Writing a good blog article is a fairly simple thing. If properly constructed, a well-written post will invite traffic from search engines and promote commentary. It may seem strange that people who can write a novel of 100,000 words can struggle so much over a mere 750 word post. In truth, it is no more surprising than discovering a decent sprinter might beat a champion marathon runner in a 100 yard dash. Writing a good blog article requires a different skill-set than writing a good novel. All that is required for success is an understanding of how to apply those skills within the framework of article writing.
Let’s cover some of the basic considerations in crafting an effective blog article: form, focus, and strategy.
A blog article has the same general anatomy as any short-form essay: title, introduction, body, and conclusion.
The title should clearly state what the article is about. For example, if the article is about CreateSpace, the word CreateSpace should be in the title. It is no good naming such a title My Summer at Wembly Manor, even if that is where you discovered CreateSpace. People using search engines and who are looking for articles about CreateSpace are unlikely to use terms like “summer” or “Wembly Manor.”
If your article is a how-to article or a tutorial, the title should include those words. Proper titling will make your article easier for search engines to find, and easier for browsing readers to pick out of a long list of search term results.
The introduction is the first paragraph or two of the article. The very first sentences should clearly state the purpose of the article. The reason for this is that those first few lines are sometimes excerpted by search engines as the description for the article.
So, in your article, How to Use CreateSpace, your first sentence should be something like: “Using CreateSpace is simple if you remember a few basic rules.”
If the first line of your CreateSpace article, My Summer at Wembly Manor, is “I well remember the halcyon days of my youth at Wembly Manor,” NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO FIND IT. Strictly speaking, I guess no one looking for an article on CreateSpace will ever find it.
Use the introduction to state the subject and scope of the article. Establish your authority, experience, or expertise, and finish with a segue to the body. This can be something like: “All that is required for success is an understanding of how to apply those skills within the framework of article writing.”
The body of the article is where you will set forth the arguments, facts, findings, problems, steps, lists, etc., that set forth the substance of the article. Make your body text flow in some sort of logical order. If you are building towards a conclusion, order the information in such a way as to support that conclusion. If you are describing a process, describe it through from beginning to end.
Include hyperlinks to sources and resources where appropriate. Do not assume your readers are familiar with outside content you are referencing – give them a link so they can see for themselves. (Try to limit the number of hyperlinks – search engines frown on the use of five or more.)
The body text should be concise, clear, and well-ordered/linear. It should include links to supporting documentation or information, and it should progress organically to the summary or conclusion.
The conclusion is the bottom slice of bread in our article sandwich. Restate and summarize the article. An article without a conclusion section will seem somehow incomplete. It is rather like hanging up the phone without saying goodbye. The conclusion can be something as simple as: “Even though CreateSpace can seem daunting at first, following the few simple steps I have outlined above will make it simple.”
Remember that a blog article must address only one or two topics. Stay on target. If you catch yourself writing the words, “…but I digress,” you have. Your reader came to see the information you advertised. Don’t get them lost in a maze of other subjects.
There are two simple strategies for improving your article’s attractiveness to search engines:
Think of a keyword as a folder label for your article. If your article is about the nutritional value of eggs, it might go in a folder labeled “eggs” and it might also go in a folder labeled “nutrition.” That means people will be more likely to find it whether they are looking for info on eggs or nutrition. However, the words “eggs” and “nutrition” should be prominently used in the article. Now, jockeying for a good ranking on a term as general as “eggs” is best left to the big boys who pay for ads and positioning. You would rather attract someone interested in a more specialized search term such as “egg nutrition” or “health benefits of eating eggs.” Try doing a search yourself to see what terms you would use to find what you’re looking for, and use that logic when determining your keywords.
Writers tend naturally to avoid using the same word over and over in the course of a few short paragraphs. Put your thesaurus aside when writing a blog article. Decide what your keywords are and use them. In the search engine industry, this is known as keyword “weight.”
When providing a link to an outside resource or article, place the hyperlink in words that describe the essence of the resource for the reader.
Consider this sentence:
“Coleman wrote of the seven proteins found in eggs in an article for the National Scientific Journal.”
The best place to put the hyperlink would be in the words seven proteins found in eggs. Some people would put the link in Coleman or the National Scientific Journal. The problem is that your article is not about those things. It’s about the nutritional value of eggs. The worst choice of words to hyperlink in the example sentence would be an article. Use link love to strengthen your theme. Not sure how to do that? Well, here is an article on embedding a link in a blog post.
That’s all there is to it. Writing your article in the proper form, maintaining focus, and using the correct strategy will improve your search engine results and make your guest posts more appealing to other bloggers. Writing an attention-getting blog article is a fairly simple thing. Just follow the rules above and you’ll start to see more traffic. That’s what you want, right?
11 thoughts on “How to Write a Blog Article”
Stephen, great round-up of pertinent ideas. Reminds me that I have been forgetting to include key words in my posts! Thanks for the nudge.
Thanks, Melissa. Your articles are always great. 🙂
Thanks for the pointers, Stephen. I apparently missed the importance of keywords when I started my blog a few months ago… oops. Going to correct that right now. 🙂
Thanks, Sherry. Keywords seem to go in and out of style with search engines. I think using keywords is another good check on keeping your focus. If your article is about Amazon, but the word appears only once or twice in your 1,000 word article, search engines may not buy that the article is really about Amazon, and it won’t rank very high in search engine results. But whatever emphasis search engine algorithms place on keywords, it is never a bad idea to remind yourself and your reader every few paragraphs what your article is about.
Excellent article, Stephen, and a great reminder for me about the keywords and opening sentence. I often wax rhapsodic about dear old Wembly. If I may suggest an add: ending on a question after your conclusion (like you did!) often prompts readers to leave more comments.
Thanks. Yes, dear old Wembly…
Thanks for this how-to, EM. I didn’t know the part about where to place the hyperlink — I’ve been treating it as a citation to the reference. I didn’t even consider SEO. (Which is probably why my blog is scraping along the bottom of the heap, while IU is zooming up the Alexa rankings. But I digress. 😉 )
LOL. “But I digress…” 😉
Thanks for that, Stephen, I think at times I may be guilty of all of the above transgressions.
Excellent post my friend.
Great reminders, I’m terrible for obscure titles, must try harder!
I just wanted to say that I created a checklist for bloggers. You can find out more about this here: http://www.dearblogger.org/blog-post-checklist
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