What’s the right combination for a great blog post? As the marketing director for LexBlog, I’ve had a front-row seat to the content marketing explosion. Blogs are more important than ever to marketing strategy. We coach clients day in and out on blogging best practices, so I thought I’d share the best practices we’re seeing drive the most success for our clients.
Fingerprint (post title): This is the #1 most important part of the post for search. It is uniquely identified with your content, like a fingerprint. Keywords that are in the title will directly impact your search placement for those words more than any other, so you should carefully construct every title.
Avoid: Puns & metaphors. The best titles both draw readers in and contain critical keywords. Keep it to 70 characters or less to be 100 percent visible to Google searchers.
Head (your opening paragraph): Many people will determine if the rest of your post is worth reading by skimming the first paragraph. Focusing a good part of your energy for your post on this paragraph will pay off with more people getting to the meat of your post. The paragraph should be engaging and set up what readers can expect to get from reading the rest of your content.
Accessories: While not technically part of your anatomy, no outfit is complete without some accessories. Pictures or photos make your post more appealing to the eye, which will result in more readers. Guy Kawasaki calls this adding “bling” to your social media. We’re all attracted to the visual, so make it look good and readers will follow.
Funny bone: Not everyone is a comedian, but adding a bit of humor to your posts will make them more entertaining to readers. Remember that a blog post is more like a conversation than a research paper. Keep it casual and throw in some jokes when appropriate.
Arms (links to others) Like a handshake or a head nod to others, adding links to your posts brings people in. If you’re mentioning something that’s in the news, or someone who added wisdom that you want to share—link to them. And, as a bonus reach out to them after you publish to let them know you mentioned them—they’ll be flattered and you may make more connections.
Body (of your post): The meat of your post (pardon the reference) should be clear and to the point. Think about sprinkling in some keywords to push the SEO along. Don’t make it obvious that you are trying to stuff keywords in, just use them naturally when they come up. If you can replace a pronoun with a keyword instead, do that.
Personal Space (whitespace): Just like people need a personal space bubble, so does your post. When people see a page crammed full of text, it looks like work and no one will want to read it. Keep your paragraphs short with a line space in between, and some space around your images helps as well.
Height: Not too long, not too short. We usually coach 300-700 words as being optimum. Though some bloggers post shorter 200 word or fewer, but post more often. One thing we can all agree on? Too long is just too long. If it goes over 1,000 words you might as well write the rest in Greek, no one is reading it.
Feet (the conclusion) – The end of your blog post is a great place to summarize what you said, provide your own analysis on any issues discussed and, most importantly, provide a “take away.” If people finish your post feeling like they’ve learned something, they are much more likely to come back to your blog. Notice I said “learned something”, not “wanna buy something”. This isn’t the place to sell your wares—giving learning will sell you better than any “call to action” here.
Heart: Most important of all—write about a topic you can put your heart into. If you’re enthusiastic, your readers will be too. Whatever you choose to write about, put your whole self into it. Blogs are a conversation and a way to make connections with others. People won’t want to connect with you if you’re impersonal or corporate sounding. Be yourself and have fun. Inspired and updated from our previous post “Blueprint for a Perfect Blog Post.”