10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts

10 stepsEveryone seems to be blogging these days and getting attention, let alone, building a readership is becoming more and more challenging. I received several requests for a how to post on writing an engaging blog post. 

My long answer to the question is found in Writing a Blog Post.  My short answer is: write for your readers.  Know who your audience is and what they want to know, then give them what they want. Before you begin to write consider what your topic will be, what impression you want to convey and how you want your audience to respond.

one1. Attention grabbing post titles

Post headlines  ie. titles are important when it comes to gaining search engine attention and traffic. The best way to write a good headline is to keep it simple and direct. Create keyword rich, relevant titles that are as short as possible. Place keywords at the beginning post titles as they rank better there.

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.  — David Ogilvy

two2. Informative subtitles

Subtitles make pages easier to read and help communicate the main points you want readers to remember. Each section of your post ought to have a subtitle that relates to and expands what’s conveyed in the post title.  Create Focused SEO with Subtitles by placing keywords in sub-titles in your posts.

three3. Long tail keyword phrases

Long tail keyword phrases with 3 or 4 keywords are more popular than they were was previously. These days they have keyword power in the blogging world. Use but do not over use a variety alternate keywords and keyword phrases within the natural flow of your writing in the body of the text.

Long tail keywords are the opposite of “head” terms, which are more popular or more frequently searched on. For example, “fish tanks” is a head term, but “compare prices whisper aquarium filters” is a long-tail keyword. —  Long-Tail Keywords

four4. Optimized images

If you want to get increase traffic flow and who doesn’t? Then be aware that keywords people type into search engines can result in traffic to your images as well as to your posts. Get the most out of image search by assisting search spiders to understand what’s in each of your images with descriptive ALT text.

five5. Deep linking to related older posts

Writing a new post on a subject you have previously blogged on creates an  opportunity to create a strong backlink to the earlier post.  A deep link is a link that goes directly to an internal page of your website and not to your home page. If you want your blog to rank well deep link your new posts to your older, relevant posts.

six6.  External linking to authoritative posts

It’s important to communicate  you have researched before writing and to provide credit where it’s due by directing readers to your sources. Those links  increase the chances your readers and the bloggers whose posts you linked to will comment. Also note that when linking to other bloggers’ posts in a post of your own you can help both posts rank better if you use relevant keyword anchor text to link to authoritative sources and resources.

seven7. Accessibility and readability

Text block formatting affects accessibility.  How you structure your posts makes a big difference to readability. Avoid creating any large blocks of uninterpreted text as they are hard to read, and don’t get carried away with decorative and colorful fonts and/or special character use for the same reason.  Ordered lists and unordered bullet point lists improve readability and create emphasis that helps readers recall what they read. Be sure there’s white space to allow readers’ eyes to rest momentarily and then read on.

So you have a blog, and you’re worried that it might not be accessible to people with disabilities? Don’t worry! A few simple changes can increase your blog’s potential readership. —  How to Make Your Blog Accessible to Blind Readers

eight8.  Conversational writing style

Don’t be afraid to write passionately in a conversational tone with confidence and conviction about what you know best. Posts written in a conversational writing style are more likely to be recalled than posts on the same topic written in a formal writing style.

The most important thing to do is to believe in what you write. Everyone can tell when someone is writing about something they are not passionate about. — Writing Advice and Tips on How to Engage the Reader

nine9.  Comment baiting

Structure your posts so they engage readers and spark discussion. Comment baiting occurs naturally in both verbal and written conversation.  Using a question in the title and/or text and/or at end of your posts can serve your blog well, as more search engine users now search for information by asking questions.

ten10.  Eye appeal engages

Don’t overlook the fact that eye appeal engages. Image galleries, slideshows, collages, videos, brainstorms and mind maps, polls and surveys are all attention grabbers. They create unique opportunities for reader engagement and discussion in ways that plain text and images don’t.

Stay Connected:

One of the key ways to make your content stand out is to engage your readers.  Blogging is a relationship building enterprise. Readers want to feel a connection to you. They expect receive responses to their comments or questions.  Mind your manners. To keep your engaged readers coming back, reply to all to comments:

  • to acknowledge points raised;
  • to clarify and answer questions;
  • to provide additional information;
  • and to encourage those, who have yet to comment to enter the discussion.

