It’s a sad fact: most blog posts are just not worth reading. Yet with just a tiny bit more effort they might have been amazingly useful. Here are eight ways to transform your posts from ‘me too’ to ‘must read’.
1. Actually do some research
Inexperienced bloggers also tend to have an incomprehensible arrogance: that they can write a great post without doing any research or referencing any of the authoritative sources on the Web. Great bloggers – like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan – have earned the right not to do research because they are the authority on their subjects. Until you’ve reached that status, your role as blogger is closer to curator than creator.
Copyblogger – another great blogger – doesn’t list ‘lack of research’ among his 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Bloggers, but it’s still worth a read.
2. Make your intro as great as your title
Just as most people will only watch the first 30 seconds of a YouTube video, most people will only read the start of your blog post. Creating a great title is a must – but nearly as important is your opening line. What value are you going to give your readers? How can you encourage them to read further? You might want to pose a tricky question, share a surprising statistic, or make a simple, jarring statement about blogs being rubbish.
3. Maximise your insight-to-word ratio
You can spot a crap blog post really easily. If you’ve had to read 50 words for no discernible benefit in terms of insight – stop reading. As a blogger you don’t want to fall into the trap of just listing pointless statistics, but a few choice stats alongside your key points can add real value. Cutting out waffle and optimising sentences to make them punchier also improves your insight-to-word ratio.
4. Don’t preach
Much like not doing research, if you’re going to preach – you’d better be pretty damn authoritative. In my experience ALL new bloggers have an urge to preach. I’m forever re-wording blog posts by new starters at OST to add humility and kick away their soap-box. All blog posts should have a bio showing, so until your bio says ‘global authority’, it’s best to suggest and point out, rather than dictate.
5. Optimise your images
If your post includes a great, relevant image that is optimised (yes – I’m talking about SEO), you can attract readers who are searching for content on Google Images and help to keep your readers engaged. The tide is going out on illegal use of images, so I’d also suggest you familiarise yourself with the legalities around using online images.
6. Credit your references
A lot of new bloggers aren’t familiar with terms like the blogosphere and trackbacks, but a successful blog is a connected blog. Adding trackbacks to your posts will help attract traffic and give a friendly nod to the bloggers you’re referencing.
7. Categorise it carefully
Some of the highest ranking web-pages on this site are category pages – like this one for Facebook marketing. By ensuring you have categories set up for your main 10-20 keywords, you can add SEO value to those pages and help ensure people can find your posts.
8. Go for quantity and quality
Short posts are OK, but longer posts do much better. I recently read this excellent analysis of why this is – but it’s also been borne out in my experience. Obviously the quality of your content, style, frequency of blogging and authority all have a bearing on reader numbers too, but length matters.
Evidently, there are far more than 8 tips for improving your blog posts. I’d welcome additions via comments or Twitter.