Author Archives: Ali

Your Yoast SEO beginner’s cheatsheet: how to optimise a WordPress blog

YOAST CHEATSHEET

Posting a blog without optimising it for SEO is like baking a show-stopping batch of brownies without inviting your friends round to feast on them over a cup of Redbush.

You know your bakes are the best in town, but without people there to appreciate and shout about them, how will anyone know what a master baker you are?

If you have a WordPress website, you may have spotted Yoast SEO plugin on the back-end of your site.

If you’ve backed away from it out of confusion or fear you might break the internet (and not in the Kim K way), I’m here to tell you you have nothing to fear (except maybe the deluge of enquiries from dream customers you’re about to receive when you start optimising those fabulous blogs and sharing your expertise with the big wide world).

Read on for a foolproof guide to how to optimise a blog or web page using your Yoast SEO beginner’s cheatsheet.

What is SEO?

If you’ve got this far, I’m guessing you have a vague understanding of SEO, but lack the knowledge or confidence to SEO your blogs because you’re not sure you’ll get it right.

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is simply the process of tweaking your online content to help it rank more highly in Google’s search engine results pages (aka SERPs, a term that foxed me for far longer than I care to admit).

While SEO work features a number of different elements, some more technical than others, there are some simple steps you can take to give your blog or website page a better chance of appearing higher up in the search results.

If you’re confused by the different SEO-related terms you’ve seen bandied around, read this blog for a glossary explaining the most common SEO terminology.

There’s also a free downloadable SEO checklist to make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes.

What does an SEO plugin do?

The good news is, if your WordPress website has the Yoast SEO plugin, it does the hard work for you.

Yoast SEO puts all the SEO tools you need at your fingertips and makes it straightforward to do all the stuff you need to do to rank higher on Google.

So, having Yoast is a shortcut to being an SEO expert, without having to understand the finer (and techier) details of algorithms and alt tags.

Is Yoast worth it? 

Personally, I think Yoast SEO is TOTALLY worth it if you want your blogs to be seen and enjoyed, not to mention generate hot leads to grow your business or hit your goals.

While I don’t consider myself techy and can’t claim to grasp the detailed work of career SEOs, I have multiple blogs that rank on page 1 of Google for relevant search terms.

This teaches us two things.

1. Good SEO starts with value-packed content

Focusing your efforts on making your blogs informative and entertaining for your audience is a great place to start if you want them to rank well on search engines.

Well-written, relevant content is SEO 101, so if you’ve nailed that, you’ve got the foundations of a fantastic blog.

2. A little optimisation goes a long way 

Don’t shy away from spending a little extra time optimising your blog if you have the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s there to help you, and you deserve to rank well for the hard work you’ve put into content writing.

You don’t need to be an SEO expert to rank on page 1 – a little bit of optimisation goes a long way towards achieving your content writing goals.

How to optimise your blog using Yoast SEO

Lately, I’ve spoken to several people who avoid optimising their blogs because they don’t understand how Yoast works and are scared of doing something catastrophic on the back end of their website.

From my experience of Yoast SEO, it’s pretty difficult to go wrong, and my web guy may shout at me for saying this, but I tend to find most back-end mishaps are fixable.

I created this Yoast SEO beginner’s cheatsheet for you after conversations with two  of my 1:1 content coaching clients who wanted to “SEO” their blogs but weren’t sure where to start.

They had so much insane value to share, but their blogs weren’t being seen by enough people because they were nervous about implementing a few SEO tricks at the final stages before hitting publish. 

After emailing my Yoast SEO cheatsheet to them, they found themselves feeling so much more knowledgeable and confident about optimising their online content, giving them an awesome chance of seeing the web traffic, rankings, and enquiries I know they deserve for their sterling efforts. 

I’m sharing as much as I know about SEO from 16 years of writing blogs for commercial purposes.

If I’ve managed to get blogs to rank on page 1 using these simple steps, so will you, my friend!

So, without further ado, I want to share with you my beginner’s SEO cheatsheet for optimising your blogs using your WordPress site’s Yoast plugin.

Download your Yoast SEO beginner’s cheatsheet here.

Once you’re done optimising your blog using this step-by-step guide to Yoast SEO, please tag me in your social media shares so I can have a read and share to my channels, too – we love to see it!

