The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More

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Anatomy of a Perfect Blog PostPhew! Talk about pressure. Writing a blog post about how to write a perfect blog post is the most meta of burdens. It’s a bit different than writing about perfect tweets or ideal Facebook posts. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re blogging about perfect blogging.

So I hope you’ll still trust the advice here even if you don’t find this post itself to be flawless. I’m sure we’d all love for each of our blog posts to be absolute perfection—however it is that you measure perfection—so I researched all the necessary info to get us started on the path to perfection. I’ll cover headlines and length and visuals and so much more below. How close are you to creating the perfect post already?

The 7 essential elements of a perfect blog post 

I can often get wrapped up in making sure that every little detail of a blog post is perfect. No doubt I could list way more than seven elements from perfect blog posts, but these seven seem to cover all the most important bases.

  1. Headline: the 6 words that count most
  2. Storytelling hook
  3. Fewer characters per line at first
  4. Featured image
  5. Subheads for scanning
  6. Content and the 1,500-word sweet spot
  7. Soundbites for sharing

The Ideal Blog Post

How to write the perfect headline

Eight out of 10 people will read your headline. Two out of 10 will read the rest of what you wrote. Stats like this 80/20 rule from Copyblogger illuminate the fact that headlines are often the make-or-break moment for each and every blog post. So how do you make a headline great?

Let’s start with length.

Readers tend to absorb the first three words of a headline and the last three words. These numbers via KISSmetrics come straight from usability research, revealing that we don’t just scan body copy—we scan headlines, too.

Of course, few headlines will be six words long in total. In those cases, it’s important to make the first three words and the last three words stand out as much as possible. Here’s a sample of headlines from 99U with the absorbable six words highlighted.

Ideal headline length example

In terms of SEO, the headline (or title tag) will need to be around 55 characters or fewer in order to fit the entire title on a search results page and avoided being abbreviated with an ellipse.

Google title tags search

Beyond those specific numbers, there is extensive advice on the techniques for writing a great headline. And I do mean extensive. At last check, there were 56 million results in a Google search for “how to write a great headline.” We enjoy pairing the workflow of headline writing with the science of human psychology. With that in mind, here are eight headline strategies that are backed by psychology.

  1. Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”
  2. Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”
  3. Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”
  4. Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”
  5. How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”
  6. Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”
  7. Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”
  8. Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

You can also learn a lot from the headlines of high-traffic blogs. Lenka Istvanova developed a headline formula based on her analysis of best practices for headlines that get clicks. The formula goes like this:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise

Ex. 10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier

Ultimate Headline Formula

There are countless other tips and tricks for writing good headlines (some of my favorites are at Copyblogger). You might even feel paralysis by analysis. Keep up on the latest headline research. Make a good effort on your headline. Analyze and improve.

90 percent of good writing is obsessing over the perfect headline.

Start your post with storytelling

The headline entices readers to clickthrough. The intro hooks readers into continuing.

When Alex Turnbull and the Groove HQ team tested the best way to introduce a new post, they found that storytelling led to 300 percent more readers than a post without storytelling. Not only were these folks reading the post, they were scrolling all the way to the bottom and spending a much greater amount of time on the page—520 percent more, to be exact.

storytelling blog content

 

We aim for an element of storytelling in each of the posts we write, often starting a blog post with a personal anecdote or moment of transparency. Here’s an excerpt from our content style guide as to why this aspect of storytelling is so vital.

Storytelling: Most of Buffer blogposts are very well researched and science-driven. To make sure they remain very engaging, add personal stories, or anecdotes from experts/famous people (“Barack Obama’s morning routine” or “Benjamin Franklin’s to do list” or “Richard Branson’s story of failure”)

Cut down on characters per line by using a featured image

Have you noticed that every blog post on the Buffer blog starts with an image in the right-hand corner?

Why do you think that might be?

If you guessed “because visual content rocks,” you’re right. Visuals are hugely important, and it helps to draw attention with a catchy image up top.

There’s another reason for the image, too. Characters per line.

Placing an image at the top right/left of your blog post forces the first few lines of the post to shorten in width. This shortening leads to fewer characters per line. Fewer characters per line has a psychological effect on the way we view content: The fewer the characters, the easier the text is to comprehend and the less complex it seems.

Social media expert Derek Halpern aims for this tactic on his blog posts for the following reason:

Fewer characters per line helps people make snap decisions about text faster and easier

His blueprint for a perfect blog post always includes an image to the right.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 9.16.12 AM

If you’re opposed to a featured image, there’s another way of achieving fewer characters per line. You can boost the font size of your opening paragraph.

Popular sites like Smashing Magazine do this to great effect.

big paragraph

If you’re comfortable with code, there’s a neat CSS trick you can do to make this happen on your own blog. Add this to your CSS file, replacing the font size with the actual size you’d like to see.

p:first-child { font-size: 1.5em; }

Subheads, subheads, and more subheads

Perhaps you’ve heard that people don’t read on the Internet, they scan.

It’s not true for everyone, but it’s true for a large enough majority that setting up your content to be scannable is an absolutely essential element of a perfect blog post.

