Four Elements of a Successful Blog Post: Use Each Component to Maximize Results

Last week, I shared eight reasons why every writer should blog and also linked to my new series on setting up and using WordPress. Today, I want to look at the four key components of a successful post.

Title: What might make for a great article title may not be a great blog title. Blog titles need to appeal to both readers and search engines. When blogging, avoid short titles and don’t use a play on words, a clever twist, or provocative thought. The title must make it clear what the post is about, include words a search engine will like, and make the best use of the space. Here are some formulas for what works well:

  • Answer a question, as in “How to…”
  • Ask a question, as in “Why people…”
  • Give a numbered list, which I’ve done in this post.
  • Use a title and subtitle format, which I’ve also done in this post.

Content: What we write in the body of our post is critical. As they say, “content is king.” We’ll talk more about this in future posts, but briefly, our posts must be well written, carefully proofed, concise, and scannable.

Category: Each post needs a category, which is like a folder of similar posts. Always pick one category for each post; don’t use the default of “uncategorized.” We want a handful of carefully considered categories, appropriate to our blog’s theme. I recommend at least three but no more than eight. Using categories focuses our thoughts, organizes our work, and helps readers find related posts. Plus, I understand categories help search engines.

Tag: I once thought a tag was synonymous with keywords, but they are different. A tag is a word or short phrase that connects one post with similar posts. One SEO expert said use no more than six tags, but another said one is ideal. I recommend one or possibly two tags per post. I also pick tags I’ll likely use again. Tags help readers discover other content on our blogs and can aid search engines.

Most bloggers focus on content, but give little thought to title, may sometimes use a category, and usually skip tags. Yes, these extra considerations may distract from writing great content, but with practice they will come quickly and take little extra time.

Which of these four elements do you struggle with? What advice would you add?

8 thoughts on “Four Elements of a Successful Blog Post: Use Each Component to Maximize Results

  1. I suppose I struggle with all of them Peter because I haven’t considered them until today. I will come back to this post before I post on my blog again. Although I post poetry and such and my blog is an extension of personal thoughts and ideas (not necessarily a service oriented blog) these tips will help in the evolution of my blog and tighten it. Thank you Peter. Always helpful.

    • Thanks for mentioning poetry, Jerry. When posting a poem, the normal recommendations for titles don’t apply. Though I think categories are important and possibly tags.

  2. Peter, your advice on title was really helpful and gave me some ideas to work on! Thank you! As for added advice I try to include some kind of picture or graphic on my blog when possible to make it visually interesting.

    • Jennifer, you do a great job with graphics on your blog, and I hope someday do the same. Thanks for being an example (http://www.onceuponawriter.com/)

      The blog title examples I gave do help, but I need to continually remind myself to follow them, because I often default to writing article titles!

  3. So, what’s the difference between a category and a tag? Maybe an example or two. Thanks!

    • Candy, categories and tags can be confusing as they accomplish similar things.

      The category for this post is “writing tips” and the tag is “blogging.”

      “Writing tips” is more general than “blogging.” “Writing tips” can include posts other than about blogging.

      Also, the “blogging” tag can also apply to posts on other categories, as is the case with http://www.authorpeterdehaan.com/commentary/six-reasons-why-your-blog-needs-a-reader-profile/, which is under the category of “Commentary.”

      Basically, both categories and tags help readers find related information and search engines better log information, so that people can find it when they search.

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