I’ll be straight with you – I see a lot of rubbish blog posts online. Even when I’m reading work from supposed ‘copywriters’ – I’m surprised they can convince anyone to hire them half the time. So I thought I’d do what I always do here at POP Content, and write a guide to help people who are nervous to write – and don’t want to waste their time writing rubbish – learn how to write a blog post that doesn’t suck.
1. Put your audience first
If you’re wanting to learn how to write a blog post it’s likely either that you’re wanting to attract more business or that you’re looking to create your dream blog all about you.
The harsh truth?
No one cares about your business or your blog.
It’s your job to make them care.
You do this by focusing on your ideal audience’s needs over anything else. What content do they like? What questions do they want answered?
It’s your job to know your target audience well – and understand their pain points. Once you know what content they’re looking for and what questions they want answers to, you’ll be well placed to know what to write about.
If you focus on your audience’s needs before your own, you’ll naturally attract leads and followers because they’ll be interested in your content.
2. Start with a question, answer the question, then sum it up well.
Answering a question with a blog post is my favourite way to attract new leads and sales to my business. It’s simple really – when people are searching on the internet, they’re searching for answers. If you provide the best answer in your industry, not only will you get more traffic to your website – but you’ll become a buyer’s top choice because you’ll be seen as the industry expert.
It’s incredibly easy to find popular questions to write about in your industry – you can check out my top tips here.
Then, make sure you start your blog by telling people what question you’re covering (this gives them reassurance that they’ve clicked through to the right place), answer the question in detail in the main body, then sum up your main points and takeaways in the conclusion.
Some people are known to jump straight down to the conclusion to double check the article’s worth reading – so make sure you sum things up clearly!
3. Do your research
Once you’ve decided what to write about – Do. Your. Research.
You need to know what the competition is if you’re going to have any chance of beating it.
When you do a search for the question you’re answering with your article, check the top results, at least the first three.
Read the articles – can you write one better?
If you don’t think you can (and make sure you read this whole guide before you think not!), you might want to consider either changing the article subject or going morespecific than previous articles.
For example, if you were planning to write about “how to buy a car”, but you found the competition was too heavy, you could instead change things up and write about “how to choose your first car”, and write on that more specific angle.
It’s also a good idea to do some keyword research – you can find out monthly search volume using a tool like Google Keyword Planner.
4. Add value
When you write your article, are you truly helping your audience in some way?
Whatever you do, don’t write an article on a subject, then dance around the answer.
Answer it. Answer it well.
If you don’t, not only will you not appear in search engine rankings, you run the risk of annoying people with your content. That makes them much less likely to ever come back.
Whether your article is useful, educational or entertaining – make sure it’s really adding value in some way to those who read it.
5. Deliver what your title promises
Have you ever clicked on a link and realised it’s nothing to do with what you were looking for?
It’s seriously annoying.
And that’s not all.
Google uses information such as ‘bounces’ (when someone clicks onto your site and leaves before going anywhere else) to decide on where a website will rank in search engine results.
So not only will you annoy people with your content if you don’t deliver on what your title says – you’ll fall down in search rankings which means much less traffic for your website.
6. Don’t write for search engines
Getting traffic is really important for the success of your blog – and your business. But writing solely for a search engine is a terrible way to actually get traffic from a search engine.
Confusing? I’ll explain.
There are absolutely loads of ‘ranking factors’ Google tests to see where your blog post should rank in search results. Links are really important – and so is the content.
You could write solely for search engine purposes, make your keywords an optimum level, make your URL a keyword and make all your meta data full of keywords (you can check out my free traffic guide to find out what you can do to write for search engines).
However, if you have this sole goal in mind, your content won’t read well and guess what?It won’t rank well either.
One of the biggest factors that will affect your ranking is how people behave when they arrive at the page through a search engine. Google will test how long someone’s on a page, whether they move elsewhere on the website or if they click on then click away.
Ultimately, if you give people a bad experience – search engines will follow suit and willbump you down the rankings.
So what should you do?
If you want to know how to write a blog post that will rank well in search – simply write your article answering a question, make sure it’s really good – then simply ‘tweak’ the article for search engines.
Always write for people first – edit for search engines after.
7. Use headings and subheadings
It’s good practice to use headings and subheadings in any article. Not only does it help people get a quick understanding of what the upcoming content is about, it also helps people who ‘skim’ to scroll to only the points that interest them most.
