I’m launching a few new websites in the coming weeks. Did you know that once I build your site, I spend one on one time with you and train you to use the new tool to achieve the goals we built it for? Most every training session covers the simple topic of how to write a blog post.
“WordPress provides a box for a title and another for the body. Just put something in to each box, click publish and you be done, eh?“
You could do that. That would be easy, and chances are that in a short while your blog would die from lack of readers, your frustration and eventual abandonment. Want to do it better? I thought so. Let’s rename this “How to properly write a blog post” instead.
Can we start with a basic premise? We’re writing for humans. We can use the power of SEO, social media, bots and spiders to attract more eyeballs to the post but in the end it’s actual humans we want to write for. What you want them to do after they read your stuff starts with the goals you’ve set forth in creating the post or site to begin with. Everyone is going to be different. Know Your Goals.
Naked Truth: My goal with this post is to attract interested and motivated people that are new to blogging, give them some great information, slip in a few “I build websites” and encourage them to either click on a Call to Action or enter my incubation plan so that when they are ready I’ll be top of mind (ok, it’s just a newsletter).
Do a google search and you’ll find there’s no shortage of opinions on how to write a blog post. I even found a cool infographic (that image on the right). But this is my site, my post and so… This is my opinion. Cool?
STEP 1: Start with a title. Don’t write it down (yet). Right now that title is the topic of your post. Scribble it on a piece of paper if you like.
STEP 2: Start writing the post. Just start writing. Write, write, and write. Get all the points you want to make written out. It doesn’t matter where you put ideas – we’ll reorganize next.
STEP 3: Step back and read what you have. You’ll find that some things might be better grouped together. Bullet points might help. Cut, paste, move, delete and rewrite as needed. This doesn’t take long. How many words? 300 or more would be great. This post? I’m over 1,400 and that’s WAY TOO LONG!
STEP 4: Craft an Intro. For clarity I put mine above the horizontal line. Essentially the Intro should explain why people should want to read this post.
STEP 4a: Use an SEO Plugin. I build one into every site. It will help alert you to possible better ways to do things based on your keywords. For instance, the plugin might remind you to use a keyword in your title or the first paragraph that you want to rank high in. It’s a great tool when used as a guideline – just remember we’re writing for humans. On top of the plugin, make sure you have a proper Robots.txt file and Sitemap going. If you do, they should be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools. (Clients of mine don’t have to worry about that)
STEP 5: Now craft a Title. Now that you have a better idea of the final product, give it a title that contains your keyword(s), is descriptive of the post, and may entice someone to click to read more.
STEP 6: Craft an equally captivating Outro. Something that sums up the post and includes your particular Call to Action. Once again, I put mine below the horizontal line just so you can identify it. I often also use a Bonus at the end to reward those that reach the bottom of my page.
STEP 7: Spell check the post, save the draft and Preview it. Don’t skim your post, read every word. Is it grammatically correct? Does it need a line or space between something? Go make those changes.
STEP 8: Add pictures, images, and /or video. Don’t steal pictures from the internet – that’s a no no. Use your own images, buy ones you can legally use, or learn how to find images that are legal for you to use. (hint: that was a link you should have clicked).
I’ll always include at least one picture. Pictures help break up the text. I don’t always put my pictures in right justified, sometimes they look better in the middle or to the left.
SEO TIP: When you add an image, make sure you retitle it (never leave it as img1234.jpg) and always add an ALT image tag.
NOTE: If your site is on WordPress version 3.9 you may have noticed that you can no longer add a border to an image, or resize it, or even add a margin to better separate the text from the image. I’ve heard some people say it’s a bug – it isn’t. It was planned and built into the WP core. If you are missing those functions there’s a plugin you can add that brings all that back. It’s called Advanced Image Styles.
To embed a youtube video you’ll want to switch from the Visual mode to the Text mode. I always add my video last. I know where I want to put it while in the visual mode and simple mark it with a XX. When I switch to Text mode my marker is easy to find. Delete the XX and insert the video code.
STEP 9: ALWAYS SET A FEATURED IMAGE. Yes, I did that all in CAPS. Why? The Featured image might be used for your website in the slider on the home page. It might be used in the thumbnails on the home page. It might be used in category archive pages. Every theme does things different but pretty much all of them will use the Featured Image for something. Know who else will look for your Featured Image? Facebook. If someone shares your post on Facebook (have you shared this one yet) the network will look at the URL, gather all sorts of relevant information and use that in the Status Update.
STEP 9a: The same goes for the Excerpt. Here’s how a recent post of mine looks when shared over to Facebook.
If you DO NOT designate an Excerpt, chances are your post when it shows in a Google search will contain the first 100 or so characters of your post. That’s never a good thing. Write an Excerpt that will encourage people to click to read more. Here’s my last post as it shows in Google with the excerpt I wrote.
Go read that post (https://areweconnected.com/social-media/five-posts-to-read/) and you won’t find those words anywhere within the post. I wrote them specifically for Google and Facebook viewers. That’s why you should always write an Excerpt. You’ll also see my smirking face there – that’s because I have Google Authorship with my site. It’s something I build into every site (like yours).
STEP 10: Add the post to the appropriate Category, add Tags as needed. Categories should be in line with our Category plan (think narrow) while Tags can be wild and numerous.
STEP 11: Give it all a final Draft save, check everything once more and click that Publish Button! (or Schedule it to publish later)
Phew! Is that it? Yes and no. Congrats on writing a great blog post. Now help yourself by sharing it to ALL the social circles. It’s OK. I’m the first one to share my post (right after it’s published) to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus and more.
Now we’re done. Follow these 11 simple steps to create content that looks good, can be found easily (SEO) and can be shared with much better results. Remember we’re writing for humans but it’s ok to have SEO drive a few new people naturally over to our site. Right about now you might be wondering how to get a site that does this kind of magic…
Am I right?
BONUS: When I build a site I also include tools for SEO for you to use. They allow you to overwrite the title, add meta tags, meta data, meta keywords and so much more. It’s important to remember that just because you ‘SEO enrich’ the crap out of your posts you still need quality content in the body. I’ve been saying this forever. Don’t want to listen to me? Would you believe it if the ‘head’ of Google told you? (pun fully intended)