Blog SEO checklist: a beginner’s guide to optimising your content

BLOG SEO CHECKLIST

As a business owner, you juggle all sorts of plates, and blog writing is yet another string you’ve added to your bow to bring leads in through your website. Yet just when you’ve managed to write a blog, an unwelcome gremlin creeps into your mind and asks: “is this blog SEO’ed?” Your understanding of SEO is patchy at best, so you panic you lack the skills and tools to get your fabulous content found. Before you quit, let me come to your rescue with a blog SEO checklist – the ultimate beginner’s guide to optimising your content.

Is blog writing technical?

I do NOT consider myself a techy person, and when I first started writing blogs professionally, SEO was something that niggled away in the back of my mind, making me question my writing skills and the purpose of what I was doing.

I used to think I needed an official SEO qualification to give my clients confidence I knew what I was doing, but then something odd started happening.

My blogs started ranking on page 1 of Google for specific keywords relating to my own, and my clients’, services.

OK, so I’d picked up a few SEO hacks along the course of my 16-year writing career, but I didn’t think of myself as an SEO expert by any stretch.

So how did an SEO novice manage to rank on page 1?

All I can tell you is this. The content I write speaks directly to my target customer and offers the value I know you’re looking for when you find yourself on Google searching for answers.

By focusing on value and not allowing myself to become overwhelmed by dos and don’ts, I’d cracked the code to creating high-ranking content.

Now, I want to help you to do the same.

So, I’m going to tell you everything I know about how to SEO a blog post so you’ll see the same success I have. In the past year or so, I’ve had around 11 blogs ranking on page 1 and I’m still yet to sign up for that SEO course.

Read on to discover how to write blogs that rank on page one of Google.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It’s the act of optimising online content, like website pages and blog posts, so they appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) for “keywords” (which can, confusingly, be a word or phrase your customer types into Google, or whichever their chosen search engine is, to search for information).

75% of online searches start on Google, according to SEO guru Neil Patel. So, optimising your content plays a critical role in getting your content seen. 

For example, if you want to attract customers to your baking website, a typical keyword might be “easy chocolate cake recipe”. So, you could write a blog with this title, guiding your reader through the process of mastering your fave bake and sprinkling your keyword into the mix as you go.

Researching what kind of terms internet users are searching for relating to your industry or chosen topic will help you decide what to blog about, so you can capture some of that traffic and build your online presence.

SEO takes many forms and is a complex process for those whose job revolves around keywords, updates and algorithms. Content is a large part of SEO, but it also involves images, links, and technical elements.

However, for the purpose of blog writing, there are a few painless steps you can take to tick the major boxes and ensure the right eyes fall onto your blog.

What’s the perfect blog length to rank on Google? 

First things first, I want to touch on the question of how long a blog needs to be to rank on Google.

Again, I’m no SEO expert, but this is what I’ve learned.

Getting bogged down by specific word counts can quash your creativity or spiral you into waffle territory. So, I always advise you to focus on writing naturally and offering maximum value first, and worrying about word counts, well, never.

Google will index a blog post as long as it’s 300 words minimum. And while longer-form content generally performs better (the actual word count changes constantly, so take any figures you hear with a pinch of your finest Himalayan), value-packed content is always best, whether it’s 500 words or 5000.

Generally, I’d aim for 500 words as a minimum, and anything over 1000 words is a decent length.

But again, use this as a very vague guide and as long as nobody has imposed a word count on you, do your thing and see where your subject takes you.

Glossary of SEO terms

Here’s a glossary of the most common SEO terminology you’ll find online, helping you understand what goes where and why.

Keyword/keyphrase

A keyword, or keyphrase, is the word/s your audience will type into a search engine searching for information.

Before writing a blog, research and consider what your target customer might enter into Google to find the type of content you’re sharing. Then, weave this keyword, or keyphrase, into your content to ensure Google understands and indexes your blog to help users find it.

Avoid keyword stuffing, which sees keywords overused, as search engines recognise this and penalise you by failing to rank your content favourably.

Search engines like Google understand variations on your keyword, so feel free to mix it up so your blog reads well and use of your keyword doesn’t feel forced.

Meta description

Your meta description is a summary of your web page or blog that appears in search results pages and social media previews. Stick to the allocated word limit and make sure the purpose of your blog is clear enough to attract readers to click into it.

Include your keyword to allow Google to easily recognise what your content is about, so it will be ranked well and enable your target audience to find it.

Feature image

The feature image is the main image on your blog, which usually displays on your main blog menu page and social media link previews.

