8 Tips for Adding a Compelling Page or Blog Post

Oct 16th, 2009 | By | Category: How-To

I’ve devel­oped a lot of web­sites over the years, for a lot of peo­ple. I’ve devel­oped them for peo­ple who were seri­ous about mak­ing them work, and I’ve done them for peo­ple who were just dip­ping their toe in the Inter­net pool. What I’ve learned is, peo­ple with no goals when it comes to the on-line expe­ri­ence won’t last long. I’ve done some spec­tac­u­lar work for peo­ple who lost inter­est after the fact, not because I wasn’t there to help them along the way, but because they didn’t know what they were doing there in the first place.

So, to that end, let’s dis­cuss what it takes to write a good post or page. Hav­ing a process will make it eas­i­er to jus­ti­fy doing it when the time comes and pre­vent you from becom­ing a sta­tis­tic. This goes for what­ev­er sys­tem you adopt, but will make the most sense to Word­Press users. The process I use is sim­ple.

  1. Get an idea
  2. Write the post
  3. Come up with a clever title
  4. Link to any­thing per­ti­nent in the arti­cle
  5. Pick key­words to add as tags
  6. Write a com­pelling excerpt
  7. Make a search engine friend­ly title and descrip­tion (for your SEO plu­g­in)
  8. Pub­lish
Thankfully, it's not done the old fashioned way

Thank­ful­ly, it’s not done the old fash­ioned way

First, you’ll need an idea. If you’re any­thing like me, ideas come at the most inop­por­tune times. When that hap­pens, write the idea down. Trust me on this. If you don’t, you’ll regret it when some­one else beats you to the punch. Where ideas come from is a mat­ter of phi­los­o­phy for some peo­ple. I just lis­ten to the ques­tions my clients are ask­ing and answer them in a post. Pret­ty sim­ple if you ask me. It makes me look smarter than I am, and makes them hap­py I took the time to help. It’s a win-win.

Next, you need to make time to actu­al­ly write the text and get it ready for prime time. I find that it’s near­ly always best to just brain dump. Don’t let your inter­nal edi­tor tell you that you for­got to throw in a com­ma, or missed an “s” in a word. None of that mat­ters in a first draft. Aside from that, if you installed the plu­g­in “After the Dead­line” like I said you should, it’ll catch the sil­ly mis­takes we all make. I’m not great at spelling, and I for­get to make my verbs agree with their sub­jects from time to time. That’s why we proof­read (at least some of us do).

Make a clever title. It should be some­thing that will entice peo­ple to read. No mat­ter how good your work is, if no one reads it, it isn’t good to any­one. If you have a choice between an arti­cle with a title like “Eco­nom­ics And The Impact Of Corn” or “CORN! It Does An Econ­o­my Good,” which one are you more like­ly to read (nei­ther, I know… bad exam­ple)?

Now, you’ve writ­ten a great arti­cle and a clever title, you’ve proofed it and you’re ready to find stuff to link. If you installed Zeman­ta (or anoth­er com­pa­ra­ble plu­g­in), link­ing is a snap. If not, do it by hand. If you referred to a post you’ve writ­ten before, link to it. If you’ve referred to a blog or web­site you respect, link to it. If you’ve referred to a book… You guessed it. Tak­ing the time to do so will increase your read­er­ship. Not tak­ing the time is kind of lazy.

After you’ve linked, you need to tag. Not tag­ging is a com­mon mis­take. Tags make a post more eas­i­ly found, and they help search engines as well as peo­ple fig­ure out how to place the arti­cle. Once again, installing Zeman­ta (and no, they aren’t pay­ing me to say so) helps make this process eas­i­er. It won’t find all the words you want, but three is bet­ter than none. You shouldn’t tag more than about sev­en things any­way. Tag. You’ll be glad you did.

The next thing to do is add an excerpt. Why should I both­er with an excerpt, you say? Even if your theme doesn’t make use of an excerpt, neglect­ing to add it is a mis­take. With­out going into too much tech­ni­cal detail, it is used in places you can’t nec­es­sar­i­ly see. To make it easy, you can sim­ply copy and paste the most com­pelling para­graph in your arti­cle into the excerpt block. If you want to take a more pro­duc­tive approach, write a para­graph that would make you want to read the arti­cle if you found it on Google. Do it, even if you don’t want to.

You should have installed Plat­inum SEO or All-In-One SEO (I pre­fer Plat­inum for rea­sons to be explained in anoth­er post). If not, do it. This will add a block to the end of your post / page edi­tor which allows you to make a search engine friend­ly title and descrip­tion for your shiny new arti­cle. This is not the place to write all flow­ery and clever. Machines don’t care about your prose. They care about how rel­e­vant your arti­cle is to their vis­i­tors’ search­es. Make your title and descrip­tion reflect this. Also, don’t both­er with putting in key­words. No real search engines even read a key­word tag any­more so using it is a waste of time. Put in Key­words only on the home page so that Ask.com doesn’t feel left out.

Final­ly, pick a good time to pub­lish it. Feel free to sit on the arti­cle for a day. The best bet is to wait a day and re-read what you wrote. You’ll find that wait­ing to pub­lish lets you avoid cer­tain mis­takes you would oth­er­wise have made (espe­cial­ly if you enjoyed a few alco­holic bev­er­ages while writ­ing the pre­vi­ous day).

This is a long arti­cle, but it can help you gen­er­ate use­ful con­tent your read­ers will actu­al­ly want to fin­ish read­ing. Go forth, write…

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