Does that title sound like click bait or what? Let’s start with this.
WANT TO WRITE THE PERFECT BLOG POST?
You’ll see that this post is indeed the most comprehensive post on writing a perfect blog post that you’ll ever see. The idea is that I don’t hope you read it – I have a specific strategy I’m employing to make sure you read it and I’m going to show you how to stop “hoping people read my post“.
I know we’re all skimmers but this isn’t the post to skim. I want you to read it, and then read it again and again. Read it slowly and fully comprehend every single thing. Don’t skip a section because you don’t think it’s important to you – deal?
As a matter of fact, share this to Facebook right now so you can easily come back to it later. There’s a big button at the top of the page. It’s called Social Bookmarking.
I’m going to start with some basics and get to the really specific stuff down the road.
Ok, let’s roll!
WORDPRESS AS A FOUNDATION:
I’m going to assume your site is built on WordPress. There are other platforms out there but nobody does a better job than WordPress. Yes, I am a WordPress Developer and build websites for a living but I’ve also worked with all the others and I can honestly stand by my claim.
Just because your built on WordPress, that doesn’t mean your site is built properly on WordPress. I’ve seen quite a few poorly and hastily built sites that are missing core ingredients.
Your site must also be MOBILE RESPONSIVE. This comes from the theme itself but can be easily broken if you are not careful. If your site is not mobile responsive Google will just ignore it in their mobile responsive searches. More than half your traffic is going to be from mobile. Don’t discount the importance of this.
If you’ve been around the internet for a while you might be familiar with a sitemap. It’s like a table of contents that would lead a viewer to content on your site that they might not have known about. A proper sitemap automatically updates itself when new content is added. That’s important because you want it to reflect all the current content available. There are plugins that will help you create a sitemap for your site and then easily show that to the viewer.
When I refer to a sitemap I’m not thinking about a viewer as a person, I’m thinking about Google and specifically Google’s Spiders and Bots. I’m also not referring to a visual sitemap but instead a type of file, an .xml file that’s really only useful for a spider or bot.
You don’t need to know what that is, you just need to know that it should exist.
It should also automatically update itself as new items are added or removed on your site.
Want to see mine? https://areweconnected.com/sitemap_index.xml (it’s ok to click that).
What you are looking at is a collection of individual sitemaps.
There are sitemaps for posts, pages, FAQs and so many other things. Digging deeper you’ll see that each sitemap is just a simple line on a spreadsheet(ish) listing the post URL, how many images it has and the date it was last modified.
Think of a Sitemap as a roadmap for Google’s Bots and Spiders.
We want to be found in Google and this is giving Google an easy to follow roadmap to all of our content. I say this all in the hopes that Google will visit our site.
GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS:
Ok, you got me. It’s now called “Search Console”. A name I don’t really agree with as it does so much more. Structured Data, Rich Cards, AMP pages, Crawl Stats and Errors, and on and on. The Search Console is a treasure trove of useful tools. That said, I’m going to concentrate on just one thing that Google’s Search Console does. You can register your Sitemap(s) with them.
Why this is important is that by submitting a sitemap to Google, when a new post happens the Google will be notified. “Hey Google! We’ve got some new stuff over here!” – and of course then, Google sends it’s spiders and bots over to see what that new stuff is and index it. How cool is that?
THE SEO PLUGIN
There’s a couple of good SEO plugins out there but for the sake of simplicity let’s just say that you need one in your site, you need to know how to set it up and use it and for this article I’ll assume that plugin is Yoast. While they all do mostly the same thing, the best free one in my opinion is Yoast. You can download the Yoast SEO plugin from the WordPress Plugin Depository.
This plugin needs to also be properly setup. It isn’t something you just add and forget about. You’ll also need to use it on each and every one of your posts.
KNOW YOUR SALES FUNNELS
How is it that this post is going to attract readers? From whence will they cometh? This is important as your answer will effect the style and writing of the post itself.
Is your traffic coming from Google as a result of someone searching for something?
