Last updated: 28th Jan 2019
Want to see more traffic from the blog post you’ve poured blood, sweat, tears (and cash) into?
You can try all of the promotion tactics in the world, but if you’re not working from a solid foundation, it’s disaster from the get-go.
That’s because all high-performing blog posts follow a similar structure. And, failing to follow the same for your own content could make it tricky (if not impossible) to drive eyeballs to your content–no matter how amazing your advice is.
That structure consists of five key blog post elements, which I’m breaking down right here.
What really needs to be in a blog post?
Ready to make an impact after starting your blog? Include these five elements in every post you publish:
1. A click-worthy headline
The first blog post element you’ll need to create a killer blog post is a click-worthy headline. After all, that’s how you’ll draw attention to your site in the first place.
Headlines are important, and have the power to make-or-break your content, especially when 80% of readers never make it past an article’s headline.
People can’t read what you’ve got to say if they don’t actually visit the page itself.
You can craft blog post headlines that pack a punch by:
- Use powerful words like ‘successful,’ ‘proven’ or ‘skyrocket’
- Play to emotion
- Cater to skimmers by making the first and last three words explain what your blog post is about
- Play with alliteration
- Don’t make it too long; headlines with six words tend to get the best click-through rate
If in doubt, use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. It’ll give you a scoring on how effective your headline is, along with tailored tips to tweak it for the best results:
Thinking of turning to clickbait-style headlines to attract more visitors to your blog post?
If a site visitor lands on your blog post from Google and don’t get the information they expected, they’ll head out of there pretty fast. That won’t do any favors for your bounce rate (known to be a Google ranking factor), and could see your URL shoot down the ranks quicker than greased lightening.
2. An introduction that hooks your reader in
You’ve crafted a kick-ass headline and you’re ready to move onto the next part: Your introduction.
Because it’s the first thing that somebody reads after they’ve clicked, getting it right is crucial.
(If you want them to keep reading, that is.)
The introduction is your not-so secret weapon to get people engaged right from the get-go. A strong, compelling and promising couple of paragraphs is the only way to stop them hitting the exit button and returning back to your referral site.
Effective introductions start by:
- Asking a question
- Explaining a negative experience your ideal audience can relate to
Here’s a great example of how Adam Connell used the latter in the introduction to one of his blog posts:
Reading blog posts requires an investment of your reader’s time, but a strong introduction is the only way you can convince them it’s worth it–and prevent your hard work from going to waste.
3. Heading tags (used properly)
A major bugbear of mine is sites that don’t using heading tags. Instead, they opt for bold formatting–or even worse, underlining.
(Anyone else feel the frustration?)
Not only does such formatting look ugly, but it’s a stumbling block in your journey to improve the SEO power of your blog.
Heading tags, when used in the correct order, give search engines a rough idea of what your article is talking about. Instead of sending their spiders to read all of the content on your page, they’ll skip to the heading tags–making them a blog post element you need to crack.
In fact, optimizing heading tags helped Motor Cars Ltd supercharge their rankings. One keyword, in particular, leapt from position 320 up to position one.
Your blog post should have one <h1> tag (usually the title of your content), a couple of <h2> tags for sub-headings, and <h3> tags for sections within each sub-heading.
Don’t worry–it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Here’s an example:
- <h1> How to Use Heading Tags in Blog Posts
- <h2> What are Heading Tags?
- <h3> Their SEO Value
- <h2> What are Heading Tags?
- <h2> How to Use Heading Tags
- <h2> Examples of Heading Tags Used Effectively
Remember how earlier, we mentioned most people are skim-readers?
Using headings also allows readers to skim-red your blog post, boosting the experience they have on your site. Nobody likes rummaging around a 2,000-word piece to find the information they’re looking for, right?
That’ll only lead to loyal readers, a surge in social shares and potential paid users of your product.
4. Include research, sources and data points
People are sceptical. They want to know (and personally verify) that what you’re saying is true and not a bunch of gibberish.
That’s why our fourth killer blog post element is research, sources and data points.
In your content, you can ensure your readers don’t ask the question, “is she for real?” by backing-up your statements with links or references to research and data. Linking to supporting material allows your audience to click-through and see that you are knowledgeable about the topic at hand, and not just fobbing them off with points that aren’t proven to be true.
It’s your business’ reputation on the line when people read your blog content, after all.
Belle Beth Cooper wrote content for Buffer back in 2013. But, she didn’t just write for their blog; she helped transform it into the machine it is today.
She attributes her (and Buffer’s) success to data-rich, research-backed blog posts:
“I helped to increase the Buffer blog’s traffic by over 50% in my first month there, and doubled it in my second month, mainly as a result of some well-received research-backed blog posts.”
I know–it’s incredible.
You can do this in blog content for your own business. The best part? It’s not mega-complicated to do. In fact, it’s quite simple; a few small tweaks to your blogging process could be the only thing you need to include this blog post element without even realizing.
Start off by outlining the structure of your piece prior to writing. Aim to include one data point, case study or research-led fact into each subheading you have. (Scroll up through this article to see an example in action.)Data-backed, well-researched blog posts helped one brand double their traffic in just one month. Click To Tweet
Let’s use an example: I’m writing a blog post that shares five reasons why infographics can help your business’ content marketing. My first subheading talks about people being visual learners. Although we might already know the statement is true, we’ll need some type of research to back it up.
To find data points and sources for your blog posts, you can start off by doing a quick Google search.
Using my infographic example, I could search “infographic statistics” and use any data points listed in these articles:
Want more than statistics? Use one of these search strings:
- [TOPIC + “case study”]
- [TOPIC + “research”]
- [TOPIC + “we found that…”]
With Google essentially being the foundation of the internet, it offers plenty of tricks that writers and marketers can use to find data points for their blog posts.
Let’s take Google Alerts, for example, where you can get alerts on new research pieces in your industry. I currently have them set up for “content marketing”:
Once you’ve set up Google Alerts for topics your business blogs about, refer back to it when writing the structure of your next piece. Chances are, articles in here already share new data, or link to research you could include and benefit from in your own blog content.
Data-driven blog content is the future, believe me.
And it doesn’t need to suck up hours of your precious time in order to create a valuable, research-backed process.
…At least not when you use these techniques.
5. Relevant calls-to-action
So, people have reached the end of your blog post. They’re over the moon with the free information you’ve given…But what do they do next?
That brings us to my fifth blog post element: Calls-to-action.
I’m not gonna teach you how to suck eggs, but calls-to-action tell your audience to do something. That could be anything from:
- Reading another article of yours
- Following you on social media
- Leaving a comment
- Signing up to your email list
But, before we rush off into the wonderful world of lead magnets, there’s one thing to remember here: We only want one call-to-action per blog post. Too many is confusing–it’s like the virtual equivalent of pulling your audience in too many directions.
You know what that equals? Nothing at all… Which kinda defeats the point.
So, stick to one strong call-to-action per blog post, and make it convincing enough for your reader to actually follow through–like this example in HubSpot’s blog post:
Notice how that’s much more appealing than “follow us on Facebook, buy our product and leave a comment with your dog’s name”?
We all know that blogging is tough–and creating a strategy that drives results can be even harder. But, using these five blog post elements, you’ll be able to supercharge the value packed into your content and really see results from your marketing efforts this year.
Remember to back-up your content with statistics, hook your reader in with a strong headline, and limit your calls-to-action to one per article.
You’ll soon find that promoting your content is 10x easier when you’ve got a solid basis to work from!