I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Blogging is hard. You know what, scratch that – it can feel impossible to create a great piece of content that drives results for your business.
But it’s not.
After six years of blogging and millions of words written for multiple blogs, I’ve developed a tried-and-tested formula for putting together the elements of a blog post.
I’m here to let you know that blogging isn’t a wasted effort.
You can get great results from it if you do it properly.
What does “properly” mean, you ask?
Luckily for you, I’m crackin’ out the answers in this guide. Grab a cuppa tea and a notepad – it’s time to get learning.
1. A click-worthy headline
The first blog post element you’ll need to create a killer post is a click-worthy title. 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.
People can’t read your awesome content (and become a lead) if they’re not interested in clicking the title.
In fact, 80% of readers never make it past an article’s headline. A massive amount of your audience could be driven away if the headlines you’re creating are unimaginative – or quite simply, too boring.
Does that mean a blogger hasn’t cracked the code for writing click-worthy headlines that actually do their job?
Maybe, or non-clickers could just not be interested in what you have to say. There are tonnes of other variables, too: not having enough time, or bookmarking for future reading but forgetting to come back.
But what is definitive is the fact that traffic can vary by as much as 500%, depending on the headline you use. (Realize its importance, yet?)
Here’s how to write blog post titles that pack a punch:
- Use powerful words like ‘successful,’ ‘proven’ or ‘skyrocket’
- Play to emotion (bonus points if you add scarcity)
- 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:
There’s just one thing to avoid in your blog headlines: clickbait.
The title of your blog post should always be relevant to what you’re talking about. We’re not a spammy, fake news-kind of Facebook page, here. And it won’t do your bounce rate any favors, either.
2. An introduction that hooks
You’ve crafted a kick-ass headline and you’re ready to move onto the next part: your introduction.
This is the opening paragraph of your blog post, making it an essential element.
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.)
Almost half of blog readers admit to skim-reading content. Not only does that mean they’re less interested in what you’re writing, but they could hit the X button of their browser at any given minute.
Enter your introduction: the not-so secret weapon you can use to get people engaged right from the start.
In my experience, the best blog post introductions resonate with your ideal audience. Whether it’s through:
- Asking a question,
- Telling a story, or
- 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:
In short, reading blog posts requires an investment of your reader’s time. Use your introduction to tell them reading on would be worth their while.
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 headings a killer blog post element.
Don’t believe in the power of the heading tag? Optimizing heading tags helped Motor Cars Ltd supercharge their rankings.
One keyword, in particular, leapt from position 320 up to position one – a dream of every website owner.
That just goes to show that getting them right – and optimizing them for SEO – could see your business hit the jackpot in organic search.
Here’s an example of using heading tags in a blog post:
- <h1> How to Use Heading Tags in Blog Posts
- <h2> What are Heading Tags?
- <h3> Their SEO Value
- <h2> How to Use Heading Tags
- <h2> Examples of Heading Tags Used Effectively
- <h2> What are Heading Tags?
Remember how earlier, we mentioned most people are skim-readers?
Using headings to segment the article allows people to skim your post, boosting the experience they have on your site. That’ll only lead to loyal readers, a surge in social shares and potentially, paid users of your product.Looking to create a killer piece of content for your #blog? Here are 5 elements every blog post should use. Click To Tweet
4. 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 fo’ 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, after all.
Belle Beth Cooper wrote content for Buffer back in 2013 (the good ol’ days). But, she didn’t just write for their blog; she helped transform it into the machine it is today.
Guess what? She attributes her (and Buffer’s) success to data-rich, 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.)
Once your subheadings are clear, it’s time to start researching!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? Change your search to one of these:
- [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 (although I still don’t understand where that phrase comes from), but calls-to-action tell your audience to do something. That could be to:
- Purchase a product
- Read another article of yours
- Follow you on social media
- Email the writer to ask a few questions
- Sign up to your email list
Today, we’re gonna talk about the latter, because that’s usually the goal of a blog post.It's essential to include calls-to-action in your #blog content. @elisedopson has some ideas to help you create yours: Click To Tweet
The easiest way to use a call-to-action that encourages your audience to sign up to your mailing list is to offer something in return.
Over 205.6 billion emails were sent and received every day in 2015, and there’s no question that figure has rose significantly since then. Why would someone want to receive more (potentially pointless) emails from you if they’re getting nothing in return?
Enter: lead magnets.
In short, lead magnets do as they say on the tin. They attract leads to your site, and encourage the most-relevant people to get on your list – but leads get something in return.
That something could be anything from a checklist to an eBook; you’ll just need to make sure it targets the most-perfect leads you could ever want to generate through your site. Lead magnets might not have the best conversion rates if they’re uber-targeted, but that doesn’t matter.
It’s better to have 10 super-relevant leads on your list than 300 who aren’t really interested in what you have to offer.
Fancy an example of a lead magnet as a call-to-action? Scroll to the bottom of this blog post (when you’ve finished reading) to see one.
I use ConvertKit to deliver my lead magnets to those who’ve entered their email address to receive it. It’s super easy to set up incentive emails, as shown in this tutorial video:
(Psttt…Fancy a 30-day free trial of ConvertKit? Here’s my affiliate link.)
Including calls-to-action and generating leads through your blog posts takes but a matter of minutes, so including them in your blogging process is a no-brainer.
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.
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.
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