C.P.A.? Yup. In my last two posts I introduced you to the ‘accountant’ theory of an effective blog content strategy. C for constituent-centered. P for plan. A for accessible. You can review the ‘C’ and ‘P’ posts here and here. Today we’re going to talk about the ‘A.’
No one is going to read your blog unless you make it accessible. As in “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.” So, let’s start at the beginning. Getting found and getting opened.
- An engaging title can make or break a blog post. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. There are two principle reasons you’ve got to spend some time on your title. The first is so that you focus. As novelist Nadine Gordimer reminds us: “It is important to know the title before you begin—then you know what you are writing about.” When you write the headline first you get clarity on what you’re promising your reader. Then you can fulfill that promise in your copy. The second is so that readers find and open your post. Your title is what demonstrates that your article will be worth your reader’s time. A great title has five elements:
FIRST – Be actionable. Your reader wants to know they’ll get some action-oriented take-aways. They want to know what’s in it for them. Remember: Your goal in blogging is to provide something of value to your reader. It’s not about you. So consider titles like “How to…” or “6 Ways to …” (See How to Write a Killer “How To” Article That Gets Attention on the awesome Copyblogger marketing blog).SECOND – Be brief, punchy and intriguing. Short punchy titles are more effective and, ultimately, more shareable. A good guideline is to keep your title around 8 words or fewer. And it’s always good to offer something intriguing that coaxes me to open the post. So consider titles like “The Secret of…” or “What Everybody Ought to Know About…”THIRD – Be clear. Avoid language that’s vague. Ask yourself, “If I read this title, would I have a clear indication of what the content I’m about to read will tell me?” If you can’t easily answer that question, you probably need to rework your title [Hint: Have a friend read your title; ask them what they think/hope the article will be about].
FOURTH – Be authoritative. Show readers you’re an authority on the topic [Remember: one of our premises with the C.P.A. theory is that you want your accountant – and blog – to be an authority on the subject]. Use words that are strong and definitive. Leave wishy-washy language out. Be confident in your writing. If you’re not confident what you write is awesome, why should others be? For example, here’s a great confident title: “The 15 Best Recycling Tips You’ve Ever Seen.”
FIFTH – Be keyword conscious. On most blogging platforms your blog article’s title also doubles as the page title for that web page. Incorporating appropriate keywords in your blog title is a great way to get more SEO bang for your buck (and the same holds true for subtitles – which also break up your copy and improve readability). I don’t want you to stress out about this. Chances are you already know the main keywords your constituents are likely to search on when they’re looking for information about your mission. But at least be conscious of what those words are when you’re writing your title. (For more on this see Do Keywords in Post Titles Really Matter?).
Make your copy length “just right.” This is the Goldilocks rule. There’s no one magic number of words, but generally you need about 500 words to really convey useful content. And over 1500 words is probably too much (unless you’ve got a lot to say, and you’re a beautiful writer). The key, of course, is quality. Even if your porridge is just the right temperature, no one will want to eat it if it isn’t tasty. Constituent-centered content is still king. [TIP: If you find your post getting really long, and you still believe the content is valuable, consider breaking it up into a series of posts].
- Don’t hide your tastiest morsels. This is my “Hansel & Gretel” rule. Remember, writing compelling copy is like laying down a breadcrumb trail. Each crumb’s purpose is the same — to get to the next crumb (i.e., to get the next sentence read; then the sentence after that, and so on). If you don’t start your breadcrumb trail until the middle of the woods, chances are you’re your reader will never find their way home — to your call to action. If the real meat of your post – the stuff that your title promised to your reader – is buried way down in the middle of your copy, chances are good that your reader will never get there. So don’t waste a lot of time with your introduction. Get to the point.
- Don’t forget to be mobile-friendly. Did you know 44% of folks sleep next to their cell phones? Optimizing for mobile is a subject unto itself, but it pertains to your blog. Because you’ve only got five seconds before your potential reader will “bounce” if your post hasn’t loaded onto their phone by then. Plus, mobile readers are less likely to be willing to scroll through three paragraphs of boring copy to get to your main point. So the “Hansel & Gretel” rule applies here in spades. And people who access you first on their phone are extremely unlikely to go back to their computer and try to open you again. So you’ve wasted all your hard work.
A blog is a terrible thing to waste.
If you have other thoughts on how to put the “A” into C.P.A., please share.
How are you assuring folks find, open and find benefit in your blog posts?