How to structure blog posts for search engines and people

How to structure blog posts for search engines and people

Jase Rodley's Layout avatar

Ever noticed how top-ranking blog posts are also the ones you enjoy reading the most? And I don’t just mean that they’re informative and well researched — these posts go one step further and tick all the boxes when it comes to readability.

Does this mean you need to be the best writer in the room to rank well with search engines? Not even close. What you do need though, is a solid structure for your content.

Well-structured content doesn’t only add value to readers. It also helps search engines to understand what your content is all about, improving your rankings.

In this article, we’ll take a good look at what goes into creating the perfect structure — one that’s bound to set your article up for success.


Use keyword research early in the creative process

Before diving into planning your blog post’s structure, you’ll need to be sure you’re making the right points. This is where keyword discovery can help shape your content and I recommend making it one of the first steps in your content creation process.

Think of it as a foundation on which you’re about to build your entire article. Without it, you can easily lose sight of the big picture and the value you’re trying to bring to the table.

Look out for long-tail keywords which are usually in the form of phrases or short sentences. They can tell you a lot about what readers really want. I like to think of this as insight into the “why” behind a user’s search query.

Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush are some of the most popular choices for keyword research. If you’re on a budget though, you could try out Answer the Public, Ubersuggest, or even the automatic suggestions generated by Google at the bottom of each search results page. 

If all of this seems out of your comfort zone, don’t stress. There are plenty of service providers who can help to shortcut this process for you.


Work with SEO — not against it

Aside from the odd anomaly, it’s difficult to rank pages with limited content nowadays. Search engines have done well to teach us that they value quality over quantity.

Where it used to be possible to rank a “blog post” with 200 words in almost any niche, today that’s the exception, not the norm. There’s a lot of content on the internet nowadays, so being “good enough” is rarely good enough anymore.

The takeaway here is to create content that is the very best. What I mean by this, is creating a single “long-form” article that’s detailed and informative, as opposed to creating a handful of shallow articles.

Your goal is to give readers a post that answers their search query.

This lets Google know that you are a voice of authority within your niche, improving both your rankings and organic search traffic.

You can use these simple ways to get started:

  • Identify all your long-tail keywords and topics
  • Cluster the ones that are similar 
  • Create one authoritative article that encompasses all of these talking points

Not only will you draw more readers to your website but you will also keep them there for longer. Once a reader knows that you have a wealth of information on their subject of interest, they’re going to continue reading additional articles and will be more partial to buying your product too. 


Everything you need to create a great blog structure

Now that you have your topic and keywords finalized, it’s time for the most important element — creating a structure for your long blog post.

My experience both while writing and using SEO has shown me time and again that a well-planned structure gives birth to a great article. Not only do you make it easier for your readers to digest your content, but it’s much easier to write too!

Think of it this way — if you spare a few minutes and list all the different things you’d like to talk about, half your work is done.

What works for me is to brainstorm and write whatever is on in my mind regarding the subject. I’ll ask myself questions like:

  • What is the overall message I want to get across here?
  • Does the reader need an introduction to help them to fully understand the point I’m making?
  • What are the takeaways I want them to leave with after finishing this article?
  • Am I asking them to take a certain action after reading this article?

Once all of these ideas are on paper (or a WordPress draft post), you can cross-reference all of this with your list of keywords. From there, you can reorder this information into a logical flow.

You’re left with an outline that’s about to be the very skeleton of your article. What begins as a mess can end up helping a lot when you sit down to write.

An engaging introduction

If you know a thing or two about how the internet works, you know that first impressions are everything. After all, you only get a few seconds to reel your audience in and keep them there.

For instance, scroll back to the introduction of this article and you’ll notice that:

  • The first paragraph starts off to engage you. 
  • The next paragraph is where I hope to inspire confidence in your writing. 
  • After this, I make a short point to confirm that SEO and great content are linked to one another. 
  • Lastly, I close off with a paragraph that explains what you’ll learn in this article and affirm that you’re in the right place if you want to learn about structuring content.

