Blog Content: From topic selection to published
It’s Monday Morning and today is the day I post new articles to my Blog. I’ve been away on holiday for a week (without Internet Access) and while I normally start with preparation for my Blog Posts on the Friday before, this week I’m pressed for time and wasn’t entirely sure what to post. This made me think; maybe YOU could benefit from learning the process I use to create blog content for duanereeve.com
To create blog content I follow a simple process
Unless you head is filled with content ideas and you are a natural writer (which most bloggers aren’t), you should have a process to follow to come up with content ideas; a procedure on how to implement these ideas and a method to ensure these ideas are correctly formatted for your blog. Taking it even further, you should have a method to ensure all your hard work is backed up and safe, should something go wrong with your blog. [break]
1. Finding a suitable topic for your blog post
This can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for newbie bloggers, but one that gets easier over time as your method improves. When I am thinking about writing a new post, the first thing I do, is think about stuff that is relevant to my Niche or Sub-Niches. If nothing strikes me immediately, I visit some blogs in the same niche as mine and see what other bloggers are writing about. Another great resource for topic ideas is to visit article directories like eZineArticles.com (I only look for topic ideas; I don’t waste time reading the articles). Another thing I like doing, is going through Private Label Rights (PLR) content, again, only looking for topic ideas. While doing all this research, I make some basic notes jotting down the topics that are relevant to my blogs niche or sub-niches. [break]
2. Checking Google Adwords Keyword Tool for Keyword Ideas
Once I have some topic ideas, I go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and check a few keywords from the topics listed in step-1 above. The Keyword tool gives me a few related keyword suggestions and I’ll use these to find more similarly related keywords that have over 1000 monthly searches with low competition. If I don’t find low competition keywords I search again using different base keywords.
Keyword Research is a massive topic, which I will not get into in this post. At this stage, I really don’t place too much emphasis on Keyword research (I should, but I don’t have the time). Basically, I log into my Adwords Account, leave all the default settings for the Keyword tool as they are and simply search for Keyword Ideas using ‘broad match’. From those results I pick out a few keywords to use within my post…
Note: Before my Google Traffic Penalty I often took variants of my chosen keywords and added ‘How to’ to the post title to help create more attractive titles. Now, I tackle this differently avoiding ‘How to’ in my subject line(s) since Google is penalising sites with a high percentage of ‘How to’ Titles.
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e.g. Before; my title for this post would have been: “How to create blog content”
The revised version is: “Follow the process I use to create blog content“
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3. Using Keyword variants to create a great blog headline
Armed with my Content Ideas and my Keyword list I start thinking about possible headlines for my post. Your post itself can contain the most amazing content, but if your headline isn’t appealing people may not open the post to read what you have written. To write compelling blog post headlines (or email subject lines, for that matter), I use a Headline Analyzer Tool. Pending on my mood and the time available, I make use of either of the following:
I don’t spend too much time with either of the above tools. I do enough to get a fairly good score for my headline, using the keywords in my list. With CoSchedule I aim for a rating of 65 or more points (B+) and with AMI Tool, I try to get above 40% (this posts title scored over 60% with the AMI tool).
I cannot say which headline tool is better as I’ve only just started using the CoSchedule Tool recently. I still tend to use the AMI Headline Analyzer tool more frequently, because there are less variables to mess around with. With Coschedule Tool, I tent to waste more time trying to get things perfect (my OCD kicks in).
Note: I had every intention of writing a follow up post on the power of Blog Headlines, but a friend and fellow blogger “Davina Ngei” wrote such an amazing post on this topic; I’d rather you read her post… You can find it here!
4. I use Notepad for my initial writing and editing
At this stage I have a quality Blog Headline containing my target keywords (Focus Keyword and variables of that) and it’s time to start writing my post. I use a plain text editor (eg. Notepad) to write my initial draft. I have my own method of how I like my post setup and I make little notes in my notepad draft copy, which I later amend when I copy the content to WordPress. I prefer doing my initial layout and writing in notepad as it responds quickly and doesn’t add any additional formatting or code to the content I write.
Here is my Notepad Writing process:
- I add my Title and mark it as a H1 Tag
- I add my permalink (eg. /my-blog-title)
- I add my H2 Header tag
- I write a small introduction to the post
- I mark an area which will contain my primary image
- I add my H3 Header Area
- Under the H3 Header I elaborate on my into content
- I think up 4 or more H4 Heading Ideas
- I start writing [break]
[break]You will be amazed, once you start writing how quickly content starts falling into place and how other ideas come to mind. Once your mindset is in writing mode, the whole process of creating quality blog content gets easier. It’s the getting started process that is difficult for me. Once the juices are flowing, they flow relatively freely.
