Coming up with a great idea for your next blog post can be hard work. When writer’s block strikes, it’s easy to become frustrated and worse still, you may start to despise the idea of blogging altogether.
Blogging should be satisfying, enjoyable and rewarding, and with my simple formula for writing killer content it will be all of these things for you.
I’ve created a simple formula for consistently writing great blog posts called the WISPR Content Formula. The WISPR acronym stands for:
- Who – identify who you are targeting with your content piece
- Ideate – develop content ideas that will resonate with your target audience
- Syndicate – nominate platforms that you will use to connect your audience with your blog post
- Publish – write, publish and promote your blog post
- Repeat – publish killer content consistently with your content plan
Below, I will explain each step in more detail. There’s also a 1-Page Guide to writing killer content at the end of this article.
This is such a simple step that is so often overlooked. For each content piece that you write, you will need identify a target audience. It’s all well and good writing a blog post about a niche topic, (for example 8 hidden iPhone X features that will help you live a more relaxing life), but the tone and manner of the article need to suit your target audience. Read more
Coming up with new content ideas from scratch is time-consuming. The speculative nature of creating ideas from scratch also risks your time and effort; your idea may miss the mark completely and be ignored by your target market.
There is a better way to come up with fail-safe ideas for your blog posts. It involves looking at what has worked for others in the past, and then building upon these ideas to make them your own. I know what you’re thinking….isn’t this blatant copying? The short answer is no, of course not. I’m not suggesting you copy and paste someone else’s content into your own website….in fact, far from it! What you will be doing is seeking out topics and content formulas that are proven to resonate with your target market before coming up with your own unique spin on them. More on this here.
(Free) Content Syndication
Syndication……sound like some sort of illegal act?
Don’t worry, here at The Freedom Chaser the methods I teach are all above board (although this syndication strategy will give you an almost criminal competitive advantage for getting traffic to your blog posts).
You may be wondering exactly what I mean by ‘syndication‘. Find out what it is and how to do it, here.
Now’s when the rubber hits the road….it’s time to write and publish your article.
Don’t worry, most of the hard work has already been done, you now simply need to get your ideas down on paper, fine-tune and then publish to the world!
First up, write a headline.
This will set the scene and get you in the mood the rest of the article. You can either get creative from scratch (if you take this path consider seeking inspiration from the blogs you admire), or you can use a Blog Headline Generator tool to help speed up the process. These tools incorporate trends from search engines and other blogs, and can suggest ‘on trend’ headlines for your blog saving you hours of time. Remember, you may still need to fine-tune the suggested titles to maximise relevance and interest to your audience.
I enjoy this Blog Title Generator a lot, because it often ties in social references to pop culture (such as Kenny from Southpark, Michael Jordan or RuPaul). A good option to make a simple or dry topic sound interesting.
If you have a theme but are struggling for a headline, Prozely’s blog title generator might be able to help out. It won’t uncover obtuse new angles you’d never considered, but it is good at turning a simple phrase into a cohesive and professional blog headline.
This blog title generator isn’t quite as fun as the previous suggestions, but it is potentially more practical. Hit the ‘Generate another title’ button and it will trawl through some of the most successful formulas for blog titles for you to ponder. A handy tool, particularly for more serious topics, such as business or finance.
Ok, now you’ve decided on a blog title. Now it’s type to determine the type of article you will create.
Variety is the spice of life, so it’s a good idea to mix up the types of posts you publish on your blog. There are hundreds of different styles and formats you can choose from; the ones I have seen the most success from are the thirteen below.
13 types of blog posts that your visitors will love
1. Lists and Listicles
One of the most common blog post styles is the list (and somewhat ironic that I’m including it in a list of its own!)
The aim of a list is to condense information into a series of short, structured points so that your readers can digest the information quickly and easily. List posts are over-used, particularly by new-comers to blogging because they are so easy to write compared to some of the other formats, but there are certain instances that a list can be the perfect method of covering a topic. You just need to look at the newsstand to understand that lists are a timeless format, with articles such as 2018’s Top 4 Family SUVs under $60,000 and 100 Recipes Keto Recipes to Get You Through Summer adorning the front cover of magazines.
A ‘listicle’ is another name for a list-based article, the bite sized pop-culture new & entertainment format made famous by sites such as Buzzfeed. Listicles usually have very limited text accompanying each heading, and are often support by images to maintain interest with a splash of humour.
2. How-To’s and Tutorials
One of the most frequently searched terms on Google is ‘How to…‘.
Whether you have an emergency on your hands and need some instructions (for example, ‘how to get in when you are locked out‘) or are planning our next meal and searching for instructions, such as ‘how to make pancakes‘.
How to fix your toilet is an entire website dedicated to analysing trends and insights for How-to searches. Whilst entertaining at times, it’s also a data-driven reminder that handy how-to guides and tutorials can be a useful tool in attracting new readers to your blog.
If you are anything like me you may be more likely to seek out technical solutions related your website or blog, such as ‘How to update your DNS records in A2 Hosting‘. The point is, great how-to articles are valuable because they can solve my problems.
Your current and potential blog visitors are the same. They will have problems of their own and be looking for a solution. If you can solve these problems for them you are boosting your credibility and expertise.
3. Data-driven Research Stories
Tools that allow for easy access to all types of data are becoming more and more prevalent. Some are free, such as Google Trends, and others require a license or subscriptions such as Buzzsumo.
