For most bloggers, the goal of writing a blog post is to give value to readers in the form of high quality content that converts them into subscribers. In business blogging, the hope is that blogging also generates new business leads, because continuously growing an audience and converting traffic into leads through a website blog is imperative for the digital growth of brands. That is why knowing how to write a great blog post is not just a business requirement, but also a significant and valuable business accelerator.
Here are the 6 essential steps for writing your very own great blog post on any topic, as well as how to optimize it with SEO to attract search traffic to your blog:
Table of Contents
Click to jump to any section below:
Step 1: Compose Your Outline
Content writing can take various forms and structures, so it helps to first envision the outline of your post and how it will be constructed. For a great blog post, information should be accurate, organized in short classified paragraphs of 4-5 lines, with the meat of the story outlined at the very top.
The headings atop each section of a blog post are often used as a high-level outline of it. The verbiage used in the headings of each section within your outline should reflect your own unique writing style, but must also include the keywords you are targeting for maximum search engine optimization (SEO) of your blog post.
The next 5 steps will take you through the remaining blog post production process and demonstrate how you should research, compose, upload, and finally promote and distribute your blog post, as well as track and evaluate its performance.
Outlines can also be useful to your readers. For example, if you notice above, we have included jump links to all of the outlined sections of this blog post as a kind of “clickable Table of Contents” that helps readers quickly navigate to the information in this blog that interests them most.
Step 2: Thoroughly Research Your Topic
Research is fundamental to the success of any blog strategy. Writing a great blog post starts with keyword research. Using the right keywords is important so that your blog post targets the right audience organically through search engine optimization (SEO).
Having created a great Headline and Introduction, your next step naturally is to begin writing your blog post content. While you will apply your own unique style of writing, you must also be sure to use the right keywords in the right place to maximize the reach and relevance of your blog, for both users and search engines.
While SEO in today’s world is about more than keywords, thanks to a highly evolved Google algorithm that factors in many more search ranking signals, keywords still play a role in the search performance of your blog. There are a few free keyword research tools, along with premium tools, that can help you identify the right set of keywords for the topic of your blog post:
Some Free Keyword Research Tools
Some Premium Keyword Research Tools
Whether you are a beginner or a subject matter expert, background research improves your awareness on the topic of your blog. Thinking through your topic deeply helps reveal and refine your blog post’s unique value proposition. This research will help you recognize and capitalize on the opportunities that other blog posts related to your topic might have missed out on or improve upon what has already been written.
Background research can be done through referring into other written blog posts on subject matter, studying the industry patterns or by communicating with the industry experts. High quality content published by these resources can also become an important part of adding credibility and SEO to your blog when they are linked as external source citations, further extending the blog post’s reach.
Competitive Research helps you in identifying the best practices of the high ranking websites that are winning the keywords you are targeting with your blog post. Observing the keywords used by competitor blog posts through Google Search you get an insight into the competitors positioning in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and their reasons for ranking higher. You can also observe the differences in the layout and observe if it includes featured snippets or ads on top of the SERP.
Know your audience before you write your blog. Start by identifying your primary personas that will be addressed in the blog post. For example, if you were targeting audiences within the B2B (business-to-business) ecosystem your personas may include Marketing Directors, CMOs, CEOs, Brand Managers, and Sales Directors.
Look at characteristics of your past customers. If you have leads, review existing leads – reverse search individuals on LinkedIn, for example to see who they are. Identify the types of people and businesses you want to attract. You are making some assumptions.
Search job titles on job sites to see their responsibilities, qualifications, and skills. This can validate if they might be someone responsible for doing business with you. Identify whether they are the decision makers, or gatekeepers, and what you might need to do to appeal to both groups.
Look at competitor websites to see if they list target industries that they are trying to reach. Identify their search criteria and find out what kind of blogs they might be interested in. What market information are they seeking for? The market intelligence you share on your blog post must appeal to their interests.
