Guest posting and corporate blogging have become an essential part of SEO and inbound marketing. If you’ve not written blog posts regularly, it can seem like a straightforward exercise, but when you’re looking at a blank page and a pile of notes, it’s not quite so simple to pull it together into a effective SEO package that is maximally sharable and readable for the intended audience.
We’re going to have a look at a few actionable tips and techniques for structuring a blog post to help marketers and SEOs create great content. We’ll be drawing a few lessons from journalists, who are masters at conveying information concisely and succinctly, but we’ll be modifying that advice to make it more applicable for SEOs and marketers generally.
We’re going to assume that you’re on top of the research, have your market personas in order, and know what you want to say, but just need a little help organizing and structuring it on the page.
The headline or the title is the most important part of grabbing a user’s attention and it also provides crucial signals for Google. Headlines should be clear, concise, and contain the primary keywords that an article is targeting. Witty, punning, or cryptic headlines are great for newspapers, but they’re not good for search engines or for readers who are scanning through a list of articles.
Click-bait headlines that take advantage of issues likely to interest or be controversial to an audience are effective, but don’t overdo it, and don’t have the headline imply that the article contains different content than it does. That works well for online publishers who live or die by advertising clicks, but it’s not good when you’re trying to create an image of trustworthiness and reliability for a company through blogging.
Take care not to overindulge in numeric headlines too. “534 Ways To Clean Your Oven” might follow an effective formula, but that formula is becoming something of a cliché. See what everyone else is doing and try to do something different or original. Otherwise your post will just be another boastful headline in a long list of boastful headlines.
Sometimes, the best thing to do with keywords in the body text is forget about them. If you are writing on a specific topic, then you are automatically and naturally going to include relevant keywords and their various synonyms. However, if you do want to make a concerted effort to include them, do not overdo it. Search engines frown on keyword stuffing, and trying to include as many as you can in a short text will make it unreadable.
Headlines and section titles should include keywords in a natural way.
The first paragraph is the most important in the article. A writer can win or lose their reader with how they choose to write it. It sets the tone and structure for the rest of the article.
The inverted pyramid structure is favored by journalists, and it should be the go-to formula for most blog posts too.
In the inverted pyramid, the most important information is put in a summary paragraph at the top of the article. Who, what, where, when, why, and how are included in a short initial paragraph.
Subsequent paragraphs include information and opinion in reverse order of importance. Blog readers tend to skim or abandon an article before they complete it. Getting all the important information in first allows readers to extract what they need from the article more efficiently.
An alternative to the summary lead of the pyramid structure is to start the article with a short anecdote, by setting the scene, or by laying out the problems that the article will solve (see this article). The aim is to catch the readers’ attention, either by appealing to their emotion, their personal circumstances, or detailing problems to which they need the solution.
List articles (aka listicles) are often very effective ways to bring in traffic. They’re also easy to write, which might be why they are so common. If your topic and research lends itself to being broken down into easily enumerated chunks, then the list article is probably the best choice.
This article is an instructional article. It’s generally better to break instructional articles down into easily digestible sections, either as a list or, as with this article, under a series of headings. They are easier to write if you decide on the headings to use before writing. It creates a series of stepping stones that the writer can negotiate.
Even with the inverted pyramid style it’s usually better to finish off an article with a conclusion. Often that will take the form of a “kicker” that summarizes the information in the article, details how it solves the problem set out in the lead, and makes a call to action.
Once you have a grasp of the basic structures that you can use to shape your blog posts, the task is much less daunting. If you have any tips and tricks you’d like to share, feel free to hit the comments.