If you just have huge paragraphs of text with no headings to break down each section, it’s not only daunting, but people who might have been interested in a section won’t bother to skim to find it – and then you’ll lose a potential new reader – or customer!
Having a few subheadings containing your keyword can also help SEO – so don’t miss this one out.
8. Use bullet points
Bullet points can really help people focus their attention – their design makes it easier to read and absorb important points.
Especially if you have just written a large block of text – often people will skim down to the bullet points, and if they read something interesting they’ll go back and read the paragraph.
Because of this, it’s a great way to sum up a section of text and draw attention to the points that are most important.
9. Write for dual readership
Writing for dual readership is really important – there tend to be two different types of readers:
It might depend on what you’re writing about, but a lot of people will simply skim your article before deciding whether or not to actually read it.
Again, it’s important to tailor your article to suit both readers.
Write your article assuming the reader will read it all. Then, go back through your writing and embolden sections that are important to highlight for a skimmer.
By doing this, you’ll make the article much easier to skim – and you’re much more likely to get a skimmer to become a reader!
10. Keep people engaged using “bucket brigades”
Bucket brigades are a copywriting secret that you will love (I hope!).
If you want to know how to write a blog post that keeps people reading – this is the one to focus on. Basically, when people see large sections of text, it can be seriously off-putting.It’s an effort to read. But if you break up your text with “bucket brigades” it can make your writing much more enjoyable to read – and easier to take in.
So, what are they?
Well, they are small sections of text that keep readers engaged. They sit on their own – just like my ‘So what are they?’ sentence above, and keep readers interested in what you’re writing so they don’t wander off and start reading something else.
Here are a few examples you can use yourself:
As if that’s not enough…
But wait, there’s more.
Think about it.
But that’s just part of the story…
What does this mean for you?
Why’s it important to keep people engaged?
It’s simple really; firstly, if you have a strong message or need to prove you’re an authority in your space – you need to keep people reading to prove it. Secondly – the longer people stay on your page, and ultimately your website, the better your SEO rankings will be. It’s a sign that people like your website, which is why Google will bump it up the rankings.
11. Write an awesome headline
This is incredibly important. If you don’t write a good headline, no matter how good the content is, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get people to read it.
Here are a couple of tips you can do to write a more “clickable” headline:
- Be concise – in search engines, the reader will likely only get to see up to 70 characters of your title. So make sure you let the reader know what you offer on your page – fast!
- Write for a human – it can be tempting to just add a keyword as a title and not much else; and while it’s great if you can have your keyword in the title, make sure you focus first and foremost on writing the title so it’s attractive to click on. After all, even if something ranks highly to begin with, if it’s not clicked on, it will quickly drop back down in the rankings.
- Check out the competition – search for the keyword you’re hoping to optimise for and check out your competition. The top results should give you an indication of what value those searchers are looking for. Don’t copy what other people have done – but if you find similarities, try to make sure you highlight those things in your title.
- Use numbers – numbers can be an attractive way to quickly convey ‘value’ to searchers. For example, if you have “Guide to e-commerce” or “38 step guide to e-commerce” the second is more likely to get clicked. It’s simply because people can quickly tell if it’s worth their time reading it – they know it’s more likely to deliver what they’re looking for. It has what’s known as a higher “perceived value”.
- Try this tool out – Hubspot offer this really great tool that can help you with some great potential blog post ideas – by giving you the title to begin with! It’s a great tool for titles, and for when you’ve no idea what to write about.
12. Cut down on fluff
It can be tempting to write a lot of content for the sake of looking knowledgeable and driving more traffic to your website – Google loves long-form content after all (more on that later).
But honestly, you don’t want to do this.
Ultimately you’ll rank well and drive more traffic to your website if you write something really useful – and often the more concise and useful article wins. People want the information, and they want it as fast as possible. If they have to trudge through large blocks of useless text to find it – they’re much more likely to move onto a different web page.
Writing long-form content is a great idea – but DO NOT fill your article with useless information and filler – this will only damage your chances at having a successful article.
I like to write out my full blog, then come back a few hours later and cut out or cut down whatever feels not completely necessary.
13. Break up big blocks of text
Whether you use bullet points, headings or imagery, please ensure you break up your text. When you click through to a page online and all you see is large blocks of text – it can be intimidating and off-putting to the reader.
