The anatomy of a perfect blog post

The anatomy of a perfect blog post

They say that email marketing is dead. That the opening rates are so low, that you do your brand more damage than good by abseiling into an inbox.

I can see the point. My email address has been flogged many times over, so that car showrooms in Florida and electrical shops in Karachi deem me an ideal recipient. I’ve unsubscribed from many. Some I can’t get rid of. Yes, it’s all become a bit overblown and wearisome, as many good ideas do when hijacked by sharks.

But I don’t unsubscribe from all because, once in a while, there’s an email which is immensely useful and interesting – one that, if I had blitzed the Sod Off button, I would never have seen and acted on.

Recently, it was one written by Kevan Lee for Buffer, linking me through to this blog post.

I’ve even stolen the title “The anatomy of a perfect blog post” – it’s that good. The post is really a collation of pertinent research but stitched together coherently. And it made me challenge many of my ‘key’ blog touchstones as being no longer valid or true.

So link through and read at leisure (it’s a shade under 3,000 words with an awful lot of graphs and screen grabs). Or you scan my appraisal of Kevan’s appraisal here. There are so many good points and facts you should take the time to read it. Otherwise, here are my five highlights:

1. Length of the blog post should be a minimum of 700 words. That is counter intuitive to most advice I’ve ever heard, of 500 words being optimum (because we don’t have time…). Then I think of all the lazy blog posts I’ve seen recently of 150 words but with 20 photos, and I think again: the Buffer post has 3,000 words but they are 3,000 useful words. And the articles most shared are 1,500+ – because those are the ones bloggers have put most effort into.

2. When to post your best stuff. You’ll see the answer above, in the graph – at the weekend. The old truism was to post content for when people were taking a lunch break. And weekday lunchtimes are still the favourite time to post. But during the week, most content is shared between 10-11pm so it makes sense to post around this time too. And most is shared on Saturday and Sunday: people read properly at weekends and that’s when they are sharing the good blogs they find.


3. Length of headline should be 55 characters or fewer. That’s because, as Kevan says: “In terms of SEO, the headline (or title tag) will need to be [that number] in order to fit the entire title on a search results page – and avoided being abbreviated with an ellipse.”

4. Put a photo at the top right of the blog. This is broadly true, IMHO. The reasons are obvious, says Kevan – people like pictures. Every post on Buffer has an image top right, which also has the effect of cutting down the width of text in the opening paragraph or two (and making the post look more attractive). You could also make the font size bigger in the intro. But don’t be too prescriptive, too Buffer-like. Use big images across the top of the post when the quality of pic demands it. Or use two or three in a gallery. Or post video. Anyway, he’s largely right.

5. Create a usable, readable, searchable URL. The dullest of the tips. But boring is often the best advice – forget flashy, think detail. And the advice Kevan quotes from Daniel Zeevi of Dashburst is this: “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.”


There you have it. I hadn’t fully appreciated each of these five points before reading Kevan’s post. So thanks for that. And I’ve even taken on one of his key points here, shading the word count up from 500 words. I make it 675. Time to go.

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Steve Keenan has been a travel journalist for 25 years. He started at a Reed paper, news editing at Travel News in London - now Travel Weekly - having spent a decade reporting general news in the UK and abroad. He also taught English in Peru, delivered cars in the USA, ran the Sydney desk at AAP and took the train home from Hong Kong. He left Travel News in 1990 to freelance for several publications, including The Times of London, which he later joined as deputy travel editor. In December 2004, he became the first national digital travel editor in the UK, running the combined travel website of The Times and Sunday Times. The introduction of a paywall at the papers in 2010 persuaded him that the connected world might continue outside of Wapping and he left to co-found Travel Perspective. The company runs the social media seminars at World Travel Market London, and works with Reed Expos and others in helping the travel and tourism industry best communicate stories in all forms of publishing.

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