Alt text

Alt text describes your image for SEO and inclusivity purposes. Type in a brief and simple summary of what your feature image depicts – there’s no need to start with “image of” or “picture of”.

Transition words

SEO plugins like Yoast SEO will often recommend adding transition words to your blog to make it more reader-friendly and easier for Google to understand and catalogue.

Transition words help your reader connect one idea to the other. So, use them to shift the mood or signal a new direction.

They fall into four categories – contrast words (e.g. on the other hand, alternatively), emphasis words (e.g. indeed, especially), addition words (e.g. also, besides), and order words (e.g. firstly, subsequently).

Slug

Your slug is the second part of your blog or web page URL (or link) after your website address.

For example, the slug for this blog is: blog-seo-checklist-beginners-guide-to-optimising-content

The full URL is: www.wordsbyali.com/blog-seo-checklist-beginners-guide-to-optimising-content

So, website address + slug = your blog URL or link.

You have the option to edit your slug if you’re adding your blog to your website back-end – it’s sometimes good to shorten a longer URL.

H1

If you’ve seen the terms H1, H2, H3 etc in reference to website content or blogs and wondered what they mean, allow me to explain.

In the context of blogs and website copywriting, H stands for header, so your H1 is your main header. You should only have one H1 per web page or blog to help Google understand what your blog is about.

Free SEO checklist for beginners 

Need a beginner’s SEO checklist to make blog writing easier and less confusing?

I’ve got you – download your free SEO checklist and start ticking off the basics to see your blog rank on page one for your chosen search term. If you have any questions, or need help with your content writing, drop me a line and let’s chat.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BLOG SEO CHECKLIST HERE.

What’s the perfect blog length?

Woman writing blog on laptop

Firing up your Google Docs with a brain full of ideas, you have all the enthusiasm to write your latest blog but suddenly a thought strikes you: what’s the perfect blog length?

Is blog length important to rank on Google?

And if so, how do you discover the ideal word count for your business blog?

Before you know it, you’ve slipped down a rabbithole and the time you set aside to actually write the blog is consumed by stressing over how long the thing should be.

If this is how you wound up here, or you’re worried you’ll fall prey to that panic next time you want to write a blog, let’s hit pause on your stress spiral.

In my latest post, I’m busting blog length myths and helping you discover THE IDEAL BLOG LENGTH to eliminate all of that self-doubt and deliberation from your next content writing session.

What blog length should I hit to rank on Google?

First things first – let’s clarify how many words should appear in your blog post for it to rank on your favourite search engine.

To rank on Google, your blog should be at least 300 words in length, according to SEO experts Yoast.

That’s pretty short, and you’ll likely find yourself with more words to work with once you get stuck into sharing your fabulous expertise.

As a general rule, I count 500 words as the minimum word count to aim for when writing a blog.

Generally, I stick this whether I’m writing business blogs for myself, or for my clients.

So, keep 500 words in mind as your benchmark for blog writing, and you’ll know Google will recognise your content and feature it in search engine results pages (also known as SERPs, to our techtastic friends).

Do longer blogs rank better on search engines?

Generally, yes. The longer your blog post is, the more chance it has of appearing high up in the list of results shown to your target customer when they type in a search term relating to your industry.

As a rule of thumb, blogs with more than 1,000 words will gain more exposure on results pages than shorter ones.

Plus, there are additional benefits to writing longer posts that go beyond online visibility.

By writing longer blogs, you increase the amount of time your reader spends on your website, which makes them more likely to get to know your brand and convert from casual browsers into loyal customers.

How long should a blog be to get shares on social media?

Research says blog posts with more than 1,500 words get more social media shares.

This supports the case for writing longer blogs, and throws yet another benefit into the mix.

The thinking behind this is simple.

More wise words offer more value to your customer, which is more likely to prompt them to share your post on their socials.

After all, in our scrolltastic world, we all know the elements of a shareable piece of content.

So, to make your blog post super-shareworthy, make sure it’s:

  • Ultra valuable to your target customer
  • Relatable to a pain point your customer is going through
  • Easy to read
  • Formatted for simple skim-reading
  • Well-written in your unmistakable brand voice
  • Enhancing your reputation as the expert

What’s the ideal blog length for SEO?

According to sales and marketing giant Hubspot, the ideal blog word count for SEO purposes is 2,100 to 2,400 words.

Therefore, this means aiming to write extra-long articles will help you to boost your online visibility by showing your blog post higher in the results pages when people perform an online search.

