Blogging Tips For Beginners
Creating the perfect blog post especially when blogging as a beginner, is typically at the back of people’s minds and deciding what to write about takes precedence.
Although ultimately the content rules king, once your audience begins to read there are a number of steps you can take to enhance their experience.
By structuring your blog to include the attributes listed in this post, your content will flow more consistently, become easier to consume, share and communicate.
The Post Title
Your post title should be in a word “Epic!” This is your chance to grab someone’s attention as they crawl through the endless content that is available today. However if you are struggling, there are always 2 post types you can fall back on, ‘How to’ and ‘Lists’. Readers love to consume ‘how to’ guides that will make every day task simpler or teach them something they didn’t already know.
The other is Lists, for example, ‘7 Ways to…’ ‘Top 10 Fastest….’ ‘Top 20 Most Expensive…’ and always make it a random odd number if it’s not a Top List. For some physiological reason if you make it 5, 10, 20 it appears as if you have forced the results to fill the list and ‘3 Ways to…’ is always more believable than ‘10 Ways to…’.
Lastly, make sure that you include your primary topic keyword in the title and preferably near the beginning of your blog. If you are using WordPress as your blogging platform, remember that WordPress, as default, will use your post title as your page title. This means that if you use more than 70 characters Search Engines will disregard anything after this point, so, as best practice, keep your titles short and punchy.
Your Opening Paragraph
The opening paragraph serves 2 purposes: firstly, it introduces the reader to your content and reaffirms what the blog post is about. Secondly, it retains the reader’s attention – at this point they have read the title and are interested. If the opening paragraph doesn’t grasp them it is likely they will leave in search of another article.
As with the Post Title, ensuring that your primary keyword is near the start of your opening paragraph is very important for your On-Page SEO, BUT be careful not to over use your primary keyword, use variations and add related keywords (these are easy to find using Google’s keyword tool or at the bottom of a Google search results page).
“A picture is worth a thousand words…” That said, adding an images to your posts can be great for a number of reasons:
- We all love looking at pictures
- It breaks up the text on the page
- It draws the readers eye and attention
- We love to share pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
- You can name your image your primary keyword (good for SEO)
- You can add an alt tag with your primary or related keywords (also good for SEO)
Having 1 smaller image placed left or right aligned at the top of your post with your ‘Opening Paragraph’ will help to retain a reader’s interest, as well as improving the overall look of your post, and, as I listed above, we all love pictures. They are a very efficient way to break up large paragraphs of text. Also, by adding multiple images or a gallery to your post you increase the likelihood of readers sharing your content, especially if they can relate to your pictures.
The Main Copy
Now that you have your reader’s attention, this is your opportunity to get your point across and go into detail on your topic. As you typically will include the bulk of your text content here, try to include primary and related keywords throughout your text. However, the quality of your copy should never be compromised at the expense of trying to add keywords.
It has been said many times that you should keep you keyword density below 2%, BUT as a general rule, try to include them a few times in your article. If when you read it back you feel that you are repeating your keywords too frequently, time to edit your copy this time with the intended recipient in mind.
Remember: The reader comes first. You are writing for them and not for Google.
Use Bulleted List
Where possible bulleted lists are a strong asset to include in your post, readers are drawn to bullet lists as they are to images. As we all skim read down a post, we are looking to find that answer to our problem in the shortest time possible. Adding a bullet list of short punchy points or steps allows a reader to quickly consume the information they require in seconds.
Finish with a Conclusion or Summary
Too often I read content and when I get to the bottom of the page I’m left thinking “What now?” Quick tip, don’t make your website visitors think! In concluding or summarizing your post, recap on your message and then make sure you tell them what to do next. It could be as simple as: do you have an opinion on ‘X’? Share your thoughts in the comments below or for more information on ‘X’ go here. The important thing is that you offer that next step.
Always have Call to Action’s (CTA)
Carrying on from offering that next step, CTA’s or Call to Action’s are an effective way to use graphical banners or opt-in boxes to direct a reader to a specific page on your site or capture their details. These banners or opt-in boxes can be placed in side bars, during your post, or directly after your post as long as it’s before the comment section.
Find out more about CTA Graphics
Offer Related Posts
Related posts maximize reader retention and offer value. Should a visitor read your content and skip your CTA, your related posts act as another mechanism to encourage them to stay on your site. By presenting additional posts that complement the material they have just read, we can maximize the time your reader spends on your site.
If you are using a WordPress plugin to facilitate this such as WP Related Posts, typically they draw the most recent posts in a category or tag group by default. So, if there is an option to select your most popular posts, I would advise you display your ‘Top 5’, or create a bullet list and link this to your ‘Top 5’ posts using the post titles as the anchor text.
Make Social Sharing Easy
Nearly everyone today who uses a mobile phone or a computer has some form of Social Network Profile, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, G+ or Stumbleupon. By adding Social Sharing Icons to your post, you maximize the opportunity to share your content on impulse. By expecting your readers to copy your URL and paste it in their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed you increase the risk of them losing interest or getting distracted.
So, keep it simple and make it easy for them.
If you use WordPress, you could try the following plugins:
Make it very easy to add Social Sharing to your blog posts.
After they have read your content, a comments section provides visitors with an opportunity to keep the conversation flowing and gather feedback on your blog post. Post comments are typically active by default in all blogging platforms – the only down side is that they can come without any form of spam protection. As a result of this you can fall victim to nonsense comments or people trying to advertise their website.
Make sure you have a plugin like Akismet to limit this or set your comments to only go live once you have approved them.
Whether you are blogging as a beginner or an experienced marketer, implementing the above steps will insure that your blog posts are both consistent and easy to consume. As discussed in a previous post on 5 Steps for getting On-Page SEO right for 2013 you still need to make sure you cover the basics.
Simple things like:
- Title Tags exceeding 70 characters
- Missing Meta Descriptions
- URL lengths exceeding 115 characters
- Not using H1, H2, H3 tags to structure your content
They may seem trivial. However, without going all techy on you, as long as Search Engines or potential visitors are taking them into account I would advise you do the same.