This week on my free Live Webinar we discussed how to write a blog post, and specifically the 7 elements it takes to make a really great post that brings in readers and results in a nice conversion rate.
I have a bit of a system for kicking out blog posts, and I'll share that with you here in detail. Once you know the elements that should be included, you can simply use that as an outline every time you want to create a really great blog post.
I'll start by giving you the brief version. Each blog post should have a keyword phrase, good title, image, good content, call-to-action, signature and a PS. Keep reading for the details on each - and a little bonus: the 8th element.
7 Elements of a Great Blog Post
When I sit down to blog I start with an outline, which includes all 7 of these elements. I may not know the content of each element upfront, but I like to put a frame around my work and then basically fill in the blanks.
We'll walk through these elements in order, but first I'll show you an example of what that looks like on my screen:
Obviously this is just a basic outline. A placeholder for each of the elements. I find this to be a great starting point as it gives me a structure to work with. And besides, a blank screen can be daunting when you're under pressure to write! From here, I simply flesh out each of those elements as I go.
1. Keyword Phrase
So choose a topic and then pick a keyword phrase that best suits your topic. Or choose a keyword phrase, and create content around it.
You won't always find a great keyword phrase to match the topic you want to blog about. That's okay. Your readers will appreciate a few off-the-wall posts that are written more for "visitor optimization" than search engine optimization.
I chose a longtail keyword phrase for this blog post: "how to write a blog"
The title of your blog post is incredibly important. Arguably one of the most important elements of the entire post. The post title also becomes the page title (meaning it is used in the Title Tag and shows up in the Title Bar of the browser window). It also becomes the Anchor Text for the hyperlink in the search results - meaning this is what people will see and read when they are deciding which result to click on. And whammy #3 - your post title becomes the Anchor Text for all of the inbound links pointing to this post that are created automatically through your blog.
Your title needs to be interesting and engaging. It has a big job - it compels people to click through and start reading. Two things go into a really great title: a keyword phrase, and a little copywriting skill.
If you happen to create a really long title for your blog post, consider editing the permalink. You might use a shorter version of the title, that still includes your keyword phrase. Here is an example from the blog post you are reading now:
Speaking of permalinks, if you want your post links to look as nice as mine see: Smart Permalink Structure. And here's a bonus tip for you - that permalink structure allows me to use shortened versions of the URL on sites like Twitter.
You may have seen me tweet a link to this post as:
http://www.clicknewz.com/1993/ Try it - it works! Cool, right?
Images engage your reader, break up long boring text, illustrate points - and they can also be used to draw the eye in specific directions.
Since my topic is "how to write a blog post" I simply used screenshots, which can be very effective. Other options for images within your posts include:
- Your own images/photos
- Inexpensive stock photos
I actually write the content last, after I have outlined the other 6 elements, and simply type in a placeholder to start. But once I have my blog post outlined I sit down to flesh out the content. I often do this in outline format as well, and then go back to flesh out each point into a paragraph or so.
This element ranks right up there with the Post Title as one of the most important things you can include in your blog post. The call-to-action lets your reader know exactly what they should do next, and why.
Ask yourself: why am I writing this post? Why are they reading this post? What ONE action do I most want them to take after they read my post? (Never assume it's obvious.)
Don't leave your reader hanging. You owe it to them to lead them to the next best click. See: Using a Call To Action
A signature serves two purposes. First, it tells your readers who you are and that you care enough to identify yourself and sign off appropriately.
You can do this via plain text, or you can create a signature image like the one that I use. There are free signature makers around the web, or you can sign a piece of paper and scan it into your computer.
Oh, and the second purpose - it is a nice thing to have above a P.S.
See: Dear Mystery Blogger (It might be YOU!)
You see it at the end of long sales letters. You see it in email marketing. Start using it in your blog posts, too! This is one last chance to make an important point, or share an important link. It is best used for supporting your call-to-action.
Readers who scan your blog posts will catch the title, the images, the sub-headlines, the bullet points and the PS. Use it wisely!
Bonus: The 8th Element
Once I have my blog post written, but before I publish it, there's one more thing that I add to top it off.
I like to link back to posts in my archive wherever relevant, both for internal links (SEO) and for the readers reference. This helps to keep your archived blog posts fresh, and connects similar discussions.
I also link out to other blog posts on the same topic, written by other bloggers. This creates a pingback or a trackback on their blog, usually in the comments area of the post I link to, and is also good for both of the same reasons.
For the best results, link to blog posts that rank well for your keyword phrase - or better yet, a similar more competitive keyword phrase. That way you can benefit from having a link on this high-traffic blog post that is related to the topic of your own blog post.
You can check that post to see if other trackbacks appear before you decide to link to it. Some bloggers don't allow them, or don't have a theme that shows them.
Of course, is the blog post is really great - you might want to share it with your readers anyway...
A Quick Recap:
- Do your research, and choose a keyword phrase
- Craft a great title that includes your keyword phrase
- Choose or create images to compliment your topic
- Flesh out your content with an intro, a main point, and conclusion
- Include a strong call-to-action
- Add your signature
- Wrap it up with a well-written P.S.
- Link to related posts, on your blog and others
I hope this has helped clarify some of the points I made on my webinar, and on twitter, about how to write a blog post. As usual, I took this opportunity to create an example of each point in this very post. Scan back over it and you should be able to easily point out each of the elements!
p.s. While you are reading this PS, I am reading 31 Days to Build a Better Blog by Darren Rowse (aka @Problogger). I'll post a full review in my next post. Be sure to subscribe in the blue box at the top right so you don't miss it!
Edit: You'll find the review now online at: Problogger Review: 31DBB