Have you been pulling your hair out trying to write the perfect blog post?
Surely, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder!
Well, yes, which is why knowing your audience and those all-important ideal customers will help you land on the right style and level of content.
And the more you blog, the more information you’ll have about what your customers love, what they click on, what they share and what content leaves them cold.
But even without that information, there are many things that you can do to make each blog article as compelling and shareable as possible, starting from your very first blog post.
I call this the anatomy of a perfect blog post.
Today, I’ll be walking you through each must-have element, as well as showing you how to implement them in a WordPress blog.
(Why WordPress? I hear you ask. Well, it currently accounts for 32% of the entire web and 59% of CMS-built websites. If you’re launching a blog, there’s a good chance you’re doing it with WordPress).
Pick a single topic for your article
Each article you publish should focus on a single topic.
This provides clarity for your audience and for Google. You want people to land on a blog article and be able to see at a glance what it’s about.
If you want to cover related topics, you can always write about them as separate articles and then use internal links to tie the related content together (more about this in a bit).
The great thing about this approach is that the main words and phrases people would use to search for the topic will be words that come up naturally. These are your keywords.
With this article, for example, the main topic is “perfect blog post”, which the Google Keyword Planner tool tells us is a low competition phrase. However, I’ll also be using plenty of other words and phrases about blogging and formatting blog posts, just by staying on topic.
Not sure what to blog about?
If you’re not sure what your audience wants to know about, here are a few tools and tips for you to try:
- Have a look at what people are talking about on your competitors’ social media pages or in reviews about your competitors – this can give you some amazing insights into what your potential customers care about. Are there topics that get loads of engagement? Do people talk about their problems in reviews? These could make perfect blog topics.
- Check out Answer the Public – just pop in one or two keywords related to what you do and find out what questions people have.
- Try an idea generator like Portent.
- Have a look at my recent article about finding blog content ideas.
A perfect blog post has an awesome headline
The main headline is your first – and sometimes only – chance to grab a reader’s attention.
According to Copyblogger, on average, eight out of 10 people will read a headline whereas only two out of 10 will go on to read the rest of the article.
Your headline has to persuade people to read the intro to your blog and then the intro has to persuade people to read the next paragraph – and so on.
Neil Patel has put together a fantastic step-by-step guide to writing powerful headlines, which is well worth a read.
Stats suggest that the best length for a headline is six words (roughly 53-57 characters), mainly because people tend to read the first and last three words of a headline. That being said, there are some 30-word headlines that really pack a punch.
A good rule of thumb is that if a headline is too long for a tweet, then it’s too long.
Try to use your main focus keyword in an attention-grabbing phrase so it’s obvious what the article is about and what people will get from reading it.
You can add a descriptive sub-line if needed to tell your readers more about the content.
Applying an H1 tag
With most WordPress themes, when you create a new post the main heading is automatically allocated with an H1 tag that tells Google it’s looking at the most important heading in the post.
You will enter your main heading here:
You can apply an H1 tag to other headings within an article (although more about why you probably shouldn’t in a moment!).
To do this, highlight the text you want Google to see as a heading and then click on the dropdown menu labelled Paragraph in the formatting toolbar (as pictured below).
I would advise against having two H1 tags in a single article.
The purpose of the H1 tag is to show Google the main heading. If you have multiple headings with this tag, it can make it harder for search engines to identify your main search terms and, therefore, the article’s relevance to various searches.
An introduction that draws your audience in
Today’s audiences are time poor. When they read a blog article, they want to get straight to the meaty bits or have their curiosity sparked to keep reading without a long preamble.
This is the job of your introduction. It has to grab the attention of your audience.
In my experience, the three main elements of a great introduction are:
- The hook – This is the opening line to your article that will make people sit up and take notice. You could ask a question, describe an event or realisation, make a controversial statement or share a surprising statistic as just a few examples.If you look back at the opening line of this blog, you’ll see that I asked the question, “Have you been tearing your hair out trying to write the perfect blog post?”
It’s a question that should make the reader answer “yes” or “no”.
The chances are that if you’ve been searching for articles about the “perfect blog post” (remember the main topic of this blog) then you might be struggling with this issue. And if you are, hopefully you’ll read on!
- The transition – This follows straight on from your hook and leads people from the hook into the main body of the article, as well as clarifying the heading.
- The thesis – This is the last element of your introduction. It should reinforce the main topic of the blog and highlight the benefits of reading the rest of the article. Tell the reader what they stand to gain!
Top tip: Sometimes articles evolve as we write them. Try writing the introduction once the rest of the article is complete because, by that stage, you’ll be crystal clear about the key points.
Engaging body copy with key arguments
As you’re writing the main body of your blog article, think about how you can make it as easy to read as possible.