Step 3: Write the Main Content
The actual blog post writing process becomes much easier once you properly complete Steps 1 and 2 by outlining and thoroughly researching your topic beforehand.
Headlines and Headings
Writing a catchy headline and a great introduction sets up the reader and invites them to continue reading the contents of the blog, just like what you read above. High quality headlines are essential for communicating the subject matter and information within a great blog post at a glance.
Once you have settled on a compelling and catchy headline and introduction for your blog post, your next step is composing the best headings for all the sections in your blog post.
Headings are important for two reasons:
1. Headings Help Readers Skim and Navigate Blog Posts
First, many readers have a tendency to skim through blog posts before taking the time to actually read it thoroughly. In these cases, having informative and useful headings directs their attention to the section of your blog post that interests them the most. For a great blog post, the headings accompanying each paragraph should be catchy enough to grab their attention, but also distinct and directly relevant to what’s contained in the paragraph.
2. Headings are Important for SEO
The second reason headings are important relates to their effect on your blog post’s performance in search. Much like readers do, search engine crawler bots use headings in your blog post as “signposts” that give them more clues about what is contained within a section of content, as well as how that section contextually relates to the blog post as a whole—which also helps the search engine understand more about how the post relates to all other pages of the website.
Your blog post must be supported by a well-written thesis statement that communicates the goals, intent, and contents of the blog. It should be User centric–remember you write for your audience, not for yourself, your company, or your brand. Each supporting section of your blog should seek to answer the questions or ideas presented to the audience in your main thesis statement, and each section within the blog post itself should lead with a shortened, summarized version of a thesis statement.
Writing the Content
There’s no secret to success here. You’ve done the research, you’ve made an outline, you’ve written headlines and introductions for each section of your blog post. Now you must begin writing the contents of the blog post, and there’s no magic formula to getting started or producing the copy you need. Every writer must find a process that works for them, but it is always easier when using your outline as a guide and your research to support your blog post’s more salient and compelling points.
No matter your writing process, be sure to write the contents of your blog in such a way that it flows from beginning to end. For example, you are now reading step 3 of a blog that is constructed as 6 sequential steps. This particular blog format is unique because you can easily scroll to different sections if you want to review one particular step, rather than consuming this from start to finish as intended. However, in most cases your blog should naturally progress from start to finish.
We all agree that a picture speaks a thousand words, and blog posts are no exception to the rule. Where your blog post content may be the king, its imagery would be the invaluable queen, forming a perfect royal combination for a great blog post. Writers can accumulate imagery for their blog post from 3 different kinds of sources, based on your available budget and goals for image quality:
- Creating your own images – This takes time and requires design or image editing resources that you may or may not have access to, but also gives you full control over the quality and design aesthetics of your blog post’s imagery.
- Licensing images – Naturally, this costs money, so it is only a viable option for adding imagery to your blog post if you have the budget, but the upside is that licensed images are typically high-quality and still cost less than it would cost for you to create the image or hire someone else to create it.
- Creative commons – This is an option for locating free imagery that you can download and use within your blog post without needing to pay a licensing or subscription fee. However, these images are generally of low quality, so they may not be much help for making your post more appealing or readable to your audience.
Editing and Revision
Once the blog post is written and imagery is added, it is important to go through an editing and revision phase for quality assurance. Many times, reviewing and revisiting a blog post after the first draft is written not only catches possible mistakes and errors, but also inspires new ideas that can be added to make the blog post more complete and improve its quality.
Spelling and Grammar Check
It’s important to use proper grammar and punctuation that matches the expectations of your target audience. For example, if you’re writing for an audience that is used to British English, you would want to make sure that spelling variations such as “color” vs. “colour” are appropriately checked and edited within your blog post.
Ease of Reading
Writing a readable blog post that uses simple terminology, and defines any obscure or expert terms for the reader, is essential not only for making your blog post more attractive and useful, but also accessible. Guidelines for accessible web content specify that text should not exceed a 10th grade reading level.
