Have you ever considered blog writing? In this edition of PEGblog, Faeron Wheeler gives us 10 valuable tips for better blog writing.
Blog writing has become something of an artform on its own. There are rules and best practices that define the skill of writing engaging content for the web. The key to strong blog writing is to keep it focused and to make it easy to digest – you want to make people stop scrolling.
1. Have a reason for writing
There should always be a reason for creating a blog – from building a brand identity through content marketing to creating an online resource around a specific topic. The purpose of the blog should be established before any content is planned or written. Once you know why you are creating a blog, you can begin to work out what kind of content best suits this reason.
Only once you have an overarching content plan, should you begin to drill down into topics for individual blog posts. It’s important to ensure that each post serves the purpose of the blog otherwise you’ll confuse your readers, and you’ll confuse Google.
2. Know your style guide
A good blog will have its own identity. This refers to the use of words, the style in which it is written and the level at which it’s pitched. In short, you need a persona for your blog – an imaginary person who is doing the writing. This will guide the tone and style of each blog post, creating a cohesive identity for the entire blog.
3. Define your audience
Just as you need to know who is writing, you need to know who you are writing for. The best way to do this is to create an ideal persona for your target market. Give this person an age, a location, a vocation, a gender and a general philosophy to life. You can be a bit more varied, if it suits your purposes, and create up to four personas. Try not to make too many or you’ll muddy your target.
4. Plan your blog post
The next step is to build a plan or structure for your individual blog post. Break it down into a beginning, middle and end. Know how you want to introduce the topic, what the main points you want to highlight are, and the conclusion you want your reader to reach at the end. This will help you immensely with your research and the writing phase.
5. Create catchy headings
A single blog post is in a grand fight for attention on the internet, even if you have a highly specialised niche and an attentive audience. Your headline (main heading) and your subheadings within the piece are prime real estate for catching the eye.
The best type of blog heading is anything with a number in it: 3 reasons why … or Top 10 items for … Another good option is the classic How to article. It’s always better to be specific in your main heading rather than to try to be clever or go for a play on words. People want to know immediately what information they’ll get if they invest time in reading further.
6. Include SEO metadata
Search engine optimisation (SEO) should always be a part of your blog writing. Metadata is the information that Google and other search engines read first when their bots land on your web pages. This includes the main keyword(s) for the page, the headline (title) of the page and a short description of the page.
The metadata must include the keyword(s) or keyword phrase(s) you want the blog post to rank for. Find a way to work it prominently into the headline (the meta titlei can be different to the heading of the blog post). The meta title should be 60 characters or less. The meta description should be between 150 and 160 characters, with the keyword as close to the beginning as possible.
Here’s an example of what you could do for this blog post:
- Meta title: 10 tips for better blog writing | Professional Editors’ Guild
- 60 characters
- Meta description: Want to learn how to improve your blog writing? It’s essential to keep your writing focused, clear and brief – and use strong headings to catch attention.
- 154 characters
- Keyword: blog writing
7. Incorporate keywords properly
When looking to put your keywords into the actual blog post, you need to find a balance of using them naturally and ensuring they are placed well for SEO. The primary keyword should always be in the first hundred words and preferably in the first paragraph. Try to use it at least once in a subheading and another two times in the body of the post.
8. Make it visually interesting
A blog post needs to be scannable. Your reader is unlikely to sit and go through the entire post, regardless of overall length, if they can’t quickly scan it first. This means you should include some or all of the following:
- numerous subheadings
- appropriate images
- text at different sizes or fonts
- bulleted lists
- anything else that can break up the blog post into more digestible sections
9. Be aware of duplicate content
Duplicate content is a massive no-no for website content. Not only is it plagiarism if you copy from another website, it’s also bad for your SEO. The search engines will knock your website down in the rankings and possibly blacklist it if your content is too similar to that of another website. If you are duplicating content from within your own website, you will also be demoted in the search rankings.
10. Keep things short
This doesn’t refer to the length of the blog post – that can be anywhere from 75 words to 2 450 words. What you need to keep short are your sentences and your paragraphs. Aim for no more than 27 words per sentence and no more than 4 lines per paragraph. This also helps to keep things visually interesting.
Always have a conclusion
Successful blog writing is all about ensuring each post has bite-sized paragraphs, headings that are to the point, and content that is tweetable. When writing, pay careful attention to your tone and style, your blog post structure, as well as how easy it is to see what the content is about at a glance.
i The meta title is the title of an HTML document that is displayed in the result snippets of a search engine result as well as on the page’s tab in browsers. Other descriptions include ‘title tag’ or ‘page title’.