In reality, learning how to write a blog post is easy. You just write. And you get better.
What you wouldn’t know about the internet if you just arrived here, a full-fledged writer with exceptional talent is how to write things people want to read.
This is where Keyword Research, Search Engine Optimization, and Content Strategy come in.
Open a new tab with UberSuggest <– (by clicking the green link), and let’s get started learning together.
Type “how to write a blog post” into the search bar and hit Enter.
You should see something like this:
In this blog post, I’m going to zoom in on a couple of the data points. We’ll look at “Volume” (the number of monthly United States searches) and “SEO Difficulty” (with a glance at the number of backlinks).
What is Monthly Search Volume? (SEO)
Volume is the answer to the question, “How in demand is the content I’m producing?” (or if you’re reading this post… considering producing, I hope).
You should do your keyword research up front before you go about pouring 10,000 hours into writing content no one is looking for.Volume helps you decide if deploying your writing resources is worth your time.
It’s the quintessence of, “Give the people what they want”.
Win the crowd
What is the crowd asking for? How quickly does blogging become dictated by the masses?
Let’s call out the elephant in the room.
Forrest, weren’t we supposed to be doing something meaningful to us? This sounds like a slippery slope to confinement.
To ignore creativity, my gut, my instincts– and just writing the same shit everyone else is writing, because it’s in demand?
That’s true, it could become that. Don’t let it.
Don’t sell your soul to the market.
But also, don’t show up to the fruit and vegetable market selling paper-mâché unicorns (unless they’re made by blind nuns, those sell like hot-cakes).
It’s very hard to create demand for your content
It’s easier to supply what people are looking for.
And often times, this is simply a matter of rephrasing, or shaping the content you have in mind.
For example, I could have titled this post, “What is monthly search volume?” and that would have generated a result like this:
(Note: This image is from SEMRush, but it’s basically the same as UberSuggest… just more expensive and has more under-the-hood features).
Can you see the difference? One search query, “how to start a blog” is searched for 1,900 times [monthly] while the other, “monthly search volume” is only queried 10 times per month.
But I’m writing about the same thing.
Conclusion of the story– keyword research is not 100% selling your soul to the devil, nor is it frolicking about in a meadow and asking people to donate money to your cause.
Selecting Keywords That Resonate
Let’s reflect on the above lesson, while speeding up a bit to some practicals.
- Consider a topic for your content
- Research what the crowd wants
- Strike balance between your voice and the words people query
- Craft the major theme of your blog post
These steps are the framework of content strategy for one blog post. And the fifth step is what we are doing now— selecting keywords for your post.
5. Select Keywords for Your Blog Post
The prerequisite is #4– crafting the major theme of your blog post. This is the distilled idea of the post, without the constraint of keywords. This is what you originally thought you would be writing about, in your own creative imagination.
We’re not abandoning you, or your voice.
What we do with keyword selection is add your selected keywords into your writing.
Please hear me loud and clear: choosing keywords that do not represent that idea you have is a bad idea– choosing keywords that DO represent your idea is a GOOD idea.
Or else this is all fluff.
Choose a Handful of Keywords That Stick Out to You
Pick the keywords that most closely represent the idea behind the blog post you want to write.
Add those to your note sheet.
Now, write your post.
Strategically Compose Your Article (Search Engine Optimization)
Let’s pretend that you were writing a post called, “how to write a blog post” and that your website was forrestwebber.com
You have selected the keyword, “how to write a blog post”, with a monthly search volume of 1,900 U.S.A. queries.
You also selected the keywords, “monthly search volume”, and “search engine optimization” (it’s a hail mary, but this last keyword is heavy in demand with a whopping 135,000 monthly searches).
Now, one more interesting observation before I move on. The query, “selecting keywords” also receives 110 searches per month.
NOTE: this keyword (“selecting keywords”) was unplanned! And that will happen as you write too.
Add your keywords in headlines (like this one)
Headlines are the big section-breaking texts that tell the reader what the next few paragraphs will be about.
These headlines communicate both to readers (human) and robots (google, etc.)
Using your keywords in these prominent areas helps both of them find you and your content.
Add your keywords in the opening paragraph
In our culture, attention spans are shriveling. So you need to communicate to the reader that they’ve found the blog post they want, right away.
And the robots see it too.
The robots are trying to understand what you’re saying, so they can bring humans to the food they are looking to devour– and those first sections of writing give them a sniff of what the rest will be about.
Don’t let keywords consume your focus
Add them, be sure to follow the basics, but don’t let the robotic nature of writing for SEO make you miserable.
Crafting Your Content Strategy
Understanding your own Content Strategy has several components.
- Technical aspects (monetization and value offerings)
- Philosophical underpinnings (think Theory of Content)
- Brand-centric focus (the macro-view of your brand and content)
- Content Pillars (discussed in a separate post)
Remember in How to Start a Blog, that we discussed YOUR goals? What it is that you want to RECEIVE in your blogging endeavors?
