The perfect blog post – How you can optimize your articles
Here is a tutorial how you can write the ultimate blog post. How you can improve your content.Yes, I know… my blog articles are not perfect, too. And I only implement at most only 5% of the suggestions I will give you here. However, the following is a very good guideline. It includes everything important that I learnt while researching the topic of blogging. This workflow often helps me to re-focus again, to generate new ideas and to optimize my posts. When you go through the steps of this process the quality of you blog posts will significantly increase.
An own blog is not only a great idea when you want to report of your travel journey as a digital nomad or backpacker. Yes, even if you want to promote your own products in your niche or if you intend a better ranking in Google you shall not underestimate the marketing tool blog. A blog is also very practical if you want to publicly spread your own opinion or expertise regarding a certain topic.
Finding a topic
If you really have no idea what you could write about in your next article the following tips might help you to become more creative about it:
- Interviews with other bloggers and persons in your niche/ for your topic. This also helps to build good connections in your market.
- Success stories about people that are relevant for your blog topic. You can easily combine it with interviews when those people are still alive.
- You can also general interviews with celebrities and problem solvers. This even brings you new readers which you didn’t reach with your previous topics so far.
- Tutorials for certain problems: How-tos, workflows, step-by-step instructions. If your article is especially useful it might end up in someone’s browser’s favorites and gets clicked several times. But don’t write now a guide to blogging, too!! :-P
- Write relevant book reviews. Summarize the most important theses and ideas of that book so that your readers your reader doesn’t need to read the book himself but really gets value from your post.
- Create high quality and extensive directories for a certain topic.
- Or just a best-of.
- Pick up on news from your niche / your subject area. This might bring you attention of some new readers if you take that wave well. Trend analysis tool on the internet like Google Trends may help you to find hypes. But make sure that the relevance of that topic is currently increasing.
- Or just be inspired by keyword lists of Google.
- Create polls through your newsletter or social media outlets and analyze your target group’s interests. Only if you know the interests of your readers you can serve them with good posts. Surely, you can just ask your readers directly as well. They can tell you best what they want to read about.
- Personal experiences are often great for blog posts. They are authentical and practical. Those might be moments during conversations, observations made or new discoveries.
- Guest articles: Let someone else write a post which could be interesting for your readers on your blog. This is a win-win situation for both of you since this guest becomes also more known through your blog.
What is your target audience interested in?
Reflect what topics might interest your current and your target audience. What questions do they have to which you could give an answer? What are their wishes, needs and fears? Is there a certain problem which you can solve for your “customers”? Maybe comments on blogs, discussion boards and other social media groups of your target audience can help you to find out what they need.
Before you start writing a new blog article it may be helpful to first think about a headline for your post’s idea. So, you can let the whole topic sink in again until you really start the writing process. Check also point 3: Good headlines.
2. Requirements for a good article
A good post should only deal with a certain problem if it also solves it.
A good article is unique. The smaller your niche or niche’s niche is to which your post belongs the easier it becomes something special. Nobody needs the 729th article about the best beaches in Thailand.
Every post should have at least one meaningful picture which can also be used as the cover picture. Every image shall have a so-called alt(ernative)-text so that it can also be used be search engines. Probably, the optimal size for your picture might be 800x450px since this format can be easily shown on other platforms as well like when the articles gets shared on Facebook. If you blog software doesn’t do this work for you in an optimal way, then start researching a little bit about it so that you can find a solution for that important tool.
3. Good headlines
Have the finger on the pulse of your readers
Your headlines should be significant and/or make your readers curious. For example, you can already promise the solution to a problem in your headline. In any case, you must of course deliver on your promise. All questions that occur in your headline should definitely be answered in the article. Otherwise the reader feels tricked!
Good headlines can also be very provocative. Maybe they already give a small insight in the article but without giving enough information so that the reader is teased to actually read your article. The headline can also allude to strong emotions which the reader already has for the post’s subject. You absolutely need to show the reader that he can learn something, find interesting news or you need to provoke the reader in a positive way for example through controversies.
Properties of good headlines
They are useful. They are urgent. They are unique. And especially, they are ultra-specific. Better use exact numbers because this makes you appear more credible and competent. For example: “33.7% of all people think…” instead of “a third of all people think…”
Use swipe files
I know… many headline-types are stale. But anyway, there are some best practices from the marketing industry which always work again. So-called swipe files are such templates for headlines which you can use. For example: “The way of the lazy [target audience] to [goal]”, “Do you want [goal]?” or “Secret ways to [goal]”. Of course, you should always consider the standards of your blog. Pure click baiting headlines are not very professional and only scare away your readers if they don’t deliver on their promises.
