How to write blogs humans want to read

In the rush to make sure robot sweepers log your site, you can forget to create content people actually want to read. Here’s a checklist to guide your efforts.

This article originally appeared on PR Daily in May of 2018.

Here are 10 steps to take before every blog post:

1. Just start writing (or recording).

The first thing you want to do is sit down and write.

If you have a topic in mind, just write (or record, depending on your format). Communicators sometimes overthink the process. It can be overwhelming to think about everything that comes after the writing part.

Yet, the hardest part is getting ideas out of your brain. Once you do that, you can go back and do the rest. Don’t worry about anything else until you have a draft you’re happy with.

2. Write in active voice.

We all tend to write in passive voice. It’s because we write like we speak.

Don’t worry about editing yourself as you go. You can revise sentences to be active after you get the words on digital paper.

If you need help with active versus passive, the Purdue Online Writing Lab can help.

3. Get your Flesch reading ease score.

The Flesch reading ease score will tell you if your content is easy for almost anyone to read—or if you’re being too uppity and most people will abandon it.

Google takes that into account when ranking your content so it’s something you want to take into consideration. If your blog is too difficult to read, your bounce rate will be high and the time spent on page will be very low. This tells Google that your content isn’t worth ranking.

While we want to sound smart in our content, this can work against you.

You want to score between 60 and 100, which means it’s easily understood by an 11-year-old (and older).

If your score is between 60 and 70 (easy enough for 13- to 15-year-olds to understand), you’ll be doing just fine.

To get an automatic score, install the Yoast plugin (if you’re on WordPress) and it will give youva score in the readability tab.

4. Do a keyword search.

Doing this after the content is produced will force you to write for humans first.

The only exception is when you have a series) or when working from a content map. In those instances, the keyword research has been done ahead of time.

For content that is timely, do the keyword research after the content is produced.

5. Write a snazzy headline.

The headline you choose for the article can be different than the headline you choose for robots. When writing for humans, your headline should pull in the reader.

In today’s world where headlines pass a person’s screen in literally the blink of an eye, the headline should be something interesting. It does not have to include keywords or be structured the way your SEO headline will be (see below).

If you aren’t confident in your headline choices, you can use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, or check out these other headline tools.

The snazzy headline for humans goes at the very top of the article.

6. Write Subheads.

Make it easy for your readers, listeners or viewers to scan and absorb the information. They can always come back for more, after you’ve proven the information is valuable.

Try for a subhead every 250 words, or so.

7. Add Images.

Use Creative Commons images (we love Pixabay) and Canva to create images that can’t be copied by everyone else on the web.

8. Add formatting.

This is less important for podcasts or videos, but incredibly important for everything else.

Use bullet points, lists, call outs, click to tweet, quotes, and more. Like subheads, this provides an easy way for your reader to scan your article.

If your design allows for color, add it where you can. Ideally, your links automatically turn a color that matches your branding so you don’t even have to worry about it.

9. Include internal links.

Though pretty much everyone will scan your article, they will click on links. That is why internal links are incredibly important.

You want to point readers to more information about the topic they’re reading on your site. This encourages them to stay on your site, which helps you begin to build trust with them.

They’re also important if your content is syndicated (good) or scraped (bad). If it’s syndicated, the internal link will help drive people back to your site. If it’s scraped, it will alert you that someone has stolen your content (and drive people back to your site).

Include at least one internal link in every article you write.

10. Simplify examples, case studies, and testimonials.

The last thing on your blog checklist when writing for humans is to include examples, case studies, and testimonials.

No one—I mean no one—wants to read your formal case study. Wrap the information into the content and it’ll be a win.

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. A version of this article first appeared on the Spin Sucks blog .

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