Your takeaway from all of this is something incredibly straightforward. A strong introduction is not only catchy but also gives your visitors a good idea about what they can expect from your blog post.

Content that’s a breeze to read

Reading a blog post shouldn’t feel like a chore. Luckily, there are some simple methods to take any old “wall of text” and turn it into a piece of content that is much easier to read.

As a general rule of thumb, readers and search engines alike, prefer content that’s simple and easy to read. Leave the fancy words and overly complex sentences aside when writing content.

To make your articles user-friendly here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Do research your content well
  • Use short paragraphs — I find 2-5 lines (on desktop) works well
  • Don’t use run-on sentences that go forever —  use shorter sentences instead
  • Use bullet or numbered lists
  • Provide links to supporting resources

Search engines place a lot of importance on user experience. I’m confused by people who only write for search engines though. Are search engines buying your products? Write for your users and give them the best possible experience.

Using a problem/solution approach and putting yourself in the readers’ shoes is a foolproof method.

And if you happen to be a website that works with guest writers, don’t forget to create some guidelines for your writers, just as Flywheel does for Layout. This ensures continuity across your site, which becomes more and more important as your audience grows.

Those of you who aren’t familiar with content writing can learn more about how to write a great blog post right here, or have an experienced writer do it for you. 

Use headings to break up your content

No one likes reading a long continuous chunk of text. It takes more effort and concentration than you’d imagine which is why readers often hit the “back” button if they spot this.

Instead, use heading tags to break your content into bite-sized sections. These are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 HTML tags which follow a straightforward hierarchy.

When combined with a table of contents, they can help readers to skip ahead to parts of your post that are most important to them.

Search engines, too, use heading tags to get a good idea about the contents of your blog post. 

Go beyond words

Media such as embedded videos, images, and infographics add value to your blog by giving your readers more references to the information they’re looking for. This makes for a complete package –– a solid source of usable information.

What we’re trying to do here is to add value for readers by creating and curating information in a way that educates and entertains them.

Writing descriptive “alt text” is a great way of further optimizing your article for search engines and ensures that those with visual impairments can use a screen-reader and fully understand your content without seeing the images.

Top it off with a summary or “call to action”

A good way to end your article is with a final concluding paragraph that summarizes the subject matter, along with a call to action. The latter refers to a sentence that nudges the reader to take a particular action. It could be something like:

  • Leave a comment below
  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Visit our e-commerce store
  • Contact us today

Each of these examples uses a strong verb (in bold) that implies action.

A recipe for the “perfect” structure

When it comes to writing creatively, nothing is set in stone. There are however some basic content writing principles that can elevate your readers’ experience. Knowing how to structure your blog post is one of them.

But is there a secret ingredient that guarantees the success of your blog post? Definitely, and it’s not as secret as you may think. In fact, search engines have been saying it loud and clear for a while now. 

And that is –– pour your efforts into creating value for your readers. As long as you can effectively communicate your ideas for both readers and search engines to understand, you’re on the road to success.

I’ve been guiding marketers and business owners to produce brilliant blog content for years now. I love it when people get results the simple way and want you to succeed this way too. If you have questions about structuring your content, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

It’s equally crucial to keep your website’s technical SEO in great shape though. Rank Defender is a Flywheel partner that is passionate about technical SEO, providing no-hassle on-site SEO fixes in line with industry best practices.

Our goal is to remove the hassle of SEO maintenance from your day, so you can focus on producing the best blog and social media content for your brand.


Make SEO audits part of your ongoing maintenance

The internet hosts over two billion websites that are constantly being reworked, replaced, and updated by the second. In a dynamic environment like this, your website needs ongoing maintenance and SEO audits should definitely be a part of it. Including audits in your SEO routine helps you identify and fix critical issues before they become problematic and start damaging your search presence. Learn more here.

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