Can you really write a perfect blog post?
Well, “perfect” is a little tough to pin down, but yes, you can make your blog posts far more powerful. A recent blog post of mine went wildly viral (at least from my own, limited perspective). It was read more than any other blog post, shared more than others, and picked up and syndicated by several blog sites like Business2Community.com. I’ve often wondered what made that blog post so special. I think the secret was that I inadvertently applied some of the seven steps below from the folks at Buffer. There’s a more thorough discussion of this over there, but here are the highlights.
Start with the perfect headline
You may realize that people tend not to read online: they scan. Research shows that people tend to read the first three words in a headline and the last three words. I’ve used that technique in this very post.
There are also a number of headline techniques that catch readers’ attention:
- Surprise: “Don’t optimize for Google”
- Question: “Are You Getting Screwed by Google’s Pigeon Update?”
- Curiosity Gap: ” Top 10 Rankings Factors – #4 Is a Shock!”
- Negatives: “Never Ignore the User Experience”
- How To: “How to Fix Your Keyword Stuffed Copy”
- Numbers: ‘The 7 Steps to a Perfect Blog Post” (I’m using that one in this post)
- Audience Reference: ‘You Need Video on Your Site Now”
- Specificity: “Six Ways to Get More Out of Your SEO”
Hook readers with a story
After you grab them with the headline, hook them with a story introduction. This turns out to be surprisingly important in turning a glancing reader into one who stays and reads your whole blog post.
I’ve started out this very post with a short story. Did it help hook you?
Cut down on characters per line with an image
Placing an image in the top right corner of a blog post does two important things. First, It provides a picture to attract attention and hopefully focus the reader on the subject at hand. But second, It makes the first several lines of text shorter. Shorter lines are easier to read and easier for the eye to scan; it’s easier to comprehend and it seems less complicated. That makes your post almost subliminally more appealing for someone to read. An alternative is to make the font size larger for the first paragraph of your post., I’ve actually done both in this blog post.
As I said before, people tend to scan on the web rather than read left to right, one word after the other. They scan down the page seeking morsels of information that appeal to them. Then they read.
Headings and sub-headings provide the perfect scan-fodder for your readers. They also add white space and break up your text, making it more approachable. Another technique that can help is using bullet lists — for the very same reasons.
Consider your word count
Word count does play a role here. Too low a word count makes the page look like it’s not going to be very informative. After all, how much important information can you glean from 100 words of text? On the other hand a 3,000 word post is just over-kill. It may appear too complex to read, the reader may think they don’t have enough time right now to read it, or they may think it’s got too much information to digest at one sitting. All those are turn-offs.
There does seem to be a sweet spot.
The folks at QuickSprout have an extensive article about this, and their research shows that longer posts get more social shares. Social shares is a simple measure of how many people read the article and found it worthwhile. Shares really start to pick up once the post length exceeds 700 words, and is best over 5,000.
Add one or two “tweetables” to your post
Tweetables are little snippets of text — like soundbites on the news — that are memorable and easy to tweet. You can even use a quick blog plugin to help you create them. You’ll find one of those about three paragraphs up in this post, using the Click to Tweet WordPress plugin.
Four little things to consider in your blog post
- Include a call to action. “Share this post” “Call us for an appointment” “Visit our website” There’s a reason the person who takes your order at the fast food burger chain always ask “Want fries with that?”
- Include images. We remember photos 6 times easier than text.
- Include social share buttons. You want your readers to share your post with their own circle of friends and colleagues, right? You’ll notice our social share buttons at both the top and bottom of this post.
- Create a readable URL. Instead of the URL for this post being http://www.rankmagic.com/blog/2014/09/7-steps-perfect-blog-post/ it could be improved to http://www.rankmagic.com/perfect-blog-post/.
When your blog post appears has an impact, too, but I’m not convinced this is as important as the other factors. For one thing, most blog posts are published during the workday, but most social shares of blog posts happen between 5 and 11pm, after the workday. More social shares also occur on weekends than during the work week. Do posts published outside of working hours get shared most often? Or are those posts that were published during the workday but not read and shared until after work? The research doesn’t tell us.
There you have it. Seven steps to a perfect blog post.
How many of these things do you employ in your blogging?
There’s plenty to agree and disagree on here. Which are most important? Which do you think are hogwash?Which have worked well for you? Let us know what you think about these in the comments below.
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If perfect blog posts aren’t helping your visibility on the web, maybe the problem’s with the rest of your SEO. At Rank Magic, we can fix that. Drop us a note.