The Copy Corner: 8 Steps to the Perfect Blog Post

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When is casual writing okay?

Your website content like blogs is often your readers’ first impression of you. Your content allows you to show off your expertise and give your readers the information they’re looking for. You could be an expert in your field, but if your content is disorganized, unclear, or fails to address readers’ questions, your content may not effectively demonstrate your expertise and your readers might not contact you or buy your product.

Don’t scare off readers with disorganized or thin blog posts. Use these eight steps to write the perfect blog post.

Step 1: Determine Your Topic

You can’t write a blog post without knowing what you want to write about. But don’t pick just any topic. Make sure it’s something your readers want or need to know.

Consider the following as potential sources for topics:

  • Questions you get about your product/service, e.g., how can a lawyer help me with my case?
  • Frequent questions from your clients or customers. If your clients always ask how long they have to file an injury claim, post a blog about the statute of limitations.
  • News stories related to your practice. Write about current events related to your business and anything that might affect your clients.
  • Keyword research. You can generate content through keyword research. For example, if you research how to install a car seat, you might find related keywords: how to install a car seat with base and how to install a car seat without base. You can use both of those related keywords to create new pages. We’ll talk more about keyword research in the next step.
  • Competitor research. If you are a lawyer in the San Francisco area, consider looking through your competitors’ sites. Look for topics that your clients would find important. If your competitors already cover it, consider how you could do it better.

Step 2: Search Keywords

Steps 1 and 2 often go hand-in-hand. You can determine your topic and then search keywords or search keywords to help you determine a topic.

Start thinking about what your content is about. Are you writing about the perfect blog post? See how that ranks on keyword search tools like SEMrush and StoryBase.

Once you’ve searched the perfect blog post in a keyword search tool, start researching alternate keywords: how to write the perfect blog post, the perfect blog, how to make the perfect blog, how to create the perfect blog, the perfect post, etc.

Keep these alternates in your back pocket to use throughout your post. Using alternative and related keywords can help improve ranking without using an exact-match phrase over and over again, which Google might consider keyword stuffing and can sound robotic. For a more detailed discussion of keyword use, read my last post on integrating keywords into your content.

Step 3: Create an Outline

Outlines don’t work for everyone. Some prefer to just sit down and write, while others prefer to meticulously plan out what they want to write. Most fall somewhere in between. If you work better without an outline, feel free to skip this step.

But if you choose to do an outline, let your keyword research inform your outline. Keyword research will show you what people are searching for and, therefore, what you might cover in your post.  They can even help you create subheaders and section topics.

The level of detail writers put into their outlines varies; some put little detail while others list each point they will discuss. For example, instead of simply writing out, “Step 1: Determine your Topic,” you might detail the points you plan to discuss (e.g., make sure it’s a topic that interests your readers, make sure your points are detailed, etc.).

Overall, by the end of your outline, if you choose to make one, you should have a good idea of what your post is going to say and how it is going to say it.

Step 4: Write Out Your Headline, Page Title, and Meta-Description

If your content is your first impression, your headline, page title, and meta-description are your pre-first impression. Think of them as your picture and bio in a dating profile.

Write a catchy heading (h1) and title tag and an inviting meta-description. Write something that would make you click on your page above all others.

Consider making your heading (h1) and title tag a question. You can even use your clients’ questions as the headline. Keyword research tools like StoryBase even provide questions that people search for based on the keyword(s) you input. Here are some examples of question-based headings and titles:

  • How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Florida?
  • What is a statute of limitations?
  • How can a personal injury lawyer help me with my slip and fall claim?

If you can’t put your h1 and title tag into question format, consider what words might attract readers:

  • 5 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Settlement
  • The Most Important Thing You Need to Know About Keywords
  • 5-Step Guide to Filing a Claim
  • 10 Things You Need to Know About Car Accidents in Maryland

You can also use a little bit of fear to get readers’ attention:

  • 10 Things to Avoid in Your Personal Injury Case
  • The 5 Worst Mistakes Injured People Make
  • Are you falling prey to these insurance tactics?

Remember that your meta-description isn’t always a sales pitch. Invite your reader in. Give them a taste of what they’ll be getting when they click on your post. For example, if you are writing about what to do after a car accident, the entire meta-description shouldn’t be:

If you were injured in a car accident, there are lots of things you should do, like calling a car accident lawyer: XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Use those 156 characters to show why your content is more valuable than all the other results:

If you were injured in a car accident, prioritize your physical and financial health by doing these seven things as soon as possible.