When you appear higher in those results pages, more people visit your website and read what you have to say.

Hang on a minute. What on earth is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation.

Search engine optimisation is the process of optimising written content to appear higher up in Google’s results pages when customers perform an online search.

You should have a “keyword” in mind when writing every blog for your business. Your keyword will be a word or phrase your target audience is likely to type into Google’s search bar when researching what you offer.

For example, someone looking for a yoga teacher might type in “yoga classes for flexibility”, so this would be your keyword for a blog showcasing your knowledge in this area.

In targeting this keyword, you’d use the phrase – and variations on it – a few times within the blog so Google recognises this is what the post is about.

However, beware of overusing your keyword, as Google is smart enough to notice you’re doing this and penalise you by failing to show your post prominently when users search for that very phrase.

The benefits of long-form blog content

We’ve touched on the benefits of longer blog posts, so let’s round them up right here.

The advantages of writing long-form blogs include:

  • Achieving higher Google rankings
  • Increasing the amount of time people spend on your website
  • Boosting your brand loyalty
  • Improving your conversion rate
  • Securing more social media shares
  • Offer more value to your customers

Despite our dwindling attention spans, blog length is increasing.

Many believe this is down to a combination of the decline of traditional marketing, and the rise in online learning during the pandemic.

We’re all well-versed in educating ourselves online nowadays, so your customer is seeking out longer blog posts about your industry to educate themselves before making a decision about where to spend their money.

So what length should my blog actually be?

Now, I’m not exactly advising you to ignore all of the information you’ve discovered in this blog, because it’s useful to understand the reasoning behind writing longer blogs.

Plus, it’s essential to know blog writing basics to ensure your content achieves its goals of being found, increasing your enquiries, and consolidating your rep as the expert in your industry.

BUT.

The truth is, there is no perfect blog length.

It’s all-too-easy to find yourself bogged down by numbers and losing your way when it comes to writing the perfect blog for your business.

So, my advice is ALWAYS to focus on value and consistency, write naturally, don’t overthink data and the rest will follow.

If you tell yourself your blog needs to hit that 2,000 word mark to rank above your competitors, you may slip into waffle territory and lose touch of all of that amazing value you have to offer your customer.

What’s more, it may veer away from your brand tone of voice and confuse your customers.

When that happens, you defeat the point of writing and sharing your insights via your business blog in the first place, and send your dream customer packing to the next link on the results page.

Remember, your blog is a place to inform, educate, and entertain your customer.

Keep that in mind at all times and the perfect blog length will naturally materialise and enable you to smash all of the goals you’ve set for that business of yours. If you need help getting started, download your free business blog template to set you on your merry way.

Does this help you feel less pressure and more excitement for blog writing for your business?

Share your thoughts on my social media and tag me in your blog posts!

Conquer Your Content Writing – online content writing course for small businesses

blog writing online course for small business

Are you feeling frustrated about your:

  • Inconsistent, wishy-washy social media posts?
  • Lack of confidence in your writing skills?
  • Habit of tinkering away and never hitting publish?
  • Permanent state of homeschool catchup/panic?
  • General uncertainty around what your audience wants from you?
You know deep down what you want – and it’s what you deserve.

A constant stream of white-hot enquiries. An engaged audience lapping up your content. Time back for yourself to book onto that spin class or cosy up for a family movie without stealthily checking your notifications.  

You might be wondering, is this possible? Or am I asking too much?

Truth time: I’m a professional content writer and there was a time even I floundered over writing my own blog and social content. I had the knowledge and passion but wasn’t sure what people wanted to hear from me and how to turn commenters into customers.

I posted for myself and not my audience and this failed to translate to the engagement and enquiries I was desperate for.

Do you feel the same?

Over the past two years, I’ve turned my side hustle into a full-time job, had multiple blogs rank on page #1 of Google and made a living out of my dream business. And it’s all down to the power of my content.

Now, you may be thinking, “she’s a writer – that’s easy for her”.

But channelling your passion into words is something YOU have the capacity to do – all you need is the right support and guidance.

Picture this…

2022 is now well underway. Fresh starts are in the air and you have no shortage of ideas and goals.

You fire up your laptop with bags of enthusiasm and a steaming cup of tea (green, obviously! It’s January after all) to embark on a shiny new year in business.