The beauty of this data is that you can slice and dice it with your own unique perspective and create a unique and compelling piece of content that is based on fact. Whilst it’s certainly important to form opinions as a blogger to build your personal brand and be relatable, it’s data that inspires trust and builds your authority and backs up your statements rationally.
Brian Dean, the esteemed author and thought-leader behind the Backlinko blog, utilised data from a swag of influential sources including Ahrefs, SEMRush and SimilarWeb, to conduct a study on 1 million Google search engine results. The post blew up on social media, proving that a well researched article with trusted data sources behind it will be well-received by readers.
Conduct your own research pieces and personal experiments. Describe the process to your audience in a blog post. Starting from the headline and throughout the article, include the facts you have uncovered through your research to craft a compelling and irrefutable story. Who knows, if your research is thorough and compelling enough, in time you may even end up being quoted by other bloggers or even mainstream media!
4. Resources and Lists of Links
Similar to the List Post format mentioned earlier, is the Resource Post. The key difference, is that resource posts curate other people’s content. Resource posts are a perfect way to offer up a summary of a new category or niche. I frequently find instances in which I’ve inadvertently been gathering resources for myself and have amassed enough content to write a Resource Post, so end up sharing it with my readers as I feel that they’ll benefit from my research. Why not do the same?
I recently authored a post on The Freedom Chaser blog about the best Free Domain Name Generator Tools for 2018. I added my own blog name generator to the list, because in my opinion it’s pretty darn good, and encourage you to do the same if you have an applicable resource of your own to showcase within your Resource Post.
For an example, check out Wordstream’s Resource Link List, 21 Tools to help boost your productivity.
Whether it is tools, eBooks, blogs, podcasts, website, physical products or something else altogether, compile a list of resources and share them with your readers. Just be sure to offer more detail than simply the name and link to the resource, as it’s important to explain why you are recommending it.
5. Review Posts
Many blogs have made reviews their entire business, and make money out of reviewing products and/or services within a specific niche.
Speaking from experience, if you are after a swag of freebies, this is a great way to do it! In the mid-2000’s I received over 300 free tshirts by establishing myself as an authority in this niche through the development of my blog, tshirtalert.com (which I later went on to sell for a small profit).
As consumers, we rarely have the time to discover and test every product in a category ourselves, so Review Posts can add a lot of value to the lives of time-poor readers. For this reason it’s important to provide an honest review which really focuses on what’s important. A time-poor reader doesn’t want to spend their valuable time reading a review only to find at the end that it’s a paid post, or doesn’t actually touch on any of the features that will assist with making an informed purchasing decision.
To highlight one of my passions outside of blogging, here’s an example of a Review Post by popular surfing website Stab.
Infographics…adding the spice of life to boring statistics since blogging was invented!
This format revolves around a well-designed image which highlights a series of related statistics. The trick is to try and make the statistics interesting, which depending on the topic can sometimes be the most challenging part! That said, people love sharing statistics which validated or disprove common theories, so it’s a good bet that your infographic will be shared if you can achieve this.
It’s also good practice to try and slice up your infographics into individual facts for use in social media and other platforms. This example from OptinMonster is one such example of an infographic fact done well.
From survey findings to email campaign results, almost anything you can think of can be turned into an infographic. And because infographics are highly visual, it’s a medium that stands out from the crowded space of long and wordy articles!
The key is to winning people over with your infographic is providing a resource that helps explain things. It’s the artform of making the complex appear simple.
Canva, as well as other charting tools such as Piktochart and Visage, are ideal for creating beautiful infographics online without too much cost or effort.
A surefire way to establish your authority in a niche is to conduct and publish interviews with industry leaders. For some, that can prove difficult….after all, industry leaders rarely have time for bloggers just starting out. If this is the case, consider your networks – is there anyone you know personally who is perceived as an industry figure, or knows one directly?
If you are still having no luck, consider other avenues such as satisfied customers, who are usually more than willing to share their positive stories with you.
Produce the interview in video, audio or in text…or produce it in several of these formats! Which medium you choose will depend on the availability of the interviewee’s time, their physical location, and finally the medium which you think will get resonate best with your audience.
Foundr conducts interviews in multiple formats including Podcast versions, including this one with popular Australian blogger Yaro Starak.
As an added bonus for you, your interviewee will often share the interview with their audience too, gaining you exposure to their friends and followers too.
8. Videos with Accompanying Transcripts
Would you believe that Youtube is the world’s second-largest search engine?
Well, it’s true!
In fact, the only site that more people visit every day with search queries is Google (and it’s probably no coincidence that the smart folk at Google acquired Youtube many years ago knowing that video would become a very important medium for internet users).
By creating videos and uploading them to the Google network, you are gaining access to over one billion people who watch YouTube videos every month as well as increasing your exposure in both the Google and Youtube search engines (as the Google Search engine actually favours YouTube results for video searches….surprise, surprise).
Why stop there? You’ll reap further rewards by embedding your video an a blog post, accompanied with some text content to add context as well as a transcript of the video, which appeals to those who prefer to reader and Google’s spiders alike.
Videos work particularly well in experiential niches, where moving images, product demonstrations and or even facial expressions are important in order to convey a message. Video content also tends to be more immersive, often referred to as a ‘lean in’ medium due to its ability to demand the viewers’s full attention, and pry it away from anything else going on.
One of my favourite business examples of all time, The Dollar Shave Club, were able to attract the attention of millions with video stories about their brands.
