June 23, 2012 E3

Complete Guide to Writing a Blog Post (2/4)

Writing web copy is very different from normal writing.  Web copy must be concise, scannable, eye-catching, and organized.  In Part 1, of the Complete Guide to Writing a Blog Post we discussed how to make your content unique and useful.  In this section, I’ll provide some of the leading tips on writing for SEO performance, including writing effective titles in your WordPress Posts and organizing the content for improved SEO.

Writing for SEO

Scannable Content

Think about when you visit a webpage, what do you do?  You scan it, you don’t read it.  Heck, you’re probably scanning this right now.  Rather than reading left to right like normal print text, web users  scan all around the page looking for keywords, visuals, or clues.  With virtually unlimited sources of information, the web user wants to be sure they’ve found the right one before investing all their time reading your web page.  As a result it is extremely important your article is written in a way that is easily scannable.  Keep these tips in mind so that you can work with the scanning process rather than working against it:

  • Use lists – Organize content with bullet points or numbers.  Web users love lists because they can easily scan them.
  • Headers and Formatting – Make sure that titles, links, bullets, and headers all use their proper style.  Make your headers bold to facilitate the scanning process, and keep it consistent.  You don’t want one header italicized and the other not, it confuses readers.
  • Pictures – People process info much faster with pictures.  If your ideas can be better illustrated with a graphic or chart give it a try.  Images also grab peoples attention and gets them to read more.
  • Short Paragraphs – Web users skip over long chunks of text.  Break it up with headers, lists, and shorter paragraphs.
  • Get to the Point – Don’t bury your points!  Your main point should be near the opening line of your post, rather than hidden somewhere in the conclusion.  This holds true for individual paragraphs too.

How to Write Effective Post Titles

Post titles are the number 1 way to influence the SEO ranking of a page of content on your site.  A properly formatted and eye catching title will draw readers in and rank high on a search for your target keywords.  Without a doubt, a post title can make or break the success of the article.

There are many ways bloggers use effective post titles to draw in a reader from a search results page.  One of the most important techniques is to keep the post title short, around 40 – 60 characters.  This ensures that the search results page displays your entire title.  Anything more than 70 characters will confuse and frustrate your potential reader.  Keep these other tips in mind for effective post titles:

  • Grab attention – Good titles set your content apart from the jungle of search results.  Deliver on the expectation set by your title for happy readers.
  • Use Keywords – Titles are the most powerful way to influence your SEO.  Make sure to use the keywords and keyword phrases you think your target demographic would actually be typing into a search engine.  Don’t be spammy and try to use every keyword you can think of in a single post.  Just write more articles with those other keywords.  Be precise and organized.
  • Meet a need – Effective titles make readers think they need to read your article by identifying a problem or a desire.  Often times words like “essential”, “complete”, or “how to” hints to readers that if they click on your article, they may just find a solution to the problem they’ve been searching for.
  • Concise – Don’t be cryptic or confusing with your post title.  Make sure to actually describe what the post is about.

Take your time writing your post titles.  Many bloggers spend hours writing great content and then just slap whatever title onto their article.  Spend at least 10 minutes before writing your post and just think about what your title should be.  Writing an effective post title is extremely important and will maximize the chances that people will find and engage with what you have to say.

The Opening Line

A reader will make a judgment about whether it’s worth it to read the full post after reading just the opening line.  A strong opening line will:

  • pique curiosity
  • highlight a need
  • offer a benefit
  • make a promise

You don’t have to do all of these in the first sentence, but you should keep them in mind and do at least one in the opening line.

If you organize your content so that it’s easily scanned by your readers and you write effective titles and opening lines, your posts will start attracting the traffic they deserve.  Part 3 in the series discusses your blog’s optimal post length and frequency.

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