What content works to bring more traffic and voluntary links from other sites?
Good, useful, controversial, valuable, unique, thought provoking, poetic, sarcastic… all these and more describe content that is most linked to and appreciated by surfers in ANY niche.
That’s what you are going for with your content.
To get an idea of what is working in your niche already, Google your top keyword and read what the top 10 sites are writing about or doing with content on their sites.
Set Standards for ‘Good’ Blog Posts
‘Good’ is an arbitrary, unclear objective. One man’s ‘good’ is another man’s masterpiece, while the rest of the population may consider it absolutely crap. You need a precise measurement of what a good blog post is, and for this you will need to know your blog’s key objectives (and your role in achieving them).
Different blogs measure success in different ways. An established celeb gossip blogger would judge success in terms of sheer traffic / long-term search rankings a post brings. A budding car blogger could measure success in terms of the links a post gets. Someone writing on a sports blog geared towards building a strong community could measure success in terms of the number of comments each article generates.
Set out your stall in terms of the objectives you want to reach, and then attach concrete values on them. You can get a good idea for what values to use if you look at your blog’s recent history and pick out the most successful posts (according to different objectives). For a new blog, you’ll probably have to set a conservative number and then readjust as you go along.
YOU AND YOUR READERS
1. Think of your readers. Always remind yourself that your ultimate goal is to impress your readers. Consider their needs and demands when choosing the topics that you’re going to discuss. Keep their preferences in mind when choosing the language and writing style that you’re going to use. Make sure that you give them everything that they’re looking for. If you do, you’ll surely get the kind of response you need from these people.
2. Use enticing titles. Your titles should help you convince your target audience to pay attention to your blog posts. They must be enticing, well-written, benefit-driven, and very descriptive. Your readers must get a solid idea on what’s in it for them and what’s your content is all about by just reading your titles.
3. Hook your readers in. Make no mistake when writing your first paragraph. As you surely want to get your audience on the edge of their seats, it’s very important that your first couple of sentences are explosive. I suggest that you present mind-boggling discoveries, ask compelling questions, or challenge their common beliefs.
4. Use conversational tone. Put your readers at ease by writing your blog posts as if you’re directly talking to these people. Go ahead and ask them questions, inject humor, tell relevant stories, and find ways on how you can make them laugh. This is important so they’ll feel more comfortable with you.
HOW TO OPEN YOUR BLOG POST
What’s the second most important part of your blog post after the title?
Master copywriter Eugene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece — the headline and the opening paragraph.
Just imagine how disappointed you’d be after crafting a killer headline for your post, only to lose readers with an opening that failed to carry the momentum. A great headline mixed with a lame opening is like inviting someone into your house, only to slam the door in their face as they approach.
So, here are 5 ways to open your post that will capture the reader’s imagination and pull them deeper into your content.
1. Ask a Question
Opening your post with a question is a rhetorical device (hence, the “rhetorical question”) that creates curiosity and gets the reader thinking. Thinking equals active engagement with your writing, and that’s a very good thing.
2. Share an Anecdote or Quote
Anecdotes are quick stories that can make people laugh or immediately establish the main point of your post. A nice quote from a recognizable authority or famous person can also work wonders when holding attention in those crucial opening seconds.
3. Invoke the Mind’s Eye
Producing a mental image in a reader’s mind is one of the most powerful things you can ever do as a writer, so expressly engaging the imagination is a powerful opening technique. Activate the mind’s eye of the reader by using words like “imagine,” “picture this,” “do you remember when,” etc.
4. Use an Analogy, Metaphor or Simile
Analogies, metaphors and similes are some of the most powerful devices available when it comes to telling a story in a single sentence. This is a great way to capture a reader’s attention and also acts to provoke mental imagery that allows readers to tell a story to themselves.
5. Cite a Shocking Statistic
Starting off with an interesting factoid is also a great technique. People love being provided with interesting data, but only if it is unique, startling, or even shocking. The statistic should also be directly relevant to the point of your post as well.
