One in five bloggers report that their blog delivers powerful marketing results – 22%.
That’s it – this percentage has been steadily declining over the past three years.
This cannot be true, right?
Why don’t the vast majority of blogs deliver solid marketing results?
My theory is that there is a lot of overly generalized advice out there in the content marketing industry:
“Write for users, not Google.”
Google rewards high-quality content.
“It is about the intent of the search.”
OK, but what is high-quality content?
The bar is high. This article will help you get your content the respect it deserves in abundance by breaking down the 13 essential elements of an exceptional blog post.
1. Compelling topic
Your audience should be interested in the topic.
If you aren’t quite sure what topics your audience is interested in, there are a few places to start.
Find pages that support your business goals in Google Analytics.
Ask sales teams questions that prospects ask most frequently.
Or look directly into the site’s search to see what products or services people are looking for.
Engage with your audience members on social media channels related to your industry.
These are all great places to source content topics of great interest to your audience.
2. Easy to search URL
Google recommends that you keep a file URL structure whenever possible.
Don’t use long ID numbers in your URLs or time specific elements like date and year. URLs that are too complex can cause problems for crawlers and not benefit humans.
For example, this:
This could become:
Be descriptive with your URL so the person who sees the link knows exactly what to expect when they click on it.
3. Include an author
Showing the author gives a blog article more credibility, context, and originality.
Link the author’s name to a profile page (with a photo) where readers can explore other author articles and feel like they’re reading something from a real person.
Doing so will encourage your readers to engage with your brand on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
4. Table of Contents
Using a table of contents at the top of posts organizes your content making it easier for users and bots to navigate.
Links in the table of contents help readers quickly access the information they are most interested in.
Search engines love a table of contents! This is not guaranteed, but they are often pulled into a Google search and displayed as sitelinks.
5. A strong title
A strong title attracts your audience to your blog and gets post page views.
Without an eye-catching title, a good blog is lost among the vast sea that is the Internet.
Spend some time crafting the perfect catchy headline to attract readers and make them want to read your article.
SEJ offers 12 tips to turn an ordinary title into an exceptional one that attracts clicks.
6. An interesting introduction
While a good headline attracts clicks to your site, it is the intro that turns a site visitor into a reader.
For an introduction that resonates, readers need to understand what you’re talking about and pay attention to what you have to say.
You don’t need to give them an answer to their question yet, just enough information to give them a reason to care.
SEJ provides seven ways to write blog introductions that readers will love and that Google will love.
7. Compelling subtitles
Headings and subheadings highlight key elements of the topic making it easier to examine the article and leading the reader through the content.
Using keywords in subheadings helps search engines identify the content and quickly tell the reader the main points within the article.
This does not mean that you should force keywords into sub-headings. Keywords must be logical and valid.
Subheadings must be formatted using the heading tag hierarchy. This means that you are using progressively smaller address formats.
For most articles, you just need to use H2s, but if you need to separate an H2 with a lot of content, you can use H3.
Make sure you are using header tags correctly as recommended in this SEJ article on SEO best practices.
I often hear studies claiming that 1,500 to 3,000 words is the ideal content length for articles.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter.
The length will vary depending on the content style, topic, and audience.
A good blog is as long as it needs to be and as long as your audience will read it.
Use Google Analytics (or Hotjar) page depth (scroll) tracking to see how often users read your blog articles.
Try hiding a subsection answer inside an accordion for users to interact with, you can flag this event to see if you’re keeping users engaged in the article.
9. Attractive visuals
We respond to and process visual data much better than text.
and not a little – 60,000 times faster.
How the human brain processes complex information is what makes visualization so important.
It is much easier to use charts or graphs to explain complex data than to wade through a large amount of text.
Just be sure to optimize your images for search. SEJ shares 12 important image SEO tips you need to know.
By the end of your article, the reader may have forgotten some of the points you made earlier in the article.
A good blog post will summarize the main points from the article and guide the reader on what to do next.
The point is not to repeat your points, but to help your audience draw actionable conclusions from your blog post.
Decide what action you want your blog reader to take. Maybe you want them to sign up for email, follow you on social, or see about a product or service you offer.
The goal here is to inspire the reader to take the action you want.
11. Useful links
Without links, the Internet would be an organized mess of pages. It would be really hard to navigate (find what we were looking for).
A good blog post makes it easy to navigate for users and easy to crawl for search engines.
Internal links help link relevant topics to search engines and provide more research that may be of interest to the reader.
John Mueller explained in the SEO After Hours video:
“…internal linking is critical to SEO.
I think it’s one of the biggest things you can do on a website to kind of direct Google and direct visitors to pages that you think are important.”
It is best to use external links to cite sources and act as an endorsement of high-quality content.
12. The scheme
Scheme markup is a key component of a good blog post because it helps search engines identify your page as a blog post rather than product pages, system pages, or other content.
There’s also an FAQ, guideline, navigation crumbs, talkable, and more.
13. Suggest related blog posts
At this point, you have a well-structured blog post that includes the technicalities of page ranking and engaging copy that entertains and educates the reader right through to the end.
Now, you want to improve the likelihood of your readers staying on your site and converting perfectly in the end.
At the end of your blog post, display a few (three max) blog articles related to the same set of topics.
The 13 items in this article help users pay attention to your blog post and help search engines better understand how the topic relates to your website.
Aside from these technical elements, there is a strong argument for style, delivery, and prose.
To continue learning, browse Search Engine Magazine contributors and working writers. Choose five writers you enjoy reading and follow their content to examine what makes them great.
- 10 amazing tips for writing high quality blog posts
- How to repurpose one blog post into 80+ pieces of content
- Completely optimized content from start to finish
Featured image: Lyubov Levitskaya/Shutterstock