Blogging: The ultimate guide
Writing blog posts can be great fun. But, sometimes blogging can be quite a challenge as well. You may even wonder whether your website should have a blog at all. And, what should you write about? What do you do if you’re out of inspiration? How do you get engagement on your posts? And, how do you market and monetize your blog? This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know about blogging.
- Why blog?
- Setting up a new blog
- What should you blog about?
- How to write a high-quality blog post
- Optimize posts for search engines
- Blog engagement
- Marketing your blog
- Maintaining a blog
If you have a website of any kind, you need to blog, at least occasionally. It doesn’t matter whether you have an online shop, a personal website or portfolio. Besides it being great fun, blogging is the best thing you can do for SEO – plus your site can be a valuable marketing tool. Let’s discuss why that is in some more detail.
Blogging for SEO
Adding content on a regular basis should be a part of every sustainable SEO strategy. If you write regularly, Google will see your site as active, alive and relevant – and that will definitely help your overall rankings. In addition, blogging allows you to rank for new keywords and to keep ranking for those you’re already being found for. Your site also provides you with an extra opportunity to target search intent – we’ll discuss that in more detail later on.
Read more: Why should a blogger focus on SEO? »
Blogging as a marketing tool
A blog is a great marketing tool for every website. It allows your readers to get to know your brand and your products better. What’s more, you can use your blog to actively present yourself as a reliable source of information for prospective customers. Not everyone visiting your website is already committed to you or your products. A quality site will work in your favor in those cases: if you can offer people useful information in a post, they’re more likely to remember and convert in the future.
Keep reading: To blog or not to blog »
Setting up a new blog
If you’re just starting a new blog, it’s important to prepare before you get started. Take some time to think about your niche and to do some proper keyword research. And, don’t forget to devise a clear and manageable structure for your blog. If you give some thought to how you want to set up your blog before you start writing, it will save you a lot of work later on.
Read on: How to start a blog »
What should you blog about?
You can’t blog without ideas, and you’ll need lots of them to maintain a successful blog. Whether blogging is your site’s main purpose, or you use your blog as a marketing tool: you need to think about which topics you want to cover. But where do you look for inspiration?
You’ll have to decide which terms you want to be found for, before you start writing your content. To decide that, you need to get inside people’s heads and find out which words they use while searching for your type of business. When you write, you’ll use these exact terms in your content to make sure you start ranking for them. Keyword research is the first step in SEO copywriting and an essential part of any successful SEO strategy.
Are you struggling with more aspects of SEO copywriting? Don’t worry! We can teach you to master all facets, so you’ll know how to write awesome copy that ranks. Take a look at our SEO copywriting training and try the free trial lessons!
Targeting the right search intent with your blog
As you’re doing keyword research, it’s not just important to know which keywords your audience uses, but also, what they want to find. People use search engines with a specific goal in mind, so they have a particular intent for each query. The results pages give you some insight into the intent of a query. So, use the search results to find out which intent applies to your keywords!
In many cases, people are purely looking for information, so the search engines will want to show them informational pages. That’s where your blog could come in handy as a marketing tool, for instance, as an online shop. Your product page will target commercial and/or transactional intent, but you also want to rank for informational intent, as that’s more common. You can use your blog to write relevant, informative articles that’ll get more people to your site.
Which intent to target will differ, depending on your niche, and your site’s and blog’s goals. In any case, it’s a good idea to look into this when you’re deciding what to write blog posts about.
Keep on reading: Keyword research: the Ultimate Guide »
Where do you get inspiration for your posts?
If you’ve done your keyword research properly, you’ll end up with a long list of keywords and keyphrases to write content about and you know which intent you want to target. A keyphrase is not yet a topic though. As well as a keyword, you’ll need an angle or a specific story around a keyword in order to write a decent blog post.
Current events, your own work, and comments from your readers are just some things that could inspire new posts. Reading a lot is also a good idea for finding inspiration. Read magazines, newspapers, and other posts. Looking at your site’s stats or surfing on the internet could also lead to inspiration. Hot tip: keep a list of ideas for new posts on your mobile phone. Inspiration strikes when you least expect it.
