Down and Dirty Formatting Tips to Make Your Blog Posts Shine

blogging tips

blogging tipsWe live in a world where people have very short attention spans. We’re bombarded by so much content every single day, it simply isn’t possible to read and consume it all. The solution we have developed is to scan things quickly and decide if we want to invest the time to read the article, watch the video, or listen to the podcast.

Blog readers are no different. That’s why it is important to format your posts in a way that makes it easy to scan, get a quick idea of what the post is about, and then make a decision about reading it. That’s what formatting is all about. It’s an important step in your blogging process.

Add to that the fact that formatting is also an important part of on- page SEO and it is something you want to pay a lot of attention to.

Formatting For Your Readers

Always start by formatting for your readers. While search engines are important, they won’t do you any good if no one is reading your posts.

Make It Easy To Scan the Content

The most important thing you can do for your readers is to make it easy to scan the content. Use headlines, break up text, etc. to make it quick and easy to scan the post and figure out what it’s about. Of course your headline and your images are a big part of this.

Break Up Things into Bulleted or Numbered Lists

Break up your content, tips, ideas, etc. into lists. Depending on the context, those could be bulleted or numbered lists.  Lists are easy to ready, quick to scan, and help readers consume your content.

Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Reading online is different from reading a print book or newspaper. It’s much harder on the eyes, and since we’re consuming so much written content on a daily basis and scanning much of it, our attention span for reading has gone down quite a bit.

Make it easy on your readers to read your posts by keeping your paragraphs short. One to three sentences is usually all you want in each.

Bold important Concepts

Highlight the most important concepts or keywords of your post by bolding them. Not only does this help readers understand that this is an important point, it also helps with scanning before they commit to read your post.

Formatting For the Search Engines

Now that your post is pretty and easy to scan and read for humans, let’s talk about formatting for search engines.

Use H Tags

Using H tags like <h1>, <h2> etc. show search engines what words on the page are important. Use an H1 tag for your post title. If you’re using blogging software like WordPress, your theme should take care of this for you.

But don’t stop there. You can use various other H tags throughout your content. Let’s say your blog post can be slit up into two major sections like this post for example. One section is about formatting for readers, the other for search engines. Those sub headings are H2 tags.

Bold Key Words

This one is easy. If you haven’t already done so for your readers, find your main keyword and make it bold. This will also show search engines this particular word or piece of text is important. Don’t overdo it though.

Use Alt Tags in Images

As you’re adding images, include text in the alt tags that describes the image, but also includes your main keyword. As with the other tags and formatting tips, this will help with ranking.

Use Your Keywords in the Text

Last but not least, give your post a quick scan and make sure you’ve used your keyword several times in the main body of your post. Again, it’s important to strike a good balance here. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t forget to include it. In a 400+ word article like this, using the keyword about 3 times is a good general rule of thumb.

Quick Blog Content Idea: Answer Comments in New Blog Posts

Questions And Answers Computer Keys Showing Support Knowledge And WikisComing up with fresh content ideas for your blog isn’t always easy. Today I have a great new content tip for you and the best part is that some of your post is already written. It’s a bit like getting to skip ahead in line. Perfect for those busy days when your calendar is full but you want to get a blog post published.

Got Questions?

Keep an eye out for questions in comments. Save them, horde them, and when you need a quick post, take that question – copy and paste it into your blog and answer it. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Of course you want to answer your readers right away when you see the comment come up. Go ahead and do that. But keep a mental tab on this question and ask yourself this:

  • Will other people have the same question? (99% of the time the answer will be yes)
  • Is there more I can share on the topic?

If you answer yes to both questions (and most likely you will), then the commenter question qualifies for a follow up blog post. And that’s exactly what it is; a follow up to the original comment question and your answer.

Answer those questions

Start by introducing the topic or question. Share the question and then let your readers know that you wanted to give a more detailed answer, thus the new blog post. Share the answer you gave the reader in the original comment and elaborate as you see fit. That’s it. A quick and easy blog post and for a portion all you had to do was copy and paste.

Format it, add a graphic and you’re ready to hit publish. Rinse and repeat with other questions as they pop up in your comments. Readers love these types of posts because they often had the exact same question, but they were too shy to ask.

Your Personal FAQ section

If you find yourself with quite a few questions, you may even want to make this a new featured category on your blog. It will quickly become a valuable resource to your readers.  You can even answer them all at once (in different blog posts) and schedule them to be published on a certain day.  If you are consistent with this, your readers will know look forward to reading the answers.  You can also do this as a video if you would like just to give people a more personal connection to you as you are answering their questions.

It will save you time in the long run. By being thorough in your answer, it will not only apply to this exact question, but a multitude of related questions. When they pop up in comments, all you have to do is reply with a link to the post. You have created your own personal FAQ section for your blog.