At this stage; what you need to understand, is that I am NOT a know it ALL Genius…
As my article progresses more ideas and thoughts come to mind, which I make note of. I use Google Search, other Blogs and PLR Content to improve on my ideas and content. I DO NOT COPY other peoples work and I do NOT SPIN Articles. Researched content may be added to my content, but it is entirely re-written in my own words (if it adds value). This is a very time consuming task, as everything is checked and double checked for validity before publishing. I may on occasion curate content from another source, but will always give credit to the source when doing so.
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Note: On occasions while researching additional content I realise I may be off the mark with what I’ve written. In such instances I will re-write my content as applicable. On rare occasions, I may even trash the post entirely. If I have a good topic, but doubt my content I’ll save what I have written together with my research as a draft for a future post (after I have verified the facts).
5. Deciding on a specific layout for my blog posts
After my first initial posts, using my current Theme I decided upon a layout for my posts, which I like (I hope you like it too). After my Title, the first part of a post contains a Sub Title with a H2 Tag, using some variation of my keywords (or synonyms of my keywords). This is followed by an Intro Paragraph, where I try to mention my ‘Focus Keyword’ as soon as possible.
After the Into Paragraph is my primary image which is also optimised for with keywords and compressed for faster downloading. After my primary image I add another header using the H3 Tag with relevant content. As I progress with my content all future headers are H4 Tags. I try to use my ‘Focus Keyword’ once in one of my H4 Tags somewhere on the page (preferably near the middle). This can all be seen in my notepad content draft image above. [break]
6. Adding Content Boxes and other enhancements
Most of my posts are in excess of 1000-words, which would make for some very boring reading if I didn’t brighten things up. So, other than my images (covered later), I try to add some style using highlighted text, content boxes or framed text areas. My WordPress Theme (which is no longer for sale) contains all the elements I use, but you could achieve the same using a Shortcode Plugin, if your Theme doesn’t include such features.
The whole idea is to break up content into smaller, more user friendly (easier on the eye) areas of quality content. Since my draft content is in Notepad, I make notes in my Notepad document where I want to implement these features.
e.g. [BOX] My content stuff [/BOX], which reminds me to add a Content Box later… [break]
7. Moving the content from Notepad to WordPress
After writing my initial draft in Notepad, I then spend some time proof-reading it and editing it. I may shuffle content around or completely change some paragraphs. Where necessary, I add notes for placement of [LINKS], [IMAGES] and or [OTHER ITEMS]. The more I can tweak and setup my layout in notepad, the better. When I am happy with my Notepad version, only then do I login to Wordspress and ‘Add New’ Post.
- I add my Post Title
- I check my permalink is correct
- I paste the Notepad Draft into WordPress
- I select the Category for the post
- I ‘Save Draft’ of the post
At this stage the article is in place, the number of draft revisions is kept at a minimum and it’s now time to use the WordPress Editor and my Theme’s Functions to bring the post to life (add character and pizazz). At this stage I do the following:
- Add Tags (before I forget)
- Remove extra line spaces & justify text
- Change all my headers to the correct Header Tags
- Apply all other formatting changes as per my notes [break]
8. Getting Relevant Images and Video Content
Once my post formatting is done it’s time to work on my images. Firstly, I use WP ImageSuite Plugin to source some royalty free images from Pixabay.com, Google Images, Flickr etc. With this plugin I sometimes get some really great images, which I can then edit in various ways to make them more original (I can add layers, effects, text etc, using the plugin within WordPress). Sometimes the Plugin doesn’t do the trick and I have to manually search the Royalty Free Directories and manually edit the images with Youzign or Photoshop.
The WP ImageSuite Plugin I use isn’t all that great (unless you buy the OTO’s), but I really love Youzign, especially for removing backgrounds and all the features it offers. Youzign also has several templates and does an amazing job when used for basic to advanced graphic editing and for creating Banners or Social Media Images (all the sizes and templates are pre-built). Youzign is constantly being updated with new features and templates and is well worth the recurring fee (I hate recurring fees, like most, but in this case I would consider it, if I didn’t already have a lifetime membership, which I purchased when Youzign was still in BETA).
Due to the nature of many of my posts I often require screen-capture images (eg. the SEO Plugin shots below), which I capture using the FREE Lightshot App. Screen-Capture images may also be edited with Photoshop or Youzign where necessary.
It is important to know, that I rename all my images before I upload them to WordPress. Image file names consist of names that contain my keywords or keyword related phrases (for SEO Purposes). The moment images have been uploaded I edit them, adding user friendly titles and ALT Tags; again using keywords or related keywords, as applicable (don’t go mad and don’t keyword stuff your post).
When the images are ready (Titles & Alt Tags done) I add them to my post replacing the markers carried over from my notepad draft. All images are automatically compressed/optimised using the FREE WP SMUSH Plugin.
Any other content like YouTube Videos, InfoGraphics, SlideShare Files etc are then added if required, making sure they are resized/scaled to fit my blog.
Note: Where accreditation is required for items, such is given (this is very important).