Bonus Tip: The third most important part of your blog post is the closing. A great way to close is to tie back into your opening.
WRITING THE MAIN CONTENT
Here are some tips that will help you.
- Make your opinion known
- Link like crazy
- Write less
- 250 Words is enough
- Make Headlines snappy
- Write with passion
- Include Bullet point lists
- Edit your post
- Make your posts easy to scan
- Be consistent with your style
- Litter the post with keywords
1. Make your opinion known
People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think, crazy as it sounds they want to know what you think. Tell them exactly what you think using the least amount of words possible.
2. Link like crazy.
Support your post with links to other web pages that are contextual to your post.
3. Write Less
Give the maximum amount of information with the least amount of words. Time is finite and people are infinitely busy. Blast your knowledge into the reader at the speed of sound.
4. 250 is enough
A long post is easier to forget and harder to get into. A short post is the opposite.
5. Make Headlines snappy
Contain your whole argument in your headline. Check out National newspapers to see how they do it.
6. Include bullet point lists
We all love lists, it structures the info in an easily digestible format.
7. Make your posts easy to scan
Every few paragraphs insert a sub heading. Make sentences and headlines short and to the point.
8. Be consistent with your style
People like to know what to expect, once you have settled on a style for your audience stick to it.
9. Litter the post with Keywords.
Think about what keywords people would use to search for your post and include them in the body text and headers. make sure the keyword placement is natural and does not seem out of place.
10. Edit your post
Good writing is in the editing. Before you hit the submit button, re-read your post and cut out the stuff that you don’t need.
I hope you enjoyed my tips for writing a blog post – feel free to share your own blog writing tips below.
20 Types of Blog Posts
• Instructional – Instructional posts tell people how to do something. I find that my Tips posts are generally the ones that are among my most popular both in the short term (ie loyal readers love them and will link up to them) but also in the longer term (ie one of the reasons people search the web is to find out how to do things and if you can rank highly with your tips post you can have traffic over a length of time).
• Informational – This is one of the more common blog post types where you simply give information on a topic. It could be a definition post or a longer explanation of some aspect of the niche that you’re writing on. This is the crux of successful sites like wikipedia
• Reviews – Another highly searched for term on the web is ‘review’ – I know every time I’m considering buying a new product that I head to Google and search for a review on it first. Reviews come in all shapes and sizes and on virtually every product or service you can think of. Give your fair and insightful opinion and ask readers for their opinion – reviews can be highly powerful posts that have a great longevity.
• Lists – One of the easiest ways to write a post is to make a list. Posts with content like ‘The Top Ten ways to….’, ‘7 Reasons why….’ ‘ 5 Favourite ….’, ‘53 mistakes that bloggers make when….’ are not only easy to write but are usually very popular with readers and with getting links from other bloggers. One last tip on lists – if you start with a brief list (each point as a phrase or sentence) and then develop each one into a paragraph or two you might just end up with a series of posts that lasts you a few days. That’s how I started the Bloggers Block series.
• Interviews – Sometimes when you’ve run out of insightful things to say it might be a good idea to let someone else do the talking in an interview (or a guest post). This is a great way to not only give your readers a relevant expert’s opinion but to perhaps even learn something about the topic you’re writing yourself. One tip if you’re approaching people for an interview on your blog – don’t overwhelm them with questions. One of two good questions are more likely to get you a response than a long list of poorly thought through ones.
• Case Studies - Sometimes these are more like a review post but on occasion I’ve also added some instructional content to them and made some suggestions on how I’d improve them. Case studies don’t have to be on other websites of course – there are many opportunities to do case studies in different niches.
• Profiles – Profile posts are similar to case studies but focus in on a particular person. Pick an interesting personality in your niche and do a little research on them to present to your readers. Point out how they’ve reached the position they are in and write about the characteristics that they have that others in your niche might like to develop to be successful.
