There’s a great wide world out there in the blogosphere, and if you’re just starting out it can feel as though you are shouting into the void. But fear not! There are ways to create successful content that will get picked up, both by search engines and other humans. Blogs are a wonderful way to let the world know who you are and what you care about, whether you are speaking as an individual or as a representative of an organization. Here are some step-by-step pointers to prep your piece for success on the web.
Be concise and scannable
Construct your piece in reverse pyramid order by frontloading the most important information. Keep paragraphs short. This helps readers find what they need swiftly, and means it’s more likely to hold their attention and keep them reading to the end of the piece.
If possible, break down long, in-text lists into bulleted or numbered format. Keep in mind, however, that all phrases or items within a list should be worded in the same format to maintain list parallelism.
Research conducted for Buffer suggested that the ideal length for a blog is around 1,600 words. However, when feeling out the optimum length for your piece, keep in mind that concision is key. Simply meaning, take however much space is necessary to communicate your ideas clearly. One rule to streamline your writing in a flash is to rid your writing of extra adjectives by choosing active verbs and precise nouns.
Search Engine Optimize your content
This is a major one. If a communicator writes a blog on the Internet and a search engine doesn’t direct anyone to it, is it still worth reading? Here are some key factors to check:
- Check for spelling and grammar errors. This may seem basic, but nothing saps credibility quicker than the wrong “your/you’re.”
- Include images in the piece. In an analysis of what makes content go viral, The Huffington Post conducted research that showed a post with images receives over twice as many Facebook shares than those without.
- Ensure that any hyperlinks in the piece are used effectively. Check the hyperlink doesn’t lead to broken links and is well integrated into the text. This can be done by linking to keywords instead of entire phrases.
- Properly format titles, headings, and subheadings. This can done by navigating through the styles option, which is usually located in the text edit tool bar near the font settings, and choosing one of the options (title, subtitle, heading 1, normal text, etc.) that best suits that section of the text. This makes the text easier to navigate and ensures a consistent appearance.
- Create a brief, eye-catching title, and include keywords from your post in the title. Strong headlines are written in an active voice, which means including both a subject and a verb. Finding a title that is informative and (preferably) SEO-friendly can be tricky; don’t be afraid to rework it throughout the process as the piece takes on a firmer shape.
These are just a few basic pointers for search engine optimization (SEO). Ragan.com — news and ideas for communicators — also has a checklist with more pointers on SEO.
Have something to write about
While it may seem obvious, be clear about the message you want to convey. This will give your piece a solid skeleton on which to build content. Chances are, if you care about your topic, the writing will emerge in an engaging tone. If you’re writing strictly in an organizational capacity, examine your information through a lens that highlights why it’s important for your audience. Understanding the purpose of the piece can help you find the value in communicating its message.
Jodie McRobbie is a student member of IABC and is currently enrolled in the Public Relations diploma program at MacEwan University. She is also an alumni of the Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Alberta. You can find her on Twitter @jodie_mcrobbie