10 Tips for Creating a Great Blog Post
Are all blog posts created equal? Do your posts possess the right elements to help them stand-out? Be read? Get found by search engines? Shared by your readers? Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or new to the field of blogging, these ten tips will help your blog get the attention it deserves.
To demonstrate the anatomy of a good blog post, I went to one of the well-regarded blogs which serves the business community, the American Express Open Forum.
The title of the blog post we’ll be using for a frame of reference is, “5 Tips for Running Successful Cause Marketing Campaigns,” by Zachary Sniderman.
1. Picking Good Keyword-Related Topics–Think SEO for Titles, Too
One way to find keywords is by using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. As you can see in the screenshot below, the topic in Zachary Sniderman’s post is “cause marketing campaigns” which receives 1,000 global monthly searches, 590 local monthly searches and has low competition. Looking down the list of keyword ideas we can see that “cause marketing” receives 27,100 global monthly searches, and 14,800 local monthly searches. What this tells us is that these are words that are searched on frequently and will definitely make for a great topic for a post. The competition on those terms are low. So the odds of showing up higher in search rankings will be greater.
It is interesting to note too that the the author uses the phrase “cause marketing” in the blog post 15 times. The post has 1,094 words and those two words are used in the first five paragraphs, within the first sentences of middle paragraphs, and again within the first sentences of the last three paragraphs. Not only that, but “cause marketing” is used within the image alt text so when search engine spiders read the pages, the words “cause marketing” will appear there, too. You want to use the words appropriately and not keyword-stuff, but in this example the author used the terms in ways that added to the integrity of the post.
The title of the post is catchy e.g. 5 Tips. Not all posts have to have something like 5 Tips but if you look at the analytics of your posts, more times than not, having a catchy title will help pique readers curiosity.
2. Well-written, researched posts
Posts should be well-written and researched. It’s good to link to references and the page where it links should open a new window to keep visitors on your blog. When you input your text into your blogging software, determine a description too for the post since that is what will appear in your Google search. You can see here the description of the post in Zachary Sniderman’s post, “Businesses are expected to do more than make money-they have to do good too. Here’s an easy guide to cause marketing.”
3. End a Blog Post with a Question and a Call to Action
Good blog posts should encourage interaction and have a call to action. In this example, Zachary Sniderman ended with the question, “Is cause marketing a win-win or a lose-lose? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.”
4. Use Images in Your Blog Post and Attribute to the Artist
Good blog posts should also include images which support the text of your post. Go to reliable sources for images and pay attention to the types of licenses to make sure you’re allowed to use the image and provide the proper attribution. As you can see in the screenshot above, Zachary Sniderman attributed the image to the photographer and linked to her page on Flickr.
While there are no hard-fast rules about the number of images to include, a good post will include at least one and many times more images e.g. round-ups, instructional posts, etc. Images can not only enhance the content of the post but can also add to the SEO of your post.
5. Share Buttons
A good blog post includes buttons to make it easy for readers to share the post. Here you can see that on the Open Forum site that the post can be recommended on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Google+, by email and Print.
6. Related Topics and Keywords
A nice feature here on Open Forum is by showing readers what else you may have for them that’s related so in this case three posts of related topics appears. You want to help people to see what it is about your blog which will be a good resource for them.
A good practice on blogs is to have a number of categories that your posts will fall into. Keeping it to a manageable number e.g. 5-7 categories. Can be less but unless you’re a very large blog who is publishing multiple posts per day you probably don’t want to include too many categories. Categories also help you when you sit down to plan your editorial calendar for your content, making sure you plan topics to populate each of the categories you’ve identified as important to your blog on a regular basis.
8. Follow Us Widgets
Good blogs and blog posts include follow us widgets to encourage engagement on your social networking presences. Open Forum includes email, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed and a mobile widget. With the proliferation of mobile apps today offering a mobile widget helps to encourage people to take your blog with them on-the-go.
9. Author Info
Good blog posts tell you about the person who wrote the post and include a way for people to see more of what they have written as well as ways to follow them. In this case, you can see the twitter handle for the author.
10. Publish Your Post and Create an Integrated Messaging Campaign
The publication of your blog post goes beyond clicking the “publish” button on your blogging software. You should also use it as an opportunity to send out a tweet about your post, a Facebook update. Let readers know your post is live and ready to be read. Good blog posts should be integrated within your social networking presences.
Are your blog posts receiving the attention they deserve? What tips would you suggest for creating great blog posts? Let us know in the comments below.