Congratulations on deciding to write a blog. It can be daunting, staring at a blank page wondering where to start. But writing search engine optimized (SEO) blog articles is a great way to generate a steady stream of high-value leads to your website without having to spend a ton on advertising.
But not just any content will do. The last thing you want is to spend hours or days researching and writing a blog post that gets five or so views a month. Great content is only great if it gets results.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to write a blog post that ranks on Google and, more importantly, grows your business.
How do I know this process works? Because I’ve used it repeatedly to rank for keywords and phrases in the top ten positions on Google. So, let’s get started.
What is a blog post?
A blog post is an article that’s published in the blog section of a website. It can be a how-to guide, news piece, event announcement, or podcast link. It covers a specific topic in detail and can range anywhere from 600 to 3000+ words.
A great blog post educates and delivers value while also entertaining the readers. It answers your target audience’s questions, demonstrates your expertise, builds your credibility, and it can boost your revenue.
To do that, it needs to rank on Google. And for the blog content to rank, it will need to include some, if not all, of the following:
- Images (e.g., an infographic)
- Some form of downloadable intellectual property (IP) (e.g., a template, worksheet, guide, or data)
- Informational or entertaining videos
- Interactive charts
Some blog posts perform better than others. It all depends on your market segment. What might be the go-to style of blog writing for one niche market could crash and burn in another.
So if you’re new to writing a blog post, you need to research your niche to be sure you’re crafting content in the format your audience prefers.
Here are a few types of popular blog post ideas:
- The “How-to” blog post (e.g., How To Write A Lead Nurturing Email Sequence). The purpose of this type of blog post is to explain step by step how to do something, like baking a cake or building a website. It gives the reader the tools and instructions they need to execute effectively.
- The “What is” blog post (e.g., What Is Direct Response Marketing?) This type of post aims to educate and inform its audience about a particular topic.
- The “Pillar topic” blog post (e.g., Business Systems 101). A pillar article is the main topic you want to rank for. The purpose of a pillar blog post is to teach. Typically a long article, a pillar post covers the topic in-depth, is packed with valuable information, examples, processes, and much more.
- The “List-based” blog post (e.g., 9 Steps To Build A Sophisticated Marketing Plan). Checklist blog posts break down the items you need or steps you have to take to fulfil a task, such as writing a LinkedIn post or sculpting your abs. It’s simple, straightforward, and effective.
Now that you know the types of blog articles to write, how do you ensure that your blog post gets read?
What makes a good blog post? (7 key elements)
Understanding how to write a blog post is only the start of your writing journey. More importantly, is how to write a GREAT blog post.
Blogging is all about solving a problem in an engaging and compelling way. Your blog post needs to answer the questions, Why would my audience care about this topic? and What do I need to do to keep them reading?
If you want to write a great blog post, here’s what you need to do.
1: Target a niche audience.
If you’ve been a part of your target audience, then you know their struggles. You’ve experienced, and hopefully, have overcome those challenges yourself. So you’d know better than anyone else what to write about and what information to share. When you write about a topic that you’re intimately familiar with, that’s how you build a relationship with your readers and win their trust.
Also, you want to target your niche because those are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services. That’s the end goal, right—to sell!
So, if you target everyone, you’ll be attracting the wrong kind of traffic to your website. While it might feel good to boost your traffic numbers, if they’re not potential leads, your article is essentially a dud.
2: Focus on the pain points early and provide a solution.
Start with a bang. You want to get your readers to self-identify immediately. Remember, when you’re in pain, you want pain relief. Your blog needs to be the aspirin to their headache. So draw them in by stating the problem or challenge and explain how you’ll share your secrets to solving it.
If you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll know that your keyword needs to appear in the opening sentence.
3: Add an intriguing or compelling headline.
Believe it or not, headlines can mean the difference between someone reading your blog post or clicking out of your site. Search engines don’t like it when readers do that. It’s a warning signal that your content sucks (even though it may not).
While there are dedicated sites and tons of advice online on how to write a great headline, the best advice I can give you is to answer your target audience’s questions.
