In a recent guest post on Problogger entitled 9 Elements Of The Perfect Post, Ginny Soskey of Shareaholic described the essence of the preferred structure of any blog. Any blogger who is interested in perfecting their work and optimizing it to make the maximum impact possible should take Soskey’s advice very closely to heart.
- Headlines – Soskey encourages bloggers to think of their headlines as they would tweets. If a tweet is sufficient to garner the interest of a reader to click on it, that equates to it being of high interest. Similarly, if a headline stops a reader in their tracks and makes them start absorbing the wisdom integrated into your blog, it is also considered to be effective. Soskey shares a pearl of wisdom in that through the experience of Shareaholic’s network, the best results are garnered by headlines that are optimized for keywords, contain fewer than ten words and are primarily lists and how-tos.
- Subheaders – Blogs are not infinite ee cummings diatribes but are best comprehended by the reader if they are broken up into coherent short chunks by the application of subheaders that outline the primary points.
- Optimized Body Copy – The jury is still out on the ultimate positioning of keywords in a blog post but no one will deny that they need to be judiciously peppered throughout while never affecting human readability, and that all links should be internal and inline. The day of the sidebar list of links became extinct at about the same time as the Mosaic browser.
- Sidebar – A sidebar has a very different meaning than it did back in the embryonic days of the web. Back then it meant a long list of links that had something to do with the subject being discussed, but now that definition has gone completely out of style and has been replaced by value-added items such as incentive downloads, RSS feeds, exhortations to become email newsletter subscribers, or anything that the blogger wishes to highlight in such a premium position.
- Visual impact – While the social media world was focused on the world-dominating machinations of Facebook and Twitter, a new social network swiftly became the fifth largest traffic source. That brazen newcomer is Pinterest and its rise is based on a factor that no blogger can afford to ignore: A picture tells a thousand words. In the Pinterest age branded visuals are social media gold, so bloggers need to accompany their words with images that summarize and encapsulate their posts.
- Call To Action – Blogging is not marketing but it is not “pure” journalism either, so each post should include a Call To Action to encourage your readers to subscribe to your email newsletter or to download an extra value item such as a podcast or e-book. As in conventional marketing practice, the pitch should be embedded in a prominent position up high on your webpage so that it can be seen without scrolling.
- Social Icons – Just like you need to tell your readers that you want them to become subscribers or downloaders of your latest ancillary product, it is necessary to make it easy for them to share your valuable content with their social cliques. Consider your most relevant social network icons an extension of your Call To Action and place them in a similar location. Don’t just plunk the icon somewhere and hope that the reader will click on it, but encourage them to become active by stating that you want them to Like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and engage on all of the different social networks you’re active on.
- Related Content – It’s always a good idea to get your readers to spend more time on your site, so listing related posts either manually or through a plug-in can boost that all-valuable dwell time metric.
- Comments – Even though some bloggers haven’t gotten their heads around this yet, not all comments to a post occur on the same page. The conversation carries onto social networks, and it should be integrated onto your blog through a commenting tool.
Soskey has provided a guideline to excellence and one that many bloggers would be wise to follow.