There are 2 possible reasons you’re reading this blog.
- You’ve been told you need to start blogging to increase content on your website, help with SEO, Google rankings or marketing.
- You love writing and are passionate about telling people about your services, products or interests.
Whatever the reason for your visit, I hope we can help both novice and seasoned bloggers in ticking all necessary boxes.
So what does it take to write a successful blog?
Understanding your Audience
Have you got a clear understanding of your target audience? What do they want to know about? What information can you provide that will spark and then hold their interest?
Even if you believe you have a clear idea about your audience, I would suggest something that will be super helpful in re-focusing on the right wants and needs of your audience. Create yourself a buyer’s persona. The buyer’s persona is an excellent tool in gathering information about whom your actual audience is. You can then tailor your post topics towards their interests.
Where to Start – Title and the Topic
So before you even put pen to paper or finger to key, you need your topic for your blog. Based on the Topic you have chosen, let’s say it was ‘surfboard ding repairs”.
You would then start throwing around a few working titles. Let’s have a look at some we might use.
“The best way to fix a ding in my surfboard?”, “10 Steps to fixing your own surfboard” or “Everything you need to fix that ding in your surfboard”. Now, these are all good working titles that will help you focus on the most important part of the writing.
You will find that your working title will not always be your final title. As you write you may find the need to refine your working title to something like, “The ultimate how-to guide: Surfboard ding repair that anyone can do!”
Capitalize by Captivating
Just because they clicked on the blog, does not mean they will bother reading it. Research shows that most people will scan a blog first, maybe reading the introduction before either continuing or moving on.
So how does one do this? Many ways, first – what makes you read a blog? Start with a story or a joke or an observation to the problem at hand. Be empathetic, use facts and figures or statistics to catch their interest.
Foundation and Structure – Your content needs it to stand up!
The foundation to a good blog is relating your content to a format or structure that best presents the subject matter for your intended audience. If your content is delivered poorly then you run the risk of your reader getting confused, leaving and possibly never coming back.
What type of blog or article structure will work best for your topic? Here is a list of common formats.
- Newsjacking or Industry related News Posts.
- Education how-to posts or guides.
- List-based posts, checklists etc.
- “Best of” posts, Top 10 best or worst ideas ever etc
- Slide Share Presentations
- Video Blogs
Organise yourself and your content
Once you have chosen the structure and format you’re going with, it’s time to organise your content. Turn off distractions, like mobile and email and turn the kids down. Whatever helps you get into the zone. This to me is the most important part of developing a blog post that not only reads well but also helps your SEO and your social media as well as keeping people on your site for longer.
- Research – Gather all your necessary information together in one spot.
- Website URLs
- Documentation and e-books
- Facts and Figures you will be talking about
- External Links – make sure if your linking to outside sources you have the URLs ready
- These will help if the site is considered an authority with Google and Bing.
- Another tip if linking to external sources, tweet them a mention or message them privately on Facebook with the link of your blog post. This may help with retweets and extra exposure for your blog.
- Internal Links – Look through your past content and link to it.
- This is very important – link relevant information to what you’re posting about.
- Go back through your blogs and even static pages on your website to look for related helpful information to link to.
- If you have downloadable content that is relevant, then this is also good to use.
- List of keywords – based on your SEO or Buyer Persona
- Based upon your Buyers Persona you can collect keywords that your customers might be searching for.
- If you are engaged in SEO for your website, then you can also try and tie those into your blog post.
- Don’t spam the keywords across the post! Only use them if your able to add them naturally into the content. Either in the title, or headers. Don’t use them multiple times throughout the post, once or twice at the most.
- Images and Videos –
- Create a catchy featured image for your blog post, either in a photo editing software (Photoshop, GIMP, etc.) if you have the skills, or Canvas if you need an easy to use web program.
- Typeface – not a lot of bloggers consider this if they have text on their graphics but this can make or break an image in my personal opinion.
- Infographics can be excellent at adding easy to read value to an educational post.
- Videos are still the most engaging content, and with smartphones & tablets, videos are very easy to make.
