I need you to write a great blog. What does that even mean? Who’s grading the blog to determine whether it’s great? What level of greatness is expected? Everyone blogs nowadays, is a great blog even possible?

It’s true, blogging is a pervasive part of business. What it takes to write a great blog today is not what it took just a few years ago. There’s no secret formula to help you write a great blog, but there are definitely key elements that every blog has no matter who is writing it. As for me, I follow a simple step-by-step process whenever I sit down to write a great blog.

1. Research My Topic.

Figuring out what I’m going to write a great blog about is the first and potentially the most difficult step. I start by reviewing the key elements of whatever website I’m writing for. Check out these four tips from Shout Me Loud if you still struggle on finding blog topics.

For example, Kevo Writing offers tips about almost any form of digital content creation, so as long as I write a blog within that field, it fits with the website.

2. Choose My Keyword

Before I write a great blog, I choose my keyword or key phrase. This is what I will use for my SEO and while I write, I want to be sure that I insert it into the post as often as possible. If you’re in need of keyword help, The Blog Press has a pretty handy keywords 101 blog to help.

For example, for this particular blog I choose the key phrase, “write a great blog.” As often as possible, I try to insert that phrase in logical ways into my blog. If I choose the key phrase after I’ve started writing, it makes it that much more difficult to add it naturally.

3. Outline the Format

For blog outlines, I actually don’t write it down. Instead, when I talk about outlining how I’ll write a great blog, I’m talking about deciding the format in my head. I like to decide at the beginning if it will be a list blog, a how-to blog, a simple story, etc. Hubspot offer five free blog post templates to get you started.

For example, when trying to figure out this blog, I debated between a how-to article and just providing a list of helpful tips. In the end, I chose a step-by-step article.

4. Write an Outstanding Opening

Behind every great blog is a great opening line and paragraph. If you want to write a great blog, you have to write a kick-ass introduction. More so than any other part of your article, your introduction will make the difference between your blog being read or skipped. To help you on your way to a killer headline, Copy Blogger offers five tips.

I wish there was a formula I could give that always created a perfect opening. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy or I would always succeed. Instead, when writing your opening, think, “if I read just this paragraph would I want to know more?” If you can answer “yes” keep it. If not, try again.

5. Plan Your Layout

It’s always helpful to have a basic layout planned before you write a great blog. When speaking of layouts, I’m talking about the organization of the blog itself. Will you write large or short paragraphs? Are you going to use subheaders to break up the text? How is your list going to appear? Keep these sixteen rules in mind from Successful Blogging when planning your blog.

For example, for this blog I knew I wanted eleven steps but at first I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out. Then after playing around with it for a bit, I decided to make each step a large subheader with short paragraphs underneath. I knew this would make it easy to digest.

6. Add Helpful Research

When you write a great blog, outside links are a necessary. Links improve your SEO, add legitimacy to your blog, and give your audience a little something extra while they read. It’s always a good idea to research while you write so that the backlinks make sense for your blog and don’t feel like inappropriate addons. Don’t believe links are important? Read this great blog on Moz.

For example, in this blog I’ve decided to add just a simple link to each step where readers can find additional information. I wanted this blog to be a simple easy-to-read overview but if my readers want more, I’ve decided to provide links so they can go as in depth as they want.

7. Use Compelling Images

It’s not enough to write a great blog, you have to illustrate it as well. Articles with images get 94% more total views according to Jeff Bullas. In this digital marketing age, images are what catch your audience’s eye and make them decide to read your content. Let’s me honest, people have short attention spans. A pretty image can provide more value than 1,000 words.

At the minimum, every blog should have a featured image so that when your blog is shared on social media, a compelling image pops up. And if you can add additional image that bring life to your story, do it.

8. Create a Fantastic Title

Sometimes, I find it most helpful to write a great blog first and then to find a title that fits. Writing the title last isn’t always how I do it, but I’ve found that when I struggle with figuring out the title, writing it last is an easy solution. ProBlogger offers these five tips to writing irresistibly clickable titles.

When writing a title, keep in mind that even more so than the first paragraph your title will get your blog read. Readers want blogs that provide helpful advice, information, or insight. How-to titles, lists, steps, and simple explanations are best. Catchy, nonsense titles are dead. Make it real.

9. Think About SEO

You’ve already chosen your keyword and now you need to make sure you fulfill every other basic SEO requirement. To write a great blog with SEO your blog should have these basic items:

  • Keyword in the title, page URL, heading, content, and meta description.
  • Images with keyword alt tags.
  • Appropriate outbound links.
  • At least 500 words.

Yoast offers some great tips on writing SEO-friendly blog posts.

10. Edit Your Copy

Let’s be honest, no one is going to think that you know how to write a great blog post if it’s filled with grammatical errors.  Correct spelling, sentence structure, word choice, and grammar are all necessary if you want to write a great blog that people actually read. If you’re not great at editing, I recommend using a tool such as Grammarly to help you out.

11. Share Your Blog

It doesn’t matter if you write a great blog if no one reads it. A blog cannot only live on your website. It needs to live across the web and that’s where social media, email blasts, and guest posting come into play. After you write every blog, make sure you get the word out by sharing a link back to your writing along with a catchy and clickable piece of content.