An essential guide to writing great blogs

January 20, 2020
By Sarah

An essential guide to writing great blogs

Writing blogs isn’t always an easy task. If you’re struggling to get started, read our essential guide to writing a great blog post.

Writing a blog post might seem like a straightforward task, even a fun one if you’re into that sort of thing. But if you want your content to perform, there’s more to blogging than simply churning out beautiful prose.

Even the most seasoned writers can struggle to write blog posts that convert. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you write an amazing blog post that engages your audience and gets your business those sweet conversions.

Learn more about inbound marketing

Let’s go!

Step 1: Plan, plan, plan!

Although it’s no crime to jump blindly into a blog post and write whatever comes to mind, planning it in advance will make the task much easier. Before you put pen to paper (fine, finger to keyboard), consider the following steps:

Choose a relevant (and interesting!) topic - yeah okay, not every product or service you write about is going to be exciting. We get that. But finding an angle that’s interesting for your target audience is essential, or else nobody is going to read your post, much less share it

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Even dry topics can be made interesting with the right angle. If you’re excited about the topic you’re writing about, and can get that across in your post, your audience will get excited about it too.

  • Research - again, nobody is going to arrest you for researching as you go, but it really will streamline things if you get it all done before you write. If you’re using information from the internet to inform your post, stick to reputable sources such as industry leaders, government websites and heavily-cited studies. And always, always, check your facts before hitting the publish button.

It’s also worth doing a bit of keyword research too, so you can target people who are searching for the topic you’re writing about. But we’ll talk more about the SEO side of things later.

  • Outline your blog post - It can be tempting to go off on a tangent when writing a blog post (trust me, I’ve been there), so creating an outline beforehand can prevent you from tumbling down any rabbit holes. Break your post down into sections, such as: introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3, conclusion etc., and write yourself a quick prompt under each one to remind yourself of what you want to say.

Step 2: Create a headline

A lot of pressure comes with a headline. You want people to click, but clickbait gets bad press and you don’t want to mislead your audience by bending the truth so fantastically they get tricked into reading something that isn’t useful or relevant to them. Be too vague and you risk missing out on vital readership, but you don’t want to give away so much information that your ideal reader doesn’t even need to click on the article.

With all this in mind, headlines can be a bit of a minefield. The key is to entice. Tease at what the blog will include, with just enough information to make your target reader want to find out more.

Step 3: Write!

Zone in. Stick on whatever playlist you’re in the mood for, pour yourself a brew, grab a snack and knuckle down to business.

Step 4: Optimise for SEO

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You might have heard mixed reviews about SEO writing in recent times, with some championing keyword optimisation whilst others claim that ‘keywords are dead’.

But whilst keyword optimisation does play a part in SEO best practice, there are other ways that you can and should optimise your blog content to ensure it ranks highly in search engine results pages (SERPs):

  • Use relevant keywords with good search volumes - we’ll start with this one since I’ve already harped on about it. There are a number of tools available to help you identify your keywords, such as Google Trends, Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner. To be honest, I could write another whole blog about keywords and how to use them in a blog, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

The most obvious keywords aren’t always the best. If you’re a company that makes coffee machines, it’s understandable to think that targeting the term ‘coffee machines’ will get you results.

But in reality, that’s a really competitive keyword that will drown in search results. Plus, it’ll risk cannibalising your service pages if you have one dedicated to that particular product.

Instead, look for long-tail keywords - phrases with 3-4 words that are more specific. Yes, they’ll have a shorter search volume than short-tail keywords, but as they’re specific to your product or service, they’re more likely to get the right traffic to your page.

  • Use internal linking - this helps to establish hierarchy across your site and helps search engines to crawl your site. From a user perspective, it helps your audience to find more content that’s relevant to them. It also keeps them on your site longer, which reduces your bounce rate and can lead to a higher conversion rate.
  • Use external linking - it might seem counter-productive to send users away from your website, but linking to influential blogs and articles is helpful to your readers and also shows search engines that you know your onions. And there’s always the chance that the other site owner will return the favour by linking back to you. Just make sure you get the link to open in a new tab or window so the user doesn’t leave your page entirely if they click.
  • Make your content scannable - longer content works best for this. Despite the fact that we live in an age of short attention spans, search engines love a bit of long-form content. The more content you have on your page, the more ‘clues’ search engines have to help them work out what your page is about, so they can then offer it as a result to more specific user queries.

Of course, longer content comes with the risk of scaring off (or worse, boring) your readers. That’s why it’s important to make it scannable. Tighten up your sentences; use bullet points and subheadings and break text up with images to help readers find what they need quickly.

The recommended word-count for a piece of web content is 300+ words, so bear that in mind when you pen that killer blog post.

Add a clear call to action

Once you’ve written your blog post, you want your reader to take an action. If they leave your page without doing anything, it’ll send your bounce rate up and reduce your conversion rate.

The way to keep readers on your site is to add a clear, compelling call to action within your content. This is usually done at the end of the post, but it’s sensible to add another further up too, in case they drop off your page without reading the whole thing.

Your CTA can be anything from leaving a comment to downloading an ebook. But remember, ideally you want it to contribute to your conversion goals.

Don’t forget images!

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Humans are visual beings. And there’s nothing more off-putting than a big wall of text.

Boost engagement by adding relevant images or video content to captivate your audience.

But remember! Images work best if they're visual cues related to the text: a visual confirmation of the content's ultimate message.

Edit

Typos often slip through the cracks, so always try to get a second pair of eyes on your blog content before publishing. But before you even do that, comb through your post for the following:

  • Dodgy sentence structure
  • Incorrect spelling and grammar
  • Repetition
  • The flow of your content
  • Paragraph length
  • Broken links

Never be afraid to cut stuff out, either. It’s difficult when your blog post is your baby, but sometimes you need to be a bit ruthless to strengthen your point. And that’s exactly what the editing stage is for.

So that’s it - happy blogging!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to strengthen your content, why not download our content marketing guide?

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