I guess you’re like me!
You spend a few hours putting your latest blog post together and you want it to get the attention it deserves.
Yes, you want people to read it, to share it, to comment on it or to follow your call to action.
Also, you want it to rank well in the search engines to bring you traffic.
The result is often very different! And with more than 3 million blog posts published every day, this isn’t surprising but it is very frustrating.
Have you ever wondered about the anatomy of the perfect blog post? How do some bloggers manage to get thousands of visitors and hundreds of shares for their blog posts?
Does this sound like you?
You’re not alone!
We all have these dreams. There are many things you can do with each blog post that will help achieve better results.
It is possible!
Being a good writer may help to get people to engage when they find your post. But there are other methods to give your posts a better chance of being successful that don’t depend on your writing skills.
In this post, I’ll walk you through the anatomy of the perfect blog post.
Does the Perfect Blog Post Exist?
That depends on your definition of the perfect blog post. If your blog post achieves its goals then it might be perfect to you.
This could be getting traffic, comments or social shares.
But there is a format that might be considered perfect. There are certain elements each blog post should have.
In this post, I will take a look at the features that can give your blog posts the “perfect” format.
So let’s jump right in!
An Idea and Keyword Research
For a great blog post, you need a great idea.
You may get ideas from reading other blogs, magazines, comments or questions you get on your blog – on other blogs or Quora.
If you use ideas from other blogs – consider what they might have missed, how you could improve, expand or include more info. Although it’s obvious, I’ll say it anyway – never copy be unique!
When you get an idea you should note it somewhere. There are online apps such as Trello or Evernote, pen and paper… When I want to be sure the idea doesn’t get lost I create a draft in WordPress.
The next step is keyword research.
Keyword research will tell you what your audience is searching for so you can create a post that will be useful to them right now.
Carrying out keyword research, using a good keyword research tool, will also give you:
- an idea of the competition you will have to rank your post in the search engines
- an idea of the traffic you can expect.
Say you have an idea for a blog post about meta tags and SEO. You want to rank well in the search engines for this term. You can find some long tail keywords by entering your main keyword into a keyword tool.
You’ve found a keyword with a number of searches and a number of visits that is acceptable to you, use it in your article.
You can also use the research tool to come up with secondary keywords.
Use these sparingly in your post. You may also find related questions that can become a sub-sections in your article.
If you’re starting your website, use keywords with fewer searches and visits. This will make it easier to achieve good search engine rankings. It’s worth remembering that people usually only look at results from the first page.
Narrow down a broad or head term to a more precise subject. This will give you a much better chance of ranking for a specific query.
If you’re on page 4 or 5 you probably won’t get any traffic from the search engines. Better to rank on page 1 of Google for a keyword that gets just a few visits per month than on page 5 for a keyword that get 100s of visits per month.
Use your keyword phrase in the main title and in the article. Only include it if it seems natural. Don’t stuff your article with your keyword in a way that appears unnatural.
You may get other ideas for your keyword phrase by using the autocomplete and related searches features in Google. Below are some ideas from autocomplete for the term the perfect blog post.
Answer the Public is another free tool that will give you recent search terms that relate to your keywords.
These tools will give you an idea of what people are searching for. Providing further insights as to other searches people are performing.
Now you know what you’re going to write about here’s the blueprint for the perfect blog post.
Recommended resource: Keyword Research to Improve Traffic
Create a Captivating Headline
Once your main keyword is decided you can create the title or headline.
You might find it better to write your title after you’ve written your blog post. Often your most may take an unexpected turn or come up with key facts. This could change the title of your post.
The title is the most important part of your post.
Think I’m crazy?
It’s your headline that will catch your readers or searchers attention. Some sources state that 80% of readers never make it past your headline.
In other words, creating a powerful title isn’t an option. It’s absolutely critical to the success of a blog post
So it’s worth spending time on your headline. If you’re like me, you spend several hours writing your blog posts. Then relatively little time creating a headline.
This is wrong, if your headline isn’t great, no matter how good your content, no one will read it.
A useful tool to help you improve your headlines is the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.
