A wise man (me) once said that…
“perfection is not a plateau, instead it’s a stepping stone on the path to true greatness.” [click to tweet]
Learning how to write a blog post that is shining with absolute perfection isn’t easy, but it is possible. One thing you should understand right off the bat here is that it takes a lot of hard work, and it doesn’t end with just one post.
Your first perfect post has to be great.
You’ve got to set the bar high but keep the big picture in mind – that you’ll need to follow up a perfect post with another extraordinary post to keep your readers yearning for me. Keep that in mind as we move into this step-by-step guide.
- The elements of a pitch perfect blog post
- An in-depth look at the anatomy of a perfect blog post
- A step-by-step breakdown of a typical post and how to maximize each piece
- How to put it out there and make it known to the world
Using my personal SEO strategies you’ll be able to grow your blog by over 300%!
Beyond Words: The Elements of a Perfect Blog Post
Blogging is all about solving problems and answering powerful questions that people have, enriching their lives, or simply informing and empowering them with tools to find success (kind of like this article you’re reading). With that being said, let’s find out some basic characteristics of a great blog post.
Anatomy of a Flawless Blog Post
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- Words, and Lots of Them
Yes, I know the header above this said “beyond words” but these are still the bread and butter of any blog post. The words you put on the page matter in an infinite number of ways, from search engine optimization, to content quality, and more.
but wait… how many words???
If you need a number, we’re talking 2,000+ words, and while that may scare you, it shouldn’t. We’ll go into more detail on that soon, what you need to take away from this point is that great blog posts are meaty with more than just words.
You’d be surprised how quickly the ball gets rolling when you’re talking about something you love – so supplement that by making it super easy to read.
Now remember, it can’t be thousands of words of just complete fluff, it needs substance to make it readable. Utilize images, videos, gifs, custom graphics, in content features, etc. to glorify the story you’re telling.
Still, the main takeaway here is that length does matter.
- Ask Yourself: “Why Does the World Need This?”
Once you’ve created a blog, you’ll have a niche or a topic that you work in. Before beginning any post that you write, ask yourself how this piece is supposed to benefit your readers.
How is writing about the current state of affairs in your refrigerator going to help people eat healthier for example. Or, if you’re like me, “how is defining the perfect blog post going to benefit my readers?”
Yeah, I know, that second one’s easy to answer, but the point still stands. If you have a great idea, you should be able to look at your post idea and justify its value to your readers before you put a single word on the page.
So a final takeaway here: your blog post shouldn’t aim for a lofty goal like solving world hunger, but it should have a clear goal in mind, and represent a value for your readers from the beginning.
- Blogs are More than Skin Deep, but Skin Counts Too
You did it! You found the meaning of life and you’ve put it into a blog post that is so well written it would make Shakespeare burst into tears.
Oh, but you didn’t break up the paragraphs? Wait, you don’t have any pictures? The font is white on a white background, are you kidding me?
A little overblown, but you get the idea. Your posts should be structured and designed in a way that’s easy to skim and read.
Remember, not everyone has time to engross themselves in your Pulitzer Prize winning post at any point during the day, so remember to keep paragraphs short and highlight major points with bold text, bullet points, and numbered lists.
We’ll go into more detail on that soon, but suffice to say, how it looks is just as important as what it says.
- Demand Attention Immediately
Look out behind you! See? I got your attention, didn’t I?
While your blog shouldn’t constantly yell at people, your headlines and your content should grab their attention almost instantaneously.
I’m not talking about a passing glance, I’m talking about people dropping everything just to click on your post.
The headline and introduction should address a problem that is constant and ongoing immediately. Let people know what they’re getting into and give them a roadmap for the rest of the article.
How is that done? You’ll have to read on to find out, but the major takeaway here is simple: Through the headline and the introduction, you need to grab your reader’s attention and never let go.
- Use What Works, Make it Better
While blogging does encourage original ideas, there are some problems you can only slice a couple of different ways.
For example, Ramsay over at Blog Tyrant wrote a piece similar to this one that I found to be quite inspiring, so I decided to try my hand at addressing the concept.
Obviously I’m not going to steal his work, but I am going to take that influence and inspiration I got from reading his post, and turn it into something of my own. That’s the key ingredient folks, the ability to take an idea and improve upon it or do it with a new spin.
This final takeaway before we dive into the fine details is this: Find a perfect post that inspires you, and create your own with a new and fresh perspective.
