How to write an Effective, Readable, and SEO-Friendly Blog Article
Writing takes a lot of passion, dedication, thinking, and research, among other things. It is one of the very few fields that I believe artificial intelligence would never be able to take over. You can train machines to do a set of tasks, but can’t make them fill a piece of article with emotions — the human touch will always be missing.
Got the point here? A human touch is necessary — whether you are writing for humans or the search engine giants, Google in particular.
Quite often, writers are in a fix when it comes to writing blog articles. Do they talk naturally about the concerns of the audience they are addressing, or do they stuff keywords for the search engines to rank their page? It is a common dilemma and many a time, people end up prioritizing the search engines by writing robotic content filled with the keywords they want the page to rank for.
But this is not the right approach, even Google doesn’t like this. Its algorithms keep on changing and updating at regular intervals in order to reduce spam and promote better content quality.
So what needs to be done so as to help the readers with their queries, yet appease Google to rank your pages? Read on!
In this article, I’ll tell you how to write an effective blog article that is readable, yet search engine friendly for you to get the required attention from them. It has to be understood that quality content takes time to get up high in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), but stays there for long and fetches large numbers of organic visitors to your blog. So don’t get disheartened if your article is not ranking yet for your most important keywords, take these necessary steps when you write your article and keep promoting it on various social media sites, bookmarking sites, article directories, and other relevant online spaces.
We are covering two aspects here, the human-side, and the SEO-perspective. let’s talk about both separately.
How to Make Your Blog Interesting and Readable for Humans?
1. What’s a decent word count?
There is no rule that binds the word count of a good blog article. But if you want to give some information to your audience, an article has to be detailed enough to cover all the points precisely, but at the same time, not too long to be boring. A detailed blog article of 1500–2000 words is great, but if you do not have too much information to give and want to keep it short-n-sweet, keep it between 600–1000 words.
2. Write short sentences — maximum 20 words per sentence
It is important from the readability point of view to keep your sentences short. Try not to write sentences that are more than 20 words in length. Trim them, cut them down into multiple sentences if a sentence starts getting longer. Also, don’t add too many semi-colons (;) in your article. Finish the sentence and start a new one in such situations.
For instance, I could have written the last two sentences as this: “Also, don’t add too many semi-colons (;) in your article; finish the sentence and start a new one in such situations.” But instead, I chose to end the first sentence with a period and added the second part as a completely new sentence.
Remember to keep your sentences in a flow and make use of coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) to show a link between the previous and current sentences.
3. Don’t write too lengthy paragraphs
While the sentences should be short and crisp, the same should be the case with paragraphs. It is advised to keep your paragraphs’ length to around 100 words — a few more, at times, maybe, but not too much. Breaking your long texts into multiple paragraphs makes the whole article easier to read and understand the flow. Here again, it is a good idea to start a new paragraph with a coordinating conjunction to show a correlation between the two paragraphs.
4. Place important information first
Always make it a habit to mention the most important points and facts towards the beginning of the article. The more time you take to introduce the important information, more are the chances of your readers drifting away from your article.
5. Add bullet points
Presenting your content in the form of bulleted points or numbered lists helps your readers better grasp and understand the information you want to convey. It is aesthetically pleasing too! So, if you have a long list of information that you want to bring to the notice of your website visitors, better put across a part of the content in the form of bullet points.
6. Write catchy headings
Headings are the best ways to entice your readers. Remember how you browse through your Facebook or Instagram feed and then you click on an article just because the headlines are catchy? You want to know more about it because the heading creates a curiosity in your mind. Their purpose gets served then and there!
A great heading should provide a lot of information, yet conceal quite a bit for the readers to get curious and read the article to know more. So, imagine a scenario where you want to tell your readers about a great way to earn an enormous amount of money in your free time (I know; very clichéd and imaginary scenario, but let’s just use it as an example). What are the possible ways you can write a heading for that? Let’s consider a few examples:
“A great way to earn unlimited money”
“Earn money in your free time”
“5 best ways to earn unlimited money”
All these examples seem too mainstream and generic, they won’t attract too many readers to your post. But when you give the same article an exclusive and catchy headline, it kind of works. See these examples:
“You won’t believe how a driver makes $500 in his free time every month”
“Can you believe how much this housewife makes just by using this minor trick?”
“How much money this retired teacher made in a week will blow your minds”
You see how these titles build a curiosity among the readers? These are some examples of great headings/titles for your blog. Chances are, you might have clicked on such links yourself a few times in the past. Now you can realize those were effective!