Or a couple of articles with some useful tips:
- How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog
Prepare An Outline
An outline doesn’t need to be complicated. List the main points you want to cover.
Mine usually take the form of a list with the headings and sub-headings I plan using.
As an example, for reviews of programs in the make money online niche, you could use this as an outline:
- What is “the program”?
- Who are the owners?
- Who is “the program” for?
- The sales page
- How “the program” works
- Help and support
- Pros and cons
- How much does “the program” cost?
- What are their customers saying?
An outline will help you decide what you are going to write about and give your blog post a better structure. This will help to avoid missing something or covering the same point more than once. During your research, you may come up with other headings you could include.
Research is an important part of preparing to write a blog post. After all, you don’t know about everything! To be frank, sometimes you may not know anything about the subject of your blog post.
Researching will allow you to write an authoritative article about a subject that is maybe new to you. Collect as much supporting material as possible and then use it to write a solid blog post.
Using your keywords you will be able to find the other articles that are on the first page of Google.
Draw inspiration from what others have written, see what they may have missed and try to improve on it. But never copy word for word. Take notes as you research, you don’t want to forget any ideas you have as you’re researching.
Look at the comments in the articles to see if there are any readers questions that remain unanswered. This may give you some additional points to cover in your post.
Ask yourself questions, what would you like to learn if you were reading about the subject. Also, take a look at the titles and meta descriptions they have used. Try to come up with something better.
Something that will encourage the searchers to click on your post instead of your competitors. Use data or statistics but always check they are up to date and true.
A useful research tool for keeping relevant information or articles in one place is Wakelet.com. Discover how you can use Wakelet, in this post from Infobunny. It’s not the only tool for keeping your notes, as mentioned above. Use whatever works for you!
You can use Google to search for stats, as you can see below, it’s possible to set a date range to make sure the data is recent.
There are other trustworthy resources you can use:
After the headline, the introduction is the next most important part of a blog post. It’s your chance to connect with your readers and encourage them to read the rest of your post.
Yes, it’s true! If your introduction is poor they won’t be encouraged to read any further.
The question is how do you write a good introduction?
It’s easier than you think, here are a few tips that may help:
- Talk directly to your readers by using the word you
- Your blog post should be solving a problem your readers may have, you should make this clear in your intro, promise a solution with a short phrase such as – I’ll show you… or It is possible…
- Identify an emotion of how your readers may feel – frustration, joy, excitement, fear, determination, anger…
- Share a personal story or an anecdote from a famous person. People seem to love storytelling and it is shown to increase the chances of people reading your posts. Not sure how to add storytelling to your blog posts? Don’t worry, this post will give you some storytelling ideas.
Blog Post Length – Aim For at Least 1000 Words
You can find all sorts of advice about the length of your blog posts. Some say your blog posts should always be at least 300 words. Others recommend anything from 300 to 2500 words. Yet others say you should only publish long-form content of at least 1500 words.
An old blogging myth says that shorter is better! Online readers have short attention spans, they don’t like to read long articles. Is that the case today?
With so much conflicting advice it’s difficult to know what’s best, but some investigation shows…
Longer is better!
Research of 1000 bloggers by orbitmedia.com has shown that the average length of blog posts has increased from 800 words in 2014 to 1150 in 2018.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has carried out studies that show in-depth content ranks better and he suggests posts of more than 2000 words.
So it looks like long-form content performs best but why?
If you have a blog post of 2000 words or more, your keyword phrase will probably appear in the text, headings, images, and links several times without keyword stuffing. So Google will understand better what your page is about. You will also rank for various versions of your long tail keyword.
In a lengthy blog post, you will treat several subjects. Giving you the chance to rank for many different keywords. This means you will attract traffic from different searches.
Longer articles will have a better chance of attracting backlinks.
But most importantly your audience will appreciate a detailed blog post. It will answer all their questions on a subject. And save them from visiting 10 different websites to get the answers they are looking for.
Don’t add fluff just to up your word count. Keep your posts minimal with important information.
Post Length Bottom Line:
Your content should be as long as it needs to be to get your point across. If you can say what you want in 500 words that’s great or if it’s 3000 words that’s fine as well.
