5 Quick Ways To Fix Your Crappy Blog Post
By Stefani Forster, Sr Multimedia Content Strategist
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “content is king.” Unfortunately, less than 1% of all blogs on the Internet could be described in such royal terms. The fact is, if your blog content sucks, you’re not just boring your readers; you’re doing your brand a massive disservice. Duh. Some of these tips might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many brands ignore the basic rules of good blogging.
1. A Strong Headline Is Everything.
If nothing else, make your headline irresistible. A common mistake I see writers make all the time is trying too hard to be clever and mysterious while failing to explain what their post is really about. So while “Flow From Within!” might sound sexy, I have no idea your article is actually about the five best morning yoga poses to start your day off right.
Likewise, make sure your headline serves a distinct purpose. “Headlines That Suck” isn’t a bad headline per say — but a better headline might be, “Headlines That Suck And What You Can Learn From Them.” The former only tells your reader partially what your article is about; it doesn’t explain why they should bother reading it. Basically, if you’re not telling your reader why they should click, it’s not a good headline.
I could go on and on about the art of a good headline, but as a basic rule of thumb, here are some pointers: When in doubt, a good “how to” works wonders. (How To Write A Killer Headline). It always helps to try to ask a question or identify and solve a problem. (Your Headlines Suck? Here’s How To Fix Them). And it never hurts to be contrarian. (Most Headlines Are Garbage. Yours Doesn’t Have To Be.)
2. Use Straightforward Language.
"A task that many writers and editors find onerous is the idea of having to craft multiple paragraphs or words in such a way that will not be found unwieldy."
One of the most important lessons for a writer to learn is to eliminate fluff. It’s challenging and takes work, but it makes for a significantly better reading experience. So, if you respect yourself and your readers, quit rambling. Whittle down your sentences and replace needless words with plain language.
Some tricks are to avoid passive voice wherever possible. “The headline was fixed by the writer” is not as clear as “the writer fixed the headline.” Likewise, try to eliminate empty phrases. “A majority of” should simply be “most,” and “In my opinion, it is not an unjustifiable assumption that” is easily replaced by, “I think.”
Think: simple, clear, concise. Capiche?
3. Include Some Visuals
We are living in a visual world, and I am a visual girl. Articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images. 94%! Not only it will compel users to share your content on their social media networks, it also helps you to drive more traffic from social media sites.
Again, this one seems obvious, yet I see it all the time — blog posts with paragraph after paragraph of long-winded text, broken up only by an occasional paragraph break, with nary a picture, gif or video — sometimes not even a blockquote! The humanity. Give your readers’ eyes a break and offer them some pretty stuff to look at.
4. Chop Up Those ‘Graphs
Likewise, our eyes tend to glaze over long, illegible paragraphs, hence why creating visual breaks in the form of photos and gifs can prevent eye boredom and lead to longer time spent on your pages.
However, pretty pictures aren’t the only tool in your content arsenal. Articles are easier to read when they’re in nice, bite-sized chunks. Subheads are great for organizing content; plus, they can help you organize your thoughts in order, too.
Ask yourself if adding a few subheads or turning your article into a listicle or a “dos and don’ts” format would work better. The same thing goes for bullet points, numbers, checklists etc. — basically, anything that helps organize your article in a way that makes sense and is easy for your reader to skim quickly and refer back to.
5. Add Appropriate Links
Internal linking is a simple but important concept for any blogger or content writer. As a powerful SEO technique, it helps with time spent on your website (click holes FTW!) and heightens your ranking power on search engines. Most importantly, internal linking adds value and information for the reader; you’re giving them an easy way to learn more (like innovative ways to repurpose your amazing blog posts, for example), with just one click.
If that link is an internal one, the site visitor stays longer and becomes more involved in your website experience. If the link external (and from a reputable source), it’ll help boost your search ranking.
One caveat: “Please keep the links on any given page to a reasonable number,” as per Google’s request, and don’t link entire paragraphs or long sentences either; it’s better to highlight a short phrase that serves as a distinct keyword.
The Awesome Blog Checklist:
✓ Headline: Would I want to click it? Make it catchy!
✓ Wordiness: Is it full of fluff? Slash, edit, and edit some more.
✓ Visuals: Have I included any gifs/photos/videos? Embed some — they’re fun and good for social.
✓ Paragraphs: Do they run too long? Chop ‘em up. Add subheads or bullet points, if it makes sense.
✓ Links: Do I have any (or enough)? Link terms/concepts for easy reading.