July 7, 2022, by Becca Klein
Episode #003: How to Write a Blog Post: 12 Crucial Things Every Blog Post Needs to be at Its Best
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These week on the podcast, we're getting back to fundamentals. And what's more fundamental than the subject of how to write a blog post. Or maybe more importantly, how to write a good blog post.
I've got a list of 12 elements that very blog post should have.'
We'll talk about how to write a blog post, how to format a blog post, how to SEO-optimize a blog post, and what needs to be in a blog post.
Here's the “How to Write a Blog Post” podcast episode with some time stamps for you:
- 2:27: Element 1
- 5:56 Element 2
- 9:50: Element 3
- 11:56: Element 4
- 13:09 Element 5
- 16:32: Element 6
- 17:02: Element 7
- 21:16: Element 8
- 22:24: Element 9
- 24:38: Element 10
- 27:50: Element 11
- 28:29: Element 12
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Break Into Blogging (my signature “how to start a profitable blog” course)
- Free masterclass: “The Profitable Blogging Framework”
- Grammarly article
- Hubspot article
- Better Marketing article
- Rank Math
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
- LuckyWP Table of Contents plugin
- Ivory Mix – stock photo + Canva templates + workshops membership (one of my all-time favs)
- Social Curator – great monthly stock photo + captions membership
- Pexels – free stock photos
- Deposit Photos – huge library of stock photos
- Unsplash – free stock photos
- Creative Market – cheap stock photo bundles (plus TONS of other stuff like fonts and Canva templates)
- Kadence Blocks plugin
- Stackable plugin
- Ultimate Add-ons to Gutenberg plugin
- Link Whisper plugin
- Yet Another Related Post plugin
- Kadence bundle related post plugin
Grab the blog post checklist for this episode right here:
Other helpful resources:
- 8 Steps to a Great Blog Post
- How to Choose the Best Fonts For Your Blog
- 32 Places to Find Free or Cheap Stock Photos
- 21 Common Blogging Mistakes & How to Fix Them
- How to Format a Blog Post the Right Way
- What to do Before & After Publishing a Blog Post
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Reviews like yours help me get out there and help as many bloggers as I can. Thanks, friend!
Talking about how to write a good blog post…
So when I was coming up with a topic for today's episode, I wanted to do something on the real fundamentals. Last week's episode was great. And a lot of you have downloaded it. Thank you.
But it was on evergreen webinar funnels, which are very much an advanced strategy for sure. So this week, we're talking about something much more fundamental.
How to write a blog post
How to write a blog post. And more specifically, I'm going to give you a list of elements that need to go into every single blog post so that your readers will love it. And Google will love it. The two most important things for any blog post, and I've counted 12 of these elements. So we're gonna go through them.
I know that's a lot. So what I did for you, I went ahead and created a freebie just for this episode. And it's a blog post checklist. That includes everything we're gonna talk about today. And a few other details too. It'll be fillable so you can check it right off for every blog post, and that will be available on my show notes page, which will be beccaklein.co/003.
And you can grab that totally free. Let's get into this.
No. 1: How long your blog post should be
Element number one, length and thoroughness of the blog post. So let's talk about length.
So I read a Grammarly study that was very well done. I'll link to it in the show notes. And according to them, the ideal SEO length is 1,760 words to 2,400 words. So let's talk about how to get good SEO on a blog post
So if you talk to 10 different people and ask them this question, you probably get 10 different answers. Everyone thinks of it differently.
If you want my 2 cents, a thousand words should be the absolute minimum. You really can't go as in-depth as you need to in under a thousand. Most of the time, I'm gonna give you a caveat in a few minutes, but most of the time but preferably it should be at least 2000 words.
If you look at blog posts that rank on page one, you will, generally speaking, find that they are at least 2000 words, but often, much longer.
And I'll tell you recently, I've been writing posts that are three to 7,000 words. Now I don't do that every week. I have some short of blog posts up there.
So if you're gonna be as thorough as you need to be, they're gonna end up being long.
No 1: How in-depth does a blog post need to be?
Thoroughness is very important.
Now, when I first started blogging, I would write a blog post about like, how do we improve your Instagram profile? And it would be like 300 words long with four tips. And that was it.