The only problem with writing longer posts is they need to be properly structured to make them easy to read. More about that later.
Recommended resource: Steps to Starting a WordPress Blog
Page Jumps and Table of Contents
If you write long blog posts then including a table of contents is a good idea. Readers like to know what’s going to be covered before they get started.
A table of contents at the start of a post will allow your readers to jump to any section that interests them and ignore anything they don’t want to read. The alternative might mean they skip the post altogether.
How to install a table of contents
If you’re using WordPress there are many plugins you can use such as Easy Table of Contents or Table of Contents Plus.
You’re worried about having too many plugins? It can be done manually using page jumps. It’s quite simple but does take a little time and means using the text editor.
If you want to try doing it without a plugin then this blog post from wpmudev.org goes through the different steps.
Write for Your Readers
You may think I’m stating the obvious but many bloggers ask questions and are overly concerned about SEO. They seem to lose sight of the most important thing. Your article must be for your readers!
While stuffing your post with keywords might have worked in the past, today it’s different. The search engines ranking algorithms have progressed.
Yes, it still helps to have your posts optimized for on-page SEO. Having your keywords in the title, headings and content will help the search engines to know what is the main subject of your blog post. But user interaction is perhaps even more important.
Write like you talk.
You must write naturally don’t concentrate on your keywords. Write something unique that is helpful to your audience.
No need to use difficult words, your post should be easy to read.
Your readers should get value from your articles in the way of knowledge, product or service reviews, or learn how to do something. Keep in mind your readers usually want to find answers to a problem.
Write something that:
- will inspire your readers
- they will want to share
- will encourage them to explore other pages of your website
- will encourage them to return to your website
- provides a solution to a problem
About the actual writing, you can write your post in one go or do it in short spells, whichever suits you best. However, it’s best to do as much as you can in each session. You will stay more focused and get it finished faster.
Include Headings and Subheadings to Structure Your Blog Posts
Using headings and subtitles in your blog posts make it more readable. They structure your article.
Many visitors to your website will skim your posts. They will use the headings to see what is included in your post and to read the paragraphs that interest them.
The heading tags run from h1 -> h6.
The h1 tag is used only once for the title of the post.
The h2 is for the headings in the post and the h3 and h4 for subheadings. I generally never use the h5 and h6 tags.
Using the heading tags may help slightly with SEO. The search engines will be able to determine what your post is about.
But the main reason to use them is to help your visitors.
And it’s very easy, so give your blog posts a good structure. The heading tags will make your content more understandable. Breaking it up into small sections. Making it more enjoyable for your visitors to consume your posts.
Use Short Paragraphs and Short Sentences
When you were at school you remember being taught a paragraph was a group of sentences about the same topic. Traditional paragraphs could be long or short but usually 4 or 5 sentences.
Writing online is different. You need to forget what you learned about paragraphs at school.
One sure way to lose visitors is by presenting them with a wall of text with few breaks and little white space.
Imagine if this post was four or five long paragraphs with little white space and fewer headings. Would you still be around? Probably not!
When reading online we expect to be presented with short paragraphs and short sentences. In an age when our attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter, short paragraphs are easier to scan and digest.
They allow the reader to break the content down into small blocks. This helps get your point across in a more direct way.
Shorter paragraphs will encourage the readers to read the whole post.
Even just looking at a well-formatted article will give you the impression that it’s easy to read. Compare the two images below!
Bullet or numbered lists help break up your text and can make important information stand out. Your readers may see bulleted lists as a way to digest some content quickly, which is what they want.
Compare the two examples below:
1. Meta tags include- title tag, description tag, heading tags (h1 to h6), alt tag for images, and noindex tag.
2. Meta tags include:
- title tag
- description tag
- heading tags h1 to h6
- alt tag for images
- noindex tag
No doubt about it, the second example is easier to read.
So yes, lists can be a useful addition to your posts, don’t overuse them or they will lose their effectiveness.
Lists with three or more items are most effective. Vertical lists make each list item stand out and are easier to scan than a horizontal list.
