8 Ingredients for an Engaging Blog Post with SEO
Just like you have to follow a recipe to bake the most delicious cake, you have to follow a blogging “recipe” to craft your best blog post. Let’s cover the basics of you need to include in every single blog post you write. So far, we’ve covered the stages of writing a blog post, which gives us a larger view of writing a blog post. We haven’t gotten into the nitty-gritty details. In this blog post, we’re going into the weeds to actually write your blog post.
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#1 What’s The Goal Of Your Blog Post?
Before you sit down and write the first word of your blog post, stop and think about what you want to accomplish with your post. What’s your goal? How is this blog post going to help you accomplish something to help you move forward with your business.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
Are you writing a post that you hope will get shared across social media and grow your reach?
Are you writing a post that also invites readers to join your email list so you can get back in touch later?
Are you writing a post to get the attention of a big brand you’d like to work with?
Are you writing a blog post to start a conversation with your existing readership?
Are you writing a blog post with the end goal of selling your readers a product?
Are you writing a blog post to start a conversation with a fellow blogger in hopes of growing a mutually profitable relationship?
All of the above are valid goals for your blog posts and I’m sure you can add a few more to that list. The important thing is that you’re aware of what you’re trying to accomplish with your post.
Tip: Write your goal on a Post-It and stick it somewhere year your keyboard. It will help you keep your goal in mind as you write.
Then, start with the end in mind. If your goal is to grow your email list, think of a topic that’s complementary to your opt-in freebie. Write the content and then transition into an invitation to join your list and download the free report.
You could also write a blog post that’s full of useful tips and advice related to your business. At the end, invite the reader to join your newsletter so they won’t miss out on more great, free content from you.
If your goal is to get the attention of a big brand you’d like to work with for example, think about a post you can write about your experience with one of their products.
Being able to reverse engineer the entire process and lead your reader to whatever action you want them to take at the end is pretty powerful stuff. It allows you to craft different posts strategically. Write a post that helps you grow your reach. Then, work on one that starts the conversation with our new readers. Next, work on getting them on your list and finally make them an offer. You’re all set to not only grow your blog and your audience, but make money blogging as well.
#2 How To Write Attention-Grabbing Blog Titles
Believe it or not, the most important part of your blog post is your title. If you don’t grab your reader’s attention with the title, nothing you write will matter. It doesn’t matter how great and helpful your content is if you can’t get anyone to read it.
And when it comes to getting free search engine traffic, your title is important as well. It is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting your content to rank. Yes, there are plenty of other factors, but a good title with the right keywords in it will do more good than just about anything else you do.
How do you go about writing a good attention-grabbing blog post title then? I suggest you start with a loose working title for your post. After you write your blog post, come back and work on the finalized headline by using as many of the tips below as you can.
Make it interesting, but tell the truth. You’ll lose credibility if you’re exaggerating or telling little white lies. Instead, make it interesting without all the hype and stick to the truth. A great way to do that is to think about what’s in it for your readers.
Keep it short and engaging. Shorter titles tend to do better both with click-throughs on your blog and social media. And think about engagement, even with your title. Ask your readers a question. Make a statement that makes them think. Numbers work very well in titles. (i.e. My 5 Best Tips To …)
Tip: Keep an eye out for titles that catch your attention. Copy and paste them into a swipe file (Word .doc, Google Doc, Google Sheet, etc.) and see how you can tweak them for your own needs and market. You can also try this headline generator from Sumo.
Work in your keywords. Last but not least, don’t forget to work your well-researched keywords into the title. I tend to do this last. Always write for your readers first and then work in what you need for search engines to recognize what your content is about.
#3 Engage Your Readers And Encourage Interaction
Blogs were designed to facilitate engagement and communications. There’s a reason you can leave comments and all it takes is a little encouragement to get your own readers to do that on your blog. Combine that with a little social media interaction and there’s no reason you can’t turn this into a fully engaged conversation that will help you grow a loyal base of fans.
Interaction helps too because with each email your readers send you, with each comment they post, and each social media post they write you learn a little more about your target audience and how you can best serve them. And that, right there, is the key to becoming a successful blogger. Know your market, serve your market, and present them with offers to help them reach their goals or fill their need.