Unlike writing proper essays for school, people prefer to read very short sections of text, rather than large paragraphs.
Don’t lose your readers with a bad first impression!
14. Use good imagery to help illustrate your points
Imagery isn’t just a great way to break up text – it can also be an incredible way to illustrate your points better.
Sometimes an image can replace a whole paragraph of text, which is pretty powerful when you’re trying to cut to the chase quickly.
They’re especially useful for holding people’s interest and illustrating steps if you write a guide – check out my guide on reducing site speed as an example.
Without the imagery of what I was doing in paint, it would have been much harder to explain to the reader how to alter images and what to expect when following my guide.
15. Focus on one goal at a time
Every blog post should have a goal; either to draw in more traffic to your website, get more email sign ups, or possibly convert potential leads into customers.
Don’t be tempted to spread yourself too thin though and aim for it all – focus on one single goal at a time and you’re much more likely to achieve it.
Focussing on appealing to too many people at once (e.g. a brand new browser on your website, a loyal reader and a very warm lead) will usually result in your article failing to reach any of them – simply because your competition’s websites out there have a different, specific article for each. And people are much more likely to perform an action when the content is tailored towards a single goal.
16. Include calls to action
If you want to know how to write a blog post that genuinely draws in leads – don’t forget to add calls to action.
Include calls to action in your copy – whether it’s asking for an email sign up, or commenting on the blog post – if you don’t ask, you won’t get!
My favourite CTA is to offer more great information, like a guide, in return for an email address – but only to those who read about 70% of my article.
Scroll down further and you’ll see the pop-up!
It’s really easy to set up, and seriously helps to increase your email list – I use Sumome if you fancy adding one yourself.
17. Don’t try to please everybody
Similar to attempting to achieve too many goals at once – trying to please everyone with your content will usually result in pleasing no one.
Don’t sit on the fence, or worry too much about giving off the wrong impression; honestly, if you do this, what will happen is:
1. your content will be completely bland and boring, and
2. people will go elsewhere to read something that appeals and relates to them more.
No matter what you write, you won’t please everyone. Just accept it, and focus on pleasing the people most important to you – which I expect will be your ideal customers.
When writing your article, at each stage ask yourself “would they like this?”. Make sure it’s something your target market will love and you can’t go far wrong.
18. Once you finished – hold off on hitting publish
If there’s any one tip on how to write a blog post that separates the good from the mediocre – it’s this one.
It can be really tempting to write something up, and publish straight away – but this isn’t the best idea.
Even the best writers need to edit their work – so make sure you take the time to do so too.
So I can come to my writing with fresh eyes, I like to at least leave a few hours in between writing the last word of the first draft and editing my work. If possible, even leave it for a day.
The difference it can make to your final article can be incredible; so please avoid hitting publish sooner, just so you can breathe a sigh of relief!
19. Cut out distractions while you write
Whether it’s colleagues talking in the background, your phone or email alerts or even outside noise – try to find somewhere with little distraction when you write.
Not only will this make your writing better because you’ll be able to focus more easily; but you’ll be able to get a good article together faster too.
Turn off your email and phone, put in earphones and shut your office door. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can get done in just a few hours when there are no distractions.
20. Don’t be vague
Don’t be vague with your points – if you have something to advise, try to be as clear as possible. For example, with this guide, I could have said “writing a good headline can increase your clicks by a great deal, so invest time in writing a good one” and left it at that.
But guess what?
That would have left you feeling pretty disappointed – or I would be if it were me. Don’t skirt around the point – try to be as clear as possible and deliver real value to your readers. Make your point – then tell people how they can do it themselves.
If you don’t – they won’t stick around to read your stuff.
21. Back up your points with facts
If you want to know how to write a blog post that’s powerful and unforgettable – make sure you back up your points with facts.
Anyone can claim anything they like on the internet – and everyone knows it.
If you have something really important to get across backing up your claims with facts can be a really powerful way of ensuring your message gets across.
Link back to where you found the facts – this makes it really simple for your reader to figure out if you’re telling the truth and find out more too.
22. Write long-form content
Long-form content does much better on average in search engines than short-form – usually over 2000 words is best.
Don’t just take my word for it – check out these stats:
That’s right; the average top ranking search result is over 2,450 words long.
Now before you think, “oh my dear God, there’s no way I can write that much”, you might want to consider tip 23.
23. Use a list format
Just like this very article, you can use a list format to write some really great lengthy articles that will help you rank well in search.
