8 Tips for Adding a Compelling Page or Blog Post

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

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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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