By Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress
When you visit Google, do you click a picture to begin your search? Do you face a screen full of images like in a grocery store self-checkout? Click fruits, then apples, then scroll through pictures of apples before you find the Jonagold Apples you want to buy, and select those?
Of course not.
The web is about words. No matter how visual and audible it becomes, it continues to be about the words.
Blogging is about writing. Many claim that content is king. If content is king, then the army that protects and defends the king is the written word.
Here are some things to think about next time to put your army to work on your blog.
- Don’t Just Show, Show and Tell: It’s time to get back to show and tell. Blogs offer amazing ways to present multimedia information, but you still have to tell us about it. You must show and tell in order for your point to be fully understood. Words may not do it alone, but a picture is not worth a thousand words when fed through feeds and search engines. You must have the words.
- Keywords, Keywords, Keywords: With the recent public release of the Google Patent for Blog PageRank, your keywords are more important than ever as the algorithm applies multiple content matching, content relevancy, search relevancy, and link-to-content relevancy tests to determine if the keywords match the content. Learn how to write keyword-rich content to increase your page ranking. More importantly, write with keywords to help your reader know exactly what you are writing about.
- Write Clickable Titles: The keywords you use in your post titles tell potential visitors what your post is about. If they don’t get it, they won’t click it. If they do click, and the content doesn’t match, they won’t be back.
- Make Your Point in the First 200 Words: You have less than a second to capture your reader’s attention. If the user on your site, feed, or search engine summary doesn’t “get the point” in the first two or three sentences, you’ve lost them.
- Blog Writing Is About Editing: A great idea does not translate automatically into good writing. It’s the editing that clarifies your writing so the idea comes through. It’s as much about the words you add as the words you take away to increase the post’s clarity and power.
- Make Your Words Timeless: Blog writing isn’t like words you throw out into the air and expect them to vanish. The words you fill your blog with tend to last. Make sure the words you use and the things you say are worth reading twenty years from now.
- Don’t Waste Words: A powerfully titled article drew me from my feed reader and I was greeted with this first sentence: “I still have to take a shower, and I’m late for work, but I wanted to tell you about this because I think it’s important, so I’ll just rush this off before I jump in the shower and head to work.” Don’t waste words. Don’t tell your readers things they really don’t want to know. Get to the point and stop wasting your time and theirs.
- Explain Jargon: We get so caught up in our little world of acronyms and industry jargon, we forget few outside our clubhouse know what we are talking about. Stop once in a while and explain to us what these terms and letters mean. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph, just a few words. Don’t assume we know what you are talking about.
- Use Descriptions in Images and Links: Blog writing isn’t limited to just the words. If you aren’t using titles in links and alt in images, you are missing out on a very valuable use of keywords and content building. You are also not in compliance with web standards.
- Use Descriptions for Flash, Podcasts, Videocasts, and Screencasts: If you are using any audio or visual multimedia on your blog, help us understand what we are going to see and hear. Convince us to click to play. A picture may speak for itself, but you have to do the writing for it.
- Present a Problem, The Solution, and The Results: Don’t present a solution before the reader understands there is a problem. Present the problem, give us the solution, and then lead us through the results and the benefits of the results. When readers follow along with the process, they better understand how it works and why it works for themselves.
- Just the Facts, Ma’am: Everyone has an opinion. What makes your opinion different from other opinions is that yours is based upon the facts. Wild accusations, suggestions, and analogies do not build trust and respect. Make your opinions be based upon valid facts and identifiable references and citations. Be prepared to back your word up with the truth.
- If You Have 100 Top Priorities, You Have No Priorities At All: If there are 40 topics you want to cover in one blog post, all unrelated, what are you writing about? As a guide, write on three points, all related, and publish that. Want to write about 40 different unrelated topics? Don’t stuff them all into one post. Publish one for each topic.
- Originality Will Always Win: Original content will always win over redundant, blockquoting, and echo chamber content. Even if you can’t write well, the attempt to say it in your words is always appreciated and welcome.