Use subheads to make your post scannable. Subheads are the heading tags that appear inside your post editor. They might be represented as Heading 1 or <H1>, depending on the editor you use. There are six different heading tags, numbered one through six. The Yoast blog has a helpful way of thinking about all these different tags when it comes to an individual post on your blog:

  • H1: post / page title
  • H2′s and H3′s: subheadings and sub-subheadings
  • H4: your blog’s name, and possibly related widgets
  • H5: same as above: sidebars etc.

Basically, these tags are signifying a content’s importance both to the reader and to search engines. The most important line on the page is the headline, so it gets H1. The next most important are the subheadings. In this way, the post lays out quite similar to outline form.

We use H1 headings for our headlines and H2 and H3 headings for the subheads inside each story. I even go an extra step to bold the subheads to make them really stand out.

Headline comparisons

Write the perfect amount of content

If you’ve written a great headline that gets people interested, included an awesome hook to get them going on the article, and formatted and guided the reader into the depths of your content, you’re better off than most articles on the web. Now what to do about the content?

Typically there are two different discussions with content when it comes to the perfect blog post.

  1. How long should it be?
  2. What should it look like?

I’ll start off by saying this: The perfect blog post does not have a set length. It has some pretty good guidelines, though.

If you throw out outliers like Seth Godin’s amazing 200-word posts (that work because he is Seth Godin,) you’ll find that a large number of posts perform best when they reach a certain threshold of words.

Blog posts of 1,500 words or more tend to receive more shares.

Quick Sprout has some interesting data behind this recommendation. They cite research from a popular online journal that tested the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares of all its post, broken down by word count. The longer the post, the more shares the post got.

social shares

(The stats above would suggest that the bare minimum in length should be 700 words. That’s where shares really started picking up.)

Quick Sprout’s own data supports this. Posts on Quick Sprout that are longer than 1,500 words receive 68 percent more tweets and 22 percent more Facebook likes.

And to throw one more bit of data into the mix, our discussion on the ideal length of a blog post led to the recommendation of a seven-minute read, which equates to about 1,600 words. Here’s the engagement graph from Medium that supports the seven-minute claim.

Of course, with longer content comes the necessity to make it as scannable as possible. The Nielsen Norman Group found that people only read 28 percent of the words in a blog post. Subheads (as mentioned above) are a great way of making your post scannable so readers can find the content they want. Here are a few more tricks that we’ve used on the Buffer blog.

  • Lists – bulleted and numbered
  • Blockquotes
  • Bold text in paragraphs
  • Short paragraphs
  • Visuals

Add a ‘tweetable’ or two to your content

If you’re looking for off-the-radar advice on the perfect blog post, I think you’ll enjoy this gem from Derek Halpern: People love to share quotes on social media. Make your perfect blog post as quotable and shareable as possible.

Halpern calls these soundbites “tweetables” because they tend to get great virality on Twitter. He cites a fellow blogger who tried out the method and saw 800 clicks on the tweetable quote.

To make a soundbite or tweetable, 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.

Click to Tweet website – The website tool lets you build a tweet to include in any post, and your work gets saved on their site to edit or track clicks after the fact.

Click to Tweet WordPress plugin – The team at TodayMade (makers of CoSchedule content calendars) built a tool to share quotes from inside blog posts. The implementation is really beautiful. Here’s an example:

Click to tweet

You can also do it the old-fashioned way by hand-coding a Click to Tweet link. If you choose to go this route, you’ll need to know a bit of CSS and HTML. If you’d like to put the text in a box that stands out, you can use something like this (where the number code references a hexadecimal color—whatever color you want):

4 little things to look for in your perfect blog post

The above items are the big ones. To create a perfect blog post as quickly as possible, focus on those. If you’ve got a spare moment or two to refine even further, here are a few areas you could try.

1. Place a call to action in your post

We aim for calls to action in a number of places on our blog—the sidebar, the header, and the footer get our most prominent CTAs and the text itself has a handful of internal links sprinkled throughout. Links are a standard part to the majority of successful blog posts out there. Blog Pros’ study of 100 high-ranking blog posts noticed that these posts averaged nearly 10 links inside each story.

There’s no perfect number of links or CTAs, but it appears that the best posts have at least something:

Some of the smaller posts had incredibly high link-per-word ratios, owing to the fact that they were essentially tables of contents for other resources. Eight posts lacked links in the content of the blog, though they often included a final sentence call to action or related content widget.

2. Visual content is essential

Alexandra Skey of Get Spokal reminds us that visual content is a pretty big deal these days. It’s one of the keys to a successful blog post:

We remember photos 6 times easier than text. So not only will people enjoy reading your blog more if you include beautiful photos, they’re more likely to remember it too.

The results from the Blog Pros study shown above support the visual content emphasis. The 100 popular blog posts averaged one visual image for every 350 words. 

3. Include social share buttons

Perfect blog posts will need to be shared, right? It’s best to make it as easy as possible for readers to share your great posts, and you can do so by including share buttons in the header, footer, or sidebar of your content.

