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How not to suck at blogging: 5 ways to write successful blog posts

You’ve probably heard. Blogging is a guaranteed way to attract new customers. It’s a sure-fire SEO tactic and Google will smile fondly upon websites that blog regularly.

Well, it’s true. Blogs are the best way to tempt more people onto your website. But the idea is to convert a mildly curious first-time visitor into a regular subscriber. So how do you do that?

Be interesting

Never forget that you’re writing for the reader, not the search engine. A blog written solely for the purposes of SEO will inevitably fail. It will be a sloppy, keyword-stuffed waste of web space that nobody wants to read.

Choose subjects that are genuinely valuable to your reader. Which questions do your customers tend to ask most frequently? If you answer those questions in an engaging way and help solve a problem, your reader will keep coming back to you for more information.

Write about something that you’re passionate about. If you’re brave enough, be controversial. Pick an issue where your ideas run against the mainstream. Your reader may not agree with you, but you’ll kick-start a debate and open up a conversation.

Make it scannable

I don’t want to depress you, but most people won’t read every word. No matter how well-crafted your blog content, readers will scan for something which grabs them.

  • Use headings to signpost your content
  • Include bullet points
  • Write sentences of fewer than 20 words
  • Make paragraphs a maximum of 4-5 lines

Link carefully

Think of the reader. What would they be interested in? Be careful. Links are great for SEO but only if they’re used for the benefit of your reader, not your search engine ranking.

Create links to useful and related stories on your own blog, relevant website pages and trusted external sources of information. Use anchor text that tells the reader where they’re going. Don’t “click here”.

When it comes to external link-building, there’s a lot of information out there. It boils down to this:

  • Earn your links. Other relevant sites will link to your blog if it’s engaging and informative.
  • Links from trusted and authoritative sources are the most valuable.
  • Don’t buy links. It’s cheating and Google will notice.

Make it shareable

There’s little point in writing a readable, knowledgeable 300-500 word mini-masterpiece if nobody sees it. Make sure that your blog posts have social media sharing buttons that make it easy for readers to share with friends and followers.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media. It gives you access to an unlimited number of potential new readers who, in turn, become new customers. Social media gives you a direct connection with your reader. They’ll comment, ask questions and create a relationship. In other words, they’ll engage.

Turn it into SEO

Every time you post a blog it becomes a new web page. The more fresh pages you post, the higher your visibility.

Many first-time visitors will come to your blog via search engines. Bear in mind that they’ll often begin by typing the words “how”, “where” and “why”.  This is particularly important when choosing your title because search engines rate them highly. Your blog will automatically become more findable if your title addresses a question that people are asking.

Here are some basic tips on blogging SEO:

  • Front-load your keywords. Search engines put weight on the first few words of the title.
  • Keep post titles to under 70 characters.
  • Use numbered lists. Some people hate them, but they’re popular so I’m not going to argue.
  • Use your highest-ranking keywords early, preferably in the first or second sentence.

Above all, be subtle. Incorporate relevant lead and long-tail keywords naturally and seamlessly into your blog. Google can easily spot keyword-stuffing and will penalise you for it. More importantly, so will your reader.

Helen Beckingham is an SEO copywriter at Keyword Copywriting. Expert scribbler on websites, blogs and e-books, rather good bassoonist, terrible singer. Contact helen@keywordcopywriting.co.uk here