Sure, it may be hard to replicate the success of their original viral video that started it all, but Dollar Shave Club continue to inspire video content marketing. Their ‘What the FAQ‘ series of videos answers common questions such as are there lock-in contracts, quality of razors, what members think of the razors, if it’s possible to switch razors, what happens if you don’t grow enough hair to justify a monthly subscription, what makes DSC so special compared to other services and why people should try DSC in the first place.
9. Guest Posts
Having experts from outside contributing to your blog gives you fresh content, while also allowing you to benefit from the Guest author’s existing network. Of course, there is another additional benefit – you don’t have to write all of your content by yourself!
But take heed, just because you aren’t writing the content it doesn’t mean your workload will be significantly decreased; since it’s your blog you are still ultimately responsible for the quality of the content and therefore must manage the entire process from article draft through to final publishing to ensure your blog’s quality guidelines are always met.
Also to keep in mind, is that most Guest Bloggers will probably have an ulterior motive, and that is to drive traffic from your website to theirs. This is completely fine, as there is always a ‘transaction value’ when working collaboratively with an external party, you will just need to accept that the result of this will be the loss of the occasional site visitor to your Guest blogger’s website. By regularly providing awesome content on your blog, your readers will keep coming back to your site for more.
Sometimes an idea for a series will strike you from nowhere. Other times you’ll start to flesh out an idea and realise it is simply too big for one single post.
In many cases, this is a viable sign to produce a series. Break down a specific concept or idea into parts, and then post about it periodically. The great thing about a series is that it helps to build anticipation for the next post, encouraging users to return to your website. It also stimulates an increased number of page views within your blog, as users follow the natural linking structure to view previous and next posts within the series. This in turn improves SEO, which can only be a good thing.
My first ever inspiration for a blog post series came from Darren Rowse of Problogger fame, way back in 2004 when he created series titled AdSense for Bloggers. As he recalls “This 8 part series started (in my mind) as a medium sized post. As I started writing I soon realized that there was more that I could write than would comfortably fit in one post and so the series began.”
If you opt for this style of post, make sure you take the time to plan out your series. You need to know in advance how it is going to start and end, so that you can build up the anticipation appropriately. You’ve watched Netflix, you know what happens when a series lets you down by not appearing just when you were craving more! A blog post series is no different.
11. Case Studies
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes for a second.
You’ve had a business problem you’ve been facing for weeks. Maybe even months.
One day you stumble across a story about a person that had the same problem as you, and somehow, they successfully solved it! Your curious to say the least (and maybe even a bit jealous), but you are dying to know how they did it.
This, my friends, is the appeal of Case Study posts. A good Case Study will make the reader feel like they are the one for whom the post is written.
Want to write an awesome Case Study blog post? Follow these tips:
- Write a list of common questions your prospects are asking
- Start your post by outlining the problem, you want to empathise with the pain your audience is suffering.
- Tell a story using real people and examples, explaining the solution step-by-step
- Explain the outcome and how the subject of the case study benefited
- Include proof with images and other sources throughout
You can increase the shareability of your posts with fun, engaging quizzes.
The best blog content is shareable content – because it organically reaches more people. But how do you increase social shares? A proven method is to create quizzes. In fact, data shows that the average share rate of simple quizzes (like ‘Which personality are you?’) is over 4% on average.
Case in point; when the New York Times decided to promote some of their own research on dialects around the US (yes, I mean ‘speaking American’), they included a quiz along with their written article. And man was it was effective; this quiz ended up being their most-clicked article of the entire year in 2014!
Why does this work so well? Well, for the most part, it’s because it is fun.
Quizzes turn static content into a game, and this gamification spurs engagement and interaction, which in turns triggers users to share this delightful experience with their friends and colleagues.
At any given point in time, there is likely to be at least a handful of be people trying to determine if one product is better for them than another. Often, your readers won’t have the expertise to assess which choice is better for them in the long-term, so they will seek out guidance to find the best option.
With an unbiased approach to creating an informative Comparison Blog post, you can offer a lot of value and you can position yourself as a trusted advisor.
But remember, the key is to be unbiased.
With content focused on being helpful instead of tipping the scales in your favour, you may very well win the loyalty of the reader over for good. Your comparison post must simply show the differences in a clear and unbiased manner, allowing the reader to determine which is better for their specific situation and needs.
A format that usually attracts success is an ‘Option A vs Option B’ style post. A few examples of this include:
- Mailchimp vs Campaign Monitor
- WordPress vs Squarespace
- iPhone vs Android
Once you’ve identified your subject matter, it is important to identify the most informative (and entertaining) method of conducting a comparison. This could be in any format, and largely depends on how technical and feature-rich the items you are reviewing are. For example, a recent review I read by DIYphotography.com used actual imagery taken from a range of GoPro cameras to explain the key differences between each model, which was a very practical and helpful.
Once the topic has been determined, it’s important to create a succinct and easy to read comparison post. Here are a few tips to improve the readabilty of a comparison post:
- Tables – compare the features of two or more products with a table. This allows the reader to quickly compare a specific feature against the other options, literally side-by-side. WordPress offers many free comparison table plugins to assist with stylish comparison table layouts.
- Headings and sub-headings – you can break up the features of each product using headings and sub-headings. This is ideal for product categories that require more explanation rather than feature-by-feature comparison.
- Bullet points – bullets are also a great way to make comparison posts digestible. Walls of text can be overwhelming when not broken down into bite-sized pieces.
Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.
