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When it comes to marketing online, you’ve probably already heard that “content marketing” is one of the best ways to spread the world about your site and position yourself as an industry expert. But content marketing is not the same as churning out blog posts day after day.

There’s more to a great blog post than just words on a screen. What follows is my list of essential ingredients for a successful blog post. If you’ve been focusing on just publishing words each day, step back, consider this list, and find out how your blog might improve.

The most important part of a blog post is the headline and suddenly everyone is trying to do Buzzfeed style headlines. “This is why the Apple watch is not round.”  “You’ll never believe what Facebook will unveil next.” With such headlines, you raise the expectation level of the audience but when they read the actual article, they are often disappointed. Write boring headlines that may not be cute or clever but are accurate. Your readers should be able to guess what the article is all about by looking at the headline itself.

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Avoid guest blogging. Yes, it would help raise your profile if you manage to write for a reputed and authoritative site but 99% of the guest blogging is done with the sole purpose of gaining links and that’s just waste effort. Also, as your website grows popular, you’ll find that big sites are approaching you to for permission to republish your stuff. They will promise you eyeballs in return for your content but that won’t actually happen – people will just read your content on their site and move on.

Always use good images or screenshots with your blog posts. This helps for two reasons – one, when people share your content on social sites, your story may stand out in the crowded news feed because of that image thumbnail. You can also use images to draw the visitor’s attention to any part on the story that you want to emphasize and if your articles are long, images can work as visual break points. And it goes with saying that you should only use free images that are in the public domain or under Creative Commons.

Good and useful content will spread on its own but, occasionally, you can also pitch other bloggers in your niche. The other set of people who you should pitch are your blog commentators and people who have previously shared your stories on social sites. They love your blog and will happily evangelize your content again.

Your “about” page is your chance to convert a new visitor into a regular one. Show off your best stuff, link to your popular stories, makes it easy for people to subscribe to your content and include mentions in the mainstream media – this will make your bio more credible to someone who doesn’t know you.

Page views give an ego boost but the more important metrics are the returning visitor count, the bounce rate and the amount of time that people are spending on your pages. If they are landing on a page and leaving in a split-second, you should diagnose the reason – maybe they aren’t finding the information on the page, maybe the title does not accurately tell what the page is all about, maybe your site is slow or the typography is to be blamed.

Everyone can have a blog but what separates you from other blogs is your expertise in the field, your writing skills and most important credibility. The editorial should be completely separate from the business side of the blog.

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