You probably rely on blog posts much more than you realise.
A blog post is a webpage that focuses on a specific topic linked to a blog’s overall theme. When you search for ‘best earphones 2020’ online, you’ll likely find yourself on a tech blog, reading an earphone-related post. (And what you’re reading right now is a blog post.)
Crucial to any airtight strategy, a great blog is a pool of valuable, targeted information, engagingly delivered and attractively packaged. Unsurprisingly, they’re proven to drive customers to websites and generate high-quality leads – companies that prioritise blogging are an impressive 13x likelier to enjoy positive ROI.
If you’re a business owner, your website probably features a blog. But how old is your most recent post? How well-stocked is your editorial calendar? Most pressingly, are your posts any good?
If your blog game is a little off, worry not. We write blogs for a living, and we’re here to help. Here’s our tried and tested guide to writing the perfect blog post, covered in 12 easy steps.
1. Realise your blog’s potential
Ever tried writing a diary? It’s incredibly hard to stay motivated and maintain momentum. Why? There’s no tangible payoff.
When it comes to blogging on behalf of your business, the benefits are very real. So, arm yourself with these facts, and you’ll feel driven to keep on posting:
- Delivering no content or poor-quality content could potentially lose you 1 in every 4 customers
- Small businesses with blogs enjoy 126% greater lead growth than their blog-free peers
- 47% of customers will read 3-5 blog posts before making a purchase
- After reading bespoke content, 60% of customers feel more connected to brands
2. Determine your target audience
Now you’re all revved up and ready to write. But hang on a minute; while over ¾ of internet users are frequent blog readers, different people are looking for very different things.
Blogging for blanket appeal is likely to dilute your message, so before you put fingers to keyboard, take the time to identify and understand your audience. What keeps them up at night? What will they connect with? What are they likely to search for?
The most effective blog posts position themselves as solutions to specific problems. Aside from increasing your target audience’s sense of brand loyalty, content that’s designed to appeal to a specific market segment faces less competition for prime ranking turf on search engine results pages (SERPs).
3. Pick your topic
To maintain a consistent flow of exceptional content, you need a bottomless supply of fresh takes on topics your audience is interested in. How do you prevent the well from running dry?
For each post, start by choosing a relatively broad topic. An interior designer may decide to blog about maximising space in the home, for example.
Next, whittle your subject matter down to a specific sub-category by doing some keyword research, keeping your target buyer in mind. Finally, identify a development in this area or a related problem the customer might be having. There you go: you’ve found your angle.
In time, you can recycle the seed of an idea by approaching it from a different buyer’s perspective. Take the time to poke around your competitors’ blogs, too, noting what they’re missing, so you can write about (and rank for) it.
4. Keep SEO in front of mind
The brutal reality is this: 75% of potential readers will never venture beyond the first page of Google search results.
If you want your blog post to win a high volume of engagement, it needs to be easily found via organic search. Your secret weapon? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Keyword research helps you get ahead in the SEO race, beefing up your post’s ranking on SERPs. You can use smart tools such as Google’s Search Console to narrow down precise search terms, flagging which key search phrases are less competitive to rank for in your market segments.
Obviously, something that sounds as if it was authored by a robot isn’t a credible or gripping read. Improve searchability without sacrificing readability by only featuring keywords when it feels natural to do so – Google can tell the difference.
5. Hone a snappy title
To win the reader over, your headline needs to be compelling. After all, today’s average reader has an attention span of just 8 seconds (shorter than that of a goldfish, apparently)… no pressure!
A perfect title will pithily present your chosen topic in a way that intrigues the reader. According to research, titles that are 6-8 words in length work well for blog posts and could boost CTR by 21%. In a sea of highly digestible digital content, it’s understandable why 36% of readers have a preference for list-based titles.
You’ll probably start with a rough idea – ‘ways to maximise space in the home’. From here, you can add your key phrase – ‘stylish home storage’, for example – and sharpen the focus of the sentence, using tricks such as alliteration to improve its flow.
After combining these insights, I’m left with a punchy, actionable title that encourages clicks: ‘Stylish home storage: 5 clever space-saving solutions’.
6. Plan your post’s structure
Good blog posts are the fast food of the internet – easy and enjoyable to consume.
From listicles and guides to thought pieces and news stories, there are plenty of formats you can adopt to keep your posts fresh. However, if the end result is a mass of sprawling text, most viewers will click away.
