The Anatomy of a Great Blog Post

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the-anatomy-great-blog-post-1Everybody wants to be in great shape. Whether it’s your business or your body, achieving good health isn’t always easy. When it comes to answering your customers’ questions, solving their concerns and converting site visitors into customers, your blog is a key component to a healthy regimen. A great blog post has many moving parts and it’s your decision whether you want to put forth a half-hearted attempt or strive to be the best you can be.

I’ve been conducting an informal study on how businesses have integrated blogging into their overall marketing strategy. I’ve asked a simple question of the attendees in the Webinars and workshops I facilitate: “Does your website have a blog?”

Sadly, less than 10% admit to having a blog and/or post regularly. Considering that fresh, helpful content is one of the most powerful ways to reach customers today, there’s definitely an opportunity for business leaders to jump ahead of the competition.

Blogging is important for business growth

Website content, including a blog, drives organic traffic to your site, improves your SEO and helps customers make purchase decisions.

Not convinced that blogging is important to business growth? Consider these latest stats:

  • Websites with blogs have 434% more Google-indexed webpages than those that don’t.
  • Websites with blogs have 97% more inbound links than those that don’t (a top-three Google ranking factor).
  • Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month generate 4.5x more leads than companies publishing 0-4 monthly. (Source: HubSpot)

It’s clear that blogging continues to be an important channel to reach customers.

Blog reach and target audience explained

In essence, blogs serve two audiences:

  1. The first is live humans who are interested in your business, looking for helpful information about products and services, and who may eventually purchase what you sell.
  2. The second is search engines who must ascertain if your site is functioning well and if the content is answering searchers’ queries.

To be successful, you need to earn the attention of both audiences.

The goal is to produce content that customers will love, remember, and share, but at the same time earn the signals that enable that content to be easily found by a larger audience.

Whether you have a blog now and it’s not performing, or like many others, you still don’t have a blog strategy for your business, the following tips will help you improve your blog writing and set your business up for greater success.

Anatomy of a Great Blog Post

The average blog post length is 1,236 words (Source: Orbit Media). The average blog post takes 3 hours 57 minutes to write (Source: Orbit Media).

The following are the structural components of a great blog post. Use this list to assess your blog strategy and if you need deeper, more focused answers or advice, please get in touch with me HERE. I’m happy to help.

Headline

Headlines are tricky. They need to be clickable and get your point across quickly. They must appeal to your target customers and promise to provide value. If your headline isn’t compelling, you’ll lose 80% of your audience.

You only get one chance to capture your readers’ attention. One of the my favorite formulas is this:

Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise

Example: 6 Savvy Facebook Marketing Steps to Increase Leads and Sales.

More winning headline formulas:

  • List posts: 10 Tips to…
  • “Best” posts: The Best Ways to….
  • “Make Life Easier” headlines: The Easiest Way to… (if possible, add personal stories)
  • “What to Do When….”
  • Make a promise, such as 10 Powerful Tips to help you
  • Don’t Be Stupid headlines: 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When…
  • Comparison posts: Sedan vs SUV: Which One is Right for You

Pro Tip: Are you looking for inspiration on content (ie: what to write about)? Consider starting or expanding on your customers’ FAQs. Not only are you able to answer their most important questions, they are most likely using search engines for these answers and, depending on specific marketing tactics, your content will show up in search.

First Paragraph

Blog writing takes a cue from journalism in that it must grab the reader and make them want to continue reading.

The key to writing a great first paragraph is expertise and empathy. You want to make it clear that you understand your readers’ concern and that you’re the expert is solving their problem.

A very simple way to look at first paragraph structure is as follows:

1. People come to us with ____________ problem.
2. We understand and empathize with this problem.
3. Here is the answer to your problem.

Every Paragraph After the First

If you’ve done your job with the first paragraph, the reader will naturally want to read further.

Storytelling is the absolute best way to keep your readers (ie: customers) engaged. Whatever you’re writing about, make it relatable by sharing a story. Example: If you’re writing about your customers’ problem, tell a story about how you solved that problem in real time.

Provide compelling statistics to back up your claims. These can be general stats or the outcomes you’ve experienced.

Wrap Up

Just like all good stories, it’s important to supply the proper ending. Wrap things up with a call to action. It can be simply the next step in your customers’ process or a link to take advantage of a special offer.

Optimize with a Featured Image

A featured image usually sits at the top of a blog post and are another element to draw readers in to learn more. The image should reflect what the story is about, intrigue readers, or provoke them. It shouldn’t be too literal or obvious, and it can simply be aesthetically pleasing, too.

Visual content is just as important as written, especially when your posts are shared on social media. I use Canva to create my blog post images and I often use Depositphotos (paid), or Unsplash and Pexels (both free) for images. The cost is minimal compared to the benefits you’ll get from a subscription to one of the stock photo sites.

It’s also a good practice to provide attribution where applicable.

Pro Tip: Don’t invite trouble by using Google Images. I find it’s best to pay for images rather than run the risk of using someone’s copyrighted mage by mistake. If you’re caught using copyrighted images, you might get a letter or email one day calling you out and the penalties can be very costly.

Optimize for Search

As we discussed earlier, you’re writing for search engines. You need to ensure your posts are speaking their language.

Keywords and phrases should be a focal point of your posts. Most of us are not experts in optimizing content. I use a handy WordPress plugin called WordPress SEO that makes it effortless to optimize your posts.

Create a meta description and tags that include the keywords/phrases you’re optimizing for.

Use H2 and H3 tags to call out important points, keywords and phrases.

Readability: about 50% of users skim-read. Break up text using headings, bullets, numbering and spaces to make it easier for readers to skim your posts.

Share and Re-Purpose

Clicks on your blog posts from social media are key to increasing organic traffic and thereby building your website’s authority. Relevant, informative blog posts should be posted regularly on social media…and don’t be afraid to repeat the evergreen posts (content that continues to be relevant long past its publication).

Re-purpose your posts through email marketing campaigns and lead magnets. Compile a few related posts into a “Whitepaper” or Ebook and give it away for free in exchange for a prospect’s email (create a page on your website to have people sign up). You’ve already supplied value to the relationship and that’s your best chance at developing a sale down the line.

Take Action

If you don’t have a blog, you’ve half-heartedly started one, or are looking to up your game to get more attention, NOW is the best time to start. These tips on the anatomy of a great blog post will help your business’ online presence get in the best shape of its life. What are you waiting for?

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