Crafting a Masterpiece: The Step-by-Step Guide to a Perfect Post
Like most things in life, the best way to start is from the beginning. So, this forthcoming guide is going to break down a blog post into separate pieces from top to bottom and show you how to polish them to a mirror sheen. Then, when you put it all together, you’ve got yourself a masterpiece.
Step One: Pick Your Idea
Before you can even begin to pull words out of thin air, you need to establish the concept for your post. There’s a number of ways to do this.
For starters, you could look for inspiration within your niche or post topics to get your creative juices flowing.
There’s also various tools that can help you find relevant topics.
For example, there’s plenty of free keyword research tools out there such as KeywordTool.io that can give you a wealth various keywords surrounding your topic.
These keywords can help you narrow your research and find other similar articles that inspire you to do your own.
Analyze these articles and look for opportunities where you think you could fill in some gaps. Break it down word-by-word and take notes of what you think would work better. Keep these notes handy as you move into the first stages of crafting your blog post.
Let’s review real quick:
- Brainstorm ideas first
- Perform keyword research and find similar, high ranking articles
- Analyze these articles for possible improvements and make note of them
Step Two: Writing the Perfect Headline
People are still trying to figure out what came first: the chicken or the egg, but when it comes to blogging there’s no question; the headline comes first.
It’s the first thing your readers see and it’s the one chance you have to capture their imagination.
In his extremely thorough article, Yaro Starak calls headlines “gatekeepers” of your content. He couldn’t be more right. He also mentions that headlines just kind of happen. Also true, but there’s way to get your head in the right zone, and it involves putting yourself in the shoes of your readers.
Consider your topic, and the problem you’re trying to solve for your readers. You need to address that issue or capture that concept in just a few words, while also making that promise to meet their needs.
One of my favorite tool’s is this one by CoSchedule, which allows you to fully analyze the headlines you choose.
There’s a number of different ways to make this happen so let’s examine a few different formats of great headlines:
- The “How” Promise
I use the word promise because that’s what a headline should do. It should capture your reader’s attention and make them a promise that if they invest their time and energy into your content, they will find what they’re looking for.
So, with that in mind, check out some of these examples:
- How to Write the Perfect Blog Post
- How I learned to Cope with Life’s Stress
- How to Get Google to Index Your Blog
In all of those headlines I’m making you a promise. Now, let’s look at another type of headline:
- The “Why” Promise
We always ask the questions “why?” It’s a natural thing to wonder, especially if you have a problem or a concern about something.ask the questions “why?” It’s a natural thing to wonder, especially if you have a problem or a concern about something.
Knowing how it all fits together can make everything easier to understand. In this type of headline, your making a promise to reveal the intricacies of a topic to your readers.
The headline also comes in a question form, which immediately addresses the reader specifically. If they can’t answer the question your headline poses, they will feel compelled to read on and find that answer. Let’s take a look at some of these headlines in action:
- Why Stops Blog from Succeeding?
- Why do I Need to Promote my Content?
- Why Does Social Media Matter?
- Why You Should Start Blogging Today
Keep in mind that a headline in the form of a question doesn’t always have to start with “why.”
You can ask all kinds of questions in your headline, what matters is that you answer the question your headline posed.
You have their attention, don’t disappoint them with a vague or incomplete answer.
- The “Context” Promise
The purpose of this headline type is to put things into perspective for the reader. You set up the subject, then follow through with a “how” or “why” type of headline.
These are very versatile in their ability to catch attention, set the precedent, and then make your promise.
Check out some of these examples:
- Optimizing Your Content: How to Make SEO Work for You
- The Writing Life: Why Blogging is The Career for You
- Doing What you Love: Blogging About Your Passion
- The “List” Promise
Everyone loves a good list. We all have a hard time resisting those “top 10” or “Top 20” lists of various things we’re interested in.
This type of headline works in almost every niche as a means of attracting attention and making a promise that’s easy to keep.
You set the number, and the reader has those expectation in mind. Not only can you fulfill those 10, 20, or 30 things, but you can also add in a little bonus at the end that they weren’t expecting. Usually these lists come in the form of tools, recommendations, or tips on a specific subject.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
- 10 Tips to Succeed in The World of Blogging
- 20 Reasons to Start Blogging Today
- The Top 15 Plugins for WordPress
Before we move on to the meat of your post, keep in mind that there are an infinite amount of headlines out there in all manner of different forms.