Not only does it make it easier to write long-form content, readers love list form articles – simply because it’s easier to skim through and read points that are relevant, and skip points that aren’t so relevant.
You might not even have to write anything new.
If you’ve written on a few different subjects in your blog already, but the articles are only 600-800 words long, consider combining the content into one long guide instead.
It could do much better than each individual post alone.
24. Write how you would talk
When you’re writing on the internet, there’s much less need to be formal.
In fact, people can often absorb your content more easily if you simply write how you would speak, rather than attempting to write everything in a formal essay format.
Not only do people find it easier to absorb the content this way – it’s easier for you to get them to know, like and trust you – which will ultimately help you bring in more customers using your content.
25. Don’t be bland – share your genuine opinion, even if some might disagree
Being bland and not taking a stand on anything can be one of the worst things you can do in your writing.
People love controversy – they like to read opinions, and yours is important.
Some of the most popular articles are ones that contain controversial opinions.
The other huge benefit is, you’ll be much more likely to attract like-minded people to your business, so even if you ruffle a few feathers, you’ll be more likely to gain more customers this way, whereas if you remained neutral on a subject, you’re unlikely to attract anyone.
26. Don’t let bad grammar hold you back
It’s true – grammar mistakes can come across as unprofessional.
But don’t let this hold you back – even the best writers out there make mistakes – I even see them on the BBC. If there are a couple of minor mistakes, but the general content is good, people won’t care anyway.
It’s much more important to focus on delivering good, useful material and to get it out to the masses than to waste a lot of precious time worrying that your grammar isn’t the best.
Super cool grammar tool:
This week my amazing friends from Steed Tailors told me about an amazing tool that can help out if you can’t stand the worry of publishing bad grammar – Grammarly is an amazing tool you can use to edit all of your work, no matter whether it’s an email, report or blog post. It’s really quick and simple to use – and what’s more – it’s completely free!
27. Write about the things that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about
There’s not much point in writing about things that you don’t care about or aren’t interested in – it comes across in your writing.
So rather than focussing on writing about only things you think might sell, it’s worth exploring how you can tie things into what you’re really good at or really care about.
If you’re struggling to think of what to write about, why not jot down your interests and what you’re known to be knowledgeable in, and see where there might be overlap – that’s usually the kind of sweet spot that will bring out the best possible writing.
28. Be vulnerable
Being vulnerable may sound like a super weird tip – but it’s genuinely effective.
There’s so very much content out there on the internet – and it’s really hard to form a real connection with people through their computer screens (Hi, I’m Amy by the way).
So if you’re trying to write and reach out to people, how on earth do you do it?
It’s simple really; sharing a failure or bad experience in your life can help to break down barriers. If you’re open to being more vulnerable and admitting you’re not perfect – you become a lot more relatable. No one is perfect and if you try to pretend to be, it can make your writing seriously suspicious.
Starting an article with a personal story is also a really great way to draw in readers in general – people remember stories much more easily than just reams of facts.
29. Give the option of further reading
Adding relevant links throughout your article is really helpful to the reader – whether they’re links to more of your content or links to other websites, making it very simple for readers to find out more information is seriously helpful.
And if your content starts getting known as being really helpful – you’ll naturally start to see more people wanting to read it.
30. Measure your results
Measure your results!
Honestly, you can read and read advice on “how to write a blog post” til the cows come home, but the best way to learn what works – and what doesn’t – is to just go for it.
Put your best foot forward and have a go – just make sure you measure the results. Installing something like Google analytics is seriously easy, and completely free.
If you have it installed from the beginning, it’ll mean in a few months time you can look back at your website and be able to see which blog posts did well and which didn’t.Finding out what is and isn’t working is the best way to improve – keep doing more of the articles that work and ditch the styles that don’t.
Here’s a round-up of tools (which are all free!) from this great guide on how to write a blog post:
Hubspot – for better titles and blog ideas
Grammarly – for better grammar without an editor
Yoast – for simple SEO content editing
Google Analytics – for better measurement of article and website performance
Google Keyword Tool – for finding traffic volumes for keywords
Sumome – for collecting more emails and growing your email list
If you’d love to learn more about digital marketing and how you can use your blog to generate more leads for your business – simply sign up to our email list here and you’ll get a free guide to help you write your content for search engines, as well as fantastic weekly guides.
Credit to Popcontent