If so, are you running Google Ads to rank for that search or are you trying to rank organically in the search results.
Speaking of Ads, are you going to run a Facebook Ad Campaign to drive people to this post?
How about social sharing? Are you planning on having other people share your post on social media and hence drive your post to friends of friends of friends?
What about a drip campaign. Have a mailing list? We call it a newsletter. Are you going to send out your newsletter to your list and drive views that way?
There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s no single answer. Your answer is going to be a combination of most or all of them. Knowing which one is most important to you is critical to your success.
So now we’ve got WordPress, a Sitemap, and we’re submitted to Google Search Console, we have an SEO plugin – can we write a blog post yet?
Yes we can! But let’s first talk about what you are going to write.
WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT
I’ve written about this before and it bears repeating.
Don’t write for search engines.
Don’t write for keywords.
Don’t write for SEO.
Write for that ideal next client. Keyword here is “ideal“. Let me run you through a simple exercise.
Find a quite place and time where you can focus. Now close your eyes and picture that ideal perfect client that you would love to work with. Perhaps you can start with an ideal client that you did work with. Spend some time thinking about them.
What do they do for a living? What kind of car do they drive? What do they like to eat? Do they come from a large family? Are they married? Do they have children? How old are they? Do they like reading? Do they like movies? Concerts? Art? What kind? Can you list 10 different words to describe their lifestyle?
There’s a thousand more questions and I could list them all but you get the idea.
Now with that clear picture of the ideal client let’s turn towards our actual business.
What is it they want to hear or see?
It doesn’t have to be one thing, it’s more likely a lot of things. In real estate that person might be a buyer or a seller. They might be analytical and want to know the current market data. They might not give a hoot about charts and graphs and care more about the lifestyle – “What’s it going to be like raising my children in this neighborhood?” They’ll be more interested in schools, parks, churches, restaurants, shopping and all the little things that make up the lifestyle in a particular community.
How do they best receive information? I’m a visual person. I love video for that reason. Some people are text based and want it all down in writing. I even know one person who’s audio inclined. Just one. He loves to hear information. He’ll play a YouTube Video and then instantly open a new tab and start writing notes – never actually watching the video, just listening.
Knowing how your ideal client likes to receive information is just as important as knowing what they want to know about.
We’ve just identified the topics of your posts and how you want to present them. That might be as a regular blog post, a video or a podcast – or a any combination. There’s nothing wrong with having a post and a video and even a sound file all saying the same thing in the same post.
I’ll bet you found out that there is no single ideal next client. You could come up with at least 10 different ideal clients or more, right? That’s perfect! Go back and create workup for each one of them.
The big marketing guys have something they call “personas”. These are fictional but accurate representations of their perfect next clients. They too, look at all the data – demographics, likes, dislikes just like you just did. They do it on a grander scale and spend millions of dollars. Before they launch a new campaign they run it through this same scenario. Surprised? And to think you got this post for free! 😉
Here’s the thing. I lied. There is no perfect blog post. Even if you have the right post for the right person you’ll need more than that. Looking back at the Personas you created, the more accurate statement is going to be,
…the right posts for the right people
That’s plural. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s a marathon not a sprint”? Well, that applies to this. You need to have a constant flow of new posts and if you are smart, each one will follow along with this method.
You are going to need an editorial calendar. This isn’t something I can give you, it’s not something you can download or find on the internet. It’s something that is going to be unique to you, your business and your personas.
I will show you how to make one. I’ll use real estate as an example.
Let’s assume you identified 3 different styles of posts that you need to create: market data reports, lifestyle, and real estate specific posts.
Market Data Reports might have charts and graphs and of course your personal take on that data as it pertains to the neighborhood. The biggest mistake people make in these style posts is just delivering the data and leaving it at that. What sets you apart, and what helps them, is your insight and opinion into what the data actually means. This is more important than the data itself. Don’t shortcut here.
Lifestyle Posts might be about school events, new businesses opening, and things to do in the neighborhood. These types of posts are informative but also give the reader an insight into you and your personality. It’s a soft introduction to you.