So people are coming to your blog post because they want to solve a problem. So the chance that they only want to solve one very specific part of the problem are pretty low.
So you need to be thorough.
You need to think about: If someone has a question about X, what else are they gonna have questions? You can do some introductory stuff. What is X, why do we use X? Who is X for, what are the benefits of X? What are the downsides, the pros, the cons, what do I think of it? What does so and so think of it.
There are a lot of questions that you want to answer. So it's very easy to get to this length of post when you're doing it that thoroughly.
And I highly recommend both for your readers and for SEO that you do.
One caveat from my own blog, because I feel like I'm lying.
If I don't tell you this. The post that brings by far the most Google traffic to my blog currently is a 300-word blog post. It was one of my first on my new blog. And at the time I was using the Divi theme, I don't need more, but I was then.
And I was trying to upload a custom font and I got this particular error message and it was very frustrating.
And I spent a long time in Google trying to figure out how to get around this. And there weren't a lot of articles on it. And I finally figured it out that if you installed a certain plugin and set it up in this way, that it would solve the problem.
So I was like, all right, I'll write this blog post because no one else seems to have done it.
So I did, and I wrote the post. And for that to be a 3000-word post, would be ridiculous. Like the answer is: install this plugin, click these three things and that's it.
So it would've been impossible for me to make that a long post, but I was like, okay, I'll just put it out there.
Long story short, a few months later, it is ranking on page one.
And apparently a lot of people have this problem with Divi because it gets, like I said, I get more traffic to that post than any other post on my blog. Which I don't like, because I have much better posts like posts with affiliate links and posts with all kinds of stuff.
But people like this tiny little post.
So that's my caveat. I'm not saying that the length is like an absolute 100% thing you must do every time. Sometimes short little blog posts like that will actually work.
But generally speaking, when you're talking about a bigger topic, it should be. and thorough.
No 2: How to SEO optimize a blog post
Okay. So element number two, an SEO plugin plus keyword research.
How to do keyword research for a blog post
So let's start with keyword research. You always, when you start writing a blog post need to do your keyword research because you need to find out what people are searching for in Google about this topic, because you want to rank on page one when someone searches for blah, blah, blah.
So you want to look for low competition, high volume keyword.
So for example, for me, I blog about blogging. So a very obvious keyword would, of course, be “how to start a blog.” And that would be a great keyword for me. But if you Google that right now and you look on page one, all of the sites are very big sites with domain authorities in like the sixties and seventies and eighties.
Someone like me with just a blog is not gonna make my page one.
Even if I write the best guide to starting a blog in the history, which I actually am working on right now, but “how to start a blog” would actually not be a great keyword for me because there's so much competition that no matter what I do, I'm not gonna get on page one.
So you wanna look for keywords with lower competition, which means that they're not gonna get as much traffic, like those really popular words, but you still wanna get some with some traffic. So low competition, high volume keywords.
That's what you're looking for.
The tool that I recently started using and absolutely love for this is called RankIQ. It's a great way to get good SEO on a blog post.
It's a really unique tool. I'm very glad that I stumbled upon it.
It has lists of keywords on tons and tons of topics. Your blog topic is most likely on their list. And if it's not, you can submit it to them and they'll put it on there.
And you can also copy-paste your blog post into the tool and it'll analyze it and give it a score. And it gives you a really long list of keywords to put in there that you never would've thought of. That you can put in once, twice, three times into the post to really improve its ranking.
It also helps you find good long-tail keywords to create blog posts on.
You can select what category like what you wanna talk about. And it'll give you a good list of long-tail keywords that is just full of blog post ideas.
I highly recommend it.
The best SEO plugin for a blog
As for SEO plugins. Most people use Yoast.
I actually prefer Rank Math.
Is Rank Math better than Yoast?
It was recommended to me by my SEO consultant. And so I tried it out and I like it so much better than Yost for two main reasons.
One is that Yoast only lets you optimize for one keyword, at least with a free version. Rank Math lets you optimize for five keywords.
So that's a big deal.
