6 Tips on How to Structure a Blog Post
6 Tips on How to Structure a Blog Post
Writing a blog post seems pretty straight forward. However, there are some important elements to keep in mind before you start posting content online.
That’s not to say that writing a blog post is super hard, quite the contrary. But it’s definitely a lot more involved than just writing a few paragraphs and calling it a day.
That’s why I’m writing this blog post on how to structure a blog post. Pretty meta, right? My hope is that this post can give you a better idea of how you should structure your next blog post. So, let’s dive in.
Create an Eye-Catching Title
The title, commonly referred to as a headline, is one of the first things that your readers will see. That’s why it should be your primary focus before you start writing a blog post.
I’ll have to admit, crafting an eye-catching title could probably take a full post to explain. But here are a few quick pointers on how to create a great headline.
Summarize what your audience is going to get from your post, but be specific. I realize that this can sometimes be easier said than done, but your blog post title should be direct while also informing the reader about the content.
Whenever you’re writing a blog post, your content should always focus on a keyword or keyword phrase. So naturally, once you’ve decided on a keyword, try to include it within the title of your blog post.
Make It a List
Another great conversion tactic is to create list content. I realize that this also means that you’ll have to adjust the structure of your content, but having some sort of list in your blog’s title has been proven to be highly successful.
For example, “10 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Buy a Home”, is a headline that grabs the reader’s attention with a quantifiable return. The reader knows that they’re going to receive ten benefits from the article before they even read it.
Speaking of content types, how-to blog posts have been proven to convert really well. Primarily because how-to content promotes a solution to a problem. Plus, when people are searching for answers online, they typically type the actual question in the search engine.
So, by using a headline like, “How to Cure Back Pain in 24 Hours”, you’re crafting a problem solving title that also positions the post to meet the reader’s search queries.
Optimize for the Search Engines
No one is going to see your post if they can’t find it online. That’s why it’s important to optimize your content for the search engines (blog title included). Now, every search engine is different, but let’s face it…Google rules the search engine world. So, I’d focus on optimizing your title for Google.
Photo Credit: SEO Mofo
Best practice is to include a keyword within the first 65 characters of your headline. Google typically cuts off the title around 65 characters in SERPS, so if your title is a bit longer, try to include a keyword within the first 65 characters.
Structure Your Content Correctly
Next, it’s time for the meat and potatoes of your blog….the content. But before you start writing, you’ll need to have a plan in place. Here are some suggestions on how to structure your content as well as some strategic recommendations for your next blog post.
Your post’s introduction will more than likely determine whether or not the reader will continue to keep reading. The headline grabs their attention and entices them to click through, but the intro hooks the reader and keeps them engaged with your content.
A good introduction will obviously introduce the post, but it should also convince visitors to stick around. One way to do that is through storytelling. I’m not talking about a bedtime story, but a personal account or transparent experience is a great way start a blog post with storytelling.
Another great intro technique is to ask an open-ended question. This typically gets your readers to start thinking and will more than likely keep them engaged.
Create Scannable Content
According to a study done by Jakob Nielsen, a web-usability consultant who holds a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction, 79% of people scan web pages. That’s a pretty large chunk of the online reader base. So, it’s probably a good idea to create concise content that’s quick and easy to consume.
Photo Credit: Net Magazine
Short-Burst Paragraphs: I try to keep my paragraphs around three to four sentences, and I always try to include a “take-away” within each paragraph. It should be a short burst of “to-the-point” information that the reader can quickly consume and move on.
Sub-Headings: This is a great way to not only split up your content, but it also helps the search engines crawl your site. A good rule of thumb is to have one H1 header (typically your title), followed by multiple H2 or H3 sub-headings. For example, “Structure Your Content” is one of my H2 sub-headings in this post.
Highlights: Bold font, hyperlinks, underlined words, and italicized text are all ways to highlight various parts of your content. This helps people scan your content, but it also brings attention to specific areas of your post and increases user engagement. Remember to use this technique sparingly. Less is more…trust me.
