So, you created this smashing piece of content, working your fingers to the bone.
You rolled out all your thoughts in this article, and with your fingers crossed you hit the publish button, waiting for the people to like, comment and share.
But, gosh darn!
No one showed up.
So what went wrong?
It is not that you have not written it well or not done the research.
The point is, it’s crunch time now.
Enter a Keyword in Google, and you will get millions of search results for a competitive word.
In this scenario, how do you expect your article to soar above the rest and get read by your audience?
I was in the same place. But, I am glad I was on the ball after I understood these seven elements of an article. And, you need to beat your competition at each one of it to write a well-received article.
The content is one of your essential ‘products’ that should follow a series of meticulous tests and checks. It consists of various components, and each part has its importance. The seven elements are:
I have created a comprehensive list of critical factors that you must incorporate in your writing for each of those seven elements.
Check your article against every point so that your final product is a ritzy new article ready to kick off.
So, are you ready?
If you ask me, how much important is a headline? I would say more than the article itself.
Don’t take me wrong. I am not saying that wrapping your substandard article in a swanky headline would cut it.
Of course, you have to be authentic and fulfil the expectations you invoke with your headline in the article. Instead, try to over deliver. That’s what we are going to learn in this article.
What I mean by saying the headline is more important than the article itself is writing 7/8 words of the article is nowhere equal to writing 7/8 words of the headline. I will come to this very soon in this post.
80% of the readers read the headline, and only 20% will go on to read the full text, is an old stats to quote. But, what holds still true is that if your headline fails to pique interest, all your efforts become a bootless task.
A good headline can entice your audience to click on the article. It is not just the title of your topic but the first marketing material that you produce for your product-article.
A headline is that packaging of your article-product basis which people decide whether to spend time-currency on it or not.
#1 Is it useful & clear?
Ask yourself why your audience would be interested in reading the article?
Your headline should be able to make a promise a solution to their problem that they can scan in less than 8 seconds.
Does your headline directly convey the value it provides in a quick scan without any ambiguity?
Does it address their pain points?
Eg., 11 ways to lose belly fat faster
Did you use any jargons or complicated words in your headline that your audience finds difficult to understand?
Grab this nugget of free advice from Copyblogger- How to write magnetic headlines
#2 Is it specific?
Does it talk about ONE main goal?
Is that goal measurable?
If we take the above example, we have one primary goal- to lose belly fat. But it is not specific because you cannot measure the promise or the result out of it.
Here’s how you can make it to the point:
# add a number
Did you put a number in your title?
Have you ever noticed that most of the popular headings have an odd number?
Here is the science behind using an odd number in the title: your brain tends to believe the odd number more than an even number.
9 ways to lose belly fat faster.
7 strategies to produce consistent content on your blog
# add percentage
Eg., How I reduced my weight by 20%
# add term
E.g., How to lose belly fat in 30 days
#3 Is it Written with a unique angle?
You have to cut the clutter.
If you are writing what everybody is writing, then you are not writing at all. To get heard you need to give something different, that your audience values.
Here are some ways to add a different angle to your content:
Raise your voice against an established practice in your industry that you find is not appropriate or is obsolete.
Supplement your article with some downloadable template or a spreadsheet that they can download and refer
You can also present complex data into an understandable infographic.
#4 How many headline copies you created?
Does it matter?
I heard you, right?
David Ogilvy, the advertising tycoon, says ideally you should spend half the amount of the time that you spent in writing the article to write a good headline.
Honestly, I don’t spend half, but yes a considerable amount and not less than 10 to 12 copies of the title.
Many times it happens that I know what I am going to write, but not exactly the title that would work. So, I first complete the full article and give it a headline at the end.
#5 Is it too long?
You can find tons of content on the optimum length of your headline. The results of various studies on the optimum number of words vary from 5 to 12.
What you need to consider here is your channel. From where do you expect the maximum number of audiences? Is it Google, Social Media, Email?
Check out this up-to-the-minute list of optimum length of words for headlines for each platform.
Twitter: 71-100 characters
Facebook: 40 characters
Google+: 60 characters
LinkedIn: 80-120 characters
Google/ Search Engine— you can write 70 characters before Google will truncate the matter with ellipses (…)
Emails: 50 characters
However, it would be best to try out different combos and find out what’s working for you.
