All you need to do to write a great blog post is find your readers, capture their interest, and provide them with all the information they might need in an informative and entertaining manner.
That task sounds so simple until the moment you set your fingers to the keyboard. Luckily the core intention of blog writing is simple — to connect readers to their desired information in the clearest way possible. By breaking that task down into steps, writing becomes a whole lot easier.
Despite challenges, blogging is a great way to reach your target audience and build traffic for your website. Blogging gives you a way to connect with your audience and talk about things that are important to them. It builds linking relationships with other websites and blogs in your field. It also provides a huge source of search engine-generated traffic, which can bring new people to your site.
You’ll need more than formulaic clickbait to capture the attention of readers and rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead, you’ll have to create high-quality content that entertains and educates. Blog pages that readers stay on, read through, and follow links from perform better on search anyway. Use this quality-first approach to build a blog post that will drive traffic to your site and provide value to your readers.
Build a strategy for your blog post
Do keyword research
Keyword research will help you determine what keywords you should target in your blog. Keyword research is also a great way to find inspiration and come up with blog post ideas for posts if you’re feeling stuck creatively.
To find promising keywords to target, start by looking at your own website and what search terms visitors use to find it. Perform a competitor analysis to see what keywords sites similar to yours are ranking for. From there, use a keyword research tool to look up similar keywords, related phrases, and any other terms related to your field that might be appropriate.
The most used keyword research and analytics tools to start with are:
Some keywords might have a ton of search volume (how many people are searching for that keyword) but higher keyword difficulty (how much competition you have to rank for that keyword). Others, called long-tail keywords, might have a lower search volume but be more specific and easier to rank for. Those are valuable to you if you can target them. They may not reach as many people, but they are more likely to reach the right audience for you.
Determine search intent for your keyword
Search intent is essential to keep in mind. You can rank first for a keyword, but if your blog post doesn’t match the reason people are searching that keyword, you still won’t reach your target audience. You need to answer these questions:
- Who is searching for this keyword?
- Why are they searching for this keyword?
- What information do they need from the article they find with this keyword?
Search intent falls into four categories:
Informational. The most common search you will be targeting is a search for information. It may be a question people need answered or a term they want a definition for. Informational searches might include:
- Who is Dolly Parton
- Jolene Lyrics
- Where is Dollywood
Commercial investigation. Searchers are looking for specific information, reviews, or advice before making a purchase:
- Dumplin’ CD vs. vinyl
- Which Dolly Parton album to buy
Transactional. Searchers are looking to make a purchase immediately:
- Dolly Parton merch coupon
- Buy Dolly Parton costume
- Dolly Parton concert tickets
Navigational. Searchers are finding a specific website by entering it into a search engine instead of typing out the URL directly:
- Dolly Parton official fansite login
- Dolly Parton Twitter
Get information about the reader’s search intent by looking at keyword modifiers: words like “how to,” “why,” “compare,” or “buy.” This context tells you more about why searchers are looking up a specific topic. You can also look up related searches in a keyword research tool to gain more information. You’ll also want to look at the current SERP to see what articles are ranking and what type of information they contain.
Search intent also involves the experience level of a reader. Someone searching “What is funnel marketing” might be fairly new to the field and will need an article that gives them basic information about the topic. On the other hand, someone searching for “build KPI dashboard no-code” is clearly working in the field already and will want more advanced information.
Optimize your post for search
Include your keyword clearly where it is relevant so visitors and search engines can understand what your content is about. Put your keyword in the title of the page, H2s, and the body text of your blog post when relevant.
Don’t just cram your keyword into a blog post regardless of context. This is called keyword stuffing. It will turn off readers and harm your search ranking.
The other important things to look at when optimizing your post for search are:
- Page URL. Keep your URL slug short (generally three to six words), relevant, and include your keyword in it.
- Meta description and alt text. Make sure you’re setting these throughout your post and include the keyword where relevant.
- Internal links. Link to other relevant pages on your website and other blog posts that might be useful for a reader. That will help keep visitors on your site.
- Authoritative links. Link to outside sources like studies from reputable studies, news agencies, and other pages relevant to your topic or field. These resources will help boost your credibility and provide additional context that makes your post easier to read and understand.
- Responsive design. Work with developers to make sure your blog design is responsive and optimized for mobile and other devices. Not only will your readers often be visiting on their mobile devices, but responsive design helps improve accessibility and search engine ranking.
Decide on a format for your blog article
Blog posts can take many creative forms. Find inspiration and keep your audience engaged by trying out some of these different formats:
Teach your audience how to do something. You can write a step-by-step guide or a how-to article. It could be a beginner’s guide or an advanced technique you want to share with other experts. Guides are useful to readers and can bring in a high volume of consistent search traffic.
Explain how someone did something. These are great for promoting your service or product. People love to learn by example, and a case study can inspire the reader to try something new.
Write a list! These types of posts are great for expressing an opinion and providing recommendations. They can inspire the reader by sharing great examples or inspirations. News: Has something important happened in your field? Explain it to your readers, give context, and provide sources. This type of post is good for short-term traffic boosts.
Explain a perspective or a big idea you have that impacts your field. Dive deep into an interesting topic. What are you passionate about? Provide your opinion, explore a topic from front to back, or examine a big-picture idea.