If you want to check the readability of a piece of content, you can use free tools such as Readability Formulas and verify by simply copy and pasting your text into the page. Another tool is the Hemingway app.
Appearance and Imagery
Make sure the supporting graphics and images included in your blog post support your brand identity and goals for the content. Additionally, you want the language used in headings and captions to match the voice and tone of your brand. Reviewing these once the blog post is complete ensures your post maintains visual integrity, brand alignment, and aesthetic appeal for readers.
Step 4: Optimize Your Blog Post for Organic Search
For a great blog post to attract inbound traffic from search engines organically, it must follow several key best practices for search engine optimization (SEO). This includes optimizing both the on-page content and the page’s structural code (known as technical SEO) to ensure the blog post is properly indexed and delivering the optimal user experience, which is critical when competing with other search-optimized articles for top rankings in online search results.
The proper use of headings in your blog post is not only critical for SEO, but also supports the best reader experience in many ways:
- Correct Heading Nesting — The headings in your blog post must be semantically correct and nested properly; that means, for example, your first heading formatted as an H2 should never come before your H1. This hierarchy is not only expected by search engines, but also used by assistive technologies like screen readers that allow visually impaired people to browse websites—meaning correctly nested headings support web accessibility, which should be prioritized by digital content publishers.
- Descriptive Headings — Writing headings that are descriptive helps readers understand how the information in your blog post is organized at a glance so they can navigate the post with ease. They also factor into the search performance of your blog post.
- Keyword Optimized HeadingsKeyword usage in your headings should be intentional and strategic, since they indicate to search engines which topics are most relevant to your content. Including a good mix of relevant keywords in your blog post headings will helping your page rank higher for the search queries you’re targeting.
Internal linking is one of the strongest and fastest ways to improve the SEO and user experience of any page on your website, and blog posts are no exception. In your blog post, look for opportunities to link the reader to other pages or posts on your website. This not only helps them by providing a pathway to read more about a particular topic that interests them, but also distributes what is known as “link equity” among the pages of your site, helping them all rank higher in search.
Page Titles, as opposed to the actual blog title, are dictated in the code of the page, specifically its meta tag. Writing a strategic and compelling Page Title for your blog will persuade more web users browsing search results online to click through to your page instead of other results, so it is important for SEO. The Page Title does not necessarily have to match the blog title verbatim. For example, a blog post about drawing may simply be titled “A Beginner’s Guide to Drawing” but the Page Title could be “A Beginner’s Guide to Drawing – Get a Free eBook” to entice searchers to click my search result for the free download.
Meta Descriptions have minimal effect, if any, on the search ranking of your blog. However just like Page Titles, writing a good Meta Description for your blog post will help entice search audiences to click your page in search results and read your content instead of your competitor’s. Try to be concise, but descriptive and helpful to readers so they know what to expect and feel tempted to click through.
Structured Data / Schema Markup
For maximum visibility in today’s search results, blog posts must implement structured data in the form of schema markup. This is a vital component of technical SEO, and supports voice search performance of blog posts as well. Schema markup is the reason you see many of what are called Featured Snippets in Google and other search engines, because they help crawlers interpret and understand page content more comprehensively than on-page markup like anchor text, headings, and keywords. This is a technique for more advanced SEOs, so authors who aren’t skilled in technical SEO should consider hiring outside help to write their schemas.
Using the right keywords (and avoiding the wrong ones) in your URL will help your blog post rank in search for related keywords you are targeting. There are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Length — Try to keep your URLs as short as possible. While Google claims the length of URLs makes no difference to search engines, limiting them to 50-60 characters still helps web users understand what’s on your page before clicking through.
- Keywords — It’s important to include the main keyword or keyphrase you’re targeting with your blog post in the page’s URL. But before you go stuffing a bunch of keywords in your URL, know that each additional keyword placed in the URL dilutes the power of all keywords.
