A 10 Step Guide For Writing SEO & Reader-Friendly Blog Posts
Date: May 20, 2020
Read Time: 5-7 Minutes
Table of Contents
Section 1: Why Writing a Compelling Blog Post is Easier Than You Think
Section 2: 10 Steps for a Clear & Compelling Blog Post
– Step 1: Identifying Your Core Focus & Topic
– Step 2: Researching Your Chosen Topic
– Step 3: Distributing Headers & Body Text
– Step 4: Determining the Length & Size
– Step 5: Indexing Your Blog on Google
– Step 6: Inserting Cover Images & Meta Descriptions
– Step 7: Determining Paragraph Lengths
– Step 8: Including Images & Graphics
– Step 9: Creating Clear & Compelling Call-To-Actions
– Step 10: Refining & Improving Your Process
Section 3: Final Thoughts & Next Steps
Writing a Compelling Blog Post is Easier Than You Think
For many people, writing a blog post (or an entire library of posts) for their website is a daunting task. Once you begin writing, your mind blanks and you become overwhelmed by all the factors that could influence what you’re about to write.
- How long should my blog post be?
- What topics will my audience care about the most?
- Should I include any graphics?
- How can I make sure that people can find my blog online and on social media?
It can be a frustrating situation to be stuck in, especially if you’re needing to write multiple blogs for your business or personal site.
However, if you find yourself in this predicament, don’t worry! Thankfully, the process of creating and publishing a compelling blog post that resonates with your audience and scores well on Google is pretty easy once you have a standardized process in place. In this article, we’ll break down the top 10 steps you should include in your blog writing process. We’ll also provide all the information you need to get started.
10 Steps For Writing A Clear & Compelling Blog Post
1. Identify the Core Focus of Your Piece & Create a Simple Outline Before You Start Writing.
Although this sounds like common sense, take a moment and think about how you want your audience to respond to what they read. If 4-5 preferred responses or takeaways come to mind, your topic is probably to broad. This is a problem because if you’re trying to cram too many ideas or topics of discussion into your blog, you can end up confusing readers and overcomplicating your piece. And unless you explicitly define and outline your topic before you begin writing, it’s easy to lose touch with your core theme halfway through and accidentally begin veering off topic.
To avoid this conundrum, be intentional to narrow your blog’s focus (by “blog”, I’m talking about a single article) down to just one or two core topics before you begin writing. Then, create a short, bulleted list of sections that you plan to cover in the post. If you’re unable to fit all your ideas into a single piece, no worries — you can always write more blogs to cover other topics as you find time. This will ultimately help you draw more traffic and engage more readers in the long run anyways, as more blogs means more opportunities for readers to find your site via search results and promotions.
2. Research Your Chosen Topic To Determine the Highest Trafficked Terms.
Regardless of what you decide to write about, you should choose a title that includes the specific word or phrase that you’ll be focusing on in the piece. Or, if there’s a highly popular sub-section of the article you’re writing, try to include those words in the title or description.
For instance, if you’re writing a blog post about your favorite vacation spots, check and see which vacation spots are garnering a lot of media attention online. You can then optimize your titles and keywords to take advantage of that traffic. For instance, if Stone Mountain, Georgia is receiving a lot of interest, consider titling your piece “Stone Mountain and the Nine Other Best Vacation Spots in Georgia”.
Tips For Identifying The Best Google Topics
However, as you go about selecting a title, you should understand that the more popularity a specific term has online, the harder it will be to “score” for that topic and appear in relevant search results. That is, if 10,000 people have already written popular blogs and articles about Stone Mountain, GA, but only 500 have written blogs about Tybee Island, GA, then writing a blog about Tybee Island will enable you to rank higher in the search results for that specific term.
Ergo, finding the right balance between a popular topic that receives a lot of interest and one that is slightly less popular but that isn’t already saturated with content will give you the best chance of generating a lot of traffic and views. (I.e. maybe you title your blog “Stone Mountain, Tybee Island, & the Eight Other Best Vacation Spots in Georgia).
