One of the reasons why creating content for Twitter is easy is because you just need to fill a form with no more than 140 characters. The same happens with Facebook: attach a picture, tag someone, write a message and that’s it. This also happens with other social media platforms. In Instagram and Snapchat we have an integrated camera in the app or in Pinterest we can install a button in our browser to Pin from it. On the other hand, it’s not the same story when creating a high quality piece of blog content.
While creating content for social media is becoming easier, creating high quality content for a blog is very complex as it demands hours of hard work. You gotta know not only your audience interests, but also to understand technical stuff about SEO, HTML and Web Analytics, among other things. At the end of the day, the difference between social media content and blogging content is that the former will disappear in a couple of days, while the other one will be indexed by Google and will remain there forever (?). This means that, when having a blog, people will be able to find and share our content in an individual basis because we will have an unique URL that makes it possible. My goal in this post is to describe the complexity behind this process and in the end I will propose a final checklist for the next time we plan to write a post in our blog.
For this post, I suppose we already have a blog in WordPress (or similar) with our own domain. It’s very important to mention this, considering that the URL we use provides credibility. It’s different to decide if clicking or a post whose URL contains .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com. If you see that the authorship of what users are going to read is shielded by an original domain, probably readers would trust more and wouldn’t think twice if it’s worth reading you for the first time.
Writing a post: the basics of blog content
So, there you are. You have a blank screen asking you to write a text like the one above. For years, people thought that blogging was all about doing this part, but it’s much more than that. Even when you have the freedom to write whatever you want, your chances of people reading you depend on if what you are writing is worth reading.
At first, ask your self why would people want to spend time reading you, and even commenting and sharing. If everything you share in your blog stinks, you’d better not write anything and none is going to waste his/her time. For that reason, something I keep in mind always while writing a new post is if this is something someone knowing me personally would enjoy reading. If the answer is not, I prefer not to write anything at this time. Actually, for years I used to write in a weekly-basis in mirincon.co, my blog, but for some personal reasons I had to interrupt. I passed to write every 2 weeks for a couple of months. And the reason of this change was that I was not going to share shitty content to my readers if I was not able to meet my deadlines. In the end, I preferred to modify temporary my deadlines and keep providing high quality content.
When talking about high quality content, one important question is if there’s a minimum extension we should consider when posting in our blog: no it isn’t, but something above 2000 words is a number that should work fine. Think that the more words we write, more content will Google have the chance to index.
Considering that you can write at least 1500 words per blog post (yes, you can!), my only recommendation related to the text writing part would be to be very careful with the grammar and trying not to write long paragraphs. And if you can, use bullet points (like I do below).
In addition, you should take into account some elements that can transform an average post into a great post readers would like to share:
- Photos: probably people will read your blog in a mobile device. You don’t need the original pictures in high definition. I recommend uploading your images in JPG format, with lower quality and 600-800 px width. This will make users to wait less time when loading your blog and less people abandoning because the page kept loading forever.
- Videos: keep videos responsive. If you embed a YouTube video and in a mobile device the video is outside the screen, readers won’t be able watch that video and you will be providing a terrible user experience. You can use this online tool to make embedded videos responsive.
- Links: for bloggers, links have a currency-like value. If you read something it’s worth reading, mention it and link it. Use links to provide more information of things you are not gonna explain in detail. By doing this, you will also give Google some ideas of what is your blog post is about and will also be easier for search engines to index it.
I guess with a minimum use of these elements you will be able to create a decent post before clicking the Publish button.
Nevertheless, up to this point this is just half of the work. Once you published a new post, you will read your own post, just like one of your readers, and you will find mistakes. You will go back to correct them and you will keep finding mistakes. At the end of the day it will be easier for you to accept that your blogger skills are not perfect.
Share content, don’t spam: spreading your voice in social media
But let’s suppose what you shared is OK. Now what? How will people see our new post? Most of the people we know barely know we have a blog, and probably they don’t even visit it frequently. So here’s what I do: try having a social media presence in some channels you may consider important and always share high quality and native content. Share more 140-character messages and less links in Twitter, for example. The thing is to understand how people consume content and what kind of content do people engage with the most in the social media platforms in which you usually are. In my case, I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest to share my blog posts and consume as an average user.
Be very careful on sharing and not spamming. Otherwise, people will hate you and they won’t read your posts. For example, if you wrote this amazing blog post, posting it in tons of Facebook and LinkedIn groups will lack your credibility. On the other side, understanding how content is displayed on each platform and why people click on a link and not in another will make you a better blogger. Here’s an example: see that the first tweet is just a title of a post with a link, while the second mentions that this comes from a blog and includes an image that makes it more attractive:
El futuro próximo de los planes de telefonía https://t.co/WovUDOkWfp
— Daniel Afanador ⚡ (@Daniel_Afanador) 16 de septiembre de 2016
— Daniel Afanador ⚡ (@Daniel_Afanador) September 17, 2016
You may also pay to reach more people in social media. We already talked about how to do this on Facebook, and if you feel confortable creating ads in other platforms, your will have a faster growth than by just sharing. However, do this only if you are 100% confident of what you are doing or you will waste your money and get no results.
I guess all we’ve mentioned up to this point is what you should take into account on an individual basis for each post you write. But after this you may also eventually monitor what’s going on on Google Search. According to the image below of my Gogle Analytics, 44% of users came to my blog after using Google Search.
So, one final thing you can do is typing your blog URL in Google and seeing what are the results people are seeing. Pay attention to if Google is displaying correctly the title and descriptions of your blog posts or if they are displaying incorrectly. One example is that at the moment I wrote this post, under the URL, the snippet description of this blog was not being displayed correctly because Google was taking random information of the blog instead of a description I wrote. This happens also with blog posts and make people click in other search results instead of yours, but you can fix it easily when writing your post in a field for that purpose we will find in WordPress and Blogger from Google.
With Google Analytics and Google Search console there are tons of things to do, but we will take a deeper look into that in future posts. For now, as I mentioned at the beginning, I wanted to show the complexity of writing and sharing a high quality blog content. As you’ve just saw, this involves the blogging platform, social media and Google Search organic results that are the channels from which people will find your content. Based in this, as promised, here’s a checklist of things to consider next time you write in your blog:
- Having a blog with our own domain.
- An idea to develop: don’t use long paragraphs and be careful with the grammar.
- Take advantage of photos, videos and links to explain things words can’t.
- Accept your post won’t be perfect.
- Share, don’t spam.
- Understand how your content is displayed in each social media platform.
After having read this, I’d like to ask if you do something different when writing in your blog. Feel free to share it in the comments below or if you have some question, please ask. I’d be very happy to help! Otherwise, take a look to this video so you get some ideas on how to get ideas for writing your first long-form content in your blog.
Image: Jacob Bøtter