This is a complete guide to writing better blog posts that rank higher on Google, bring more traffic to your website, and ultimately make you more money.
Here’s a brief rundown of what we’ll be discussing:
Understand what the reader wants.
Optimize your titles for high clickthrough rates.
Write clear and informative subheadings
Use Grammarly Pro.
Get to the point.
Write every single day.
Edit every line.
Speak to the reader (use “you”).
Use transition words and phrases.
Use bullet points when listing things.
Use numbered lists when giving instructions.
Don’t be repetitive.
Get a second monitor.
Use tables to compare things.
Place your featured image below the fold.
Use (and embed links to) authoritative sources.
Customize your featured image (don’t use unedited stock photos).
Add YouTube videos.
Outsource your content creation.
Let’s get started.
1. Understand What the Reader Wants (Search Intent)
If you only take one thing away from this article, make it this one.
If you want your articles to rank at the top of Google, you need to write your articles with the reader’s search intent in mind.
What does that mean?
In plain English, it basically means you understand what the reader wants to know when they type your target keyword into Google.
Brian Dean from Backlinko gave a great example of this in one of his blog posts.
He wanted to rank for a particular SEO-related keyword, so he wrote an incredibly thorough article about this keyword. The focal point of his article was an in-depth analysis of why this keyword was important, and much of the content centered around a single case study he had performed examining the importance of this SEO topic.
He posted it after weeks of painstaking work, expecting it to rocket to the top of the results.
But months and months went by… and nothing happened.
Confused, he typed his target keyword into Google to see what was showing up at the top… and then it hit him.
All of the top-ranking articles were providing lists of actionable tips. The people searching for this keyword wanted concrete advice that they could quickly implement on their own websites – not long-winded explanations about what this keyword is and why it’s important.
Brian rewrote his article to provide a bunch of awesome, easy-to-implement tips, and he was ranking near the top of the search results not too long after.
Here’s the point:
Before you start writing an article, you need to know what kind of information the searcher is looking for.
In other words, you need to interpret the searcher’s problem.
Here’s another example:
Say you’re writing an article targeting the keyword “Why Isn’t My Tomato Plant Growing?”
What problem is someone typing this into Google having?
Well, they’re clearly having trouble getting their tomato plant to grow.
However, they aren’t merely interested in learning about tomato plant growth problems for academic purposes.
They’re trying to solve a problem and make their tomato plant grow, which means their real question is, “What can I do to make my tomato plant grow?”
As such, you need to address both their surface-level question (“Why isn’t my tomato plant growing?”) and their “real” question (“What can I do to make my tomato plant grow?”)
Therefore, the subheading structure for this article should look something like this:
Tomato Plant Isn’t Not Getting Enough Sun
Not Getting Enough Water
Soil Isn’t Nutritious Enough
How to Make Your Tomato Plant Grow
Plant It In Nutritious Soil
Water It Regularly
Plant It In Nutritious Soil
Takeaway: Place yourself in your reader’s mind. When they type the keyword you’re writing about into Google, what information would help them most? Give them that information in your post.
2. Optimize Your Titles for Higher Clickthrough Rates
Your titles are the backbone of your content.
If you have an eye-catching title that is optimized for increased clickthrough rates (CTR), your articles will get more clicks in the search results. Here are a few proven ways to titles that get more clicks:
Keep your title between 15 and 40 characters. According to a Backlinko study, Titles with this length have a significantly higher clickthrough rate than titles outside of this range.
Add a question to your title. The same study found that titles that contain questions have a 14.1% higher clickthrough rate than titles that don’t. This won’t be applicable to all titles, but take advantage of it when you can.
Use numbers in your title. A Conductor study found that using numbers in your titles significantly increases clickthrough rate.
Use odd numbers in your title. If possible, you should use odd numbers over even numbers. Studies indicate that people are drawn to odd numbers over even numbers. And include a “7” if you can. According to The Guardian, “7” is the world’s favorite number.
Include as much of your target keyword as possible. Readers are more likely to click on an article that closely matches what they typed into Google. Google is also more likely to rank your article on the first page if it contains the exact keyword people are typing in.
3. Write Clear and Informative Subheadings
While CTR-optimized titles will help drive traffic to your site, writing clear and informative subheadings will keep them on the page and give your article a longer average session time.
