First and foremost: why is it important to know how to write a successful blog post?
Blog posts and articles have long been a content marketing mainstay. And for good reason... When executed as part of a well-honed content strategy, blog posts can deliver massive business benefits.
These include bringing you more traffic and conversions, giving you a better ability to rank in Google, and establishing your brand as a go-to authority in your field.
But in today’s world of high content saturation, what makes a blog post stand out? What should your post include to improve its odds of success?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the key ingredients so you’ll know how to write a top-performing blog post.
Table of contents:
- How to write a blog post: the bare essentials
- How to write a top-performing blog post
- Planning your post
- How to write your blog post
- Content distribution
- Wrapping up
How to write a blog post: the bare essentials
Whether you’re writing a blog post to increase your organic visibility, to stimulate a discussion, or to convince your reader to take a particular action, the content you publish must prioritize one thing above all else...
Bringing value to your audience.
This is how you write a successful blog post that separates itself from the rest. Given how much content is now available at our fingertips, content that fails to provide enough value will just fall by the wayside.
So what can you do to ensure your blog post delivers genuine value?
There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint for success, but all top-performing posts do the following:
1. Solve the Reader’s Problem
Everyone consumes content for a reason, be it for entertainment, education, or to be enlightened about a certain matter.
So your content must deliver on its purpose.
That means your article should get to the heart of the reader's problem — their confusion, their doubt, their ambition — and give them the tools they need to reach their goals.
To give you an example: remember our blog post about getting SEO leads through blog content?
We wrote this blog post, knowing our readers weren’t getting their desired SEO leads from their blog content. In this blog post, we hand our readers the tools to solve this problem and reach their goal.
2. Provide Specifics, if Needed
Generic posts that offer little in the way of practical advice tend to raise more questions than they answer.
This leaves readers disappointed.
The best content solves the reader’s problem in full, leaving them empowered to take action.
Sometimes, this means diving into details, to help make the complex understandable.
For example, in our blog post about getting SEO leads, we really dove deep into the reader’s problem and the solution to cover everything they need to know. This way, they know exactly what to do with the information we provided them.
3. Be Easy to Read
Your message counts for nothing if no one can face reading it.
The best content is presented well so that it holds the reader’s attention.
Clear and simple writing with a healthy dash of personality keeps readers engaged, while clean formatting makes a post much easier to follow.
How to Write a Top-Performing Blog Post
Now that we’ve covered the minimum requirements of a top-rate blog post, let’s look at how you can begin to write a blog post yourself.
Planning Your Post
All successful posts require careful planning before the writing process begins.
The planning phase has four main stages: defining your content goals, picking a topic and keywords, gathering research, and creating an outline.
Let’s look at each in turn.
1. Defining Your Content Goals
Since content marketing is a strategic investment, it’s important to make sure that any post you create is aligned with your business and marketing objectives.
You should be clear about what you want your post to achieve before picking a topic.
For example, if the main goal of your post is to maximize organic traffic and generate backlinks, you’ll probably want to create top-of-the-funnel content.
This is SEO-driven content that appeals to a wider audience, but most of them won’t be near the stage of doing business with you. How-to guides and listicles are common examples of top-of-the-funnel content.
But if the main goal of your post is to maximize conversions — such as free trial sign-ups and sales — you’re better off creating middle- to bottom-of-the-funnel content.
This content appeals to a narrower group of prospects and aims to convince the reader that your product or service is the right option for them. Product comparisons and case studies are common examples of this type of content.
Your content goals will also determine how you measure the success of the post.
So if the goal is to grow your organic presence, your main KPIs are likely to include unique visits, keyword rankings, and backlinks. But if your goal is to boost sales, you’ll want to pay closer attention to metrics like conversion rate, email sign-ups, and average order value.
2. Picking a Topic and Keywords
With your content goal in mind, the next step is to decide what to write about and which keyword(s) to target.
If you’re struggling to find a good topic idea, here are some manual ways to find inspiration:
- Discussions on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
- Questions posted on forums like Quora, Reddit, and Yahoo! Answers
- The comment section of your own blog or competitor blogs
- Feedback from your sales team (about common questions raised by prospects)
- Google and YouTube autocomplete (great for long-tail keyword suggestions)
There are many tools that can also help you with the ideation process, including:
- Google Trends (great for showing the popularity of topics over time)
- BuzzSumo (to see what content has performed well in the past for a given keyword)
- Free keyword tools like Ubersuggest and AnswerThePublic
- Premium tools like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, LongTailPro, and KWFinder (for bigger keyword sets, accurate search volumes, and keyword difficulty)
3. Gathering Research
To provide as much value to your readers as possible, you’ll want to make sure that the information in your post is both accurate and comprehensive.
Top-performing posts are packed with insight, often featuring a unique mixture of arguments, perspectives, statistics, quotes, and real-life examples.
Spend some time finding interesting data-points to give your audience a richer reading experience.
4. Creating an Outline
The last stage of planning is to create a post outline.