Second, the Yoast interface is all the way at the bottom underneath your blog post. So if you wanna be checking “am I doing these things right?”, you have to scroll all the way down and then all the way back up. Rank Math, on the other hand, it has its interface on the right-hand side of the screen.
So I can always see my five keywords as I'm typing, which makes me put them in more. And it's very easy to check. Am I checking off the boxes?
So if you haven't heard of these plugins and you don't know what they do, basically they analyze your blog post and they tell you whether or not you're checking off the boxes in basically a checklist.
And so they'll be like:
- “Have you used your keyword in enough headings?”
- “Have you used your keyword in the all text of images?”
- “Is your keyword in the URL? Is your post over 1000 words?”
Stuff like that. And as you write, it'll go from red to yellow to green. So you can see that you're improving and it oftentimes reminds me like, “oh yeah, I didn't use it in the headings.” I should go rework a few of those headings.
So I highly recommend that you have one of the two, but again, I would vote for Rank Math over Yoast for sure.
And Rank Math has a paid version, but they also have a free version. So you can try it out, get the free version and see if you wanna upgrade. You might not even need to, I've heard the free version is totally fine.
No 3: How to write good blog post titles
So number three, you should have a catchy headline or blog, post title, whatever you wanna call it.
This is more important than you might think.
So I found an article by Better Marketing. I'll link to it in the show notes, and it gave three stats:
You can see how important it is for your headline to be short and catchy so that they'll stay for the seven minutes.
So the headline, it's the first thing they're gonna see. It's the biggest boldest text on the page. It needs to draw them in right away.
So how can you write a catchy headline?
Here are some ways:
- You can you use numbers? People really numbered, like the 10 best blah, blah, blah.
- You can use emotional words.
- You can use power words are like “The 10 best Instagram apps” or whatever.
- You don't wanna make it too long because people aren't gonna read like a two-sentence headline.
And there's actually a really cool tool that you can use to analyze your headline on all the stuff I just talked about.
It's called the Co-Schedule headline analyzer.
You copy-paste your headline you've already and it gives you a headline score of one through a hundred. And an SEO score. And it analyzes things like:
- word balance
- word, count
- character count
- headline type
- reading grade level
If you don't know what all those things mean, that's okay. They explain it in the analyzer. And I use it. They actually just came out with a WordPress plugin which I was happy to install on my site because now I can just do it right in the blog post as I'm writing it.
And they always have good suggestions.
My first draft headline is never a hundred out of a hundred. Maybe once actually. 😎
So it is a very helpful tool.
No 4: Blog Posts Need a Table of Contents
Element number 4: a table of contents.
Now you don't always need to have one. If you have a very short article, like my little Divi article that doesn't need a table of contents, but longer posts do now, some readers won't care and they'll just scroll right by.
But for some people it's gonna be really useful because they know they want something specific so they can read the table little contents and it will then link to that specific part of the blog post.
The best WordPress table of contents plugin
So the plugin I like for this is called LuckyWP Table of Contents. I'll link to in the show notes, it is free.
I like it for a few reasons:
- It automatically adds itself into every blog post. So I don't have to do anything, although I can turn it off if I want to, but it'll automatically be on.
- You can customize all the colors to match your brand.
- By default it picks up every heading, that's how it populates the table of contents. But if there's some heading that you don't want in there, for some reason you can customize it and take it out.
- And if it has the option for the viewer to hide it. There's like an X button. So if it's annoying someone, they can make it go away. That's good.
- And I just find it very easy to use.
I like the way it looks on my blog post (you can see it on this post up above).
So that's the plugin that I would recommend. It's free and I will link to it.
No 5: How to use headings in blog posts
When I say headings, I'm talking about H2 H3 H4.
How to SEO optimize your blog post headings
So here's a quote from HubSpot and I'll link to this article. It, they said, quote,
And I think that quote sums it out very well.
Google relies on your headings to tell them what your blog post is about.
And if it doesn't know what your blog post is about, it can't rank you because where would it rank you? It doesn't know what your post is talking about.
There's no one sitting at Google reading your blog post. So headings are very important.
How do you make something a heading in WordPress?
Now, when I say headings, I mean that you need to code it as an H2 or H3 heading. You can't just make it bold and big and that it will look like a heading, but it's not a real heading.
