- 1. Spend More Time Crafting the Headline than the Content –
This is an old advertising rule reiterating headlines are crucial in capturing the reader and keep him/her reading. You have to capture the readers attention first. No matter how cliché they seem, lists work. All magazines from Time to Wired to Fast Company use top 10, even top 100, lists as featured articles to attract readers passing newsstands and online. List blog posts use two irresistible psychological triggers based on classic persuasion principles: specificity and authority. Here are ten more psychological triggers you should use in headlines borrowed from direct marketing industry masterminds: social proof, curiosity, halo effect, stories, a reason why, contrast, commitment & consistency, damaging admission, scarcity, and reciprocation. These headline writing tactics, based on rarely-changing persuasion principles and can have a hypnotic effect on your reader. Having an angle or slant commenting on recent national or industry news or “How To” articles also do very well, and play into the same principles. There are several other variables you should consider when writing your post headlines including alteration, flow, and SEO. You should just start with a brain dump and hone from there. What to avoid: Cutesy, self-indulgent, vague, or pun-laden headlines.
- 2. Captivate Your Audience with a Compelling or Slightly Confusing Image –
A curious image at the beginning of every blog post can increase the likelihood someone will read it in the first place as well as the likelihood he/she will read the post in its entirety. Readers will read the whole post just to see why the particular image was chosen, like an Easter egg hunt. Picking a slightly odd or weird image, not just a reflection the title, causes a little more brain stimulation. By relating the photo to something in the middle of the post, it triggers a rewarding, “I’m smart” feeling in the reader when he/she finds the connection. It’s like when the name of a song or movie is mentioned in the middle, the viewer/listener goes “ah, hah!” Use Flickr.com and perform an advanced keyword search in the “creative commons” section for royalty-free images. If you use Google Images, at least give a photographer credit. Use at least one compelling image every time you write a blog post. What to avoid: Blasé corporate clip art, stock images, not crediting the photographer.
- 3. Cite Internal Links Often–
Link to the homepage or interior pages once or twice in every post, and two to three to other authoritative sources. A good rule of thumb is one link per 100 words. When mentioning an article from the New York Times, use a linkback to the article. When quoting that article use the blockquote function on the backend of WordPress. Speaking of citation, you should always cite credible/authoritative sources, when making a blanket statement or using statistics. It not only helps persuade, there is a secondary halo effect, pairing you with the authority of your source. When mentioning a topic you’ve covered before, link to that post using juicy keyword-rich anchor text (the words that link). Once you’re written a dozen or so posts, add “Related Posts” at the end of every post to get three deep links to older posts. If you use WordPress use this plugin to make it easier: SEO SmartLinks
What to avoid: Using non-descriptive anchor text such as “click here” when linking internal pages.
- 4. Use Your Blog for Original Thought Leadership –
A blog is not the forum for selling or overt personal promotion. In order to build an audience, articles need to be engaging and offer extreme resource and citable (linkable) value to the reader. It should be something which has universal value to your specific audience in which he/she could not help but pass on to others on their networks. Only after the blog has a following should you make a soft sell. The purpose of a blog is not to sell but to be considered a thought leader and expert by displaying expertise in the field. Any press releases should be placed on “company news” section on your website. What to avoid: Posting company news, product specials & press releases. “Me too” articles. Rehashing news already covered by A-List industry blogs everyone has already read, rants or negative thoughts.
- 5. Attract Links & Build Community –
Creating articles which get shared and passed along to others using social media goes along with this goal. In this day of attention economics, one has to earn comments on his/her blog . This is done by leaving meaty comments on others’ blogs without personal promotion. These articles link back to your posts in an unobtrusive way and you get on other blog owners’ radar. He/she may link to you or quote you from time to time. Find other relevant bloggers in the same industry and network online by leaving comments.What to avoid: Thinking of other blogs in your industry as competitors to be avoided.
- 6. Write Evergreen Info Until You Have an Audience–
Evergreen topics are information users are searching for every day, all the time instead of time sensitive announcements. Create authoritative posts between 1000 – 4000 words answering and teaching in a verbose way detailing what’s important to your audience, step-by-step. Break up the copy with sub-heads which reflect a well-worded headline. Only after you have built up a loyal audience should you start posting commentary or your opinion on the latest piece of industry news. What to avoid: Doing a half-a** job, and being lazy. You’re not going to win if you don’t have the most authoritative article for a given topic.
- 7. Research Topics Using a Keyword Research Tool Every Time you Write–
Blog about what’s in demand and shoot for a five to seven word long phrase for ranking every time you post. Make that phrase your headline with one or two buffer words before or after. What to avoid: Guessing based on what you think people are searching without doing the research & targeting phrases which are too competitive.
For half a decade, Neil Lemons has worked behind-the-scenes to help create exposure, traffic, leads, and sales through major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing using . Lemons has also been involved in Social Media sites since 2001, networking, promoting and building community on : Facebook, Livejournal, MySpace, Friendster, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and others. Calling upon his diverse background in copywriting, advertising, marketing, and sales, learning traditional SEO and SEM tactics implementing online marketing strategies since 2005.