Try mixing and matching these formats and trying some of your own. Remember to keep it short, enticing, in the present tense, and most importantly fulfill your promise.
Step Three: Body by Blogging (It’s Time to Write!)
Once you have your headline, the next step is the most important one of all.
It’s time to write the meat of your post folks, and while it may seem daunting to write 2,000 words or more, trust me, it’s not as bad as it seems.
Take a look at this graph Neil Patel put together. This graph details the average content length that ranks on the first page for any keyword.
Biggest takeaway: Nothing that ranks in the top 10 on Google has LESS than 2,000 words – Yup, length indeed plays a factor.
The most important thing is to remember some highly recommended practices to incorporate when constructing the body of your post.
- Break Up Paragraphs
Have you ever tried to read something online or in a forum that was nothing more than a block of text. It’s not easy, is it?
Do you see how I constantly ensure I don’t have any bulky paragraphs of text? Maybe, maybe not because you would not have read a word of it!
According to some studies, our attention span on average is no more than 8 seconds. The same time it took you to read and understand these two sentences.
The average attention span is 8 seconds, that’s one second shorter than a GOLDFISH [click to tweet]
Check out this video below from Neil Patel, the statistics are seriously mind blowing.
You lose your place, and you forget which line you were on. Oh, and you can forget about skimming through it for the main points because they’re buried in between the lines somewhere.
- The lesson here is to always break up your paragraphs into 3-4 lines a piece.
- Showcase Your Main Points
Your readers should never find themselves asking “what’s the point?” when reading your content.
They should be able to look at it for less than six seconds and find something to take away from the whole post. How do you make this happen?
- Use bullet points, numbered lists, bold text, or italics to make your main points stand out from the crowd.
- Headers are also important to establish the subject and context of each section
- Build Credibility
Your post doesn’t have to be about quantum physics, but regardless of the subject, you should always back up your points with real data or sources.
You’ve probably noticed several hyperlinks throughout the article thus far referencing works from other bloggers in the industry.
That right there is how you do it folks. When you present a point, provided a link within the same context that shows where you got your information from. It’s not only courteous, but it also shows your readers that you didn’t just pull the information out of thin air.
- Build trust and credibility through hyperlinks to your sources
- Leave the Conversation Open
One of the most common mistakes new bloggers will make is not interacting with their readers. As a blogger, you cannot exist in a vacuum, you have to be available to assist and interact with your readers if you hope to be successful.
What does this mean for your content? It means leaving the discussion open at the end of everything. When you’re finished saying what you need to say, be sure to encourage comments and opinions from your readers.
- Leave your posts open ended and always ask for feedback and comments in the last section of your content
- Provide a Call to Action
Your readers shouldn’t leave when they’re done reading. On the contrary, they should have a reason to stick around. The goal here is to provide your readers with something called a CTA or “Call to Action.” This is what you want your readers to do for you.
Before you wrap up your piece, make sure to tell them what to do next. It could be signing up for an email list, or it could be a free download of your e-book. Whatever the case, tell them what you would like them to do and make it clear.
- Provide a clear and concise CTA (Call to Action) and thank them after they’ve done it.
Those are the main points to remember when construction the body of your post. Before we move on, let’s touch upon SEO or “Search Engine Optimization.” These are techniques and strategies that ensure your ranking on search engines like Google and Bing is as high as it can be.
Here are some quick tips to help you optimize your content, and don’t worry, I’ve got plenty more if you need them. And if for some reason you’ve yet to start your own website, there’s a ton of different blogging sites to choose from.
- Structure your URLs to be short and to the point
- Download the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
- Include links not only to your sources, but to other content on YOUR site
- Use long-tail keywords, not just single cherry-picked ones
- Write for people, not for search engines
- Create an XML sitemap, and robots.txt file for your website (so Google can index you quicker)
- Write your post around a single topic/keyword phrase (then use related keywords to expand upon the idea)
- Avoid duplicate content on your site, and never copy anyone else’s work (adapting is good, plagiarism is not)
Step Four: Images and Design
Now that you’ve got a whole lot of awesome words on your page, it’s time to make it pretty.
Blog design is something we could go on about for several articles, but here I’m going to give you the crash course on spicing up your posts with some pizazz that also adds to your SEO quality.
Let’s start with the obvious ones and then move into some tools you may not know about.