- Use sub-headings to break up sections (see below)
- Add bullet lists like this one to pull out key points
- Highlight important points or information in bold or italics
- Keep paragraphs short so that people don’t have to read big chunks of copy
- Illustrate key points with images (more about images in a bit!)
Remember that your audience will be reading on a screen, which can drain more of their mental resources than reading something on paper. You want your blog to be skimmable and for the main takeaways to be clear at a glance.
Formatting your blog in WordPress
You can make many of the format changes to your blog mentioned above using the formatting toolbar on the new post page in WordPress (see below).
If, for example, you want text to be bold, highlight it with your mouse and then click on the B button next to the “Paragraph” dropdown menu.
To feature text in italics, highlight the relevant text and click on the I button.
You can bullet point or number a list by clicking on the bullet point or number list icons in the same toolbar.
The quote (“) symbol in the formatting enables you to highlight a quote that you want to pull out from your body copy. It might not look dramatically different in the backend of your post but if you hit the ‘Preview’ button, it will show you what the quote will look like when the post goes live:
You can also choose how to align the text using the formatting toolbar. Do you want to centre your copy, align it to the left or to the right?
A word about word count
People often ask if a perfect blog post has a specific word count. Different sources tell us different things.
HubSpot recently published its findings based on its 50 most read blogs and found that the highest performing blog posts were in the region of 2,100-2,400 words. However, 16 of its 50 most-read posts were under 1,500 words while others sat nearer 5,000 words.
My advice is to make an article as long as it needs to be to talk about the key points you want to cover and genuinely add value for your ideal customers.
If you opt for a ‘hub and spoke’ model of blogging, your ‘hub’ articles (sometimes known as ‘cornerstone’ content will probably be longer (HubSpot says in the region of 4,000 words).
Sub-headings that explain what each section is about
If a blog isn’t skimmable, it’s probably not readable.
Sub-headings can help you here. A sub-heading breaks up the main body of a blog and shows the reader at a glance what each section of the article is about.
With the blog you’re reading right now, for example, just reading the sub-headings will give you a checklist of all the elements to include in a perfect blog post.
The body copy within each section is bonus material for those of you who want more detail!
Sub-headings also help from an SEO perspective because we can apply tags to them for search engines to read.
These tags tell Google what each section of an article is about and highlight the main points covered. This will help its algorithms to decide whether the article is relevant to certain search terms.
You can strengthen your sub-headings SEO wise by including your focus topic/keyword in at least one sub-heading and using plenty of synonyms or related terms in your other headings.
Applying heading tags
Heading tags let you sort your sub-heading by order of priority. Apply an H2 tag to your main sub-headings but if you have sub-sections within that, you can give those headings lower priority tags such as H3 or H4.
Again, if we use this blog as an example, all of the sub-headings describing an element in a perfect blog post have an H2 tag.
However, headings within those sections (such as “Applying heading tags” above) have an H3 tag because they’re less prominent and add extra information to what’s featured under the H2 heading.
You can apply heading tags by highlighting your sub-heading and then clicking on the Paragraph dropdown menu in the formatting toolbar in WordPress. Simply choose your heading type and click.
Include links to relevant information and sources
A perfect blog post should include some internal and external links.
Whenever you make a factual statement, link to the source. This will show your readers that you’ve done your research and can back up any claims. It’s a subtle but powerful way to build trust.
Also, if you mention something in a blog that’s covered in more depth elsewhere on your website or by a reputable third party, you should link to that to make sure people can read more about a topic if they want to.
If possible, the link text should describe what information the link will take the reader to.
Applying links in WordPress
If you write an article in Microsoft Word or a similar word processing program before copying and pasting it into WordPress, then any links in the text should carry over when you copy and paste.
For example, in the screenshot below, you will see that I copied and pasted a section of this article into WordPress and the links are automatically there.
If, however, you want to apply a link directly into WordPress, simply follow these steps:
- Highlight the text that you want to turn into your link text and then click on the little chain icon on the formatting toolbar.
- This will bring up a small pop-up bar that says Paste URL or type to search. You can paste or type the URL you want the link to go to in here. However, I recommend taking things a step further.
- Click on the cog icon to the right of this bar.
This will bring up the Insert/edit link screen:
As you can see from the screenshot above, in this pop-up screen, you can paste or type the URL you want the text to link to in the top field.
Alternatively, you can search the content already on your website to link to related articles or pages, which is a great way of tying content together.
- Before you hit the Add link button, tick the check box that says Open link in a new tab.
Checking this box means that when visitors click on the link, they will view the destination page in a new tab while the original article on your site stays open. This is a really easy way to ensure that people don’t navigate away from your site too soon.It’s especially important to tick this box if you’re linking to third party content away from your website. The last thing you want to do is send traffic elsewhere!
- Now it’s safe to click on the Add link button to embed the link in the text.