- Move The Reader Through the Story: A blog post or article has something to say. It begins, has a middle, and ends. Move the reader through the content, as well as into it. Let each word lead to the next word and the next. Make each sentence lead the reader to the next sentence, and each paragraph draws them into the next. They want to “turn the page” and consume the words as they read along. Make them want to scroll down for more.
- Blog Paragraphs Are Short: Blog writing lends itself to shorter sentences and paragraphs for easier reading on a web page. Web readers want information fast and in small digestible chunks. Huge bulky paragraphs make reading online very difficult, however single sentence paragraphs can make the reader uncomfortable.
- Use Command Verbs to Teach: If you have something to share, a lesson to teach, advice, or guidance, use command verbs to energize your “how to” words. Words, like “make”, “do”, “write”, “take”, and “build” are active instruction verbs. When people are searching, they like to be told “what to do”. Tell them.
- No Wishy-Washy Passive Voice: Avoid wishy-washy passive voice instructions like “If you would like to maybe you should think about checking the spelling of your post before you think about publishing it because…” Write with authority, like you know what you are talking about: “Check the spelling before you publish your post.”
- Use Nouns and Synonyms: When you are writing about it, you can add some of this to it to help it along. Huh? What’s “it”? If you are going to name something, name “it” what it is. Call it by its name. Use nouns and synonyms to help the reader know what you are writing about and increase the keywords in your content.
- Comments Are Content: Make sure comments speak well for your post, your blog, you, and your readers. Edit comments for misspelled words and obvious flubs. Your commenters will appreciate it. Clean out trash and inappropriate comments, and definitely get rid of comment spam.
- Visualize Who You Are Writing To: Writing to the “air” is fine for some, but most people need to know “who” they are writing to, and for, in order to begin. Visualize a person or small group and write as if you are talking directly to them. If that’s too formal or uncomfortable, imagine you are writing to a friend.
- Clean Up Old Posts: As your blog writing improves, go back over your old posts and clean them up. The fresh perspective will help you edit and improve the content. You might find new life in your old posts and direct more traffic their way.
- Write Kinda Like You Talk: It’s important to write in a conversational style because your readers will relate to you, the person behind the blog. Your writing should give the illusion you are speaking directly to the reader without including all of the stutters, “ums”, and “likes” we hear in every day conversation. Don’t write like you have a dictionary or thesaurus sitting next to you. Match the writing style with the content.
- Mind Reading Writing: Do you have a friend or co-worker who starts a sentence in the middle of a paragraph? Don’t leave your reader wondering why she is on this page. Make your point early. Make your point obvious. Back it up with the details.
- Avoid Screaming: Writing with CAPITALIZED LETTERS INDICATES SCREAMING, so don’t do it for the length of an entire post. Learn the basic rules of capitalization. The beginning of sentences and proper names are capitalized. Just because you Like a Word doesn’t MEAN you have to capitalize Every Important Word. That went out of fashion a couple hundred years ago. and writing all in lower case may look cute for a young girl’s diary or personal blog, but it is old. out of fashion. people think you are a girl under 16. stop it. now.
- Punctuate Properly: Use commas, quotes, and apostrophes in line with the grammar rules of your language. In English, there is no space at the end of a sentence before the period or question mark . Learn the difference between “its” and “it’s”, and while you are at it, learn “their”, “there”, and “they’re”, along with “your” and “you’re”. People will condemn writing for less. Don’t give them a chance with careless grammar mistakes.
- Blog Writing Isn’t About Smiley Faces: Write emotions, not emoticons. ;-) Too many :D smileys are :\ annoying and :) distracting.
- Teach Your Readers: Share with us your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and knowledge. Teach us, oh, great blogger, how to live and function in this crazy world.
- Make Me Think: If you make your readers think, you’ve succeeded in interacting with them. If you make them write, you’ve succeeded twice over.
- Write With Conviction and Passion: Even if you write badly, if you write with conviction and passion, then we will read you.
There are two ways to hold your reader’s interest. Show them something they’ve never seen before, or show them something in a way they’ve never seen it before.
Blogging that gets noticed and linked to is all about seeing things in a new light. A university advertising professor once told me there are “no new ideas, only new ways of presenting old ideas”. Present information from a unique perspective and writing with a fresh angle and you will attract attention.