As bloggers, we spend an awful lot of time on creating awesome blog posts that our audience is going to love reading and sharing.
We obviously want to get lots of traffic from every post we write, and while that isn’t always possible, there are some things that you can do to ensure that each post you write has the maximum potential for effectiveness.
This is the complete guide to 9 factors that are crucial to crafting awesome blog posts that are optimized to give you the best results after you hit that publish button.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect blog post, but there’s a certain art and a proven science behind creating optimized blog posts.
The art side of that equation comes down to your skill as a writer as well as the topics that you choose and so on. The science side of it, however, boils down to a few proven best practices that we will cover in this guide.
The 9 Factors For Creating Optimized Blog Posts Are As Follows:
- The Headline
- The Featured Image
- The Hook
- The Link Strategy
- The Sub-Headlines
- The Images
- The Content
- The Viral Coefficient
- The Call-To-Action/Opt-In
Now let’s dive into each of these in detail, shall we?
1. The Headline
This is number one on the list for a reason. This makes or breaks your posts because it’s what determines just how many people will actually read your post.
According to studies, only two out of ten people who read headline copy go on to read the rest of the article. Those are sad statistics, I know, but it’s to be expected these days seeing as most people online are borderline hypnotic.
There’s just so much information flowing to them that it’s rendering them almost comatose, and your blog post is likely to be one among dozens that are hitting them at any particular moment.
This is why it’s more vital now than ever before to make sure that you stand out from all the other blogs in your niche. You need to be able to smack your audience in the eyeballs if you want them to notice you.
But that’s not the worst of it.
Not all of the people who are actually ‘reading’ your blog posts are READING them. They are scanning your posts – and this goes for your post headlines as well.
I know it comes as a shock to learn that some people aren’t even reading your entire headline but that’s just how it is these days.
There’s irrefutable data from studies conducted by CopyBlogger, Hubspot, and KissMetrics (among others) confirming that readers typically absorb only the first three words of post headlines and the last three words.
So what does that mean for you?
Does it mean that you have to craft 6-word headlines only?
In fact, the majority of headlines that are shared on Twitter contain 8 – 12 words, so what you want to do is to create headlines that get the job done but also emphasize those first three words as well as the last three.
When it comes to headlines, most people make the mistake of just stating a topic and leaving it at that.
Or, they give it a cute title that doesn’t leave a clue as to what the post is really about.
An example of a headline fail would be a headline such as: ‘Email Marketing’.
Your Blog Post Headline Should Contain The Following:
- It should inherently promise your readers something that they will get from reading it.
- It should contain specifics and not be vague, numbers work very well.
- It should arouse curiosity or intrigue and make your audience wonder about what you’re going to reveal to them.
So, all in all, your headlines should promise your readers that the post is going to be useful toward some specific outcome that they desire.
Once you make them curious to find out more, the headline battle is won because curiosity is the driver of click bait.
Here is an example of a great headline that follows all the rules mentioned above:
‘7 Email Marketing Trends You Should Be Following in 2020’
2. The Feature Image
That graphic image you see at the top of most posts is the featured image. It’s very important because it is also what shows up when someone shares that particular post on social media.
A lot of bloggers don’t bother to use featured images at all, and that wouldn’t be a problem if you were just doing informal blogging for fun, but if you want to get some serious traffic to your site, then you really need to use featured images in all of your blog posts.
It takes extra time but it’s totally worth it.
Two Things to Consider When Using Featured Images Are:
- Featured Image Dimensions
- Featured Image Content
Featured Image Dimensions
Technically you can use an image of any size for the featured image on your blog, but because its real importance is for the social media networks, you have to select the optimal size to ensure that it’s displayed properly on all shared posts.
Each social network has its own idea of what the right size is, and these sizes have continually changed over the years, but as of this writing, the preferred dimensions for the main social networks are as follows:
- Twitter – 1024 x 512 px
- Facebook – 1,200 x 628 px
- Instagram – 1,080 x 1,080 px
- Pinterest – 600 x 900 px
- LinkedIn –1200 x 630 px
While this may seem like an overwhelming process, the great news is that all the major networks automatically resize your images to suit their networks.