49 thoughts on “10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts

  1. thanks for the tips!i posted this morning a question for you and the support team on yhe support forum.sorry to bug you here but dint know alternatives to contact you

    1. I’m going to begin to limit how much time I spend answering questions in the support forums as I need more rest right now. But not to worry as the other Volunteers and Staff will help you.

  2. Hi Timethief, some great points here.. I think i am using about 6 of the 10 points you mentioned above, in my blog and even though my blog is a niche educational blog (about Shipping and Freight), the subject is not so popular when compared to other topics that people like to read about, but i am getting there slowly.. Thanks for your valuable insights..

    1. Hello there,
      Remember that persistence is key to success. Thanks for your comment and best wishes with your blog.

  3. You made some good points & facts here! I learned a few extra!

    1. Hello Sophie,
      I am happy you found useful information in this featured post. :)

  4. Reblogged this on My Weekender and commented:
    Writing tips are always a bonus.

  5. Love the way you used the big numbers for the ten points– there’s eye appeal for you!! You have clearly taken your own advice, and that was a very wise thing to do!! : )

    1. I wasn’t sure if I should use them or not. I decided as it was a basic blogging post I would use them.

  6. Thank you for writing this really informative post. I am new to blogging and have not written for a long time.. As a programmer , I find myself in desperate need to communicate myself clearly, balancing the use of technical and no-technical vocabulary. At same time, I often have urge to rant my thoughts out, probably due to not have written for so long. I think this post has set some important standard for me. “Write for your readers” make me remember myself, a programmer on clock, quickly scanning pages to find that one solution to the bug….

    1. Hi there,
      I’m so glad you liked this post. I have learned from both retailing in the art world and from my contracted writing that listening to your customers/audience and creating for them is key to success.

  7. Hi timethief,
    I too prefer having a small community, of people who I trust and know, and generally already know your points,having blogged for quite some time now,but it is always a pleasure to read your posts-I am disabled as well

    1. It’s good to know that you find reading my posts to be a pleasure. Thank you for telling me so. I believe there are many disabled people who are blogging. The wonderful thing about being online is that we all are equal here. Best wishes for happy blogging in 2013.

  8. Thank you for this informative post. I am new in blogging and I really find your posts (and even comments in forums) very helpful. Now following you. Will browse for more helpful tips. Thanks again! :-)

    1. Hi there,
      It’s good to meet you. Thanks for the positive feedback and for subscribing too.
      These index pages may be helpful:

  9. I read How to make your blog more accessible to blind readers, and it mentions we should customize our links on posts excerpts that for me now read “Continue reading>>” Is that possible on WordPress.com?

    1. We cannot chnage permalink structure if that’s what you mean. In fact “continued reading” links are customized as they link to the full article and when we hover over them the full post titles display in our lower browser bar.

      1. I see. Thank you.

        When I hover over them I see post’s URL.

        1. You’re welcome and I hope you are enjoying a fine holiday.

  10. This post is very informative – thank you. I must remember to look for opportunities to deep link more often. I also like point 7. I find it hard to read blogs that have lots of text and at the same time posts that are mostly made up of photos are not really that enjoyable either. I prefer to follow blogs that have shorter, witty posts with a few appropriate photos and that is how I’m trying to write my own posts. So I am really writing for me and trying to hone my skills. I’m so appreciative of the fact that people I don’t even know seem to enjoy my writing and want to come back again to read more.

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for the positive feedback. I’m visually challenged so what I recommend is posted in 7. and is very important to me. I refuse to return to any blogs that violate what I stated there let alone, subscribing to them.

      Happy Holidays!

      1. I am the same. If there is too much text or too many photos I don’t even bother to read the post.

  11. I was going to share your post on Google+ but I don’t see a button for that. I rarely use Facebook.

    1. Hi again,
      If you scroll to the bottom of this post your will find the Google + sharing button. Thanks, in advance, for promoting my post. I appreciate it.

