Successful blogs use exceptional writing skills aimed at their target audience
Writing blog posts might seem like an easy thing to do. Write 500 words on your pet topic of the day, do a quick proofread and then hit publish.
Many blogs and websites use this or a similar formula.
When you start a blog, you know you need content so you start writing as many blog posts as you can.
Then you cross your fingers and hope that people will find and read your blog. Perhaps you also try to promote your blog on social media to your few hundred connections.
Social networks can help a little, but successful bloggers know that search engine traffic is the only way to access every Internet user in the world.
But luck alone will not get a search engine to index your posts. You have to make it happen.
Getting the basics right for a good blog
Whether you want to create a blog or you have already started a blog, you need to have the right structure and tools.
1. Blogging software. The only choice, if you are serious about wanting to be a success, is WordPress.
Free blogging platforms are highly restrictive and will never give you access to the tools and options you need to blog successfully. Nor will they give you the opportunities to monetize your blog freely.
Learning how to use a self-hosted WordPress site is the first vital step in succeeding at blogging.
2. Blog domain. Your blog needs to be hosted on its own domain, and it must definitely use a .com address.
3. SEO software. Search engine optimization (SEO) software is vital. It is the only way you can maximize your chances of search engine indexing on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
You definitely need to use a WordPress SEO plugin such as All In One Seo or Yoast, which offer free and paid versions.
Both of these plugins will let you set up a sitemap to tell search engines about your site as well as add SEO metadata.
You might also want to consider a professional competitive research tool like Semrush or Ahrefs. All of the top bloggers use these pro tools, but the prices are not cheap.
However, if you plan to make real money from blogging, it is an investment you will need to consider.
Now you are ready to start blogging like a pro.
Defining your blog niche
There are millions upon millions of blogs. But only a very small proportion get serious traffic numbers and succeed.
Good blogging starts by choosing a topic and knowing what your blog is about. A poor blog is about everything and anything.
A successful blog is highly focussed on one narrow topic or subject that will build trust over a period of time. A great blogger is an expert and readers love to read expert advice or opinion.
As an example, if you are into photography, specialise in one narrow niche such as digital SLR, smartphone cameras or black & white photography.
The more narrow your topic, the more chance you will have of becoming an expert and trusted blogger.
How to write a great post
Now you have all the technical basics in place; it’s time to start blogging for your readers and search engines.
The key to writing a post is to focus on two objectives.
The first is to write great content that search engines will recognise as great, and then index it. The second is to fully satisfy the readers who will click on your article listing in Google or Bing.
It’s a little chicken and egg. What comes first? Satisfy readers or search engines?
In the end, blogging is digital marketing, so you always need to satisfy both.
So let’s go through the steps, one by one.
1. Do your research
Once you have an idea for writing a blog post, start making some notes and think about what you imagine readers would want to know.
What do you know that would be of interest. Do you want to present it as a story, a listicle or a review?
Now do a Google search and look for external support for your topic.
Read some articles on your topic and look for ideas you can use. Think about ways you could write a much better article. Can you add more information, images or reviews?
Take note of the length of competitive articles, and aim to exceed their word count.
You should include at least one or two external links to reputable and preferably high ranking sites. So decide which ones you will use.
External linking is good for your readers and your SEO.
Once you have the subject matter ready, now you need to do your keyword research.
You need to find the main keyword that you would like to rank for as well as a selection of semantic keywords.
For instance, if your main keyword is Apple iPad Pro, your semantic, or related keywords might be macos, ios, iphone, macbook pro, old ipad, ipad pencil and macbook air.
You can use Google to help you, or you can use pro tools to find your competitor’s long-tail keywords and then make a list of the associated semantic keywords.
2. Write a post
Using your research, now start writing your post.
In your very first sentence, make sure you include your main keyword or keyword phrase.
You should have a word count in mind from your research. But generally, a good length is at least 1,000 words and preferably closer to 2,000.
In-depth articles are much, much better for SEO, and your readers than short ones.
