This perfectly describes the purpose behind my post today – to illustrate the importance of consistency in your blogging process to get the most value you can out of each one.
Did you know there are ways to write and format your blog posts that not only help to engage your readers and hold their attention but can also boost SEO for your website? Say what?! Yeah. No joke.
At MayeCreate, we consistently follow an extensive workflow from start to finish to milk every post we publish for all it’s worth, one we’ve found it to be extremely effective in strengthening our online presence and bringing in quality website visitors. So, if you want to take a post out of our blog (Ha! Page…Book…?? You get it..), feel free to read through our formatting practices and adjust your process accordingly.
One great way to know how to approach your blog topic (if you don’t already have one in mind) is to see how other experts tackle the subject. Take a look at other posts out there on the web and ask yourself:
Make note of interesting points and resources you find as you do your research, and as you bookmark key references, share them on your social media accounts if you think your followers would be interested. This not only gives you an opportunity to connect with others in your industry, it’s also a great way to “document” your links for later in case you need them.
Pretty straightforward here. Make an outline for what you’re going to write about in your blog post, including:
Don’t be afraid to take it a step further by letting ideas for future blog posts come to you during this part of the process. Just don’t forget to write them down. That can happen sometimes.
Why, the rough draft of your blog post, of course!
Once you’ve got your outline, start free-writing. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure. Just type the words and phrases that come to mind about your topic, making some conscious attempt to keep your flow in line with your outline.
Consider doing your free-writing in Microsoft Word if you have challenges with spelling and grammar; it offers the best spell-checking features.More of a Google Drive fan? Me too. If you’d rather create a Google Doc, go for it. It has the same spell-checking features, so… Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to.
Then there’s always the free version of Grammarly to help you with spelling and grammar. You just have to create a free account and copy and paste your content into their editing platform to see what needs correcting.
Try to shoot for a minimum of length 200 words. Many experts advise keeping it around 500 words max in length. Our philosophy lately is it doesn’t necessarily hurt to have more words. Some of our more meaty posts far exceed the 500-word recommendation, but they’re chalk-full of so much information, they should continue gaining momentum on search engines for some time. Regardless, the really long detailed posts can be a beast to tackle, so 500 words is a good place to start if you’re not looking to be eaten alive by this whole process.
Be sure you begin your article with an overview of what you’ll be discussing. This tells your reader what’s in it for them if they read it. Think “inverted pyramid”: if they only read this one paragraph, would they take away the right information?
Your post title should introduce the reader to your topic and create a sense of urgency to compel them to read it. Remember, each blog post on your website as an additional “door” your online prospects can use to get into your website, so give them a title they absolutely have to click.
One of my favorite tools for whipping up a great title is StoryBase.com. With this platform, you submit keywords related to your topic and get a list of searches performed each month pertaining to those words. It basically tells you which phrases and questions about your topic are the most searched for online. Feel free to check it out.
As far as looks go, be sure to capitalize each word of your title that’s not a connecting word and all words over five characters.
For example: Capitalize Each Word that is Not a Connecting Word and All Words Over Five Characters.
If that doesn’t float your boat, that’s alright. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure all of your titles are formatted consistently in the post you’re writing and in all other posts on your site. You may consider making yourself a cheat sheet for this.
Include a closing paragraph to sum up your article by restating your “thesis,” so to speak. Also, let your readers know where they can go to find additional information they may find interesting by providing links to other blog posts you or other experts have written.
If you offer any related downloadable content or offerings on your website, include links to those here to keep your readers engaged with your company and moving through your website. Even if you’ve got some stuff in the works, this is a great “Coming Soon!” opportunity to introduce what you’re working on and build up some hype.
Now you can begin shaping your post into a well-polished piece of online material your readers won’t be able to resist.
To get started, copy and paste your draft into a new draft in WordPress and begin formatting your content.
As you go through your initial draft, look for opportunities to provide valuable information as subheadings, bulleted or numbered lists, and bolded statements. Refer back to your outline to reacquaint yourself with the most important information you’d like to highlight if you need to. Again, just another way to get the good stuff to stand out.
Break your content into shorter paragraphs to make your content easier to digest. Try to keep them each 4-5 sentences in length. Cause people are busy, ya know? Do them a favor and be concise. They’ll thank you for it.
Once you’re done, go back through with objective eyes and ask yourself, “Is this something I would want to read? Does it look too busy or text heavy?” If the answer to these questions don’t align with what you’re going for, go back and rework what you’ve got to be more in line with your goals for the post.
Including a subheading every two or three paragraphs helps break up your text so readers can easily jump to the information they want most.
If subheadings are incomplete sentences or just a few words, format them they way you would your page title. If your subheadings are a full sentence, you’ll punctuate and capitalize them the way you would a sentence, unless it’s a question, in which case you’d format as, you guessed it: a question. Easy peasy.
Whichever format you choose, be consistent with your headings! One of my biggest pet-peeves as a reader is seeing things like headings and bulleted lists formatted differently within one post.