- If you’re developing video content, make sure to set up a YouTube account and house it there as this can turn into its own marketing channel. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world!
Right, Write and delight – then re-write
Now you have your format, structure and all your content resources organised, it is time to write!
Almost, just one more thing to help while unleashing your creative flow. I suggest making an outline of what you intend to cover. This will help keep you on track. This step is not always needed, depending on the format you choose to go with or how big the post might be. If the post is quite long, then I always work off an outline. Let’s have a look at the “The ultimate how to guide: Surfboard ding repair that anyone can do!” post we spoke of earlier.
- Introduction – Quick paragraph
- Section 1 – Planning stage, equipment needed to achieve the task
- Section 2 – Step by Step guide in preparing resin and fibreglass
- Section 3 – Step by Step Application and techniques in the repair process
- Section 4 – Additional information and hints to achieve the best results
- Wrap it up
Now I have a basic plan, I write what I know. Section by section, until it is complete.
At this point it’s best to step away and have a break, sometimes I will use this time to look at placing in any images or videos.
Once I am happy with these elements, I will return to the post, proof-read, correct grammar and shave unnecessary content.
Some points on editing your work:
- Avoid repetition as much as possible
- Read aloud to yourself and if it sounds good, then read it to another person to get feedback.
- Have someone else read it, we often don’t see the mistakes staring us in the face. Get another set of eyes on it.
- Try to keep sentences and paragraphs as short as possible.
- Go with what feels right in the end, the outline you’ve made and research are just that.
Call to Action
Once the main content is complete, the next thing to consider is a call to action or CTA. At the end of every blog you should have a CTA to direct the visitor to what you want them to do next – such as register for a webinar, download content (eBook, etc.), subscribe to your blog/newsletter, or even read a related article or blog post.
The beauty of this is that it’s a win-win for both the user and the business. The client gets useful information or content and the business gets a lead they can nurture into possibly a customer in the future.
On-Page SEO Optimization – the basics
Now, this beast is too varied and large to tackle in this already long blog. However, let’s cover the basics.
Naming your blog post
Most of the blogging applications will do this based upon your page title, however, this is worth mentioning if you have a custom blog roll. Take our blog post “The Ultimate how-to guide: Surfboard ding repair that anyone can do!” how would we name this?
Best way to test if your blogging application or CMS saves like this is to test it.
This shows the search engine what the page is about. Try using verbs and word this as naturally as possible. Keep it to between 140 and 160 characters in length. Meta tags no longer matter in the ranking with Google’s algorithms. It is displayed on the search results page so a well-written meta description will more likely convert the reader to clicking on your page as opposed to another.
Page Title and Headers
Your page title is very important to on-page SEO. There is a simple formula to follow here.
- Write a natural page title, including keywords/phrases your target audience is interested in.
- Don’t try and put keywords in that don’t fit, or make the title too long.
- Keep your title ideally under 65 characters – or it will get truncated in search engines.
Anchor Text/External Links
As previously mentioned, linking to external sources is great as search engines take this into consideration when ranking your page. Anchor text is the text you select on your page or (keywords you select) to link to the external site. Given that this can affect ranking it is important to consider what keywords to use and what sites you are linking to.
This is without a doubt one of the most common on-page errors we see. Don’t upload an image named IMG12202016.jpg! If the image is of a pumpkin smoking a cigar, call it “cigar-smoking-pumpkin.jpg” even use the keywords related to the blog. But never the camera-generated image name or google will shun you.
If your site is not optimized for mobile platforms, this needs to be fixed ASAP. This needs to be your next step, Google is giving priority to websites that are optimized for mobiles. Talk to your Developer and get this sorted.
Review and Publish your content to the world!
Nothing is ever perfect so don’t get held up doing too many rewrites, do one and get it out there.
We have covered a lot in this blog post. It might seem overwhelming but if you follow this advice and apply it to your content, you will be standing on a rock-solid foundation.
I can’t help you with the content writing itself, but I can help you take your content and package it correctly so you won’t be negatively impacted when you publish it.
If you found this post useful please let us know and comment below.