It needs to be coded as a heading. But if that sounds scary, it's not in WordPress. You just select a dropdown button, highlight the text, hit H2 and it's an H2.
So you don't actually have to worry about any code, but it is in on the inside. It is being coded beyond Google.
Blog post headings are good for your readers
They're also important for your readers because they help them navigate the article.
As we've talked about before the show, readers skim and scan when they read online, we just read at a computer screen differently than a book. I don't really know why, but we do.
So headings help readers navigate. And that's just helpful. So headings help people navigate to see if any particular part of the block post is of interest to them.
And just helps them stay on the page longer when they're skimming, a heading will grab their eye because it's bigger, bold.
Now some people make their headings a different color. That's totally optional. You don't have. But you can, if you want and you can try it out. For me. My H1 and H2s are regular black.
But my H3s and H4s are one of my brand colors, which I'm experimenting with. I'm not sure I love it. I'll probably change it by the time you hear this episode.
But that's an option.
Now I wanna take a quick break for our sponsor. Our sponsor this week is my signature course Break into Blogging. Break into Blogging is an all-in-one comprehensive course that teaches new bloggers how to start a blog and how to grow it into a profitable business. Profitable, being a keyword there.
And I've got lots of success stories that I could read you, but I actually just had a testimonial come in just this morning and I wanna share it with you guys. Cause I loved it so much.
So my student Ellyn said.:
I loved when I read this from Ellyn. I am so happy that my content is resonating that way.
And I would love to have you guys check out the course. So if you're interested, you should check out my free masterclass. It's called The Profitable Blogging Framework.” And I'll tell you about BIB at the end of masterclass.
You can register for that masterclass for free at beccaklein.co/masterclass.
I'll link to it in the show notes, and there are times every day, all week.
All right, now I'm back to the show.
No 6: Should you use short paragraphs in a blog post?
in a blog post, paragraphs should be one to three sentences.
I know that's not what you learned in like eighth-grade English. It's not what I learned either, but writing an eighth-grade English essay is different than writing a blog post.
And I won't go into detail on it again, but people skim and scan online. And when they, see a big block of text with a paragraph with 10 sentences in it, it just skims right over. Cause your brain's just “Nope, you're not gonna deal with that.”
So it's very important to have short paragraphs.
No 7: How to use images in blog posts
Now, depending on what you're blogging about, you might have different kinds of images.
You might have stock photos.
You might have your own photos.
You might have screenshots, which I do a lot. Like for me, I'm writing about blogging topics. So I'm often talking about “here's how you do such and such in Leadpages.”
So I'll take a screenshot so they can see what I'm talking about. I never have my own photos because what would they possibly be of?
But I do always have images in my posts as either stock photos or screenshots.
So if you're something like a food blogger or a travel blogger, you probably would wanna have your own photos.
So you wanna make sure that they're high quality. And I don't mean that you need to go out and buy like a $3,000 camera. You can use your phone, I'm sure. But just make sure that you know how to use the basic features so that it's not fuzzy. It's not blurry. It's not showing extra stuff, your thumbs, not in the way.
Because people do really see these photos.
And the third option you could do stock photos. You could find stock photos that are on-topic for what you're talking about.
I sometimes use them when I don't even need them, but in a post where I don't actually need an image, like a screenshot to explain anything. (Like in this post right now…meta..).
I still like to have a couple of images in there just to catch the eye, spread it out.
So I'll just go find a stock photo of someone typing or the pretty desk or something that looks blog related and just put it in there. So that's always an option.
Those are both stock photo membership sites. Ivory Mix also has Canva templates, Instagram captions, tons of workshops. It's my favorite site. The content in there is incredibly valuable.
If you're looking for free, I like the website's Pexels and Unsplash, and those are totally free.
And another one I like is Deposit Photos, which is not free, you pay, but a couple times a year, the company AppSumo puts out a deal where you get a hundred stock photos for $49.
And it's like a big thing. The week before this happens, you'll get emailed about it from every blog newsletter you subscribe to you because they're all affiliates for it. And everyone stocks up on their stock photos during this week, it's funny.