Here are some more ideas for your headline type:
- How you…
- Quote/ customer review
- Reason why…
- Top list (10 is ideal: Top 10…)
Headlines appear everywhere… whether in RSS-readers, search engine results or shared on social media platforms. To make it easy also for non-human visitors (Google bot) I have here some general tips and notes for your headlines:
- Don’t use more than 70 characters
- Use keyword tools to find important keywords for your headlines
- The main keyword must be in the beginning of you headline
- The shorter the headline the more weight will be on the individual words
- Consider keywords vs. attraction: The priority are your human visitors and especially your regular readers
- Your blog software must make sure that the headlines eventually appear in the website’s URL. It is here of special importance that at least your keywords appear. It should be all lowercased and not contain any special characters.
What is not suitable for headlines are motherhood statement. Negative phrasing is also not very good as well as creative or funny headlines which might have some entertaining value but nothing else. To create curiosity is good but it also must touch the reader’s interests. Otherwise the curiosity will be in vain.
The teaser should be interesting and inspiring. But it may not tell too much in advance. It must still be worth it to read the article to the end. The introduction must communicate two information:
- What is the article about?
- What is my benefit from this article?
The first sentence should be short, smart and easy and most also focus on the reader’s value.
After the teaser a subheading may follow. In any case, you should use (if available) the “read more tag”. The teaser should be displayed on the homepage and visible for search engines but the entire article only if you click on it.
In the rest of the introduction you may provide an exciting story to gain the attention of the reader for the long text which is following. You always have to give pointers to the content which is about to follow. You may also lead up to a question which then will be answered in your blog post. Show already some interest in the problems and wishes of your readers.
You could make it to your habit to build triggers into your posts. With this I mean either recurring elements which give your regular readers a certain continuity. This could be for example a phrase like the following which occurs in the introduction of every blog post: “How can this [thing] help us to live more liberatedly?”
Or you set triggers which the reader will remember in his everyday life. You might for example mention in the beginning of a travel report in every detail how great the coffee tasted in Indonesia. And at the next day when your reader is at work in his office and prepares himself his morning coffee he might remember your blog post and then even tell his coworkers about it. At least the it becomes much more probable that one remembers your post or gets reminded of it.
The introduction and headline should be thought about well. Now, the half of the work is already done. The other half will now be the actual writing of your article.
Before you write your article, you might want to collate an idea list with points you really want to mention in your post. You may also compile keywords which you want to build in your article. In links and subheadings keywords are smartly placed because search engines prefer those parts of your post. But you have to make sure that the text editor of your blog software marks those subheadings with the corresponding HTML-tags (<h1> and so on). Integrate your keywords in a natural manner. The readability must not suffer.
What is good content?
Clear facts belong to a good content as well as their evidences. This generates trust in your readers and increases your credibility. Here, it is important that the evidences are very specific. If you bring sketchy information or a weird thesis you must by all means bring evidences. Don’t hesitate to include external links to sources. Make sure that your thoughts are comprehensible and that you don’t run off the track too much. If possible, you might also want to link to other bloggers which deal with the details of your topic or write your own blog article and link to it afterwards. Don’t repeat to much and focus on delivering for your initially made promises. In the end, only the satisfaction of your readers matter. If you don’t use your blog only to portrait yourself then your reader is the king. Your reader anyway only seeks for his own advantage. That’s why every text should deal with a problem or idea. This one should fit into the big picture of your blog’s mission.
How do you create good content?
To create good content, you always have to ask you “why?” and then “how” and “what”. When you can’t convince your reader about the Why then he will not advance to the How and What but will exit your blog directly. When you portray or promote things then stay factual and honest but emphasize especially the use for your reader. And when you describe properties and features then always directly relate them to the value for your reader. “Why does this thing have those certain properties? In order that you, my dear reader, can utilize this and that benefit from it!” Consider and serve if possible also the emotional wishes of your readers.
Why do people share content?
What does make an article worth sharing? Let’s turn around this question: Why do people share articles and how can I modify my article according to this? Here come some reasons why people would share blog posts:
- They want to inform friends, manipulate opinions and motivate to actions. Your articles provide therefore a substantial contribution.
- They want to define themselves. They want to show their friends and followers what worldview they hold. If you write according to this worldview your chance is high that your post will be shared by people with a similar worldview.
- They want to foster their relationships and want to stay connected to people: If you content speaks to the interests of the broad masses then somebody might share your content with someone else who is interested in this topic just to have an occasion to contact him. The same is true not only for old friends but also for new contacts when someone wants to find an initial topic for a small talk.
- They search for personal fulfillment. When someone shares meaningful content, he estimates his deed of sharing as meaningful as well. He feels that he made a valuable contribution to society.
- Same is true for causes and solutions. We like to share causes for problems or even more their solutions. We want to give our contribution that those solutions get more widely known.
How does content become viral?
But what constitutes and articles that gets shared a lot and might even become viral? Here, emotions can make a big difference. The following list shows you a highscore of emotions that are behind viral articles:
If your article triggers one of those emotions in your readers, then it has a good chance to be shared.