Read more: 5 tips to get inspiration for your blog »
How to write a high-quality blog post
Writing requires some skills – it’s more difficult for some people than for others. We’ll give you some tips to make writing easier for you later on, but first, let’s discuss two important aspects of high-quality posts: originality and readability.
Your posts should always be fresh, new and original. Each one should be sufficiently different from other posts and articles about the same topic already on the web. So, try to focus on what makes you unique, even if you’re in a competitive niche. Your posts should also be content that people will want to read. The increasingly fierce competition on the internet often means simply writing good content isn’t enough: you need to go the extra mile.
Keep reading: The importance of original content for SEO »
After you’ve written a post with original content, you should make sure your article is easy to read. Readability is vital for your audience. If your text is well structured and clearly written, people will understand your message, but readability is also crucial for SEO. Not only do people read your text, but Google does too. If your post is easy to read, with a clear structure with subheadings and logical paragraphs, chances are it’ll rank higher in the search engines too.
Read on: Does readability rank? »
Practical tips on how to write awesome blog posts
Plan before you write
Before you begin, take a little time to think about what you want to write. Who is your audience and what do you want to tell them? What do you want them to know/understand/do after they have read your post? Which topics do you want to cover in your post and in what order? Answering these questions before you write will help you to write better articles.
Keep on reading: How to start writing a blog post »
Write clear paragraphs
We advise that you always start each paragraph with the most important sentence, then explain or elaborate on it. That way, a reader will be able to grasp the most relevant content from your article, just by reading the first sentence of each of your paragraphs. Don’t make your paragraphs too long; 7 or 8 sentences is quite long enough. Think about the order of your paragraphs and remember they should follow each other logically. Next to that, consider using fewer uncommon and complex words to make it easier for readers to understand your text.
Read more: Practical tips to set up a clear text structure »
Get help and ask for feedback
Our Yoast SEO plugin helps you to write readable posts. For example, our readability analysis checks whether you’re using too many long sentences and whether you’re using enough transition words. This can be a great help in writing readable posts.
As well as using a writing tool like our readability analysis, you should always make sure that someone proofreads your post. A fresh pair of eyes will help correct typos and you’ll know whether someone else can understand everything you want to say in your article.
Need more guidance? Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect blog post!
Keep reading: 5 tips to write readable blogposts »
Optimize posts for search engines
After you’ve written a blog post that’s both original and readable, you should make sure your content is optimized for search engines. You should maximize the likelihood that Google will pick up your content. It’s important that you take this final step after you’ve written your post, though. SEO should never compromise either the originality of your idea or the readability of your text.
Yoast SEO can help you tweak your text, we like to call that process ‘Yoast your post‘ ;-). The red and orange bullets will indicate which aspects of your findability need attention. For example, the plugin might suggest using your focus keyword a little more often, perhaps by putting it in the first paragraph or in one of the headings. Yoast SEO will help you to optimize your snippet preview as well. In short: don’t just set the plugin and then forget about it, but use it to your advantage!
Read on: Use Yoast SEO to make your content findable »
Blog engagement is an important factor for SEO. If your audience leaves comments on your posts (and you respond to these comments), Google will see that your blog is very much alive and active. And of course, mentions on social media will also help with your blog’s ranking. If people share your post on social media or talk about it online, that will definitely lead to more traffic.
Replying to comments is an essential aspect of blog engagement and answering questions and providing appropriate responses in a discussion can take a lot of time. Handling positive feedback and answering questions is relatively easy, while negative feedback can be more challenging. Read our post about how to handle comments for more information and practical tips.
Marketing your blog
If you’re writing posts, you need an audience. Nobody wants to perform to an empty room! Ranking well in search engines through flawless SEO will, of course, help. But there is always more you can do.
Keep on reading: Marketing your blog »
Social media and newsletters
Social media is an important marketing instrument. You definitely need to set up a Facebook page and create a Twitter account. If you’re focusing on a young audience, you’ll need Instagram and Snapchat as well.