Here are a few tips to help you write great subheadings:
Be descriptive. Don’t make your subheadings simple one or two words statements. Be as descriptive as possible about the content contained in the subheading.
Use action words when appropriate. If you’re writing a step-by-step guide on how to do something, use action words that tell the reader exactly what they should be doing. For example, if the next step in your guide calls for the reader to hammer a nail into a piece of wood, don’t use a statement like “Hammering the Nail,” use a statement that contains an action, like “Hammer the Nail Into the Wood”
Make sure your subheadings are in title case. This is a minor detail, but I find ensuring subheadings are in title case makes your content look a bit more professional. Use a tool like TitleCaseConverter.com to easily capitalize all of the right words.
4. Use Grammarly Pro
Grammarly Prois an excellent tool that I consider essential for anyone looking to earn a living from blogging. Here’s what it offers:
A Grammar Checker
If you don’t have perfect grammar – which almost no one does – then Grammarly can be incredibly helpful. It automatically points out issues with spelling, tense, punctuation, and everything else related to writing. And you’ll be able to fix most issues with a single click, as Grammarly knows how to fix most grammar mistakes.
Another bonus: while you need the premium version of Grammarly for most of the benefits listed here, the grammar checker is free for anyone to use. You can access it here:Grammarly: Free Grammar Checker.
A Clarity Checker
Grammarly’s clarity checker will help take your writing to the next level. It points out run-on sentences, unnecessary phrases, and anything else that makes your content less clear and concise.
An Engagement Checker
The engagement checker detects overused words and suggests alternatives to make your content a bit less dull. This tool is nice to have if you find yourself using the same verbs and adjectives over and over again.
A Delivery Checker
Grammarly’s delivery checker finds words and phrases that weaken your overall message, such as adverbs and prepositions at the end of sentences and adverbs.
A Plagiarism Checker
This is a must-have if you’re outsourcing your blog content. Whether through laziness or inexperience, some writers will copy other content on the web word-for-word and pass it off as their own work. Grammarly’s plagiarism checker scans through billions of web pages to ensure your content is 100% original.
No matter whether you’re writing your own content or outsourcing to someone else, I highly recommend running all of your articles through Grammarly before you post them online.
Not only will it remove errors and improve the clarity of your content, but it will also train you to be a better writer, as you’ll start to notice the things you consistently do wrong when writing and will learn to avoid doing them in the first place.
5. Get to the Point
Think back to the last time you read a blog after searching for something on Google.
If you’re anything like me, all you wanted was a straightforward answer to your search query.
If the writer wasted too much time trying to be funny or personable, you probably backed out of the page and went to find another article.
People are coming to your blog because they need information. Make sure you give them that information up front and without any fluff.
It’s okay to add some humor or other personal touches to your content. In fact, I recommend this, as it will help to form a relationship with your reader.
Just make sure any flair you add is secondary to relaying accurate information directly and concisely.
One easy way to get to the point is to make your sentences as short as possible without sacrificing clarity.
After you’re done writing, read through every line of your post and remove unnecessary words and phrases. If you have a hard time identifying which words aren’t needed, I recommend using Grammarly Pro to help you.
6. Write Every Single Day
If you want your blog to succeed within a reasonable amount of time, you need to write a lot of content. And if you want to write a lot of content, you need to write every single day.
Writing every day isn’t just about writing a bunch of content for the sake of it. It’s about building the habit of writing.
According to a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of two months for a new habit to become automatic.
If you want to write enough to build a successful blog, writing needs to become an automatic habit. And forming that habit will take an upfront effort to write something every single day.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a lot. Just commit to writing 100 words per day.
Such a small goal will remove the mental barrier that the prospect of writing an entire blog post creates – and will make it much easier to start writing.
I learned a great tip for forming habits while reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s called “habit chaining,” and it may just change your life.
According to numerous studies, it’s easier to form a new habit if you do it right after another habit you’ve already formed.
By “chaining” the new habit to an old habit, it’s much easier to stick with that habit day after day.
The key is to make it very specific. If you give yourself wiggle room, it’s going to be harder to follow through.
For example, if you want to chain your writing habit to your habit of taking a lunch break, Don’t say, “I’m going to write after lunch.” It’s too vague and leaves too much room for other tasks to take precedence.
