Have you made the decision to start a blog for your business? Solid choice.
Anyone else miss Stefon?
Even if you have several topic ideas and the start of a blogging strategy, however, you might be wondering exactly how to get people to read said blog. Have no fear—I am about to share with you several tips on how to write a blog post that people will actually read. We’re going to break down:
Headline best practices.
Formatting tips for easy-to-read posts.
Other types of content to include in your posts.
I mentioned in a previous post how the blogging landscape has changed significantly over the years. Thanks to Google updates which now favor quality over quantity and the way people consume content, us writers have our work cut out for us!
Think about how you read articles. What does it take for you to click on one in the first place? What makes you stay on the page and keep reading? And if you do, how much do you read versus skim?
I need a speedreading lesson from this baby.
Now more than ever, people are in a hurry. Not to mention they’re bombarded with info and content all the livelong day! So how can yours cut through the noise, get them to click, and keep them reading? Read on to find out.
Writing Your Headline
Regardless of your writing process and when you craft your headline, it’s the make-or-break element of your blog post. Viewers are either going to choose to give you their valuable time by clicking, or keep on scrollin’. You have about 60 characters to grab their attention, so use them wisely!
A great blog title appeals to your audience and offers them value. Err on the specific side. Remember, your audience is on the go—for the most part, they won’t want to take the time to decipher a vague or abstract headline.
There are various headline styles, from the how-to article:
To the listicle:
To “the make my life easier”:
50 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That'll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again (This one even combines the list style with the make-my-life-easier style!)
These are just a few popular blog headline formats. You’ll want to tailor your title to the content of your post. Determine the flow of your article and consider its main goal. Are you sharing something you learned from experience? Are you recommending top things to do in a certain destination? What do you want people to walk away with?
As for the ideal length, HubSpot reports 6 to 13 words as the sweet spot for getting the most consistent amount of traffic and hits.
Brainstorm several headline ideas and ask people for feedback to find out which one will get the engagement. Sometimes you might come up with your headline before writing the post, while other times it may be easier to wait until after you have it all written.
I personally don’t have a set process for this; sometimes I come up with my title right away, while other times I get stumped and need to flesh it out more first. There is no right or wrong way to do this part, as long as you come up with a strong headline in the end!
For a great list of effective blog headline styles, check out this post by HubSpot that breaks it down.
Writing Your Intro
Important piece #2 of your blog post: The Introduction.
Just like with your headline, there is no right or wrong process for writing your blog intro. With some blogs, I have an idea of the talking points I want to start with and writing the intro helps me get into a flow for the rest of the post. In other instances, I write out the rest of my blog post body and then add the intro.
What does matter about your introduction, however, is that it hooks the reader and keeps them on your post. A few ways to do this include:
Make it relatable: Identify your reader’s problem and show empathy with an example or story.
Use emotion: Add in a little light humor or hit ‘em in the feels. (Note: There are often ways to lighten up even heavy or dry topics!)
Add a “Wow” factor: Include a surprising statistic, fact, or story to catch their attention.
Outline the post: Briefly break down what your reader will get out of the post (e.g.: The bulleted list at the beginning of this post).
A good introduction breaks it down and quickly shows your audience how reading this post will add value to their lives. Intrigue them, draw them in, then *BOOM* change their lives.
Formatting Your Blog Post
The median average time spent reading an article is 37 seconds. (NewsCred)
Considering how much search is done on mobile and on-the-go nowadays, it makes sense that most people are only going to skim your blog posts. Don’t sweat it. You can keep your mobile users and skimmers in mind (and maybe even get them to stay longer) by:
Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.
Using list formats.
Taking advantage of subheaders.
Keep Sentences & Paragraphs Short
These two are things I still have to keep in mind myself. After all, I was an English nerd in school. Academic writing often calls for longer and more complex sentences and paragraphs. Elements like lists and subheaders weren’t best practices for those looong research papers.
This isn’t the case with web content writing. In fact, best practice states you should be writing for a sixth-grade reading level. Keep it concise and to the point. Large blocks of text are just going to overwhelm readers and possibly drive them away.
When possible, break up your content into lists. This could mean using bulleted or numbered lists, as well as formatting your entire blog post as a list (hence the listicle style mentioned earlier).
Lists make the content easier to digest and more skim-friendly. Those important points will stand out more and your readers are more likely to absorb and actually remember the information.
Take Advantage of Subheaders
Another effective blog post format technique is the use of subheaders. Similarly to lists, subheaders make your content easier for audiences to consume. If you create an outline for your blog post before writing it, each main point or section should be a header. You can even break up those main sections into subsections with subheaders.
When formatting your blog, you will see the options for Heading 1 (H1), Heading 2 (H2), Heading 3 (H3), and so on. Headings also have an impact on search engine optimization (SEO), since search engines read them as more important content. H1 is the largest and H5 is the smallest, therefore the SEO impact of H1 is highest.
A few tips on blog post headings:
Your H1 is your blog post title, so you should only ever have one.
Start in your copy with H2’s to break up your few main sections.
Use keyword-rich subheaders to help with SEO (without keyword stuffing, of course).
Link subheaders as anchor text in long blog posts so people can skip to certain sections.
Using Other Content Types
For the love of visual content, please include a few images or graphics of some sort in your blog posts! There’s a reason 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their content marketing strategy. (MarketingProfs)
Images help break up your text and make the entire post look much friendlier. They can also help drive your point home. Try to use your own branded photos if you can, or at least relevant high-quality stock photos.
You can even use GIFs, graphics, and infographics to help support your blog post topic. Turn a statistic into a graphic so it pops. Have you gathered a bunch of interesting and relevant data about your industry? Share it in an infographic as a fun and saveable format.
Bonus benefit: Including image files can also help with SEO, since you can add keywords in the Alt tag. This helps Google crawl them and therefore, rank your blog post.
Do you have a product or service that does best when demonstrated? Consider adding video to your blogs. Make your own high-quality videos showcasing your products and how to use them. If you don’t have the resources to make your own videos right now, find high-quality videos on YouTube related to your industry and embed them in your posts. Like images, Google loves video and tends to rank blog posts higher when they feature good video content.
Crush Your Blog Post Format
Every industry, brand, and blog post is different. Use the techniques that best represent your company and get your message across. Always keep in mind how each article is intended to help your readers. This may require testing different styles and formatting tricks, but it will all be worth it when you see your blog engagement start soaring.
Do you have other questions about how to write a blog post? Or do you have some tried and true techniques of your own? Share below!