Wasn’t that easy?  So, do you have any questions for me today?

Day 5: Blog-A-Day Challenge

Which is Better? Quick Blog Posts vs. Epic Blog Posts

blog post

Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes and range widely in both formatting and word length. Heck, some of them have (almost) no words at all, sharing instead and infographic or a video for example (more on this in a future post.)

For the purpose of today’s post, we’ll compare two different posts that are on opposite ends of the content spectrum – quick posts, or short posts, if you will vs. epic posts.

More than just about the word count

While there is no set number to define a quick post or an epic post, in my mind, short posts are anything under 500 words. Some may define it by a lower number. To me, the post you’re reading right now is on the long end of a quick post, and not just because of the low word count. More on that in a minute.

Epic posts are long, well-thought-out posts that convey a lot of information. They are usually at least 2,000 words long. They also take a lot more research and aren’t something you can quickly sit down and write in an afternoon.

Which brings us to the next big difference between quick posts and epic posts – and one that I think distinguishes between the two better than some random word count.

Epic Posts

An epic post requires some research and planning. You gather your thoughts, figure out what you want to share and convey and then come up with a plan or an outline. From there you spend some time writing a long post that covers a lot of ground. You may also choose to include several different images or graphics to illustrate your point or embed some videos. You may even go so far as to summarize the main points of your post in an infographic.

There’s a lot more work that goes into an epic post and it isn’t something you’ll want to publish two to three times per week. Instead, it’s the rare project you put together to gain authority, links, and hopefully a lot of traffic via social media and the search engines.

Quick Posts

Quick posts on the other hand are something you can write and share quickly. They are shorter and to the point and frankly, are easier to read. These are your bread and butter posts. Quick posts are the posts that you’ll publish several times per week to keep your readers happy & engaged and your blog fresh.

Each type of post has its place in your publishing schedule. Are you using both types of posts?

Use Drafts to Get Ahead with your Blogging

writing-quillI have a quick tip for you today that will come in handy as you’re working on getting ahead on your blogging. It’s using the draft feature. Yes, it’s handy that WordPress and most other blogging platforms have a way to save your posts as drafts so you can continue to work on it over the course of a few days. It’s even better that they usually auto-save for you – at least it is in my case. But there’s another great way to use the draft feature.

You can use drafts to get ahead of the blogging game in several different ways. Let’s start with the most obvious one.

Use Drafts to Work on Your Next Blog Post (or Two)

The most obvious way to use drafts is of course to work on your current blog post until it is ready to publish. But don’t just stop there. If you know you have a busy day tomorrow or later on in the week, go ahead and give yourself a head start by creating a draft and working on it here and there as you can fit it in your busy day. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to wrap up that particular post.

Use Drafts to Plan Out Your Week

You can also use drafts to plan out your blogging for the week. Let’s say you want to post 5 times per week. Come up with 5 topics and create a draft for each. Then start working on them, making sure you wrap up and publish at least one of the posts on each of your publishing days.

Not only will this keep you on track and show you at a glance what you’ll be blogging about this week, it also allows you to work on multiple posts throughout the week, giving you options when you get stuck on writing one post.

Use Drafts as A Way of Storing Blog Post Ideas

Let’s wrap this up with my favorite way to use the drafts feature. And that’s to use it as storage container for ideas for future blog posts. Here’s how to do it. When you get an idea for a blog post, go ahead and create a draft. Come up with a working title and make a quick note of what your blog post will be about. If you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and write a quick outline for the post. Then save it as a draft.

Do this anytime you come up with an idea and save them for later. Then whenever you need something to blog about, browse through your drafts and pick one of these. The idea is there and you may even have done some of the writing already. These drafts make for fast blog posts and are just the thing when you’re suffering from writer’s block.

Get Your Post Read by Crafting Great Blog Post Titles

 

Portrait of cute baby laughing

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The most important part of your blog post is your title. How well you write, how well-researched your content is, or how pretty your images are means nothing if you can’t get readers to click through and start reading your post. And the single most important thing when it comes to getting readers’ attention is your blog post title.

It’s also the most important on-page factor when it comes to SEO. So if you’re hoping for lots of free traffic from Google and all your favorite social media sites, you need to get good at crafting great blog post titles.

Start With Your Keyword

The key with great blog post titles is to strive for a balance between a title the search engines will like and one that your readers will find interesting and engaging enough to make them want to click on it. To get that balance just right, start with a keyword or key phrase that you want to rank for in the search engines.

Open up your favorite keyword research tool – like the Google Keyword Planner for example – and play around with it until you come up with the keyword or key phrase you want to rank for.

