Regularly publishing valuable content will increase website traffic and conversions.
If your company is currently blogging or you’re looking to start a blog, consider these tips. They will help guide you in the right direction. Knowing how to write better blog posts will improve your search engine ranking results (SERPs) and drive readers to take action.
To start, develop a content strategy. Neglecting this stage could actually be detrimental down the road. However, this article doesn’t touch on this specific element — sorry! To learn how to create an effective content strategy for blogging and beyond, listen to this podcast.
This article particularly focuses on the nitty-gritty of the blog post itself. These blog writing tips can be applied immediately and should, over time, help the ranking of your blog posts which means more people will be exposed to your helpful content, your brand, and what your company offers. What happens once your posts start gaining traction, website traffic increases, and more visitors are converting into leads? We’ll cover that topic in another post. :)
One step at a time, right?
For now, let’s get your blog posts in good shape so that offer valuable content, have a clear next step for readers, and are optimized for search engines. Follow these blog writing tips, and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Settle on your topic and determine your keyword(s).
Once you have your subject matter, take a moment to settle on a keyword or phrase. While it’s more important to provide valuable content that’s written for people not search engines (keyword stuffing is so pre-Penguin), it’s still a best practice to incorporate keywords.
To determine a keyword, you can pay for tools like MOZ, Ahrefs, SpyFu, WordStream, SEMrush, Keywords Everywhere, or use free tools like Answer the Public, Keyword Sheeter, or Google’s Search Console, autocomplete, or related search results.
While on your hunt for a keyword, look at the monthly search volume and the rate of competition. Words with the highest search volume and low competition are ideal.
As you’re figuring out which keyword or keyword phrase you want to target, keep a running list of related terms, aka semantic keywords. Those should be sprinkled throughout your post.
2. Land on consistent blog writing formats.
While you may be using a blog template to create your posts, which in part helps determine your format, there are other things you need to keep an eye on — like font use, image sizes, whether headers are complete sentences or always title-case, etc.
It’s always a best practice to break up paragraphs so that they’re not too dense or long. Making your post easy to consume will benefit readers. Bullet points, white space, images, and graphics work great to break up paragraphs. When used reasonably, your content becomes instantly easier to read and digest.
Here are some other format-related items to consider.
- Internal links: Internal links should push readers to other pages on your website that provide additional value or more insight. How many internal links do you want to aim for in each post? Aiming for 2-3 is a good goal. Think about anchor text as you do this.
- External links: External links, or outbound links, push to helpful information on other websites. Once thought to be a bad practice (why encourage people to leave your site to visit another?!), it’s no longer seen that way. If adding an external link adds value and greater depth of insight into the subject matter of your post, don’t be stingy. Guide your readers to more helpful insights. Even so, it’s good to determine a range of links that you aim to add to the post. How many external links do you want in each post? Aiming for 2-3 is a good start.
- Call to Action (CTA): What does your CTA look like? It doesn’t need to be paragraph; it could simply be hyperlinked text that directions your reader to the next action you want them to take. A CTA can also take the form of a button. (Note: It’s best to use only one CTA per post.) Also, it’s a good practice to make sure all the links in your blog post except your CTA open in new tabs.
- Writing style: Choose a style guide and stick to it. For instance, use the AP Stylebook or Chicago Manual as your guides to grammar style and usage. Additionally, creating a systematic process for checking grammar, spelling, tone, and originality is a must-have. At TANK New Media, we use the AP Stylebook, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Grammarly, SEMrush’s Google Doc Add-on, Writing Assistant. Because we use HubSpot’s marketing and blogging software, we also use HubSpot’s helpful in-software blog optimization tool.
It may feel like there are too many processes and systems that play into the formatting of a blog post. Don’t worry. Take one thing at a time, and refine processes as you go. You don’t have to have everything figured out perfectly the first few times you publish a blog post.
The trick is to create consistency. Consistency breeds familiarity and often results in a clear, professional, and helpful blog post — all of which work toward building your audience and making actionable next steps easy to find and follow.
This isn’t directly related to formats or formatting per se, but it’s important that you create a writing and publishing schedule so that you’re getting your content out the door on a consistent basis. Producing new and valuable content regularly is essential to your readers and to search engines. As more content from your site is indexed, your site's ranking becomes increasingly likely to improve its position as well as its prominence among potential readers.
3. Determine where drafts will live and how they will be reviewed.
This may not seem like a big deal, but for editing purposes and organization, it is. The more revisions you have, the more essential it is to use a writing platform that accommodates and tracks even the smallest change.
Think Google Docs, Microsoft Office Online, Quip, Paper by Dropbox, GatherContent, and Zoho Docs. These platforms allow a team of writers and collaborators to review and edit without the concern of mixing up versions.
Additionally, if you’re the one writing the post, before handing it off to your proofreader (should you be so lucky to have one), be sure to have a process in place that will help to catch glaring errors.
Even though spell check and Grammarly exist, and you might have a keen eye, always run your content through a “clean up” process. What does that even mean?
Well, consider printing your post and reading it out loud. You'll be surprised how much you catch when you can hear yourself reading. Or drop your content into Google Translate and listen to it as it’s read. If a bot is stumbling over a word or if a sentence sounds off, the chances are good that you can fix that content or make it better.
The last blog writing tip for this section: name your posts clearly. Yep. Not kidding. Nomenclature can make or break a digital filing system. Decide how you’re going to name and organize your posts, and stick with that structure.
4. Write for readers!
While using keywords is good and helpful, it’s vital that the content in your post is valuable to your target audience.