Real Estate Posts might explain a particular process (like a home inspection), they might highlight a new listing, or they could be interesting things you found while on Broker’s Tour. These types of post reinforce the fact that you are a professional. They are a basis for forming trust.
Content wise, let’s say you are comfortable being in video (if you are not you need to be right now). Most of your posts are going to be video. That video can be organic (rough, unedited, spur of the moment styled) or polished (studio, lighting, sound, fully edited) or anywhere in between. That’s entirely up to you and who you want to be. You’ll upload that to your YouTube Channel and then embed it in your blog post.
You might not be comfortable on camera. If you really can’t get in front of the camera, you can get behind it. Your videos could be screen capture style, interviewing other people, or just your view looking through the lens.
Besides the video, you’ll want to also say much the same thing in text (for the “readers”).
Let’s also assume that you work 4 distinct areas. For the sake of simplicity I’ll call them neighborhoods. They could be separate cities or in the case of one client they wanted to focus on three different condo towers. No matter how you slice it up – each ‘neighborhood’ has it’s own flavor, right?
To recap we have three different styles of posts and four different neighborhoods.
Next, I’ll ask you how much time you are willing to consistently apply to this endeavor? Time is critical. There’s only so much time in a day. How much time in a given week will you devote? Write that down.
If a blog post takes you 3 hrs to create and you’ve committed 3 hours a week to blogging, guess how many posts a week you can do? Let me say that no blog post should take 3 hours. I’ve seen beginners take 3 hours trying to craft their first post. Everyone is going to be different. Some experienced bloggers can churn out a 500 word post in a few minutes. As you gain more and more experience you’ll naturally become faster at it.
Back to our calendar. So let’s assume we have 3 styles of post, 4 neighborhoods and our time math suggests that we can pump out 2 posts a week. Now we have everything we need to create our editorial calendar. I’m going to put our variables on two axis and number the posts.
So we have nine different posts, we can produce two a week, and let’s assume we want our posts to be published on Wednesdays and Saturdays. If I went in numerical order, the first part of the month would be focused on just Sunny Acres. I would rather spread the love around to all my neighborhoods evenly and with a smooth variety of post styles as well so I went diagonally instead which gave me a seuence of 1,5, 9,2,6,3,4,8,7 So, you can see on July 5th I’m going to publish a Market Data Report styled post on Sunny Acres and on the next Saturday it’ll be a Lifestyle post on Woodside Meadows.
Does that make sense? This is why you can’t just download an Editorial Calendar and hope that it works for you. Your calendar will keep you on track and producing the right style of content that you need on a regular basis.
THE DETAILS OF THE PERFECT BLOG POST
The devil is in the details right? So let’s start from the top.
The Perfect Post Title
I’m going to say this and you’ll ignore it but at least I’ll get it out there. Write your Title last. While you might have a general idea of the post that you are about to write, you’ll find that sometimes it takes a slightly different turn as you write it. For that reason I suggest you get in the habit of writing your Title last.
When you do go to write your title there’s some great tips that you’ll find that better entice your readers to click and read. I won’t go into them all but I can say people like numbers and lists. You can also use adjectives that will improve click through rates. (“The Ultimate Guide to Writing the Perfect Blog Post”)
Remember that your title should always contain your relevant keywords.
That doesn’t mean that the Market Data Report for Sunny Acres has to be titled “Market Data Report for Sunny Acres“. Ugh! While writing it you might have identified 3 key factors that readers should know. If so, the better title might be “3 Surprising Factors in the Sunny Acres Housing Market“. Use your imagination in your titles but above all, stay away from click bait titles. Readers don’t like it and Google doesn’t either.
The Post Content
Surprisingly this might be the easiest part. Remember back in school, those kids that could spit out term papers with ease. We’re going to make you one of those kids!
For every post, we’re going to have a beginning, middle and end.
In the Beginning you’ll simply state what the post is going to be about, what it’s going to cover and perhaps why they should be reading it. You’ll want to use your keywords here as well as sprinkled thru the entire post. Use them casually but don’t keyword stuff. That’s just awkward and Google will penalize you for that.