When you think about it, it’s a harsh statement. It’s basically saying that if you don’t think 10 steps in advance then you will NEVER succeed. This is always entirely true since some of the best ideas start on a whim…..but it’s an adage that’s certainly worthwhile keeping in mind when it comes to writing and publishing regular blog posts.
Here are my tips for drafting a up your next blog post with ease.
1. Choose a blog post format
There are many styles of blog post you can write. From reviews, to comparison posts, interviews through to infographics, tutorials to listicles. The previous section of this book covers each of the predominant formats; choose one for your blog post and write it down. It’s important that you remain focused on this format so that you don’t wander off in another direction unintentionally as you start fleshing out the content.
2. Write a skeleton first
Before you start pouring out your heart and soul in a flurry of beautifully crafted sentences, write the structure of your blog post. This includes each of the key headings and sub-headings to ‘chunk it down’ into themes and topic. When consuming blog posts, readers prefer logically structured content, rather than big wordy blocks that meander without any obvious start or end. Remember the principles you learned in essay writing at school;
- Rationale #1
- Rationale #2
- Rationale #3
These kinds of principles (of course, with your own character sprinkled into each headline and sub-heading) will help you to write more efficiently and be user-friendly for your readers.
3. On the move? Use Google Docs
If you have a single location and computer from which you do all of your blogging, creating a draft post straight into your WordPress blog is probably the best way to start drafting. That way, all of your formatting and image insertion only needs to be done once.
However, if you are like me and are frequently using different devices on the move, it may be more convenient and reliable for you to use a Cloud-based word processing tool. Google Docs is one such tool, and one particularly attractive feature of this particular platform is that it’s free to use, from anywhere in the world! Provided you have an internet connection, you can easily access your docs anywhere, from any device, simply by logging into your Gmail account or app. Google Docs also has a great ‘autosave’ feature to ensure that you never lose your hard work again and also offers version control so that you can easily retrieve an older version of your document if you change your mind about something later on.
If you aren’t connecting to the Internet you can still create, view and edit files in Google Docs. Visit the Google Docs help portal to find out how.
Once you have finished drafting your blog post in Google Docs, simply copy and paste the text into a WordPress post. It’s best practice to paste the text into the ‘code view’ of a WordPress post and then format in WordPress from scratch, so that you don’t copy in any hidden code that will mess up your formatting later on.
4. Proof read with Grammarly
Did you know that on average a blogger makes 3.2 mistakes per 100 words of text? That can be quite distracting for your readers, or worse still, can lend the perception that your blog is low in quality and therefore an untrustworthy source of information.
Unfortunately hiring a proofreader can prove quite costly for bloggers just starting out, which often adds pressure on you to pick up every single one of these errors yourself.
Luckily there’s a simple solution; a neat little app called Grammarly. It’s free (and worth at least $100 more than it’s price tag!). The Grammarly app integrates with a range of blogging platforms that you are likely to use including Google Docs, and also offers a handy browser plugin for Google Chrome too. The plugin finds and corrects your spelling and grammar mistakes, also providing vocabulary suggestions where necessary to improve your written communications. Heck, if you need to it can even check your text for plagiarism.
I’m a word nerd, and can honestly say that after a couple of months using Grammarly I will never look back. It’s the best real-time aid for writing for the web available. I actually cannot understand why such a high-quality tool is still free.
While there isn’t a Grammarly plugin specifically developed for WordPress, by installing the Grammarly Chrome extension you inherently have access to the tool from within the WordPress content editor. Whenever Grammarly is active it resident in the bottom right corner of the screen, offering a brief summary of suggested amendments to improve your written piece.
Take the time to finesse and fine-tune your blog post, because shortly you will be setting it live for the world to appreciate in all of its glory.
When it comes to blog post publishing there are some fundamental differences between a great post and an average one. Lucky for you, most bloggers aren’t aware that there is even a difference between great and average, providing you with an opportunity to overshadow your competitors by following these simple publishing tips and techniques.
WordPress is one of the most intuitive blogging platforms in existence, so the process of publishing posts on your WordPress blog is straightforward and certainly nothing to be afraid of. Almost anyone can publish a blog post with minimal training and guidance. Simply follow the steps below and you’ll be posting great blog posts in no time.
The profound impact of 6-7 words that make your blog title should not be underestimated.
In a previous section I shared the secrets of writing a good headline, which you may have already used to draft yours. If not, I suggest you go back and revisit this section since your headline is most often the reason that someone will click on your article, or not!
Once you have crafted your headline, it’s time to enter it into the WordPress editor.
Go to Posts > Add Post
Now enter your title into the field marked ‘Add title’
You’ll notice your Permalink is automatically updated. More on this later.
I find this step strangely satisfying – most likely because it is the first tangible evidence of all of the hard work that has gone into previous steps in planning and developing your blog post content. Next up, it’s time to set your post category.
Categories are an important part of your blog. They assist in determining the hierarchy of your content, providing some structure so that both yourself and your readers are easily able to find related content. Categories are also instrumental for search engine optimisation.
My recommendation is to keep your categories minimal, consistent and relevant.
Minimal – don’t create more categories than you need. You’ll end up with categories that are basically empty after several years, leaving your blog looking sparse in some areas.
Consistent – use your existing categories as much as you can, and don’t fall trap to creating new categories or close variations of existing categories simply because you are lazy or in a rush. You’ll end up creating a disorderly problem in the long-run.