Instead, say, “After I sit back down at my desk after my lunch break, I’m going to open Google Docs on my computer and type 50 words for my latest post.”
By writing a little bit every day, you can form a habit of writing and create more content in less time. Eventually, you may even find yourself writing multiple posts per day. Imagine how quickly your site will grow then!
7. Edit Every Line
The posts you’re writing are going to be read by thousands of people over the coming years. To make sure you put the best foot forward, re-read every line and check for grammatical and factual accuracy.
It doesn’t take that much time, and you’ll be surprised at how much improvement you see over the first draft.
If you can afford an $11 per month subscription fee, I highly recommend editing in Grammarly, as it’ll automatically catch a ton of potential issues.
However, if you don’t want to subscribe to Grammarly, a line-by-line readthrough in your preferred writing software is still much better than not editing at all.
While it’s important to be thorough, you don’t want to over-edit. Your main concern should be that your reader can understand what you’re saying. As long as you’ve got that covered, your post will be successful.
8. Speak to the Reader (Use “You”)
Even though what you’re writing will be read by thousands of different people, you should treat it as a one-on-one conversation between you and a single reader.
The best way to implement this is to use “You” whenever you’re speaking to your audience.
This allows you to build a one-on-one relationship with the reader, which benefits you in quite a few ways:
First, the reader will like you more, which will make them more receptive when you ask them to do things (buy recommended products, sign up for your email list, etc.)
The content will also feel more relevant to them, which may cause them to spend more time reading. Making content feel relevant has a few benefits:
Improves session time (an important SEO metric)
Readers scroll further down the page (more ad impressions)
More likely to subscribe to your email list or read more articles, which will help you get more page views
9. Use Transition Words and Phrases
If you want your content to flow nicely and be easy to read, you need to use transition words and phrases.
Writing that lacks transition words is like a car that lacks oil. Sure, it might work, but the drive will be filled with the sounds of grating and grinding and will be an altogether miserable experience.
Transition words make it easy for your readers to see the connections between words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs. Without them, your articles will be little more than a dull series of uninteresting statements.
The best way to illustrate the importance of transition words is with an example. Here’s the paragraph where I mentioned the car oil analogy, but with the transitions removed:
Writing that lacks transition words is like a car that lacks oil. It might work. But the drive will be filled with the sounds of grating and grinding. It will be an altogether miserable experience.
Do you hear the subtle difference in flow?
Even though this second sentence is only missing two words — sure and and — the sentence is choppier and more unpleasant to read.
If you’d like a full rundown of all the transition words you can add to your writing, use this comprehensive list from the University of Wisconsin.
10. Use Bullet Points When Listing Things
One of the first things I teach my writing team to do is make the content as skimmable as possible. And one of the best ways to make content skimmable is to use bullet points when listing things.
Here’s a quick example: which of these ways of presenting a list is easier to read?
Things I need from the grocery store: eggs, milk, 17 boxes of special K, a single grape, paper towels, frozen pizza, 43 sticks of butter
Things I need from the grocery store:
17 Boxes of Special K
A single grape
43 sticks of butter
See what I mean?
Using bullet points to list things looks so much cleaner. Please take the time to format collections of items using bulleted lists — your readers (and your SEO metrics) will thank you.
If you want to make your content the best it can be, there are a few things you should know about using bulleted lists:
If each item in the list has multiple sentences, bold the first sentence. The first sentence after the bullet point typically contains the main points, while the following sentences are there to provide context. You can see an example in this very bullet point.
If any items in your bulleted list require more than one paragraph, consider using subheadings instead. Bulleted lists are great for organization, but they lose their clarity once you start trying to attach multiple paragraphs to a single bullet point. If you need multiple paragraphs, use subheadings instead.
11. Use Numbered Lists When Giving Step-By-Step Instructions
Bulleted lists are great for collections of items where the order you list them in doesn’t matter. If you need to provide step-by-step instructions, numbered lists are more appropriate.
Again, a quick example to show how much easier to read this is:
How to make scrambled eggs: First, turn your stove on at medium heat. Next, place a pan on the stove and coat the bottom with butter. Then, crack 2-4 eggs on the side of the pan and drop the yolks and whites into the pan. Whisk the eggs together until they are yellow and fluffy, and then add to a plate and serve.
