If you can create good content and have mastered the blogging fundamentals, you have a skill that is highly prized (not to mention lucrative) in the market today. Whether as a job opportunity, or simply because one is passionate about writing, blogging is one of the most popular mediums of expression in the present times. We only need to look toward the various forms of social media we use on an everyday basis, to realize that a good 40% of what we see in our ‘feed’ is in the form of blogs.
What sets apart good content from not so good content? Originality, grammar, accuracy and engagement are some of the crucial factors for what qualifies as ‘good content’. To know more, read our post on “what qualifies as good content?”
One of the most commonly used platforms for blogging is WordPress which has a simple interface, and also guides you towards making your posts more readable, and optimizing it for the search engines. In this post, we introduce you to certain techniques of blogging fundamentals that will help you gain more engagement and traffic on your content – the lifeblood for your blogs.
Blogging Fundamentals – The Title of the Post
It is very important to put thought into what the title of the post should be, because your title should be a 5 second takeaway which convinces the reader to click on the link and proceed to read the post.
Ideally, your title should:
- convey the essence of the post, i.e., give the reader an idea about what to expect from the post.
- not be very lengthy – a title between 5 to 9 words is great.
- contain the focus keyword: Say you are searching for something particular on the web, you would enter one word, or a phrase which will then link you to search results containing the word or the phrase. A focus keyword is nothing but the main topic or issue being spoken about in your post. For example: ‘personal branding.’ For your content to be visible and picked up by search engines, it is crucial for the keyword of your post to appear in the Title/ Headline, and at least 4-5 times throughout your post.
Blogging Fundamentals – The Post
(a) Making your post ‘readable’
How your post fares on the internet is largely defined by how the post scores in two categories – No.1- If it is readable, and No.2 – If it is Search Engine Optimized (SEO).
When we speak about readability in the context of web metrics, it does not just mean how effective the substance of the post is. It is also about how it is laid out for the reader in terms of how easy to read it is. Here are a few pointers to help make your post more readable –
- Keeping your sentences short – Anything more than 20 words is a long sentence. Keeping your sentences short also helps the reader retain his focus on the piece, and makes your post more understandable on the whole.
- Sub Headings – Wherever, and if possible, including sub headings lends to the readability of a post. While desirable, this isn’t a pre-requisite as you may or may not choose to write a post in a way that accommodates sub headings.
- Paragraphs – Split your post into paragraphs to increase legibility. The size of one paragraph should ideally not be more than 150 words.
- Use Focus Keywords – The more you use your focus keyword in the post, the more ‘visible’ on the web it becomes. Using it between 4-5 times throughout your post is a great number to ensure visibility.
Google picks up on these focus keywords and points the readers towards what they are looking for, when they search for a particular topic. For example, if your focus keyword is ‘Personal Branding’, using it in your post a couple of times makes your post visible enough for Google to pick it up. And then it directs a reader who may have searched for ‘Personal Branding’ on Google, towards your post.
- Include Links – Including links to the research that you may have done for your post is a great way to help increase traction for the post you are putting out. This is also a great way to share more knowledge with the reader, and a good practice to help gain visibility for good content – even if you may not have created it. Remember, what goes around, comes around. 🙂
(b) Search Engine Optimization or SEO
- Simply put, SEO, as its name suggests, is a way of ‘optimizing’ the reach of your post on the web to make it more ‘visible’.
- Writing a ‘Meta Description’ for your post –A meta-description is nothing but an abstract of your post in not more than 156 characters. This meta-description is what appears under the title of your post when posted on social media sites. What you write in these 156 characters to describe your post, helps the reader decide whether or not he clicks on it and reads it.
- Remember to include your focus keyword in the meta–description – This is a huge plus in increasing the visibility of your post.
Blogging Fundamentals – Image for the Post
The image you choose for your post is very important because in this case, it is especially true that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. If there were 3 things that added up to determine whether or not a viewer will click on your post, they would be the following –
- The title of your post
- The meta-description of your post
- The picture along with your post
Choose an apt picture to go along with your post, and as the writer, you would be in the best position to relate a picture to your post, so it is worth spending a few minutes on.
Remember to give credits to whosoever the picture belongs to. Google penalizes the web pages which use pictures which are not open source (free for all), without attributing credits to the same.
Besides the techniques of blogging fundamentals elaborated above, which will help your content gain more visibility, to help you make your content more robust, there are certain common errors you should avoid. These are what we call ‘the 5 cardinal sins for a content writer – content writing mistakes’.
- Not knowing your audience –
versus knowing your audience can do a world of difference to the quality of content you put out + enhance engagement.
- Errors –
of any kind. Grammatical, punctuation, plagiarism, irresponsible articulation of your thoughts (i.e., misuse of your freedom to express) – all of these contribute to making your content a recipe for disaster.
- Writing without a synopsis or summary –
stick to a summary of what you are writing and exactly how you are going to tackle it – point by point. Make a short synopsis before you get started and try not to deviate. This synopsis should be drawn up at the research phase itself.
- Being verbose –
It may be tempting to use big words and fancy phrases, but what use if they are lost on your readers and scare them away? This connects to what we said earlier about knowing your audience. Have a thorough sense of “who” you are writing for, and write in a simple, effective language that will put your point across. Besides, what makes a piece of writing very attractive is how simply, yet effectively it has been articulated.
- Not making enough use of your creative talents –
Sky is the limit when it comes to experimenting with your creativity through the content you create. Feeling like writing a food blog post on healthy summer eating? Google fruits and find out what citrus based recipes could trickle into a post on light-hearted salads and smoothies. Use analogies and make your piece truly shine, truly come alive. Try adding texture where none is possible – yes, even in that straitjacket report on the financial outcome of the latest IPO to have come to Wall Street. Make it resonate and let your words really talk.
Creating good content online is both an art and a technique. While the content you write may be absolutely great, without a basic knowledge of blogging fundamentals, you may be stumped as to why your ‘great content’ isn’t receiving any engagement. Investing time in learning about certain basic skills and techniques about web metrics, and incorporating them into your work is a certain way of gaining success in the world of content creation. Have you tried out these great tools for content writing? Give it a go! Wondering what a career in content writing would entail? Read our short guide to a content writing career, here.
Image courtesy: cavesocial.com