How to land blog posts on the ‘most popular’ list

Compelling content and lively writing are essential, but they’re not the whole story …

What are the trappings of a great blog post? A successful post garners plenty of attention and gets read. It generates insightful commentary and feverish debate. Finally, it has staying power, holding its place on the “most popular” list as it continues to expand its reach and circulation about the Web.

There’s an art to creating a blog post that stands out from the crowd, an art that combines skillful writing with practiced techniques to attract and please the population at large:

1. Understand your audience.

Architecting a winning blog post starts by analyzing the outlet where it is going to be published. It’s all about understanding the readership and what they’re hungry for, whether it’s witty political insight, mouth-watering kitchen conquests, or helpful health and lifestyle hints. You don’t want to preach to the choir, but you should at least be familiar with the most popular hymns.

  • Read through the content and identify the mission of the blog;
  • Take note of the structure of the posts it publishes, including titles, tone, style, and length;
  • Identify the most popular posts and scan through comments to learn more about the audience’s expectations and knowledge base.

2. Choose tasty topics.

On the personal finance blog, MoneyCrashers.com, an article on extreme couponing has been trending as one of the most popular posts for months. Not only did the author capitalize on the fact that there had been a number of well-received news pieces on the same subject (as well as a related reality show on TLC), but he put a personal spin on a topic that spoke directly to the readership-people looking for insight into financially responsible living.

As far as appealing to a broader audience (the post has been shared somewhere around 10,000 times), this piece on mastering the art of saving will appeal to anyone who shops for food and household items, which is just about everyone. Plus, because saving money is always timely, the article has the legs to stick around indefinitely. Keeping this in mind, make an effort to:

  • Capitalize on trending topics that elicit a response;
  • Appeal to the broadest element of the core audience;
  • Make topics timely, yet timeless.

3. Create compelling titles.

Blog post titles should be short and to the point and should cry out to be read. One currently atop the MoneyCrashers.com blog’s most-popular list is the 10 Best Ways to Make Money From Home. The title makes a compelling case to get clicked on by promising potential financial gain. For the demographic interested in earning extra money, or simply making ends meet, this title is proving to be extremely tantalizing.

When you’re composing a post:

  • Keep titles short, and make sure they convey the essence of the main idea;
  • Sell the story so readers know it’s worth their time;
  • Demand attention—make it clear this is an opportunity that’s not to be missed.

4. Build for speed.

Everything moves faster on the Internet than in other channels, making it essential to format your online posts to draw the reader in and retain their interest. As much as you may like reading “War and Peace,” don’t write it.

  • Be succinct and keep paragraphs no more than three or four sentences long;
  • Break up your points into easily scanned, individually titled sections;
  • Use bullets and lists so readers can dive right in, devouring their fill of relevant content before moving on.

5. Enhance with visuals.

More than just pictures, visual imagery can complement content and help deliver ideas more efficiently. Much of what we learn is transmitted to the brain visually, and most individuals respond better to visual information than the written word. Not only is a visual blog post a welcome respite for the eyes, but it’s also a more thorough way to drive home a point.

Typically, visuals are processed quicker and forge a deeper impression on the reader, both emotionally and intellectually. Though YouTube videos are proven aids in supporting “how-to” posts and are effective in boosting product sales, they—along with infographics and instagrams—also have the potential to go viral. Remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

  • Use imagery that enhance aesthetics and appeal to emotions;
  • Find or create visuals that tell a story or can relay information at a glance;
  • Incorporate media that drive engagement and increase exposure.

Final thoughts

These days, everyone is blogging, so it takes more than talent to be the best. By gaining a deep understanding of your audience, creating topics and titles that are truly compelling, and constructing articles that are inviting and informative, you’ll be increasingly successful at producing more popular posts.

What else can you think of to create more popular blog posts?

Brian Spero is a blogger for Money Crashers Personal Finance, where he writes about a variety of topics ranging from money management and small business to technology and organization.

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