Don’t forget to use H-tags for your headings so they stand out visually and help boost SEO.
If you’re featuring videos within your post, make sure they’re 560 pixels wide and embedded from YouTube. Why? Rather than rattle off all of the pros and cons, I’ll let the experts over at WPBegginer.com explain.
As for pictures, well, there’s a lot to consider here. You’ll definitely want to add some relevant yet intriguing imagery to your post. You can use stock photos for this or take your own screenshots and pictures.
Either way, we recommend the following when choosing and formatting pictures within your post:
If you’re using photos or screenshots to support your writing, take advantage of the captioning abilities in WordPress to help elaborate on your points. It’s just good SEO practice.
Images shouldn’t ever link to a larger image unless they need to display greater details (i.e. graphs, infographics, etc.).
If you’re linking a photo to an outside source, make sure the link opens in a new tab as an attachment file, NOT another page. You don’t want to shorten the time your readers spend on your website by sending them somewhere else, right?
All photos should include alt tags, except for the decorative ones…search engines may actually penalize you for over-optimization. (What are alt tags, you ask? You know when you hover your mouse pointer over an image and a little yellow box with words shows up? That’s your alt tag.)
Title your images in a way that makes sense and is descriptive of the image subject. The image title should also be cohesive with the keywords and content on the page where your image lives. Then use the Alt tags to reinforce important key terms you’d like to show up for to help you rank better on search engines.
All images featured in your post should be formatted to the same width and height if possible. And if most of the images are horizontal, stick with using horizontal images throughout your post.
If you are using photos and/or charts from another source, credit the images in the caption and link to its original source.
Don’t EVER steal images from Google, it’s not okay. There is a “labeled for reuse” setting you can select to see what’s available on Google for public use, but even then it’s a crap shoot. You’re free to jump onto some of the free stock photo platforms out there but you have to be mindful of the labels for commercial use on every single image you download. Some have editorial restrictions.
If you’re taking screenshots of websites to use within your post, be sure to link the images to the website you got it from. Again, make sure the website opens in a new tab.
What are the main keywords of your blog post topic? For instance, the keywords for this one would be “how to write a blog post.” Your keyword(s) may just be one word, maybe two words, a phrase or a question. Whatever the case, optimize your page by using them within your page (blog post) title, the meta description, your headings and subheadings, and content wherever possible.
At this point, it’s time to go through and make sure there aren’t any spelling or grammar errors in your post. If you’ve got Grammarly installed on your browser, you should be able to see the glaring mistakes pretty easily, even in WordPress. If not, you can jump over to their online editing tool and run it through for mistakes and suggestions.
I know my writing voice doesn’t always match my reading voice, so I always read my posts outloud to make sure they don’t sound lame and actually make sense.
Earlier I talked about including downloadable content or website offerings in your closer. You can also feature ads at the end of your blog post to encourage readers to learn more about your website offerings.
We use a WordPress plugin called AdRotate Pro to easily promote our website offerings on our blog posts and throughout our website. All we have to do is create an advert for the offering using the plugin and enter the associated advert ID into a custom field on the back end of the post in WordPress.
Once it’s there, the ad shows up in the footer of the blog post on the front end of our site.
Normally there’d be a screenshot here of what it looks like on the front end, but you’ll just have to finish reading this blog post to see it for yourself…
In your WordPress draft, move your cursor to the space after your first paragraph and click the “Read More” button to add a “Read More” tag located in the formatting toolbar:
If you don’t see one, you can add this HTML code in the Text tab in your blog post draft: <!–more–>
Depending on the programming built into your blog section, this tells the main blog page (the page on your website that lists all of your blog posts) where to stop pulling in the words for each post and add a “Read More” link for visitors to click to get to the full post:
Whatever categories you have set up and whatever system you use to categorize your posts, make sure you select them before you publish so it behaves and/or appears the way you want it to on your website.
Ours are used to help readers sort through the topics we write about on our main blog page:
Without having the right categories assigned, our website visitors wouldn’t be able to find the post by sorting by category. That doesn’t mean it’s not there, just that it’s not as easy to find.
Alright, so why is this all important again? For a number of reasons:
And how does all of this help your business? Lead generation. It may seem like a lot to put this kind of effort into each post, but once you get the hang of it, it won’t seem like much effort at all. Plus, following this process allows you to publish your post and then let it work its magic to bring people into your website. All you have to do is give it time the time it needs to gain momentum on the web.
Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned and put it into action. Don’t hesitate to bookmark this post if you need it to refer back to as you adjust your blog writing workflow. If you get stuck, we’re here to help.
Katie is the Online Marketing Manager at MayeCreate Design. A true people person and creative at heart, she’s the “Jane” of All Trades around the office and enjoys having her hands in ALL of the cookie jars. Her responsibilities and experience include content development for websites and social media, blogging, general website maintenance, graphic design, project management, bookkeeping, office management and customer service. As a wife, mom, identical twin, karaoke singer and rock climber, she’s seen the world from many perspectives and thrives to bring an open mind and clear vision to her position here at MayeCreate.
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