How to build the perfect blog post for content marketing
Marketing your website with its content involves creating content that's not only engaging to your human audience, but easily noticed by the "spiders" that crawl the web for keywords and tags. One of the most popular ways to get that attention and engagement is with a blog. Blogs have distinct advantages over videos and podcasts in a couple of areas: humans enjoy just cutting out the noise and simply reading for a while, and search engines can much more efficiently index text than other kinds of media.
Here are some tips to make your blog posts more appealing and more easily indexed.
Blogging for humans
Although I've heard people in this business claim that a blog post can be either human-friendly or machine-friendly, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. In fact, it turns out that if you follow the long-standing rules of good writing, you've already done about 90% of the work that the machines require. So this section is just a quick review of the most important of those rules:
Pick one topic and stay on it
Define the purpose of your article in terms of what you want to teach or explain to your readers – and what you want them to do after reading the article. Don't go wandering off into side issues or other irrelevant musings.
Define a structure for your writing
If you have ideas that need to be explained in a particular order, write out the order someplace else and follow it. Also, remember to include both an introduction and a conclusion to your article. Finally, break down each of the top-level ideas into an outline form wherever it makes sense to do so.
Use paragraphs correctly
Paragraphs aren't just a handful of sentences separated by a blank line. A single paragraph has its own distinct idea or subject. The topic sentence summarizes that idea, and the remaining sentences build on the idea.
Use subheadings if the article is long enough
Subheadings are important both to humans and to machines. On the technical side, the title is typically tagged as <H1> in HTML, with other subheadings that are used in indexing tagged with <H2> and <H3>. It's also beneficial to put the post's main keyword phrase in some of the subheadings.
Make your text read smoothly with transition phrases
Transition phrases signal a new direction compared to the previous idea. They can be part of a list, such as "first of all" or "secondly," or they can introduce a competing or concluding idea, such as "however" or "therefore."
Blogging for machines
After you have completed the steps above, it's time to make any necessary adjustments that will allow the best possible treatment from search engines.
Have one main keyword phrase for your post
This is why keyword research is so important. You need to find a phrase that gets a healthy amount of traffic, but that isn't highly competitive. Then you match your topic with this phrase.
Each post should have a different main keyword phrase, otherwise you'll be competing with yourself.
Put the main keyword phrase in your title
Preferably your keyword phrase should be at the beginning of the title. Also put this phrase in the meta tag and (if your blog editor doesn't automatically do it), in your URL.
Distribute the main keyword phrase through the article
Search engines like to see the main keyword in the introduction, and after about every 200 words within the article itself. Avoid leaving large chunks of text that don't contain the keyword phrase.
Generally the minimum length of a post for search engines is about 300 words. There is no maximum length, but clearly you don't want to create a post so long that your human readers get bored and click elsewhere before finishing.
Search engines interpret links to any post as having "authority." So if you have created other blog posts about similar topics, it's essential to add a hyperlink back to each of them. Linking to external pages that illustrate or support your idea can be beneficial, too.
Alt tags on images
Search engines can get suspicious of images that don't have a descriptive tag, so be sure to include them everywhere.
All of the above might look intimidating, but it really isn't. Strong writing is still at least 80% of the battle. The rest you can master with a little practice. Just get into the habit!
See you next time.