We do this a couple of different way on our Buffer blogs. The Digg Digg WordPress plugin displays share buttons in a floating panel to the left of the content on our culture blog. The share buttons appear at the bottom of our content here on the marketing blog.

4. Create a usable, readable, searchable URL

Creating a good link for your story might be the last thing on your mind when building the perfect blog post. Here’s some advice from Daniel Zeevi of Dashburst that might change that.

Google has revealed that it is best to use three to five words in the slug of your permalink. Additional words will be weighed less and could even appear spammy. So keep your permalinks short and take care to place important keywords first!

While keeping in mind the search engines, also keep in mind us humans. Be descriptive with your URL so that someone who sees the link can know what they can expect to see if they click.

For instance, this:

http://blog.bufferapp.com/inside-the-ideal-blog-post-the-research-and-science-behind-the-perfect-post

Can become this:

http://blog.bufferapp.com/ideal-blog-post-research

Timing: Blog posts get more shares on the weekend

Track Maven analyzed over 4,600 blogs and 1.2 million blog posts to see what trends developed in terms of content marketing and social shares. Their insights revealed a couple of neat scheduling opportunities that might help you make the most of that perfect blog. First off:

Blog posts get more shares on Saturday and Sunday than any other day of the week.

Blog Post Research Best Day to Post

Why might this be? The Late-night Infomercial Effect might come into play here. Essentially, when there’s less competition, the more your post stands out. When nothing is on late at night, infomercials get their most play, and a similar comparison could be made to content posted on the weekends.

Perhaps boost some promotion on the weekends or even consider posting original content that doesn’t have to compete with so much other content (only 13 percent of the 1.2 million blog posts in the Track Maven study were published on the weekends).

Beyond the best day of the week for social shares on blog posts, Track Maven also found some interesting data about the time of day when posts can expect to see the most shares. (Note: all times are Eastern standard.) Below, the two charts show when during the day blog posts are published (the green chart) and when during the day the most social shares happen (the purple chart).

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 11.08.14 AM

Shares tend to spike early in the morning and again late at night, with steady, lower sharing throughout the day.

There could be a bit of Late-Night Infomercial Effect here, too. Either way, there are certain times of day when sharing is at its highest, and it might make sense to schedule some social media posts around those times.

Start brainstorming your next perfect blog post

I hope you found these blog post tips helpful. I know I couldn’t help but think of them as I was writing this post itself. Now it’s your turn to go put these tips into practice!

I’ll leave you with one more bit of advice before you go. Hubspot has a superb list of traits that great blog posts should include. Here’s the brief rundown, and you can read more about each over at Hubspot.

Great blog posts are …

  1. Actionable
  2. Relatable
  3. Urgent
  4. Visual
  5. Solution-based
  6. Entertaining
  7. Definitive

How many of those elements can you work into your next blog post? What tactics from our list of perfect ingredients will you be trying out? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking and what you’ve found to be best for you and your blog. 

Image credits: baldiri, CoSchedule, blogpros.com

  • SocialEngagr

    Precious tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.thewebsitemanagers.com/ Thea Woods

    As usual – very helpful tips Kevan, thanks. Great visuals/infographics too!

  • http://www.ferreemoney.com/ Neil Ferree

    Excellent article Kevan. Reminds me of what my Dad would rant to me about (a lot). he’d say “if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, the first time”. Its no small feat, to write an epic 1,500 word article. This blueprint is a good one to follow.

    The only thing I would add, is the technique of embedding a SlideShare deck into the blog post and if you plan it out ahead of time, you can embed a YT video into the Slideshare Deck for emphasis and usually more social engagement.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Awesome tip, Neil! Slideshare would be a great addition to a perfect blog post. We might just have to experiment with that one ourselves! :)

  • Tamara Dull

    Kevan, you continue to knock it out of the park! I love *all* your posts. Keep up the great work. (Now onto kicking my blog posts up a notch or two…)

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Tamara! Hope you found some actionable bits of advice in here! :)

    • http://yourcreativejunkie.com Creative-Junkie

      Agreed, you are kick some serious ass here, thanks Kevan!! My posts will only improve from here on out. I’m missing the storytelling angle… gracias amigo!

  • Bo Bandy

    This is really great. Many of your tips line up with a good article FastCompany shared in April: http://www.fastcompany.com/3028656/work-smart/the-proven-ideal-length-of-every-tweet-facebook-post-and-headline-online. I’m adding yours to my checklist for excellent posts. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Looks like an awesome article, Bo! Heading to Fast Company now. :)

  • http://blog.terakristen.com/ Tera Kristen

    I think we’re all aware of the dangers of disseminating statistics with no real basis. I think Buffer does a great job of balancing art & science with regard to the topics covered – to provide content worth the read. I really appreciate that.

    You quoted Spokal’s statement that “we remember photos 6x easier than text.” I followed the citations and I find no basis for that statement whatsoever.

    I might be wrong though – I would love a link to the research that backs that statement up (and conceptualizes “easier”).

    • Courtney Seiter

      Hi Tera!

