How to write a perfect blog post and get ranked by Google
The world seems to be very confused about search engine optimization. You can spend a fortune on programs and services to help you identify keywords, stuff your blog post full of them, define all of your tags, and create technical mastery. But technical proficiency doesn’t matter.
The key to the perfect blog post is to write good content that answers a question well. Google works hard to figure out how to find content that does just that because that ensures people keep using Google, and they can sell more ads. The endless tricks are a complete waste of effort because Google will eventually shut them down. So write good content.
That time when the number one post was a keyword stuffed, lousy result
The other day I had a technical problem, so I went to Google to see if I could find an answer.
The first listing that came up showed my question word for word in the title. But when I went to the page, the article had nothing to do with my question. I couldn’t figure out why until I found the keywords I had used in white text (invisible) spread out throughout the article.
So, yeah, tricks still work sometimes. But what is the point?
If this had been a less obscure topic, I am sure these guys would have lost their number one position a long time ago. Since I went there and had a terrible experience, I certainly wasn’t going back, and my annoyance tainted any ad interaction.
If you want to establish authority, these tricks only undermine you.
How Evo the ski shop lured me in with excellent content
If you google “how to wax my skis,” the second organic result is this one from Evo:
A few years ago, I looked into how to wax my skis. This result form Evo came up when I searched.
I clicked on it.
The answer was very useful and very informative. I returned to it a few times and eventually bought a ski bag from Evo.
That is the way a blog is supposed to work. That is why Evo has maintained their position on this search for years, and I am sure it is yielding great results for them, leading to lots of wax and ski sales.
But replicating this is not so easy.
When I started writing my blog posts, I created heavy, detailed, keyword laden, content. It was something along the lines of Encyclopedia Britannica meets Google.
But Google snubbed my content.
At the time I thought the problem was length.
So I tried short posts, 400-600 words.
That didn’t work either.
I adjusted my keyword strategy - looking for long tail keywords and spending money on research. That seemed to help a bit but it was hardly worth the time or the effort.
Ultimately what I learned was this: my focus was on the technicalities of blogging and digital publishing. My expectation was that there was some sort of magic formula out there and that the key to results was finding that formula.
What I learned is that the key to to writing good blog posts is to write quality material that answers a question people care about. There is no magic, just good content.
That sounds so simple…
Well, actually it is
The problem with most of my online writing has been that I am mostly talking about the things I want to talk about rather than the things that people want to hear.
If you want to get found online, you must talk about what people want to read first. Later, when you have a million followers, you can talk about what you want to talk about; not at the beginning.
Later I learned from these guys over at Income School how to create a blog post, and my life changed.
(If you want great advice on how to write a blog that connects with your market, sign up for their program here, this used to say that I don’t have an affiliate relationship with them… then I thought “well that is kind of stupid” so now I do. If their content isn’t worth the price you pay I will happily return my commission to you).
Using this structure, I wrote my Reptilian Brain article, and within days, I was in the top ten search results, ranked among real experts with degrees in the field.
Now I am going back over all of my old blog posts and working them up to this standard.
This is how to write a perfect blog post in six steps
Step 1: Start with the right content
This isn’t hard it just takes s bit of research, I’ll write more on this in another post. The simplest method is to go to google.com and start typing in your topic. See what google suggests as a search. These are searches that other people are making. Use these as your keywords.
Step 2: Write a great headline
Answer the question, write something catchy. In my experience, it is better to answer the question than be too flowery here… but more powerful words are better then less powerful words.
Step 3: Write a short paragraph detailing the question in a bit more depth, then another paragraph answering the question Succinctly.
This is something I have from the Income School guys, and it is such a great insight. You are competing here for the Google snippet, that little summary that sometimes pops up when you search for something sometimes. The snippet can rank differently than the page.
For the snippet google wants a clearly worded succinct answer… so you might as well give it to them.
Step 4: Write the content, well laid out with subheadings and a few hundred words of text.
Start writing by listing subheads and sub-subheads. These become your H2 and H3 headings, but most importantly, they are the first thing your reader sees so they should really stand out. They should answer the question on their own.
Then under each of these headings, you develop the concept a bit. Write a couple hundred words for each one.
You want to write 1300 or so words in your standard post (longer for pillar posts). So this is one way to break it down into manageable chunks.
To figure out what to write, do some research. Look at what others are writing. The idea is not to copy but rather draw inspiration: how could you say that better, what did they get wrong that you can express correctly?
Step 5: End with a concluding summary
Your last subhead and paragraph should be a helpful summary wrapping the whole thing up.
I have no idea if this helps with SEO, but it definitely makes the reading experience much better and the reading experience matters. The reading experience will eventually lead to better click-throughs, more time on the page, and higher rankings.
Step 6: Related topics
Once you have completed your blog post add a final section with related topics where you answer two or three other questions that are related to the initial inquiry. You can find these topics from your Google search, look at related topics that Google suggests, copy those questions, and write a quick answer.
Or even better write a long and detailed answer, call it another blog post and link to that one from here.
But wait, there is more
Adding some multimedia helps. Find an eye catching featured image. Interestingly the quality of the image does not seem to matter very much. But when it relates to the content and visually expresses what your writing expresses, that is magic.
I also recommend adding a few extra images to keep the eye interested and leading off with a video. Google likes video, so if you can drop a couple of those in, you will be in great shape.
And that is it
Like said, it isn’t hard. The key is to write something people want to read, something that solves a real problem for them. Do this, and you will get a response and Google will recognize you for it.
I should add that I have no expectations that this post will rank on Google. This is a highly competitive space, and Google doesn’t recognize me as an authority. That is okay, I wrote this for you, not the masses. Sometimes, that is what you do.
And let me know how it goes.
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How do you structure a good blog post:
The structure is pretty simple:
Introductory paragraph restating the question,
The second paragraph succinctly answering the question,
Subheadings answering the question in more detail,
Paragraphs under the subheadings, 200-300 words each.
Find a compelling photo and add that as well.
How long should a blog post be:
Statistically, the best results right now are posts that are 1300-1500 words long. (Hubpost actually says 2100...) Longer posts are also useful, 3500 to 4000 words. Think of the longer posts as pillars, big pieces of content, and the smaller posts as answers to questions, they should feed into your big pillar posts. (Also, over time, they may become pillar posts).
What makes a good blog post
Very simply: a good blog post answers a question that someone has. The post answers the question well, clearly and generally in some actionable way. Blog content should be useful and though I have nothing to support this, I believe that helpful content will beat length, writing style, and keywords every time.