#6 Did you Use Power Words?
Does your headline evoke emotions? Check out some power words and corresponding feelings:
Fear – Beware, Blunder, Collapse, Dumb, Fail
Shocking stats or fact: Surprising, Awe-inspiring, Jaw-dropping, Unspeakable
Evoking curiosity: Know, How, What made it,
Encouragement- Awe-inspiring, Defeat, Delight, Epic, Guts
Evoking Anger: Annoying, Bullshit, Dirty, Evil, Dishonest
Here is a list of 500 words you can use in your headline that can trigger emotions.
# 7 Is there any adjective in the headline?
Why do you like toppings on the pizza?
It makes it tastier, right?
Similarly, we add adjectives to the headlines and sentences to amplify the impact of the following word.
Best, essential, gorgeous, great, horrific, horrifying, important, inspire, kickass, killer, lousy, mind-blowing, most, persuasive, simple, success, ultimate, useful, valuable
Eg., 9 killer ideas for your new startup
#8 Did you give them the reason to click?
People are mean they won’t raise a finger if they are not losing or gaining out of it.
Science says people take action if you give them a reason or incentive for reading the article. Show them the result.
Eg., How to look 5 years younger
Check out the incentive I’ve offered you in my title?
#9 Where have you placed the Keyword?
Try to place keywords in the critical position which is first or last three words of the headline.
Science says people take action if you give them a reason or incentive for reading the article.
Show them the result.
Eg., SEO strategy: the power of three
#10 Run it through Headline analyser
Lastly, check your headline in the headline analyser tool. Coschedule rates your headline on various factors like number of words power words emotional words etc.
Try to get a score above 70.
Yippiee… if they are reading the introduction, it means your headline has made it!
Your introduction has the same JD (job-description) as the headline- to get the rest of the article read.
So, here are a few ways that work well. You may decide what resonates more with your audience.
Your introduction could be a hook, fact, story or a quote.
#11 Is your 1st sentence concise?
No matter which of the following ways you choose. Try to be succinct in your first line.
Dense content looks scary! Don’t write more than ⅔ lines per paragraph. It makes the content scannable, readable and your article has more chances to make it till the end.
# 12 Your Introduction can be any of the following:
- A Hook
Dropping a hook in the starting of the article is what copywriters do and is an extremely useful way of writing a story form of an article.
Say you are writing an article about how you grew your bloggers from 0 to 50000 per month.
So, what would be the hook in this is the situation is mentioning the lowest point of your journey at the very start.
With the Google’s algorithm update I lost all my visitors in 2013. It felt all blue.
Now since your title says how you grew your visitors to 50000 people know that now the situation is different and they will read the article to understand how you transformed the case.
The other way out is- Explain their situation.
See how Leah Martin explains the audience’s situation invariably in all her posts and quickly connects with her audience in a jiffy.
You have to set a thief to catch a thief because only a thief understands what a thief thinks.
If you can step into their shoes and share a personal story related to their problem at hand they will read the article in the hope of getting the solution.
The crucial part of this method is to gain trust, and they should be able to empathise with you. For that matter, you cannot fake the experience, and it should not be factually wrong.
- A Fact
Supportive facts in the article build trust. It is like a third party assurance that adds credence to your point.
Supportive facts in the article build trust. It is like a third party assurance that adds credence to your point.
Instagram has more than 800 million active users. The figure is set to hit the 1 billion mark in 2018.
With an opening that’s grounded in facts, people will easily swallow rest of the information from a person who understands it in and out (you’ve mentioned that you’ve got right facts and know what you’re saying).
- a quote
Quotes are the words of wisdom by people.
So, if I am to write an article on “Good Introduction” I will start with
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”- Plato
A quote works just like the fact. It shows that you ally with the thoughts of some biggies.
- A Story
Children are the most natural form of human being.
My tiny tot doesn’t sleep without listening to a story. The fact is we all love it even now.
‘The nails of the child were getting brittle, and he was constantly complaining of numbness in various parts of the body. On consulting the Dr, she found it to be an alarming situation of lack of calcium.’
With this story-intro mothers would be interested to read further what you did to make up the required level. It could be an excellent start to an article like ‘5 calcium stuffed treats that your kids would love’.
