86% of content marketers use blog posts as part of their marketing strategy, and for good reason. When done well, a blog can be a great place for you to relate to your audience and consistently keep them in the loop.
Of course, the building blocks of a successful blog are great blog posts – and we’re here to show you how to start writing some excellent content in six simple steps!
Trying to come up with an engaging topic for a blog post can seem overwhelming at first. But while it’s true that you can literally write about anything, narrowing down your focus is the best way to come up with a great idea.
In fact, one study has revealed that when attempts at creativity are placed under some sort of constraint – like deadlines or rules – people actually generate more varied ideas in response to that challenge.
How to Brainstorm Ideas
If your blog is already focused on a particular niche, then you’re at a great starting point. For example, if you run a blog about baking, you can use that as an umbrella idea to help brainstorm topics, like:
- My Top 4 Favorite Recipes
- Cakes You Can Make in Under an Hour
- Why Muffins Are the Superior Breakfast Choice
Top Tip: Don’t choose the first idea that comes to mind.
If a blog post idea pops into your head with little to no effort, then chances are you’re not the only one thinking it. An original idea will make your blog stand out, so try setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and listing out as many ideas as possible without stopping – you’ll get all of the predictable topics out of the way in the first few minutes, and end up with some out-of-the-box stuff by the end of this exercise!
Coming up with original topics is excellent, but you also need to make sure that you’re writing about topics people want to read about. After all, your blog won’t get much exposure if no one is searching for the things you’re covering. The best way to discover some relevant topics is to conduct keyword research.
How to Conduct Keyword Research
Keywords are words and/or phrases that people use when conducting a Google search. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about the best restaurants in your city, some keywords might be “best Italian food Chicago” or “sushi in Boston.”
Keyword research is the process of looking up different keywords to see which ones are more popular. Keywords that get typed into Google very often have a high search volume. There are a ton of tools, both free and paid, available for conducting keyword research.
Paid tools will give you all kinds of insights into different keywords based on region, industry, and other factors that your blog might be targeting. But the free tools will still give you the most important piece of information, which is the search volume of whatever keywords you’re considering.
Usually, all you’ll have to do is enter a keyword into the search bar of a free tool, and you’ll be shown the approximate monthly search volume for that term, plus some other suggested related terms.
Top Tip: Don’t go for the highest search volume.
It’s clear that keywords with a very low search volume (say, 10-50) aren’t worth targeting, because no one will be searching for your content. But – and this is especially true for smaller blogs, like personal or local business pages – keywords with a search volume of 1,000 or more come with fierce competition to get on that coveted first page of Google results.
You don’t want to spend all of your energy targeting keywords that could take forever to rank for – so we recommend aiming for keywords with a monthly search volume in the 100-900 range.
If you weren’t snoozing through 9th grade English class, you’ll remember that you want to pique readers’ interest in the very beginning of an essay – or in this case, blog post!
The best way to do that is by writing a really strong introduction. This might sound daunting, but it’ll actually come pretty easily if you stick as closely as possible to your chosen topic. People aren’t clicking on your “Best Sushi in Boston” post for a history of the dish or a tour of the city – they want you to dive right in!
Top Tip: Start with an outline.
Creating an outline before you begin writing a blog post will help you organize your ideas and make sure everything is presented in a logical order. A great outline will also help you write a great intro, because it’ll help you narrow down the focus of what you want to talk about.
Users only read about 20% of the words on a webpage, and websites score 47% higher for usability when text is scannable. Breaking up your blog post with images can break up long sections of text and make a page much more engaging. So, what types of visuals should you include?
Infographics and illustrations perform the best, with GIFs and memes bringing up the rear. That means you don’t want to just chuck in some animations just for the sake of it – instead, try to include valuable information in a visual way.
For example, say you’re writing a blog post on hair products, and you asked a bunch of friends what their favorites are. Why not use a free tool like Canva or Visme to make a chart or a graph out of everyone’s responses?
Not every blog post will lend itself to that kind of data visualization, but there are other visuals you can use to break up your text. If you’re blogging about a hobby or activity, take some photos of the action and use them to bring your content to life.
One way to successfully target a competitive keyword is to make sure your blog post offers something that other pages don’t. Whether that’s a useful tip that you learned from firsthand experience, a quote from an expert on a given topic, or some really well-researched statistics, there are many ways to ramp up the originality of your content.
Some enquiry services, like ResponseSource, make it easy to find quotes from real professionals on whatever topic you’re blogging about.
Top Tip: Don’t forget about CTAs.
CTAs, or calls to action, are elements you can use in a blog post to encourage readers to act. For example, a pop-up form prompting people to subscribe to your email newsletter could be a call to action. Using effective CTAs is an important way to grow your readership – and the more unique your blog content is, the more likely people will be to follow through on your CTAs.
- Interview with Merchant Mariner Guide: We interviewed Josh about setting up a blog and developing a content strategy
SEO, or search engine optimization, means making your blog post as understandable as possible to popular search engines like Google. There are a ton of small tweaks you can make to a post that will make it more likely to rank high up in Google results – and that’s important, considering the first five organic results account for 67.60% of all clicks.
Writing Page Titles
Make sure you choose a relevant title for your blog post – that keyword research we talked about earlier will come in handy here. For example, if you’re targeting the term “best fantasy novels,” then you’ll want to include that phrase in your post’s title.
But don’t just stop there – you also want your title to stand out from the crowd a little bit, and convince readers to click. Something like “Best Fantasy Novels: Find Your New Favorite” is a lot more enticing than the keyword on its own.
Check out our list of Blog Title Examples for inspiration!
Writing Meta Descriptions
If you’ve ever conducted a Google search, you’ve seen a meta description before. It’s the short paragraph of text below the linked title that acts as a preview of the page.
Every blog post you write should get its own meta description that makes it clear to users why they should click to your page.
Using Alt Tags for Images
Alt tags are short, descriptive pieces of text that appear in place of an image if it ever fails to load. The primary purpose of alt tags is to help screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers, so they’re a really important way to make your blog more accessible.
Alt tags work in a similar way for search engines – the descriptive text makes it easier for them to understand what an image is depicting and why it’s relevant on the page. That’s why it’s important to add alt tags to all of the pictures on your site, and they can be as straightforward as possible – just one or two words describing the action will do!
This one is pretty self-explanatory: Make sure to read over your blog post before you publish it! You don’t want a few simple mistakes to take away from all of the work you’ve put into your post – and those mistakes can do more damage than we realize: One survey of web users in the UK found that nearly half of respondents would be most influenced by spelling or grammar mistakes when determining a brand’s likeability.
Top Tip: Read aloud!
While re-reading your blog post on paper can help you catch spelling and grammar mistakes, reading your content aloud will make it easier to notice less obvious issues, like if a sentence runs on for too long or doesn’t have a logical flow. Adjusting little details like these really push your content over the finish line!
By following the tips and tricks above, you’ll be well on your way to blogging success. It all starts with choosing a topic you’re passionate about, but here’s a recap of everything else we’ve covered:
How to Write a Blog Article
- Choose your topic
- Write a great introduction
- Don’t forget visuals
- Offer unique content
- Follow SEO best practices
If you’ve read this far, then congratulations – you’re armed with everything you need to take the internet by storm!