In fact, a recent study revealed that 14.1% of all Google searches are in the form of a question. With “How” blog posts averaging 8.07% of all searches and “What” posts averaging 4.3%.
So once you settle on the type of post you’re going to write, come up with roughly ten potential headlines. Sure, you’ll discard most of them, but you’ll want to use a different headline for your title tag and article headline.
Here are a few examples of great headlines:
- 33 non-sucky subject lines for emails that people actually open and read
- A little mistake that cost this business owner $85,000
- Direct response copywriting: 7 vital ways to ensure your copy hits the spot and closes the sale
- How to win back dormant customers using an email reactivation campaign
Remember, a great headline solves a problem and brings a little personality or intrigue. Go on, give it a try.
4: Grab your reader's attention.
How you write your blog post directly impacts the time your readers spend reading your words. You need to include keywords, to be SEO compliant, and make it gripping. If there’s no hook, your readers won’t read your blog post.
They want to be entertained, to laugh, or to be shocked. So here are a few writing top tips:
- Use original analogies. Cliches are overdone. People want something new; so give it to them.
- Don’t be afraid to tell a story. Everybody loves a good story.
- Add personality to your writing. Think about the books you love to read. What is it about the writing that keeps you coming back for more? Maybe it’s humor or a self-deprecating tone. Pay attention to the way your audience responds to you.
- Write so a 14-year-old can understand what you’re saying. That means short, snappy sentences. Forget the jargon or high-brow language.
- Use an active voice. A passive voice will put you to sleep. Here’s an example of an active voice. Millions of people love chocolate. Now, if I were to write in a passive voice, it would look something like this. Chocolate is loved by millions of people.
- Treat your writing like a conversation. Imagine you’re sitting at a coffee shop having lunch with a friend. How would you share your story? That’s what you want to keep in mind when writing. Your readers want to feel like they’re having a casual conversation with a friend they know, like and trust, not like they’re sitting in an auditorium being lectured to.
5: Meet the word count.
This is a tricky subject. No offence, but the typical online user has the attention span of a gnat unless, of course, they find something that intrigues them. Then they have all the time in the world. So what does this have to do with word count?
If you want to stand any chance of getting eyes on your article, it needs to rank in search engines. To do that, it needs to meet the average number of words for that keyword. If that’s 600, lucky you. If that’s 4, 760, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Your writing needs to maintain a rhythm without adding words for the sake of word count. A good idea is to add a “contents” section to your blog. Your reader can use it to skip ahead to related topics.
For example, say your post topic is What is a target audience? If you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll know that you also need to answer the questions:
- What is the difference between a target audience and target market?
- Why do you need to define your target audience?
- How do you find your target audience?
So make sure when you’re writing blog posts that you address all relevant points.
6: Add images (designed, not stock visuals)
People consume information in very different ways. Some prefer written text, others like video, and some engage best with visual content. To craft a winning blog post, it’s never a bad idea to include all three.
Added to this, Google indexes images, making it another way for readers to find your blog articles. But whatever you design, the visual must include your logo or website URL.
It also needs to be shareable. Look at the visuals that perform well on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. They’re not cheesy stock visuals. They’re often illustrations or a beautiful photographs of a scene with an inspirational quote or thought.
You can also use images to break down complex tasks into simple, easy-to-follow visual steps. For example, how to write a marketing plan or how to build a website.
So use images to draw attention to essential stats, processes, ideas, or simply to give the reader a breather.
7: Include a call to action.
What do you want the reader to do next? Google wants to see a conversion, and simply reading the post doesn’t qualify. You need the readers to take some sort of action.
Adding a call to action is an opportunity to get readers to opt into your email list, download a lead magnet, request a quote, enroll in your course, whatever. This equals dollars in your bank account so make sure you’re adding a content upgrade to your blog post.
And mix it up. You’ll want to include multiple CTAs throughout your blog post. I like to position these just after the introduction, in the middle of the blog, and at the end. This means that I don’t lose any readers who jump off within the first few seconds.
