How to write a good blog article
Aspiring to be a wordsmith of Shakespeare’s calibre is perhaps a stretch of the imagination too far! However, borrowing the extraordinarily famous phrase from Hamlet does entice readers to find out more. This is exactly what you are trying to achieve when writing blog articles for your website. To write a good blog article the key components are (not in priority order):
- Search Engine Optimisation,
- Your opinion,
- How often (frequency).
Each of these topics are covered in detail below.
Search Engine Optimisation
There are some basic rules that should be followed to write a good blog article to ensure that it benefits your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), i.e. where your website appears for a specific Google search term (or keyword). I have summarised these below; there are many detailed articles available on this topic – this is a good one.
- Write in English, not jargon or just the keywords you are targeting. Bad spelling and grammar will turn off readers and search engines.
- Cover your topic in sufficient detail to be informative. Perhaps not thousands of words but at least several hundred.
- Craft a catchy but also informative title. Tell the reader what topic is covered without reading like a tabloid headline!
- Use the tools available to you, including blog description tag (to describe your article in less than 156 characters), a URL that is descriptive, use of text formatting (i.e. headings – h1, h2 etc) and configure a useful 404 (broken link) page.
- Add links to other relevant articles and pages on your website. If it adds to the usefulness of the article content, link to external websites but only one or two per article.
- Make sure your site is fast and responsive (i.e. works on smartphones, tablets etc). Over 60% of internet usage in the U.K. is via a mobile device and we are one of the countries with such a low percentage!
- Format your article for easy reading. Use 1 (and only 1) H1 tag on a page which should be the same as your article’s title and include your target keyword. Keeping paragraphs short (2 or 3 sentences) and using bold or italic formatting when it makes sense will also make it easier to read, especially on a mobile device.
- Include good images, hopefully interesting ones. Again use the tools available to specify relevant image names, ALT tags and make sure the files are not huge as this will slow down the page loading.
Nothing is more important than the article content. SEO has to be secondary to content. Why? A significant part of how SEO works nowadays is based on the content and overrides much of the good house-keeping advice given above.
Most business owners are enthusiastic about their ‘topic’, be it celebrity gossip to technical widget details. If you are speaking with such a person and you get them talking about their business, you will often learn some intriguing new nugget of information or have a laugh about an event they describe. Visit their website and read a few of their blog articles; often you will be left struggling to connect these with the person you met.
I think one of the best pieces of advice when starting to write articles yourself is to write how you speak. This is often referred to as your voice – my advice is to take this at face value and use your voice. Use a Dictaphone (apps available on all smartphones!) and talk your article into life before typing it up.
Your opinion, not just another ‘me too’ blog
Facts are facts. Even when some people try to convince you about their ‘alternative facts’. Well known facts are not that interesting when regurgitated for the millionth time! Blog article SEO rules almost certainly comes under that heading.
This means that when you are writing your article where you can add value is in expressing your expert opinion. Presidents of various countries aside, opinions are generally why people are reading articles. Readers want to find guidance that helps them decide on their way forward.
Opinion triggers emotion in your readers, and this promotes feedback. The current POTUS’ (better known as Donald Trump and various other names I suspect) twitter feed is addictive reading and generates a huge amount of engagement. Just think how much productivity has reduced as people spend significant amounts of time on social media engaging with him and other people about their views on his behaviour? Now I am not sure the old adage of ‘all publicity is good publicity’ applies in Mr. Trump’s case, but his PR approach does make for an interesting case study.
Use your own experiences to bring to life the topic, we all love the personal as the success of entire magazines depend upon it (Hello, OK, Woman’s Weekly, The Sun….and the list goes on). Next time you are looking for inspiration, read your own favourite trashy mag with a new approach; look at the structure of the articles, find the repetitive components that are the magazine’s signature and notice what initially attracts you to the article (is it the not-from-real-life photographs, or may be a nugget in the content which is highlighted in italics?).
My opinion on writing articles is quality over quantity but not at the expense of no quantity. Writing the next Hamlet (even if it were possible!) is not worth delaying an article for many months; even Shakespeare had to pay the bills and produce money-spinners! Writing an article a week which is not relevant to your business, is too short to be interesting or just generally of low quality is a waste of time. Your focus should be to write a good blog article, not an OK one or a truly amazing one!
I am currently aiming for a meaty article quarterly. There are plans to improve on this in the future, but at the moment I am being realistic about what is possible alongside other commitments.
So I will sign off with something my mother said to me so so so many times (it wasn’t irritating at all), if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Make a commitment to your blog. Write it from your heart. Give something useful away; your expertise!
To find out more how I can help your business with this and other marketing, click here.