Now, imagine you had:

  • Crystal clear direction on which ideas your audience wants to see and engage with
  • Consistency in your content that converts to enquiries, bookings, and SALES
  • Clarity on your core message to credentialise you as an authority in your industry
  • The confidence boost you need to rescue blogs and content ideas from your drafts, stop nitpicking and hit PUBLISH
  • More time to spend walking, brunching, or connecting with friends and family
  • Pride to show off your social feed and blog page
  • Freedom from third-party fees because your website is generating leads for you
  • A bigger client base of customers who recommend you to others so you know where your next enquiry is coming from.

All of this is within YOUR grasp. Join me and after six weeks, it will all be yours.

About Conquer Your Content Writing

I created Conquer Your Content Writing to create a solution to those 3am worries you struggle to banish.

Although I can’t unsay the awkward thing you said at a party 15 years ago, I DO have the answers to the questions:

  • WTF am I gonna post on my socials tomorrow?
  • Do I come across like I know what I’m talking about?
  • How do I make customers choose me over competitors?
  • Where do I get a clue what sort of content my customers want to see?
  • How do I mix things up so my content isn’t so repetitive?
  • Where do I find a roadmap telling me how to create compelling blog and social media posts that translate to enquiries and sales?

Finding confidence, purpose, clarity and direction is a proven way to gain more website visitors, enquiries, repeat custom, engagement, and SALES.

Join me on weekly Zooms and over six weeks, I’ll show you how achievable this is for you.

Each week you’ll learn a different aspect of the content writing process, taking you from procrastinator to professional.

You’ll be shouting from the rooftops how nailing this ONE THING has unlocked a world of possibilities!

This is for you if you…

  • Want to do more to promote your business but lack  clarity and direction 
  • Are full of passion but struggle to translate it into sales
  • Wonder whether your content hits the mark with your ideal customer
  • Struggle to be consistent on social media
  • Waste time nitpicking and self-doubting your content writing
  • Wish you knew how to stand out in a competitive market and get your name out there
  • Dream of making your social content less samey and more engaging so it sends your dream customer into your DMs

You already have the subject knowledge – let’s turn it into results!

What Conquer Your Content Writing will cover:

  • How to narrow down or find ideas for blog posts and social content your ideal customer WANTS to read (so your time is always well spent)
  • Foolproof ways to find your style and maintain a strong voice across your content
  • How to structure and plan a blog effectively (bye bye procrastination)
  • Writing hacks to improve your content and generate leads
  • SEO checklist to get your name out there so people searching Google find your website and enquire
  • Insider tips and tools used by professional writers to create super-shareable content
  • Ways to repackage blogs into social posts, Reels, email campaigns and more – maximising the time you invest in writing content
  • Social media tips, tricks, and tools to save you time and build confidence

content writing course for small businesses

Meet Ali, your content writing cheerleader

  • 11 blogs ranking on Google page 1 in the last two years
  • 16 years’ content writing experience
  • Qualified journalist
  • Running on oat lattes and vegan brownies

I’m Ali, aka Words By Ali, your one-woman content-writing hype squad.

From teenage diaries to email essays about my disastrous life as a twenty-something temp, I’ve always loved writing and now I get to do it as an actual job.

With me on your team, you’ll discover how to craft content that gives your ideal customer that OMG moment.

And when they experience that, they want to learn and buy from you.

Through my previous careers as a journalist, PR manager, ad agency copywriter, and marketing manager, I learned how to channel my imagination and love of words into commercially valuable pieces of content, from brochures to blogs.

Now, I’m passing that skill on, inspiring you to turn your passion into blog and social content that drives your business forward!

Invest in yourself – you’re worth it!

Now is the time to invest in yourself and your business to get your shit together for 2022!

You will find the confidence and skills to research, structure, and write blogs and social media posts that delight your customers and grow your business through higher engagement, better Google rankings, more web traffic, and warmer leads.

  • Six weekly sessions
  • 60-minute Zooms (attend live or watch replays)
  • Professional support
  • Tailored examples for your business
  • Practical tips, top tools, and insider advice
  • Actionable tasks to keep you on track
  • Personalised feedback on your work
  • Super supportive Facebook community
  • Payment plans to suit you

I’m passionate about helping you develop your self-belief and unearth this new skill that’s lurking inside you, so I’ve designed the course to offer you maximum value for the best possible price.

STARTS:End of January
PRICE:£395

Do something awesome for yourself and develop a valuable new skill that will galvanise your business to blossom through 2022 and beyond!