For the sake of illustration let’s say our keyword example is “best blog hosts” and the post will be a review of five of the best hosting companies for WordPress blogs. “best blog hosts” is the keyword we want to rank for in this example.

Make It Interesting

Now that we have the keyword, it’s time to make it interesting for our readers. There are plenty of different ways to turn our example keyword into an interesting blog post title. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Three Best Blog Hosts Reviewed – Read This Before You Sign Up
  • Looking For a New Home for Your Blog? The Best Blog Hosts Reviewed
  • My Top 5 Best Blog Hosts Revealed – Here’s Who I Recommend
  • Wondering Who The Best Blog Hosts Are?
  • Is Your Host On The Best of The Best Blog Hosts List?

Do you see how this works? Start with the keyword and then try to think about why your readers would be looking for this information. Focus on what’s in it for them by sharing content that will help them out.

Stay Authentic and Stick With Your Style

Last but not least stay authentic and stick with your own style. This is particularly important if you’re an established blogger. Don’t just copy and paste the blog post titles above. They may not reflect the style and tone of voice of your blog posts. In other words, they may not be you. Balance the need of the search engines to easily find what your content is about and the need to keep things interesting for your readers, with your own voice.

You may find it helpful to write a few different blog post titles down and then chose the one that resonates most with you (and hopefully with your readers).  If you do this, you won’t need to resort to a cute baby smiling to get people to read your post.  Love to see what titles you come up with.

Simple Ways to Brainstorm Post Ideas Based on Categories

Blank notepad with copyspace surrounded by scrunched up pieces of paper symbolising writers block or brainstorming new ideas

There is nothing worse than sitting in front of your laptop, attempting to write a new blog post with nothing but a blank screen staring at you. We all have those days where inspiration just doesn’t strike and we can’t come up with a single workable post idea.

Or maybe you’re in a rush and you need something quick you can write and publish to stick to your blogging schedule and keep your readers happy. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time trying to come up with something to write about.

In either scenario it’s nice to have a list of blog post ideas ready to use. And that’s what we’ll work on today. I’ll walk you through a simple little brainstorming exercise that will result in dozens of blog posts ideas you can use over the coming weeks and months, or whenever you need a little extra inspiration.

Grab a notebook and pen, and let’s start brainstorming a whole list of future blog posts. I prefer to do this exercise with pen and paper, but if that’s not your thing, by all means use a word document, spreadsheet or whatever program you prefer for brainstorming topic ideas.

Step 1 – Log Into Your Blog and Make a List of Your Categories

Start by making a list of all the categories on your blog. You may have a pretty good idea of the main ones or the ones you use the most, but there may be some you are forgetting.

Log into your blogging interface and look up the categories you have set up. Copy them down in your notebook, leaving at least 10 lines of space below each category.

Or if you are just getting started, think of all the areas that you want to post about.  One simple way would be to think of all the questions that you are asked by your customers.  Make a list and then put them into categories.

Step 2 – Come Up with At Least 10 Blog Post Ideas Per Category

Now that you have your list of categories, come up with 10 blog post ideas for each category. Don’t censor yourself, just jot down the first things that come to mind. Remember this is a brain storm. The idea is to generate ideas without judgment.  You’re free to tweak, edit, and reject them later. For now, get them on paper and come up with a long list of potential post ideas.

Step 3 – Rinse and Repeat as Needed

One of the best things about this technique is that you can repeat it whenever you need a new batch of blog post ideas. By the time you get back to this brain storming technique (which means you’ve used up all the previous ideas), it will be easy to come up with fresh blog post topics for each category. And since you’re focusing on coming up with ideas for each category, no area of your blog will be neglected over the coming weeks.

Give it a try and see if this simple idea doesn’t help you generate a long list of future blog post topics.  Love to hear how this has helped you come up with your next great ideas.

 

Welcome to the October Blog A Day Challenge

Getting More Eyes on YOU- increase your visibility now

Hey B-A-D Bloggers-

orange and white 3D illustration with the word blog repeated in different shades

Welcome to the Blog-Day-Challenge October 2016  

This is going to be a great month and this challenge is a little different than the challenges in the past.  First, you don’t even need a blog- you can post on LinkedIN, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Youtube- whatever channel you use to get your message out there.  Frankly all I want is to have more eyes on you.

Each of you are also supporting a great cause, Curing Retinal Blindness (www.crb1.org) at the same time.  How cool is that!!!

The theme this month is MOVING FORWARD because thriving is all about taking one step forward at a time, consistent small actions lead to SUCCESS.

For this weekend (October 1st and 2nd), please introduce yourself in the comments section (this will allow me to approve you as a commenter).  Tell us a little bit about your blog and what you are passionate about.  Post a link here back to your blog so we can all get to know each other better.