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Featured Image: Always assign a ‘Featured Image’ to your post and while WordPress defaults to a thumbnail size of 150×150 pixels, make sure your Featured Image is at least 200×200 pixels as this is the minimum requirement for Facebook (and you should be using Facebook). In most cases, I simply set my primary image as the ‘Featured Image’ unless I have something specific I want to use…
9. Getting the posts on-page SEO ready
I use the Yoast SEO Plugin to handle all my on-page SEO. This plugin has a very useful scoring mechanism, which basically grades your on-page seo. To optimise my posts on-page SEO, I basically follow what the plugin recommends until I get a ‘green light’ for my post. This plugin has an area, which tells you what you should be doing and if you follow it’s recommendations (checklist), you are good to go.
To get started, you do need to add you Focus Keyword, Your SEO Title and a META Descriptions in the fields provided. When you do this, the plugin will show you what your Google Results will look like and based on that you can tweak your content accordingly. I try to check off and do as many of the recommendations as possible, but don’t fret about doing them all (unless I have time to kill).
In the images (tabs) below, you can view my SEO Settings for one of my other posts…
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10. Publishing my content and HTML backup
With all the above done and dusted; I do a few final reviews of the content and fix any errors. I re-read the post in the WordPress Editor and using Live Preview. When I am happy, I either press ‘Publish’ or Schedule the Post for later Publication. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many times I read my posts before publication, after it’s published you will find errors you missed, especially in the longer posts. Don’t fret about it, simply go back and fix it!
When I feel I have checked the post enough times and it is ready to be published I do one more thing, which most other bloggers don’t do. I change my WordPress Editor to ‘Text’ View and copy all the HTML Code. I then take this code and overwrite my original Notepad Draft of the post and save it. At the top of this, I make note of what my Headline and Permalink is for this post. At the bottom; I make note of my WordPress SEO settings (eg. Focus Keyword, SEO Title and Meta Description) and then I save the TXT File as a backup on my Hard Drive.
Should I have any issues with my blog, all posts are stored in seperate folders on my hard drive, with relevant images and this Text File containing the HTML Code. If I ever need to restore a post or my blog as a whole and my other backup methods fail to restore – I still have my post layouts in HTML format… [break]
Conclusion: You would swear time wasn’t an issue for me. This post ended up taking me the better part of 2-days to write. For the first time, I missed my Monday deadline, but my OCD got the better of me and I had to do this post correctly. Initially I thought it would be a quick and easy post to get published, but as I got into it, I realised just how much is actually done. While it doesn’t necessarily take that long to do the actual steps I use to create blog content, documenting it proved to be very time consuming task. My method may not be perfect, but it works for me 🙂 [break]
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I’d really like to hear your opinions about my process…
Better, yet please share “how you create blog content ideas”…
How I Create Blog Content for this Blog
This is a summary of the Article written in this post and has been made available for those of you that don't have the time to read the full post - Enjoy :-)
1. To find a suitable blog topic
First consider the ideas that come to mind. After that do some research reading other similar niche blogs, going through PLR Material and checking topics on Article sites like eZineArticles.com.
2. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for Topic Ideas
Use Google Keyword Planner tool to see what is being searched for and make use of Google's Auto-Suggest Tool to find alternative possibilities.
3. Using Keyword variants to create a great blog headline
Use your content ideas, keyword list and a Headline Analysis Tool to create the perfect Blog Headline.
4. I use Notepad for writing and editing content
Notepad is the fastest way for me to write my content and make notes as I proceed. Only later do I copy everything into the Wordpress Editor.
5. Find a suitable layout for my blog posts
Long boring posts don't get read. Find a layout that works and entices your readers.
6. Use Content Boxes and other effects
Similar to the above point, but as relevant; Add content boxes and images to enhance the appeal of your blog content. You need to break it up into smaller pieces of information.
7. Copy and Paste the content from Notepad to WordPress
When I'm 100% sure my Notepad draft is complete, only then do I copy the content into Wordpress and work my way through my notes. I check and do all the necessary editing/formatting changes.
8. Find and Add Images and Video Content
Once the formatting is done, only then do I worry about images/videos etc. Make sure to do the necessary SEO Optimisation for any images/videos used.
9. Getting the posts on-page SEO ready
On-Page SEO is very important to me and I spend some time getting this right. I don't over do it, but the whole process is made easier if you use the Yoast SEO Plugin, which gives tips on how to proceed.
10. Publish and backup the Text Source Code
When everything is ready I do a final review and publish the post. After that, I view the Text or Code View of my post and I copy this code into a Notepad document and save it. I now have a HTML backup of the source code of every post I have written.
Get a FREE copy of my SEO Foundations Guide.
Inside this guide you will find my tips & tricks to get a new blog indexed quickly. These techniques will also help you build a solid SEO Foundation. Enjoy :-)
No Optin Required!