Q: How Should a Blog Post be Written?

A: However you want to write it. It’s your blog post.

I’m asked this question by most learners during WordPress orientation sessions. There is no right or wrong way. Just write.

Forget the SEO elements. Good optimization is important but it’s no good at all if your keyword and longtail phrase research gets in the way of your writing. It is more important to publish regularly than to get posts ‘right’ in the manner SEO ‘gurus’ preach.

Keep your writing process simple.

My 4 step blogging process

  1. Get an idea for your post
  2. Make a bullet list of your idea’s main points
  3. Turn those bullet points into questions
  4. Write the blog post

Blogging is that easy.

When you’ve been writing for awhile you will naturally start to use SEO techniques and you will find your own voice. The idea is to use what works for you as an author. Use whatever keeps you motivated to write. Get rid of whatever gets in the way of your publishing schedule (if you have one). Did you notice the questions in there?

Steps 1, 2 and 4 in my writing process are easy to appreciate. The reason for step 3 is that people ask Google questions and Google looks for phrases that match what people type into the search box. A search for ‘What makes you write?’ is highly likely to bring up pages that include that exact phrase.

A post that is not written is 100% not crawlable so is 0% optimized.

There are simple and quick ways to improve your content layout and to optimize pages for search engines but, as I said before, making text better for search engines to crawl and ‘understand’ is less important than actually getting something written.

A few simple & quick SEO and layout tips

Keep your writing simple. Remember SHELLS.
Base image from sxc.hu

Perfect for the lazy among us.

  1. Synonymize (does that sound rude to you?)
  2. Highlight
  3. Enhance
  4. List
  5. Lead in…
  6. Say it again, say it simpler.

In step 2 of my 4 step blogging process, I make a bullet point list of ideas then I turn those bullet points into questions in step 3. Each one of those bullet points is a keyword or longtail keyphrase for search engines to latch on to and each of those questions is an exact text match to a question someone might type into a search engine.

Synonymize words and phrases. To make search engines work for us, we can use words and phrases that have the same meaning as those in our bullet lists. In other words, find a few synonyms. Say the same points but in different ways. This gives more text and more phrases for search engines to match to people’s searches.

Highlight important words and phrases. Search engines are programmed to read as humans do. We pay attention to words in bold, words in italics and to <h2>subheadings</h2>. So do search engines.

  • Use subheadings to break up your text and to announce sections within your page (look how this page is written).
  • Use bold and italic font styles to highlight your main points. Use sparingly, though.

Enhance your page with pictures. People like pictures. Pictures help break up a page into smaller, more digestible sections and pictures can be used to make points stick in the reader’s mind. People search for pictures too so add alt text (descriptions) to your images to tell search engines what your pictures are about.

List your points to introduce them before you talk about them. This prepares readers for what you are about to talk about. This gives you a good opportunity to get your keywords, phrases and questions into your blog post.

Lead in… This should be the first item in the list but then SHELLS would have become the anagram LSHELS and that’s just too confusing even for me. Your very first paragraph should be short, simple, catchy and should contain a few keywords and phrases and should (generally) contain no links to external sites (I break this rule when I’m linking to one of my own sites). This is your lead in text. It is used to draw in your visitors. This is probably the most important part of a page for encouraging people to read the page.

Write the lead-in after you’ve written your post so that it doesn’t limit the structure, content and tone of your post.

Say it again. Repeat yourself using different words if you need to do so. Keep sentences short. Keep paragraphs short and to the point (the Internet turns us all into ADHD suffers). Summarize if needed.

Say what your going to say, say it, say it again.

At university I was taught to ‘say what your going to say, say it, say it again‘. That applied to essays and dissertations. That is good advice for bloggers too. People search in different ways using different words and people understand text better when it is softly introduced before it is fully said and people absorb information in different ways so saying the same thing differently helps different people understand what you’re saying and helps Google learn about your page.

To repeat myself ;)

Writing should be fun. It should be enjoyed by the author and by the reader. Smile while you write.

The objective of writing a blog post is to express yourself so that others can enjoy and learn from you. Worry little about search engine optimization. Bullet point your ideas, write a good lead-in, keep sentences short, keep paragraphs short and to the point, use your text editor fully, add bold and italic font styles to your text and repeat yourself with different words.

One last point: research. If you write something factual or technical, research your subject before you write it to ensure the correctness of your article.

Have fun and put your own tips in the comments below.

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