- Dates — Avoid including dates in your URL (e.g. “example.com/blog/01/01/2020/the-new-year/”) unless they are necessary and directly relevant to the topic (e.g. “example.com/blog/the-war-of-1812/”). As your blog post ages, having a date in the URL might dissuade audiences from clicking through because the date is too far in the past—even if you keep updating the content. Most blog readers want fresh information and are inherently biased towards newly published content over aging content, so a past date in the URL might dissuade many of them from clicking through to view your post.
Step 5: Promote and Distribute Your Blog
You may decide to invest time and resources into gaining publicity and awareness for your blog. If that is the case, there are a few effective strategies for increasing your blog post’s visibility online.
Earning inbound links to your blog post from credible sources benefits your blog’s search engine optimization (SEO) and achieving any form of coverage for a content piece from a top quality publication is considered of value to your own brand credibility.
Don’t think of this as asking for charity from publishers. Online publishers appreciate help finding stories and other content that offer something genuinely useful for their audiences. Cultivating relationships with online publishers like Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Forbes, io9, Cosmopolitan, CNN and many other popular online publications helps as it mutually benefits both, the blogger and the publisher.
Social Media Promotion
A piece of content that gives benefit to users is likely to be shared more often if it carries interesting facts and has a few lists and graphics. Posting various information bites with links can give further credibility to your blog as a part of social media marketing.
A well-written blog post should not be an island. Promoting it to your social media accounts and groups on social platforms like Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Reddit, and others will help your post reach and engage a larger audience throughout the social media landscape.
You may often see the People Also Ask box when you search your blog’s target keywords in Google. Finding matching questions on Quora and commenting with a link to your blog post is a great way to connect your content with the answers that your audience is seeking there.
Once you write a great blog and it is positioned to perform well in online search and social media, it must be added to your email campaign cadence in order to extend its reach to your subscriber list.
However, not all blog posts should necessarily be sent to your entire email subscriber list. Assuming you have properly and strategically segmented your email list, targeting your blog promotion to specific segments based on their likely interest in the topics within the blog post will increase the effectiveness of those email campaigns.
Your audience consists of both target customers and influencers like bloggers, online media outlets, and journalists. By exploring the existing work of a particular journalist or blogger, you can form an understanding of the sorts of content that will likely appeal to them and their audience, and whether your blog post is the right fit for them. Identify these market influencers and approach them with the idea of building a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship where you can provide new content that helps them gain readership just as it helps your blog post gain traction.
Step 6: Reporting and Tracking Performance
There are several main key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure the success of your blog based on its search ranking and the traffic it attracts to your website organically:
Search Rankings (SEO Monitoring)
You can integrate your website with free tools such as Google Search Console, which will provide insights such as which keyword search queries are generating organic search traffic that clicks through Google search results to read your blog post. For more automated reporting and tracking of keyword performance, there are paid or subscription SEO tools available such as Moz or SEMrush that can monitor rankings for your blog post and all of its ranking keywords across multiple search engines and locations.
Technical SEO Performance
These days, search engines are a lot smarter. Keywords are only part of the equation if you want your blog post to rank at the top of search results organically. After publishing your blog post, you should use free tools like Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to measure your post’s page performance and note any issues or challenges. If your blog is connected to Google Search Console, you can also verify that the schemas and structured data you have implemented within the blog post are recognized by Google’s Rich Results test.
Web Traffic Visiting Your Blog
As mentioned above, Search Console is one way of tracking organic search traffic to your blog post through Google. However, if you want to see all traffic viewing your blog post, you can use a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics to observe how many visitors enter the blog post from each marketing channel, including social networks, paid ads, and other websites that link to the post.