We know it’s important, but how do we get the ball rolling and encourage our audience, our readers to interact with us bloggers? We do it by asking them questions, by asking them for feedback and by encouraging them to share their options – right from our blog posts.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re writing a post about getting your baby to sleep through the night. Within the post, ask your readers how old their kids are, or what their own experiences are with their infants. Ask them to share if they are struggling with getting enough sleep right now because their baby wakes them up every few hours. Encourage them to share their stories and tell them exactly where and how to do it, such as “leave a comment below.”
Now the next step is crucial. As soon as you see that first comment or two pop up, reply to them and keep the conversation going. This will do two things for you. You will not only have a great conversation with the reader, but you’ll also show other readers that you care and really want to hear from them. And that’s what’s going to encourage more and more of your loyal readers to comment.
The same goes for social media engagement. When you post a link to your latest blog post, ask your friends and followers to like, share, and comment. Then let them know how much you appreciate it when they do. Of course you can get the conversation going there too by asking a question related to your blog post on Facebook for example. It’s a great way to share another link to your blog post and get the conversation going at the same time.
#4 How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?
It would be great if there was a magic number that guaranteed best results, wouldn’t it? But that’s like asking someone to tell you how long your conversations with other people should be. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a few words or sentences; sometimes you have a nice long talk. It all depends on how much you have to say to each other.
The same approach works well with your blog posts. Sometimes you’re sharing just a quick tip or some news about your business. In that case, something around 200 to 300 words will do just fine. Add a pretty picture and call it good.
Other times you want to go into a little more depth. You want to cover different aspects of a topic, share some examples and give your readers as much information as you can. In those cases make it as long as you need to make it.
Long posts — at least 1,000 words, more if needed — are the best to have in your blog. They help establish your authority and if the content is helpful or valuable, they are often shared on social media. Plus long posts give the search engines a lot of text to sift through and give you more chances to rank for long tail keywords.
The best advice is to mix longer and shorter blog posts. It will make your blog seem more natural and organic. Don’t force yourself to reach a certain magic word count if you don’t have that much to say on a topic. Keep it short and to the point. Your readers will thank you.
Above all, pay attention to what your readers prefer. If your short posts tend to do better, consider keeping your posts short and to the point. If you’re getting a lot more engagement and social media shares on longer posts, combine a few of the shorter blog post ideas into a longer one. And whatever you do, don’t get hung up on an exact number of words.
#5 Add Pictures to Your Blog Post
You’ve heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” You want to make sure your posts are visually appealing and attention-grabbing. Good pictures are a great way to accomplish that.
A picture can draw readers in. A picture will draw readers in and make them read your blog posts. Have a look at some of the major news sites, big blogs or even your Facebook feed. It’s the pictures that grab your attention in combination with the post title.
Try to find an image that tells the story of your post. The image should tell you, at a glance, what the blog post is all about. Of course, you’re not limited to just one image. If it fits the topic, grab a few to illustrate what you’re talking about or show step-by-step progress.
You need pictures for social media shares. On Facebook, images are important for grabbing your reader’s attention. But it doesn’t stop there. Think about other social sites your audience participates in. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pinterest, Instagram or even Twitter. A good image will stand out and draw people in.
Use quality photos or illustrations. Now that I have you convinced that you need good images, the next question is of course where do you find them? You have a couple of different options when it comes to getting pictures.
1) You Can Take Them Yourself – If you’re a decent photographer and can find the subject matters you need, by all means go ahead and take your own images. Photography equipment aside, this is the cheapest and most authentic option. The downside is that it takes time to set up, take the picture, process it after and get it in a format you can use you on your blog.
2) You Can Hire Someone Else To Take Them For You – This is where things can get pricey. But you might get lucky and find a couple of college kids with decent cell phone cameras that can get you the shots you need for a little beer money.
3) Get Some Stock Photos – The most time and cost effective method for most of us is to use stock photography. Visit free stock photography sites like Pexels and Unsplash. If you want more specific, better quality photos, you can buy stock photography at sites like Istock and DepositPhotos.