3. Evenly Distribute Your Headers & Body Text.
Once you decide on your topic and title, it’s time to begin writing. As you start the writing process, you need to recognize how Google and other search engines will ultimately find, index, and then “rank” your blog amongst the vast conglomeration of content that already exists online.
As you post your blog on WordPress or another content management system (CMS), you’ll see that there are different styles of “headers” (i.e. H1, H2, H3, etc.) that you can use, as well as different styles of text. It’s important to pay attention to headers here. Headers are given precedence by Google when indexing your site — which means they are a primary source for Google’s bots to determine what your blog is talking about and what the main focus is. This means that the more you can include the title or topic of your blog in these headers, the higher it will rank.
What Headings Are & How to Use Them
For instance, the title of this blog at the top of the page is a “H1” header, and each of the blue numbered bullets underneath are “H2” headers. Back to our Georgia vacation blog example, making sure that both Tybee Island and Stone Mountain are featured in a sub-header will give you extra credit with Google’s bots and increase your ranking for those terms in their search results.
4. Aim for Around 1,500-2,000 Words In Your Post.
According to most experts and the latest information from Google, the optimal length for a blog post is between 1,500 to 2,000 words. This is an optimal length for scoring high in Google’s algorithms because it demonstrates you have thoroughly covered your topic. However, it’s also an appropriate length for holding a reader’s attention without boring them or causing them to drop off halfway. In most cases, a 1,500-word post will take someone 4-6 minutes to read. In reality, however, most people will skim the blog and only take 2-3 minutes to finish it.
Although 1,500 words is optimal, this does not mean your blog should consist of a single, 1,500-word preamble on your chosen topic. As we’ll see in the next sections, you must incorporate multiple sub-headers, paragraphs, line breaks, and images in your blog to hold your readers’ attention and ensure the highest level of engagement.
5. Insert At Least Three Images & Remember to Use Alt Text.
Even the best writers struggle to hold a reader’s attention without any imagery or visual elements to their story. The old saying “A picture is worth 1,000 words” definitely rings true in today’s Instagram-driven society, and if you want to resonate with your audience (especially with younger generations), you’re going to have to incorporate graphics, images, and visuals into your post.
For a 1,500-word post, adding at least three graphics is recommended, and spacing these graphics out evenly over the course of the post will ensure consistent engagement throughout. As these images are added, using lightbox features so that users can enlarge the image to read any embedded text is considered a best practice, as is adding “alt text” to the image so that the image can be indexed by Google. Adding alt text simply adds another way for users to find your blog post (i.e. users searching for an image on Google with the relevant key words will come across your image, which will redirect them back to your blog). Given __% of Google searches today come through images, adding alt text is highly recommended and is growing in importance.
6. No Paragraph Should Be Longer Than 6 Sentences.
As depicted in this blog and touched on above, no single section or paragraph of your blog should be longer than 4-5 sentences. Any longer, and it will be difficult for a reader to scroll or skim through your blog (especially on a mobile device), which leads to lower engagement and higher drop-offs. Instead, using a series of shorter paragraphs to get your points across will enable readers to more easily digest the content and intuitively scroll through specific sections for easier browsing.
Adversely, it’s important NOT to take the “multiple paragraphs” tip too far and include a bunch of single sentences separated by line breaks.
What I mean is, don’t do a lot of these types of “standalone” sentences.
It makes it difficult for people to follow along with your ideas.
Over time, people will lose interest or become confused with you’re writing structure.
While single sentences are good for emphasizing an important point or as a segue between paragraphs, they are NOT good for use in large quantities or in consecutive series. Rather, try to write your blog using small paragraphs consisting of 100-300 words and 3-5 sentences. This is the optimal length to engage readers without oversimplifying or overcomplicating matters.
