As many of you know, I’m writing my second book (Spin Sucks, due out in November!) and, because of that, I’m doing a ton of research (a TON) for case studies, examples, and stories to use to help tell the story.
I keep coming across something interesting: Lots of people are searching for how to write great blog content, but there are very few people who are providing tips on how to do it.
I’m going to get us started and then you can add to the list in the comments below.
Nine Tips to Write a Great Blog Post
- Choose a topic. I know this kind of seems like, “Duh!”, but it’s the hardest part of writing. I was just talking to a client yesterday who said, “I’ve been looking at our keywords and I’m out of ideas.” I often use the Google keyword tool, but I find I have better luck putting keywords or phrases directly into Google to see a) if anyone else is writing about the topic and b) what kinds of headlines they’re using.
- Create an editorial calendar. It doesn’t have to be, “This is my exact headline and content for the month,” rather do buckets. For instance, we created one for April for a client yesterday that has case studies on Mondays, how-tos and tips on Tuesdays, product features and benefits on Wednesdays, the monthly theme (chosen two weeks ago) on Thursdays, and community building on Fridays. Then our collective teams brainstormed topics for those categories and voila! They have enough content to get them through the month.
- Write scannable copy. I like to use subheads, bullet points, lists, and bolded copy to help our readers easily get the main points without having to read every word I write (as hurtful as they might be to me). I’m not egotistical enough to think people don’t scan. They do. I do. You do. Make it easy for them to do that.
- Understand search engine optimization. It’s ever-changing so it’s hard to stay on top of SEO, but if you write for the web, you have to understand it. No more ignoring it or thinking someone else will do it for you. You have to do it. I love Yoast because it gives you red, yellow, and green buttons based on how well you’ve optimized and it gives you tips on increasing your efforts. SEOMoz is probably the best place to not only learn, but to get tips and ideas.
- Edit yourself. For heaven’s sakes, please do this! I don’t know why this is so hard for people. Edit, read your post out loud, and edit one more time. I prefer to write, publish, and then read what’s actually on the page. I make edits and changes and then update the post. It’s rare someone sees the post before it’s been edited because I can do it inside of 10 minutes.
- Choose an image worth sharing. Particularly with people sharing content on Pinterest now, you want to choose an image that motivates users to click on it to come to your site. Also be sure to include the headline or what you want the Pinterest caption to read in the alt text of your image (can be found when you edit the image).
- Word count. This one is important because the search engines need a minimum of 300 words to scan the page and human beings won’t read much more then 1,000 words. I always aim for no more than 750 words (though sometimes I’m a little more verbose than that).
- Internal and external links. I always include a link to a Spin Sucks post in every blog post I write. What this does is alert me if someone swipes our content, but it also gives us search engine juice from sites that are aggregating it (PR Daily, Social Media Today, Ragan). Then I include one external link for every 100 words. If this post ends up being 800 words, I’ll have eight links to other sites in it.
- Ask questions. You’ll see I do that in nearly every blog post with, “Now it’s your turn.” Marcus Sheridan does this really well. He has a subhead called “Your Turn,” and then he says, “As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.” If you genuinely care about what others think, this approach invites people to comment and share. But – and this is important – if you invite people to share their thoughts, join the conversation! I respond to every comment. I do this not because I think I have to, but because I encourage debate, alternative thinking, and professional discourse.
And now it is your turn. What other tips make for a great blog post?