I’ve read A LOT of blog posts. Much of my workday is spent reading, writing and publishing articles. And over the years, I’ve figured out a few things that seem to separate the good from the bad; and perhaps even more importantly, the ‘good’ from the ‘best.’
So while there’s actually no ‘perfect’ blog post, there are certainly elements and strategies that will get your posts as near to perfect as possible.
The #1 Most Important Component of the Perfect Business Blog Post
Before we jump into the specifics of writing the ‘perfect’ blog post, there’s one preliminary step I want to talk about first; in my opinion, this is the single most important step, and the one that a majority of bloggers miss.
It’s not rocket science, but it does mean being intentional about planning out your strategy. Before you write your post — and in fact, before you even nail down a specific topic — ask yourself this one simple question:
“What’s the unique angle of this post, and how will it help my audience?”
Not exactly earth-shattering, right? Let’s dissect this a bit.
The first element of this question is the ‘unique angle’ piece: What can I write about that’s different from what everyone else is saying? What unique skills or experience do I bring that will add something new to the conversation? What unique opinion do I have that’s different than anyone else’s?
Second, ‘how will it help my audience?’ A blog post can be well-written and provide a unique angle on a topic, but if it doesn’t meet the needs of its audience, it’s virtually worthless. Great bloggers understand that in order for their writing to have the greatest possible impact, it needs to speak to its audience’s interests, needs, preferences and pain points.
In my opinion, these two elements — uniqueness and audience targeting — are what separates ‘good’ blog posts from amazing ones.
5 Elements of the Perfect Business Blog Post
Following are five elements that can consistently be found in popular business blog posts, regardless of the industry, niche or topic. Structuring your posts around these elements will give you the most interesting, eye-catching and readable posts possible.
1. A captivating opening
Your opening — which includes both your headline and your opening paragraph — is the hook that will get people to start reading. Even if the rest of your post hits the mark dead on, without a captivating opening, your audience may never even click on the article or be interested in reading it in the first place.
We know that your headline is one of the most critical elements of your post. According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read the headline, while only 20% will read the rest.
When in doubt, go simple. Too many bloggers try to come up witty, punny or complicated headlines in an attempt to be different; when in fact, often the headlines that are the most clear, concise and self-explanatory get the most clicks.
For your opening sentence and paragraph, try to put yourself in the mindset of your ideal reader: What problems will he or she be looking to solve? How can you show that you understand what they’re struggling with? How can you incorporate this in a way that they’ll feel the need to read the rest of your post?
2. A relatable image with a caption
Choosing images for your post shouldn’t be an afterthought, as a cheap-looking or irrelevant photo has the potential to completely undermine the rest of your content.
In general, I’ve found that images of people generally perform well, as they’re the easiest for readers to relate to. What emotion do you want to trigger through your blog post? Make sure this emotion is expressed or evoked through your photo. Some of the most captivating photos I’ve seen on blog posts actually have little to do with the explicit theme of the post, and more to do with the emotion the writer is trying to evoke.
It’s also a good idea to use captions under your photos, where possible. According to Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, images have the natural ability to make us focus our gaze downward; and this means including a caption beneath your photos is a great way to keep your readers’ attention longer. For help finding images for your articles, see “How to Find Royalty-Free Legal Images to Use in Your Content.”
3. A clear viewpoint
No one likes a wishy-washy article. With so much content available online, having a clear and focused point of view will help set you apart.
I’m not saying your posts need to be controversial, but rather, that every post should have one clear angle, opinion, or point of view. By the time they get to the end of your post, your readers should be able to answer the following question: What did he/she say that was different than what everyone else is saying?
4. Outside data or information
This is important for all blog posts, but of particular importance when it comes to business blogging. Many readers will approach your posts with a degree of skepticism, particularly if you run a small business blog (“What are they trying to sell me?”).
This is why using outside information is so important to increase your credibility. Some ways to do this include incorporating or referencing:
· Customer testimonials
· Expert quotes
· Industry research or data
· The opinions of influencers in your niche
Any of these elements will improve your credibility, and help you establish trust with your readers.
5. Easy-to-read structure
Finally, while I’d argue there’s no ‘perfect’ structure for a blog post (just take a look at the most popular blog posts, and you’ll see how diverse they are in terms of structure), there is one best practice that seems to consistently win out: when someone glances at your post, they should be able to look at it and immediately get the feeling that it’s easy to read.
This means short paragraphs, proper use of headings, subheadings, lists, bolds and italics, and generally anything that makes your content appear less intimidating to read.
Regardless of your business or niche, these strategies should work well to increase clicks, time-on-page, and social sharing of your posts. But as always, be sure to test these and other strategies to see how they work with your audience.
What other elements or strategies would you add to this list?