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10 Oct 2011

A Quick Guide to Writing Great Blog Posts for Businesses

A Quick Guide to Writing Great Blog Posts for Businesses

There are certain elements of a blog post that need to be given special care in order for a post to be successful. Let’s take a look at these elements and what you need to do to make sure they are optimized.

1. The Title / Headline

A great title for your post is essential for driving traffic to it, from social media to search engines. Take Twitter, for example. The first impression of your post will be the 140 character status update including just the title of your post. For search engines, it’s the same: the title will be the first thing potential visitors read in the results.

When it comes to great titles, you should consider:

  • Including the post’s main keyword for search engines and social searches.
  • Including a number. People like posts where they know what they are getting. So instead of “Tips to Keep Your Car in Tip Top Shape” you should do “10 Tips to Keep You Car in Tip Top Shape.”
  • Including a solution to a problem. If you know a common question in your industry, such as how to keep your pool chemical levels in check, then you should do a post entitled “10 Ways to Make Sure Chemicals in Your Pool Are at Safe Levels.”
  • Keep titles under 65 characters in length for search engine purposes. Anything after this point will be cut off with a “…”.

2. Word Count

There is a lot of debate about the proper length of a blog post. Some say that you should keep it short and sweet with an average of 300-500 words per post. Others think that posts should be in-depth and complex, with a minimum of 1,000 words.

What you should be concerned about, more than the actual word count, is whether or not you are giving valuable information in each post. If you can deliver the content that you promise in the title of the post in a short post, then that is fine. If you can write a long post that isn’t redundant and keeps your reader’s interest, that is fine as well.

My rule of thumb is to never make the reader have to go elsewhere for information. You shouldn’t do a post with 10 tips if the reader is going to have to leave your site to find out how to implement those 10 tips. You should either have enough content for each tip that the reader can implement them, or have a post that you can link to on your site that further explains how to do each item.

3. Breaking Up the Content

One of the biggest turn-offs when it comes to reading blog posts or articles is seeing big blocks of text, text, and nothing but text. You want your post to be easy to scan, so that if you get someone who wants to take a quick glance to see if they want to bookmark the post for later, they will see the gist of the article quickly and easily. This can be accomplished by:

  • Using headers for major sections. Your post should contain headers using the <h2> or <h3> header tags in HTML, not only to easily divvy up the sections but also to be search engine friendly.
  • Using images. Think about when you read books as a kid. You probably enjoyed the ones with lots of pictures over the ones that were solid text, right? Blog readers enjoy images similarly, especially if they are screenshots or photos that illustrate a point in the text.
  • Using series posts. If you have an article that going to be excessively lengthy, consider taking the one post and breaking it into a series of posts. This will keep your readers coming back to your site for more.
  • Using bullet points and numbered lists. Again, this helps break out individual items and make it easily scan-able.
  • Using formatted text. Be sure to emphasize important phrases or statements in your post by using bolded and italicized text within the content.

Mashable does a great job of breaking up their content using images and headers, as shown in the image below.

Blog Content Formatting

It makes a post that has a lot of content easily scan-able for those looking for a particular topic and digestible for those who just want an idea of the overall goal of the post.

4. Call to Action

No matter what your post is about, or what industry you are in, you can have a call to action in each and every blog post. Calls to action can be anything from suggesting that the blog reader contact your business for help with any of the items recommended in the blog post to simply asking your readers for their opinion about the content of the post.

Asking readers for comments is an important way to build your blog’s social proof. This means that whenever a new visitor comes to your blog, they will see that your posts have a lot of active discussion, telling the new visitor that your content is valuable and worth discussion.

This is an excerpt from the Vertical Measures’ Blogging for Business: A How-To Guide.

2 Comments

  • Anthony Oct 10, 2011

    Kristi,
    Great tips here! I agree with you 100% about the importance of the title. Titles (or headlines) are important in ALL types of writing but critically so with blog posts. Like you said, titles should be optimized for SEO purposes and interest readers who may only see the title (like on Twitter). I try to use keywords in my titles but still have titles that engage readers or make them want to know more.

  • Nick Stamoulis Oct 17, 2011

    When writing blog posts you need to keep in mind that people tend to skim. If you’re just providing a few useful nuggets of info, there’s no need to write 1,000 words. Breaking up the post by including bullet points and lists is helpful too. That way, if the reader sees that one point resonates with them more than another, they can go right to that part of the post.