I can’t wait to see you there – you, my friend, have got this!

Sign up to Conquer Your Content Writing – online blog and social media content writing course for small businesses – here.

Free business blog template: how to structure a blog

how to structure a blog

You’ve finally carved out a moment to sit down, tea in hand, and bang out a business blog post. But as you fire up your laptop and glimpse that blank page staring back at you, your confidence plummets and procrastination whispers: “you can’t do this! Stop pretending you’re a writer and get back to Insta for a lovely little doomscroll.”

If you know this feeling, you need a business blog template showing you EXACTLY how to structure a blog with zero margin for procrastination.

I know how busy you are, so let’s maximise the time you’ve got and crack on with the task in hand before your tea goes cold!

What is a business blog?

Before we dive straight into your free blog template, let’s backtrack slightly and recap on what a business blog is and why you should defo be writing them.

After all, a little insight into why you’re doing this and what goes into writing the perfect blog will allow you to make the most of your blog template and set you up for success.

If you’re already clued up, jump to the next header.

If you’re still unsure, check out this blog for your crash course in business blogging to bring you up to speed.

All caught up? On we go.

How to structure a business blog

Structuring a blog may feel vague and confusing right now, but you’re about to take a shortcut to business blogging success by learning a foolproof formula you can use every time.

If you’ve done a little research into what to blog about (which is well worth doing for optimal results), you’ll have an idea of what your ideal customer is trying to find out about your product or service.

Tips to write a blog introduction

Firstly, let’s kick off with your blog introduction.

Summarise your chosen topic in a couple of paragraphs, ensuring you include your keyword in the first 150 words.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘keyword’, don’t panic. This is a word or term you’re hoping your blog will show up on Google for when people search it, e.g. gifts for dog owners.

Be clear about what your blog is going to explain/show/teach your reader. There are plenty of blogs out there and you only have a few seconds to draw readers in, so make sure you break the topic down so well they know it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Remember, you can always go back and polish your intro once you’ve fleshed out the rest of your blog. So, don’t overthink it – simply write a couple of sentences here to get some words on a page.

You may be wondering about your blog headline – and I have so much to say on this I’m going to dedicate a separate blog post to it, so sit tight and keep your eyes peeled!

Use your blog headers as section titles

Next, choose three to six questions around your chosen blog topic and use these as your headers.

A well-structured blog features multiple headers, with no more than 300 words under each one.

Think of your headers as section titles and formulate them as questions you’ll answer in the body copy underneath.

For example, if you’re writing a blog about life coaching to introduce your readers to the concept, your headers may be as follows:

  • What is life coaching?
  • Who is life coaching for?
  • How can life coaching help me?
  • How much does life coaching cost?
  • Does life coaching actually work?

True story: it took me 30 seconds to find these questions on Answer The Public, which compiles real data from people browsing search engines like Google.

If you’re a life coach writing a blog on this subject, these should be simple questions you can answer neatly in under 300 words, as you would if someone approached you at a networking meeting to find out more about your job.

When I’m laying out a blog, I like to organise my headers first. Often, the literal act of typing them onto the page is my train out of the procrastination station. Words on paper are a powerful way to banish writer’s block, so getting your headers down is a smart move.

Writing your sections

Now you have some headers in place, you can begin filling in the gaps. You know your headers are questions to be answered, so let’s get answering.

Here are a few blog writing tips to make this part easier:

  • Type how you speak (within reason)
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists – great for skimmers and SEO
  • Mix short and long sentences
  • Focus on benefits, rather than features
  • Include statistics to support your points

How to conclude a blog

Every good story needs an ending, and your blog is no exception.

Your conclusion will round up the points you’ve made and summarise the main message of your blog. We know 43% of people skim read blogs (a stat I actually find surprisingly low!), so we incorporate formats like bullet points and plentiful headers to allow for hot takes.

Naturally, skimmers will skip to the end of your blog, picking out bits of interest along the way, so finishing with a bang is critical.

One simple sentence can give your reader all they need to know, and it’s a good exercise in summarising and drilling down into what’s important.

Check the final two paragraphs of this blog to see my conclusion.

Add a call to action

Your call to action is crucial. Wondering: “what is a call to action?”? Allow me to explain.

A call to action is a marketing term for an instruction we give to a reader telling them what to do next. You’ll use them at the end of every blog, and also in social captions, emails, landing pages, and more.