The Middle is the heart of the post. It can be one paragraph or several hundred (like this). You don’t just want a wall of text though. You need to break it up and make it visually appealing. You can do that with pictures and videos.
You can also use
- numbered or lettered sections to
- help visually break
- up the text
- when applicable (just not like this)
And then there’s the sub titles that identify different sections within the post. I’ve been doing it all along, have you noticed? The bigger sections I’ve changed the font style to what is called H2 and colored them orange. Within those sections I’ve used just a simple BOLDing to accomplish a break.
SEO TIP: Google looks at the H2 for Keywords and puts value in them. It’s a great place to use your keywords. Just do it responsibly.
In the End you’ll do something very similar to the Beginning. Recap what the post was about and why it was of value to them. We’re also going to add a Call to Action there as well. What’s the call to action – that depends on you. You’ll see mine at the bottom. Of course you can always add a CTA to the middle. Look, here’s one now!Sign up for the NewsletterOnce a week, filled with valuable info and no spam - ever!
Forget everything you learned in English
English was one of the more important subjects you took in school. Hopefully you did great! It’ll serve you well in life. Blogging for humans isn’t about proper grammar, sentence structure or punctuation.
It’s all about readability. If you wrote using all the things you learned in English 101, you would end up with book style prose. This isn’t a book (although this post is long enough for a one).
You need to visually break up your text with pictures, bolding and other tricks to make it easier on their eyes. When was the last time you read a book with so many bold subtitles? Never. That’s not how books work, eh?
White Space is Good Space
For me, I write a few sentences and hit the enter key. Was there really supposed to be a new paragraph there? Would my old English teacher have redlined that? You bet your bippy she would!
The thing is, I’m not writing for her here. I’m writing for you. And while you and I both know how to properly form the the possessive singular of nouns there are certain rules I’ll encourage you to break.
Ananya Vinay, a sixth grader at Fugman Elementary School in Fresno took a deep breath. She looked down, paused for a few seconds, repeated the word to herself, licked her lips and spelled it slowly and deliberately.
M a r o c a i n.
Spelling that word correctly won her the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee. I don’t even know what that word means or even if it’s the correct spelling – do you?
In complete opposite to what I said above about sentence structure – spelling and grammar is critical.
Oh wait! Did you just cringe?
See how that works? I just used ‘is’ with two nouns. Ok, I did that on porpoise to prove a point, but…
While we want to use our voice, we still want to use proper spelling when possible and somewhat proper grammar. We want the reader to her the words they are reading as if we were speaking to them.
That said, if you use words in conversation like AIN’T and SEENT we’re going to have you go back to school irregardless of your past schoolin. 😉
Ok, that whole section just made me cringe!
ADDING IMAGES AND VIDEO, AND OH WHY NOT SOUND?
Some of this (images and sound files) is going to be handled by the Media Manager. That’s just a part of your WordPress install. If you didn’t know, I’m on the WordPress Training Team. It’s a great bunch of volunteers (all smarter than me) that are creating a curriculum for teachers to teach new people on the proper use of WordPress. My main contribution was the Managing Media Lesson Plan. While it’s not built to be instructional for you (a student) I’m sure you could get a lot from it.
I’ve peppered images everywhere in this post. Some are screenshots that illustrate a point, some are photos that go along with the section they are in, and some are outright puns. Images break up what we call the Wall of Text. People just don’t want to look a huge blocks of text. Images and white space break that up and improve readability.
IMPORTANT: You cannot use just any image you find online. Every image has a copyright protection built right in. I wrote a post on how to find the right image. The best image is one that you took yourself. I’m a crappy photographer though. That’s why the 2nd best image is one that you can legally use. Most all of these here came from Unsplash.com – check it out.
How to insert images properly
Let’s use a sample image. I like this one. Let’s assume it fits in with the message of the post.
First of let’s download it and get it on your hard drive. This will be same in the case of pulling images from your camera or smartphone as well.
