You’ve heard many experts saying, “write great content” and I’m sure you wondered many times what is great content and how does the perfect blog post look like.
The first thing your readers will see is the headline of your post. They see the title even before coming on your blog. Your potential clients scroll down in their news feed on social media and they see a link to a post. They only spend about 3 seconds to decide if they are going to click that link and check the post. In this time, their brains analyze two things: the title of the post and the image.
If they consider your post relevant, and there is something in there that attracts their attention, they will come on to your blog.
Jon Morrow, the smart blogger, always says the headline is crucial, and we can see why. From what I noticed there are two type of headlines that bloggers create:
- Some bloggers do a nice title where they include the keywords for which they want to rank
- Other bloggers ignore the SEO aspect of the headline, and they think only about the way in which they could attract the readers.
I believe that you should write for your readers, not for the search engines. Think of it like this: if you write a valuable post that attracts a lot of traffic, people will naturally share it with their friends and other bloggers will link to it.
Google sees these social signals and because it understands that your post has generated a lot of engagement, it will rank it higher in its search results. I’m telling you guys, our friend Google has some smart algorithms.
That is why it’s important to use catchy words in your headlines, even if you have to sacrifice your keywords.
Let’s take as an example a famous headline that I am sure you are all familiar with “On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas”. We know that this post it’s addressed to bloggers, yet the title doesn’t mention anything related to blogging.
It’s obvious that the author didn’t intend to rank for terms like dying, fighting or mothers, although these are the words that strike you when you read the title. Maybe if the post would have been published on a site in the funeral niche then we could have taken it literally.
If you want to grab your readers attention fast, you should use words related to death, sex, money, war or feelings.
Let’s see another example “77 Resources That’ll Get You More Traffic Than Naked Pictures of Kim Kardashian.” Again, you wouldn’t believe that this post is about blogging, right? I mean it has the word “traffic” inside but the first thing your mind sees it’s “Naked Kim Kardashian” and the image that is featured in the post, guess what: it’s a nude photo of Kim. It’s a hot topic (although, between you and me, a lot of photoshop was used in that photo).
Three special categories of power words to which you should pay an extra attention are insults, politics, and religion. It may seem hard to believe, but there are bloggers that include this type of words in their posts, but few do it successfully.
A couple of examples are: “20 Rules for Writing So Crystal Clear Even Your Dumbest Relative Will Understand” and “How to Be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers”. People don’t like when you call their relatives dumb or when you say something like, “let me teach you how to be smart, like me, in a world of dumb bloggers, like you are if you don’t read my post.”
These posts were successful because they were published on an authoritative site and because the content was high quality.
So be very careful! When you write click bait headlines make sure that the content of the post won’t disappoint the readers. They came on your site, but you don’t want them to leave if immediately thinking it was a waste of their time.
Now that we cleared the problem of the headline, let’s talk about the second element that people see BEFORE coming on your site: The Image.
Find a relevant photo that illustrates the main idea of your post and brand it. By branding, I’m referring to having the logo of your site, the color of your theme and the title included on your featured image. As an example, check the image that is above this post. Nice looking, right? Canva is an excellent tool that you can use for free to create customized pictures.
So we talked about the title and the image. That isn’t even 10% of the post. We still have a lot to cover. Check this video for a quick summary:
The next aspect to which you should pay attention to is the formatting. Here are 12 steps that you should take into consideration when writing a new post:
1. Organize your posts in short paragraphs, 2-3 lines, to improve the readability of your post. Long paragraphs are difficult to read online and make the reader get tired reading.
2. Add subheadings in your post. Separate your post in subcategories so it will be easier for the reader to scan the post fast before deciding to read it word by word.
3. Add bold text to accentuate certain ideas. Don’t overdo it.
4. Arrange your post as a list. Articles like “Ten ways of doing …” or “Ten strategies to… (desired result)” are easy to read and state from the beginning that provides a solution to fix the problem. Like in this case.
5. Add bullet points. If you are describing a product or an idea and you just mention the characteristic then it’s best to use bullet points. If each idea is a result of the previous line, then you should use numbers. Also, for a small number of features you should use bullet points (maximum 5). If you describe more than five elements, then numbers are more suited.
6. Include tweetable quotes in your post. Sometimes a reader may not feel the need of sharing the entire post, but they may like a certain quote, and they could tweet that particular line, and the plugin will include the link to your post. Also, tweetable quotes make the post look more attractive.
7. Use the same font in the entire post. If you are using quotes from other bloggers, like I do in my expert roundups, you will have a lot of text of different sizes and fonts. Copy and paste all the text in notepad and then format it on your blog.
8. Don’t use underlined text. Online if some words are underlined it means that there is a link to another post. If you just underline to make the post look nice, readers will feel that something is missing and that the link was removed.
9. Use align left. In books, we see the classical format, justified, that although looks very elegant I don’t recommend you to use it online.
10. Format the post according to the approach and the voice that you adopt. If your post relies on the logical approach, then you should include all the element described above to bring arguments that support your point of view but if your post appeals to readers from an emotional perspective skip the numbering, bullet points, bold text, etc.
Use the same tone on all your posts. Depending on the niche, some authors express their opinion at the first person plural, in an official and neutral way. Other writers, like me, have a friendlier voice. Write the way you feel comfortable, and it suits your industry and once you found your voice stick to it.
Imagine I would write a review where I explain why a car is better than another one. It’s very easy to prove this by clear arguments that I can number.
Now imagine that I write a post that deplores the premature death of a beloved member of the society. A post like “10 reasons to which you should stop feeling sorry for….” would be a disaster.
11. Link to other posts from trusted bloggers where your readers can go for further information.
12. Use an effective call to action. At the end of the post, you should always suggest to your readers what they should do after they finish reading. “Share this post,” “comment and leave your feedback below,” “subscribe to receive my gift”.
Note: you should ask people to subscribe to your email list only if you are using a content upgrade and you have a special freebie that is specific on that topic.
I know that we all want more subscribers but if you are asking your readers to subscribe at the end of each post, just before the “annoying pop-up” is shown, well you will irritate a lot of people because many of them may already be subscribed to your newsletter. But if you provide them with a gift that is a more in-depth and more detailed version of the post, then they will gladly subscribe.
Here you have it, guys. This is the anatomy of a perfect blog post. Now, what’s next? You guessed. A call to action. I am going to break my rule (it’s ok to do it sometimes) and ask you to add your email address so you can be up to date with more awesome posts like this one.
On a serious note, it’s totally up to you what you will do next. If you learned something useful that you feel is going to help you grow your blog, even if it’s just a little bit, then share the post with your friends so we can help other bloggers too.
If by any chance you didn’t enjoy this post (are you crazy?!?) then send me an email or leave your feedback below so I know how I can improve it to better serve your needs.
Thank you for reading my post!