If there is someone in your field with expertise, interview them and write up your findings in a blog post. Write about their history, their unique experience, the way they found success, or their advice. Bringing in outside experts can also help bring their followers to your blog.
Build a logical structure for your reader
A solid structure helps readers know what to expect so they can focus on the substance of your article. You are essentially telling a story with a beginning and end, with important points plotted out along the way.
Headline: Let the reader know what to expect
A headline needs to be informative and intriguing, and the content of your article should match the expectation set up by your headline.
A “How to” headline generally means the article should teach the reader something in steps. Therefore, your subsequent headers (H2s) should note the specific steps. To provoke interest, you can use superlatives — like best, definitive, ultimate, most, or easiest — when appropriate.
Readers also tend to love lists with numbers, so including a number in your title drives clicks. Another easy tip to drive traffic is by headlining an article with a question and then answering it. Searchers tend to word things as questions — especially in today's world with voice search devices — so a headline as a question will perform better on search.
Use a tool like Headline Studio if you want help evaluating the quality of your headline ideas.
Subheaders: Build a narrative for your reader
Next, build a structure for your article consisting of sections and subheadings. People reading online will often skim an article and its headers to find out if it has the content they are looking for. The headers should create a clear narrative on their own.
Headers are also important for SEO — search algorithms crawl headers to understand the content of a page — and for accessibility to people using screen readers.
As a rule of thumb, headers should “ladder” through your article. The H1 is the title. H2s create the main structure of the blog post. H3s and H4s nest under those H2s to give clearer structure to each section. I used lyrics from Dolly Parton’s famous song “Jolene,” as an example of what building your header structure could look like:
H1 Title: I'm begging of you please don't take my man
Subheader: A request for Jolene
H2: Reasons I am concerned you may take my man
H3: He talks about you in his sleep
H3: Your beauty is beyond compare
H4: With flaming locks of auburn hair
H4: With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
H4: Your smile is like a breath of spring
H4: Your voice is soft like summer rain
H2: Reasons you should not take my man
H3: You could have your choice of men
H3: I could never love again
H2 Conclusion: My happiness depends on you
Introduction: Capture the reader’s interest
A blog post begins with an introduction. Your introduction should capture the reader’s attention and make them want to read the rest of your post. It begins with a hook to grab the reader’s interest and ends with a thesis that lets them know what information you will be giving them in the rest of your article.
Your hook is the first line or paragraph of your introduction that you use to capture the reader’s attention. It is called a hook because it “hooks” the reader’s attention like a fish on a line. You might start with an unexpected or contradictory statement, an interesting metaphor, a question, or a surprising fact or statistic. Quotes or anecdotes can create a personal connection to the reader.
Your hook leads naturally into your thesis, where you summarize the argument you are about to make toward the end of your introduction. Your thesis then explains the substance of your article that will keep them reading past the introduction. With your hook, you want to set clear expectations for the reader for the rest of your blog post.
Sections: Fill out subheadings with relevant information
Your headers trace out a narrative — all you have to do is fill out the right information in each section. Begin each section with the main point in a sentence so they know what to expect, then build additional context in the rest of the section.
One guiding principle that can help you write clearer, more concise blog content is the MECE framework. It stands for mutually exclusive — content doesn’t repeat or overlap — and collectively exhaustive — content covers all of the needed information with no gaps. MECE was originally invented at McKinsey to help evaluate potential consultants on their logical thinking. Using this framework can help you communicate clearly and logically to your readers.
Conclusion: Give the reader a takeaway
Finish your draft with a conclusion that gives the reader clear next steps now that they have read your blog post.
The conclusion shouldn’t summarize the article. Instead, it should give readers a thread they can continue to follow after they finish. What should the reader do or think about now that they have the information in your blog post? If you have a product or service to offer, this is where a call to action is appropriate to include.
Use clear and consistent language
The last step is to actually write your blog post. When writing for a blog, keep your writing clear and simple. Use short sentences and paragraphs, and keep your language concise and uncomplicated.
Blog readers are often distracted or skimming an article looking for particular information, so you want your post to be very clear and easy to read. Use tools like Clearscope, Grammarly, or the Hemingway Editor to help refine your writing.
While clarity is key, there is still room for personality. Your voice as a writer might be formal and authoritative. It might be warm, helpful, and supportive. It might even be funny or tongue-in-cheek. Voice comes across in the details, such as the use of contractions, word choice, and frequency of idioms, so think about these things when you write. Don’t force it. Instead, keep it simple, write however feels natural, and let your voice evolve naturally over time as you get more comfortable writing.
Make a creative blog for your post to live on
A blog is not a single post. A blog is a collection of information and writing that builds an entire body of content. Ideally, the work you have done writing a blog post will be helpful for the reader, and they will want to continue exploring your website. Build a rich blog they can come back to over and over.
Start with a blog template and customize it to suit your audience. Take inspiration from the blog designs that you find appealing or enjoy navigating. Enrich your blog with photographs or illustrations, infographics, diagrams, or colorful designs. Create your own or find stock photos on one of the many marketplaces on the web.
As you build a readership, continue to analyze your audience’s behavior and measure your blog performance. Build hub-and-spoke content to establish your website as a source of expertise in your field. Refresh articles over time when they become outdated or lose traffic. Nurture your blog over time so you can build it into a valued source of information and entertainment for your readers.