The 6 Key Elements of an effective blog post
Blogs are important for SEO because everyone knows how to use a search engine to find answers to their questions which take the form of digital content; besides video content, the next best type of content is blogging. Every business that takes up digital online space must run a blog to support its search ranking. And in comparison to video content, blogging is a lower-cost investment and production opportunity that can make waves in returns and conversions. Read our blog post about why businesses need blogs for an in-depth understanding of how blogging can support your business growth. In this post, you will learn how to structure a blog post and the basic steps and elements of a compelling blog post and some tips on getting started if you don’t already have a blog.
At Sushi and Doodle Co., a big part of our blogging services includes blog management and content marketing and creation. We highly recommend any business that invests in a website to connect with their audiences and invest in content marketing strategies that nurture their audiences. Book a free consultation and find out how S&D Co. can support your blogging needs.
What is the basic structure of a blog, and Why Does it Matter?
The importance of blog structure is based on search engine optimization best practices set forth by the search engine. The blog structure matters because of the search engine’s technology to crawl your site and categorize and index your content on the web, based on the topic of your blog post and the structure it is written in.
For example, for users looking for answers on how to bake a cake, search engines like Google mustn’t bring up suggested content unrelated to the search query like where to buy a cake. Although these are similar topics, they provide different answers and search engines like Google have developed technology for it to be able to tell the difference between these search results. In other words, search engines are significantly more sophisticated than ever, and it’s important to understand how to write for the search engine so it can read and categorize your content appropriately so you can show up to the right people.
It’s easy to say that the general blog structure consists of three parts: introduction, middle-section, and conclusion. However, blogging has changed significantly, and the organization of blog posts and content has become more advanced and specific, including the content itself. Take the cake content example from above. How to make a cake and where to buy a cake are different pieces of content written differently. A ‘how to’ piece of tutorial-based content is different from a listicle content piece like ‘where to’ or ‘what is’ that is purely informational. In other words, it wouldn’t make sense to make a tutorial on where to buy a cake, so it’s important to know what topic you are writing to make sense of how to write the post that makes the most sense to your audience while respecting search engine guidelines.
There are a few basic guidelines or templates of blog post layouts that have been incredibly effective, the most common including ‘how-to’s, listicles, long-form descriptive guides, case studies, and other layout formats like reviews or experiential posts, accent blog posts, quotation posts, the list goes on.
The general rule of thumb for blog post layouts is to break up your content into different sections under separate headings and subheadings. Hence, it’s visibly easier to read across all sorts of digital devices. Here are some general steps of structuring a blog post.
- Begin with the introduction that explains the purpose of your blog post and the topic.
- Ensure that the middle section of your content is full of valid information related to your topic and stays organized until the end. Utilize headings and subheadings effectively to break up your content while still maintaining a flow.
- Conclude your ideas, information, and end goal (usually a call to action).
Here’s how to create, organize and lay out the structure of your blog post
Step 1: Conduct Keyword Research
This is by far the most important step in all of blogging. This is a skill in and of itself where it forces you as the business owner or blogger to do research on your consumer, your industry, your expertise, your content, and your competitors. No more are the days of blogging where you guess and make up content that you want to write about. SEO has changed the way we blog, and without doing the proper research on what sort of content is already ranking on search engines, it would do us no good to blog and hope that your audience will find you.
It’s the first step to blogging, which is learning what sort of content is already ranking in your niche and finding the keywords that you can utilize to outrank your competition and earn the SERP result. Take a look at our blog post on SEO to learn more about how to take advantage of SEO for your website and your blog.
For example, when you type ‘how to bake a cake’ into Google, the search results are of websites and blogs that have the highest ranking keywords and the chances of outranking their content are not very high. So take a look at Google’s recommendation searches; these are the topics that users are also searching for relating to cake baking but are more specific and targetted. This is where you start to find the long-tail keywords that you can utilize for your blog post. Record all of this information so you can prepare for the next step.
So in this case we may choose to pick the key phrase ‘how to bake a vanilla cake from scratch, this key phrase is specific and combines some of the suggested searches in Google’s SERP.
Step 2: Use your Headings
Once you’ve gathered a list of keywords, you should then start looking at what other bloggers are doing to write their blog posts. Click into one of the links and see how they’ve organized and laid out their content, and what sorts of headings they’ve included and not included, record all of this information into your own outline and then use the information to formulate your own blog post. Once you’ve created an outline of the blog post, organize the post according to the headings you’ll be including to ensure a clean and readable post.