      1. All that I can find under ‘Share this’ are Tweet, Submit, Facebook, More: Digg, email

        1. I can see a google plus button. White background with red lettering and it’s right between the Facebook like button and the “more” dropdown button.

          1. Oh. Well, that’s an odd glitch. It doesn’t show on my screen. Must be one of those unsolved internet mysteries that happen from time to time. Someone once told me that one of my pages was all botched up. It looked fine to me. I never did get to the bottom of that one.

  12. You aren’t kidding about it being tough to get a readership. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone capable of winning the Pulitzer Prize wouldn’t find it challenging. Do you remember the experiment a university in New York did about six moths ago? They took a world-famous violinist and had him play at a Manhattan subway station for an hour. Two adults and several children stopped to listen.

    1. Over the course of these last eight years it has grown increasingly more difficult to attract a regular readership to my blogs. Granted there are many factors that contribute to this. These days almost everyone is blogging. Business, commercial and brand blogs have overtaken what once was the blogosphere. It has morphed to become huge and “noisy” shopping mall.

      We are suffering from digital overwhelm in general and advertising overwhelm in particular. Overcoming these challenges just to be heard is a daunting task. Those who have no offline lives to speak of have the time required to pursue building a readership. Those who have active offline lives lack the time required and therefore have turned to impersonal auto-posting ie. link spamming across multiple social networks. Ironically those who auto-post the most to promote their blogs appear to be those who have the time to post manually.

      P.S. I didn’t know about the experiment. I looked it up online. What a sad commentary it is.

      1. What I’m hoping for mostly is to have a relatively small group of readers. Yet even that isn’t easily done. It is however what I actually want. Rather than a large number of “hits” I would prefer people who comment and that I feel I have some degree of an online relationship with them.

        I don’t allow likes to show on my page. When someone “likes” my post without leaving a comment I always suspect that they never even read it. This suspicion is reinforced by my knowing that the only way someone can Like my page is through the Like Button on the topics page. There isn’t one on my blog. But as you mentioned, they’re really not serious about inter-personal blogging.

        You’ve helped me out a few jams over the last couple of years, and I thank you for that. You’re very generous.

        1. I’m enjoying the fact that my hubby is doing all the cooking and I have time to chat today. Wow! This Christmas is special in a way I hadn’t considered until now.

          Donald, I do hear what you say about clicking “like” buttons but I want you to consider what I have to say too.

          According to many sources, extroverts make up 60% to 75% of the population, and introverts make up the remainder. This might explain society’s alleged preference toward extroverted behavior. http://thistimethisspace.com/2012/03/05/quiet-and-societys-extroversion-bias/

          As an introvert, who thinks before speaking, I frequently get lost in thought. I have never been “chatty”. Discounting body language, facial expression and gestures, without doubt I am more verbally communicative online than offline but I am who I am ie. I am an introvert and I like who I am.

          When there were no like buttons I would read posts I liked more than once and read all the comments more than once too. If and when I had something to say that had not been said and was meaningful enough to share I submitted a moment.

          I was not prepared to like the “like button” when it was introduced. In fact, at first I was loath to use one or activate one on my blogs. However, I decided to give it a try.

          Since the advent of the “like” button, the only behavioral change I have made is that I now click it when I truly appreciate what has been said by the blogger and commenters but have nothing meaningful to add to the discussion. Prior to the advent of the “like button, if I had nothing meaningful to add I wouldn’t have communicated my presence on the blog in any way other than a page view reflected in stats.

          It may seem perverse to you but the introduction of the “like button” actually increased my opportunities to communicate sincere appreciation.

        2. Thanks for the information. I guess I’ll have to mark it up to a personality glitch, but I just can’t get myself to use the Like button. I’m only interested in comments. Take for instance the comment that you made about the cultural heritage you were raised in where animals are respected. I found that quite interesting (I knew of the culture, but I had not yet met anyone from it.) So, now I feel as if I know you a bit better, and I’m glad I do.

          1. It’s not easy to get comments. The most effective way to receive is to give. By that I mean you set a goal of commenting on “x” number of blogs daily and then carry through. There won’t be 100% reciprocity but usually the more similarity there is in the blog content the higher the odds are for receiving comments.