A few tips to using bulleted lists (yes another list):
- The introduction to the list should end with a colon
- For the biggest impact, the bullet point statements should be short
- Bullet points don’t need to be complete sentences
- Complete sentences should start with a capital and end with a full stop
When you think of links the first thing that probably comes to mind is links to your site from another website. These are commonly known as inbound links or backlinks.
These are very important for SEO and helping your website get good rankings. An excellent guide, from Matthew Woodward, goes through the process of using competitor analysis to obtain backlinks. This is well worth a read!
Now you know how to get backlinks and about the positive effect they can have on your rankings, they aren’t the only sort of links you should be concerned about.
Internal links are links from one page of your website to another page of your website. They are used both in the main navigation of a website and also as text links in the content of a post.
For example, the link in the paragraph above is an internal link.
You’re probably wondering why internal linking is so important? There are a few reasons:
- It helps Google index the different pages of your website. Especially new content if you link to it from an existing page
- Link juice is spread throughout the website
- An internal link with anchor text adds value to the link, you can add a keyword or content. The anchor text should flow naturally with the subject of the post and not be over-optimized. The anchor text will also help Google understand what a particular post is about.
- Although you hope internal linking will improve your rankings, the most important point is that it provides a good experience to your visitors. They may stay on your site longer and click through to read other pages. Any internal links should be relevant to the subject of your post.
Internal linking is powerful and you have full control unlike backlinks from other sites.
Implement an internal linking strategy and see how they improve your rankings.
External or Outbound Links
External links are links from a page on your website to another domain. You may be wondering why you are recommended to link to other websites, after all, it may help them more than you.
Yes, it will help them but you as well! Still not convinced?
Here’s the deal:
- By linking out to a website that is relevant to your post or website, it will help the search engines better understand the subject of your post and site.
- Link to authority or trusted sites and it will help you to build trust for your website
- Linking to other blogs in your niche may help you to build relationships with other bloggers
- It will provide your readers with additional information and it also shows you have done your research
An excellent resource that is often used for external links is Wikipedia. Why? Because it is one of the most trusted domains in the eyes of Google.
This is another tactic easy to put in place. It can help your SEO and provide more information for your readers.
Include Quotes or Tweetable Quotes
Including a quote in your blog posts can add authority to your own words. You can add quotes from others or experts to back up your information or point of view.
There are other advantages to adding blockquotes. It breaks up your text to make your post look more interesting. You can quote fellow bloggers which can help you build relationships.
To add a blockquote in WordPress highlight the text of the quote and click the blockquote button.
This will give the result you see below.
The <blockquote> tag specifies a section that is quoted from another source.
Tweetable quotes are a little different to blockquotes. They are short catchy sentences that convey an idea and are embedded in your blog posts.
They include a simple call to action and can easily be shared on Twitter with a single click.
Basically, you’re getting your readers to share your content on Twitter. Expanding your reach on the platform without having to do much work.
- To add the Click to Tweet functionality to a WordPress website there are: a number of plugins such as Better Click to Tweet
- Some social sharing plugins also provide this feature – Social Warfare
- A free tool Click to Tweet that allows you to create up to 5 free links per day
An example so you can see how a tweetable quote looks:Want people to share your content on Twitter? Make it super easy!Click To Tweet
Add Images and Other Media
Although a blog is a text-based medium, images and other media play an important part in a blog posts success or failure. Think I’m exaggerating?
Some bloggers say images are the second most important part of your post after the headline. Although I disagree! By now you’re probably wondering why?
Having images, screenshots, infographics, memes, charts/graphs or videos in your blogs can lead to more engagement and will affect shares in social media. Posts with images get shared more on the different social channels.
Visuals are memorable and they help people understand and retain information faster.
Still have doubts, let’s take a look at a few statistics:
- Twitter – Tweets with images get a 150% boost in retweets compared to tweets without images
- Facebook – posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement (source)
- Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts (source)
- Many people only read 20-28% of the words on a page (source)
- Blogs that include images receive 94% more views than text-only blogs. Including videos in your blog can increase organic search results by up to 157% (source)
- If a relevant image is added to content people are more likely to remember it. When people hear information, only 10% of that info will be remembered 3-days later. If an image is added to that information, 65% of the info will be remembered after 3-days (source)
People desire visual content and this propulsion towards visual content seems to be getting stronger year on year. Many things you communicate will be better understood with the help of visuals.
