5 Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Outstanding

Are your blog posts just “okay”?  Want to make them great?

Here’s how – (from my post that was earlier published in Social Media Examiner, where I am a guest blogger.)IStock_000004426732XSmall

A great blog post respects the needs of three distinct entities. It educates and informs your audience (your subscribers and visitors), optimizes for the search engines and sufficiently energizes you so that you do a good job creating it.

Every blog post should address the following five components to ensure it hits the mark –  for your audience, the search engines and you.

#1: Has an Engaging Title

The title is arguably the most important element of any post. Engaging titles that spark curiosity are more likely to be clicked. When this is combined with strategic keywords that affirm the topic of the post, you have a winner.

Tim Ferris recently wrote a post on the art and science of headlines to increase the click-through rate. The idea is simply to generate curiosity, such as Why Are You Single? Perhaps It’s the Choice EffectYou’re wondering what the Choice Effect is all about, aren’t you?

Many of us don’t have Tim’s fan base, so we need to develop a catchy title that also includes keywords that will get indexed by Google. Brian Clark with Copyblogger does an excellent job of this. One of his generally accepted SEO copywriting tips is to place these keywords near the front of the title.

You should occasionally test your titles to determine what resonates most with your audience.  I’ve personally found that titles that respond to a specific need, such as How Often Should I Blog?, will result in higher traffic with my targeted readers than those that are deep and thought-provoking.

#2: Offers Easy to Consume Content

When you organize your content so that it is easily consumer, you tap into a secret of blogging. The more readily your content is assimilated in the minds of your readers, the more favorably it’s received—and remembered.

Here are some ways to accomplish this.

  • Blog for Your AudienceAs you develop your blogging style, always consider the needs of your audience. My audience is the same as that of Social Media Examiner—business professionals and marketers. They expect me to get to the point quickly and avoid technical jargon.
  • Learn to Write in AP StyleIf you scan any news source, you’ll notice the paragraphs are short—only a few sentences. This is one of the hallmarks of Associated Press (AP) style of writing, which many journalists consider to be the standard. These guidelines will give your posts a professional appearance and make them easier to consume.
  • Use SubheadingsThis helps both you and the reader. I tend to write my first draft quickly for flow and readability. Then I go back and organize with subheadings, while also reorganizing and eliminating entire paragraphs so that my readers don’t have to.
  • Create Lists: Lists are the ultimate organizing tool, which is why they’re frequently retweeted—thereby attracting valuable links back to your blog.
  • Use Italics and Bold Text for EmphasisIf someone reads your blog post word for word, it’s usually after skimming it first. Help readers do both by emphasizing key points with italics, bold text and, with care, all caps.

#3: Mixes Content Types

Delivering great content requires a mix of qualities that keeps your readers coming back for more. The key isn’t always the quality of the message, but how it’s delivered. Improve how you do this by employing these 5 practices.

  • Offer Your OpinionsIf you’re an expert in your field, then your opinion is relevant. Who do you respect more, the waiter who says everything on the menu is excellent, or the one who looks you in the eye and recommends her favorites (or suggests avoiding some dishes)
  • Use MultimediaMake it a point to use images, screenshots and video to communicate your message with more punch.

  • Link to Your ResearchData has greater credibility when it comes from a reputable source, such as the Pew Research Center. A link to that source raises your credibility by showing you’ve done your homework.  Data from respected sources such as the Pew Research center will validate your perspective.  2010Sep17_Pew Internet
  • Provide Practical ExamplesExamples of situations where you’ve had direct experience are powerful, although it’s important to provide details such as names and places to validate that credibility. Just be sure you get the proper permissions first.
  • Take Out the TrashMake the effort to edit out anything that doesn’t support your title or enhance your post. Include details to create a mental picture, but leave out anything else that detracts from your story.

#4: Is Search Engine Optimized

Learning search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary aspect of blogging if you expect to build a sustainable reader base. While SEO can get complicated, you can be very effective by simply tuning into your audience and writing for them. Trust your gut and write for people and SEO will take care of itself.

These are the key elements of SEO that deserve your attention.

  • Excerpts: The excerpt of your post is the brief description included with the return of search results. A well-chosen description encourages click-throughs. If you don’t build an excerpt, the first couple of sentences of your post will be used as a de
    fault. Get in the habit of summarizing your post in the first couple of sentences.
  • KeywordsLearn the common words and phrases being used by your audience. For example, do they use the term entrepreneur or small business? It’s a distinction that has to be made so that you can be found when they’re searching for your expertise.
  • LinksThe SEO pros universally agree that inbound links to your blog are vital for achieving a high ranking. How do you get these links? The most reliable way is to write amazing content that people want to link to.

One tip is to link the keywords (known as anchor text) in your post that are aligned with the words you expect to be used by someone searching for your expertise. The classic mistake is linking to click here instead of more relevant keywords such as small business marketing, or whatever relates to your expertise.

Additionally, you naturally want to link back to your previous posts to encourage your readers to hang around longer. This increases the likelihood they’ll respond to a call to action, such as subscribing to your blog or newsletter.

  • TagsTags are handled differently in every blogging platform. Just be sure to use tags that are relevant to the post you’re creating, as well as the audience you’re blogging for. Darren Rowse of Problogger suggests no more than a dozen tags for each post to avoid undermining their effectiveness through dilution.
  • CategoriesCategories obviously help your blog visitors go deeper into the subject matter of the topic that interests them most. Google also indexes your categories for the same reason, so choose your categories carefully.  While some prefer to have dozens of categories, I am in the process of trimming mine down to just a handful.