In his post, Should We Write Content for People or Search Engines?, Sam Hollingsworth, a contributor to the trusted SEO go-to source, Search Engine Journal, writes,
"But all too often, digital content writers worry too much about ‘writing for SEO,’ mistakenly focusing on writing for search engines instead of the human beings who are actually reading the content.They worry too much about content length, keyword density, using keyword variations, and adding local modifiers. And not because it helps the user — because it could potentially help SEO efforts.This is problematic for a number of reasons, but most importantly because Google and other search engines don’t need us to write for them.”
Find out what your audience wants to know, what questions they have, what problems they need solved. Offering ideas, tips, and solutions to problems will resonate with readers. You can do this through one blog post or a series.
And while post length isn’t necessarily a determining factor in ranking algorithms, aiming to hit 800-1,200 words usually means you’ve thoroughly covered a subject. While there are much shorter posts out there that rank on page 1 or 2 of the SERPs, it’s not an excuse to be lazy.
Sam continues to say,
"Google (or any other search engine) doesn’t need us to write content that is specifically designed for it. Google serves its users, and it wants content to serve them as well. If you write good content for people, Google will reward. The same cannot be said for content that is strictly written for search engines.
SEO guru, Neil Patel writes in his post, SEO Copywriting: How to Write Content For People and Optimize For Google:
"SEO copywriting is all about creating useful, compelling and valuable content that targets specific keywords so that other people will gladly promote it on social media platforms. This increases the authority and relevance of your content and improves its ranking in Google for the selected keywords. So when you highly recommend something, Google sees it relevant and you will achieve greater SEO content results.”
So, write for people, not search engines. Period.
5. Push past the dreaded “writer’s block.”
We’d be remiss not to mention this point. Writing can be challenging some days. While the subject at hand could be interesting, and you know it will resonate with your audience, sitting down to focus can feel overwhelming. Or maybe you got a great start, but you’re not sure how to wrap it up. In both cases, you feel stuck, right? So what can you do to unstick yourself?
Here are some ideas: Get up from your desk to get a fresh cup of coffee. Go talk to a coworker. Take a jog around the block. Check Facebook. Text a friend. Surf the web. You could even let your article sit overnight.
The HuffPost article, 5 Reasons Boredom Can Be Good For Your Health, says what many scientists have been saying for years:
"Giving your mind a break from the constant stimulation of technology allows it to better take in new things and have new thoughts, which can boost creativity. Neuroscience research has even found that daydreaming involves the same processes that govern imagination and creativity.”
In other words, it’s ok to walk away from your blog post. Actually, it’s beneficial.
Let your mind wander. When you come back, you’ll likely have some new ideas that will help you button up your article.
6. Assign a tag/topic to each blog post.
Proper organization of categories makes a HUGE difference for Google being able to tell what your blog is about.
Yoast post, Using category and tag pages for SEO, says:
"Your category archives are more important than individual pages and posts. If your site is a blog and you write several articles about a topic, your category for that topic should be #1 in the search result.”
Additionally, blog topic pages can function as resource pillar pages and rank in SERPs. We've seen this first hand.
For instance, when searching for "best digital marketing services," you could find https://www.tanknewmedia.com/blog/topic/digital-marketing in your results, not https://www.tanknewmedia.com/how-our-digital-marketing-agency-can-help-your-business-grow.
So, name your topic/tags appropriately and assign at least one to each blog post you publish.
Here are your key takeaways.
Alright. It’s time to land this plane. Create a plan to implement these things, and your website traffic will increase as will your conversions.
- Settle on your topic and determine your keyword(s). While on your hunt for a keyword, look at the monthly search volume and the rate of competition. Words with the highest search volume and low competition are ideal. As you’re figuring out which keyword or keyword phrase you want to target, keep a running list of semantic keywords. Those should be sprinkled throughout your post.
- Land on consistent blog writing formats. Beyond the blog template, think about font use, image sizes, whether headers should be complete sentences or always title-case, how you will break up paragraphs so that they're easy to read and digest, what CTAs will look like, and which writing guides you'll reference.
- Determine where drafts will live and how they will be reviewed. Use a platform that allows a team of writers and collaborators to review and edit without the concern of mixing up versions. Also, take great measures to name posts clearly and file them in the same structure.
- Write for readers! While using keywords is good and helpful, it's more important that the content in your post is valuable to your target audience.
- Push past the dreaded "writer's block." When you feel stuck, it's ok to walk away from your blog post. Actually, it's beneficial, so do it.
- Assign a tag/topic to each blog post. Proper organization of categories and category pages make a HUGE difference for Google being able to tell what your blog is about, so name your topic/tags appropriately and assign at least one to each blog post you publish.
Need help with your company’s blog?
We’d love to help you! Our digital marketing agency is staffed with passionate people who are experts in their field. If it’s creating a marketing strategy that considers your business KPIs, building a new website that offers a great user experience and can convert leads into customers, setting up a blog that attracts readers and compels them to take action, showcasing your branding through design or beyond — check us out.
More blog writing tips:
5 Things to Consider When Creating a Content Strategy for the Web
If you've spent some time in the world of online marketing, you’ve probably heard the phrase,...
What does CMS stand for? A smarter way to manage your web content.
You are probably asking, "what does CMS stand for and why you need one?" Well, CMS stands for...
6 Ways to Freshen Up Your Content Marketing
It’s Time! The flowers are starting to bud, the bees are starting to buzz… it’s Spring cleaning!...