A call to action, also known as a CTA, doesn’t have to be salesy, so don’t panic if your blog is purely informative and you’re paranoid about launching into a sales spiel and turning readers off.

If your blog’s purpose to inform and educate your reader at an earlier stage in the buying process, use your CTA to nudge them along in their journey.

Unsalesy call to action examples include:

  • Read another blog next
  • Follow our social accounts
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Download your free blog template

What’s critical to remember is this. Your reader is on your website, reading what you have to say. They’re buying into you and unless you make it clear what you want them to do next, they’re unlikely to stick around.

So, make your CTA count by keeping that connection going and giving them even more value to push them further towards that purchase.

Download your free blog template

Here comes my conclusion 😉 >>>

Now you know a well-structured blog features a short intro detailing what you’ll cover, several headers as section titles, a clear conclusion summarising your points, and a call to action telling your reader what to do next.

Use this as your blueprint for every future blog to save time and stay on track. Need a little more help? Download your free blog template to set yourself up for ultimate business blogging success.

Download your free template here.

7 business blogging tips to improve your content writing in 2022

improve your content writing

Call me crazy, but I don’t think resolutions are just for January. You may be tucking into a mince pie and sipping your gingerbread latte to pore over this blog the minute I hit publish, or you may extract it from the vaults months – or even years – later, in which case hey! How did 2022 pan out?

Fact is, if you wanna write amazing content, you gotta keep learning. Like the proverbial pup, blogging tips are for life, not just for Christmas. Now, if you’re raring to polish your prose with some killer content writing advice, buckle up and read on for my seven expert tips to improve your content writing in 2022 (and beyond).

1. Listen to your audience

Whoever you’re speaking to in your content or copywriting, don’t be that person who transmits and never receives.

Ask your audience questions on social media or send them surveys to determine how they speak, what they want to hear, and how you can help them through your content.

Your blogs really shouldn’t be a one-way conversation.

In fact, they should read like friendly advice from your best mate or fave teacher, and hopefully, both of those people cared about your opinion and spoke to you on your level.

If you don’t listen to your audience and let the results inform your content, you’re basically walking into a room and shouting information at the people in it, which is a BIT weird innit.

2. Use odd numbers in your headlines

Described as “brain candy” by marketing guru Debra Jason, using numbers in your headline helps readers scan and organise it in their heads. When they do this, they’ll make a speedy decision whether to read on or bounce off.

Debra’s breakdown of the numbers game is as follows:

  • Numbers are better than words
  • Small numbers are easier for readers to absorb
  • Odd numbers give more authenticity

So, if you want to put a rocket up your content writing, start with your headline and choose an odd number to kick things off.

3. It’s all about YOU (except it’s not)

As a freelance content writer, people often ask me to scan their web copy and advise whether it’s any good.

Genuinely, this sometimes happens right in front of them, which is awks to say the least – especially because my brief career in PR didn’t equip me with the gift of spin.

Generally, the web copywriting error that immediately stands out in these awky momos is the glaring lack of one word:

YOU.

Friends, when it comes to content writing, it’s all about (the word) YOU, and really not about you as a business.

Whoever’s landing on those boasty homepages isn’t feeling welcome, that’s for sure.

Using the word YOU in your copy and content is a quick fix, but it instantly makes your customer feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

Remember, it’s not about you, your achievements, and your services.

All your customer cares about is themselves and what you can bring into their lives to improve them. With that in mind, challenge yourself to reframe every WE into a YOU, or at the very least, expand your we so it features a YOU.

4. The “so what” factor

Following on from #3, a smart way to improve your content writing is to fall back on the “so what” factor to pull out benefits.

You’re not alone if you discover you’ve been relying a little too heavily on features in your content writing, and the good news is features are important, with one big proviso.

Every time you mention a feature of your product or service, ask yourself “so what?”.

So your sneakers are made from sustainably-sourced pineapple leaves. So what?

  • Does it make the shoe softer and therefore more comfortable to wear?
  • Will it make the trainers easier to break in, appealing to people who struggle with blisters and hate wearing plasters for weeks?
  • Is it better at wicking sweat to keep your customer dry and their footwear feeling fresh?
  • Or is it more about their peace of mind that no cows were harmed in the making of their kicks?

All of these benefits are valid, and many features have multiple benefits to extol. It’s your job to extract and explain them in the most explicit terms, so your customer understands all the ways you can make their life better or solve their everyday challenges.