This is the one that probably comes to mind when everyone thinks about spicing up the visual elements of a blog post. It’s true that pictures can be a great way to boost your article’s appeal, but not just any picture will do. Consider these tips when choosing your photos:
- Make them as relevant as possible
- Use editing programs to resize them (you want good quality, but they also need to load fast)
- Be sure to give them a title, and alt-text so Google knows that they are (good for SEO)
- Always source them if they aren’t public domain
- Font and Color
Again, this is something you could easily spend thousands of words talking about, but for the purpose of our topic here we’re going to touch upon the basic necessities of designing your content. Once more with the tips!
- Choose a theme or layout that is simple and uses only a couple different colors
- The same goes for your font, make it large enough to read and colored properly to stand apart from your background.
- When creating a CTA, be sure to use bright colors to attract the reader’s eye
- Custom Images and Infographics
There’s nothing more unique than an image you’ve made yourself.
No, I’m not asking you to rush out and buy a massive camera for taking super detailed images (you could, especially if you have a photography blog) but instead I’m going to suggest a couple of blogging tools that you can use to make some sweet images for free, or for very little cost.
The Extra Step: Getting Your Perfect Post Out There!
Some people will write an amazing post, put it up on their blog, and leave it to collect dust.
Will they get some traffic? Maybe, but we don’t work on maybe here at On Blast Blog, so now comes the part where you’ll learn how to promote your blog post.
- Social Media
Yes I know, Twitter is full of people posting photos of their breakfast and Facebook is full of pet and baby pictures, but these sights are how you reach your audience! When you finish your post, shout it from the digital mountaintops!
Tell the world that you’ve done something amazing and plaster it all over your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and anywhere else you can.
- Influencer Outreach
There are a lot of things to say about this subject, but let’s be brief here because you’ve got some serious blogging to do.
When you’ve posted your polished masterpiece, compile an email that will go to all the various bloggers in your niche (especially the ones who influenced the article).
Tell them you were floored by one of their posts and you decided to try your hand at the subject.
Give them a link to the post you wrote and ask for their help in spread the word. It could be a backlink from them, a mention on their social media, anything really.
Step Five: Make Damn Sure Your Perfect Post Succeeds
1. Email People Referenced – Reach out to the people you mentioned and let others who write about the same topic know what you just put together.
2. Email Your Mailing List – I always send out an email notifying my subscribers when I publish a new post. Be sure to send it out at peak times to get the most use out of it. What’s the best time to send out an email? Depends on the niche.
3. Test, Test and More Tests – If you’re student, tests don’t sound like fun. If you’re a marketer or bloggers, testing regularly. A perfect blog post can’t be perfect without revealing what works – testing gives us the insight to see what makes readers tick.
You could strike jackpot and go viral through social media and never be able to repeat that success because you didn’t understand what made that one post so successful. Split testing your article titles, length, & timing are all incredibly valuable things to do.
4. Throw Ads At It – I could take weeks to finish a blog post (this one took me 2 weeks with all the designs) because of all the detail that goes into it. Take my guide on how to start a blog which is over 6,000 words. Give it about $20-30 on Facebook or Twitter ads to give yourself a boost.
How to Write the Perfect Blog Post: For Advanced Readers
Now it’s time for the upper level stuff.
You’ve seen what it takes to get this perfect blog post moving, but now you need to see what makes it tick.
These advanced SEO techniques and concepts are the final step before your post ascends above and beyond perfection.
1. Keyword Phrases
You know about keywords, of course you do because they are the basic building block for optimized content. One of the major SEO tips you’ll hear from any blogger is to keep your keywords in mind.
Of course, one word on its own doesn’t do much, you need to look for phrases. String together multiple keywords and utilize those throughout your post, not just in your writing. Take “baking recipes” for example.
This main keyword phrase you’re trying to target should appear in the body of your post, the headline, the alt-text for images, and in the permalink.
Keep in mind that using the keyword constantly in the body of your post or in things like your meta description is called “keyword stuffing” and it hurts you post’s potential because Google treats it like spam.
This concept alone won’t make your post perfect, but it’s a foundation that every blogger uses and will continue to use as a basis for crafting a great post. Be sure to read more about keyword targeting and on page SEO with this visual guide from Rand Fishkin (Moz).
2. Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF)
We’re going to use the abbreviation from here on out just so you know. The term above refers to a method by which Google indexes your pages. The way TF-IDF works is by looking at a large set of documents and examining how often certain keywords appear within those examples.
This defines the importance of the keyword, and therefore gives Google something to go on when indexing your own posts.
