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I go on and on about writing good quality blog posts that answer search queries and rank on Google, but that doesn’t really help you too much.
It’s all very good me preaching excellence, but what makes a good blog post? How can we write articles that are better than all the other?
This article is about structuring good blog posts. Things like:
- How to optimise for mobile
- How to use whitespace
- How to use colour
- How to use headings
- How to use lists
- How to use stats
- Elements to use with care
How are we defining what makes a blog post good?
A good blog post:
- Fully answers the search query
- Is clear, concise, and easy to read
- Optimised for mobile
- Isn’t too long, but links to relevant articles if that would help the user
- Stays on topic
How to use to white space to improve your blog posts
Something like 75% of articles are read on mobile devices. Mobiles are small, and our thumbs are big.
Cool it with the pop ups, the constant calls to action, and long blocks of text.
Keep to short paragraphs. If it’s longer than four lines, that’s too long.
I like to use like content breaks between sections, because they add a bot of white space, but don’t demand attention like a photograph would.
How to use colour to improve your blog posts
Colour draws the eye. People skim articles.
I like to have the subheadings in my articles be a different colour, because it subconsciously tells the reader that this bit is important.
But remember that screens are hard work. Don’t make it harder. Stick to a couple of colours and repeat them. As well as being more relaxing on the eye then the technicolour Dreamcoat effect, it’s helping you to create a recognisable brand.
How to use headings to improve your blog posts
Headings do draw the eye, and allow the reader to skim your article easily but they’re most important for SEO.
Look at the ‘people always’ ask box that crops up when you Google your keyword. Could you use that as a heading? Would it help you rank for multiple keywords.
Using other keywords, especially ones that Google has suggested is a great way to ensure that you’re not missing something that maybe you thought was obvious, but newcomer to the niche might not know.
When looking at where to rank you, rumour has it that Google will stop reading your article as soon as it comes to a heading that isn’t that relevant. Your headings are an opportunity to show search engines that you can teach users everything they need to know about a topic.
Your first headings should be making sure everyone’s clear on what’s going on.
For example, if your article was on ‘How to keep a tarantula’, you can convince google you really know how to keep a tarantula using your headings to structure the article.
Don’t do this:
Google hasn’t a clue that you’re still talking about tarantulas, so the bots will crawl away. You need to do something like this:
What is a tarantula?
Which tank is best to keep tarantulas?
Which substrate is best for keeping tarantulas?
Which toys should I get for my tarantula?
What food is best for tarantulas?
Which lighting should I get for my tarantula?
Make sure Google KNOWS you’re talking about tarantulas from start to finish.
I know it seems longwinded and clunky, but it works.
By the way, if you end up with dozens of subtitles, then that’s fine.
Write a little blurb under each one, and then write a more in-depth article if the topic warrants, for example, you could easily do a whole article on what tarantulas eat. Add a link, and you’re golden.
How to use links to improve your blog posts
I kind of just explained how to interlink the old stuff above, and it’s really important to interlink all your articles where you can.
When you’re writing your posts I would recommend you keep a spreadsheet that includes a link to each article, the article title, and a column with outbound links (articles you link to) and inbound links (articles that other articles link to).
I say that I’d recommend to do it, but I admit I don’t. I have a piece of paper with a list of article and two wobbly hand drawn columns that I forget to update.
Instead, I have to trawl through all my articles and see which ones need links, rather than being able to skim through an article and add the link in the right place.
Interlinking is extremely important, because allows articles that you can’t rank for (usually pretty long, beginner guides that have a lot of competition) to get traffic.
Linking to more authoritative sites to help your users find out useful information can help you to rank, because Google recognises that you’re willing to send your users elsewhere if it will help them further.
Don’t link to competitors, link to official documents, magazine reviews etc.
How to use lists to improve your blog posts
Bullet pointed lists again help your reader to find what they want quickly.