Please also throughout the month, go and comment on each other’s blog posts and SHARE them

If everyone comments and shares on social media, everyone will have greater visibility. You can still invite your friends at  blogadaychallenge 

IMPORTANT:   Post a comment now to this post so that I can approve you as a commenter.

This is going to be a great month for all!

Have fun and look forward to reading your posts- sue

Want to join us and learn more about getting your message out to the world: 

BlogADayChallenge

5 Reasons Blogging is Good for Your Business

Blogging for business - internet concept -isolated text in vintage letterpress wood type

No matter what kind of company you have, you need to be blogging. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer or blogger, it’s essential because your business blog offers another touch point with your customers and It’s easier to do than you think.

Here are 5 reasons why you should blog:

  • To Create a More Personal Connection
  • Establish Your Expertise and Credibility
  • Customize Your Marketing
  • Improve your Search Engine Traffic
  • Increase Visibility for Your Products and Services

Create a More Personal Connection

Like social media, your blog gives you a chance to connect with your current and potential customers on a more personal level. While your website is a static page that simply tells them about your business, your blog is interactive. It’s a way to start a dialog where they can leave comments and get to know you better. Your blog gives your business a human face. Make sure that you use it as a way to humanize your business. In order to connect with your readers, be active and reply to each comment they leave.

Establish Your Expertise and Credibility

One of the best things about a business blog is that it gives you an opportunity to establish your expertise and build your reputation. You can blog about things you know. For example, if you’re a law firm, blog about simple legal questions people have. If you’re a cleaning company, share some easy house cleaning tips. Your blog shows your website visitors what you know and this engenders trust in your business. People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.

Customize Your Marketing

Blogging offers a much more effective and lower cost way to promote your business than other methods. If you want to place advertisements on other sites, this costs a bit of money. Other costly methods don’t make the same kind of impact that a blog written by you does. You also get information on your target market through their reading behavior and comments. Thus you know what problems they are looking to solve and you can offer them the right solution. When you are coming from a place of serving your customers and helping them, they will come back for more information.

Improve Your Search Engine Traffic

Adding a blog to your static website is a great way to attract traffic from search engines. The search engines favor sites that have fresh, updated content. If you write just one blog post per week, you’ll see more searches coming your way, especially if you choose a few good keywords for each post. Write two or three blog posts a week and you’ll really see your traffic climb. If you are making these posts relevant to your audience, you will also see more comments and these also act as fresh content in the eyes of the search engines.

Increase Visibility for Your Products and Services

Through your blog, you can tell your customers about your products and services. Let them know about discounts, special offers, new inventory items and offline events that you’re participating in. You can also add a feed to your social media sites so that every blog post shows up there as well.

Now, if writing gives you a case of the willies, don’t despair. Blogging isn’t like writing the Great American Novel. Focus on the wants, needs, interests and questions of your customers. Write short, conversational posts as if you’re speaking directly to them. Pick something related to your business and share your expertise with them. Your business blog doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel; it just needs to be helpful and engaging.

If you would like help getting started or just need more ideas, you can download my e-book “Blogging Brainstorming” at www.blogadaychallenge.com. This is the first of a 10 article series on Business blogging to help you thrive as a business blogger. Look for my next article, “Where to Start with Your Business Blog” tomorrow.

Welcome to Day 25 of the Blog-A-Day Challenge

Today, I invite you to step into being GREAT.  To connect with people in a bigger way, to live today with just a little more passion.  To pick a goal that you thought was a little too big and take 1 step toward it.

1390-Marden-800x600Everyone is born with innate greatness and when you connect to that AND live into it- WOW!  that is where the juice of life is and when the magic happens.  Try it on for today and then perhaps tomorrow and then….

Enjoy your wonderful fantastic day! 

 

 

Welcome to Wednesday and Day #24 of the Blog-A-Day Challenge

Living each day wstartdaywithpositivethoughtsith intention is a core focus of mine.  I begin everyday in my hot tub where I think about how I want to experience my day.  I review what I am going to do that day, who I am going to connect with and how I want to FEEL about all of my interactions.  And I literally, set my focus for the day thorough my intentions.  And since these intentions are positive (such as feeling connected, productive or creative…), my day starts off in a positive manner.

It is as if I am setting my map for the day. However,  I don’t just leave the rest of my day to chance.  I check in throughout the day to make sure I am on course with my intentions and to reconnect if I have gone off-course (for example, if I intended to feel creative and am a bit stuck, I will do something that helps me be creative.)   I also set mini-intentions before each call I make, before each class I teach, and before each interaction I have so I can feel aligned.  This allows me to show up fully present.

So what is your intention for your day?