I of, course, take part in this as well. And they do have great stock photos and tons and tons of them. So if you can snag that deal, I have no idea when the next one is going down. There just was one recently. But if you can, I would recommend spending the $49 to get a hundred photos because a hundred photos then will last you a long time.
Two more little points about images.
How to fill in the alt text for an image
One is to make sure to fill in the alt text for two reasons. One is that visually impaired people use screen readers to read online and a screen reader.
Can't read an image, obviously. So it uses the alt text of the image to describe the photo. So if you didn't put any alt text in there, or if it doesn't describe the photo, then that visually impaired person has no idea what your photo is.
So you need to describe just a clear description of what the photo is.
“A woman sitting at a white desk typing on a laptop.”
Secondarily alt text and having keywords in the alt text is a point for SEO that Google does look at. So if you can naturally fit in one or more of your keywords into the alt text, you should do that. It will help your SEO.
But the most important thing is to clearly describe the photo for sure.
How to compress blog post images
And then last point you should always compress your images before you upload them to your site. Site speed is a very important factor in SEO and big images will really slow down a site, as I've learned the hard way.
Short Pixel – the best image compression plugin for wordpress
So there's a plugin called Short Pixel, which I'll link to in the show notes.
Every single time you upload a photo to your site, it will automatically compress it. And when I say compress, I don't mean that it makes it smaller or it makes it blurry or anything. It just makes the file size smaller.
And it will also go back in time. So if you install it today and you already have 500 photos uploaded, it will go back through all those 500 photos and compress them now.
So Short Pixel is one that I recommend highly to every blogger.
No. 8: How to format a blog post
Text styling. And we're talking about like bold, italics.
If you're on WordPress, you can also highlight quotes and make them stand out. Every theme will have a certain design for quotes.
So they'll have a different font or they'll be really big or they'll have a big quotation mark. It totally depends on the theme, but again, it makes people stop scanning and look at the page, you can also look into having like special blocks like good Guttenberg blocks or Kadence blocks.
I'm sure you've seen these like a little C box that's like maybe blue or yellow or something to emphasize a point or to like, I use them if I got like a side note that I wanna talk about for just two or three sentences, I use those boxes because it's a visual element that stops the eye from reading and it looks really nice in a blog post.
There are lots of different ones you can use for this. You can use Kadence blocks, which is a really great plugin. I use it at my site. Stackable is another one that has some really nice blocks. And there are also a couple of Gutenberg blocks plugins.
No. 9: What links can you use in a blog post?
You need two kinds of links: inbound links and outbound links.
So inbound links are links that are linking to your own site. In this case, to your other blog posts. Google really likes it when your blog posts are all interlinked. So you should have tons of links to other blog posts in all your posts.
So they're just links flying everywhere. it helps your SEO.
So you can do this right in the text of your blog post. If you're talking about something that reminds you of a previous post, you wrote, you can totally link to that. I also like to, at the end of every blog post, I put an H3 heading and I say, “Here's some more posts on X topic,” whatever I'm writing about.
And then I do a bullet point list where I list four to six other blog posts on my site that are somehow connected to what I'm talking about in this blog post. So that's an easy way to get them.
A really amazing tool that I'm so glad I have is called Link Whisper.
What it does is it scans all your blog posts and it makes suggestions of where you can add these links.
It's really hard when you've got tons and tons of blog posts and you're writing a new one, your brain isn't really able to constantly be analyzing like, “oh, can I link to something here?” “Can I link to something here?”
So with Link Whisper, it'll make the suggestion. And if you wanna do it, you just check a box and it'll do it for you. It's really nice.
Now it's not a hundred percent accurate. Some of the things it wants me to do make no sense. That's fine. You just delete those ones, but it does make some ones that make sense.
And I, for sure, interlink my blog post much more since I got this plugin, it's one that I really recommend.
You also need outbound links, which are links to any other site that is not yours. Specifically you should link to authority sites, which are sites that are ranking on page one for whatever it is.
You're talking about big sites with domain authorities in the seventies and eighties, or maybe sixties.
