|By Mike Sweeney||
|June 25, 2013 09:00 PM EDT||
Over the past month or so, when Right Source staffers have asked me to provide feedback on a piece of content, I have begun to respond with the question, “Is it remarkable?” Sometimes the answer is “no.” Occasionally I get a half-hearted “yes,” but most of the time I get some variation of “I don’t know exactly what that means.” (All of those answers include the unspoken comment, “Mike, you’re such a pain in the ass about this remarkable thing.”)
But I believe that remarkable is important - even critica - especially when it comes to blog posts. Every day, 2 million blog posts are written, enough to fill Time Magazine for 770 years. As content marketing budgets rise and the CMO’s confidence in custom content continues to increase, even more blog posts will be written. But the average consumer and businessperson’s attention span is plummeting with all of this noise, so only the truly remarkable blog posts will break through the clutter. Good is no longer enough. You will need to be great.
It’s tough enough to write a mediocre blog post - just ask anyone who has given it a legitimate try. So how can you become a 99th percentile blogger? Sure, it starts with the obvious - your writing has to be way above the average threshold. But that alone won’t make you shine. What else should you be paying attention to?
Use these 10 tips as a guide for creating remarkable blog posts:
1. Remarkable blog posts focus on one point and one point only.
One of the first things I do when I sit down to plan a blog post is determine the one and only point that every reader should take away after reading it. Sure, you’re going to need several supporting points, but if you stay focused on that one objective, your readers will stay focused with you.
For instance, after you’re done reading this post, I want you to think, “Wow. I need to start (continue) creating remarkable blog posts and use these ten tips as a guide, or my material will get ignored.”
2. Remarkable blog posts help someone out.
If you’re about to hit publish and you can’t say to yourself, “This is going to help at least one person—if not potentially thousands—do something better, learn something new, or discover a new way of thinking about something,” then you’re not doing your job.
The great bloggers understand that educating and entertaining the audience is the best way to keep them coming back.
3. Remarkable blog posts follow the same story structure you learned when you were nine years old.
A blog post should be written like any other piece of content—it needs a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. Start with an outline (like your fourth-grade teacher taught you) and your final product will almost write itself (almost). Keep it organized, both from a formatting standpoint and from a copy standpoint, and you will keep your reader’s head in the game. Who knows, he or she may even make it through the entire post, which brings me to my next point…
4. Remarkable blog posts are skimmable.
If you’ve captivated your readers enough that they are hanging on every word of your post, good for you. You’ve definitely created a remarkable blog post.
For the rest of you, make sure your blog posts are skimmable. Your reader should be able to skim the post, pick up the main points, and decide whether he or she wants to dig in deeper on a particular topic. Use methods like bullets, headings and sub-headings, numbered lists, and bolded call-outs to achieve this.
5. Remarkable blog posts use headlines that are both relevant and attention-grabbing.
My stance on headlines is a little different from others’. Some believe that you should focus exclusively on the attention-grabbing aspects of the headline, most times at the expense of the relevancy of the headline. Not only is that unfair to your readers, but when they do click over and realize that the headline doesn’t match the content, you just lost them.
I used to write my headlines last. That was a mistake. I now write them first, because a great headline can inspire a great post, or even change your initial direction for the post. I write a bunch of headlines, maybe five or seven, and then after I’m finished with my blog post copy, I go back and see if I need to adjust. Occasionally I’ve gotten it right the first time, but more often, I adjust or combine part of one with another to create the winner. Copyblogger is a fantastic resource for those looking to write great blog post headlines.
6. Remarkable blog posts follow a great headline with an even better opening paragraph.
Writing a remarkable intro is an art form unto itself. You’ve sold the reader with a headline and a subsequent click, but now he or she is in the theater, waiting for the movie to start, and it better be awesome.
There are plenty of things you can try here – some people like asking compelling questions or making a statement that might challenge common opinion on your subject, creating controversy in your reader’s mind. Others, like myself, typically start with a quick and personal story or include a jaw-dropping stat. Regardless of your technique, this is no different than the lead paragraph of a newspaper or magazine article; it is what has to draw the reader into the rest of your piece and capture attention. Your intro paragraph needs to contain a compelling hook—some reason to keep reading, and should always give the reader a succinct overview of what you plan to cover in your post.
7. Remarkable blog posts cannot contain sloppy errors.
The greatest ideas—and a remarkable post—can be ruined by the really simple stuff: spelling errors, formatting problems, murky visuals, awkward spacing, or broken links.
In carpentry, errors are avoided using a “measure twice, cut once” mindset. In blogging, I say it’s more like “edit thrice, publish once.”
8. Remarkable blog posts are optimized for humans…and for search engines.
This, like many of the other nine points, deserves its own post. If you’ve been blogging for an extended period of time, and you’re not seeing the benefits of organic search traffic, then you’re likely doing something wrong from an SEO standpoint.
Here are a few starting tips:
- Do your keyword research. The Google keyword tool was already awesome, and they just made it even more useful.
- Complete your meta data. At a bare minimum, write a keyword-rich title tag and description tag.
- Tag your images. Be certain to address the image file name, alt text, and title tag – all should include target keywords.
- Find opportunities to interlink. Make it a practice to link to previous posts on your blog.
- Link to outside sources. This will not only provide SEO benefits, but it creates friendly fellow- blogger relationships.
9. Remarkable blog posts are easily shareable.
Just today, I checked out a prospective client’s blog, and when I got there, I was pleasantly surprised at the volume of content. Then came the cringe-worthy moment…all that content, and so difficult to share. No LinkedIn sharing option. The Tweet button led to a dead end. And there was no easy way to forward along via email.
Creating remarkable blog posts is hard. Sharing them should not be. Allison Novak’s 7 Tips for Social Sharing will get you started down the right path.
10. Remarkable blog posts include a call to action.
If you’ve followed these steps and created a remarkable blog post, you now have a captive audience. They may want to move on to something else, but at least give them an opportunity to hang out and get more involved with what you’re doing.
Keep your calls to action short and simple. Some might offer the reader more information, like “Read these related blog posts.” Others might be calls for engagement, like “Anything to add? What else makes for a remarkable blog post? Share in the comments.” Another option is to offer a different piece of content that allows the reader to delve deeper into the blog post topic, like “Want more blogging tips? Download our ultimate guide to creating remarkable blog posts.” All will create an increased level of audience engagement.
Remarkable is not an accident.
Remarkable blog posts don’t just happen. The myth of the blog post that unexpectedly “goes viral” is just that…a myth. Behind every blog post that generates robust traffic, real engagement and quality sharing is a plan that addresses all of the items in the list above, and even more.
Remember: Doing something remarkable is difficult and doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a commitment to study the details, and intolerance for anything deemed average. Many won’t appreciate your pursuit of remarkable, but those who do will end up as readers and fans for life.
So what else belongs on the remarkable list? I had three to four other items that didn’t make the top 10—any idea what they are? Would love to hear your thoughts – don’t hesitate to share in the comments.
For more tips about how remarkable content—including remarkable blog posts—can accelerate business growth, download our eBook, “How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing.”
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