Whitespace: When you’re scanning a web page, the last thing you want to see is a large block of text. More than likely you’ll skip right past it. That’s why having whitespace, or breaks in the content, is a popular tactic for helping readers scan and consume content. When you add some “whitespace” between your paragraphs, it makes the content much easier to read.
Bullets: This is yet another great way to break up your content and help the reader to quickly consume your post. Bullets are simply a formating
Link to Relevant Content
As you begin to structure your blog post, and the content within it, remember to build links to relevant content. This not only creates SEO link juice, but it’s also a proven tactic for increasing user engagement. Here are the two types of links you should be using within every one of your blog posts.
MOZ states that external links are hyperlinks that point at any domain other than the domain the link exists on. So a good example of this is the sentence you just read. It literally contains an external link that points to a domain other than www.blogwithben.com.
On the other hand, we have internal links, and these links connect to pages within the same domain. So, any hyperlink within this blog post that links to another page on www.blogwithben.com would be considered an internal link.
A quick tip about linking, MOZ also suggests to try and use descriptive keywords in anchor text that reflect the same topic or keywords the target page is trying to target. For example, if I’m linking to a page about SEO, then I’ll want to make sure that the text I’m using for the hyperlink is related to SEO.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s also a great way to boost user engagement in a blog post. But it doesn’t just have to be a picture, there are multiple ways you can add some flare to a blog post by including different types of media.
I wanted to keep this one separate because it’s different from all the other images within your blog post. The featured image, in my opinion, is one of the most important images within your blog. That’s because it’s typically the first thing people see when you share your post on social media, and it has the potential to influence readers to click through and visit your post.
A good featured image will not only grab the reader’s attention, but will relate to the content of the post in some way. If you’re writing your post about a serious topic, you probably don’t want smiling children for your featured image.
Close With a Call-To-Action
An effective call-to-action (CTA) can yield huge dividends when implemented correctly. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but having a CTA at the end of each blog post has been proven to be very effective in my list building campaigns.
Why should you close with a CTA? Well, from my personal analytics, I’ve been able to gather data that shows that the CTA’s at the bottom of my blog posts always perform better than many of my other CTA’s throughout my blog. So, here are some key factors to keep in mind whenever you’re placing CTA’s on your blog.
Keep it simple. Far too often people tend to overdo the elements of design whenever it comes to their CTA’s and it usually leads to turning the reader off. Remember, less is more when it comes designing a CTA. Also, images work but use them sparingly.
Communicating your message while also telling the reader to take action is a tough gig. Especially when you only have a few sentences to do so. But, effective copy within a CTA will get straight to the point and persuade the reader to take action.
As they say in real estate…location, location, location. The same goes for your CTAs. The location of your call to action can have a significant impact on your conversion rate. That being said, when it comes to blog posts I recommend closing with a CTA. Reason being, the last thing people want is to be interrupted while they’re reading. Having an unobtrusive and strategically placed CTA has the potential to perform very well with a targeted audience.
Edit, Format, and QA
After you’ve spent a good chunk of time crafting the perfect blog post, the last thing you want to do is publish it for the world to see and then find out that it’s littered with grammatical errors.
Before you publish a blog post, be sure to take some extra time to review and comb through the post for errors. I always have a second set of eyes take a look before sending it out to the world, but if you don’t have anyone willing to review your post…just take the extra time to proofread your content.
Quick Tip: Use Grammarly. This is by far one of my most used apps. It has saved me a ton of time and effort whenever it comes to proofreading and editing.
Your blog post structure will evolve as you begin to figure out your writing style. However, having structural guidelines will help your content stay consistent. Hopefully, you discovered some info that will help you with your next blog post. Keep creating valuable content and the rest will fall into place.
Written by Ben Cummings
Founder of blogwithben.com
Ben is a Digital Marketing and CMS Specialist for Bridgepoint Education who holds an MBA with a specialization in Entrepreneurship. He enjoys teaching, blogging, startups, a hoppy IPA, and college basketball. Whenever he’s not blogging, you can find him cruising around sunny San Diego with his amazing family.