Every blog post should include a CTA to join your newsletter and either download a free piece of content or purchase a product or service.
So those are the bones of a good blog post. Now, let’s discuss why you want to write a blog post for your readers.
Why write a blog post? (5 excellent reasons)
There are many reasons why writing a blog post is good for business. Most of these I’ve mentioned before, but to recap, here’s why you want to publish blog articles.
It demonstrates your expertise and boosts your credibility.
By sharing advice based on actual experiences, you build trust with your readers. You’re also able to bring something new to your market. So much of what’s online is regurgitated fluff.
Readers are hungry for new ideas and ways of doing things. When you show proof that you get results, you build your authority and credibility.
It attracts and drives high-value traffic to your website.
Blogging is an opportunity to drive qualified traffic or leads to your site. These are your niche readers. They’re typing questions into Google for which you have the answers. Your goal is to get them to take a look at your blog posts.
If you publish quality content that delivers a result in advance, you’ll become their go-to source for advice and help.
It helps you to rank in search engines.
Every blog post is a chance to rank in the top ten for search terms. And before you ask, Does it matter whether or not your writing ranks? Yes, it does.
You want your writing to rank because, to a search engine, you become a trusted source, and this boosts your domain authority.
Publishers and other businesses are more likely to link back to your content, ask you for an interview, or submit a contributor piece. This means you get exposed to readers who might have not ever heard of your business otherwise.
So, you get more leads and potential customers.
It increases your conversion rate and grows your company revenue.
Using your blog to upsell a product or service is a great way to increase your company revenue.
For example, say someone is looking up the benefits of business coaching. You’ve created a blog that covers that and includes a call-to-action to determine if they’d be a good fit for your coaching program. They click the CTA link, fill in the form, and one of your team members contacts them to learn more about their business, the challenges they face, and where you could help them to level up.
They’re impressed and decide to hire you. If you hadn’t created this blog post, they may never have learned of your coaching services and hired you. So blogging is an ideal way to grow your company revenue.
It provides content that you can repurpose.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog for your business, chances are you already have active social accounts. Sometimes knowing what to say on a Facebook post can be challenging. But not anymore.
Most blogs are long-form. If you cover multiple related topics to your keywords in your blogs, you can repurpose this content for social media, a book, course, even webinars.
You want to use a multi-approach to the media because not everyone consumes information in the same way. So there can be people in your target audience who only ever read Instagram posts or watch YouTube videos. By repurposing your content, you reach a wider audience.
Now that you know the five reasons you want to write a blog post, let’s look at how to write a blog post that readers can’t wait to share.
12 best practices for writing a blog post
Every blog writer is unique, and what works for some may not work for others. My advice, use this blogging methodology to get you started. As you create more blogs, you’ll begin to develop a writing process that works for you.
Here’s my step-by-step method on how to write a blog post:
1: Build your content plan
A content plan is a spreadsheet of topics your audience is interested in. It lays out the strategy you’ll use for writing and promoting your blog content in the coming months.
Your content plan needs to cater to the different buyer journeys. Remember, not everyone in your target market is ready to buy immediately. Some might just be looking to educate themselves. Others might only be interested in your basic plan, whereas a few will want to purchase your premium solution.
So when building out your content plan, you want to craft articles that answer your readers’ questions at each stage in the buying process.
Keep in mind the following:
- Whom will you be writing for? You want to create topic clusters based on the different needs of your target audience at every stage of their buying journey.
- What are their burning questions? A great way to build out ideas is to answer your clients’ frequently asked questions. These are the questions they type into Google every day. Start listing these FAQs in your content plan. If you’re stumped, you need to do market research. Arrange to speak with your top customers, send a questionnaire to your email list, check out social channels or forums to see what your ideal customer is talking about. Figure out why they buy and why they would buy from you.
- Based on your research, brainstorm content ideas. I explain how to infiltrate your target audience here. Check it out.
