Best answer a question or be an authority on a subject
The ultimate goal is for your post to best and to most thoroughly answer a question or be the authority on a subject. This is no small feat. So how can you do it?
Follow these five principles:
Know a lot about the subject you’re writing about. And if you aren’t yet intimate with the subject then learn more before you write.
Be Direct (Minimize Fluff)
People are smart and skeptical and busy. If you don’t capture their interest, they will move on to something else.
Make it Complete
Provide a complete answer (don’t do multiple articles or require someone to download something).
Make it Useful
Explain your thinking so that the reader understands how to apply the information in a real situation. In other words, make your content actionable.
The title of the content made a promise. The content needs to deliver and then some.
Title your content to get attention
More people read the headline (the title) of your post than the content.
The headline is the information the reader uses to decide whether or not to click. So it’s important to be incredibly clear.
Clear is better than catchy.
A spectacular clickbait title combined with content that doesn’t deliver on the promise, results in a high bounce rate. My advice is to refrain from clickbait in favor of clarity. If you are going to use clickbait, save it for social promotion. Because the more shares and likes you receive, the more social signals your blog receives and as a result the better its position in Google’s search results.
Pick out the most compelling value proposition from your content and communicate it succinctly in the headline.
If you’re not able to fit the target keyword in the title, don’t worry. In the Google Search section, I’ll show you how to assign a separate title for search engines.
Format your content so people read it
People inspect a blog post before they read it and they do that by skimming. If the blog post isn’t skimmable then the user will leave. And if the user doesn’t see anything of interest to them, they’ll also leave.
Make your blog posts skimmable
1) Clearly show when new sections start. This has the added benefit of giving the reader a mental break (rather than droning on paragraph after paragraph).
Here’s an example of hierarchy done well:
2) Express the essential feature of a section in a call out.
Here’s an example of a call out done well:
3) Use a font size of 18 (minimum of 16) and a line height of 22 (this is a rule of thumb and will vary). Declutter the page (as the reader is there for your content) and balance the content with white space.
Here’s an example of legibility done well:
Familiarity = speedy learning
People spend most of their time on other sites. This means that people prefer your site to work the same way as the other sites they already know.
Build rapport before you sell
Provide free value before you ask for anything in return (so position your newsletter or product, for example, at the end of the blog post). It’s even more effective if your “ask” is valuable to the reader.