Blogging undergoes changes from year to year, but rarely do you see classic blog post formats and structures go out of style. These stick around because they’re effective. This year, you’ll want to focus on certain formats, while ditching others. But because things change so quickly, it’s imperative that you avoid making costly mistakes that often prevent bloggers from reaching and engaging users. Let’s review the blog post formats that are worth emphasizing this year so you’re prepared for success.
1. List posts
In an internet landscape that’s oversaturated with low quality content and noisy links that add very little value to a reader’s life, it’s imperative that you’re able to cut through the deafening muddle and clearly convey value to readers in a mere fraction of a second.
The way you can do this is by offering a familiar and convenient blog structure that subconsciously tells the reader, “Hey, this post will be straightforward and simple to read.” And while there are many different strategies for doing this, the list format is by far the most popular and effective.
List posts, such as the article you’re reading now, give the reader clear expectations and defined sections that allow for simple takeaways. The two most popular list formats are as follows:
- Numbered lists. There’s something about seeing a defined number in the headline that allows the reader to set their expectations. Take this post – which is titled 11 Incredible Health Benefits of Oats – as an example. As soon as the reader clicks this link, they’re prepared to start reading. There’s no question regarding what the substance of the article will be. It’s direct and tangible. The reader will get 11 reasons why oats are a healthy choice – nothing more and nothing less.
- A-Z roundups. Another popular list format – albeit less common than numbered lists – is the A-Z roundup. This format essentially accomplishes the same purpose as the numbered list – breaking down large amounts of content into digestible bites – but takes a unique approach. It organizes content into alphabetical sections so the reader can quickly pinpoint what they’re looking for. This post from PureWow – titled The A-Z of Superfood Recipes – is a good example.
- Link lists. Every now and then you’ll see a link or resource list post. These are posts that simply curate content in the form of hyperlinks. For example, this blog post – titled 58 Resources to Help You Learn and Master SEO – provides links to 58 different articles that discuss various aspects of search engine optimization. As a result, it serves as a go-to page for in-depth research.
There are other list formats in content marketing, but these three are by far the most common and effective. In 2016, they’ll retain their value and continue to deliver significant returns.
2. How-to guides
Another blog post format that will likely never die is the “How-to” post. How-to posts are designed to teach the reader something interesting, valuable, or new. These posts do so by walking the reader through a streamlined step-by-step process. This process generally follows numbered, sequential steps and provides visuals that go along with the text.
How-to posts are excellent for establishing thought leadership and attracting backlinks. When other bloggers touch on similar topics, they’ll certainly find your post relevant and link back to it for credibility.
The key to developing a successful how-to guide is to take your time. These aren’t posts that you’re going to develop on a daily or weekly basis. These are the type of posts that take weeks to research and write. You’ll generally only post a handful of these per year. However, you’ll find that these evergreen posts tend to attract long-term pageviews and backlinks.
This post by WebsiteSetup.org – simply titled How to Make a Website – is a wonderful example of an effective how-to post. The article is comprehensive, informative, and visually stimulating, which is why it’s been featured on Entrepreneur, Mashable, SitePoint, 99 Designs, and other websites.
3. Video blogs
While progressive bloggers have long been dabbling in video blogs, it’s now becoming clear that video blogs need to be a staple for everyone. They’re engaging, effective, and click-friendly.
The latter aspect is extremely important. In a time where the majority of blog traffic comes from social media channels, it’s critically important that blogs be clickable. Generally speaking, a brief video is more enticing than a long written post. Understanding this, you should begin creating regular video blogs to supplement your written posts.
4. Product review posts
Product review posts will always be popular. These are posts that offer an informed opinion about a particular product or service. They essentially tell the reader whether or not something is worth their time and money.
Review posts typically start with an overview of the product, continue with the good aspects and benefits, reference the bad features, and then provide an overarching verdict. Review posts either feature a single product – such as in this example titled Windows 10 Review Roundup: High Scores, Big Bugs – or compare multiple products – as in this example titled Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. iPhone 6: Which is Best?
5. Story posts
People love stories. Whether it’s a Hollywood flick or a blog post, stories are engaging and emotionally enticing. In 2016, look for storytelling to really take off as bloggers seek out methods for diversifying content and offering more engagement and appeal.
Not only do stories offer a unique blogging format, but they also give you a chance to establish and grow credibility with readers. In other words, story posts humanize your blog by positioning your content as real and transparent.
Focus on quality content in 2016
In 2016, your goal should be to focus on creating quality content. In other words, don’t aim for a certain number of posts per week or month. It’s better to write five quality posts per month than it is to publish 25 subpar posts. As you pursue this goal of quality over quantity, keep these five blog formats in mind. They’ll offer lasting value and high returns.
And if you’d like to know how you can start blogging consistently in 30 minutes a day or less, read our eBook!
Image by Hanna Pritchett.