Relevant – categories are great for SEO, and a key factor of SEO is relevance. Don’t be tempted to include categories that aren’t your blog’s focus to try and boost your rankings and traffic; Google (and your readers) are smart enough to see straight through these kinds of tactics
Choose a category by scrolling down to the Category section and ticking the relevant category.
Or if you are just starting out, go ahead and add a new category!
You can tick more than one category if you wish, but be warned, this may impact your permalink. The reason; your category usually forms part of the permalink (the URL to your blog post) and WordPress will automatically choose one category to include in the Permalink when multiple categories are selected. For this reason, I recommend only selecting one category if having control of your Permalink is important to you.
Pasting & Formatting Text
When pasting text into WordPress, I have one simple rule; that you paste raw text into the Post editor without any formatting. This is because text that is formatted in another application and pasted into WordPress will include random snippets of HTML, which will be likely to interefere with formatting later on.
If you have authored your content in another application (such as Google Docs or MS Word), follow these steps:
1. Select all text from your source document and copy it
2. Open Notepad or TextEdit and paste your text
4. Copy the text in Notepad
5. Open your WordPress post and paste your text
6. You may notice that it looks very plain and requires some formatting. Go ahead and format it as you see fit.
This may seem cumbersome but I assure you it will result in the cleanest code for your blog post.
A picture is worth 1000 words, so you can easily double the word count of your blog post simply by adding an image.
Jokes aside, you should add at least one image to each post not only to break up what may otherwise be an overwhelming amount of text but also to maximise the SEO benefits that well-optimised images provide.
Finding an image
It’s best to use original images on your blog wherever possible, rather than sourcing from generic stock photo libraries. Original images are guaranteed to be unique, and will also assist in reflecting your own flavour and personality throughout your blog.
If shooting or own images simply isn’t an option, there are plenty of free options available on the web, but do the right thing and make sure that you have the right permissions before publishing third-party images.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective methods of sourcing images for blogging is searching for images which have been tagged as ‘free’ for general use. There are several great resources that exist specifically for this purpose, offering thousands of free images that can be published on your blog, including:
You may also be interested in sourcing images under a Creative Commons license. You’ll often find these images to be more unique than the ‘free image libraries’ due to the additional effort required to find them – so this is the most original option aside from producing your own content.
You may embed these images on your own blog as long as your intended use meets the conditions specified in the license and that you give proper attribution and credits to the original author. Some Creative Commons images are licensed as “Attribution Non-Commercial” and thus they may not be used on blogs that display advertising. For more information on this, refer to this report which defines non-commercial use in full detail.
Flickr is also a good source of Creative Commons licensed images, with many Flickr users publishing their content under this license.
Once you have selected appropriate imagery it’s time to upload them into your blog post!
Optimising your image
Once you have found the right image, the next step is to optimise it for SEO performance. The main factors you’ll need to take into account are the file name and the file size.
Choose the right file name
Images are a great opportunity to rank well in Search Engines, so when it comes to best practices for image SEO, it all starts with the file name. You want Google to know what the image is about without even looking at it, so use your keyword in the image’s file name. It’s simple: if your image is a beautiful photograph of manta rays feeding in the turquoise waters of Tahiti the file name shouldn’t be DSC142.jpg, but rather, manta-rays-tahiti.jpg. The primary keyword is manta ray as that is the main subject of the photo, hence putting it first in the file name.
Compress for minimum file size
The next crucial element of image SEO is compressing the image to the smallest file size possible. In a world where information is available within an instant, no one enjoys wasting more than a couple of precious seconds waiting for your website images to download.
For this reason, you’ll need to make sure that your images are compressed to the minimum file size while not compromising image quality (by that, I mean avoiding grainy images) especially given the increased popularity of super sharp screens such as retina displays.
Now your images are ready to roll, it’s time to upload them into your blog post.
Adding the image to your blog post
Don’t waste all of the efforts you’ve put into carefully preparing your image for publishing! Choose a place for each image in your article that will make it sing. By this, I mean letting each image perform the highly important role of enhancing your article. Don’t fall into the trap of adding images simply as ‘filler’ content.. Pay the utmost attention to context, inserting each image in a location that is highly relevant to the text surrounding it, and adding value to the reader’s experience.
Title text & Alt text
Alt text was originally conceived so there would be descriptive text in place if the image can’t be displayed to the visitor for any reason. In instances such as a user with a screen reader due to visual impairment, the alt text is quite important to the user experience. On the other hand, title text is a ‘nice to have’ attribute which can be added to images to provide non-essential information such as the meaning of the image, or its context. I suppose this is why a lot of people use the same text for Alt Text versus Title Text.
When it comes to your WordPress blog, I suggest prioritizing alt tags over title tags as the former is more effective for SEO and user experience alike. Be sure to add alt text to every image you use, and make sure the alt text includes the SEO keyword for that page (if appropriate) and relates to and/or describes the image.
The image caption is the text that sits beneath an image. It’s often light grey, or in italics, to differentiate from the text of the main article.
Captions can be added very simply in the WordPress image manager once you have uploaded an image.
According to Kissmetrics “Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”
With this in mind, add captions whenever they will assist your visitors, and keep in mind that the likelihood of them being read is particularly high. In fact, the quality of your article could be assessed simply by the headings, images and captions alone so pay close attention to captions you choose.