      Thanks for the nudge here; we definitely might have vetted that stat more thoroughly. I did a quick look around and it seems like the origin of this stat might be from here, but no source is cited: http://marketeer.kapost.com/marta-kagan-on-slideshare/

      She also references the Picture Superiority Effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picture_superiority_effect) but that particular 6x stat isn’t mentioned here, either. Excellent catch there. Really sorry for letting you down on this one! I’ll keep looking and if I can’t track it down I’ll go ahead and remove it from this piece. You’re absolutely right–stats without citation aren’t much help at all!

      • http://blog.terakristen.com/ Tera Kristen

        Fascinating. It seems that pictures are indeed remembered more often than words or sentences (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022537167800677) but, what does this mean for those of us who write blog posts? Should we publish our most salient quotes and tweetables as images? Does this still work if we add text to a largely unrelated background? This research would be so interesting – I just might undertake it.

        You definitely didn’t let me down – I appreciate your willingness to discuss something that is far too common in blogging, and often ignored. You and Spokal are far from guilty of perpetuating the trend of baseless info.

        • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

          Thanks for pushing for greater clarity on this stat, Tera! I definitely could have done a better job digging into this one. It’s really awesome to have readers like you who are willing to keep me accountable for stats and sources! :)

          I think the research into the “how” of images would be really interesting! So far, everything I’ve comes across is a variation on “visuals are important” and not so much on which kind of visuals really make a difference. I’ll keep looking, though! Might be another blog post in the future. :)

      • Tom Lowery

        I’ll have to add my naysayer voice when it comes to this point as well. As someone with experience as a corporate trainer, and someone who has dug deeply into the the subject of learning styles, this kind of one-shoe-fits-all statement is incorrect and out of sync with the facts. There are no less than seven learning styles, including:

        Visual learners, auditory learners, reading-writing preference learners and kinesthetic or tactile learners. Some do indeed remember images better; others like myself get bored if there are too many images and not enough concrete, verifiable information. For example, this mostly fine article has far too many images along with what are basically 2 infographics. Perhaps the idea is for people to be able choose which way they pick up information.But as I myself and other professionals can prove, most people cannot read and look and listen at the same time. Balance is essential.

        As to a “magic mix” for high SEO articles, it is true that you can increase potential SEO traction with key words and a good design. But as my friend Cheryl Snapp Conner, who wrote what has turned out to be Forbes most-read article (9M+ to date), a method that works well for one article rarely translates well to others. Don’t take my word for it – find her on Forbes and check out the readership numbers for her articles and those we’ve done together.

        • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

          Thanks so much for sharing this, Tom! I really like your point about learning styles, and I think this adds great context to the “visual content” discussion. You said it best: “Balance is essential.”

          I’m interested to read the Cheryl Snapp Conner article on Forbes! You piqued my curiosity! :)

      • Chris Mack

        Courtney, see my reply to Tera above for a source. Marta Kagan is the source of the interpretation of the data. Some of the data itself you can find at the other link, but I warn you now, it’s not a fun read! :)

        • Courtney Seiter

          Thanks, Chris, for digging into that. I think verifying our stats can only help all of us, so I really appreciate the hand there!

    • Chris Mack

      There’s also a danger in refuting statements just because you can’t find the stats, no?

      The quote is from Marta Kagan. With 5 million slideshare views, it looks like Skey took her interpretation of the data. There is a paper here: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:208813/FULLTEXT01.pdf

      It’s a pretty dense read, but here are a couple of extracts:

      1st study: The results showed a powerful effect of study/test congruence, F(1, 18)/99.66, MSE/0.25, pB/.001, hp 2/.85, and a strong effect of study format, F(1, 18)/41.47, MSE/0.57, pB/.001, hp 2/.70, indicating better retention of items studied as pictures.

      2nd study: The results again showed a clear effect of study/test congruence, F(1,19)/17.94,MSE/0.65,pB/.001, hp2/.49, and an equally clear effect of study format, F(1, 19)/25.88,MSE/0.42,pB/.001, hp 2/.58, with better memory for items studied as pictures.

      And the 3rd: The results again showed a very strong effect of study/test congruence, F(1, 18)/126.99, MSE/0.34, pB/.001…

      So, is it really 6x? Hard to say. Each study had different results. Was there a researched, measurable, very large increase in retention in each case? Yes.

      Can a blog post be expected to dig into all the scientific research? Perhaps if it was a blog about retention, or images, or science, or research methodologies. But it’s not, it’s a blog about marketing, and there is research behind the stat. The number might not be 6x – it might be 3x, or most likely it could be 2x in some cases, and 6x in some others – does that have any impact on you as a marketer? It doesn’t for me. They’re still going to perform better than text.

      So, now you have that link. Do you still think there’s no basis for it?

      • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

        Wow, thanks for digging that out, Chris! Must have been quite the project to find this! :)

        I think you make a really interesting point that the takeaway from the stat is more valuable than the stat itself. Visual content is important, whether it’s 2x easier to remember or 6x. :)

        • Chris Mack

          Was actually pretty easy to find. Skey’s a great researcher, I’ve never seen her called out before, so I had to see for myself.

      • http://blog.terakristen.com/ Tera Kristen

        Thanks for the research and explanation Chris – I’m digging right into this journal article and I think it has implications for the types of images that would best serve our blog posts.

