I am a numbers geek. If I had to choose words, pictures or numbers to work with all day long, I would choose numbers. While helpful for me as a business owner, it does leave me working against my natural style to turn out a blog post or several every week, for Roundpeg and our clients.
To make my job easier I write each blog post by the numbers.
600 words in a blog post
When I first started blogging 9 years ago the most important thing was to answer a question prospective customers might have. That is still important, but as more and more people are blogging on the same topic, search engines use word count to separate the fluff from substantial information.
A few years ago the magic number was 400, now it is 600. That is the dividing line between fluff and substance. It sounds like a lot, but seriously it is less than two pages typed. You knocked that much content out several times a week when you were in high school. If you could do it then you can do it now.
And you need to get used to writing long-form content because this requirement is bound to get longer. As more people churn out 600-word posts we are seeing signals from search engines that they are favoring posts with 1,000 words or more. So brush up on those writing skills. Looking for some additional tips? Check out this post on how to apply some of those style lessons from 11th grade English class to your writing.
3-5 sentences per paragraph
You probably don’t remember this rule from school. That’s because the correct length for a paragraph in the real world is the number of sentences required to express a single complete thought. That can range from seven to ten or just one very well written sentence. In a blog post, the rules are different. It is easy to lose your place reading long paragraphs on a desktop and downright intimidating on a mobile device.
Remember your objective is to pull the reader in. Long paragraphs may be grammatically correct, but visually all wrong. So find a natural break point to divide the paragraph. This gives your reader a chance to catch their breath or find their place if they look away for a moment.
1 keyword per post
Your blog post might contain many keywords you hope to rank for. But search engines are easily confused, so pick one as your focus. Use it in the title and meta description and throughout the text. But don’t overdo it. That type of stuffing behavior will actually hurt your SEO rankings and annoy your readers.
Your goal should be to use your keyword several times naturally throughout the post. How many times will change depending on how long your post is. For example, if a post is 600 words long 3-9 repetitions of the word are acceptable. If you find yourself using the keyword more than that switch up your copy. Use pronouns or synonyms to make the copy more interesting.
8-10 words in a blog post title
Your title needs to grab people’s attention at a glance and encourage them to read more. The problem is your title doesn’t live just on your blog. It has to work in social media updates to encourage people to click through to your blog post. A long title doesn’t leave a lot of room for sharing or additional explanation. It has to work as the subject line of your email and many tools will truncate your text. So, keep the title short and powerful. Use between 8 and 10 words, and no more than 70 characters.
For more tips on great titles and subject lines check out our subject line resource:
70 characters in the title tag of a blog post
What is a title tag? It is a bit of information which helps to define your web page to search engines and web page visitors. It is the description you will usually see appearing in the google search bar. The ideal length to display on most search engines is 70 characters. If your title is much shorter, you are missing the opportunity to define your page and longer titles will simply be cut down.
For more on the art of writing good page titles check out this information on SEO basics and the page title from The Inside View. Don’t let the fact that this is an older post turn you off. It is well written, easy to understand, and still very accurate.
135 – 160 characters in your meta description
Working hand in hand with your title tag, the purpose of your meta description is to generate clickthroughs from search engines. If you don’t specify a meta description, search engines will typically pick up the first 160 characters of your blog post. If your writing style is like mine, with a one or two paragraph introduction, the first line of text is not the best synopsis of the post.
As you write both your title tag and meta description, be sure to use the keyword you want the blog post to rank on. Search engines are not very good at guessing your intention. If you are using WordPress for your blog, check out the Yoast SEO plugin. It will automatically score your posts for SEO and readability. If you are serious about using your blog to improve your search rankings, this tool will help you get there.
1 blog post a week
I know, you’re busy. There are 100 reasons why you can’t write a blog post every week. There are however several very good reasons why you should.
- It works, companies with active blogs see a significant portion of their traffic being driven by organic search.
- Search engines are always looking for the newest most relevant information. One blog post a week will give search engines a reason to come back again and again.
- Human beings use search engines to find answers to obscure questions. When you write a blog post every week, you will have time to drill down to very niche topics. There won’t be a lot of people looking for that information, but people who care will find you.
Looking for more tips on blogging? Check out our Blog Basics Kit. It is just one of the many resources in our Monday Morning Resource program.