Want to be a better blogger? Here are a few quick action steps that you can use to level up your blog content. I'm calling it: the anatomy of a stellar blog post. This will take you through step-by-step the elements your blog post needs to stand out and engage your blog audience.
Think of your headline as the first impression, like a cover to a book. We've all heard the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover" but analogies aside we do judge a book by what we see first. A headline is no different. It has to give your audience a sense of what this content is all about and why they should click to read the post. A headline also carries a lot of weight in the discoverability of a blog because search engines "crawl" this data to assign a search rank value to your content. Did you know, the good people over at co-schedule analyzed over 1,000 headlines and created a headline recipe based on their findings. It goes like this: Use a topical keyword in your blog headline and ensure that you use a 2% keyword density in your content (combined with the headline) to let search engines know your blog has authority in your topic space.
- Grab readers' attention with relate-ability. Use conversational language in the headline.
- Capture what the content is all about. A headline should give a sense of what's on the other side of the click and give a compelling reason for why someone should click over for more.
- Use keywords in the headline to boost content discoverability in search engines.
Not too much, too little, but just right
Believe it or not, "How long is too long?" or "How short is to short?" is a hotly debated topic among bloggers. The term "snackable" content has sky-rocketed in popularity among content marketers, to refer to bites of content that could take any short form, from a GIF to a micro blog, in order to cater to the short attention span of content consumers. With the potential of social media reach and the necessity of creating "snackable" content to fit the platform, many brands all but abandoned long-form content. That is, until savvy marketers set the record straight with long-form brand documentaries gone viral and deep dive e-book guides that amassed customer leads, fast. It's not that people are uninterested in long-form content. It's just that you have to use the right medium for the message (oh, and not the other way around but let's save that topic for another day). Is your blog an everything you need to know how-to? Then write a comprehensive long-form piece. Is your blog a quick teaser announcement about a coming-soon product? Keep it short and sweet so there's more to follow-up on after launch. Build the anticipation.
All that aside, I know you're still thinking "Ok but really, how many words in a blog is just right? Just give it to me." Medium.com, the content platform that boasts over 1 million users, analyzed content on their site to find the ideal length for holding the attention of readers is 7 minutes in length, 1,600 words. What they also concluded was this: "It's worth writing however much you really need... If you put in the effort so will your audience." And there you have it, a very articulate and well-thought way of saying, it depends.
Make it Visual
If you haven't yet read this post on how-to use visual content marketing to grow your brand, I suggest you check it out. I really can't stress enough how important it is to use visuals in your blog content. As content consumers, we simply have a different way of processing visuals and without getting into the nitty gritty of the brain science behind it - suffice it to say visual and auditory mediums relate context and stories to us in a way that the written word does not. Tap into that.
Call to Action
Let's suppose for one moment that you are pursuing blogging as a hobby. It's just for fun right, no goal or objective in mind. Not quite. Every content creator has a brand - whether you are blogging for business, or as an entrepreneur, careerist, or just toying around on the web. So long as you are creating brand content, there is without question a goal or objective in mind. For the hobbyist: maybe you are just brushing up on your writing skills or looking to document your interests in a particular topic. For the careerist: a blog is an asset to your personal brand. For the business and entrepreneur: a blog can create connection to customers and grow your brand. That said, every blog needs a call to action. Know what action you would like to ask your audience to take - are you inspiring them to join your cause, are you asking for their business, are you rallying a community of like-minded hobbyists? Every stellar blog has a message and a takeaway, sum it up in a call to action.