#6 Break Up Your Content And Make It Easy to Scan
We come across a lot more content than we could possibly consume any given day. And chances are that a lot of it is good stuff.
As a result, we’ve all gotten pretty good at scanning and then picking and choosing what we actually want to read, watch, or listen to. And that’s why it is important to break up your content and make it easy for your readers to scan through it.
Use headlines and subheadings. Take a look at this post. Do you see how I’m breaking the different elements and making it easy to scan down into subheadings? You can do the same with your blog post. Think of the outline of your post. Each point in your outline could be a subheading. Start with those and then fill in the content. Or if you prefer, start with the content and then go back and add the sub headings. The only important thing is that they are in there before you hit publish.
Keep your paragraphs short. Reading online is a lot different than reading something on paper. Books, newspapers and magazines can get away with long paragraphs. Online it’s a different story. One of the most effective things you can do to keep your readers reading is to keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Don’t make it much longer than three or four lines.
Use lists and bold important items. Next you want to go through your content and see if there’s anything you can present in the form of a list.
- Use a list instead of several related sentences.
- Use a list to share examples.
- Lists can be as long or short as you need them to be.
And let’s not forget about other formatting options. Bold important key terms, or italicize them. (Try not to underline anything because it will look like a link and confuse your readers.) All of these formatting options make it much quicker and easier to scan a piece of text and figure out what it’s about without having to read every single word.
#7 How To Craft A Good Call To Action At The End Of Your Post
If there’s one thing I see a lot of bloggers do wrong, it’s not giving their readers anything to do at the end of the blog post. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers. You read a great article, get to the end and there’s no call to action. What do you do? You go back to Facebook or go watch some cat videos on YouTube.
Why not give your readers something more? That’s what a call to action at the end of your blog posts is all about.
Invite them to join your email list. Often the best thing you can do at the end of your blog posts is to invite readers to join your list. Once you have them on your email list, you can invite them to come back and read other posts, comment on them, join you on your favorite social media platforms and of course make offers to your readers.
Getting them on your list should always be your first priority, so use that call to action often.
Encourage them to comment and interact with you. One of the easiest ways to craft a call to action is to ask your readers to leave you a comment. Invite them to share their own experiences on the topic, a tip, a recipe etc. In other words, ask them to comment on the post.
Invite them to connect further via social media. If growing your social media reach is a goal, consider adding a call to action to “like” the blog post on Facebook, share it on Twitter, pin it on Pinterest, etc. Or share one of your social media profiles in the call to action and invite them to join you there.
Make a recommendation. Sometimes it makes sense to make a sale and monetize your blog post in your call to action. This is also called pre-selling. You talk about a topic and then at the end make a recommendation for a product that helps your readers learn more or take the next step.
#8 How To Encourage Social Sharing Of Your Blog Posts
We live in a social world where much of our news comes from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To grow your readership and make sure your blog posts get the attention they deserve, you need to encourage your current readers to share what you’ve written on their favorite social media sites. Find out where your audience likes to hang out and then focus on getting them to share on those social media outlets to attract more like-minded readers.
Start with quality content. Of course, it all starts with quality content that your readers want to read and share. No one is going to spread a crappy post on social media. Start by writing the best blog posts you can and do some research into what your audience wants and needs. In other words, serve your market well and they will in turn share what you’re writing with their friends and acquaintances.
Make it easy to share. When your goal is to get people to share your blog post on social media, you want to make it as easy as possible to share. We talked about what social media sites your audience favors. Make sure you have one-click buttons to share your blog post available. If you are running your blog using WordPress, you should be able to find a plugin to help you do this.
Ask for the share. Buttons are great, but sometimes it takes a little extra push to get your readers to take action. Don’t be afraid to ask for the social media share. Close your articles and blog posts with a little sentence or two that asks them to share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., if they enjoyed the post. And don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate it when they share the love.
Send an email. Last, but definitely not least, send an email to everyone on your subscriber list to let them know when a new blog post is published. Then, in the email as well as the blog post, ask your subscribers to share the blog post (or even the email) with their friends and family.