Write your conclusion
The conclusion of a perfect blog post will wrap up what you want your readers to takeaway. Ask questions that engage the readers for discussion and comments (you can even direct them to the comments section below the article to leave their thoughts).
Include a call to action
What would you like a visitor to do after they read your blog post?
After working hard to create the perfect blog post for your ideal clients, the last thing you want them to do is leave your site without engaging further with your business.
This is where a call to action comes in.
Let your readers know what you’d like them to do next!
This could be following you on social media, downloading a free guide or checklist, signing up to a self-directed course or even working with you one-to-one.
Adding a call to action to a blog article in WordPress
There are various ways to add a call to action to a WordPress post.
The simplest option is simply to include a line of text at the bottom of the article that links through to the relevant destination, e.g. an ebook download, your Facebook page, a services page, etc.
You add this link in exactly the same way as adding a link into the main copy (see above).
Alternatively, there are various WordPress plugins that enable you to add sign-up forms or more visually striking calls to action at the end of a post.
On the SEO+ site, I have the option of several different call-to-action plugins, some of which appear in the formatting toolbar. I simply click on the call to action I want to include. The options available to you will depend on the plugins you use.
When using a call to action or making an offer to your website visitors, think about the search that would have brought them to your site and try to offer an incentive that ties in with that to provide genuine value.
Another way to make a blog post easy to scan and to visually explain what the article is about is to include some high-quality images that reflect the content.
Images are fantastic for creating emotional appeal and highlighting key points.
In my last article about how to write your first blog article in WordPress, I walked you through how to upload an image to a post.
Now, let’s talk about optimising images.
Optimising images in WordPress
As a quick refresher, to add an image to a post in WordPress, you need to click on the Add Media button above the formatting toolbar, then either choose an existing file from your media library or click on the Select files option on the Upload files tab.
Once the file has been uploaded, it will appear as the first image on the Media library tab. Click on your chosen image.
To the right of the screen, an Attachment details panel will appear (see below).
This should give you a preview of the image, the file title and more information. In the screenshot above, for example, I have uploaded an infographic of the perfect blog post. This is reflected in the file name, which appears in the Title field.
You can use this panel to apply some alt text to your image. This is a tag that search engines and screen readers read to understand what the image represents.
I have given the infographic a tag stating: Infographic explaining perfect blog post elements
If it makes sense to and it’s an accurate reflection of the image, try to create an alt tag that includes your main keyword for the article.
Once you’ve done this, click Insert into post.
Social sharing options
Blogs are brilliant for building your reputation.
When you publish articles that are intentionally targeted at your ideal customers, your content should resonate so much with them that they want to share it with their networks.
You can help people to do this easily by adding social sharing buttons to each article.
Adding a social sharing plugin to WordPress
Blog posts in WordPress don’t automatically come with social sharing options (unless they’ve been written into your WordPress theme). Therefore, you need to add a social sharing plugin to your site.
To add a new plugin, go to Plugins in your main Dashboard menu and then click on Add new.
This will take you to the Add plugins screen where you will see a selection of featured, popular and recommended plugins (none of which have yet been added to your site).
If you pop a search term like “social sharing” into the search bar, this will bring up a selection of popular social sharing plugins for you to choose from.
You can choose More details to read more about each plugin such as reviews, features, how it works, etc.
When you find a plugin that suits your needs, click on Install now and it will walk you through any steps you need to take to activate that plugin.
I currently use the Social Warfare plugin.
Unique meta data
A perfect blog post should have unique meta data that tells search engines – and searchers – what the article is about.
Add a compelling title tag of under 50 characters and a meta description (aim for around 156 characters) that each include your main keyword and entice people to click through to read your post.
In my next blog in this series, I’ll be taking a deep dive into how to optimise a blog article using the Yoast plugin. In that, we’ll take a closer look at writing a great title tag and meta description.
Share and promote
Having put in the hard work and created a blog post that your ideal customers will truly value, it’s time to share it and promote it far and wide.
I’ve written a separate blog dedicated entirely to this subject to help you get as much mileage out of your content as possible – you can find it here.
So there you have it, everything you need to know to help you write the perfect blog post and format it in WordPress.
I’d love to hear how you get on and if there’s anything else you’d like to know!
Short of time?
If you’d like more help, we do provide a complete Monthly Blog Post Service. Do you want us to write them, optimise, publish and provide you with some posts to share on your social media platforms? We can do that all for you!
Or perhaps you know exactly what you want to write because your business is your area of expertise after all, but the thought of logging onto your website to upload and format it yourself fills you with horror?
No problem, we can do that for you and we’ll also fully optimise your blog post too which will of course increase its visibility and appeal in search so that more of your ideal customers discover and read it. Find out more about our Optimised Individual Blog Post Service here.
If you found this article helpful, I’d love it if you could share it – thank you.