It shows Google that like you're doing your research and you're putting a lot of quality into this article. So you can quote them or maybe take a stat or cite a study that, that they talked about in their post.
And then just link back to where you got the post.
Google likes to see this.
No. 10: Where to put a Pinterest image in your blog posts
Every single blog post you write needs to have a dedicated Pinterest image. If you go on Pinterest for two seconds, you'll see what I mean.
It needs to be vertical at a two to three ratio. So popular sizes are 785 by 1102 or just a thousand by 1500 and any two to three ratio will work, but they should not be square. They should not be horizontal.
The image needs to be very easy to read.
You will have some kind of title on it. It does not necessarily need to be the exact title of your blog post.
And you should think about that because the title of your blog post you're thinking about Google SEO, which is what you should be thinking about. But on Pinterest, you're thinking about getting people to click that link, to go to your website. So the title has to be enticing that people will want to click on it and go to your site.
So think about the title don't just automatically copy-paste, the same one that you used for your blog post.
And by white space, I don't mean it's literally white, but it has space around the edges. It drives me crazy when I see pins or Instagram images or anything else where the text goes up to the absolute end of the page. It doesn't look professional. Designers use white space.
So don't take up every single inch of the image.
Should Pinterest images be branded?
Now there are two schools of thought on whether or not your pin should be branded, meaning that it uses your brand colors and brand fonts. Maybe even that you only use a few different layouts.
Some people think yes, because you, most of the time, you do want things to be branded. And theoretically, if you only have two or three or four layouts that you always use with the same colors, the same fonts, eventually when people are scrolling, they'll get to know that it's your content.
And if you have good content, that's gonna be a link that they wanna click on.
Some people say on Pinterest it doesn't matter. Like you wanna get people to click. So it doesn't matter if your brand colors are pink. If blue looks better on this pin, use blue because it'll get people to click.
So I don't really know, to be honest, I've experimented with both for the past few months, I've been doing unbranded images just recently.
I started doing branding images. I made four layouts that I use for every blog post. With the same font fonts and same colors as my brand. I just started doing this a couple weeks ago, so too soon to tell, but I will update you if I have found a magical way to get traffic again from Pinterest.
You also wanna make sure that the photos on your pin are really high quality, so nothing fuzzy or just make sure it looks good.
So where should you put the Pinterest image?
This is another thing where there are schools of thought, some people put it towards the top of the blog post, which is what I did for a long time. I now put it at the very bottom of my blog post because it's such a big image. I think that it annoys people when they have to scroll through it.
So you know, different schools of thought. That's what I do. And I put a title over it in big letters that says like “pin this,” or something like that to encourage people to share.
No. 11: How to write a blog post conclusion
So a call to action is telling people to do something.
So for example, you could say, “leave me a comment and tell me X, Y, Z.” “DM me on Instagram and tell me X, Y, Z.” “If you enjoy this blog post, you'll also love my freebie all about XYZ, sign up for it at this link.” Stuff like that.
Not everyone is going to take you up on it, of course, but some people will.
So decide what your most valuable CTA is for that blog post and put it in the conclusion.
No 12: The best related posts plugins for WordPress
And last but not least, number 12, related posts.
So there are two ways to do this one. You can use a plugin that will automatically put a carousel of related posts at the very bottom of your blog post.
There are a bunch of different plugins that do this. I'll link to a few of them. I use the one that comes with the Kadence bundle. Cause I use Kadence on my website. I absolutely love it and highly recommend it for many reasons. Maybe we'll do another episode about Kadence. That's one I use, but there are others as well, and there are definitely the free ones.
If you don't want to use a plugin, or you could do both, which is what I do, you could do what I just described a few minutes ago. I put a heading in that says “here's more posts about fill in the blank topic that you'll like,” something like that.
And then I list four to six bullet points with different blog posts on my site and I link them.
Now, the one thing is it's important not to use the exact post title when you're doing this because Google thinks that spammy. So just paraphrase the title, make it a different title, but where it's still clear what the post is about and link to it that way.
All right. We got through all 12!
So that is it for this episode. I hope it was really helpful. And remember I designed a free blog post checklist that covers all the stuff we just talked about.
Thanks for tuning in and I'll see you next week!
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