Once it’s on your hard drive the next step is to resize it. Always Resize Your Images. I’m going to show this on my Mac. If you are on a windows machine and need a program for simple image manipulation I recommend IrfanView (it’s free!).
Resizing an image (on a Mac)
Open the image up in Preview. Chances are if you double click on the image your computer is setup so that it does this. If it doesn’t you can always “open with”.
Next, under Tools you’ll see Adjust Size
When the dialogue box opens up make sure you are in pixels, that the Scale Proportionally and Resample boxes are checked and then enter a proper sized width.
You’ll see that the original picture was close to 5,000 pixels wide and I chose to reduce it down to 1,000px. Why 1,000? The largest space available to show an image on a typical website is under 1,000 pixels wide. Anything bigger is just wasted bytes. WordPress is smart. If you uploaded a 5,000 px wide image and put it in a space that is only 700px wide it’ll make it fit neatly inside the container.
That was kind of Inceptionish, eh? Here’s the actual and real picture.
Sidenote: One of my favorite Grateful Dead songs is Standing on the Moon
The Featured Image
There’s a box on the sidebar. It’s asking you to set a featured image. Rule #2 of blogging is to always set a Featured Image. Always. Google will look for a Featured Image. So will Facebook and so will Twitter and so will Linkedin. If someone is sharing your post that Featured Image is what will be picked up and shown. If your has 37 wonderful pictures and you haven’t set one as the Featured Image chances are the crappiest picture (one that’s from the comment section or sidebar) will be picked up and used. When this happens the social network has cached that image and every single other time it’s shared the same crappy image will be shown and you can do just about nothing about it. You have only yourself to blame.
The other reason you want to set a Featured Image is that your theme might be using them to display content elsewhere. This happens a lot on what are called Archive Pages.
In some cases you might need to embed a script. That photo from Unsplash asked me if I wanted to give the photographer credit. They offered up a script that looked like this.
So I copied and pasted that script into my post. To do that, you MUST be in TEXT Editor and not the VISUAL Editor.
Ok, so here’s that photo credit script…
All of that text and all it did was put that little NASA block (and link) there. LOL!
Hey, what else can you add via script? Good question. Here’s an episode of our weekly podcast. It’s on BlogTalkRadio and they offer a simple little embed script.
Oh and since I opened the door. Here’s the last setlist from the Dead & Company Summer Tour.
Remember, everyone is different and some people want sound. How cool is it that you can embed sound files that play right into your posts?
PROTIP: Google makes note of how long people stay on your posts. It’s called Time on Site. The longer you can keep them there the better SEO you’ll have.
While you can upload your video file to WordPress there’s hardly ever a reason to do so. YouTube does such a better job of streaming than your site ever will. So Rule #1 of Video is to always upload them to YouTube and embed them back in your site.
The process is very much like the script I added above. I’ll use a Video I did a while ago on how to embed a video. #meta
- Find the video you want to embed.
- Under the Video you’ll see a SHARE button.
- Click on that and you’ll see an option to Embed. Click on that.
- That’ll open up a box that gives you your embed code. Don’t grab it yet. Instead click on the link that says “Show More”.
- From there you can now change the width of the video. What should that width be? I know for my site the content area is 700px wide.
- Change your width to whatever size you want and then grab the embed code.
- Make sure you are on the TEXT editor (like we did above) and put the iframe script where you want the video to be.
If you watched that video you’ll notice it’s very old. It’s still applicable. The buttons have moved but the process is still the same. You’ll also see the BONUS tip at the end that’ll show you how to drive more traffic back to your site.
We want our content organized. Looking back at the Editorial Calendar you created will give you a good base to start from. WordPress has two things to help organize your posts, Categories and Tags. Let’s talk about each.
