What is the difference between a good blog post and a great blog post? The difference boils down to seven major elements. If you can perfect them, you’re sure to have a runaway success on your hands. Because in the midst of the content marketing explosion, “good” often isn’t good enough. Here’s how to step up your game.
1. Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule of content marketing is what makes or breaks a blog post. The rule says that 20% of your time should be spent on actual content creation. The other 80% should be spent on content promotion. Remember that there is a ton of great content online, much of which is never even read. The difference between “good” and “great” is promotion.
Use relevant social networks and bookmarking websites to spread the word about your content. Just don’t make the mistake of using those promotion tools strictly for self-promotion. Try to actually become part of the community (and add value) by commenting on and voting for other contributors’ content.
2. Craft an Amazing Title
8 out of 10 people will read the title of this post and subsequent headings, but only 2 out of 10 will end up actually reading the post. The takeaway here is that a strong title is vital to a blog post. The stronger your title, the more likely people will be to read the entire post.
Some of the best titles are those that make people stop and say, “What?!” Coining a new and intriguing term or comparing two seemingly opposite things usually does the trick. For example, How Parkour Can Make You a Better Startup Marketer or Fighting the Norm: Why the Dark Knight Franchise Wins at PR.
3. Use Bullets
80% of viewers will read your title and subheadings. Why? They give viewers a feel for what the post will be about. Bullets have a similar impact.
- They’re short
- capture attention.
In other words, they’re easy to scan along with the title and subheadings.
For an even bigger impact, try using numbered lists. Three is the most powerful number for blogging, but any odd number will do. In our experience, odd numbers just tend to perform better. You’ll notice that not too many list blog posts use the numbers four or six in their titles. Instead, they’ll often use five or seven.
It’s an old saying, but it’s true: “Keep it simple, stupid.” You don’t want your blog post, either in design or content to be overly complicated. For design, that means taking advantage of short paragraphs, bullets, lists, subheadings and white space. Reading from a screen is 25% more difficult than reading from a page in a book. Keep that in mind when you’re formatting your posts – they should be easy to scan.
In terms of content, keeping it simple means using ordinary language and sticking to one highly specific topic. Use tools like Online Utility’s Readability Calculator to test the readability of your content. If you think a word you’ve used will force the average reader to crack open a dictionary, replace it immediately. Also, be sure you don’t get sidetracked to another topic or an irrelevant tangent – stay focused.
5. Make the Call
You’ll never know the answer if you’re afraid to ask the question. Similarly, you’ll have trouble inspiring action if you don’t call for it. Every blog post should end with a call to action. What action? Well, it depends on your customer acquisition strategy and content marketing plan.
Maybe you’d just like to call for comments by ending with: “What elements of a great blog post have we missed?” Or maybe you’d like to encourage visits to a specific landing page. Copyblogger does this really well with their StudioPress call to action at the end of each blog post. The call to action leads to a landing page, which then funnels leads to the StudioPress website.
6. Find Compelling Images
An interesting image can make an amazing difference. Why else would so many bloggers take advantage of WordPress’ featured image functionality? Choosing an image that’s a little out of the ordinary and thought-provoking (or just plain silly) can have a major impact.
For example, in Startup PR and Why it’s Altruistic in Nature, Heather added a cute picture of a baby mongoose. When we promoted the post on Twitter that week, we got a lot of comments on the content, but also on the baby mongoose picture.
Images don’t have to be totally silly or irrelevant to get people talking though. Quick Sprout uses images really well too. They’re rarely standard images. Instead, they’re images that make you smile, laugh or curious. They intrigue you enough to click through and read more.
Use tools like CompFight to find compelling images to use for your blog.
7. Optimize for SEO
Optimizing for SEO goes hand-in-hand with the 80/20 rule. Ensuring your blog posts are primed for Google and all other search engines is beyond important. A simple WordPress plugin like Yoast can help. It’ll allow you to customize the way your post appears in search results. Plus, it will check your post and rate its SEO. It’ll even make suggestions for better results.
Take advantage of tags and categories as well. Make your core keywords your blog categories. And don’t just use tags to sort your content, use them to appeal to search engines as well. Treat them as you would keywords!
Do you have any other blogging tricks to add?