A navigable blog post follows a clear structure, dividing each section with a relevant sub-heading. Paragraphs are short, sweet, and waffle-free. In terms of length, longer is better and can produce 10x more leads than shorter posts – providing that quantity never supersedes quality.
A top-ranking Google post averages at 1,140-1285 words, and, if you want to rank for high competition keywords, you’ll need to aim for 2,200-2,500 words. Comparatively, Google classifies posts featuring minimal words as ‘thin content’.
7. Craft a killer introduction
Think of the introduction as a subtle elevator pitch for your blog post. In these crucial first few paragraphs, you need to sell the premise of your piece to the reader.
If you’re stuck, try opening with a thought-provoking statement or figure – the use of statistics in blog posts has been shown to boost brand credibility.
Once you’ve set the scene, in Hollywood-speak, it’s time to trigger your ‘inciting incident’: the hook that draws your reader in. When blogging, this is likely to take the form of a problem your customer is having.
This creates the ideal opportunity for you to ride in on your white horse and offer a neat solution to said problem. Outline how your post will benefit the reader: this will motivate them to keep reading.
8. Write in style
Your blog needs to sound like you. By this, we mean that it needs to remain consistent with your brand identity. If that looks and sounds quite corporate, so should your blog. If it’s more conversational and laidback, your posts should sound this way too.
That being said, it’s essential to find a balance between your voice and your readers’ tastes. The average visitor donates fewer than 37 seconds of their time to the reading a post, so, you need to dazzle them – a little.
Of course, writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Here are a few golden rules for crafting highly readable content:
- Reinforce your ideas with relevant, up-to-date statistics. People love numbers: they represent cold, hard facts, and work with, not against, our tendency to skim-read.
- When you write a sentence, consider if you could convey the same point in fewer words. Could you say it more originally?
- Keep cadence in mind, à la Amazon’s leaked email template; mix in long and short sentences to keep the reading experience dynamic.
- Don’t waffle: unless a sentence is driving your post’s premise forward, it isn’t necessary.
9. Make it visually engaging
Visuals are an indispensable means of making your post look appealing, breaking up chunks of monochromatic text with vivid splashes of colour and action.
Time and time again, content featuring relevant visuals is shown to be more effective than plain old text. In fact, it enjoys 94% more views.
For time-strapped, restless viewers, visuals signal ease of consumption. They also play to the hyper-visual nature of social platforms: posts with an image every 75-100 words get twice the amount of shares as image-free articles.
Your featured image should be high-quality, engaging, and reflective of your post’s content. If possible, weave original images and infographics throughout your posts, making sure to fill out the alt text for each one.
10. Conclude with a call to action (CTA)
End with a short conclusion that summarises your post, offering further help if appropriate.
You want your audience to feel the benefits of their time spent with you, so briefly touch on any vital points you’ve made and tie these to your CTA.
A powerful CTA will set the reader on a clear trajectory, letting them know what you’d like them to do next – get in touch, sign up for a newsletter, try to write the perfect blog post, etc. The payoff? Hopefully, a batch of new, meaningful leads for your business.
11. Proofread, edit, and proofread some more
In the eyes of the customer, shoddily written content weakens your trustworthiness. Yet the number of times we’ve spotted typos and grammatical slip-ups within content published by reputable brands is jaw-dropping.
Along with proofreading your post, use one of the internet’s many free grammar checkers – Grammarly is our favourite – to comb text for undetected errors. For an ultra impactful piece, reread it several times over, leaving any fluff on the cutting room floor.
Make sure everyone in your team is on the same page when it comes to writing original content. Worse than writing nothing at all, copying text from competitors (or elsewhere) only calls into question your position as an expert in your field.
12. Tick all the technical boxes
So, you’ve written the perfect blog post and now you’re just itching to hit ‘publish’.
Not so fast. You want to make your post as easy to find as possible, remember? To do that, you need to add a few technical touches:
- Write a meta description – the name for the HTML feature that teases the contents of a specific webpage, seen below titles on a SERP.
- Ensure your URL works in tandem with your headline and meta description. A good URL, featuring a related key phrase, looks like this:
- Select a tag. Tags are nominal labels that categorise posts on your blog, facilitating faster content selection for readers interested in a particular topic.
- Choose which keywords you’ll use as your anchor text – the text that links to other pages on your site, or elsewhere. These could incorporate a single word or a few.
After you complete the perfect blog post…
Now you know how to write the perfect blog post, there’s nothing stopping you, right? That depends. To be effective, blogging requires consistent effort, and many business owners simply don’t have time to commit to such a Shakespearean output.