SEO experts often talk about a secret ingredient within the Google algorithm known as ‘link juice’; the more of this magical juice you have, the better your site’s ranking in Google. When you create a link from your blog to someone else’s you are inadvertently giving away a share of your blog’s link juice to the external site, thus leaving less for you. In theory, this can actually result in lower rankings for your own website.
With this in mind, I suggest including hyperlinks to external websites sparingly, and only to reputable websites that will add real value to your readers. To reduce the impacts to your search engine rankings, also be sure to use the ‘nofollow’ tag when creating external links. ‘Nofollow’ is an HTML attribute that allows you to tell Google not to pass on any of your SEO value (i.e. the elusive juice) over to a specific link. In other words, it tells Google’s crawlers not to ‘follow’ the link.
How To Add nofollow Links In WordPress
It’s not difficult to manually add the code yourself.
To get started, add a regular hyperlink (you’ll make it a ‘nofollow’ one in a second):
Then, select the link and go to the Text tab of the WordPress editor. You will see the actual HTML for your link:
To add the nofollow attribute:
- Find the part of the HTML that says href=”examplesite.com”
- Add rel=”nofollow” after that part, with a space in between
And you’re done! It’s as simple as that.
You can now continue writing your post by selecting the Visual tab in your WordPress editor. When you flick back over to the Visual tab, your link will look completely normal but nofollow attribute will remain intact.
Internal links are simply defined as links to other articles or pages within your blog. The benefits of utilising internal links are two-fold:
- Allows readers to easily discover related content and therefore remain on your site longer
- Sharing link juice throughout your site
In contrast to external links, you should aim to include internal links regularly within your blog posts. There’s no set formula for internal linking, simply try your best to remember past articles of relevance and add links to them wherever possible.
TIP: Don’t set your internal links in a new window, it’s considered best practice to open them in the current window.
WordPress tags are an inbuilt feature which allow you to categorise the content of your post. When users click a tag, they can find similar posts containing the same tag.
You can assign as many or as few tags as you like to a post…in fact, tags are optional and you don’t have to use them at all! I highly recommend that you do, because tags are a great way of linking to similar content, and they can also offer SEO benefits too.
For example, say you wrote a post about Mick Fanning, the famous Australian surfer who won several world titles. Here’s an example of the tags you may use:
Tags: Mick Fanning, surfing, world champion, Australia, athlete
These tags will assist search engines in determining the key themes within your post, and can therefore assist with your blog’s ranking in Google. Similarly, the tags will also help your visitors to locate other posts you have written with similar themes – perhaps you’ve written articles about other athletes, or about the sport of surfing, or maybe an interview with Mick Fanning himself. Tags will help every visitor to understand and navigate through your topical posts.
How to add tags in your WordPress blog
When you are writing a new post or editing an existing one, you can add new tags simply by using the Tags box on the right side of your screen.
As for displaying the tags; most WordPress themes will automatically display tags at the end of the article. If your theme doesn’t do this you may need to refer to the theme documentation, or a developer, for assistance.
In a previous section of this guide I described how to set up your WordPress blog for killer SEO. Now that you have done this, you can take advantage of meta descriptions, which are short snippets of text that describe the content of your post.
Meta descriptions appears in search results beneath the title, to describe what a user can expect to find on the page.
It’s important that you write a meta description that is not only compelling, but also highly relevant to your page’s content, as both factors will impact whether a user decides to click on your page.
So, how do you write great compelling meta descriptions?
Firstly, it’s important to keep in mind the character limit of 155 characters for meta descriptions. Any text after this point is likely to be chopped off and replaced with an ellipsis (as you’ll notice in the screenshot above).
Write a sentence that describes the post, and naturally includes your focus keywords. In other words, consider keywords that your audience are searching for an include them. Your meta descriptions should reflect the same tone of voice you use throughout your blog. Be specific, don’t use sweeping generic statements such as ‘best widgets for x’ as these will not stand out in search results. It’s also important to ensure that the text is error-free, since a meta description is often the very first impression many users will have of your blog and you want it to be a good one!
What does a great meta description look like?
Here are a few examples:
- “When you are looking for the right agent to buy your next coastal investment property from, we can help. Our staff can help you with anything. These are the things you should look out for.”
- “By thinking clearly about your goals, it is possible to find an online business model that suits your capabilities and available time. Our team of experts explain.”
How to add a meta description?
To add a meta description to your blog post, you will first need to install the Yoast SEO plugin, as described in an earlier section of this guide. Once installed, open your blog post and scroll down below the main content area to the Yoast SEO section.
Click the ‘Edit Snippet’ button and a box labelled ‘Meta Description’ will appear. As you type your meta description, a progress meter will appear onscreen showing you approximately how many characters you have left. Keep in mind that it is possible to exceed the recommended character limit, but it won’t show in full in Google search results.
Once you are happy with your meta description, simply click the ‘Close snippet editor’ button and Save/Update your post.
And hey presto, your meta description is now updated!
WordPress post categories allow you to order your content, so that your readers can find it quickly and easily. Categories are broad subject groupings which are intended to contain many related posts. When done well, categories will ultimately assist in keeping visitors on your website for longer.
Successful bloggers usually structure their blog content into categories that reflect the broad topics of interest within their chosen niche. These same successful bloggers use tags to highlight really specific elements that may be popular or of interest to certain communities within your niche. For example:
- A tshirt blog might adopt categories such as new tshirt releases, interviews with designers, industry news and sales & promotions. It could then use brands and locations as tags.
- A food blog might have categories about recipes, meal planning, utensils and place to shop. Tags could touch on specific cooking methods and ingredients.
