How to Write a Blog That Readers and SEO Will Love
I’ve come to realize that just because people are experts on various topics, it won’t mean they can blog about them. Their struggle has kept food on my table for years.
The blog seems to be a hurdle for many. Folks just forget how to be plain spoken (see what I did just there?), and get out of their heads to write what can be an engaging piece that not only appeals to readers, but also scores well with SEO.
So here goes what could be the most comprehensive list of pointers to consider when you start writing:
#1 – Start strong out of the gate
Headline writing is crucial in the digital world. Google’s vast empire commands that you must consider a headline with key words relevant to your content and market. SEO rankings look first at the header (as well as every header on your webpage) first. In fact there is an entire industry built on helping you find the perfect words to use, and Google’s Adwords can help raise your engagement on everything that you write.
Beyond the headline, you have a scant few lines to hold a reader’s attention when they decide to read your article. Grab ’em! Perhaps a provocative question, a compelling statistic (and it’s gotta be simple but impactful – no calculators required), or a story. I’m a fan of the latter, because people LOVE stories. As long as it (and the other examples) is relevant to your topic, it will make the entire piece more memorable as well.
#2 – Grammar and Spelling is not a law firm
Although… some of y’all should be sued for your mangle-ment of the English language. Misspellings, incomplete sentences and (a personal pet peeve) misuse of the words your-you’re, they’re-there-their or its-it’s speak louder than your article. They’re saying “I’m not very professional or smart…stop reading me.” Get a second set of peepers on your page before you publish, or hire a copywriter or editor who geeks out over grammar.
#3 – Length isn’t everything
Surprise! Longer isn’t better, at least any more. Blogs were never meant to be a epic novel, and as people’s attention spans are getting narrower by the day, brevity really is the soul of wit. Conventional thinking used to be that the higher the word count, the better, but thankfully Google said it really should be about content as well.
So, while some really believe in a 2,500 word average for a blog, there is now the understanding that if your content is rich and your subject matter doesn’t need to be explained in great detail, it can do just as well in Google rankings at let’s say a mere 700 to 1,000 words. The key is in determining for yourself whether your topic should have the attention of a longer blog (like theoretical astrophysics) or will excel in a shorter form (the latest visit to a new restaurant in town). The happy medium falls between redundancy and boredom, and leaving your reader wondering where the rest of the meat is on the bone. So in a nutshell, there is no perfect length for all blogs, but there is for the one you want to write; just make sure you understand what your subject matter requires to meet it.
You can also run a competitive analysis on the content to see how well similar topics are ranking, and how long their articles are. An internet marketer may also have additional analytics that can guide you to land on an optimum length to start with, and keep an eye on your website traffic from blog to blog.
#4 – Keywords
I referred to these earlier, and they bear repeating. Adwords monitors which words, phrases and now questions (thank you Siri and Alexa) rank the highest in SEO. In fact, as people use questions to search for things on the internet, if you can create a headline that matches what people query, that’s golden. You can try and do your own research and guess, or you might want to work with an internet marketer who can review not just your blog, but your entire website, to track the keywords that are achieving the highest results.
#5 – Sentences shouldn’t be lifelong
People don’t speak in long, elaborately-constructed sentences. Nor should you write them that way, either. It’s inherently more interesting, and keeps the pace of the article moving more rapidly.
#6 – No one likes a word snob
If the word is “hot” say hot. Not equatorial, decalescent or thermogenic. Unless it’s for a science blog, SEO will not care, nor will your readers, about how many big words you know.
#7 – Be original, or be gone
If you use anyone’s content that’s published on the internet, using it without attribution is illegal. You can certainly paraphrase what you’ve read in an article, and then hyperlink to it. You can also state “according to the Smallville Times,” for additional CYA. However, plagiarism is cheating, and it ultimately makes you look like less of an expert than if you simply used your own words.
#8 – Be topical
Whatever you want to write about, use a trending topic whenever you can. Popular culture, hot news stories, even politics can work to place your blog higher in search rankings. It also presents you as someone who’s got a finger on the pulse of what’s happening, today.
#9 – Finish strong
Probably even more difficult that crafting an opening line is how to end. Leave your readers in one of three ways: pondering a question, taking action or reminded of the point of your article and feeling something about it. The latter is certainly a more standard essay-writing tactic, and not quite as sexy. However, if you have a longer piece, it may serve to “bring it all home” with short, punchy statements that helps to bring the impact of all the previous 2,499 words.
Posing a question leaves the reader’s interest piqued, and if you have corresponding content that they can link to, like “Now that your blog is complete, how can you make sure the rest of your website is SEO optimized?” This keeps them on your site, and allows you to further invited them to contact you for a consultation or to learn more about your product and services.
Finally, while it’s best not to be too salesy in a blog, you can end with a call to action, generally offering them further information and support about the topic you have been educating them on. That’s OK. In fact, it’s crazy not to invite them to take action with you. Your website is your digital sales tool, and the blogosphere is no exception.
If you’re seeing that there’s more to blogging than words on a page, and you’d like your blog to sing with SEO, talk to a qualified team of experts. Let them worry about the specifics for you and help you tweak your articles to reach a larger group of relevant readers, who can also become paying customers.