Not just the title, there should also be a few sub-titles and headings in your article that should address different key-points of your article and keep your website visitors hooked to the article.
7. Research extensively, provide information, and answer queries
An important aspect of writing anything is research. Do not base your article on your opinions, unless it is really about your opinions. Research on the topic you are addressing, gain as much knowledge as possible on the issue you are writing, and then write a kick-ass article for the readers to read, enjoy, and learn. Provide information that they are looking for, answer their queries, and present proofs wherever possible if you are looping in strong facts or statistics.
8. Make it conversational
How will you feel if someone invites you for a chat and then goes on to banter about his/her knowledge or achievements for an entire hour without giving you a chance to speak?
Well, in writing, you can’t really talk to your readers in real-time, but you can sure make your articles are conversational and engaging. Why not ask questions in between? Share interesting experiences, let them think, let them wonder! Make your readers feel like they are part of a conversation, not a lecture.
9. Use active voice
Writing your article in active voice makes it easier for the readers to understand as the sentences are much simpler. So keep in mind, not more than 20% of the sentences in your blog post should be in passive voice for the better of your readers, and ultimately for your blog.
10. Write simple statements, avoid jargons
An important point to note is that not many of the readers that visit your website will be literary geniuses. So do not try to impress the online crowd with complex sentences and jargons that only the professors at Harvard will be able to understand.
Write in a tone that is simple for your target audience to understand. For example, the way of talking to a high school kid would be different from how you converse with a middle-aged person in his late forties. Also, the style of English and meanings of the same words vary from region to region, so always keep in mind who you are addressing with your article. Go through this article to understand how the spellings and meanings of the same words change in the US and the UK.
11. Make a visual impression — add images, infographics, and videos
No one likes to read a boring article filled with text and text everywhere! You should always compliment your blog articles with relevant images, infographics, or videos. Don’t forget to give due credits to the original owners though, if you are taking them from other websites.
Bonus Tip: Best Ways to Promote Your Infographics
How to Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines?
1. Do proper keyword research — Use LSI keywords
The most important factor that helps rank your website and drive traffic to your site is the presence of relevant keywords in your articles. There are many tools to help you find the best-suited keywords for your industry and the keywords that your competitors are using. You can also use those tools to analyze the best possible keywords, their competition, the price you would pay to rank your website for a certain keyword if you go for Google advertising, etc.
In addition, you should also make sure you are not over-using your keywords. Google ranks websites better that have a mix of the main keywords and related words on the pages. Experiment with long-tail keywords, use LSI keywords, and add synonyms of your main keyword for your content to appear natural and fetch better ranks in search engine rankings.
2. Don’t stuff keywords
I believe you already have an idea that using too many keywords in your article will ruin it for you. It will do more damage than any good to your website ranking and chances are, you might get penalized by the search engines too. Though there is no strict rule pertaining to the percentage of keywords you can use in your text, it is generally advised to keep keywords in the range of 2–3% for the best result.
3. Optimize your title tags
All the titles and subtitles in your article, if optimized properly with relevant keywords, may greatly boost up the overall SEO of your site. In simple terms, try to include your main or auxiliary keywords into the titles and subtitles in addition to the body text, and you can expect to see excellent organic traffic. You would also need to include meta descriptions that the search engines will display when your site appears in the search results.
4. Link the article to other articles that are relevant/related to it — internal/external
Keeping all the articles on your blog inter-connected is good for SEO. So if you are writing an article on Top 10 Bakeries in New York, and you have an article titled How to Make Choco Chip Cookies in 30 Minutes, you should definitely provide the link to the latter somewhere in between, or at the end of the article as a recommendation to the readers.
5. Don’t forget the Alt tags
Alt attributes are required to provide alternative information in the form of text for images, in case the image fails to load on the website visitor’s end because of some reason or the other. Hence, using your keyword as the alt text of an image will serve as an added keyword and will help your site with the SERPs.
The key to writing an effective article that readers will love and the search engines will value will greatly depends on how you optimize the article for them both. In the end, it should be a standard practice to edit the blog post thoroughly and proofread it for any spelling/grammatical mistakes. In case you would like your visitors to discuss the topic of the blog with you, you should also provide them with an option to comment on your blog or reach you easily via mail or social media.
Originally published at writersmentor.com on August 13, 2018.