Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ten keys to a perfect blog post

Blogging seems easy. Especially to those of us who do it often. Just write what's on your mind -- even if it's just stream of consciousness. You don't have to follow any AP or MLA Style Guidelines. There are no rules. No regulations. It's basically just a public diary of your opinions and expertise. But to a beginner, it can be an overwhelming challenge -- particularly when you're just getting started. There are so many things to consider: what do I write about; what should I title it; which blogging platform should I use; which image should I choose; etc. etc.

Then once you actually get started, how do you finally get people to read it? Outside of pricey and/or guerrilla marketing techniques, the easiest way to ensure the maximum number of eyeballs view your post is to write something worth reading. Now, not only does this mean that your public diary of opinions and expertise must be interesting and informative, but it also means you have to keep going. You have to keep writing and keep posting. And you have to do it consistently. You need a plan. You need a formula. And, fortunately, I've calculated it for you...

Here are the ten keys to the perfect blog post that will ensure your blog posts get read, get shared, and then get read again:
  1. Platform: Each blogging platform has its pros and cons. Tumblr is good for shorter blogs, especially those that are mostly images or animated GIFs. WordPress is good if you're trying to build more than just a blog, and want an entire website. Same goes for the blogs integrated into website building tools like Weebly or Wix. But if you're trying to drive the maximum amount of traffic to your website, then Google's Blogger (or Blogspot) is your best choice. Though they don't admit it, Google's organic search results most definitely favor their own blogging platform over its competitors when all other SEO factors are similar. 
  2. Title: Blog titles can be as tough company names, but the secret is to choose a name that tells its readers what to expect from your content. Blog post titles are even trickier. Though you definitely need to choose a title that gives the reader an idea of what to expect in the post, it's also important to make it mysterious enough that they don't get all the information they need in the title alone. Have you ever read a headline on Twitter or in the news that told you everything you needed to know (i.e. "Lebron James agrees to new deal to return to Cleveland Cavaliers" or "Star Wars Episode VII sets new box office record with $500 billion weekend")? It's a great summary, but the reader doesn't even need to leave their Twitter or Facebook feed to visit your blog. Instead, use questions (i.e. "How many records will Star Wars Ep. 7 break?") or at least less descriptive titles (i.e. "Lebron James decides to leave Miami"). And the easiest trick is to just create a list or countdown. Humans appear to be hardwired to tune into lists, according to
  3. Image: Every blog post should include an image. It's not only important to break up the page visually, but also for social media and RSS feeds. Almost every social media platform and RSS reader today includes images, and most of them automatically pull images from your post. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words -- and sometimes, an image is even worth a thousand retweets
  4. Length: The ideal length a blog post is a highly-debated topic. And though there is no limit (i.e. the 140-character limit on Twitter) there is a general consensus that shorter is better. Human attention spans are getting shorter every year, so in order to not overwhelm the reader, keep their attention, and ensure they get to the end where your call-to-action should exist -- keep it to 2,000 words or less. Then be consistent. If you post 500 words once per month on average -- continue to post 500 words once per month. Write. Rinse. Repeat.
  5. Call-to-Action (CTA): Every blog post needs a call-to-action. Even if you're just writing a personal blog with no advertisements and nothing to sell, each and every blog post should end with a conclusive CTA where you ask the reader to do something, whether it be to leave comments or share it on social media. It's the easiest way to increase engagement with your readers.
  6. Social Media Share Buttons: If you want your blog post to be read by people outside of your inner circle of friends and family, you need it to go viral. Not necessarily viral like "Charlie Bit Me" or the "Social Media Explained Donut Edition" -- but at least viral beyond your own personal network. In order for it to go viral, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to share your blog posts to all their favorite social networks. While most platforms include built-in social share widgets today, you can always utilize embeddable HTML modules like ShareThis
  7. Section Headers: Because of the diminishing human attention span, you need to make your blog posts as skimmable as humanly possible. Utilize headers, chapters, section titles, and/or bold statements -- literally, make the most important statements bold -- to highlight the key points of your blog post. This is another reason why top 10 lists work so well. People don't have time to read every word, and if it at first glance they can't find something interesting or if they feel overwhelmed by the length of your post -- they'll bounce immediately.
  8. Tags / Keywords: In today's always-connected and intertwined world wide web of keywords, it is imperative that you utilize tags and keywords to link your blog post to other similar blog posts (both that you wrote and those that exist outside of your own blog). It's also why you should always "tag hash" -- and even consider utilizing hashtags in your blog post titles so that every time your post is shared on Twitter or Facebook it's automatically connected to the every other blog post with that hashtag. 
  9. Links: SEO is key to driving traffic to any website, webpage or blog post on the internet. And two major ways to improve SEO today are by utilizing both inbound and outbound links wherever possible. With blog posts, it's key to not only link to other related articles and blogs, but to also utilize reciprocal links to connect readers to other blog posts you have written, i.e. Top 10 SEO tips for 1st page Google search results.  
  10. RSS: Lastly, and probably rightly so, are RSS feeds and "Subscribe" buttons. You need to give your readers a way to subscribe to your blog and get notified when new posts are written. But with the inevitable death of RSS feeds, the most future-forward plan to allow people to subscribe to your blog is by adding Twitter "Follow" buttons, Google+ "Circle Me" buttons, and Facebook "Like" buttons to your blog.
Did you find this blog post about blog posts helpful or interesting? Then follow me on Twitter, circle me on Google+, and like me on Facebook


Kezya Wulandari said...

Thanks for writing, I very much liked your newest post. I think you should post more frequently. you evidently have natural ability for blogging!
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thank you

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