A well-structured outline speeds up the writing process and ensures you don't focus too narrowly or broadly on any particular sub-topic.
Arrange the core sections of the post into distinct subheadings. Beneath each one list the main points, you want to cover along with any relevant quotes, statistics, or examples.
How to Write Your Blog Post
Next up, it’s time to write:
1. Crafting the Headline
The importance of crafting an attention-grabbing headline can’t be overstated.
Even if your post contains amazing content (which it should!), it won’t get many clicks without a compelling headline.
Your headline should pique the reader’s interest and clearly communicate the value of clicking-through.
One smart way to write an enticing headline is to appeal to people’s sense of loss aversion, which is the human tendency to care more about an outcome when it’s framed as avoiding a loss than when it’s framed as making a gain.
In practice, this means presenting your content more as a “can’t-miss” than a “must-read”. For example, “7 Headline Hacks that Every Content Marketer Should Know”, versus “7 Headline Hacks for Content Marketers”.
Believe it or not, even the length of your headline can play an important role in the overall performance of your post.
According to a SEMrush study, posts with headlines of 14 words or more earn twice as much traffic and shares as posts with headlines between 7 and 10 words long, and up to five times as many backlinks!
What’s more, a joint study by HubSpot and Outbrain found that headlines containing bracketed clarifications (e.g., [interview], [new data], [updated for 2020], etc.) can improve click-through-rates by up to 38%.
Finally, be sure to incorporate your main target keyword in the headline in a way that seems natural.
2. Writing the Introduction
Once your reader clicks-through to your post, you’ll want to keep them there with a slick introduction.
This opening paragraph should restate the problem your post sets out to solve and succinctly clarify what the reader will gain from reading on.
To stimulate your reader’s interest, your introduction could also include a bold assertion, a surprising fact, or even a humorous anecdote. Just make sure it ties-in naturally with the rest of the post.
For longer posts with several sub-topics, it’s worth including a table of contents somewhere within your introduction. This lets readers know exactly what to expect from the post and gives them the option to jump directly to whichever section interests them the most
3. The Body Text
As we mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to make your content as easy to read as possible.
This is how to write a blog post that’s easy to digest:
- Clear subheadings
- Short paragraphs with enough white-space in between
- Shorter sentences where possible
- Numbered and bulleted lists (lists have been shown to help article performance)
- Use of bold, italics, and underlining to highlight key information
The writing itself should be clear and conversational as if you’re addressing a friend or colleague. Avoid using obscure words when simple words will do and use the active voice over the passive voice wherever possible (e.g., ‘Tom ate the apple’ vs. ‘The apple was eaten by Tom’.).
Don’t forget, you can use the readability score within the StoryChief writing app to identify parts of your post that may need tweaking.
Finally, when deciding how long your post should be, you should always give it enough room to address the reader’s problem in full.
In some cases, this may only take a few hundred words, but often a thorough treatment of a topic will call on you to write a long-form piece upwards of 2,000 words.
This might sound like a lot of work, but the performance benefits of long-form content are well documented.
Similar numbers were reported by SEMrush. They found that posts of over 3,000 words racked up 3 times more traffic, 4 times more shares, and 3.5 times more backlinks than posts between 901 and 1,200 words.
4. Conclusion and Call-to-Action
The point of your conclusion is to cap-off the post by summarizing what you’ve said and to resolve the problem you set out to address.
The conclusion is also a perfect place to encourage readers to take some action — be it to share the post on social media, sign up for your newsletter, or to download an ebook.
It’s also where you should invite your readers to engage in the comments section. But instead of just telling them to “Leave a comment below”, pair it with a specific question about the post, like “Which tactic from this post did you find most useful?”.
5. Optimizing for SEO
SEO best practices are important if you want to maximize your post’s organic reach.
Make sure you cover these on-page SEO basics:
- Keywords: At a minimum, your target keyword should appear in your page title, headline, and introduction
- Meta description: To help search users know what the post is about
- Links: Internal and external links to other relevant content will increase the value of the post to readers.
You can use StoryChief’s SEO Assistant to easily identify where your post needs SEO attention.
Once your post is complete, it’s time to ship.
As our very own CEO, Valeri puts it:
“Content is king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants”
In other words, your new, amazing blog post counts for nothing if no one gets to see it.
Even if you already know how to write the perfect blog post, to maximize the reach of your post, you need to work out a multichannel promotion strategy before you hit publish.
There are countless distribution channels available — from LinkedIn to Medium, to your own email newsletter — and it’s up to you to decide whether to focus on just a few relevant channels or to opt for a wider promotion strategy across several platforms.
Whichever approach you choose, StoryChief lets you publish to all your channels at the same time and measure their performance all in one place.
What’s more, our Ambassadors module lets you distribute your latest post to your own customized network of contacts.
High-performing blog posts don’t just happen by accident.
They come as the end result of a careful process of planning, production, and promotion.
Above all else, a high-performing post provides genuine value to the reader by taking their challenges and dreams seriously, and by providing clear and actionable answers to their questions.