It’s also a sneaky way to help to win the snippet on Google, which is a good place to rank.
I recommend putting a list of the main points you’re going to mention in the first couple of paragraphs of your article, and bolding it.
How to use stats to improve your blog posts
Google really loves stats, and you can create your own unique stats, pretty easily. Even something as simple as joining a Facebook group within your niche and conducting a poll (ask admin first) can get you some useful stats that no one else has.
Do NOT worry about sample size, unless your niche is medical and you could hurt someone. If L’oreal and Maybelline can use stats from tests that have been conducted on 75 people on national television, you certainly can on a website you own.
The great thing about niches is that there will be experts in these Facebook groups. Ask to interview them, or quote a comment they made (it’s good manners to message them and tell you what you’re doing).
Blog post elements to use with care
Call to action
I know that every other person with similar content to mind will wax lyrical about call to action, but the internet is sick of them.
Let people read your content without having to do something like sign up to a crappy email list. They’re more likely to come back.
I wouldn’t put ads on your website until you have significant traffic, because they slow it down. This is that big of a deal one Google has noticed you, but in beginning it can be the one factor that makes you better or worse than a similar site.
Again, they can really slow your site. In general, any code that makes something easier for you will slow your site.
Code from places like skimlinks, or the eBay partner programme really have an impact, because they’re powerful. One code snippet turns all your links into affiliate links.
I understand that you want to make money, but I promise that those few pennies will not be worth slowing your site down until you have significant traffic, say, 10k pageviews per month.
Images that you don’t own
Don’t use Google images. It’s not worth it.
If you want an image of something specific that you can’t find on Unsplash or another of those free sites, I do have a tip:
Chances are, you’ll be able to find the perfect picture on Instagram.
Follow the person and ask if you can have the photo, provided you won’t sell it or put in a book. You can even offer to embed their whole post, so it’s clickable and their username is visible.
If they say no, try with someone else.
I don’t care if they work, they’re annoying, and Google will penalise you if they deem your popups to be detrimental to user experience.
Also, we’re thinking long term traffic here.
Do you really want to annoy your traffic?
It’ll mean you get fewer users returning to your site, especially if your competition doesn’t have popups.
Sure, their content is slightly inferior, but their website is less irritating.
Stop it with the popups. Use your content to persuade people that your email list is worth being on.
How to edit your own blog posts
You’ve probably already noticed that I don’t edit my blog posts. It probably annoys you a bit. Don’t worry, I do go through and update my posts every so often, so I’ll correct mistakes then.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read through posts, but what I am saying is that you shouldn’t spend as much time editing as you do writing.
Let’s be honest – no one’s going to be even reading your posts for a while yet.
When it comes to content creation, we need to balance quality and quantity, because we need both. If it’s taking you two hours to write your articles and an hour to edit them, then that’s not a productive use of your time.
Write your post. Give it a once over and correct whatever Grammarly picked up. Press publish. Don’t get in your own way and fear the publish button. If it makes you feel better, edit the post tomorrow. No one will have read it.
If you’d rather die than publish a less than perfect post, then try this:
- Write the post from start to finish, without really thinking about structure
- Add all your links and lists later.
That way, you’ll catch 99% of your mistakes. Use this time to press the enter key a few times to shorten some paragraphs, and bold any sentences that you feel needs it.
I prefer to write a bunch of articles and then edit them a few weeks later. I add in links to articles that weren’t written at the time, but might be useful, and sometimes there are points that I’d forgotten.
No one’s grading you on this. You can go back and change it as many times as you want.
Final thoughts on how to write good blog posts
Writing for the internet is totally different to how we were taught write at school.
Few people are going to read every word you’ve written, so you need to use lists, and whitespace and all that other stuff to point them to the stuff that’s important.
Sure, point them to affiliate links if you like, but people are kind of wise to that now. I like to keep my affiliate links hidden, but also visible enough so that they’re there should any one require them.