Last Updated on June 1, 2020 by Michael Brockbank
Recently, I was asked to clarify the layout I use and why certain headers are the way they are. And although my method is by no means the absolute for all online writing, I figured showing how I set up a blog post from start to finish may help others build their own strategies.
After all, every writer is different. Some bloggers might put a single sentence on every paragraph, while others try to block up the content in a longer section.
In the end, it all comes down to what works for you and what keeps people reading your content.
My Method to Set Up the Blog Post
So, I’m not going to worry about writing content in this tutorial. It’s merely to break down why I dress up the section first before I write a single line.
In this example, I’m going to use a recent post on my personal blog to show how sections are created and why.
(Optional) Analyzing Competing Works
Depending on the situation, taking a look at competing articles can give you insight into what you should create. This is done by searching for the topic you want to write about.
The top article is a treasure trove of information. After all, it’s at the top of Google search for a reason.
But, you don’t want to just create a copy of what someone has written. Instead, you want to see what you can do to make it better. Sometimes this means adding new facts, removing things that are not needed, and adding your own voice.
In this instance, I would see how the article is set up in terms of headers and phrases. Then, I would go about adding new sections that are relevant pieces of information. This process is known as “skyscraping.”
However, it’s an optional process as sometimes it’s better to be the trendsetter. And, it might look better if the post is 100% original. I mean, you don’t want to look like you’re simply regurgitating information you found online.
Research Keyphrases and Common Terms for the Piece
Keywords and phrases are still a vital part of writing content online. While keywords don’t have the power they did in the past, it still means the difference between someone researching chicken recipes and looking for car parts for a 1990 Dodge Daytona.
Today when you set up the blog post, you need to keep that kind of thing in mind.
Scoring well in search results is all about relevance and searcher intent. Your piece needs to tell search engines that it focuses on a specific topic while having valid information.
So, I’ll use various keyword and phrase tools to find one that fits what I’m writing about. Then, I’ll look for similar terms or semantic phrasing that augments the piece.
For instance, let’s say I was writing about WordPress themes to use when developing a writer blog. I would then include terms like “WordPress book theme,” “WordPress for writers,” “author themes” and “WordPress themes for authors.”
However, the secondary terms I add will only be used at least once throughout the entire piece. It sets the tone for what I’m writing and is relevant to the overall topic. And, I don’t want to saturate the content with keyphrases.
It just looks poorly written if you do.
Set Up the Blog Post Main Header Points
Now comes the fun part, using headers to set up the blog post. Think of them as announcing to the reader what the next section of content is going to include.
All of the primary points in the article are tagged, “H2.” That’s because H1 is reserved for the title in WordPress.
Each primary section is specifically about the main topic of the blog post. In the example image above, this is the exact layout I used for the article titled, “Keeping to a Schedule: Trying to Manage the Chaos.”
The primary keyphrase I used in Yoast is “manage chaos.” And as you can see, I’ve included it in various headers. Though, you don’t want to over-include your phrases. It could seem saturated, which Google does not approve of when you set up the blog post.
Adding Subheaders to Accentuate the Main Points
Depending on the content, I’ll add subheaders under each of the main points. Again, they are telling the reader what content is coming next. And each of the subheaders are relevant to the headers above.
Subheaders work in a hierarchy. So, if I want to include something that accentuates the point of the primary (H2) header, I would put it into an H3.
In the example image, take a look at the first H2 header. Now, under that, there is a series of H3s. Each of these H3 headings is a method that relates to the H2.
In this case, it’s various ways I control the chaos of life through scheduling my time. So I explain using Asana, Mindomo and a whiteboard to manage the chaos.
If each main header (H2) was a book, the subheadings would be the chapters.
Setting Up the Conclusion Paragraph
In many blog posts on the Internet, writers will use phrases like “In Conclusion” or “Final Thoughts” as a header for the conclusion. While this may work well enough, I don’t like to be the same as everyone else.
The purpose of a conclusion paragraph is to briefly sum up the article, promote interaction with your audience, and perhaps add a call-to-action. I figure as long as the heading tells people the article is over, it’s all that I need.
Lately, I’ve been using questions to the reader as the heading. This is more of an ongoing experiment to see if it boosts interaction. So far, it hasn’t done much more than the basic “Final Thoughts” phrase.
At any rate, you need to set up a conclusion header as a way to wrap up the content. And in all cases, I use H2 when I set up the blog post.
Write the Content
With the headers in place, I begin writing. The content of each section is relevant to the header above. So when I write about “Using Asana,” I go into detail about how I use Asana to manage my time.
The reason we use headers in this fashion is to give the content breakpoints. If it’s a long stream of text, reading the material could feel mundane and boring. Plus, it makes finding specific information much easier.
When I set up the blog post with headers like this, it gives me a flow of things I want to cover in the topic. I’ll add and remove others as I write so the entire piece makes sense and is as informative as I can make the post.
And it works really well when I save drafts for articles I want to write at a later time. This way, I don’t forget what I wanted to mention in the piece.
Set Up Your Own Blog Post
This isn’t the end-all-be-all of creating content on the Internet. It’s just a way I found to be effective for me while keeping my train of thought on its tracks.
Finding what works best for you will be of great benefit in the long run. It’s all about creating a good flow that works best for both humans and search engines who visit your site.
How do you keep your flow of thought going when writing content? How often do you use subheadings and subheadings of subheadings? Let me know in the comments down below.
For more information about writing in all forms, don’t forget to check out the YouTube channel.
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