Also, consider starting a newsletter. Collect subscribers who want to stay informed and email them regularly.
Read more: Does social media influence SEO? »
Monetizing your blog
If your audience is growing due to great SEO and marketing strategies, this doesn’t necessarily mean that profit (if you’re making money with your blog) from your blog will also grow. For many bloggers, making money is not the primary goal. Still, you can make money from a blog. Advertising, affiliate marketing, and writing promoted posts are the most common strategies for making money. As mentioned before, you could also use the blog to improve the rankings of your online shop and as a result, to sell your own stuff.
Keep reading: Monetizing your blog »
Maintaining a blog
Starting a blog is easier than maintaining a blog. It can be a lot of work to write blog posts on a regular basis. You don’t have to blog every day, but you should decide on a frequency and stick to it so your audience will know what to expect from you. Blogging does require some discipline.
As your blog starts to grow, you’ll probably face new SEO problems. How do you keep coming up with new content and keep your old content up to date? How do you manage different authors? What do you do when traffic to your blog is decreasing? And how will you keep the structure of your blog in shape?
While your blog is growing, it’s important to regularly analyze the structure of your blog. Organize your categories, subcategories, and tags well. As your blog is growing, the structure will change and evolve. As long as you stay on top of that, your structure will remain SEO-friendly!
Read on: Why you should add links to a new post as soon as possible »
As your blog gets bigger and attracts a larger audience, content writing becomes content planning and content managing. On larger blogs, a team of authors usually works together. Blogs are written by individual authors, but these authors still have to coordinate. Otherwise, a post with the exact same topic could appear twice. Or, authors could use a totally different style and tone of voice.
Keep on reading: Content planning for a (growing) blog: 6 easy-to-use tips »
Avoiding content cannibalization
If you’ve been blogging in a certain niche for a long time, you’re bound to address the same topic more than once in your blog posts. That’s not necessarily a problem, but do make sure you’re not eating away at your own chances to rank. Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have several different articles that could rank for the same and similar keyphrases. When a search engine can’t tell which article should rank highest for a certain query, it’s likely both will rank lower. The solution: stay on top of this and audit your blog posts once in a while to find and fix keyword cannibalization.
Blogging is great! Whether your website is an online shop, blog or portfolio, it can boost your rankings in Google and is also an important and effective marketing tool. To get optimum results, devise an in-depth keyword research strategy for your blog. It’s also important to stay on top of things as your blog is growing. Use our tips to get started and write those blog posts. Happy blogging!
Read more: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites »
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10 Responses to Blogging: The ultimate guide
Hi Marieke ,
Thank you for the great post about blogging. I have a handmade jewelry site and a blog. My wife and I try to write blogs. The hardest part is the come up with new original ideas and be as informative as possible.
I find that nowadays amost the whole lot was once already written and blogged about a thousand time.
that’s why you have to make sure that your post is better than your competition’s post!
We have a blog post on that: https://yoast.com/you-have-to-publish-resources/
About Monetizing the blog, what do you think I should do, Monetize them after the Blog popular or start put the ads from start?
you could give this blog post a read: https://yoast.com/monetizing-your-blog/
I find that today amost everything was already written and blogged about a thousand time. In my niche anyway (Essential oils) so yeah, you can write onger articles and optimize them better but it’ll won’t bring anything new to the world. Isn’t it better to tag others? Like in pinterest?
It’s not enough to ‘write content’, you have to publish resources (we even wrote a post about that: https://yoast.com/you-have-to-publish-resources/). You have to make sure that you beat your competition!
This is an in-depth guide on blogging. As a newbie in the field, this article has covered virtually all that I need in getting started. Thanks for the time and work you’ve putted on this as article. It was really helpful.
Great to hear it was helpful for you!
Great article, Marieke.
we are a big fan of Yoast, and use it on every website we develop.
Blogging is indeed a great marketing tool, but at the same time one of the hardest things to start and properly maintain for a typical SME either due to lack of inspiration, time, writing skills or budget to outsource the effort to a specialised agency.