#13 Have you included subheadings?
If they are reading the main body of your article means you successfully sailed through the intro part.
Do a dandy dance!
That’s not the end.
It’s tough to make your audience read your text line by line, word-by-word.
90% of them will only scroll through it.
Give a break to the monotony of continuous text and add subheads. It grabs attention with its big and bold size and redirects the reader’s attention to your article.
#14 Did you check your Style of Writing?
You can’t decide your style without taking your audience in the loop.
Ernest Hemingway had a writing style that is imitated to the point of parody.
The style is a combination of two constituents:
Voice: Broadly it can be Formal or Informal. An informal, casual, and funky voice won’t go with a sophisticated B2B audience persona.
Basically, what is the relationship you assume with your audience? Are you writing like a friend, giving advice like a mentor or making formal statements?
Tone: It is your choice of words, grammar, even your sentence structure. It should match your voice.
Carefully choose your writing style and follow it throughout your blog.
Build your Content Style Guide.
#15 Is your article balanced?
It has happened so many times with me that I become so overwhelmed with few topics that the article gets skewed towards one point.
To ensure a constant flow of thoughts and a balanced structure you should plan your article and have essential three components of your article in place- Intro, body and conclusion.
Spare some time thinking about what you’ll write in Intro, Body and conclusion with more focus on the ‘body.”
Once you have the skeleton ready, it would be much easier to fill in the flesh.
If you’re writing a 1000 words article wind up your intro in the first 200 words. Body is the central part, spend 600-700 words on writing body and 100-200 words conclusion.
#16 Did you add Images?
You can get a lot of mileage by adding images.
Breath, breath, breath!
I lose it all when I have to go through big chunks of texts. Images are a breather. It helps in SEO and can get you extra traffic through Social Media and Google Images.
1- Rename the image file before upload
2- Resize the image so that it does not impact the speed of your site.
3- Always add alt text, it helps search engines to index the image correctly.
#17 Bullet points
Bullet points do the same job as Images and heading.
Acts as a breather, and makes your article scannable and easy to consume.
# 18 Did you use ‘you’?
You think an article is a one-way communication? You just need to tickle their chattering monkey by sprinkling some trigger words throughout the article. And, your audience will not read, but converse with you while going through the blog post.
You know what’s common between a good salesman and a copywriter- none of them blabbers about themselves.
They Talk about “You”, Your Problem”, Your Situation” and “Your Story”.
# 19 Did you ask questions in the article?
I used to ask a lot of questions in my class when I was a teacher.
Asking questions immediately prompts the brain to take action hence it becomes more attentive while reading the text.
Make them feel they’re also talking to you.
They were dragged till here, or it was an enjoyable journey for them, the point is you made it to the end.
Give a hi-fi to your friend sitting next to you.
Hey, but the story isn’t over my dear friend.
How should your conclusion be like?
#20 Did you add a Call to Action?
What was the point of putting in so much effort when they read it and go?
If you don’t ask them, they won’t take any action.
The conclusion is the best place to ask them to like, comment below, subscribe, download or whatever action you want them to take.
#21 Is your conclusion concise?
How long your conclusion is?
Do you introduce new points in the conclusion?
Keep it crisp and concise in 150-250 words.
#22 End with a quote
We relish desserts after meals. Think what sweetener you may give to your readers that leaves a sweet taste in their mouth.
A beautiful quote they can relate to, or some inspiring words. Check out my last words in the end.
Short and inspiring words:
Live life king size
Good, Better, Best!
Let’s do it
#23 Does your conclusion help ease their concerns?
While they might find your content helpful there could be concerns that inhibit them from taking the required actions.
An overdose of information: You wrote a super lengthy value-packed article. And, they’re lost where to start from? What to do first?
If you have designed a checklist (like I’ve done with this post) ask them in conclusion to download.
See how Sandra does that in her blog post that talks about the importance of reading. So, one common concern is finding time for reading. Look at her solution:
#24 Did you label it?
Put a heading to your conclusion. It can be ‘Conclusion’, ‘Wrapping it up’, ‘Now What’, ‘Summary’ etc.
When a reader sees ‘conclusion”, or “wrapping it up” they know exactly what to expect.
Neil Patel uses the word “Conclusion in all his posts invariably.
