How is it that some blog and social media posts seem to gain more traction than others, even if they contain equally awesome content? Let's assume that the content for two similar posts are equally informative, the grammar and spelling for both posts is excellent and, finally, the same 'tone of voice' is used. Why is one more popular than the other?
I guess what I'm getting at is, why is your content not being read, commented on or shared? Everybody needs a little validation once in a while, but for a business this kind of thing is a little more important than that. So, what's up Doc'?
Structure, presentation and readability - that's what. In this post we are going to explore what the anatomy of a blog post is - note, that we won't be touching on the content itself, that's your job, I'm afraid, but we will look at how it should be put together and shown in the best light possible.
UNDERSTANDING THE ANATOMY OF A BLOG/social POST CAN PAY DIVIDENDS
Before we get into the broad strokes of the anatomy of a blog post, let's look at paragraphs and white space a little first. You see, there are differing opinions when it comes to paragraph length, but you should keep two things in mind, here:
- Short paragraphs are much easier to digest, and;
- They are also easier to read on a mobile device
Both of those points go hand in hand, and if your website is not of the responsive kind (i.e. mobile friendly) then it probably should be. Ideally, paragraphs should be just 3 or 4 sentences long, and to the point. Small blocks of text are much easier to read, especially on a smaller screen, so always try and keep that in your mind when you are writing.
White space is important in the readability stakes, too, and help to further highlight text which makes it that bit easier to read. Having clear spaces around the text, or images, helps the reader to see where one thing ends and another begins.
The rest of your blog should be structured a little like this:
The first part of your blog post, however many paragraphs you decide on, should be framing the rest of the post, giving the reader a description of what is to come. The very first sentence is important, and you should be using it to try and grab the eye of the reader. After the opening line, introduce the aim of the post, why it matters and finally a glimpse of the conclusion.
This can be looked at as being similar to AIDA, and how your reader should view the post:
- Attention (I want to read on)
- Interest (this is relevant to me and my audience)
- Desire (I want to pursue this opportunity)
- Action (when I'm called I'll talk/make an appointment/delegate action)
Introductions are meant to encourage the reader to continue reading, by providing a reason to - what are they going to learn, and it is important that they do? Interactive elements are useful too, but this largely depends on the kind of post that you are creating - not all posts are suitable for all forms of user interaction.
THE MAIN BODY
This area needs to address the needs of the reader - why did they click through to this page to begin with? If you managed to keep the reader on board long enough to get them here, don't lose them now. Present your main argument/point/topic here as clearly and concisely as you can.
If there is more than potential viewpoint, try to touch on each (even if it's an opinion piece - nobody ever respected an opinion that wasn't an informed one). Don't fall into the trap of presenting your opinion as fact, which is very often a very an easy mistake to make. Citations, examples and comparisons all help with this.
Because this is where the main 'point' of your argument is going to made, make it a good one. I know I said I wasn't going to look at the content itself, but there is a lot to be said about the use of emotive words. If you can make your reader feel something, then you have something worthy of being felt.
If you feel that imagery will help to portray an idea, explain something more clearly, then by all means include them. There are things to consider, though, such as:
- Style - images should fit the style of your site, and you should be consistent with this.
- Size - try and make sure that all images used are the same dimensions, just to make things 'neater'. Always be aware of how they display on mobile devices too; a 'click to show' button can help de-clutter pages for easier reading.
- Speed - how much of an impact do images have on page load speed? Try to reduce image file size as much as you can, and use caches to your advantage (excellent for return visitors)
What do you want your reader to take away from this? If there was one thing, just one point that you would want the reader to remember - what is it? Identify this, and end this section with it. Try and draw the reader in with a question or strong statement, and make them want to carry on reading.
You should follow on from the final sentence of 'The Main Body'. If it was a question, try and answer it here as fully as you can. Statements can be harder to follow, but at least explain what the reader can learn from the previous section.
The conclusion should be your wrap up, your Jerry Springer 'final thought' moment. What exactly can the reader learn from the post, and how is going to be of benefit to them? Some conclusions are going to be easier to write than others, but that's just the nature of the beast - and one that you will have to try and tame.
By learning the structure of a post, you will be able to produce content that is easier on the eye, easier to read and easier to remember. All of these things are going to help the reader understand what you are trying to say, and it will help encourage them to comment and share.
USING TITLES, HEADINGS AND CTAS
These three make up the rest of the post, with the first two providing descriptions and breakpoints. The Title is fairly obvious, and should describe the post as a whole without being overly long. Easy to read, understand and remember - this is what makes the ideal title. You may have heard of click bait, and how it is the scourge of the internet but this isn't quite accurate.
Click bait should only be avoided if it is deliberately misleading, untruthful or 'sensational'. Click bait titles and descriptions are essential for getting people to read in the first place, but you should definitely exercise some common sense and not stray into tabloid territory.
Headings are used to break up a post into 'chapters', with each having a different focus. The wording you use for the heading is important, as it needs to convey what is coming next - much in the same way that a title does for the piece as a whole. It is worth mentioning here, that search engines look for the H2 tag when analysing a page, to try and see if the content matches the search query, so getting this right is very important for your SEO efforts.
What is a CTA? To find out, leave a comment at the bottom of this post and let me know what you think. Until then, have a great day and watch out for the next installment: Anatomy of a press release