Let’s talk about the bones of your content plant. It’ll be broken into topic clusters, pillar articles, and cluster content, with internal links pointing from the cluster content to the pillar article.
- Topic cluster – The broad topic you want to rank for. It focuses on a specific buyer journey.
- Pillar article – The main topic or keyword you want to rank for.
- Sub-topic / Cluster content – A keyword-relevant article that supports (is related to) the pillar article. These can be short 600 – 1000 word articles.
- Hyperlinks – Internal links from the pillar article to the cluster content to build broad search engine authority
For example, your content plan could look something like this:
- Topic cluster: small business marketing
- Pillar article: What is direct response marketing?
- Cluster content:
- 8 Characteristics of a direct response ad
- Emotional direct response copywriting
- Powerful examples of direct response marketing
- What are direct response emails?
Make sure you develop smaller articles around your content plan.
2: Choose a topic that interests your ideal target audience
Before you sit down to write your blog article, you need to choose a topic that engages your readers. If you’ve already fleshed out your content plan, then select a topic from there.
Make sure it appeals to your readers’ wants and needs.
For example, if you’re a specialist cycling shop, you could create a listicle type blog post that details the items a beginner cyclist will need to start off-road cycling. The blog would include a freebie downloadable checklist that the reader can print and bring to a store to check off their purchase items.
3: Identify your focus keyword or phrase
The keyword or phrase is the topic you want to rank for. It’s what your readers (potential customers) are searching for each month. This keyword will need to be included in your title tag, article headline, and throughout your blog.
Keyword research is crucial because you want to select a keyword that receives a lot of organic traffic. Remember, organic traffic equals high-value leads.
Choosing something obscure with minimal traffic signals that your readers aren’t interested in that topic. So don’t waste your time blogging about it.
What is worth considering is the type of keyword you attempt to rank for. Neil Patel found that it’s easier to rank for questions or long-tailed keywords than it is to rank for two-word keywords.
For example, by zeroing in on beginner cyclist tips, we can see the potential to get 3,500 organic searches for this topic each month.
The keyword cyclist tips is searched 6,600 times a month. It’s a popular search term which means other sites will be competing for it.
Bike riding tips for beginners receive far less traffic, so this could be a great long-tailed keyword to try and rank for if you’re new to blogging. Your domain authority won’t negatively impact your chance of appearing in the top 10.
Once you’ve finished with your keyword research, you need to take things a step further.
Having identified the topic you want to write about, it’s time to see which blogs rank for that keyword and why. AHREFS, Neilpatel.com, and SurferSEO, are all excellent for researching popular keywords.
I’m using Surfer SEO as an example. The image below shows you the top five blog articles ranking on Google for that keyword. These are organic competitors. Here are some of the site benefits:
- It gives you the Title text, URL, and meta-description.
- It also shows the content score out of 100 for that keyword. This number represents how relevant the information within the blog is and the quality of writing. The first article has a ranking of 88 out of 100.
- The following number is the domain authority of the site. It’s ranked out of 10, with eight and above high scores.
- And it also shows the article’s word count. SurferSEO will then give you an average word limit to target.
Your goal must be to read at least the top three articles. See what topics they cover. What are the H2 and H3 tags? How many images do they include? Is there an opt-in?
You don’t need an SEO program to help you optimize your blog post, but it will massively reduce your research time. For example, SurferSEO includes a BRIEF section listing topics and questions you need to cover.
It also lists words that need to appear in your blog, as well as where they need to appear. For example, the algorithm might say you need to mention the focus keyword every 150 words. Or that the word bike should occur at least 24 times in your blog article. Knowing this helps you to build out your post outline.
4: Create a blog outline
Some call it an outline. I prefer the term skeleton structure. It’s a rough outline of what you want to write. You’ll want to develop a process that works best for you. Here’s what I like to do:
- Create your skeleton draft (outline).
- Write the headline or post title.
- Determine the H2 and H3 header sections. These are the subtopic ideas that you’ll need to flesh out. For example, it could answer the question How do I get better at cycling? And What is a good cycling distance for beginners?