- A sports news blog might want to separate their content into groupings about football, cricket, golf, tennis and basketball and have tags that highlight a particular player, place or milestone.
As you can see, a good Category structure should be complimented by Tags. There should be no duplication across the terms used in your category names versus the terms you use for Tags.
How to structure categories in your WordPress blog
Before publishing your first blog post, I recommend that you try to set up your category structure. Why? Because when you don’t start with the end in mind, you run the risk of your category structure becoming a mess! You should never have more than 10 categories on your blog, and with careful planning you’ll be able to ensure this it the case.
The first thing to remember when you are brainstorming the structure of your blog content is that categories, and for that matter tags, are designed primarily for your readers. They are intended to help website visitors find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. So my first piece of advice, is to think about what makes sense for your visitors, not yourself.
My second piece of advice, is to that you avoid overwhelming readers with too much choice.
Less is more.
Just like McDonalds likes to categorise their menu by the time of day (breakfast, lunch/dinner) and by food types (burgers, sides, desserts, drinks) you should categorise your blog content around the broad subjects your audience cares most about and leave the details for tagging.
And may I add….that is the first and last time I will ever use a Macca’s analogy!
Blog categories and tags should be short (1-3 words), simple and easy-to-understand. They should be unique, few in number, and self-explanatory.
A good rule of thumb for bloggers is to try to group your posts into 7, plus or minus 2, categories. 7 is the magic number; science has prove that 7 is the number of objects an average human being can hold in their working memory. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using slightly more or less than that the magic number, just remember not to overcomplicate it or you will confuse your audience. Keep it simple.
You can see below that the Canva blog, which they have called ‘Learn’, has chosen to use 9 unique and mutually exclusive categories with labels ranging from 1 to 2 words in length.
How to create your category structure in your Wordpress
Taking the time to consider your category hierarchy is vital; if you mess it up your blog visitors will end up scratching their heads with confusion. With a well thought category structure, content won’t fit in more than one section. Here are a few suggestions to minimise confusion:
- Keep your primary categories, also known as your parent categories, to a minimum. Too many primary categories will be overwhelming and scare visitors away. As a rough measure, try to keep the number of primary categories to ten or less.
- You don’t have to use sub-categories if you don’t see the need. But if your primary category count is ten or more, then I would suggest you consider using sub-categories to minimise the number of primary categories. Always keep your subcategories, sometimes known as child categories, relevant to the primary. Say you had a primary category named ‘Bicycles’. You could then create sub categories for all of the different types of bikes, like ‘Mountain Bikes’, ‘BMX’, ‘Road Bikes’ and ‘Beach Cruisers’.
- Avoid ‘one-offs’. What I mean by this, is categories or sub-categories that only contain a single post. Of course, if you’re just starting out then it’s a different story if you plan to add more content to those section soon after, but just remember that having just one post in a category can appear unprofessional to your readers. If you want to be an authority in your chosen field, you need the content to back it up.
Adding a category in WordPress
There are two methods you can use to add a new category to your WordPress blog.
The first, is to add a category while you are writing a new blog post. While writing your post, scroll down to the categories box (you’ll find it on the lower right side of the post admin screen) and click on the ‘Add New Category’ link.
You can also add sub-categories within this view, simply select a ‘Parent Category’ from the dropdown list before you click the ‘Add new category’ button.
The second method of adding a new category doesn’t require you to be editing a post. You can simply visit Post > Categories from the main menu in your WordPress admin and add your new categories.
I prefer this method because it encourages you to plan your blog’s category heirachy before you starting writing content, talking back to my favourite adage of ‘failing to plan, means you’re planning to fail’.
When using this method, you can create sub-categories the same way you approached the parent categories. The only difference for sub-categories, is that you need to select a Category from the ‘Parent’ dropdown list.
How to assign posts to existing categories
Once you have created all of your categories, adding posts to your existing category structure is simple.
Write a new post, or open an existing one, and tick the checkbox of the category you’d like to assign it to. Save the post and you’re done!
In the world of WordPress, the URL for each post relies on slugs, categories and permalinks.
Sounding a bit like a D-grade sci-fi movie? Don’t worry, getting your post URLs down-pat is nowhere near as cringe-worthy.
Assuming you’ve already setup your permalinks for success (as outlined my guide to setting up WordPress for Killer SEO), and have developed a well-thought hierachy for your post categories after reading over the previous section, it’s now a simple task of optimising your post slug and the rest of the URL is generated automagically by your WordPress blog.
What do I mean by a slug? It’s an abbreviated name for your page, designed to create a meaningful and user-friendly URL.
When you are editing your post, you can easily modify the slug for your page by clicking on the ‘Edit Permalink’ option right beneath the main title of your post.
So that your URLs aren’t longer than a lawsuit, you should aim to keep your post slug limited in length and certainly no longer 5 words if possible. Ensure that the focus keyword is included within the slug, and that the URL is as intuitive as can be.
Once you’ve edited your post slug, hit ‘Save’ and you’re done!
Repeat again & again – Content Planning & Scheduling
More often than not, the greatest challenge in producing awesome content isn’t actually writing it.
It’s your ability to produce content consistently.
There’s a lot of effort and planning that is required to publish a regular stream of content, like brainstorming topics, the keyword research and of course, persona-based targeting. But each of these steps is required to stay on-track, remain focused and ultimately to be a successful content generating machine.
