This post's title promises a lot. How can we fit “everything” you need to know to start a blog in a 650-word post, when white papers, books, and entire websites have been created on the subject?
We know you're busy. We're going to give you the basics so you (or your employees who are blogging) can get started immediately. We won't promise to turn anyone into ProBlogger Darren Rouse overnight, but the content created by following these five simple rules -- if it speaks to your prospects' pain points and solves problems or answers questions for them -- will accomplish a lot.
Good blog posts:
rank well in the search engines
are engaging to your human audience and filled with “shareable”, reference-able content
create momentum early on for your inbound marketing efforts
If you want to dig deeper, check out some of the resources listed at the bottom of this post. Now let's get started with our five rules for the mechanics of good blogging.
Five Quick Rules for Writing a Blog Post that Speaks to Readers and SEO Principles
1. Keep it Short and Simple. Yes, we're back to the old KISS principle. Posts under 650 words hold people's attention in the time they can take to read a blog (often at their desk during lunch or, increasingly, on their smart phone during a quick lull in their day.) Additionally, the search engines only “crawl” the first 650 words of a page, so you're not gaining SEO benefits for copy that exceeds that length.
Don't try to cover too many ideas in one post. One post, one concept. The best blogs will have a sense of continuity, where later content builds on earlier subject matter.
2. Use keywords -- but don't worry too much about them! Your keywords should be organic and intuitive. You'll use words related to your business naturally. (Just try writing about your business without using the name of your key product or service!)
3. Employ strategic keyword placement. There are a few places you should play close attention to keyword usage. Your title, the first sentence (or at least the first paragraph) of your post, your subheads, and the last paragraph of your post. If your first draft doesn't naturally include search terms in these key spots, go back and look for opportunities to add them.
4. Make your posts “scannable.” Using lists (like this one), bullet points, and short paragraphs with subheads in between every two or three paragraphs makes your blog posts enticing, engaging and easy on the eyes. Reading on screen, as you know, is very different than sitting down to indulge in a novel. Absorbing pages and pages of words feel too much like “work” to today's web surfers. Use subheads, bold type and italics to highlight key concepts and encourage readers to delve further.
5. Look for internal linking opportunities. Remember we mentioned letting more complex concepts build from earlier, more basic posts? Use these opportunities to link to older, relevant content. This lets new visitors catch up on posts they may have missed and also helps your SEO. (Isn't it cool how what makes good content for people also helps your search engine rankings?)
Keep these tips in mind and you'll be ready to create blog posts like a pro. But if you feel like you need a bit more guidance, here are a few places you can visit to dig deeper:
Problogger is full of handy information about all aspects of blogging, but these writing tips, in particular, can help you or any of your staff look like a pro writer: http://www.problogger.net/archives/category/writing-content/
The Content Marketing Institute has great tips for beginning corporate bloggers. In particular, this post can get you started with some blog ideas: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/12/5-posts-you-need-to-grab-attention/
Copyblogger has fantastic writing tips for beginners and pros alike. These eight content writing tips, for instance, can get anyone started. http://www.copyblogger.com/blogging-writing-guide/
If you're stuck on a tough grammar question and no one in your office can agree, you'll find the right answer here http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ or here: http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/category/grammar-guide/.
More Must-read Resources:
Pick up a copy of the writing classics, Strunk & White's Elements of Style and William Zissner's On Writing Well. The rules outlined in these books still apply today -- in fact, Strunk & White's propensity for brevity applies even more in today's Web-based writing world.
P.S. We know we violated our first principle- KISS - with the length of this post – but you’re worth it!