Categories are big file folders. You want to use categories smart and sparingly. In our example Calendar I can see creating a Category for the following:
- Sunny Acres
- Woodside Meadows
- Strawberry Hills
and then Categories for
- Market Data Reports
- Lifestyle Posts
- Real Estate
Categories can be nested under Parents as well so you could have something like
- Sunny Acres
- Market Data Reports
- Lifestyle Posts
- Real Estate Posts
- Woodside Meadows
- Market Data Reports
- Lifestyle Posts
- Real Estate Posts
- Strawberry Hills
- Market Data Reports
- Lifestyle Posts
- Real Estate Posts
What’s the best way? Let me ask you… Would a client of your like to see
- ALL the Market Data Posts for ALL the neighborhoods? or
- ALL the Market Data Posts JUST for a single neighborhood?
The answer somewhat determines how you might want to create your category structure.
Tags are optional. They are not at all like categories. Once you write your post you can go in and add tags that might reflect things you mentioned in that post. For instance you might have a lifestyle post about a new Indian Restaurant in town. If you tag the post with “indian” and a reader clicks on that link at the bottom of your post, your site will create an Archive page of all the posts that are also tagged indian. Most of the bloggers I see today don’t use tags. Like I said, they are optional.
RECAP SO FAR…
We’ve written a blog post, given it a title, used our keywords, added pictures, video and maybe sound files and were ready to Publish. Almost.
Remember at the top I mentioned an SEO Plugin? Next we’re going to prep our post for better SEO.
The first rule of writing for SEO is to not write for SEO.
Instead, write for people, do it well and SEO (if you are properly setup) will happen.
That doesn’t mean we can’t take what we’ve written and improve upon it- right?
The first thing that Yoast will ask you for is to identify a keyword or phrase.
All this is for is to have the tool analyze the post for that keyword (or key phrase). When you put a word into that box you’ll get a Green, Yellow, Red or Grey light that will show you how your post relates to that keyword. As an example I entered the word “Banana” (this is the first time I mentioned it). Below the keyword box you’ll now see a bunch of recommendations on what to do better to rank for the word Banana.
I’ll get to meta descriptions next but obviously this post sucks when it comes to the word Banana (as it should).
Meta Description: You’ll notice in the preview that the post title is listed, followed by a short description using the first hundred or so characters from the post. Have you seen results in Google that instead have an enticing description and wondered how they did that? They added a Meta Description and that’s what Google uses when they show your post or page instead of the first few sentences.
You can do that too. Just click on that Edit snippet button.
You’ll have the opportunity to rewrite three boxes ( Meta Title, Slug, and Meta Description)
If your site’s permalink structure is proper it’ll automatically include your title so the SEO Title and Slug don’t need to be messed with. If your posts have permalinks like http://yoursite.com/post1234 you should call me immediately. You need serious help.
What you should do is adapt the Meta Description so that people seeing it in Google will be more enticed to click. I changed mine to
Notice that it not only is descriptive of the post, it’s also enticing AND employs some of the keywords I want this site to rank well for (SEO, Blog Post).
In Google this post will look like this:
Pretty cool? I think so too! Did you know we can do the same for Facebook and Twitter? Just click on the little share icon and you’ll see similar boxes to rewrite the Meta Description.
PRO TIP: What I do once for the “Google” Meta Description I then cut and paste the same thing for the Facebook Meta Description.
Green Lights: One of the best things about Yoast is that it shows you how to improve your posts for a particular keyword. But a single Keyword (or phrase) isn’t where you want to stop. Try other keywords.
The Green Light isn’t the Holy Grail. It’s just a guide. You don’t have to attain a Green Light for every keyword, every post.
Oh, and I know someone is going to ask about the other check box for Cornerstone Content. Let’s just leave that unchecked. When you get a few hundred posts we can talk – but for now, just leave it unchecked.
CONCLUSION AND CALL TO ACTION:
Blogging is dead stupid simple. It should be. Blogging better takes a little more work, and Blogging in the best way that you can takes an enormous amount of work. The good news is that with the help of this post you can start writing Perfect Blog Posts – right?
It took me quite a while to write this post (hours and hours of my free time) and I’m giving it to you absolutely free with no strings attached. So do me a favor…
Comment on this post – let’s start a conversation!
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