This may be hard to hear, but I want you to throw most of what you learned about grammar out the window right now! Yes, you read that right. Why? You are not a robot or writing a news article, you are a HUMAN BEING. Writing blog posts is more human and conversational, so you need to write the way you speak.
Writing Blog Posts
Think about it. If I started this post with something like this: “Writing blog posts isn’t as easy as you may think. Studies show that blogging has become increasing popular over the past several years and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.” Yawn. Would you still be reading? Not likely.
Remember that plugin Yoast SEO, that I spoke about in the last post, 6 WordPress Plugins that are the Key to Your Blog’s Success? That plugin is already telling me my readability on this post isn’t that great.
See the area above that I circled in red? That is my Yoast SEO readability indicator. Below it is the SEO idicator, which we will address later. It lets you know how easy or difficult it is for readers to read your post. Pretty cool, huh? So how do you know what you can change to improve your readability?
Scroll down below the text box of your post and you will see the following Yoast SEO box.
Notice the tab that I circled in red, labeled “Readability.” Click on that tab and you will see the following.
Now you will see exactly what you need to work on to improve readability. Readability is one of many factors that will determine whether a reader actually reads your post. The things you need to improve an orange or red bullet point, while good sections will have a green one.
From this screen, I can tell that the post needs a “Subheading” or title above the paragraphs. Paragraphs should be short and written in active voice. If you need to know more about how to write in active voice, you can check out this article from PlainLanguage.gov. The point is to be brief and to the point.
The subheading above the paragraphs makes your blog posts easy to scan. It is recommended that you use a new subheading every 300 words, or less. In order to do that, you will need to write a subheading. This paragraph falls under “Readability.”
Simply type the subheading, highlight the words with your cursor and choose the drop-down menu that has “Paragraph,” as seen below.
You will select Heading 2 for subtitles. If you have a subtitle that falls under an Heading 2 (H2) title, you will select Heading 3 ( H3).
Subtitles, such as the H3 subtitle “Subtitles” above, make it easier for your readers to scan your posts. When writing blog posts, it is important t understand that many of your readers are on-the-go, mobile readers. This means that they will read your posts at lunch, on the bus commute, or while waiting in line at a grocery store.
Search Engine Optmization, or SEO, caters to this. In order to rank highly on Google, or any other search engine, you will have to use headers. Search Engines sees a blog post with headers as higher quality than those without and will rank you higher on their Search Engine Results Page, or SERP.
The higher you rank on a SERP, the more traffic you will receive. This is part of your blog marketing strategy. If you don’t want people to read your blog, there’s no need to worry. However, if you wish to blog professionally or make income, follow the SEO rules. Yoast SEO helps you to do this!
The second bullet item that I need to work on for this post is keeping my sentences short. That example of a boring blog post at the beginning of this post, contributed to this bad ranking. Keep your sentences 20 words or less, when possible. If you have a long sentence, think about how you can write it more concisely or break it up into smaller sentences.
Flesch Reading Ease Test
The Flesch Reading Ease is a test that determines how difficult a reader would find your blog post. If you have difficulty with this section, write more concise sentences. Revise your post so that your sentences are short, direct, and to the point. Use smaller, more understandable language and review your grammar and punctuation.
Keep your paragraphs under 4 to 5 lines, if possible. Shorter is better when you are writing blog posts! One sentence paragraphs are acceptable, and even recommended at times. Throw out traditional grammar rules when it comes to paragraphing with this one.
This is the most common problem I have because I tend to forget transition words. I almost ended the previous sentence at the word “have,” but included “because” in order to use more transition words. I know that sounds silly, but transition words give your reader direction, or smoothly lead them to your next thought.
When you don’t use transition words, your sentences are abrupt and more difficult to read, so use them!
Writing blog posts in active voice will lead to your posts being more clear and easier to read. Don’t use wishy-washy language like; might, could, would, should. These will kill your active voice score. Your readers need confidence in you, so write like you are the expert. Be confident in your words, and you will write in the active voice.
Writing for SEO
I have touched on this topic, but it really deserves more attention. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is used by all search engines to find your post and determine its quality and relevance to a search. There are many things that factor into SEO, but Yoast SEO will help you to identify the basics.
Below the Readability indicator on the sidebar on the right side of your text, is SEO. Chances are, it says “Not available.” To change that, scroll back down to the bottom of your post and click on the tag that says, “Enter your focus keyw..” to the right of the “Readability” tab.
You will see the following screen under this tab.
You will see three sections: the snippet preview, focus keyword, and analysis. Each of these sections plays an important part of your SEO ranking.
This section is what Google will display on the SERP. You will need to optimize it using the keywords for your post. This is the preview that potential readers will see, so you need it to capture their attention and know what to expect from your website.
You want your page to show up as high as possible on the SERP when someone searches these words. Choose keywords that are as targeted to your post as possible. The more targeted toward your audience, the more likely your audience will see your post.
Your post is competing with thousands of other posts, so try to choose keywords that will stand out as unique.
This section is similar to the one used in the “Readability” tab. The same rules apply to this analysis. Try to improve SEO for your posts by using this tool as a guide.
The Snippet Editor
Enter a Keyword
Enter the keyword(s) that you have chosen for your post. In this case, I will enter the words “writing blog posts.” Once you do this, you will receive instant feedback from Yoast about improvements to optimize your post.
As you can see below, the SEO for this post is already in the “Good” range, but we want it to be better. In order to do this you will need to edit your snippet.
Now, click on the button that is circled in red above. This will allow you to change the information in the snippet to reflect the content of your posts. Make sure to include your keywords wherever possible.
Each of these sections affects a different part of the snippet. Below is a color-coded screenshot highlighting the areas of the snippet editor and the corresponding areas of the snippet. As you type in these boxes, you will notice the information changing in the snippet.
As you can see below, once I entered text into these fields, my fields turned green to indicate they were optimized.
Make sure to include your keywords at least once in each section of the snippet editor. Once you are finished, click the “Close snippet editor” button at the bottom of the editor.
Review Your Analysis
If you have anything in your analysis that needs to be addressed, make chances as you did for your readability. In my case, all of bullets in the analysis are green. Happy dance! The good news, these are pretty straight forward.
Each one of these bullets is important to your SEO. For the most part, they are pretty self-explanatory. The meta description data was in the snippet and if your keyword is low or not used in an H2 heading, simply add it a time or two to the text.
You are ready to begin writing blog posts! Once you are ready to publish, simply scroll to the top of the page and click the blue “Publish” button in the right sidebar. You are done, my friend!
In the next post, I will discuss blog graphics in more detail and will explain how to take photos and optimize them for a website (and SEO). I will also discuss stock photos and the type of images you should use to stay on the good side of the law.
If you missed any of the posts in this series, click below on the post title to be redirected to that post.
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