Although images are processed faster by the brain, attract more engagement … what draws people in, in the first place, will be your powerful message. The visual trend may force writers to be more concise, but…
Writing isn’t dead, you will have to evolve with consumer changes!
Calls to Action
So you want more social shares, more comments, more subscribers and more sales? Then you need the right call to action.
A call to action or CTA is an invitation to your readers to take a certain action. This could be to leave a comment, share your post on social media, buy a product, join your email list or just read another of your blog posts.
Think of things you have done lately online – signed up to an email list, downloaded a free PDF, clicked on a link in a review that takes you to a merchant’s website, shared something on social media or left a comment on a blog post. Actions you probably have taken as a result of an effective call to action.
Your CTAs can take various forms – a capture form, a text link or a button. These can be placed in your header, in your content, after your content, in the sidebar or appear as a popup. Your calls to action should tell people to take an action and also give them a reason to do so.
In general, a call to action should be more than a simple BUY NOW button, although this could be OK for a review site. Your CTAs should drive people to “read more” or “watch a video” before any sales pitch. They should seem natural and not abrupt.
Indirect actions like this will build relationships and trust with your visitors. So start using CTAs and get more from your blog content.
After spending hours writing a blog post you get to the end. Now you wonder if you need a conclusion?
The first thing you want to do is hit the publish button and move on. But wait!
A lot of bloggers don’t spend much time on the conclusion and it shows. It affects the overall result of your work. A conclusion will wrap up the post and the reader will know they’ve reached the end.
Bear with me and I’ll show you writing a successful conclusion isn’t too complicated.
The good news is it should be short and shouldn’t deal with any new information. Relate to your audience, make a few personal comments or recount how you deal with the subject.
No need to include images, they will make the conclusion longer than it needs to be. Run over your article very briefly, sum up with a few sentences.
Give your reader some next steps to do, some encouraging words and a little direction. Ask a question to stimulate discussion and you’re done.
Proofread – Edit
Now you’ve finished it’s time to proofread your post to find the errors. They do manage to slip through even if you have spellcheck installed.
Read through your blog post several times to find grammar and spelling errors. Many people advocate reading out loud, this will catch grammatical errors, see if it flows naturally and help you to remove fluff.
Although spellcheck software such as Grammarly, may not catch all errors it does catch many. It’s well worth installing the browser extension.
The Hemingway Editor will also improve your writing. Helping to make it bold and clear. Free to use it’s worth getting into the habit of using it.
Optimize Meta Tags
Before publishing your post optimize your meta tags. The most important ones regarding your posts are the Title tag and the Description tag.
This may sound like rocket science, for someone just starting a blog it is in fact quite simple.
For a full breakdown on optimizing your meta tags – what they do, which ones to use and why, this post has the answers.
Social Media Buttons
Adding social media buttons may help your rankings but it’s not completely clear if social signals are really a ranking factor.
Google says social shares aren’t a direct ranking factor but Bing takes into account social shares.
Here’s the point, the more your content is shared the more visibility your content will have. More visibility will probably mean more traffic and maybe more links.
Links are definitely an important ranking factor and we all want more traffic. So, making it easy for your visitors to share your content is a no brainer.
Anatomy of the Perfect Blog Post Conclusion
There you have it! The anatomy of the perfect blog post.
I hope this will help you achieve a good blog post structure.
Once published your post will need to be promoted, repurposed and updated.
It’s not the best content that wins. It’s the best promoted content that wins. — Andy Crestodina
If I follow my own instructions this is where I should add a call to action. I’ll keep it simple and just say if you found this post useful and it will help you with your blogging, then please share it with your blogging friends or on social media.
On the other hand, if you feel I’ve forgotten something, there’s a point you disagree with or you have some other tips you would like to share, feel free to leave your feedback below.
Thanks for reading!