Writing blog posts well can take a bit of time and effort. Here’s a list of things you may want to consider before publication.
1. What platform are you using for your blog?
There are many to choose from – Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad and more. I recommend using WordPress, and here are 10 reasons why.
2. Who is your blog’s audience?
The clearer you are on this point, the more effective your message will be. Think of your perfect customer or consumer for your thoughts:
- What age are they?
- What gender?
- What are their aims and goals?
- What problems do they have?
- How can you solve those problems?
Consider the purpose of your writing. It could be:
- To inform
- To educate
- To entertain
- To document something
- To market a product or service
If you have been blogging for a while, note which types of posts get the most attention in the form of social media shares, comments or even emails. Could you write more on the same topics?
3. Do your (keyword) research
If you are going to blog on a particular topic, use free tools such as Google Keyword Planner to find suitable keywords to target for SEO. Find a phrase that people are searching for in reasonable numbers, that has not been written about much before and relates to your niche. Here is a good tutorial on keyword research, including the use of Keyword Planner.
MarketerLiz Lockard recommends using keywords which match the language of your ideal client, so pay attention to what these people say online.
4. How much to write in a post
How long your posts will be may depend on a number of factors.
- How often are you going to post? If every day, you probably don’t want to be posting 5,000 word epics each time.
- Is it just going to be yourself writing, or do you have a team of writers? If the latter, lucky you. In which case, establishing a consistent style may be more of a problem.
- How easy is it for you to write? Can you make enough time to write regularly? Does it take a while for inspiration to strike? Here are 50 suggestions if you are out of ideas to write a blog post.
- Can you say what you need to say concisely? It’s been said that posts of over 2,000 words are best for SEO, but better to write a shorter article that makes the point well rather than one filled with waffle.
5. Structure your posts effectively
Give your post a catchy, intriguing title if you can. Journalists are masters at this. Have a look at tabloid newspapers and be inspired! Also check out 5 tricks to write catchy headlines.
Your title should also set out what you are going to write about, make the reader want to read on, and contain your keywords.
Try not to have paragraph after paragraph of plain text. It will bore your readers. Break the text up with headings, bullet points, pictures, quotes, bold text – anything to prevent long columns of words, and make the text easier to read.
Find relevant links to add to your post. When adding links, if you want the link to open in a new window, warn your users that this will happen before they select the link.
Use headings appropriately
If you have a H1 heading on your page, follow it with an H2, and then a H3 subheading if necessary. Don’t mix up the heading order because you prefer the style of a lower level heading. Use CSS to style your headings appropriately. Headings also count toward search engine optimization, so add your keywords and keyword variants to them. If you just put your potential headings in bold, you will miss out on some SEO juice.
Please don’t plagiarise – you wouldn’t like it if it happened to your work, it could penalize you in search engines or you could get sued. If you have been handed text from someone else and suspect it may have been lifted from another source, Google a chunk of it first to see if it’s already been published. If so, don’t use it!
I recommend reading the Site Wizard article if you want to embed YouTube videos on your page which are created by others.
This is often my favourite part of the whole process! When adding images, remember the following:
- Make sure you have the usage rights.
- Ensure that the image is a suitable file format (usually .jpg, .png or .gif).
- Don’t use images straight out of a camera – they will be too big in terms of filesize and resolution for use on the Web. They could really slow down the download speed of your pages, annoying users.
- Name your files sensibly. “Dalmatian-puppy.jpg” is better than “PIC0075643.jpg”.
- Resize the image before upload and take the resolution down to 72px/inch. If you don’t have photo-editing software, you can use an online service such as Web Resizer. Check the width of your pages or columns so you can size appropriately. You can make a larger image smaller, but doing the opposite could cause pixellation.
- Always add alt text to your images. This is good for accessibility and also confers a SEO benefit.
- In WordPress, don’t add the default link to media to your image – choose None instead. The only time you might want to link to another image is if you are showing an infographic, for example, and want to link to a larger version of the image.
Categories and tags
If you can, categorise and tag your posts. This makes it easier for your readers to find posts on similar topics. Normally you will have a small number of categories and a much greater number of tags. This article explains the difference between categories and tags regarding SEO.
If you use WordPress, avoid using the Uncategorized category. Set another category as the default. To do this, make sure you have created at least one other category under Posts > Categories. Go to Settings > Writing. Under Default Post Category, choose the desired category from the dropdown list.
6. Double-check your work
Watch your spelling and grammar – if these are poorly done, your writing will look unprofessional to your readers. If this is not your strong point, enter your text into the likes of MS Word first and run it through the spelling and grammar checker. WordPress 3.9 now has the ability to recognise and keep formatting for text pasted in from Word. Remember to proof read as well to pick up on misuse of similar words like ‘too’ and ‘to’.
You should also check to make sure links in your posts work as expected and are not broken.
7. How are you going to publicise your blog posts?
So you’ve created the best blog post in the world – but to no avail if no-one reads it. The hard work now begins of letting people know about it. You could try any or all of the following:
- Let your email subscribers know when you have a new post – assuming you have an email list.
- Use social media, and ask people to share your updates. You could have a reciprocal agreement with other bloggers to tweet about their new posts, for example.
- Put a link to your blog in your email signature.
- Tell your friends and family.
- If you write a post reviewing something, email any relevant people mentioned and see if you can get them to link to your post on their site(s). (This may not work if you write an unfavourable review!)
I hope this gives you some insight on how to write a blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me.