Guest post By Susan Johnston
Susan Johnston has written for AOL Jobs, The Boston Globe, Mediabistro.com, Parade Magazine, and SELF, among other places.
Blogs are a powerful way to engage customers and attract new ones. But with so many businesses turning out blog content, it’s not enough to throw up a few quick posts and hope for the best. Here’s how to ensure that your blog posts stand out.
- Craft an Enticing Headline
Without an eye-catching headline, it’s unlikely that people will even read your blog post. That’s why it’s worth spending the time to brainstorm a headline that will pique curiosity and encourage clicks. Blog headlines should be short, specific (don’t make readers guess), and make the reader want to know more. For instance, “How I Doubled My Twitter Following in Two Months” is better than “How to Build Your Brand and Attract New Customers With a Strong Twitter Presence.” But remember that your post should deliver on the headline’s promise, so don’t go overboard with the hyperbole.
- Incorporate Relevant Keywords
The goal with SEO is to mention your target keywords while still sounding like a real human being instead of a spambot who spews out keywords by the minute. Try to include your most important keyword or phrase in your headline and a secondary one in the first paragraph of your post but keep it natural and conversational. This may mean trying a few different combinations before you find the right balance, but the pay-off is that readers will understand immediately what your post is about and search engines will correctly index your content so future readers can find it.
- Turn Your Topic on its Head
One way to create irresistible blog posts that attract comments and links is by taking the opposite point of view from the crowd. If everyone is blogging about how to grow your circles on Google+, you might blog about why having smaller, but more engaged circles is actually more valuable. Or you could draw surprising comparisons between your topic and some aspect of pop culture. Is there some parallel between SEO and your favorite TV program? Does Lady Gaga teach us something about building a brand? Get creative to find ideas that go beyond the obvious.
- Use Blog-Friendly Formatting
Blog readers expect posts to be formatted differently than a book or newspaper article. Keep paragraphs short and use sub-headlines, numbered lists, or bullet points to add white space between each point and make posts more skimmable. Also include a call to action and encourage readers to leave comments or ask questions.
- Add a Related Image
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so it’s always a good idea to include images to accompany your posts. Photos offer visual keys that reinforce the topic of your post and also break up the text (see number 4). Be sure to include alt text and title your images descriptively (“Maui Wedding” instead of “PGH12458.jpg”) so that they’ll show up in image searches. Also keep in mind that your image doesn’t have to be a literal depiction of your topic. For instance, if your post is about celebrating milestones in your small business, you might choose a photo of a birthday cake or a glass of champagne. Search for images that are royalty-free or buy stock images to avoid copyright issues.
In keeping with tip number 4, what do you think of these? Is there anything you would add? Do tell!