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mad_scientist-300x274MMJaye recently paid me a high compliment, in her usual generous way: she said that I write “perfect blog post titles.” So, today, I’ll share my secrets – just don’t tell anyone. 🙂

Since there is a science about pretty much everything in our life, it’s expected to have a ‘science’ behind the perfect blog post.  As you might have noticed, I like making friends and I enjoy making them like me.  So, I am always happy to see fellow bloggers like my blog posts, comment on them and share.  It makes me feel that I have succeeded somehow (not sure at what!) and that my ideas have echoed with other people.

Sometimes, usually late at night (keep in mind I’m in Greece and most of my followers are in the US) I try to see which blog post was more successful and which made my friends comment the most.  I am often surprised because the blogs that I thought would be most successful are not necessarily the ones that turn out so: people loved my post, “When Science meets Marketing,” which was totally unexpected – and I hadn’t even followed some of the points presented below!

Anyway, once I ran into the Anatomy of the Perfect Blog Post on The Next Web I had to read it, all three pages of it.  The tips and ideas provided are fascinating and I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing, but for those of you in a hurry, I will just underline the basic points:

  1. Headline: the six words that count most: it counts because if it’s catchy, people will read the post.  8 out 10 people read the headline, but only 2 out of 10 read the actual post.  So, the following are considered the most attention-catching headlines:
    • Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”.  You expect something, then are surprised – and perhaps even chuckle – when you read the actual title.
    • Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”  People always ask questions, feeling they are required to answer the questions.
    • Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”  Readers are nudged to see whether the number 9 is really impossible or whether they can actually make it possible.  It’s a challenge.
    • Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”.  It reflects the negative feelings bloggers might have regarding their posts.  And it answers to their insecurity.
    • How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”.  The How to blogs are doubly useful: they answer a need and Google picks up on them really well.
    • Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”.  Numbers are always good.  The post is bound to have 10 bullet points: the perfect post for busy readers.
    • Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”.  Addressed directly to bloggers so as to reflect their emotions and insecurities.
    • Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”.  Numbers and how to: the perfect combination.
  2. Storytelling hook: use personal note (like I just did at the beginning of this post). This can be an incident that the blogger witnessed, an anecdote, a small story – with a meaning and a connection with the rest of the blog, an interesting quote or even a controversial one.
  3. Fewer characters per line at first: people read so much nowadays and they are so bombarded by things to read, they like to make quick decisions on whether to read something or not.  If they feel that there is too much text in it, they won’t.  Make it easy on their eyes!  Also, the first paragraph could have large font size: it catches the eye and differentiates it from the rest of the text. If the content of the first paragraph is interesting, the reader will read on.
  4. Featured image: people love images, our beloved eye-candy.  Quality pictures – apparently people’s faces work really well – are attractive and tend to entice people to read your blog. For this post, let’s see how much you like mad scientists!
  5. Subheads for scanning: subheads help readers get the gist of your ideas.  At first, they will scan the text, read the subheads, consider whether your post is worth reading and then will make a choice.  So, make clear subheads with catching titles for each category.
  6. Content and the 1,500-word sweet spot: apparently, once a reader has decided to read your blog post, he/she is more tempted to share the post if it has 1,500 words or more (which this post will definitely not have, so I am quite curious to see how well it will do with you people!)  The ideal length of a blog post is 1,600 words.  If you include your post images, good subheads, bold text, bullet points, and nicely presented quotes, people are bound to love it. Short paragraphs is a must – and a particular hate of mine: I find it hard to read a paragraph with twenty lines.  I find it packed and confusing, so when I scan a post and see overlong paragraphs, I just skip it altogether.
  7. Soundbites for sharing: the perfect blog has to be quotable, shareable and tweetable.  I’m quoting: “pull the best bits from the content you’ve written and include a “Tweet This” or “Share This” link alongside the text. Make the text stand out so that readers (i.e., scanners) can quickly see your most notable and shareable words and so they can easily click to share. There are some neat WordPress plugins that can help you here, as well as some online tools.”  I think I will check this out since I am not including soundbites in my blogs.  So much work, so little time!

What have I missed? Would you add something to this list?