Even if you’re an amazing writer, you can’t write a great blog post without a solid structure.
This is good news for most bloggers: to produce quality content, you don’t have to be amazing at writing, you just need to write a clear, well-structured post.
Structuring your post the right way will help with your SEO too. Search engines need to be able to “read” what’s important in your post, so they can rank it for appropriate keywords.
We’re going to take a look at each part of your post in turn, explaining how best to approach it so that it’ll work well for readers and for search engines.
Structuring Your Title
Your title should include the keyword you’re aiming to rank for (e.g. if you’re writing a post comparing different blogging platforms, that keyword might be “best blogging platforms”).
This is obviously good for search engines … but it’s also good for your readers. A clear, direct title lets them know exactly what your post is about.
For both search engines and readers, you don’t want your title to be too long. Around 70 characters, or more precisely, 600 pixels, is the maximum that search engines will show (that includes everything: letters, numbers, spaces, punctuation and special characters). For more on title length, check out SEOpressor’s comprehensive post here (SEO focused) and HubSpot’s advice here (reader focused).
If you don’t want to count characters or pixels, this Google SERP Generator tool show you know when your titles will get truncated.
Note: You can potentially set a different title tag (which is what search engines give more weight to for ranking and what your readers see in the search results) from the main heading (H1 tag) that appears on your page itself.
That way, the title tag can be a little more keyword focused. If they’re too different, though, that can create a sense of disconnect for readers who click through from search engine results.
Good title: The Best Free Blogging Platforms of 2018 [Ranked and Reviewed] (specific, clear promise of what the reader will get, 62 characters)
Bad title: Blogging Platforms (too vague and too short)
Structuring Your Post’s URL
This is something that bloggers don’t always think about … but your URL is important for both readers and search engines. Readers may see the URL before coming to your post at all (and they could well see it without the title of your post attached).
If you’re using a recent installation of WordPress, your post URLs should look something like this:
There are other options for your URL, though, such as including the date or the category, e.g.:
I’d suggest avoiding using these, because:
- Posts with the date in the URL will soon start to seem less relevant and up-to-date, which gives people less reason to click through. Obviously, a lower click through rate (CTR) means less traffic … but it’s also believed to affect your ranking, too.
- Posts with the category in the URL are inevitably longer. Simple, shorter URLs are easier to remember, and again get a better CTR from search engine results pages. If you feel that taxonomy is important, use breadcrumbs.
Instead of using the full title of your post in the URL (which is the default), you should also edit the “permalink” so that it contains just a few keywords. Keep it short and simple.
For instance, my post “5 Ways to Pick the Perfect Brand Name” has the URL: http://www.tribeseo.com/blog/perfect-brand-name
Structuring Your Post Into Subsections
Unless you write very short posts, it’s helpful for both readers and search engines to split them into subsections.
Each of your subsections should have a subheading, formatted as an H2 (Heading 2) tag. Like your post title, each should ideally include a keyword that you want to rank for.
If you want subsections within subsections, you can use H3 for the lower-level headings.
These tags matter: from the reader’s point of view, they help make your post easy to engage with. On almost any blog theme, H2 (and H3) tags will be larger and bolder than the rest of the text. They also help create more whitespace on the page.
From the search engine’s point of view, H2 and H3 tags help indicate what your page is about. Google have been widely quoted saying that they use H-tags in their algorithms, though Search Engine Journal suggests that these tags don’t have much influence beyond the first couple on the page.
Note: While Google don’t mind if you have more than one H1 tag on a single page, most bloggers believe it’s best to only use H1 for the main heading on the page.
Including Links in Your Post
When writing a post, it’ll often make sense within the structure to use links to point the reader to further information, rather than trying to cover lots of tangents in the post itself.
Links are helpful for readers because they can:
- Point them to more advanced information on a particular topic
- Help them find a more beginner-friendly explanation of something they don’t quite understand yet
- Allow them to verify what you’re saying is true (by letting them easily check out your sources)
These could be internal links (to other posts on your own blog, or pages on your website), or outbound links (to other people’s content).
Internal links obviously help you to get more page views and engagement from your readers, but from an SEO perspective, they have two benefits:
- They pass “link juice”/PageRank, so the receiving page benefits in rankings power
- They pass relevancy through the anchor text (the words that you attach the URL itself to). If you use anchor text that makes sense to the user, it’s likely it will make sense to search engines too.
There’s some debate in the SEO community about whether or not outbound links help your own SEO, but some feel that linking to reputable sites helps your own rankings a little (and at the very least doesn’t hurt).
Good search engine optimisation is never about tricking or gaming search engines. Instead, it’s about writing great content that readers will love … and that search engines will want to promote to them.
Well structured posts are easy to write and easy to read. They’re more likely to rank in search engines when people search for that topic. They’re also more likely to get social media shares, and potentially more links from other blogs, which would boost the ranking further.
So, next time you write a post for your blog, think about the title, URL, subheadings and links you use. Make them as clear and useful as you can … for search engines, and also for your readers.
Joe Williams runs Tribe SEO, offering online courses to help you get to grips with SEO fast. He’s the lead SEO lecturer at the Digital Marketing Institute, and has been featured in the Guardian, Cosmopolitan, and Huffington Post.