Where to start?
So you have a great idea for a blog post. But are you making sure it is a complete blog post? What do you do first – plan your title or write your post? What about keyword research and images? Well, there is no hard and fast rule on this – some bloggers will tell you they always write the title first, others will say that is always last – truth is, it’s all a matter of preference. As far as keyword research – first – always first – before anything! Ian Cleary has written many great posts about this, including this one – I definitely recommend checking it out! Images – well, another personal preference. I’ll usually start looking when I start the post, but then as I write I’ll think of new ideas for images to break up the content.
Once you have found your keywords, you will want to make sure they are strategically included in your blog post.
Your keyword / keyword phrase should be included in:
- blog title
- meta description
- 1st and last paragraphs
Your meta description is what will show up in search results. I use Yoast SEO plugin, which provides an area to edit this information. If you do not edit this snippet, the search engine will pull the first line or two of text from your blog post to use. You’ll want to set your focus keyword first, then edit the meta description to a more enticing description while including the focus keyword. This should be between 135-160 characters. Make sure you are not using the same focus keyword on other blog posts.
This is a lot like the meta description but usually a bit longer. The excerpt will tell your readers what your blog post is about, only this will show up on YOUR website instead of in search engine results. Generally, these will show up on archive pages (either your main blog page or a page that shows posts by category or tag).
Here is an example of my excerpt for this post:
Categories and Tags
Speaking of…you’ll want to make sure that you have your categories and tags set for each blog post. You can read more about that in my post, So Just What are Categories and Tags?
Breaking it Up!
Do you notice how I have broken up the content of this blog post into smaller paragraphs? Smaller chunks of text are easier to read – and make it more likely that your reader will actually read your content! Also, breaking the sections up with headings and images helps the eye to navigate the post.
As far as headings – remember this: the blog post title will be formatted as an h1 (heading 1) tag. This is the most important and there should only be ONE h1 tag in a post or page! The h2 tag is next in the heirarchy – this is what I have used for my paragraph headings. Any subheadings (like this “headings” section) would then use the h3 tag.
We are very visual by nature and images not only help grab – and keep – our attention, they also help us to navigate through a sea of text. I LOVE to read! Rainy days were never a problem for me as a kid (or adult for that matter) but if I would ever get to a page of text that was not broken up into paragraphs, I’ll admit, it sent a wave of stress through me. Still not sure why, but it does happen. Maybe it’s a commitment issue. 🙂
Links and CTA’s
There are times when you will want to link to either another page or post on your own website, or an article on another website, to supply additional information for your reader. I have used both types of links in this post – one of each – to supply you with more information on both keyword research and how to properly use tags and categories.
This type of linking can be helpful, just as long as you do not overdue it. A post full of outbound links is not only distracting, I find it downright annoying. Ok, sorry, I’m going to be annoying here – one more link to show you my thoughts on too many links – ironic, right? My contribution to Website Magazine’s article “Most Common Digital Design Distractions”.
Ok, so technically, a CTA (call-to-action) is a link – a special link that is asking your website visitor to perform a specific action. Examples are: signing up for an email list, filling out a contact form, commenting on the post, making a purchase… My CTA is right below – offering you a bonus checklist so you can be sure and include all of these important elements in each blog post you write.
Last but not least, don’t forget to SHARE your blog post! Tweet it, post it, put it in your email newsletter – whatever way you choose to do it is fine, just get it out there! And make sure you have social share buttons on your website so that your visitors can share it too!
Oh, one more thing…length! Bigger is NOT always better! Keep your post to 500-800 words long.
Have anything to add?
I’d love to hear about other steps you take to optimize your blog posts! Please share in the comments below.