Step 5: Write a Rough Draft

How you write a rough draft is up to you. Some people write the intro and conclusion and then start with the body while others write the body and then worry about the intro and conclusion later. Just do what feels best for you.

Here are some tips to remember as you get started:

Consider Different Ways to Approach the Topic 

Depending on your topic, there might already be 5,000 web pages out there with the exact same information. So how can you stand out?

  • Convey the information differently. Determine your content’s structure (e.g., list post, FAQ, tables, etc.) and then figure out new ways to deliver your content to more efficiently reach readers and make the content clearer than that of your competitors.
  • Can you turn your information into an infographic? Do it.
  • Is there another angle you can pursue to explain the topic?
  • Can you add more research? Can you conduct enlightening interviews?
  • Is there information that your competitors aren’t including in their content? Include it.
  • Localize your content. If you practice in Los Angeles, consider examples with local roads, landmarks, etc.
  • Make yourself valuable. Don’t just list everything your client needs to do after an accident; show her that you can handle all of it and help her maximize her settlement.

Make your content the one to beat.

Use the Inverted Pyramid

Consider using the inverted pyramid. If you ask a question in your headline, answer it in the first sentence/paragraph. Put the most important information at the top, followed by supporting information of decreasing importance; the least important information goes at the bottom.

Anticipate Follow-Up Questions

Once you have answered the question or addressed the topic in the title, anticipate follow-up questions. If your content is about filing a car accident claim, your reader likely wants to know:

  • What to expect from the process;
  • How long it might take;
  • How long she has to file a claim;
  • What she can recover; and
  • Whether you would be able to help her.

Make sure you ask and answer these questions. (If you have another page on your site that answers the question, give a quick summary and link to the more detailed page.)

Can’t think of follow-up questions? Google your topic and look at the “People also ask” and “Searches related to” sections. StoryBase also provides a list of questions based on the keyword you are researching.

Integrate Keywords

When you’re writing your first draft, integrate the keywords from step 2. Take a little time to figure out how to use them organically. (Here’s that post on using keywords naturally again.) You don’t need to sound like a robot by repeating your keyword verbatim over and over to rank high on search engine results.

Check Your Work

So now that you’ve written out your rough draft, here’s a checklist. Did you:

  • Answer the question/put the most important information first?
  • Anticipate and answer follow-up questions?
  • Integrate your keywords naturally?
  • Come up with different ways to present the information?

If so, awesome; move on to Step 6. If not, see what you can do to tick all the boxes on the checklist.

Step 6: Take a Break

Once you’ve written out your rough draft, step away for a bit. If you can, sleep on it before you read it again.

If you have limited time and really need to get that blog post up the same day, go take a walk or jog around the block. Go have a sandwich. Or just work on other tasks.

It’s easy to miss something if you’ve been staring at the same piece of content for hours. Focus on something else for a while and then look at your post with fresh eyes before Steps 7 and 8.

Step 7: Have Someone Proofread It

If you read over your own work, even after taking a break from it, you still might miss something important. Send it to another person and ask them to proofread it for you. If you have a friend who’s an editor, that’s great. If not, find somebody you trust to read it over. Any second pair of eyes is great.

Ask the proofreader to be honest and give any and all feedback they have. Before they get started, ask them to read for:

  • Spelling and grammar;
  • Organization;
  • Flow;
  • Messaging;
  • Clarity; and
  • Content and information.

Step 8: Make the Last Edits

Look over the edits your proofreader suggested. Consider their edits and apply those you agree with. Don’t blindly accept all edits. In some cases, the proofreader might have misunderstood what you were trying to say; if so, consider rewriting it. In others, their edits might be incorrect. Make sure you check the edits, consider whether they will improve your content, and then decide whether to accept them.

Then, wait awhile again. Come back and read over your content one more time.

Pro-tip: Read it aloud. This will help you decide whether your sentences are too long and whether they make sense.

You aren’t going to get the perfect post on the first try, but just continue practicing. Remember that good, valuable content can mean the difference between landing a client and having them go straight to your competitor.

Follow these eight steps to make a good first impression with your content and impress your readers.

For help with content writing, give us a call: 888-521-3880.