#25 Ask a question
Asking a question, in the end, prompts your readers to comment on your article.
1- What are your views on the post?
2- How did you come over this problem? (Encourage them to share their part of the story.)
3- What are your favourite tools, strategies that have worked for you. (If it is a list-article)
#26 Click-to tweet
Did you add this free plugin to your WordPress site?
Who doesn’t want free traffic?
Allow your readers to share your thoughts with their Twitter audience in a single click.
#27 Show related reads
Trust me; you can’t ignore this.
Add a free plugin, and you’re up to keep your audience sweet.
Add articles that naturally pique interest.
#28 Linking to other posts internally
In this step, check at how many places you can include internal links.
Interlinking reduces the bounce rate and increases engagement on your site.
It also helps in Search Engine Optimisation.
See the power of interlinking. I was overwhelmed when I landed on this site to learn to blog. Harsh chooses the keywords so wisely that it makes it irresistible to click the link and read the linked article first.
#29 Check all the linked sources
Has it happened to you that you just published and shared the article with your audience and you receive an email from one of your fans that a link in the post isn’t working or taking the reader to some other page?
Well! I won’t call it a blunder but little embarrassing? Yes.
It won’t take more than a minute.
# 30 Words to avoid
Check for the following words in your text and chuck them off.
Really, Actually, quickly. Most of the adverbs end in ‘ly’.
2- Vague words:
About, nearly, things.
3- words that make you look unconfident
According to me, I think, maybe..
Download this list of 297 flabby words to avoid in your writing.
# 31 Did you include important data to give credence to your points?
Did you try to include relevant data studies reports researches in your article?
I understand it takes an added effort to fetch relevant data and linking to it.
But, the benefits are manifolds.
- your audience trusts you when you back your point with a solid proof
- the high authority links in your article leave a positive impact on SEO
- you can reach out to the influences whose thoughts you have shared in your article.
Here, you can ask them politely to share the article that contains their views with their audience.
#32 Are your visuals consistent throughout the blog?
Do you have a pallet of ⅔ chosen colours for your brand?
Take a peek into this blog’s visuals I love.
It has even a mascot, a sumo that entertains you throughout the blog.
#33 Did you check critical Grammar mistakes?
Don’t aim for a score of 100.
When you are writing conversationally, you will end up breaking many grammar rules. And, that’s fine! So, I broke one!
You’ll find many of my sentences starting with And, But and Because. Because it adds emphasis to your point. Oops did I repeat the mistake?
Where the heck these grammar rules come from?
Oh, silly me! I did it again. Used preposition at the end.
Remember you’re not writing for grammar nazis you’re writing for your audience.
It’s ok to break a few rules in the interest of clarity and readability.
Just make sure there are no critical errors in the article.
# 34 Actively avoid the passive voice
Editing tools like Grammarly and SEO plugins like Yoast will scan your article for the passive voice.
So what’s wrong with passive voice? Is it grammatically incorrect? No!
Still, it is not a recommended format because:
1) It hints that the action was taken in the past
2) Not just it makes the sentence wordy but also complicated.
A passive sentence requires more cognitive attention and therefore decreases the readability of your content.
#35 Reading Score
Did you run it through the free tool called Hemingway?
It checks your readability score and prompts you to restructure long sentences and remove adverbs and passive voice.
Try to aim anything below 6.
#36 Keyword Density
Take a note of this link below
Create a free login and paste your article into the tool. It will give you a density report that you can download also.
Try to maintain the density between 0.5-2.5%.
#37 Did you check the size of your images?
Of course, you would be promoting your content on social media.
Here are the image dimensions that work for each platform.
Facebook: 940×788 px
Pinterest: 735×1102 px
Twitter: 1024×512 px
No, you don’t have to cram them all. Just go to Canva (free tool) and build your super-awesome images with pre-built templates.
Check out this super helpful post on how to use one image for multiple social media sharing.
I understand it’s a pretty long post.
But, I don’t want to make it an overwhelming experience for you.
Now that you know how to excel at each element of your article go ahead and download this checklist.
Next time when you’re about to hit publish quickly grade your content against this touchstone.
I promise it won’t take long.
Join my Facebook group and let us talk one-to-one.
So, are you ready?