But you need to ensure that the ratio between vertical and horizontal (aspect ratio) is the right one so that the image can resize properly.
This is easy enough to achieve as it really only comes down to two layouts:
- Landscape – 1024 x 512 px
- Portrait – 800 x 1200 px
Most social networks will resize your landscape images as needed, but the portrait is primarily for Pinterest, so don’t worry about creating portrait images for your posts unless it’s the type of content that does well on Pinterest.
Featured Image Content
The second factor to pay attention to when it comes to using featured images is what’s in the image.
Don’t get too literal about this, keep it conceptual.
Your image has to be attractive, of course, but also make sure that you don’t put many words on it. Ideally, there should be none at all because that will just clutter things up after that image is shared on social media.
Remember that the image will appear next to the headline so it really doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting.
Also, consider the colors that are used in the image.
As you well know, bright colors attract the eye and if your featured image shows up on someone’s Facebook Newsfeed or Twitter timeline then it’s likely to get noticed if the colors are well-chosen.
Sites like Deposit Photos provide some really great images that work very well as featured images.
3. The Hook
While the headline may get your readers through the door, it’s actually the hook that draws them further in and makes them want to scroll down the page.
The hook on your perfectly structured blog post should be right at the beginning of the blog post.
This text, aside from the post headline, is the part of your blog post that your readers are most likely to read, and it’s going to make a huge difference in whether or not they stay to read the rest of the post.
But, this isn’t where you should apply those things that you learned back in school. You don’t have to state your ‘main idea’ before crafting ‘supporting paragraphs’ in the rest of the blog post.
That type of formulaic writing is way too boring and won’t work in the real world.
You need to apply some psychology and get to know a bit about human nature so that you’re working with it and not against it to get people to read your posts.
A very powerful form of creating hooks in your posts is through the use of stories.
A short story containing a mini-plot in it is very effective in this regard. This will increase the average time your readers spend on the page and it will also increase scroll depth, and both these things are great for your SEO.
It does take some practice to get this kind of hook right, but it’s worth it.
So open your posts with a bang, make your hooks interesting and infuse them with some emotion and your blog posts will become more effective.
4. The Link Strategy
If you want your blog posts to be fully effective, they cannot be islands unto themselves.
You have to include outbound links as well as internal ones. While there is no ideal ratio when it comes to this, it’s important to do your best to just keep things natural.
If you craft awesome, useful content then you will find it extremely easy to link naturally to other relevant blogs in your niche. For example, you can include statistics in your posts and then link to the sources.
This is also a great way of adding credibility to your post.
When you link to authoritative websites that are relevant to your posts, it creates a positive signal for your blog’s SEO.
Outbound links also create great blogger relationships because most times the receiving blog gets the ‘ping’ and once that blogger sees that you linked to their post, they could help spread the word.
Set it up so that all your external links open up in new windows so that if your readers click on any of them, they don’t leave your site.
Internal linking is when you link to your own content that is relevant to the post.
This is something you definitely want to do with all your posts. But don’t link to any top-level core page in your website such as the home page or contact page because that is just a waste of time.
You need to do ‘deep linking’ where you link to your other posts, maybe even the ones deep in your archives.
There isn’t an ideal number of internal links that you can use. Just make sure that you keep it natural and reasonable. You’ll know when it makes sense to link to another blog post if it’s relevant and provides extra value to the post you’re writing.
But which posts are the best for you to link to?
The ones that are the most optimized. Linking to another post is a way for you to pass authority to it and so it makes obvious sense to only do that with posts that are worthy of that authority.
Lastly, you want to include some links to a few calls to action. This is one of the points that we’ll discuss later on.
5. The Sub-Headlines
The majority of people won’t read your post, they will just scan it.