#5: Encourages Interaction and Action

While blogging is indeed a platform for broadcasting, the ultimate objective is to encourage engagement and interaction, namely in the form of comments. Just as an engaged audience gives a speaker feedback on his live presentation, the comments to your blog will do the same.

You can and should learn from every single visitor to your blog by responding and seeking to better understand his/her point of view. The reason for this is that every commenter represents the perspective of many others. The more you learn, the easier it is to focus your efforts on what’s most relevant to your audience.

Why else do you want comments? Because comments are social proof that your blog is a happening place. And this encourages more traffic and subscribers to your blog.

To encourage more comments, you may not only have to remind your audience to do so, but show them as well. Write a post on commenting and use your blog as an example.  Show your readers exactly how to comment, and even go a step further to describe hot to share your post by retweeting or using the Facebook Like button.

2010Aug9_jing2Click image to enlarge

As you begin to engage your audience, you’ll want to move them closer to helping you accomplish your blogging objectives.  For example, you may ultimately want to sell your ebooks. A preliminary step toward that is to encourage more subscribers to your list. Then when the time is right you can reach out to your list to provide higher value content that monetizes your blogging efforts.

There is no such thing as a perfect blog post. However, if you follow these recommendations, you’ll be sure to enhance your blog for you and your audience, as well as the search engines that work serve everyone’s needs.

What do you think?  Does this take clarify how blogging can help your business?

Leave a comment below or share this with your community with any of the share buttons below – or with those on the little red bar at the bottom of this page.  

Until tomorrow,  Jeff

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Comments

  1. Concerning #1 – an engaging title. OK,keywords in a blog title are important but what if I feel like saying: “A Great Weekend” or “A Romantic Weekend” instead of let’s say : ” A happy weekend exploring Windows 7 ” or ” A romantic weekend with Neil Diamond” :-)Some people’s titles seem to be longer than their posts! Not long ago,I wrote a post entitled “10/10/10″ and to my surprise about 7,000 people visited my blog in ONE day!! That’s a huge number for me! I never figured out out the reason why but I felt this had to do with the post title.

    This said I would like to thank you for all the great advice and useful tips.

  2. Anastasia – 7000! Whoa … that’s a huge number for anyone. Congratulations on that.

    It comes down to getting your posts read – AND getting them indexed by Google – which means they have to know what the post is about from the keywords.

    One suggestion is to avoid leading words like “the” and “a.” Just lead with “romantic” or “Neil Diamond.”

    And, as you have noticed, sometimes everything just works. Just keep asking why. That’s all any of us can – and should do.

    Jeff

  3. This is a really useful post. Just read it before clicking the “Schedule” on my latest post myself. Wish I could do all the things you suggest – practice makes perfect!

  4. This was very informative to someone like me who is new to blogging. Thank you,

  5. Master Motivator – Appreciate the kind words – happy to help.:)

    Jeff

  6. I find 2 tips interesting and missing in our blog. One is learn to write in AP style and second is excerpts, where in you have told to summarize the post in first 2 line. Oh yes i forgot one more thing that was dividing the post in small paras and naming them for readers comfort.

    cheers,
    LHI.
    http://lighthouse-insights.blogspot.com

  7. Some of these idea are great.. Never would thought of them. I just started my blog yesterday.. I am mostly just writing about my opinions and my bio.

  8. this is a long post but worth to read, blogging could be tricky sometimes especially with the search engine’s algorithm being changed constantly, but if we really get the basics I guess we’d be fine, you’ve given the basics that everyone would need to start and manage a blog in this post, thanks.

  9. That’s a great place to start. Get your perspectives out there. Trust me, your prospects and customers really want to know your thoughts.

    Jeff

  10. Yes, indeed it is lengthy – however, it was a breeze for me to write after years of blogging. I honestly believe anyone can succeed at blogging by taking care to address these 5 areas.

    Jeff

  11. It was a pleasure re-reading this post. Your tips and advice have helped me drive more traffic to my blog and, I must admit, I owe it to you. OK, I’ll try to avoid using articles in my titles such as “the” or “a/an” and perhaps reference words such as “this/that” etc- although it’s not always possible. Somehow, the title doesn’t always sound good to me without them! Could be because I’m not a native speaker.
    Thanks a million, Jeff.

  12. Anastasia – You are welcome! Titles are a challenge for all of us. My suggestion is track which titles get the most favorable results – i.e. engagement. More than likely its a simple title or one that generates curiosity.

    So, glad to see you here again.

    Jeff

  13. ya the mysterious way, if i saw this title in Twitter for example i would give it a look good job

  14. i don’t have a marketing blog, my blogs mainly about causes i believe in, but your recommendations, ur posts is my fav to know how to blog better
    thank you very much

  15. AD – You are welcome. Learn, understand, and know your community and your blogging will achieve its highest objectives. :)

    Jeff

  16. Thank you so much for this information. I have a new-ish blog and need to gain an audience. I’m sure I’ll use many of your tips.

    Shannon
    http://www.boomerconfessions.com

  17. As usual – great advice! I, too, am a big believer in images and may sometimes work backwards: find an image that inspires me and write a blog based on that (vs. tracking down an image once the piece is complete). Finding images can take time – but it’s time well spent. Not only are readers attracted by the visual; if you’ve got a reader and are scrolling through lots of articles – the visuals pop!

    • Jeff Korhan says:

      Martha – Yep, I hear a lot of complaints about how it can sometimes take as long to find and insert the right image as to write the blog post itself.

      So, this is one benefit of FreeDigitalPhotos.net – you can find something that will work pretty quickly, whereas, Creative Commons takes some searching. :)

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