I frequently get asked by aspiring bloggers how I manage all of my content. When I tell them I use a content planning tool, the next comment is often, ‘Hmm, that sounds very technical and expensive!’
Well, guess what? It’s not!
You can create a perfectly effective content plan using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, both of which you probably already have access to for free.
Even better news for you, is that I’ve already done the hard work for you. I am giving you my very own content calendar template to you for free, to say thankyou for your support and loyalty. I’ve seen quite a few content calendars over the years, and I’ve adapted the best bits from each to create The World’s Best Content Planning Tool!*
*Unofficially ranked by my 4 year old daughter
To help you adapt this template to your own needs and start implementing it right away, I’ve also developed some instructions for use. With a few of your own personal touches, your content calendar will be running like a finely oiled machine, leave you with more time to dedicate to producing the content itself and sharing with it with your intended audience.
Before we dive into the goodies, let’s start with what exactly a blog content calendar is:
What is a blog content calendar?
A blog content calendar is a calendar bloggers use to plan and categorise the content they plan to publish in the future.
You can use a blog content calendar to determine who you are targeting with each blog post, to optimise your content with the most suitable keywords, and to define the purpose of each content piece to ensure that key elements (such as calls-to-action) are included where required.
Successful bloggers relyon two critical factors to build loyal and lifelong followers – consistency and strategy. A blog content calendar helps you with both, while also:
- Planning out your future posts and content.
- Tracking your usage of specific keywords.
- Balancing your blog with a variety of topics and formats.
- Keeping you and your blog posts organised.
- Keeping your authors organised (if you use more than one).
- Setting your publishing timing and frequency and staying on track.
Without a blog content calendar, you run the risk of losing track of your best content ideas. A calendar will help you to maintain visibility of your content plans, also ensuring that you take a considered approach to keyword and audience targeting while keeping all information in one convenient place.
Blog Content Calendar Template
I have one created my blog content calendar template Google Sheets. If you prefer to work on your local machine (rather than in the cloud), it’s also available in Excel format.
Click the link below to go to the my content calendar template in Google Sheets.
Blog Content Calendar in Google Sheets: Instructions for use
Using Google Sheets to maintain your Blog Content Calendar comes in handy for many reason. Firstly, it’s free to use (thanks Google!). Furthermore, by storing your editorial calendar in the Google cloud, you’re able to access it from anywhere and easily collaborate with other contributors using Google Sheets’ inbuilt document sharing functionality. And finally, my favourite aspect; your content plan will be protected against hard drive crashes, version control issues, and other unfortunate tech slip-ups
Now, just follow these instructions to set up the template and get your very own content plan up and running.
Step 1: Access the calendar
You’ll need a Google account in order to access my blog content calendar template.
Like many of Google’s great tools, setting up a Google account is completely free!
If you already have a Gmail email address then you already have a Google account by default. However, if you have an external email address that you’d prefer to use as your primary login (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org) then you will need to create an account from scratch. Simply visit this page and follow the onscreen instructions: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.
Once you’ve logged into your Google account, visit my Blog Content Calendar template in the Google Template Gallery https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RaaNdKVKNPqyjXksoAWeHHfEPU7f9cqwOhaVE4QeQHI
To save the template in your own Google drive, simply create your own copy of this template to edit it. In the menu, click ‘File > Make a copy’.
Now the template will be saved into your own drive for you to access whenever you’d like!
Step 2: Populate the calendar template with your upcoming posts
(But first, make sure you rename the document so it’s yours! Do so by clicking on the title at the top of the page).
Now the fun part, populating the calendar!
Use the techniques I outlined earlier in this guide to identify content ideas, and then allocate dates to each idea you’d like to progress with.
When starting to populate each row in your content calendar, enter the publishing date and author columns first. Even if the author is yourself, entering a due date and putting your name to it will assist you in mentally committing to the post within a realistic timeframe.
And speaking of commitment; you also need to commit to filling out every column in the schedule, starting with the title and description. Make your title intriguing and topical (if you’re finding that to be a challenge refer to the earlier section about brainstorming great blog post titles).
Write out a general synopsis under the description column. This will help you, and any other contributors to your blog, to stay on track and maintain the intended connection between the title and the final post.
Enter your keywords, target market and if relevant to your post, a call-to-action. Remember, every post should have a purpose, whether it be to drive traffic to a specific product, to attract new visitors and capture their email address, or to generate long-term organic traffic.
And finally….the part that separates the experts from the novices; specifying your syndication partners. Be sure to read the section earlier in this guide about syndication partners..
Be sure to mix up your post types with a mix of formats including infographics, long-form articles, image-based lists, interviews and other formats and keep the subject matter varied. After all, variety is the spice of life….or in this case….your blog!
Step 3: Share your calendar with others
(This is an optional step). If you are sharing your blog with other contributors, you can easily share your blog calendar using Google Drive’s collaboration features. Just click on the blue ‘Share’ button at the top-right of screen and enter the emails addresses of your cohorts.
Note: They’ll need a Google account to access the files you share with them.
You can choose whether others can edit the document or simply view it by selecting ‘Can edit’ or ‘View only’ from the dropdown.
When you’re done, an email which includes a hyperlink to the document will be sent to the person or people you entered.
Step 4: Write and publish
Now simply start drafting your blog posts according to your schedule, add some beautiful images and finally, proof-read your work.
It’s time to publish your post and start syndicating your work in order to get it in front of the world…..or a least, a small portion of it!