This is a post from SETTER’s Marketing Bootcamp Series. This series is focused on providing education and instruction on a variety of marketing tactics. You can expect to learn about inbound marketing, digital marketing, blogging, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, keyword targeting, social media, content marketing, lead generation, and more. The goal is to offer accessible, actionable, easy-to-understand tactics that you can begin implementing immediately.
Blogging Part 2 – Writing the Article
Welcome to part two of our guide on blogging. If you haven’t read part one, check it out—it discusses how to effectively prepare for a new content marketing campaign. Preparation is key, and putting in the work up front will save you a lot of time in the long run. Now that you’ve identified keywords, generated content ideas, and organized a content calendar, it is time to go ahead and dive right into the content writing phase.
Blog Formatting and Structure
The format of your blog post is important. After all, a blog post shouldn’t feel like a book or essay. Long paragraphs can be exhausting to read on a computer screen. With this in mind, try to cut back on lengthy paragraphs when bulleted lists, images, or shorter paragraphs will do. Here’s a general structure that you can use for your blog posts:
- Header Image: Use an attention-grabbing image at the very beginning to immediately draw users in. It should be generally related to your content, but consider unusual and provocative options.
- Strong First Paragraph: You want to open strong. There are four common ways to open a blog post:
- Quote: Finding a high quality quote not only provides you with a great opening opportunity, but also lends credibility by leveraging the reputation of the person you’re quoting.
- Anecdote: Many writers swear by the anecdote opening. Matthew Berry, a sports writer for ESPN, opens many of his posts with a personal story. It’s effective—it interests the reader, it’s unique, it’s fun to read, and it gives your reader a chance to get to know the blogger.
- Question: A thought-provoking question can be a very effective way to open up a blog. It usually lends itself to a very short opening (a good thing), it engages the reader by making them think about the potential answer, and it provides a preview on what the post will be about.
- Simple Preview: Another common, and effective, opening is simply a short intro that explains what the post is about and alerts the reader to the value provided in the post. This is the type of intro that was used for this blog post.
- 2-3 Sections: It’s a good idea to split your post into a few individual sections. Many readers will initially scroll through your post, skimming it to determine whether it’s a worthwhile time investment. Offering sections with separate subheads makes this process easier for the reader. In addition, search algorithms will find these subheads and incorporate them into their analysis of the page. Accordingly, you should ideally use subheads that incorporate your keywords for SEO purposes (though contextually related words/phrases can still be effective for today’s algorithms).
- 1-2 Images: While not every post lends itself to including multiple images, try to insert images where you can. Images tend to keep the reader interested, propelling them through the article.
- Bulleted lists: If it fits the content topic, consider including a bulleted list or two. Again, this is easier to read, and entices skimmers to read further.
- Call-to-Action: What exactly do you want your reader to do—comment, post on social media, subscribe to your e-mail list? One of the easiest ways to inspire action is simply to ask. For example, if you want your readers to comment, end with a thought-provoking question you’d like them to answer.
Search Engine Optimization for Your Blog
Make sure that you incorporate your keywords into your blog post. Remember, keywords are the terms that your prospects may search in Google to find you. By incorporating these keywords into your content, you signal to search engines what the post is about and make it much easier to be found by your prospects.
Be careful, though. Don’t fill your post up with keywords at the expense of content quality. In the past, posts that overloaded their content with keywords, even though it sacrificed quality, earned SEO advantages. That is not the case today. Search engine algorithms are getting smarter every year, and they now often decrease your SEO value if you overload your content to try “tricking” their algorithm. Focus on quality content that incorporates keywords in a natural way and includes contextual content that naturally relates to your keywords, and you’ll be on your way to earning visibility for your content in search engines.
Effective Blog Titles
Think of your blog title as a headline. Headlines have been around since the invention of newspapers, so don’t neglect the value of a strong title. A strong title achieves three things:
- An effective blog title will inspire readers to click on your post in the first place.
- It should provide a preview into the subject of the blog post, answering the reader’s immediate question, “What is this article going to be about?”
- What is your article’s reason for existing? Why should your audience read it? A strong headline sells the article, as simple as that. Does your article exist because it’s going to show the reader how to make the perfect eggs benedict? Then communicate that.
We hope you are able to utilize these tactics and strategies to more effectively engage your audience, and to help your content rank highly in search engines when potential clients/customers search online for the type of information you have written about. After all, when someone discovers your blog on Google and clicks, they arrive on your website to read it – right where you want them to be.
The value of inbound marketing is proven, and content marketing is the foundation. Stay on the lookout for future posts in our Marketing Boot Camp Series, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.