Use Google Analytics or other website analytics platforms to observe the traffic your blog post earns for your website, and take advantage of features to set up reporting that will help you track and monitor these performance metrics over time. Seeing the blog grow in traffic will tell you that both visitors and search engines are gradually considering your blog post a quality resource worth reading. Seeing a drop or a lack of traffic to your blog post may indicate it needs a lot of work to update and strengthen its performance through on-page strategies such as organic and technical SEO, and off-page strategies such as link building.
As you observe data and analytics generated by the web traffic coming to your blog post, there are 3 key performance metrics that will give you a sense of how well your post is engaging your readers:
This metric will indicate how often your readers click through to view your blog, then click away from the website. You want this KPI to be as low as possible, because that means visitors find your post useful and informative, and are clicking your links to other pages within the post (of which there should be several, as we mentioned in best practices above).
Average Session Duration
Knowing how long your visitors are staying and reading your blog post will provide insight into how well your content keeps them engaged and on-site. Watch for any variations in this performance metric, and perhaps drill down to examine the differences in how long visitors from certain channels stay compared with visitors from other sources—it may provide clues to which audiences your content resonates with the most, allowing you to shift your content publishing and promotion strategy to focus on cultivating that segment of your readership.
Pages Per Session
The number of pages your visitors view per browsing session gives you insight into how well your blog post is persuading readers to click through to view other pages on your website. As mentioned near the beginning of this post, one of your business goals for writing a great blog post is to turn readers into subscribers, and eventually into new business leads. This can be accomplished in the blog post by placing effective calls to action within the post that draw the readers to click through to landing pages designed to convert them into leads.
Using Traffic Data to Optimize Content
By observing and logging the above-mentioned KPIs, you can identify more opportunities to make your blog post article perform even better, including:
- Updating the blog post’s Page Title and meta description for improved search visibility, based on how well the post is ranking for the keywords you’re targeting.
- Modifying or adding keywords used throughout the blog post, especially in headings and anchor text, to include a broader or more strategic mix of long-tail synonyms and phrases.
- Adding new content by observing the “People also Ask” box in Google search results and incorporating the new information you see being requested.
- Adding, updating, and enhancing any structured data or schema markup embedded within the blog post’s code.
Blogging Tip: Add A Helpful Conclusion
As you finish writing your blog post, it is important to compose a conclusion that briefly summarizes the contents of the article and, when appropriate, offers practical next steps that might help your reader continue to grow their knowledge and discover how you can help them solve a problem.
To that end, we have included a handy checklist that can guide writers as you write your next great blog post. Let us know if you find it helpful, or if you believe more could be added to this checklist:
The Great Blog Post Writing Checklist
- Have you defined a set of goals for your blog post?
- Have you created an outline for your blog post?
- Have you identified your target audience(s)?
- Have you done background research on the subject matter?
- Do you have a set of prioritized keywords, along with relative long-tail keywords?
- Have you created a catchy headline along with a great introduction?
- Are your target keywords used in your content in a natural, conversational way that reflects your own unique writing style?
- Do you have section headings (H1, H2, etc.), unordered (<ul>) and ordered (<ol>) lists, and paragraphs (<p>) properly nested and marked in the page’s HTML code?
- Have you interlinked your blog post with other pages of your website for maximum search performance and support of user journeys?
- Did you make sure all external links are valid and properly set to either open in new windows or click through to new pages?
- Do all images have alternative text that describes them accurately?
- Are any unlicensed images properly credited and sourced?
- Do you have effective calls to action placed throughout your blog post?
- Did you live preview your blog post to test and make sure all the above elements are included and displaying properly?
- Have you defined the timelines for periodic review, tracking performance and periodically updating the blog post contents?
- Finally: Do a quick read-through to ensure the blog post is appealing enough, has the right cadence, and conveys the emotions and messaging you want readers to experience when they land on your page and read your post.
You’re Ready to Write a Great Blog
Follow the steps outlined above, as well as our helpful tips and checklist, and you will be on your way to writing a high-quality blog post that earns traffic for your website, promotes your brand, converts readers into subscribers, and generates new leads for your business. Happy blogging!
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