7. Insert a Relevant Cover Image & Meta Description.
When your article appears in a Google search or when readers share your blog post with other people, the cover image and meta description become vital. The cover image is simply the “thumbnail” image that people see when they find your blog (i.e. share this blog in a text message with someone else and you will see this article’s cover image). In a similar vein, the meta description is the short, 30-60 word description of your article that Google will highlight in its search results (i.e. search for anything on Google and the 1-2 sentences you see under the title of each search result is the meta description).
As a best practice, the meta description of your blog should contain the relevant keywords that you are writing about, but also be short enough so that the description doesn’t cut off on Google halfway through a sentence. Allowing people to see the full meta description is the best way to ensure that everyone coming across your blog via a search engine knows exactly what your blog is about.
8. Manually Index Your Blog On Google.
Although Google’s bots are inspecting popular sites like Amazon, CNN, or Bloomberg every day (if not multiple times per day), websites with less traffic are inspected less often. This means that in some cases, your website might only be indexed by Google once or twice a month. Ergo, if you publish a blog on May 20th, it might not get indexed by Google and start appearing in search results until June 1st. In the long run, this damages your chances of getting impressions and clicks on your blog when it’s posted, which is coincidentally when the content is freshest and most relevant.
To avoid this issue, you should go into the Google Search Console and manually index your blog as soon as you publish it. You should perform this manual index each time you publish a new page to your site. Although this is still not an immediate turnaround, requesting an index will usually prompt Google to crawl your site in 1-3 days, instead of a few weeks, which enables you to reach your target audience much faster and start generating web traffic for each post earlier.
9. Include Clear & Compelling Call-To-Action(s).
At the end of your blog, as people finish reading, what actions do you want them to take? Do you want them to buy a product? Join a newsletter? Follow you on social media? Or maybe just keep reading more of your blogs?
Regardless of the action, you should always finish each blog with a button (or multiple buttons) that point people towards another action they can take to continue engaging with your website or your brand. Although no more than three buttons is recommended, 1-3 are fine.
For instance, you can see at the bottom of this blog, we’ve included options for you to either return to the blog home page, contact our team, or join our newsletter. These are the three actions our team decided would be most relevant or useful for our audience, and so all three buttons are prominently displayed just as the reader finishes the post and is ready to move on.
10. Include Backlinks to Your Other Blogs & To Other Prominent Sites.
Once you’ve written a blog post on the right topic, with the right length, and with the right style and visualization, there’s one final step left before you should publish.
And that’s to add backlinks.
To date, backlinks remain a key component of ranking algorithms for Google because they demonstrate that you’ve done your research and are able to point towards other legitimate sources of information that readers can use to keep learning or for further reference. Including a mix of your own links and links to other sites is recommended too, as Google gives extra credit for both types.
As you include these links, try not to “link” more than 3-4 words at a time — i.e. don’t link an entire sentence. Also, don’t throw links in unnecessarily or in superfluous amounts — because each link represents an opportunity for the reader to click away from your page, only using them as-needed an in the right places enables you to supplement your blog with other info without detracting from your overall message. However, to help protect against people leaving your post to follow a backlink, you can enable the “open in new tab” feature as you add the link so that once readers click, they aren’t entirely redirected from your site — your link stays open, and the new link appears in a separate tab. This way, the reader can easily come back to your site to finish reading.
Final Thoughts & Next Steps
As your blog post goes live and begins to generate traffic, be sure to monitor, on either a weekly or monthly basis, the number of impressions and clicks it is receiving. This process will allow you to determine whether each specific post is successful and if there are any errors. Search for your post on Google, and make sure the descriptions and images are showing up correctly. Over time, monitoring the traction of each post will enable you to establish a benchmark for determining which topics receive the most interest, as well as which style and language works best for your audience.
Although there may be other considerations for you when writing your blog (such as the brand voice or style of writing you should use), I don’t believe in offering advice this far down the funnel. Instead, I encourage people to find the unique style of language that they feel best reflects their own personal thoughts and ideas. But once this style is found, incorporating the above tips into your posts will serve as the best way to ensure your thoughts and ideas can be found, engaged with, and enjoyed by your target audience and viewership.