They may scan the headline, read some of your hook, and scroll down and scan the content which means that they will mainly see the stuff that visually stands out.
They will see the images and other stuff but mostly, they will see the sub-headlines.
The sub-headlines serve a function that is similar to the headlines of your blog posts. They are there to get your readers’ attention and entice them to read further.
But, while the headline can make or break a blog post, the sub-headline is for getting your readers to want to find out more about what’s under it.
It’s quite annoying when you come across blog posts that are just giant blocks of text with nothing to break them up. It’s tedious work trying to read one long passage after another, and few people will actually undertake that task.
So, make sure that you use sub-headlines in your posts to break the flow up into sections. This helps give your readers some sort of anchor point and pushes them to keep reading.
Factors To Consider When Using Sub-headlines:
- Use Heading 1 for your main headline, H2 for your sub-headlines, and H3 for your sub-sub-headlines.
- SEO keywords may be a factor in the sub-headlines, but the flow of the text is more important.
- Scan the sub-headlines to see whether they tell your post’s story on their own.
- Use larger font than the rest of the surrounding text so your sub-headlines stand out
The Bottom Line
So while SEO is important, you’re still writing for people, so make sure that your sub-headlines hold their attention and lure them into reading more.
This is ultimately more important than the keywords in your sub-headlines.
Also, make sure that your readers can get a good idea of what the post is about just by reading your sub-headlines.
The best way to craft perfect sub-headings is to write your post first and then go back and craft unique and interesting sub-headlines after the fact.
Stay Tuned for the next post where we discuss the remaining 4 Tips For Writing Awesome Blog Posts Every Time.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published July 12th 2018
This Post Has 10 Comments
This was great! Thanks so much for such helpful, easy-to-follow information! Some things I had never even heard of before, like viral coefficient, and ideal size of images. This is something I want to re-read, take notes on, and do my best to put into practice. And thanks for modeling what you teach!
Good to know you got some good information from the article.
Thanks for the comment Danette!
Great tips! I’ll try to use them on my blog, too!
Usually, I don’t use a lot of different sub-headlines. Mostly H2 for the title and H3 for the subtitles. I’ll try to add one more level for better structure.
I’m trying to use the hook and I think that the more I’m practicing, the more it gets easier. And funnier. 😆
Thanks a lot!
It does get easier with time. You will find a style that works for
you. Once you are comfortable, go back and revamp old articles. Google
loves refreshed content.
Thanks for the comment Jenny!
Thanks for the tips on writing awesome blog posts Steven! I’m new to blogging and I feel that taking your tips into consideration is going to really help the quality of my content. I do have a question for you. What is the reason for using different headings (H1, H2, H3)? I usually use H2 for all my main points just because I like the size that it comes out as but is there another reason to use the different headings other than making the words stand out? Hopefully that makes sense and thank you for your insight!
Not really. Go with whatever suits your articles and provides the best user experience. I use H3 inside my articles as headlines,
Thanks for the comment Jon!
Great information for writing awesome blog posts every time.
In your “Bottom Line,” you mention that you get it, we are busy. However, I see a lot of things that are so important that they need to become part of the writing habit. The Viral Coefficient for example. I’ve been wanting to spend some time creating an Infographic template that can be adapted to all or at least most of my blog posts.
I also need to focus on the Hook. I’m always looking to improve my writing style and this is an area definitely in need of improvement.
Thanks for the marvelous insights. I’ve bookmarked this post and will be returning.
Glad to hear you got good information from the post.
Thanks for the kind words Ed!
Hi Steven, what can I say? I think we started on the same date you and me and I think your progress is just great. You are well ahead of me. First, I love your site because it is well structured, well documented, have a professional look, look neat. It was a pleasure surfing and reading your posts on your site.
Congratulations. Keep doing what you are doing.
I don’t know if this is the kind of comments you wanted but this is what I think of your site.
I’m glad you find the site easy to use. I am a big fan of simplicity!
Thanks for the kind words ceplanglais!