How to make scrambled eggs:
Turn your stove on at medium heat
Place a pan on the stove and coat the bottom with butter.
Crack 2-4 eggs on the side of the pan
Drop the yolks and whites into the pan.
Whisk the eggs together until they are yellow and fluffy
Add to a plate and serve.
12. Don’t Be Repetitive
Here’s a writing sample I received from someone applying to join my writing team:
“Eating is fun but washing the dirty dishes that come afterward is the downside. Since nobody wants dirty dishes to pile up, dishes need to be washed. Dishes can be washed by hand or with a dishwasher, but this article will focus on how to wash dishes by hand.”
When you break it down, this drawn-out paragraph can be rewritten in a much more compact manner:
“There are two ways to wash dirty dishes: by hand or with a dishwasher. In this article, we’ll focus on how to wash dishes by hand.”
It’s easy to meet your target word count by repeating your point in two or three different ways. But while you might feel like this is adding clarity by providing additional explanation, all you’re really doing is annoying the reader with needless repetition and making your content less effective.
13. Get a Second Monitor
I’m hesitant to include tips that aren’t strictly related to writing or SEO, but getting a second monitor will significantly speed up your writing workflow.
A second monitor will make it much easier to research while you’re writing. Instead of switching between tabs or making two tiny browser windows on your screen, you have the luxury of looking between two full-sized windows.
Also, if you have a laptop, getting a second monitor will save you from a lot of neck pain. I’ve been working exclusively on laptops for over ten years, and it’s hard to describe how much better my neck feels now that I’ve got a second monitor sitting at eye level that I don’t have to look down at to use.
If you do get a second monitor, I recommend the ASUS VS239H-P 23″ LED Monitor (not an affiliate link). This is the monitor I use, and I find the screen quality and size to be excellent for the relatively low price.
One more tip: I recommend elevating the monitor so that it’s at eye level, as this will greatly reduce neck pain. You can accomplish this with a monitor stand or by stacking a few large books.
Whatever you do, don’t place it to the left or right of your laptop screen — you’ll end up constantly craning your neck to the left or right, which will make your neck pain even worse than if you didn’t have a second monitor at all.
14. Use Tables to Compare Things
Tables are an excellent way to compare two or more different things. If you’re comparing different products, locations, or anything else, placing at least one table in your post is a must-do.
Inserting a table is also a great way to give your post another shot at winning the featured snippet. While Google usually doesn’t award table snippets over paragraph or list snippets, there are certain instances where tables will nab the top spot.
15. Place Your Featured Image Below the Introduction
If your article is “below the fold” when the page loads, you’re going to have a higher bounce rate. This means that when the screen loads, your article text isn’t visible: readers will need to scroll down to start reading the post.
To reduce your bounce rate and rank higher on Google, you need to make sure your content is the first thing the reader sees. To do that, you have to place your featured image below your introduction.
Many WordPress themes give you the option to insert featured images into your posts automatically. To ensure your content isn’t below the fold, you should disable this option and insert featured images manually into the post instead.
16. Use (and Embed Links to) Authoritative Sources
When researching your articles, you must use authoritative, trustworthy sources.
Wikipedia (find the root source if possible – check Wikipedia’s footnotes).
Subject matter experts
With a subject matter expert, you don’t need to find their “root source” for a claim. If they are credentialed in their field or are clearly an expert on a topic, you can take them at their word.
In that same vein, you should do what you can to avoid using “untrustworthy” sources like random blogs or forums.
To emphasize the importance of using authoritative sources, here’s a true example I encountered when editing an article written for one of my writing service clients.
My client wanted an article about whether coffee makes you dehydrated or not. I assigned this to one of my writers, and they found a blog that stated that coffee makes you dehydrated. They then wrote the entire article based on the premise that coffee dehydrates you.
I did some fact-checking while editing the article, and I came across multiple authoritative health websites and academic journals that said that coffee doesn’t dehydrate you – it only increases the urge to urinate, which makes it seem like it’s a dehydrating drink.
As you can see, blogs from random authors can be completely wrong. This happens because the authors of these blogs face no real consequences if they publish incorrect information.
