Content & Inbound Marketing

Blueprint for the Perfect Blog Post

Blogging is one of the easiest and fastest ways to build a loyal following and increase revenue for your brand. However, many folks find it hard to get started because they don’t understand all of the elements of effective blogging. The truth is, we are uncomfortable in the uncertain.

I’d like to help take some of the discomfort out of blogging and show you the perfect structure for your blog post.

The Perfect Blog Post Blueprint

Post Title

Your blog post title should always contain your targeted keyword or phrase. In this post, for example, the targeted phrase is “Perfect Blog Post” because I know many of my readers are new to blogging and looking for resources to get started.

Blog titles should be 6-15 words, but titles with 6 words seem to do better. Also, don’t be afraid to get creative with your blog titles. Take a moment to look at magazine covers next time you are at the supermarket, the article titles are designed specifically to catch your attention and pique your interest.

Buffer recently published eight headline strategies that are backed by psychology:

  1. Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”
  2. Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”
  3. Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”
  4. Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”
  5. How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”
  6. Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”
  7. Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”
  8. Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

You can also learn a lot from the headlines of high-traffic blogs. Lenka Istvanova developed a headline formula based on her analysis of best practices for headlines that get clicks. The formula goes like this:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise

Example: 10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier

Opening Paragraph

A strong opening paragraph will capture the reader’s attention quickly and encourage them to continue reading. Your opening paragraph should clearly lay out the objective of the post and establish what the reader can expect.

Further, opening paragraphs that include storytelling increased the number of readers by 300% compared to posts that have no storytelling.

Not only do website visitors read the post when it starts with a story, but they read the entire post, meaning they make it to the bottom of the page which increases the amount of time spent on the page (a helpful analytic to be tracking, by the way). The same study shows a 520% increase in the amount of time spent on the page.

As a bonus, include your main keyword or phrase in the first paragraph or two. Variations of your keyword are also acceptable, as search engines are moving towards “conceptual searches” rather than strictly exact keywords.

Social Share Icons

Make sure you have a blog layout with social sharing buttons added. Your visitors are likely to share content that is helpful – but only if you make the process easy for them. Focus on the most common social platforms for your ideal targeted audience (hint: your ideal audience may not be on the most popular social media networks, keep this in mind when choosing which platforms to display).

Featured Post Image

Pictures are worth a thousand words! Choose an image that is high-quality, professional, and relevant to your blog topic. Not only will an image help your post stand out, but a properly formatted image will be used on social media sites when your visitors Like, share, and +1 your content with their circles.

Moreover, there some social benefits to a great featured image, but fewer characters per line help readers make snap decisions about text faster and easier.

Social media consultant, Derek Halpern, recommends always including an image to the right of the opening paragraph. The image should be about half-width to condense the text width.

featured image at half-width

Sometimes, it is hard to find the right image for your blog posts, here are some resources we use at NMM:

HubSpot has some great advise on selecting the perfect image for your blog post and things to remember when using stock photos in your content.

Body Content

The main body of your blog post is the meat and potatoes of what you want to say. This is where you are sharing information that your visitors are seeking. Remember, you should be using your blog as a platform to align yourself as a trusted advisor with your readers. You are not trying to sell to them!

Using conversional language, such as “You” and “I” generally leads to higher engagement. Avoid jargon that is not easily understood by your targeted audience and don’t use language that is unnatural to you. Ideally, you want your personality to shine through – this is what separates you from the pack and creates a connection with your readers.

How blog post length impacts social media sharesBlog posts of 1,500 words or more tend to receive more social shares. Quick Sprout cites research showing that longer posts were shared more frequently across all social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Interestingly enough, longer posts are not always read for longer periods of time – meaning that people share articles without actually reading the entire post.

Lists and Bullets

Since readers are so busy, many of them will just skim bullet points to see if they are interested in reading more. Some are always looking for the abbreviated version and will only read your headlines (read this post on how to write attractive headlines) and conclusion, that’s fine. The more you are sharing and educating them, the more likely they are to come back again and again.

You’ll notice I used bullets above in the Featured Images section, not only are bullets good for listing a number of resources, but also for summarizing information. For example:

Top 7 Things Most People Forget When Publishing Their Blog Post

  1. Not spending time to craft a compelling blog title
  2. Making silly mistakes / misspellings / improper grammar
  3. Making their posts too short or too long ([posts should be between 500-2500 words](http://www.quicksprout.com/2014/06/11/how-to-get-your-blog-posts-read/))
  4. Being inconsistent (choose a schedule and stick with it)
  5. Not sharing it once it’s published (share within your own network)
  6. Not thinking of their audience first, but thinking of themselves / their product
  7. Not including a strong call-to-action at the end

See, I was able to break down a large amount of information into 7 simple, easy-to-read points. I could write a blog post on each of these points; instead, my readers can skim the list and have a sense that I have knowledge in this industry. This establishes my authority and boosts credibility by summarizing what they need to know.

Conclusion Copy

Since we know that many readers only skim the article, at first, we should have a succinct review of the entire post – highlighting the main points from above – in the conclusion. A well-written conclusion will lead to readers going back to the top of the post and reading the entire thing.

A conclusion can also include lessons learned or actionable steps for your readers. I also recommend you ask your readers to share their thoughts in the comments section of your post for further the conversation and increase engagement.

HINT: be sure to respond to them once they have left a comment!

Related Posts

In addition to social media sharing buttons, a well-designed blog will include “Related Posts” to help keep readers on your site by highlighting additional articles they may enjoy. Focus on featuring the 3-5 most popular articles on that particular topic or theme.

If you are using WordPress to power your website/blog, you can use the built-in Jetpack plugin that displays related posts.

Display Related Posts in Your Blog

Visual Media

Videos, info graphics, and relevant images can greatly increase the time visitors spend on your website. If you have supporting content for your body text, use it.

Task your vendors with providing supporting content, if you do not have any.

We remember photos 6 times easier than text. So not only will people enjoy reading your blog more if you include beautiful photos, they’re more likely to remember it too.
Alexandra Skey, Get Spokal

Conclusion

Publishing the perfect blog is not impossible once you have the proper structure. Many clients have found it helpful to create a blog template that includes a space for the headline, opening paragraph, body with bullet points, and a place for their supporting images/video. This can cut down on your production time considerably.

Blogging is these absolute best for attracting new visitors to your website. Get started today now that you know how to craft the perfect blog post!

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