What makes a blog post grab the readers’ attention? What makes them stop and spend time on your content?
Well, ask, and ye shall find! (Oh, and the link to download the free successful blog post checklist is at the end of this post.)
Critical Blog Post Part #1. Grab Them With Your Headline
As the subject line of your email, your post’s headline is key to making your readers stop and click.
How do you grab the reader’s attention and motivate them to click on the post? Well, according to Forbes Communications Council, the 13 tips should do the trick
I strongly recommend starting with a working title, then do a little keyword research using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Wordstream, and/or Moz’s Keyword Explorer. And I also recommend long-tail keywords for a variety of reasons ranging from less competitive, less expensive, and more targeted/higher quality.
Once you’ve done the above, start finetuning your title with the following in mind:
Finally, you should check out these eight winning headline formulas based on and supported by psychology. For example,
Critical Blog Post Part #2. Intro or Inverted Pyramid
It was the best of introductions. It was the worst of introductions.
Or to be more direct, the headline grabs their attention, and your opening sentence needs to pull the reader into the rest of the story, starting with your first paragraph. And the best way to grab the readers attention with your introduction is with a story.
Make the opening personal, based on your knowledge of your readers, and give them a reason to continue reading that is a clear, concise statement that is a glimpse into what the rest of the post holds for them.
Challenge the reader based on your understanding of them.
And lead with the details, the critical information at the top. That’s the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of your story/post. Then the extra information goes at the end/bottom. This approach is known as the Inverted Pyramid and is a highly effective writing style.
Critical Blog Post Part #3. Presentation
As I have mentioned before, I teach marketing at several colleges. In one program, the curriculum designers decided that it would be excellent for the students to create a free WordPress account, then create a blog and write a couple of posts over the term.
That’s when I learned about terrible design, font selection, color selection, and more. (Actually, I learned a lot about those topics before the Internet.)
You want the blog and all of the posts to be visually appealing, so before you start the blog, sit down and come up with a style guide that addresses colors, fonts, tone.
And you want the blog and all of the posts to be visually consistent in appearance and tone.
Why? So that every time they see something from you, they quickly recognize it’s yours. And as soon as they read or hear some content on your blog, they realize your tone and style. For a great example, check out Hubspot’s.
Critical Blog Post Part #3A. Sub-Heads
Your readers will approach your posts differently. Some will read every word. Others will skip around and scan through the post in search of a piece of information that grabs their attention.
Sub-heads help your scanners and skimmers quickly identify content within the post and determine if they are going to invest their time in reading the details.
Sub-heads are also a valuable SEO tool. Check out this post by the folks at Yoast on how to use headings on your site – it applies to posts as well.
Lastly, sub-heads are essential for accessibility. Those who struggle to read from a screen can use a screen reader to determine whether or not your post is something they want to invest their time on.
Critical Blog Post Part #3B. Permalinks, Links, Category, and Tags
A permalink is a link to an individual blog post – make sure your’s has the posts keyword included.
Internal and external links are also critical – for SEO and for adding value for your readers.
Both share other relevant content with the reader, but internal links also work to keep the reader on your site, engaged, for a more extended period.
External links run the risk of taking your readers off your site and losing them to other sites, but they do accomplish a lot of positive things in terms of trust with your reader. They also can lead to that site linking to your website which helps your SEO. Check out this article to learn more about internal and external links.
Categories are broad groupings of posts; tags describe details in your posts. For example, this post is categorized under “Blogging” with “blog post” as one of the tags. Other tags under the category of blogging could include “subject lines” and “SEO.”
Both categories and tags are valuable for managing content and helping readers quickly access what you have on a topic of interest.
Critical Blog Post Part #3C. The Post/Content
Your post can be all original material, or it can be, like this post, based on the curated material – also known as sourced content. As you can see, a curated post allows the writer to provide their perspective on a topic, and use other relevant, quality sources to support the writer’s position.
Original material includes opinion pieces, case studies, and primary research reports – all of which allow you to show off your expertise and unique value to your readers.
Another critical factor is the presentation – specifically writing in short sentence and paragraphs. Again, the key here is making the information scannable because that’s what most will do to determine if they want to invest their time. Learn more about short sentences, short paragraphs, and chunking information.
Critical Blog Post Part #3D. Bulleted Points
People love lists, and bulleted points are a great way to present scannable information to your readers. Forgive me while I show you an example of the power of bulleted points by listing a few benefits:
- Creates white space on the page for the reader to rest their eyes
- Makes the copy shorter which tells the reader ‘less time’
- Keeps information chunked
To learn more about how/when/why to use bulleted lists versus numbered lists and vice versa.
Critical Blog Post Part #3E. Graphs & Other Images
A picture is worth a thousand words – and using charts and other images in the body of your post makes it easier on the reader by breaking up the text.
Critical Blog Post Part #3F: Video and Audio
Working under the credo that effective marketing is all about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time via the right media with the right offer we need to address video and audio because your audience is consuming both. For some data on that, check out this article that shares several case studies.
There are several ways to create a video – from recorded PowerPoint presentations like this one video on how to grow your email list to full-blown Hollywood production numbers with multiple cameras, special effects, and more.
Audio also referred to as podcasts, have been around for a long time but have recently returned to popularity thanks in part to Serial, a Peabody award-winning series about a 1999 murder in Baltimore.
Based on experience, a well-done podcast, like a well-done video, can be extremely useful. And “well-done” can be defined differently by your audience versus another so be sure to [a] create what matches your brand and [b] what the audience wants and expects from you.
Critical Blog Post Part #4. Call to Action/Offer
As a marketer, everything I do is for a reason – and that reason is to motivate action. That action might be clicking a link to download another piece of content or getting the reader to call and place an order or any number of things.
But make sure that your blog posts have a clear call to action – like this.
Improve Your Blog Posts Now
Writing. Designing. And all the important technical aspects that impact SEO.
And don’t forget distribution, monitoring performance, and evaluating success. (A few things not mentioned above but are addressed in the Successful Blog Post Checklist!)
Put it all together and writing a successful blog post – one that attracts the attention of your audience motivates them to make the time to read the post and take that extra step with your call-to-action – is a lot more than just sitting down and banging out 500 words.
What do you think? Covered it all? Have I missed anything? Have a real-life story to share? Please feel free to share in the comments below!