Let’s take a moment to recall your goals.
And let’s say that your goal is to help educate people. You want to reach multitudes with the information they are looking for and supply it. You want to help people.
But you also want to make money, and you’ve decided that dollars will be a quantitative metric for you to gauge your success.
The qualitative measure will be “how much I helped others” and you’ll quantify it by seeing how much money you earn.
This is the water for your tree.
It’s the way you get fed. It’s how you receive the energy and nourishment to keep offering value in the reciprocity of relationship. The relationship between you and your readers.
Your Content Strategy Needs Aim to be Effective
The simplest method that I’ve found to create an effective Content Strategy surprisingly easy: write the goal of your content first.
And make your goals qualitative and quantitative.
The qualitative ones like, “help people”, will be harder to measure (sometimes impossible). But try.
The quantitative ones like, “make money”, are easy to measure and you can add detail to them.
Define Your Content Goals
“I want to make $500 in 2019”.
“I want to feel like I’ve added value to people’s lives”.
“I want to help 3 people start a blog in the next 3 months”.
“That which is measured improves”Peter Drucker
The interesting part of qualitative goals is that they are hard to measure, yet they are imperative to your fulfillment.
The good news in this example is that the money you make often does reflect the value you delivered to your customers, clients, or in this instance… readers.
Back to the practicals.
The Content Strategy is the guiding force behind what each blog post is written about, each adding an important link in the chain of the Content.
Content Strategy that’s focused on “a series of 9 blog posts” would have an overall agenda for the 9 blog posts. There’s a thread between them.
Create the Content Process (Around the Goals)
“I’m going to write 12 blog posts that help people who want to start blogs learn the basics”.
“I’m going to monetize the content with advertisements and [helpful] affiliate links”.
“I’m going to optimize said blog posts for maximum organic traffic (SEO) and also share them directly with friends who I know want to read them”.
These are process-oriented decisions that help me manifest the vision and goals. These processes and decisions do the acting to bring back home the boons of accomplishment, the rewards I’m seeking from my endeavor.
This is how I think of Content Strategy.
What is Content Strategy Not?
Each and every word, each blog post, each decision, needs to be focused on the goals that you have. The authentic goals that you really want.
That means blog post 4 can’t be about how bananas smell bad.
And your writing time can’t be spent watching Netflix.
It means that you don’t email 1,000 people who don’t give a shit about blogging telling them about your new blog post.
Content Strategy is not incredibly challenging. It’s the execution and discipline that trip most people up.
So don’t overthink Content Strategy
Really, it just means forming a plan. A plan that will actually get you what you want. As simple as it sounds, it’s not “easy”, and not many people do this.
They spray-and-pray their content.
It’s like rapping. There are some super talented rappers who can flow on command.
And yes, there are some insanely talented writers who can probably ooze poetry at whim.
But both of those content forms AND types of people are not the norm.
Most diligent creators that make things DO plan.
Instructions for Writing Format (Readability, SEO)
To wrap things up, let’s look at two screen shots of a Google Doc, so I can illustrate the message into visual form, then we’ll talk about it.
Then, understanding what I’m saying will be 60,000 times easier for you. (yes, go look at that link).
See the above two examples?
Which one looks easier on your eyes?
It’s important to say that more and more people are reading on their phones, too.
When you read a book, longer paragraphs with more sentences is fine. But on our tiny screens (and even larger screens), we need more eye-relief as we scroll.
You’ll notice that I break this post up with the frameworks of an outline, and that I rarely use more than 2 sentences per paragraph (frequently 1 sentence!).
As you write blog posts, do these three things:
- Add headers to breakup the text (H2’s, H3’s)
- Insert bullet-point lists
- Add color-backgrounded elements (like my grey boxes above)
- Highlight things that are important (or bold them)
- Use very few sentences per paragraph
These will help your reader stay sane as they read your long-form content.
Recap (or Revisit)
This article on how to write a blog post is broken into four main steps, all of which have been briefly summarized here in this post. Stay in touch for more depth in the coming months.
- Keyword Research
- Search Engine Optimization (Monthly Search Volume)
- Content Strategy
- Readability (User Experience)
I hope that this has been helpful for you, reader. But I understand there may be other things you want to know.
If so, please tell me in the comments.
If you were helped, please say so (and be specific on what helped you).
If not, please tell me what I can add to this post, and I’ll do my best to keep it updated with the info you need!
And if you REALLY liked this post, Share it with others! Tell them about it, link to it in your own blog, and/or email me to say thanks.
I’ll appreciate it.
Also, if you want more helpful content like this, and you’re considering blogging (or just getting started), be sure to signup for my emails. We’ll journey together.