The purpose of headings is to create page breaks in the content so readers can easily browse through the information quickly and gather all the key takeaways from the post without being overwhelmed with information.
Break up your content and use your keyword research to establish what type of headings and subheadings work for your blog post based on your targeting keywords and topic. Here’s a breakdown of how to use H1 – H3 headings effectively.
- H1: the most important heading, usually reserved for the title of the post and not used anywhere else in the post and contains your targetted keyword or phrase
- H2: This can be used as a subtitle to your H1 title, but is generally the headings of the middle section of the blog post containing all of the relevant content and information that relates to the topic of the post, like the chapters of a book, where the storyline is.
- H3: a subheading to the H2 heading, usually used in a point form method to quickly outline relevant information relating to the H2 heading.
For example: for our blog post ‘how to bake a vanilla cake from scratch, our heading organization may be structured to look something like this:
- H1: How to bake a vanilla cake from scratch
- H2: Why baking a vanilla cake from scratch is fun
- H2: Ingredients for a vanilla cake
- H3: Suggestions on where to buy the best fresh ingredients
- H2: Steps 1-10
- H2: Conclude
- H2: Close with CTA
Step 3: Clear Introduction
I usually save this to the end as sometimes as you write your blog post, the purpose of the post can shift or more information may be added at the last minute as you write. The point of the introduction is to summarize the main points of the post and explain why your post is important to your reader. Ensuring a strong hook at the beginning of your post can decrease bounce rates and engage your readers to finish to the end.
Optional: It may help to use a linkable table of contents in the introduction so readers can jump through the post.
Step 4: Simple and High-Quality Writing
It must be noted, blog posts are not essays, and even though arguments are made in a blog post, it is not an academic essay in any sense. Blog posts are generally written in the voice of the every day and not usually in the voice of an intellectual lecturer. However, these are soft rules and can be bent based on your content and who your readers are. So it’s incredibly important to do your research before your begin writing to know and understand your audience and how to best communicate your information to them.
Be direct and straightforward, get to the point in as few words as possible and use examples and images to further explain your idea and point. The faster and easier it is for your readers to understand what you’re talking about, the more likely they’ll stick around and refer to your content for answers and support.
Word Count Matters
Take note of the average word count of each post that you’re competing against when doing content and keyword research. If you’re trying to outrank a long-form blog post that contains 2000+ words, you either need to match that word count or write more. SEO and blogging are highly competitive and creating better and higher quality content is the advantage you have. However, this may not always be the case, as sometimes concise articles with active keywords and less word count still show up on search engines.
However, don’t try to be sneaky and try to fluff your content with irrelevant words and keywords because search engines will know and penalize your irrelevant content. Be attentive and intentional with your content.
Step 5: Conclude and end on a high note
Once you have your middle section organized and written, it’s time to conclude and wrap up your blog post with final thoughts and suggestions on other information that could help complement your content. End with a positive high note and don’t get lazy here, try to link back to other previous content you may have that can really help elevate this post. Internal linking also helps with boosting your SEO and offers your readers a chance to explore the other pieces of content you may have in your digital archive that may be relevant to their experience.
After concluding your points and summarizing the key takeaways from your post, close your blog post with a final call to action. You never want to leave a blog post without a full CTA for your reader, either to sign up for an email newsletter, to join your social media community, group, page, or space. Any way to entice your reader to join your funnel is a successful CTA and blog post end goal.
Step 6: On-Page SEO
Once your content is written and ready to be published, the last final step is to ensure that your webpage is optimized for search engines. Ensuring that you’re green-lit for all SEO recommendations will help with your search engine ranking. Here are some non-negotiables that every blog post web page must have in order to be good for search engine optimization.
- Keywords or phrases in the first 200 words of the blog post
- Meta description
- Images with alt tags
- Internal and external backlinks
- An appropriate URL slug
A blog structure is already set in stone
The secret to an effective blog post that ranks on search engines is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, and the things that work in the content have already been proven to be engaging and ranking on search engines. The only thing we have to do is be able to understand the data that goes with developing an SEO strategy that makes sense for us. While understanding the standards of modern-day blogging structure. Blogging has changed drastically over the years and we have been given an opportunity to take advantage of search engines in a way that benefits our marketing efforts and goals as long as we understand the standards and guidelines.
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