        I wasn’t refuting the statement, nor was I “calling out” Alexandra. I spent 45 mins searching for the basis of the statement before typing anything to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I considered not saying anything (for fear of being taken the wrong way) – but I’d rather make a type 2 error than a type 1 error. So, yes – the danger of believing an untrue fact is much greater than the danger of refuting a true fact.

        Look how much discussion took place around this point – everyone wins. I hope there’s no hard feelings about this. Like I said in the comment below you “are far from guilty of perpetuating baseless information.”

        • Chris Mack

          No hard feelings, but I really disagree with your premise. How is believing an untruth a ‘much greater danger’ than not believing a truth? Seems to me that not believing, say, gravity, could be quite dangerous if you’re on a balcony.

          Asking for the source would have been more appreciated (by me) than starting with “I think we’re all aware of the dangers of disseminating statistics with no real basis”. One’s a question – the other an accusation.

  • http://thedsmgroup.com/ Jason Diller

    Seriously? Just start charging for content this good.

    Great job! Cheers… and shout out to the Buffer content team!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Jason! You all are on the “forever free” plan. :)

  • Sunny in London

    I really love the headline advice! Also, I’m going to experiment a bit with posting and sharing times based on the two charts provided. Many thanks! You have a new Twitter follower too. :-)

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      I’d love to hear how the headlines and timing work for you! I think the “post at odd times” tip is one of my favorites. :)

  • Agnes Dadura

    Kevan, I am constantly amazed how you manage to publish one quality, long, well-researched blog post every day. Maybe you can write a post about how you handle the planning, study, and creation process?

    • http://www.shviit.com Chana Parnes

      That would be very helpful.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      What a super idea, Agnes! I’ll add it to our topic list. :)

      Stay tuned!

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    • ElenaReCoaching

      I’d love to see it too!

    • http://DrKPI.de/ig/4yt/*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker | DrKPI

      Yes amazing…. But where did you get these numbers or opinions from, for instance:
      “Write the perfect amount of content”

      While I can understand that longer blog posts get more shares or tweets, are we maybe comparing apple with oranges?
      For instance, if it is a blog about gaming, is 1,500 words okay or is this better for a post on Coca-Cola’s site?

      ===> http://blog.drkpi.com/social-media-audit-1/

      I think, unless we take into consideration language, country, topic, target audience …. the statements made in the above blog post may not work out.

      What you think @agnesDadura:diques @KevenLee:disqus ??
      Thanks for sharing
      Urs
      @DrKPIcom:twitter

      • GuyRPowell

        Hi Urs,

        Good point. Most of these stats are for the US. For a smaller country such as Switzerland, you would certainly have to take into account local differences. Not sure there is hard data, but if you have some, that would be very interesting to see.
        Also, many of these stats are tested – some aren’t.

        I’ve often seen stat’s about average post length being touted as the best as opposed to tested lengths.

        • http://DrKPI.de/ig/4yt/*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker | DrKPI

          Dear @GuyRPowell:disqus
          Thanks for leaving a note regarding my comment.
          These stats may be correct for the USA but as you point out, not for places like Canada, UK or Germany as well as Switzerland or Brasil.
          Moreover, we do have statistics about this because our software scans all blog posts and then analyses… providing statistics for each blog entry
          - How many sentences
          - How many words
          - Average length of sentence.
          - Paragraph lengths
          But it also provides information about semantics (e.g., how difficult are the words you use).
          I could go on but even if we have the above, we still have to compare apples with apples. For instance, a blog about organic farming should be compared with another blog about that topic — not about one dealing with cars, of course :-)
          http://DrKPI.com (you can check your blog for free).
          Urs
          @DrKPIcom:twitter

    • http://www.boostsuite.com/ Ryan Kettler

      It’s no secret. It takes a lot of time and effort (and usually a couple full-time team members) to have a stellar content marketing strategy.

      If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, it can be much harder to keep up with high-quality content marketing. Brittany Berger of eZanga.com has a great post on how to use Google Calendar to easily plan and create your content marketing editorial calendar, keeping you on schedule. That should help you Agnes.

      Check it out here – http://www.boostsuite.com/2013/12/18/organize-content-marketing-google-calendar/

      Also, here are 13 simple content ideas to consider – http://www.boostsuite.com/2013/05/15/13-blog-post-topic-ideas-for-small-business-marketers/

      Cheers!

      • Agnes Dadura

        Thanks Ryan, I will try googling these.
        Be careful with eZanga, it seems to be a malicious website.

        • http://www.boostsuite.com/ Ryan Kettler

          Sure thing! Don’t worry about eZanga. They’re legit. We’ve exchanged content numerous times and they have marketing professionals there abiding by white hat industry standards. Good luck!

        • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MeganIngenbrandt/about Meg Ingenbrandt

          Agnes, I’m Megan, the PR Specialist from eZanga.com. I’d like to alleviate any concerns you have about using our company. Could I contact you via email?

          • Agnes Dadura

            Sure Meg. Generally, I use WOT chrome extension, and it marked the link as red. You might want to check your website rating with them and other similar services.

          • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MeganIngenbrandt/about Meg Ingenbrandt

            Hey again Agnes, I do have an explanation for that. We previously tested a toolbar in 2006-2007. Unfortunately, back then, toolbars had a bad reputation and sent up immediate red flags with certain servers. We stopped using that service before the end of the year, so you have nothing to worry about. eZanga.com is totally safe. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to comment and let me know what’s going on, Agnes! We love getting feedback like this, because we can then make steps to alleviate the issue. Thanks again, and if you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me at mingenbrandt@eZanga.com

          • Sjoerd Bergstra

            Hey Meg and Agnes,

            Just wanted to say how nice it is to scroll after any type of article on the web and see a open, normal exhange of information. Makes me want to come here more often!

          • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MeganIngenbrandt/about Meg Ingenbrandt

            I’m all for that, Sjoerd! Enjoy your week :)

      • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MeganIngenbrandt/about Meg Ingenbrandt

        Hey Ryan! I’m Megan from eZanga.com! I just wanted to thank you for promoting one of Brittany’s posts! Have a great day!

        • http://www.boostsuite.com/ Ryan Kettler

          Sure thing Meg! Happy to promote great content. You have a wonderful day as well!

  • http://www.shviit.com Chana Parnes

    This is great stuff! Thanks!

  • Liz Tehan

    Great article Kevan. I’ve tweeted it, shared it on LinkedIn, and shared it with other people in my team who write blog posts for us. I am using it as a checklist on all the posts that we write and it has prompted some edits to some work we had on hand today!! You have another fan!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      How awesome, Liz! I think these points would make an excellent checklist. So amazing to hear that you’ve already found some great implementations for these tips. :)

  • Elliot Sampford

    Thank you for a very interesting article.

  • http://ecuadorbeaches.org/ Mark Cowtan

    Outstanding article, well illustrated with examples, and really like the tweetables tip.

  • scottdefusco1

    As someone who just started blogging a week ago, this post was a godsend! Great content and I’m already putting several of the tips to practical use. Thanks!

  • scottdefusco1

    Kevan – One topic of interest that was not covered here is the general rule around posting the same content multiple times during the day to accommodate different time zones. I’d love to hear and advice on this that you or others can offer. I want our original content to be seen/shared, but I also don’t want to come off as spammy.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Welcome to the blog world, Scott! Really glad these tips were helpful for you.

      In terms of reposting to hit multiple time zones, that is a fantastic intuition! We’ve found that time zones are one of the key reasons why it makes sense to repost. Here’s a bit more on the topic, if it’d be helpful to you:

      http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-case-for-reposting-content

      • http://wanderandglow.com/ Shann Oliver

        I’ve always wondered this as well. The article you linked is great, thank you! This Buffer blog (and Buffer itself) is all around top-notch!

  • anubha bhatter

    Really a great stuff! thanks :)

  • http://caffeine.shugendo.org David “Lefty” Schlesinger

    Good article.

    Just FYI, “…” is an “ellipsis”, not an “ellipse”.

  • http://learnhowtoblog.com.au/ Sean Rasmussen

    Another great article, Kevan, as expected.
    There are gems here I will apply myself. I’ve been blogging for 10 years and can always improve. It’s almost a shame that we (the readers) can get through an article like this in 10-15 minutes while it takes hours (and the rest) to publish it.
    Great work Buddy!

  • Théo

    Hi Kevan,

    I think on both this blog post and thenextweb’s, there’s a part missing after ” If you’d like to put the text in a box that stands out, you can use something like this (where the number code references a hexadecimal color—whatever color you want):”.

    Cheers,
    Théo

  • http://www.geneeugenio.com Gene Eugenio

    Dude, you totally broke down how epic posts are made. Thank you! Considering the fact that 2M pieces of content are published DAILY, your post is just what any blogger looking for a competitive edge needs.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Scannable content really rocks Kevan. Gotta keep it easy to look through for time strapped folks. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://kylemjones.com/ Kyle Jones

    Kevan, great post. I like Agnes’ suggestion about a post covering the planning, study and creation process.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      You got it, Kyle! We’ve gotta put that one on the calendar, for sure. It’d be fun to chat and research about the creation process.

      • http://kylemjones.com/ Kyle Jones

        Sounds like a plan!

  • Geoffrey Winn

    This is just brilliant! These Buffer blog posts have become invaluable to content marketing.

  • GuyRPowell

    Great blog post. There is always something to learn with social.

  • sly

    These are fantastic ideas regarding blogging. Are there any tips I should know about blogging?

  • Matthew

    Great article with great examples. One of the hardest points is the featured image. Getting a unique one is really hard. The guys at TheFeaturedImage (http://thefeaturedimage.com) is doing a great job with this, I highly recommend them. Sendloop (http://sendloop.com) also uses them for Sendloop’s blog featured images (http://sendloop.com/blog)

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      TheFeaturedImage looks really interesting, Matthew! Thanks for sharing that. Do you have any direct experience working with them?

