human voice that resonates with your readership. While most bloggers get this innately, go a step further and use language your audience uses. Don’t select a fancy, multi-syllable word when a short one will suffice. If you’re a corporate blogger, cut out the meaningless corporate gobbledygook.
- Incorporate stories into your writing. Just a pile of links or facts doesn’t cut it because no one remembers them. Just like you heard as a child, a narrative with a beginning, middle and end aids comprehension.
- Write a strong headline. Headlines can be a make it or break it element for many blog posts. Start with a working title and edit it after you’ve finished writing your post. Headlines pull prospective readers in. Don’t forget to include one of your keywords into the title.
- Kick off your article with a great lead (aka lede). Don’t underestimate the power of your post’s opening. It works with your title to draw readers into your content.
- Optimize your post for search. Make sure your content shows up when prospects look for this information on search engines. While your post should be written for real people, not search bots, focus each post on one or two keyword phrases. Include this word in your title and your post’s URL. (Here’s what 15 SEO experts recommend for optimizing your blog.)
- Link to appropriate information to enhance understanding. It’s important to include links to other parts of your blog and website as well as to external resources and blogs. If you’re using a blog for business, link to specific products where relevant.
- Incorporate photographs, infographics or other images. Humans are visual beings. Images featuring people are the best attention-getters.
- Make your content an easy-to-consume presentation. Bear in mind that your readers may be multi-tasking so help them grasp the meaning of your content. Use bullet points, bolding, italics, and color as needed to aid readers on the go.
- Include a contextually relevant call-to-action. When you edit your post, consider what you want your readers to do next. How can you guide them in the context of your post?
- Take the Goldilocks approach to blog post length. Blog posts shouldn’t too short or too long. Here’s where understanding your audience matters. Since they may prefer longer thought pieces or shorter lists. (On a related note, here’s input on blog post frequency.)
- Start the social media conversation with a question. Looking for more reader engagement (aka blog comments)? Include an inquiry at the end of each blog post to get readers thinking. Also, be prepared to respond to each comment to continue the conversation and show readers you care.
- Use good grammar and spelling. Many bloggers feel they don’t need to have correct grammar and spelling. While an occasional typo is okay, understand that poor grammar, usage and spelling, as well as foul language, reflects badly on your blog’s brand and turns readers off. If you’re less than stellar in this area, get a copy editor to help you. This is a must for any business blog.
- Incorporate social sharing buttons, including email. Facilitate expanding your content reach. Place social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of each column. Ask readers to share the information.
- Promote each post separately. Don’t expect that if someone reads a post they’ll automatically return for more content. To this end, it’s useful to promote your RSS and email options. Also, share your content on appropriate social sharing sites. Incorporate blog content in your emailings and other internal media. (Here are 23 ways to get your blog noticed.)
To give your blog posts the best chance of succeeding each time you publish, it’s important to incorporate these fifteen points. You’re better off creating quality content two to three times a week than publishing poor quality content every day because no one will want to read it. Understand that your readers are smarter than you are.
Do you have any other tips to make blog posts fail-proof? If so, please share them in the comment section below.
Here are some related articles you may find of interest.
- 31 Blog Design Fixes
- 3 Secrets to Being an A-List Blogger [Infographic included]
- 31 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out
- Why your blog is guaranteed to fail.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misocrazy/208559011/