You have probably heard the expression that “Content Is King.” This is a two-prong approach, quantity and quality. You can have the largest website in the world, but it doesn't matter if nobody is reading what you write. Quality content is helpful content. In 3 steps, I will show you how to write quality content for your blog.
Step 1: Research Keywords
So you have your topic in mind. The big challenge here, especially as a beginner blogger, is writing an article that will get published on the first page of a search engine. The best way to approach this is with keywords.
The Challenge: As there are so many blogs on the internet, established blogs in particular, you need to target what they call a “long-tail keyword.” Instead of targeting a short-tail keyword like “Michael Jordan,” you need to target a long-term keyword like “Why Michael Jordan is the best.” If you are already an established blog that consistently ranks on page 1 of Google, you can probably write a post solely targeting the two-word keywords because you have a large audience & the search engines consider you a “content expert.”
The Good News: As I will explain below, long tail keywords are becoming more popular. This means there are still plenty of opportunities to get ranked, it is just harder than several years ago when the internet was smaller.
The graph above is an illustration of the Short Tail & Long Tail Keywords. Using the example, the short tail keywords are Mehl & Mehl Kaufen. I bet you are loving this injection of foreign language. 😉
As you would guess, most people are going to search for keyword phrases that are only one or two words long. As I mentioned earlier, as a beginner blogger, you will more than likely not get ranked targeting these keywords. You are the small fish in the big pond.
The primary objective of writing an article is to get ranked & the best way is using long tail keywords. Looking at the graph, the more words you add to the root keyword “Mehl” decreases the search volume but increases the likelihood of you getting ranked on the first page of a search result.
How Do I Research Keywords?
A detailed explanation will be in a different post to avoid a tangent today. There are plenty of research tools available. The free one is Google AdWords Planner. The one I use is Jaaxy, as it is more detailed and easier to use.
Below is a screenshot for Jaaxy where I used our two keyword examples from earlier, “Michael Jordan” and “Why Michael Jordan Is The Best.”
Going through the numbers real quick…
Michael Jordan averages 604,538 average monthly searches. If you rank on the first page of Google, you are estimated to receive 102,772 page visits per month. Sounds great, but according to the QSR (Quoted Search Results), there are 283 websites with this keyword. This means you would be site 284, will you be able to rank on the first page?
Why Michael Jordan Is The Best averages 96 monthly searches & you would receive an estimated 17 monthly visits. There are 37 other websites that use this keyword. Survey says… you have a lot better chance of getting ranked on the first page with this keyword.
*In no way am I requiring you to use a Keyword Tool. I think they can be beneficial in finding “low hanging fruit,” but quality content & website traffic isn't solely hinged on keywords.
Before we move to Step #2, I need to preface that you should never “Keyword Stuff” your post. This worked several years ago, but no more. Google ranks content based on its intrinsic value & flow. It needs to have depth & look like a human wrote it.
Step 2: Make An Outline
There's nothing worse than reading a solid post that suddenly goes off into some crazy tangent & you quit reading. At this point, you might scroll straight to the comments section just to see what other people are saying or you just go back to the search results for the next person's post.
Now that you have your keyword(s) selected, it's time to put the pen on the paper. I mean words on the screen.
Remember back to English class. For me, this (making an outline) was my least favorite part of the writing process. Plan out your thoughts & what you want to write about. Think about if your topic needs a sequential order. If you are writing about baking cookies, do you first write about cooking them in the oven or mixing the ingredients together?
Depending on the topic, some posts are going to be lengthier than others. You should shoot for at least 500 words. There is much discussion in the online community for how long your average post should be. I tend to aim for about 1000 words for each post (maybe more). Depending on the topic an occasional 2000 word post can help your site rank with the search engines as well.
Perhaps while you are outlining or writing your post, you realize the need to split the topic into several posts. This is a good thing as it means more content you can publish and more opportunities for visits to your website! I have two ideas that stemmed from writing this post alone.
In the age of social media (Facebook, Twitter) we get our news & information through 140 character-esque headlines. Nobody wants to read a Charles Dickens novel (he was paid by the word) just to see where you took that cute picture of your baby. If people are researching, they will read lengthy posts but you still need to keep their attention span.
Step 3: Be Personal
This is probably the most important step.
Unless you are writing a technical article, nobody is going to finish reading your content (or return to your site) if they cannot relate to it. People search for a website that interests them & they can relate to. Having an audience means establishing trust.
Going back to that keyword example about Michael Jordan. If you don't like the first result, you go to the 2nd or 3rd result. If enough people do this, because they deem the content more relevant and higher quality, that first site will eventually get replaced with the more popular site.
Remember if you have the largest site in the world but nobody visits it…
Rankings are primarily driven by traffic & visitor engagement like comments. The more activity on your site, the higher your potential ranking in Google & the other search engines.
Offer your real-life experience, if you have any. Maybe you had a chance to play hoops with Mike & he taught you some cool move. People want to be informed, but they also want to live vicariously through your words. This is the element of trust.
If you have published other beneficial content, you can add hyperlinks to your other post. This lets the reader know about the other available resources you offer and can help keep them returning to your site.
If people want a textbook solution or answer to their search, they will visit Wikipedia or ESPN or whomever is the leading content authority.
People come visit personal blogs and websites because they are looking for human answers to their questions. Things they can apply to their own lives.
It is pretty easy to write content. The key is writing quality content that brings traffic to your blog. See the difference?
People may visit your site because it has a snazzy domain name, but the content is what defines your site & secures readership.
I think being personal (& helpful) is the most important of the three rules. Once you capture the reader's attention, you have a lot more flexibility in how you can produce your content. Targeted keywords & an outline are the two rules you employ to gain that attention so they visit your blog.
What rules or practices do you follow when writing content?
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.