      • Matthew

        I hired them for an extra illustration/graphic work but my friend Cem (Co-Founder of Sendloop.com) works with them for their blog and he is really satisfied with the results.

  • http://outfitofdreamsbynicolettaceci.com/ Nicolerimbaud

    Thanks so much Kevan!! I’ve always found blogs help guides from the “net” very boring and uneasy… You Rock, indeed! You really enjoy me and give me important advice! I’ll be following Your suggestions and hope my blog will grow up richer! (http://outfitofdreamsbynicolettaceci.com) cheers and best wishes! Nico

  • Mia Moore

    Amazingly easy read considering how much good info is in here! Thanks for all you do! xo

    http://www.xomia.com

  • Zaidi

    I do not know how to say, simply, thank you for this excellent post that represents a portal of great importance in our wonderful internet world,,, I’m in Algeria, I really do not know if I can realize this dream, just. saying that I find enormously visions, which accentuate the positives standards participation,

  • Michael Simon Johnson

    tl;dr

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Haha, yeah, I didn’t quite take my own advice on the ideal length there, did I?

  • http://www.techpost.ug/ David Okwii

    Yeah thanks for the tips. Very useful

  • http://www.boostsuite.com/ Ryan Kettler

    Wow, great stuff Kevan. I have a lot of great takeaways from your article. Can’t wait to test some of them out!

    Question: What are some of the best sources/tools for creating awesome visuals? We don’t have the budget or the time to have a professional designer make them so I’d love to find some that I can use on the fly.

    Also, if small businesses don’t have the time to write 1,500 word articles every week, should they focus on the 700 word threshold or spend more of their time making their articles more in-depth and making the publication velocity lower?

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Wow, these are great questions, Ryan! Sounds like you all are taking a real mindful approach to things. :) I wrote a bit about our favorite visual design tools here, if you’re interested: http://blog.bufferapp.com/a-complete-guide-to-creating-awesome-visual-content. We’re big fans of Canva.

      As for writing shorter or writing less often, that’s an interesting one! My gut is that you’ll be better off making amazing content no matter the length, and that may mean it takes a bit more time to create posts. Though we publish 4x a week here, we try not to have hard-and-fast rules about when. When the post is amazing is when it’s ready. It’s also nice to have a looser schedule so you can make time to promote the article or to repurpose it into other types of content. Phew! Long comment of mine for a quick question of yours. Let me know if I can elaborate more on anything! :)

  • http://adondeirhoy.com/ Adondeirhoy

    Very interesting, though I have some points where I disagree, specially on my type of site. We emphasize on events and concerts here in Costa Rica at http://adondeirhoy.com and, with the event information, plus ticket sales info, venue, etc. We sometimes struggle to get to the 300 word mark. Maybe it is the type of site, or the type of people that come to our site, but more info just would clutter the information displayed.

    Also, when you mention 10 links are those internal, external, both?

    The rest of the post (quite long but I really wanted to read all of it) is very accurate and helpful. Thanks for the time spent on creating it. Will look into those plugins to see what can be included without slowing down the site.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great questions! Definitely these are general guidelines and you’re exactly right that certain parts of the “best of” advice will be specific to you and your industry/niche. Word count can absolutely be one of those!

      RE: links, we aim for 10 internal links per post, and then we link to every source we use.

  • http://www.ChefLeeZ.com/ Chef LeeZ

    Thanx for sharing. I will put it to use.

  • Erik

    Great post, It’s incredible to me the evolution of the written word. It’s become so technical in order to be heard. :(

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks for the comment, Erik! I think you’re on to something there. “Technical” is a great way of putting it. :)

  • Lauren Clemett

    Great blog post about great blog posts! Gotta love that!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      How meta! :)

  • http://www.seobooklab.com/ Ram Babu SEO

    Simply remarkable job @kevanlee:disqus . . .

  • http://orangorangan.com orangorangan

    I see a light of enlightment form this article, lots of it, thanks Lee! :)

  • Michael McKeever

    Very informative. Thank you. I thought there was a certain irony in the 99U headlines including reference to the Steinbeck interview in Paris Review. I could not imagine a more radical juxtaposition of thoughts on writing. But I believe all authors will find it nurturing to their writing soul. http://bit.ly/1uRx6jY

  • walterdaniels

    Some very good advice, well presented.

  • ODCareer.com

    Excellent post with tons of great information that I’ll certainly use in the future! I am the sole writer (currently) for my optometry niche site http://www.ODCareer.com. I’ve noticed other very popular blogs occasionally have a large image centered in the post after a short intro rather than an image off to the right hand side as you have above. Would you tend to stick with the right hand image for the psychological aspect of shorter characters per line?

    • ODCareer.com

      here’s an example of what ive done with many of my posts (also a funny read if you need a laugh!)

      http://www.odcareer.com/21-more-hilarious-things-patients-say-during-eye-exams/

      • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

        Hi Richard! That’s a great one. My gut is that the psychological effect of fewer characters per line is going to be your best bet at the start of your post. The 2 best ways I’ve seen to do this is to bump up the font size of the first paragraph (as you do on your blog) or to go with the right-side image. It’s possible that a centered image up top has a psychological effect on text size? Would love to hear what you think. :)

        • Albert Freeman

          I’ve noticed that recent Buffer blog posts don’t have a half-width image at the top. Are you moving away from this principle? I like the idea, and have started to use it myself, but would be interested to know if you have changed your mind.