At the end you should conclude your post again and maybe come back to initial promises and show how you lived up to them in your article. After that you should end EVERY article with some questions and/ or a call-to-action (for example to write a comment). In the call-to-action you always have to be very exact regarding your demands from your reader. You may also hide this call in a question.
Consider your words
To refine your texts linguistically you should regard a few details in your blog posts:
- Verbs bring motion and nouns appear static but transport certain pictures into the mind of your reader. Avoid nominalized verbs by all means.
- Adjectives bring colors and emotions into the grey text blocks.
- General vivid writing: Decorate your text with many attributes.
- Write in the active and not the passive diathesis.
- Multi-clause sentence should be avoided. Simple main clauses are better.
- Avoid needless word compositions.
- Avoid as many foreign words as possible. A blog post is not a doctoral dissertation. You don’t need to impress anyone with your professional terminology.
- Words with several possible meanings make the understanding harder.
- Specific and tangible vocabulary is to be preferred over abstract words.
- In general, abstract and imaginary terms should never become the acting subjects of your sentences.
- Give rather clear statements! Negations make it harder to comprehend.
- Basic rule: One thought per sentence. One idea per paragraph.
- Write personally: Use (if allowed) an informal language. Write as if you would talk directly to a person. You might imagine that your favorite reader sits in front of you. So, you are able to generate closeness and familiarity with your language style. This in turn increases your authenticity and reader loyalty.
Take care of your text
After you refined your words you should also look at your text as a whole:
- Is your text sufficiently detailed? It should not be too much but also not to less extensive. Adjust to expectations and predictable prior knowledge of your readers.
- Variations in language and style avoid fatigue while reading.
- Have you formatted the text well? Add if possible subheadings, lists and images so that your text doesn’t overwhelm your reader. Use justified text.
Last quality check
Perfect is not possible. But excellent is! Read again through your text and please use the spell checker of your text editor software. A blog post full of mistakes doesn’t look like someone put a lot of effort into it. And it easily arouses suspicions that the author didn’t put much effort in the research as well.
And sometimes you have high spirits, but you don’t meet your goals. Here, it may help to just let your text untouched for a few days and make your quality check afterwards. Not many things are more stupid than to work oneself up into a frenzy and blare it out into public and then to regret it later. Also, a team of other authors on your blog or good friends may be helpful when you give them your text to revise before publishing.
A good post should have not more than 1000 words. Maybe you can even split posts up into a series of articles.
The best thing you can do in your posts is referencing current events. So, if you might post something more general you may want to wait until a current event gives you a good occasion to post it: For example, if you write about unredeemed pre-election promises you might want to wait for the next big elections and publish your article then. Of course, this is valid the other way around. It is not the best timing to post an article about summer trip destinations if the first snow appeared.
Maybe your blog software gives you the option to set a publication date. But you should consider when your readers are out for work. Also mind the time zones of your target audience. Maybe there are specialties in your market you might want to remember. In general, Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be the best publishing days for blog posts. Weekend shall amazingly be not good times. And it is better to bring new articles regularly than no articles for months. If you don’t have time you can use the function for a later publication. Then you can gladly work at several posts at the same time.
Don’t forget that the publication date is also the time when your post will occur on other platforms (here I recommend a plugin which automatically shares your posts on Facebook and Twitter). Here, the exact time can be very important in order that your content will not be buried under other posts before your readers log in to their social media accounts.
Place as many internal links as possible in your blog posts. You can also add links to your older blog posts which reference to the one you just published. Many cross references help your reader to find more interesting content on your blog.
Don’t forget to also link to posts of other bloggers from time to time. Everybody is happy about new readers and your readers are happy about relevant and complementary content.
8. Follow-up work
Now the real work begins. After you put now 20% effort in the creation of your blog article you should put 80% effort in the advertising (or at least 50:50). Here are some ideas how you can make your content known:
- Advertise for your post in relevant groups for example in Facebook.
- Inform your newsletter subscribers about your new posts.
- Contact possible influencer in your market if your content might be interesting for them or their followers.
- Create a list of possibly interested persons and inform them about your new publication.
- Post your articles in the comments of blogs, Facebook posts or YouTube videos if they might be helpful and match the topic. But don’t just post your link but also comment on it and why your post might be helpful. Nobody likes spam.
- Off-page-SEO: Make sure you get some backlinks for your articles.
The comment section of your article should be activated. Make sure that the obstacles to write a comment are not to high (for example writing without registration). Set a certain time per day when you answer ALL new comments below your blog posts. Make sure to deliver value for your users here as well. Often the comment section is a good addition to your actual blog post. Possible unanswered questions can be asked and answered here.
As said, perfect is not possible. If you are a perfectionist, then your blog post will never be published. But it is useful to go through this check list for every blog post at least once. By the way: Many of the tips mentioned above you can also very well utilize in other media such as YouTube videos.
And now have fun blogging!
Do you have more ideas and tips for other bloggers? What are your practical lessons learnt? Don’t hesitate to share them with us in the comment section below!