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Five Critical Elements Of An Effective Blog Post

by Jon Simpson

Whether blogging can be business-changing is no longer up for debate. We’ve reached a point where most businesses understand the importance of consistent blogging, but what exactly is needed for successful content? That’s a whole different blog game.

Sometimes it seems like the secret to blogging is more tightly hidden than most well-kept secrets. As blogging is all about sharing information, we’re here to spill the beans. Our marketing agency has been crafting engaging blog posts for extremely varied clients for over a decade. Through this, we’ve discovered what’s vital for a successful blog, no matter the trending topic it covers, and we’ve honed the strategy into a very clear formula. Here are our five essential elements of a blog post:

1. An Attention-Grabbing Headline A striking headline could be the most important words you write for your blog post. It's often the deciding factor on whether a viewer clicks on your link over the others that appear in a Google search. While the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover” may be good advice, most people will judge a blog post by its headline. When crafting a headline, here are a few questions to consider: • Will it spark the reader's interest? • Will it make the reader want to learn more? • Does it stand out? • Is it answering a specific question for your readers?

In regards to length, research has shown that longer can sometimes be better. For optimal Facebook engagement, HubSpot found that 12- and 14-word headlines are the sweet spot. (Full disclosure: We are a HubSpot agency partner.) That said, it’s not an exact science — it’s experimentation until you find what clicks with your audience.

For example, we found that 10- to 14-word headlines for our liquor licensing service client performed best with their target audience. In fact, longer headlines resulted in almost double the page views as similar blog posts with only six-word headlines.

While the ideal headline length varies depending on your buyer persona, ultimately, according to HubSpot, it’s best to keep the title under 70 characters to ensure that it doesn't get cut off when it appears in search engine results.

2. A Clear Meta Description If you don’t have a marketing team or are just beginning to incorporate blogging into your strategy, creating a meta description may seem daunting. A meta description summarizes your blog post’s content and appears underneath your headline on a search result’s page. A clear meta description provides the searcher with succinct details about your post.

To make sure your meta description does its job properly, follow these guidelines when writing it:

• Keep it under 160 characters. • Use keywords that pertain to your business and blog post topic. • Provide a brief description of what information the reader will gain. • Don't use fluff words or overly descriptive adjectives. • Don't include promotional messaging. For meta descriptions, simplicity is often best.

3. Engaging Subheadings Strategic and engaging subheadings are a key component of a blog post. They break up paragraphs of text to make the content easier to follow, efficiently communicate important information and catch the reader’s eyes. Subheadings are the perfect opportunity to keep the reader engaged in the post while also helping them navigate to important sections. In particular, if you're writing a complicated or technical post, multiple subheadings can substantially help your audience grasp the concepts.

4. Helpful And Relevant Body Copy  There are usually three reasons why an individual visits your blog: to answer a question, to help them make a decision or to gain more information about an important topic. This means it’s essential that your blog post contains helpful content that fulfills these needs. Otherwise, the reader will likely not read far past your engaging headline.

For the content we write for an economic development organization, we always include valuable information about the specific industries that reside and operate in the area. For example, rather than just writing about industry trends relevant to those area businesses, we include specific statistics and takeaways like the percentage of skilled workers searching for jobs in those industries and information about local tax laws that impact those businesses. These specific facts provide the reader not only with relevant information they can use to adjust or improve their operations but also shareable, engaging content. This approach led to a 90% increase in new visitor blog traffic for the economic development organization over a six-month period.

Remember: On average, people spend 37 seconds reading content marketing articles, which some blog posts are considered to be. If within that time period a reader doesn't find any helpful information, they'll likely move on even quicker.

5. A Strong Call To Action If a reader has made it to the end of your blog post, don't waste the opportunity to entice them to take a preferred action. This could be a simple request such as “Stay tuned to our blog” or something more specific, like directing them to subscribe to your email newsletter. If fitting, your call to action can also be for the reader to download a valuable offer or schedule a demo of your product or service. The important thing to keep in mind with your call to action is to tailor it to the specific blog post. What you’re asking the reader to do should make sense based on what they just learned.

We conducted A/B testing with two different calls to action for one of our clients to determine whether readers preferred an infographic related specifically to the blog topic or a fact sheet about the company. We discovered that the infographic download link had a 6.5% higher click-through rate, which revealed that readers were more inclined to download content relevant to the topic they were researching.

The Bottom Line Understanding everything that goes into creating a blog post takes time, but if you can successfully incorporate these essential elements, you'll likely be well on your way to increasing your website traffic and engaging with your target audience on an elevated level. Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

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