- Within each H2 and H3 section, list keywords or topic ideas that you want to cover. You also want to include some relatable story that makes your readers sit up and say, Yup, this is for me.
- Are you offering a free download? Determine where you’ll include this CTA and any others you’d like to drive the reader to.
- Add your conclusion. A conclusion needs to wrap up the gist of your blog post. It should highlight the main points and give the reader something to do. For example, if the post speaks about how to make choux pastry, the conclusion should tell the reader to try it and share their feedback. Was it a success? Can they share their finished product as an image on social? This creates meaningful engagements which lead to social shares and drives organic traffic to your post.
Remember, the purpose of an outline is to show you exactly what information to cover in your post. It makes the process of writing your first draft much easier.
5: Write your first draft
Now it’s time to start writing and flesh out your outline. Again, every writer has a unique process.
I like to edit as I write. So I’ll work on a section until I feel it’s 95% perfect. Other bloggers prefer just to write and get their rough draft done. Then they’ll go back over their writing and finesse it.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Set yourself a deadline.
Most writers work best on a deadline. You know you need to have completed keyword research by this date, a draft by another date, etc. Adding a deadline means you have to get your act together and get things done.
Block off time to write.
It can easily take an hour to get into a writing zone, so block off a day just to write. It’ll take you far longer to complete your blog if you’re allocating an hour here and there.
Leave your headline until last.
Writing headlines is an art form. It takes skill. Not only do you need to entice your readers, but you also have to answer to search engines.
So you need to include your keywords in the headline and make it clickbait-able. I’ll only finalise the headline once the first draft is completed. I don’t necessarily know how many steps or points I’ll share, so leave your headline until last.
Craft a compelling introduction.
The best bloggers craft an introduction that readers literally cannot look away from.
Think of a car accident. A truck ploughs into a 4×4. You know it’s a gruesome scene. Somebody has likely died. But still, you’ve slowed down to 5 miles an hour—not to be safe but so you can crane your neck and eyeball the damage.
So you want your introduction to be unmissable because if it’s not, your readers won’t keep reading. Make sure your introduction includes your keywords in the opening line, states the problem you’ll solve, and contains a little story.
Add interesting stats (data your readers can trust).
Readers love data. It gives your advice or suggestions credibility. For example, why would I take up email writing just because you say I should. But if you include a stat like email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, well, you’ve got my attention.
The thing is, you need reputable information. If only 100 people were surveyed, taking data as the gospel truth isn’t concrete evidence that the wider population shares those opinions. So make sure you check your facts.
- Who conducted the research?
- How many people took part in the focus group or survey?
- Are they part of the target market?
- Was evidence given to confirm the claims made? For example, did the report show examples of different company’s campaign results? Don’t blindly accept information—question everything.
Give away stuff for free.
Let’s be honest. People love free stuff. Whether that’s a coupon, free trial, eBook, t-shirt, whatever, people love it. IP intellectual property is just as powerful. It’s something you own and can brand. It could be a:
- Guide to blogging
- Template for building out your content plan or writing your first press release
- List of the best performing subject lines
- Video series
It gets leads to opt into your website. From there, you just need to market to them until they buy. So make sure you’re grabbing your readers’ attention with a free giveaway.
Be prepared to walk away.
Writer’s block is a reality. There will be times when it feels like you’ve vomited nonsense onto the page. Step away and do something else. Trying to push through will only result in frustration and feeling like you’ve achieved nothing that day.
Double-check the final document.
Once you’ve finished writing, you want to re-read your blog post and ask yourself the following:
- Have you answered the question?
- Does it flow? Is there any area where the writing is clunky or disjointed? Are there sentences that you can break up or shorten?
- Have you used transition words?
- Are your subheadings distributed evenly?
- Is it in your company’s voice?
- Is it written in first-person narration and second-person narration? We want to address the audience directly, so use words like you and your.
- Have you broken up large chunks of texts? Walls of text are scary for most readers. It feels overwhelming, and this can be a turnoff. Instead, you want to use bullet points, numbers, bold, and italics to break the content into bite-size pieces of information which are easy to digest.