        3. The VOX platform had a script that sent the text: [this is good]. Every so often daisy would select some posts for a [this is good] spotlight. It was sort of a cross between WP’s Like button and the Freshly Pressed feature. Many of us that migrated here from VOX still use it, as it seemed to cultivate community… at the very least daisy was giving the community an explanation about why she liked the post.

          That said, if I get a Like somewhere, I do over to that person’s blog, find a post of theirs I like, quickly say, “Thanks for commenting over here” and then give them some feedback on the post. So while I agree that the Like button doesn’t tell me a lot, it does spur me to comment, especially to those outside my usual readership.

          1. I visit like button clicker’s blogs too. That’s why it annoys me when they don’t have the link on their gravatar profile page http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2012/12/10/gravatars-for-global-recognition/
            Thanks for the feedback. Merry Christmas!

          2. Yep, I remember that post. I definitely agree! Hope your Christmas was great.

  13. I need to be reminded of these things periodically. For example, I used to be more diligent about deep links and ALT text on images. Your mention of them reminds me that I’ve gotten lax. Must do better.

    It’s Christmas Eve. Hope tomorrow brings you lots of warmth and wonder. Cheers!

    1. Hi there,
      I sense that there will come a point in a mature blog when one has so many related posts on a given subject that posting a link to the category or tag will suffice.

      We had a lovely Christmas Eve with friends and will be spending a quiet Christmas Day with them as well. Best wishes to you for a happy day too.

  14. Reblogged this on Daily Aspects and commented:
    Time~thief is a good blogging friend of mine that mentored me as well many others through her tutorial posts when I first started here at WP.com she has very solid advise and thought the Daily Aspects readers that have blogs could benefit from this recent post of hers.

  15. Thank you! Time~Thief for sharing even though I have been blogging for quite a few years now it is always refreshing to refresh the mind with your tutorial posts.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.


    1. It’s lovely to hear from you.
      May your Christmas be full of love and laughter.
      Best wishes for a Happy New Year too.

  16. Thank you. So much to learn, so little time. Pinned you on my Better Blogging Board. http://pinterest.com/pin/147141112797280543/

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks you so much letting me know you value my blog so highly that you are promoting it through Pinterest.
      Happy Holidays!

  17. Hi tt,

    I’d be inclined to take issue with “write for your readers”. I know where you’re coming from, I just don’t think it’s possible – let me explain.

    I know a few of my readers well, because they’re the people who comment regularly and/or talk to me on Twitter, or by email, and at the risk of sounding immodest, what they’re mostly there for is me – they like what I write, often regardless of subject. For the vast majority who read my blog, though, I have no idea who they are, or what their tastes are, so how do I write for them?

    In the main, the person I write for is me, and I figure that if I do it well enough, it will interest sufficient people to have made it worthwhile. Mostly, it works. I think, at heart most writers, be they bloggers or novelists, are their own primary audience, simply because of the impossibility of writing for people you don’t know.

    The bulk of my blog is about living with illness and disability and the politics relating thereto. However, of late I’ve been diversifying into writing about food, and that’s brought me, along with my regulars, an entirely new audience, mostly in the US – one that was previously unknown to me, thus writing for them would have been impossible.

    Just a thought . . .

    1. Hi Ron,
      This blog is aimed at those who want to become better bloggers. Bloggers from a very wide variety of niches constitute the readers. Themes that provide a base for connection and communication thread their way through the tapestry of the blog. As my readership grows I become more sensitive to who my audience is and as this is a “how – to” blog that awareness naturally influences the nature of the content I create and publish.

      Your blog is different than mine; your experience is different than mine. I’m glad you said what you had to say and I’m sure the majority of all bloggers share this with you:

      “In the main, the person I write for is me, and I figure that if I do it well enough, it will interest sufficient people to have made it worthwhile.”

      You blog unreservedly about what’s important to you. You are broadening your range of subjects. And, best of all, you have readers who want to read what you publish, regardless of the subject matter. I admire that so much.

      Best wishes for a great new blogging year.

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