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Today’s post, and the following two this week, are brought to you by Marc Pieniazek of Welsh Scribe.

Marc has the honour of being the very first Guest Poster on this blog!  He writes great copy, has a wicked sense of humour and is a lovely guy to know.  I hope you all enjoy his posts here as much as I do.

This first post in a 3-part series explores the structure of a blog post, in particular what you need to do in order to draw the reader in and get your message across.

Lets face it. Writing for the web is totally different from any other form of writing you have to do. Take a novel for example. Unless you’re a 3 year old, you don’t care that your book doesn’t have any pictures in it but we all know how important it is to have an image in our blog posts.

The most critical factor however is attention span. Not only do you have to grab a reader’s attention but you have to keep it. A difficult feat in this day and age.

Fortunately there are a few things you can do to increase your reader retention.

Start At The Top

The title is the first thing any potential reader will see and is therefore the most important element in any online writing. Don’t underestimate its power.

You can have the most important message mankind will ever hear, the best product or service guaranteed to solve every one’s problems but if your title fails to attract attention, that message won’t be spread and no-one will buy that super product or service of yours.

Steal From Others

T.S Eliot once said, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

Marketers call it a swipe file.

If you want to know what titles get the most attention then copy what works. Not word for word, obviously, The title has to remain true to your post. “Top 10 Fashion Tips From The Celebs” is no good if you blog about dog grooming.

Brian Clark has an entire series on how to write magnetic headlines.  Well worth a read but if you’re looking to get off the ground quickly here’s a list of time-tested titles that draw in the most readers.

•    The “How To…”: It’s no coincidence that this post begins with the words “How To”.  How to articles are the most sought after content online.

•    The “Top X…”: Another extremely popular type of article or blog post is the list post and an easy way of creating a list is by compiling a Top 10 or 50 or 100.

•    The “X reasons/secrets/ways Why…”: Expanding on the above point about list posts are titles containing a number of reasons or ways why something will work. The best example is Brian’s article 7 Reasons Why List Posts Always Work. On my own blog, the top 3 popular posts are of this format.

•    The “[celebrity] Guide To…”: Everyone wants to be successful at something and there’s no better example of success than a celebrity.  This is why my post “What the Phantom Of the Opera Can Teach You About Writing” is still getting traffic or why “The Winnie the Pooh Guide To Blogging” received 132 comments.

So there you have it.  Next time you write a blog post try fitting the title into one of the above categories. Spend a considerable amount of time on it, your post deserves it.

In the next post in this 3 part series I’ll take a closer look at the body of the blog post and what you need to do in order to get your message across, even to those that just skim through.

Marc is a freelance writer and SEO specialist who helps freelancers build a profitable business. Grab his RSS feed today.