• Link Posts - The good old ‘link post’ is a favourite of many bloggers and is simply a matter of finding a quality post on another site or blog and linking up to it either with an explanation of why you’re linking up, a comment on your take on the topic and/or a quote from the post. Of course adding your own comments makes these posts more original and useful to your readers. The more original content the better but don’t be afraid to bounce off others in this way.
• ‘Problem’ Posts – I can’t remember where I picked this statistic up but another term that is often searched for in Google in conjunction with product names is the word ‘problems’. This is similar to a review post (above) but focusses more upon the negatives of a product or service. Don’t write these pieces just for the sake of them – but if you find a genuine problem with something problem posts can work for you.
• Contrasting two options – Life is full of decisions between two or more options. Write a post contrasting two products, services or approaches that outlines the positives and negatives of each choice. In a sense these are review posts but are a little wider in focus. I find that these posts do very well on some of my product blogs where people actually search for ‘X Product comparison to Y Product’ quite a bit.
• Rant – get passionate, stir yourself up, say what’s on your mind and tell it like it is. Rants are great for starting discussion and causing a little controversy – they can also be quite fun if you do it in the right spirit. Just be aware that they can also be the beginnings of a flaming comment thread and often it’s in the heat of the moment when we say things that we later regret and that can impact our reputation the most.
• Inspirational - On the flip side to the angry rant (and not all rants have to be angry) are inspirational and motivational pieces. Tell a story of success or paint a picture of ‘what could be’. People like to hear good news stories in their niche as it motivates them to persist with what they are doing. Find examples of success in your own experience or that of others and spread the word.
• Research – In the early days I wrote quite a few research oriented posts – looking at different aspects of blogging – often doing mind numbing counting jobs. I remember once surfing through 500 blogs over a few days to look at a number of different features. Research posts can take a lot of time but they can also be well worth it if you come up with interesting conclusions that inspire people to link up to you.
• Collation Posts – These are a strange combination of research and link posts. In them you pick a topic that you think your readers will find helpful and then research what others have said about it. Once you’ve found their opinion you bring together everyone’s ideas (often with short quotes) and tie them together with a few of your own comments to draw out the common themes that you see.
• Prediction and Review Posts – We see a lot of these at the end and start of the year where people do their ‘year in review’ posts and look at the year ahead and predict what developments might happen in their niche in the coming months.
• Critique Posts – ‘Attack posts’ have always been a part of blogging (I’ve done a few in my time) but these days I tend to prefer to critique rather than attack. Perhaps it’s a fine line but unless I get really worked up I generally like to find positives in what others do and to suggest some constructive alternatives to the things that I don’t like about what they do. I don’t really see the point in attacking others for the sake of it, but as I’ve said before this more a reflection of my own personality than much else I suspect and some people make a name for themselves very well by attacking others.
• Debate – I used to love a good debate in high school – there was something about preparing a case either for or against something that I quite enjoyed. Debates do well on blogs and can either in an organised fashion between two people, between a blogger and ‘all comers’ or even between a blogger and… themselves (try it – argue both for and against a topic in one post – you can end up with a pretty balanced post).
• Hypothetical Posts – I haven’t done one of these for a while but a ‘what if’ or hypothetical post can be quite fun. Pick a something that ‘could’ happen down the track in your industry and begin to unpack what the implications of it would be. ‘What if….Google and Yahoo merged?’ ‘What if …’
• Satirical – One of the reasons I got into blogging was that I stumbled across a couple of bloggers who were writing in a satirical form and taking pot shots at politicians (I can’t seem to find the blog to link to). Well written satire or parody can be incredibly powerful and is brilliant for generating links for your blog.
• Memes and Projects - write a post that somehow involves your readers and gets them to replicate it in someway. Start a poll, an award, ask your readers to submit a post/link or run a survey or quiz.
As I wrote above – this is not an exhaustive list but rather just some of the types of posts that you might like to throw into your blog’s mix. Not every one will be suitable for all blogs or bloggers but using more than one format can definitely add a little spice an color to a blog. Lastly another technique is to mix two or more of the above formats together – there are no rules so have a bit of fun with it and share what you do in comments below