Let’s look at the baking recipes example again in this new light. When talking about this keyword phrase, generic words like “in” “and” “that” “the” and so on, will have a very low TF-IDF.
As we move closer to the topic at hand, maybe using words like “mixing” “flour” “rolling” and others that are less common will come across as less frequent and therefore when you use them, they will have a higher value.
The best terms are going to be centered around your keyword phrase. Thinking “Baking cookbook recipes” and other terms close to your main keyword (not identical though.)
This is another technique that works in tandem with some of the ones we’re going to talk about in a moment. It’s not a game changer on its own, but combined with other techniques it can be.
3. Semantic Distance and Term Associations
The concept of semantic distance doesn’t always refer to a physical distance. It’s more defined by how closely related the terms of your document are associated with one another.
It does take into account spacing in terms of sentences and paragraphs, but other factors like HTML coding can increasing (or decrease) the distance.
The practical use of this concept shows us how search engines can figure out when two things are connected, even if they aren’t included in the same sentence together.
For example, your title defines the purpose of the content, so it’s reasonable to say that the title and your headers are closely associated with the rest of the terms on the page.
The distance increases slightly when the terms are in the same paragraph. That being said, terms found within the same block of text tend to be seen as more closely related as opposed to ones that are separated by HTML and multiple paragraphs. These are seen to be far more distant.
An example where HTML can shorten the semantic distance is in lists or bullet points. These chunks of text are seen as equally distant from one another, regardless of their respective place on the list.
4. Co-Occurrence and Phrase Based Indexing
As we’ve said countless times thus far, keywords are a great starting point, but the phrases are where you start to move into the big leagues. When Google is indexing your page, it’s going to look for more than just single words on their own.
Google has an idea of which phrases precede others. By looking for lines of keywords that flow into each other and stay relevant to the topic at hand, this process measures the relevance of your page. The main takeaway here is to stay on topic and continue to mention other keyword phrases that closely resemble the original point.
Find ways to branch out from your original keyword phrase, but never venture so far that you’re talking about something entirely different. Ask yourself “What else is related to this topic?”
More here on phrase based indexing and semantics.
5. Synonyms and Close Variants
With billions of searches coming through every day, it’s important for Google to understand what you’re saying, even if you don’t. It uses close variants and synonyms to say “Ah, I see what you’re getting at,” and shows you things related to your search.
You can appeal to a wider range of searches within your topic by including synonyms and close variants of your own within your content.
So, let’s say someone needs their car fix and they search pics of cars. Here’s how you can capitalize on the variations of that search:
- BMW Photos
- Pics of Sports Cars
- BMW 6 Series Photos
- Photographs of Cars
What this means for you is writing things that sound normal and not rigid. Don’t use the same keywords over again, but don’t go from cars to motorcycles either.
Variations improve the chances you’ll be indexed for that search term, and it keeps your content from becoming stale.
More from Google on helping computers understand languages
6. Entity Salience
This final topic is something that’s coming down the pipeline. Knowing about it now and implementing it now is going to save you a lot of pain down the road. Let’s start with the name. The term “entity” is defined as anything in your content that is well-defined.
The “salience” part is how these entities related to one another. This is far beyond simple keywords or phrases though, this is more of an abstract view of what you’re talking about and how well you delve into the nuances of the subject.
This is best explained through an example, take “basketball” if you will.
Let’s assume we’re talking about a match-up between the Miami Heat vs the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That’s our starting entity, now we need to create other entities that are closely related to it.
We can mention the teams individually and discuss them (clearly defining each one so its considered an entity) and we can also mentioned specific players like Dwayne Wade, Pat Riley, and others. It’s crucial to remember that just using their names isn’t enough though, you need to establish them as their own entity.
Take Shaquille O’Neal for example. His name alone isn’t an entity (yes, he’s a real person, we’re not debating that).
You have to give him detail, talk about his records, his performances season over season, make him detailed. That’s how you form an entity. More on entity salience here.
So, now that you’ve learned how to write a blog post with perfection included, you’re ready to enter the wide world with your fantastic content in tow.
Remember though, writing is only the beginning, you need to promote it too if you want it to get the attention it deserves.
Examples of flawless blog posts:
Do you have a Perfect Blog Post?
Share with all of us below! It’s always a pleasure hearing from my readers so please feel free to comment below with your perfect blog post or thoughts and your advice for writing that flawless blog post.