Here at WHSR, we've often studied just what it is that makes for an excellent blog post. Surprisingly, it is easy to define what makes for an excellent blog post and also easy to define what makes for a lousy one.
Jerry Low's article “Good to Great: How to Make a Good Blog Post Great” offers some insightful tips. He points out there in June of 2014, there were over 42.5 million blog posts on WordPress.com (that doesn't include all the other blogs that either run on another platform or on private servers). It can be tough to stand out from the crowd, but one way you can do so is to make your blog posts truly great, or to go back and edit old posts into greatness.
He points to the tried and true elements we know, such as creating a strong headline, good page segmentation and call to action, but he also hits on some other points you may not have considered.
- Voice is very important. You are the only one who sees the world a certain way. Others haven't had your background, life experiences or spirit. Your voice needs to shine through. Think of it like having a conversation with your best friend over a cup of coffee. That is the voice that each post needs on your blog.
- Make sure you make your posts easy to share. Link up to social media. Use a plugin so others can share your best posts with others.
Three Good Posts to Study
Over on Rough Type, there is a post titled “Tech in Schools: Less Is More”. This post is a great example of how to offer an informational style/newsy post with excellence. The site is run by Nicholas Carr, a published author and former editor of Harvard Business Review.
Mr. Carr knows how to put a professional post together. As you read through this one, note:
- Statistics and scientific information quoted from reliable sources.
- Images and charts enhance the article and add to the information already there.
- There is great balance on the page between text, quotes, images, and white space.
- It is easy to skim and read the article.
Carr does an excellent job really breaking down the research so his readers can easily understand what he is talking about and the importance of the topic.
If you've not yet read Geek Dad, you really should study this site as a model of quick, to the point info that will reach readers. The site does so many things well that it is hard to narrow it down honestly, but I'll try. First, before we even look at the writing of the sample post, I want to mention that social media buttons are front and center, navigation is simple and images are big and beautiful.
Outbrain estimates that 87% of online marketers use some form of video in their marketing efforts. On top of that, 46% of users will act after watching a video. Thus, videos can translate into better conversions on your Call to Actions (CTAs).
A great example of how Geek Dad utilizes video to create conversions is found in a post titled Roll Dice & Gain Influence in ‘Favor of the Pharaoh’. Geek dads who are also gamers are going to love this post. Here are some things that work particularly well with this post on this site:
- A video appears on the archive of blog posts, so you can see how the game works. This tends to get people more excited. If the reader clicks on “Continue Reading”, there are even more goodies within the post itself.
- In addition to clearly explaining what pieces come with the game, author Jonathan H. Liu also adds big and beautiful images that clearly show how the game is laid out.
- He then delves into details you won't find anywhere else, which adds value to his post. You'll find out that the game could work for kids younger than what is listed on the game but he then goes into specifics. He shares that there isn't anything inappropriate for younger children in the game. This is vital information for parents who might consider purchasing this as a family game night investment.
- It doesn't look like the link to the game is an affiliate link, and that is the only place where I think Geek Dad misses the boat on this post. An affiliate link would more than likely result in purchases with a great post like this.
One post that almost always gathers attention is a post that lists something. Over at Gardenista, Marie Viljoen wrote a post titled 11 Best Trees to Plant for New England-Style Foliage that is a great example of how to write a list the right way.
What Viljoen does so well with this post is to keep it short and to the point, but to give each item on the list careful consideration.
- She's only added trees that she believes bring value to her list. She isn't just adding trees to get the list completed. You can tell she put a lot of thought and research into which ones would work best to create that beautiful foliage that has bursts of every fall color imaginable.
- Her descriptions are short, but spot on. She writes in a way that creates a visual image with words such as “warm glow,” lights up the bare branches,” and “shocking orange.”
What this article sample proves is that you don't have to be extremely wordy to make your point. You just have to put in the research, know what you're talking about, and choose your words carefully.
Simple Formula for a Great Blog Post
Although there are many factors that go into being a truly great writer, keeping reader's attention, and writing posts people want to read, there are some things that every great blog post should have.
- A headline that grabs the reader. This is your first impression. If the reader doesn't like your headline, she may not even click through to your site in the first place.
- An opening hook. You have to grab the reader with something interesting that makes her want to keep reading. You have about 15 seconds to engage your reader or you risk him leaving and going on to another site, social media, or one of a dozen other distractions online.
- Images and videos. There needs to be a balance between text and visual images. Think quality images that relate to your topic, though. Don't just add images to add them. They need to relate.
- Easy scannability. Your reader should be able to look over your page in minutes and understand what your post is about. You can do this through subheadings, bullet points, and the first sentence of each paragraph which would work as a topic sentence to show your reader what you're talking about.
- Call to action. You want to guide your reader to the next step, which might be to sign up for your newsletter, read more material, or purchase something.
Learn as You Read
These are just a few examples of really amazing blog posts out there. As you read different posts, pay attention to which ones you enjoy and try to figure out what makes them great. If you don't enjoy one, try to figure out the reason for that as well. You can also learn from poor examples of blog posts.