As you write, try to include as many of your semantic keywords as possible. Don’t force them into your text.
Feel free to skip one or two if you can’t find a way to include them in a natural way. In most cases though, you can change your sentence form or grammar to add most of them.
Don’t worry about formatting at this time. Focus purely on writing compelling and informative content.
If you are writing for content marketing, make sure you include your calls to action.
When you have finished, you have a few final tasks.
Decide on your post title, but you must include your main keyword. This is the title you include above your article text.
Now decide on an alternative title to use as your SEO title. This title will be seen on search engines. It must be different from your main title, but must also include the same main keyword. It should be no more than 60 characters long.
Next is to write your SEO description. It needs to be no more than 160 characters long, and again, it must include your keyword.
The four placements of your main keyword are very important.
Main title, first sentence, SEO title and SEO meta description.
These are the locations that tell search engines about your main topic. Your semantic keywords then support your article’s variety and richness and will help you gain more indexed keywords.
One article can rank for 20, 100 or even 1,000 keywords, and this is why long tail semantic keywords are so valuable in helping you get more traffic to your blog.
3. Make space
Reading on screens is not the same as on paper.
Because over 50% of blog readers are reading on handheld devices, you have to accommodate them.
Make your blog post look aesthetically beautiful so people will WANT to read it.
You need to break up the text into small chunks and allow plenty of space in between. Forget about paragraphs altogether.
Look at your text, and add space between the sentences. Only keep short sentences together.
Break up your text with images because they are appealing as well as giving your readers’ eyes a short break.
If you have included links, make space around them to allow room for a thumb to click on a smartphone.
Make sure your internal links open in the same tab and all external links open in a new tab. In this way, you will keep your reader on your site for much longer.
Designing a visually pleasing blog post that works in the way you want it to is almost as important as writing it.
4. Read your post
Once you’ve written your post, read in preview and think about how a reader might react to it.
Is the subject matter in a logical order? Have you included all the necessary information?
Does it look appealing? Are there any ugly clumps of heavy text? Do you need to add another image?
Have you addressed the reader using the second person?
Depending on your answers, go back and edit your post to make it better.
Rinse and repeat if necessary.
5. Quality content is error-free
A high-quality article is free of grammar and spelling errors as well as typos.
It is time-consuming but absolutely necessary to find all the errors and correct them. You can do it yourself, or get someone to help you.
But the quickest and most efficient way is to use an online grammar and spell checker.
I have used Grammarly for a long time now, and it is my tool of choice when I am blog writing.
There are other fine online grammar tools to choose from, so select whichever one you are most comfortable using.
Once you have eliminated all of the obvious errors, it’s time to get meticulous.
6. Accurate Proofreading
How many times should you proofread your text?
At least three times, and preferably also by someone other than yourself if you want to publish a high-quality text.
Take it line by line, and even read it from bottom to top, sentence by sentence.
A good practice for proofreading is to say to yourself, well, okay, just one more time before I publish.
You are not going to compete with big-name bloggers like Neil Patel, Darren Rowse or Seth Godin in your first year. Writing popular posts is hard work combined with an element of good luck.
But all of them started from zero and built their businesses on the back of great blogging.
If you have thoughts of learning how to make money blogging, the best way to start is to write fantastic content and lots of it.
Once your site starts to rank on search engines and is attracting a steady stream of organic traffic, monetizing your site will be much more successful.
Without a lot of traffic, you will stand little chance of being approved by Google Adsense or attracting affiliate marketing opportunities.
Creating a successful blog is a step by step process. Use the right tools and software, build robust traffic and then you can think about earning money.
When you can get your blog attracting around 10,000 users a month, you can certainly start earning a decent amount of money.
But you won’t get rich quick. It’s always a slow build.
However, once your blog is established, which generally takes at least six months to a year, you will find new possibilities open up.
These could be a lucrative affiliate program, sponsored posts, email marketing, banner ads or selling a product or service.
However, all of these will depend on writing quality content for your WordPress blog. Content that readers and search engines will love.