          • Courtney Seiter

            Hey Albert! With our new redesign we have in fact moved away from that top half-width image. Would love your feedback about that change!

          • Albert Freeman

            I like both designs. My only problem with the half-width image at the top is that on a mobile it appears full-width. So, if the post also has a featured image, it means the reader has to scroll past two images before getting to any text. And that can’t be good.

            I have actually experimented on my last two blog posts, one with a half-width image and one with a full-width image after the opening paragraph. I like what Kevan says about the psychological benefit of short lines at the start. But, given the growing use of mobile, on balance I am leaning towards only using full-width images.

          • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

            Great point, Albert! Hmm, giving this one a think. I wonder what’d you think about using some fancy CSS to show/hide the photo based on device width? Maybe you’ve already thought this one through!

            Basically, your CSS could look something like this:

            @media screen and (min-width: 0px) and (max-width: 400px) {
            #my-content { display: block; } /* show it on small screens */
            }

            @media screen and (min-width: 401px) and (max-width: 1024px) {
            #my-content { display: none; } /* hide it elsewhere */
            }

            We use these media queries to hide the HelloBar on mobile. I learned the code here from a Stack Overflow article: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/11796297/div-show-hide-media-query

          • Albert Freeman

            Yes, I had wondered whether a bit of CSS might be able to do the trick. But my knowledge of CSS is limited so I didn’t know what the correct code would be. So, thanks for that, Kevan, that’s very useful indeed.

          • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

            (thumbsup)

          • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

            Hi Albert! Thanks for the comment! That’s a great question, and one I’ve been thinking of a lot recently myself. :) My intuition is that it would still be best if we had the half-width image at the top of the post. I’ve yet to fully wrap my brain around how this might look from a design perspective!

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    TL;DR

  • http://drumtrip.co.uk/ Law @ Drumtrip

    Brilliant post. This has been a big help for a project I am working on. Cheers Kevan!

  • http://www.imarketsolutions.com/ Matt Dimock

    Kudos to you @kevanlee:disqus. This was a wonderful read, even if I did scan through some of it … ;)

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Matt! Glad you enjoyed it! Scanning = reading, as far as I’m concerned! :)

  • http://www.pisceanrat.blogspot.com/ pisceanrat

    thank you for the tips kind sir… i need to put it into practice for my relatively new blog http://pisceanrat.blogspot.com

  • http://www.beamoneyblogger.com/ Muba Mi

    Hi Kevan
    It is amazing to learn you write daily one post of this type which is almost a tutorial or learning system. The way you covered all tips and methods to write a perfect blog post is mind blowing. You also hired other blogs’ stuff to add value of your post; especially infographics and data. Thanks for sharing.

  • Johanna Boomsma

    Thanks, great info!

  • accessheating

    Thanks for the article and the tips. And the tools! We are gaining more and more traction each and every week and this article helps us see that we are right on track with our goals!
    Thanks again!

  • taner

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  • sammitimz

    Great insight! can’t wait to practice, lord knows i could use the help…thanks Kevan ;-)

  • sammitimz

    @kevanlee:disqus actually, please could you offer advice on how to connect and market a blog to a specific audience? I’m totally clueless when it comes to anything ‘techy’ but i do have a 2 month old blog that gets a fair amount of traffic from everywhere but the audience of interest i.e Africa (only due to the cultural nature of blog).

  • http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com/ Maria Marsala

    Excellent article. Goes to show you what occurs when a professional writer writes :)

  • Ross Heinemann

    Phew! Talk about pressure. Writing a blog post about how to write a perfect blog post is the most meta of burdens. – LOL!

  • http://ipankajsharma.com iPankajS

    Super impressive @kevanlee:disqus ! I read this post in the past as well but again it popped up today in my reading list. Outstanding !!
    Writing a blog isn’t as it easy as it looks like. You can write as if you write an email, but the mediocre work will end up sooner. To have more visitors and the real audience who can wait for your next blog post, you must work on it as if you are breathing-in and breathing-out. The more time you spend writing your blog by crafting each and every sentence in detail, harder it will be for the readers to ignore and move on.

  • Travelling Ides of March

    Thank you so much for these great tips. It is very well researched and helps newbie bloggers like me. Thanks much Kevan! :)

  • http://p2pengagement.blogspot.com @P2PEngagement

    What a fantastic Post Kevan! Thank you!

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  • hugues bantigny

    Just found this blogposts by coincidence; pretty amazing stuffs right here; finally an influencer that actually gives useful advices !

  • Guy

    This is really one of the best articles concerning how to write a perfect blog post I’ve ever read. And I didn’t scan it, but read it down all the way. Thanks for sharing this useful information. Will come back.

  • Lux

    I’m bookmarking this post. :)

  • Craig Welch

    Amazing. Someone who doesn’t yet realise that “10 best ways to patronise readers” is the best way to turn off readers.