Industry professionals and academic journals, on the other hand, have a reputation to uphold. In certain instances, there may even be legal repercussions if they provide false information.
So if a doctor, lawyer, or other accredited professional makes a statement, you can take it as fact. But if it’s some random person, take their claims with a grain of salt and do some follow-up research to confirm that what they’re saying is true.
Note: It’s okay to find claims on forums or blogs. There’s nothing wrong with it. In many cases, it will be the only information on a topic you can find.
Just do everything you can to track down the “root source” for your claim. This will be easy if the blog author or forum user links to their sources, but you’ll need to do some digging if they don’t.
Also, know that not every claim will have some ultra-authoritative source backing it up.
In some instances, there won’t be any authoritative sources to verify something. Some examples include:
How well a certain product does a certain task (Example: A product review says a certain lawnmower doesn’t wet grass very well).
A claim or fact about some niche, non-scientific topic (Example: The best way to clean tape residue off a book cover).
In these situations, you’ll need to either verify the information through your own experiments or trust the word of whoever is talking about the topic on the internet.
17. Customize Your Featured Images (Don’t Use Unedited Stock Photos)
According to a Backlinko study, sites with unique images outrank sites that use stock photos.
This might sound like a problem at first. Who has the time to buy a camera and take original, high-quality images for every blog post you publish?
Fortunately, the solution is pretty straightforward. You don’t need to give up using stock photos. You just need to edit them a bit.
All you need to do is use some image editing software (Canva is an excellent free option) and add your post’s title to the image. You can also add a layer of black with some opacity to make the title stand out against the backdrop of the image.
That’s it. A few minutes of extra work, and you’ve turned a stock photo into an original featured image that will make your site look more professional and help you rank higher on Google.
18. Add YouTube Videos
Embedding YouTube videos into your content is an easy way to boost post quality and make the content more helpful for readers.
While there aren’t any studies that prove that embedding YouTube videos into your posts helps your posts rank higher, making your content more interactive and helpful is never a bad thing. There are quite a few instances where a video will be much more useful to a reader than a blog post explaining what the video shows.
If you run a YouTube channel alongside your blog, this is also an excellent way to direct blog readers to your channel.
If you’re short on time or have trouble writing, the easiest solution is to outsource your content creation.
Like it or not, writing quality has a huge impact on how well your posts will rank and how much money your site generates.
The main purpose of your blog might be to inform readers. However, if extracting information out of your post is the literary equivalent of pulling teeth, most people will bounce from your page pretty quickly and go find another article to read.
That’s why your posts must be written by someone who is trained to write helpful, easy-to-read blog posts.
That person might very well be you ‒ if you’re a good writer and have the time to dedicate to learning all of the ins and outs of blog writing.
However, if you’re lacking in either time or writing skill, outsourcing your posts to a professional content service is the best way to grow your site and build a passive, location-independent income.
If you’re interested in outsourcing your content, I recommend my professionally trained team at We Write Blog Posts.
Hundreds of website owners have hired us to create content for their blogs and have been extremely happy with the results.
Website owners across all different niches keep hiring us for one simple reason:
We know how to write accurate, in-depth blog posts that engage readers and are optimized for ranking first on Google.
My team has undergone extensive proprietary training to ensure the posts they produce are well-researched and easy to read. No matter what niche you’re in, we’ll be able to write authoritative content that outranks the competition and drives truckloads of traffic to your site.
We also go the extra mile with SEO optimization to ensure your posts rank as high as possible. This includes…
Optimizing your posts to win featured snippets
Writing titles optimized to increase clickthrough rates
Embedding outbound links to authoritative websites
Optimizing posts for skimmability
And much more
And if time is a concern handle every part of the post creation process:
Post length recommendations
Finally, we offer unlimited rewrites and revisions on all content. If you’re at all unhappy with any of your posts, we’ll revise and rewrite them until you’re satisfied. That’s a promise.
To learn more, head to our website or send me a message via our contact form ‒ I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about our process or how we would approach creating content for your niche.
Thanks for reading ‒ I hope you found this guide helpful. If you implement these tips moving forward, you’re virtually guaranteed to write better blog posts that rank higher on Google and make you more money.
What are your thoughts on this list? Do you have any tips of your own to share? Let me know in the comments below.