We all remember the basics from elementary school: every story should have a beginning, middle, and end.
Unfortunately, in today’s content-saturated market, that just won’t cut it. An amazing blog post needs to catch readers’ attention as they scroll through a newsfeed. It needs to keep their interest until the last paragraph. It needs to elicit some sort of action, whether that is sharing the post or signing up for your newsletter.
How can one blog post accomplish all that? Here is our ultimate blog writing checklist so you can write an amazing blog post every time:
The headline is not only what will draw people in; sometimes, it’s the only thing that people will actually read. David Ogilvy, widely known as the “father of advertising,” once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”
A good headline should entice people to click and learn more, but it should not be pure clickbait. It needs to actually inform the reader what the post is about. If your headlines are continually misleading, you’ll lose readers.
Here are some ideas for writing a compelling headline:
- Use numbers (example: “7 Ways to Do X” or “15 Reasons Why…”)
- Use why or how (example “Why Having a Blog Makes You Smarter” or “How to Write 20 Posts in One Day”)
- Use questions (example: “Do You Know the #1 Productivity Killer?”)
Always think about what’s in it for them (them being the readers). What is the point of this article and why should your readers care? What will they get out of it? You need to be sure to write about what your readers actually care about, rather than what you want them to care about.
For example, no one will read your blog post talking about how amazing your personal finance app is. But, your audience would definitely be interested in learning five ways to save money every month.
Here are some ways to find out what kind of advice your readers are looking for:
- Visit Quora and search by your industry or topic (like finance, project management, marketing, etc) and see what people are asking about.
- Join LinkedIn groups (if applicable)
- Find your industry’s subreddit on Reddit and see what people are talking about.
- Join forums. For example, MosaicHub is a great place to learn about what entrepreneurs and the business community are talking about.
Your blog pictures can serve three different purposes. First, the hero image needs to catch people’s attention. This is the image that will be pulled and displayed when the link is shared on social media, so you don’t want to get it lost in the mix. Secondly, the visuals should add something of value to the post. If you’re writing about content calendars, add examples of different calendars. If you’re talking about how to ride a bike, add photos that walk people through this process.
And lastly, in a perfect world, you want these images to be shareable. Think of an infographic; people are always sharing cool infographics on social media. Add a visual component that will excite your readers enough to share.
Here are some websites that offer free, beautiful photography for your posts:
Organic search engine traffic can bring a ton of new readers to your blog, but you first need to make sure your content is written with SEO in mind. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an SEO expert. It just means that you need to write your posts in a way that Google understands. For example, Google can’t “see” your blog post pictures. But, if you add text describing the picture to the image’s alt tag, Google will understand what the picture is about and it will add to your SEO juice. (to learn more about how to write an SEO post that is optimized for Google, click here).
Here are some quick ways to make your post more SEO-friendly:
- Search-friendly URLs. Your URLs should clearly convey what your article is about. For example, “www.marketing.com/seo-tips” is easy to undestand, but “www.marketing.com/8395.s35.htm” just looks spammy.
- Optimizing the post for a keyword. Make sure you have that keyword in your title and in your H2 headers. We recommend the Yoast SEO plugin to analyze the strength of that keyword.
- Meta title and description (the title and description that shows up on Google’s search results).
- Links. Make sure you’re linking to outbound pages as well as internal pages.
- Image alt tags. Adding alt tags to your images allow Google to crawl that text and understand what your picture is.
Call to Action
What do you want your readers to do after they finish your post? If you don’t add a clear call to action (CTA), they’ll just exit the page and move on to something else. And you won’t ever have a way to communicate with someone who was clearly interested in your content.
Every piece of content should have one CTA and it should be obvious. Don’t be afraid to be overly obvious here — include a big, blue button or a huge banner; anything to catch their eye.
CTAs could include:
- Signing up for your newsletter
- Registering for a webinar
- Reading another blog post
- Signing up for a trial of your product
- Talking to a salesperson
Your Next Steps: Using the Blog Writing Checklist
A strong headline can significantly improve clicks and traffic to your post. Of this whole list, writing a compelling headline might be the easiest way to turn an average blog post into an amazing blog post. So, the next time you write a blog post, spend extra time on the headline. Write 10-15 different versions of the headline and pick the most exciting or unique. Or, pick two headlines to test and see which one gets more clicks on social media.