Use Grammarly to help you iron out confusing sentences, incorrect grammar, spelling mistakes, and get rid of plagiarized sentences.
Don’t be afraid to reorganize your outline.
If you think a topic needs to come higher up, move it. If something feels unnecessary, cut it. Basically, if you’re questioning why you’ve included something, it probably doesn’t need to be there.
6: Optimize your blog post using an SEO tool like SurferSEO or Page Optimizer Pro.
The best way to optimize your blog post is to use a content editor like SurferSEO. It highlights words and phrases you need to cover in your article, and it will give you a content score out of 100, so you know where improvements can be made.
Here’s how you can make sure your blog post is SEO compliant:
- Does it link to your pillar article?
- Does it meet the word limit?
- Have you met the header and bolded text count?
- Have you used enough images? Again, images can break up walls of black and white text.
- Have you ticked most of the keywords? (SurferSEO gives you the keywords that need to appear in your blog post. They will turn green once you’ve met the count for that particular word. See the image below. )
- Are there any keywords that you’ve used too much (in red)? Can you replace some of these with similar words?
7: Edit your writing.
The best editors don’t write. They specialize in taking your shiny blog post and turning it into a masterpiece. They’ll identify where you need to build on a statement, or remove something. They’ll pick up grammar and spelling mistakes or deviations from your copywriting style guide.
But if you can’t afford an editor, consider purchasing a subscription to Grammarly. It’ll do much of the legwork that an editor would. You can also use Hemingways Editor to determine the reading level of your writing. It’ll help you to rewrite complex sentences, so they’re more readable.
Top tip: If you can’t afford an editor, give yourself a day or two between completing the final draft and editing it. You need fresh eyes to edit, and you’re more likely to miss obvious mistakes if you immediately dive into editing.
8: Design images for your blog.
Long-form blogs need images. Even short-form blogs should include a picture.
Images form a vital component of your blog article. Visuals draw the reader in, break up walls of text, highlight important points or ideas, and explain complex ideas. Plus, Google indexes them.
So be sure to add designed visuals. You can use a program like Canva to create professional-looking visuals without needing a design degree.
9: Format your blog and write your SEO title, slug, and meta description.
Once your images and copy deck is approved, place your article into the Content Management System and format it.
- Format it into H1, H2, H3 tags, etc.
- Add in your images and fill in the alt text (alternative text).
- Check all hyperlinks work.
- Include CTAs in your post.
- Write an SEO title that differs from your blog headline.
- Write an enticing meta-description that encourages the reader to click to learn more. Don’t assume they will. Include some sort of instruction like, “See for yourself; click to find out more.”
- Choose a featured image for social sharing.
- Add the publishing date.
DO YOU WANT TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS RAPIDLY?
10: Hit Publish.
Once you’ve completed your checks, publish the post. Do a final once-over to ensure all links are opening in new tabs and to make sure the opt-ins work.
11: Add internal links to your blog article.
Until your blog goes live, you can’t add internal links. But make no mistake, internal linking is a vital part of writing. It says to Google that it’s an important topic. So straight after publishing your post, add five to 10 internal links to your new blog post.
Then submit it to Google Search Console. This allows your blog to be crawled and hopefully for search engines to start sending organic traffic your way.
12: Promote your blog post on social media.
Lastly, you want to promote your blog post on social media. Share it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Create a similar article on LinkedIn and include a backlink to the original post. The more social shares, the more likely it is for your blog post to be found online.
So that’s my exact process on how to write a blog post that doesn’t just rank. It also gets read and shared. Now let’s take a quick look at some of the tools new bloggers and seasoned ones need to succeed.
Tools every blogger needs
Take a look at the following must-have tools:
And that's how to write a blog post.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to blogging or you’ve been blogging for years. Following these steps will help you to bring your A-game to every blog post you write.
Remember, it’s about drawing your readers in, piquing their interest early, and giving them something valuable to take away and a reason to come back for more.