5. Use headers

Cast your mind back a few minutes to when you clicked into this blog. Did you start reading it diligently at the beginning, or scan it to see if it was what you were looking for?

Maybe you’re not even reading this part, because you’re super skimming to grab the key takeaways without absorbing every word.

No offence taken here, I do the same.

And you know who else does? Your readers.

In fact, 43% of us skim read blogs.

Adding headers to your blog is your shortcut to supreme skimmability.

You lead a busy life, and so does your ideal customer. So, organising your content under headers works in two key ways.

  • Headers make it easier for you to structure and write your blog
  • Headers help your reader digest the information you’re sharing.

As an experienced content writer, dividing blog information under headers is second nature, but I’m often surprised how many people don’t realise the benefits of using headers to improve your content writing.

So, give it a whirl and watch your blog writing become infinitely easier and more successful.

6. Find stats to support your points

Stats are a surefire way to improve your content writing in 2022.

Your readers crave reassurance you know your stuff, and providing statistics to back up your arguments adds weight and authority to your business blogs.

What’s more, stats offer comfort to your audience that they’re not alone, or they’re choosing to do something the majority of people in their position do.

For example, did you know blogs are the 5th most trusted place to find information online, and businesses who post regular blogs receive double the email traffic of businesses that don’t?

If those two facts influence how you feel about blog writing, hold onto that feeling and strive to create it in your reader.

7. Add a call to action

One of the biggest blogging mistakes I see businesses making is to omit that all-important CTA. In a previous blog, I delved into what a call to action is  and why you need one in every blog, so catch up there if you’d like to delve a little deeper into this topic.

Here’s your quick lowdown – or reminder – if you didn’t click.

Your reader has landed on your site because they’re interested in what you have to say, so to retain their interest, tell them what to do once they finish reading. You can’t expect them to read your mind, or do something without you making it glaringly obvious.

After all, good communication is key to any successful relationship, and connecting with your customer requires openness and clarity on both sides. So, be open about what they can do next to continue their learning.

Blogs usually strike in the earlier stages of the buying process, so it needn’t be a hard sell. It could be a prompt to read another blog, a link to follow your socials or an invitation to book a spot on your next webinar.

Whatever you do, don’t discard an opportunity to keep an interested customer on your website.

Get extra support to improve your blog content writing

Hopefully, these tips will see your business blogging prowess soar in 2022. But if it’s made you realise you need a little more support getting started, I’ve got your back!

Sign up to my mailing list below for more information about my next business blogging course coming soon, and in the meantime, follow me on Insta and say hello so we can get to know each other better!



What is a call to action? And do I need one?

what is a call to action

You may have stumbled across the term ‘call to action’ or the mysterious initials ‘CTA’ in your valiant efforts to market your business. I’m guessing a well-meaning marketing person sprinkled it into a confusing convo and you nodded along hoping to work it out later, or drew a total blank. So what exactly IS a call to action? Why do you need one? And what does one look like? Ponder no more, because we’re going to break it all down in this blog, leaving you feeling like the queen of CTAs.

What is a call to action? What does CTA stand for?

CTA is a marketing term that stands for call to action.

A call to action is an instruction you give to your target customer, prompting them to take a specific action.

You’ll use a call to action at the end of a blog post, an email, a landing page, a Facebook ad, a video – basically any type of content you use to communicate with your customers.

You’ve probably been using CTAs without even realising. However, delving a little deeper into the world of the CTA and why they’re so vital will allow you to maximise the potential they offer to nurture your customer along their buying journey.

Why do we need to use a CTA? Are they that important?

Let’s be clear. After your headline, your call to action is pretty much the most important element of your blog, or whatever piece of marketing content you’re working on. Why? A study by Unbounce revealed more than 90% of people who read your headline also read your CTA.

We know your audience loves skimming, so if they’re only taking notice of your headline and call to action, let’s make both work harder!

The fact is, we all like being told what to do next, and you can’t assume your reader will naturally take the step you’re hoping they will.

So, instructing them what to do after consuming your content is the smart way to make sure it actually happens.

Does a call to action have to be salesy?

Hard NO on this one.

I had a question on my Instagram last month asking whether I’d include a CTA on a purely informative blog. The answer to this is a HELLLLLL YES!

I feature a call to action on EVERY.SINGLE.BLOG.

The likelihood is, most of your blog writing will be centre on that engaging, entertaining, and informative content your audience loves. After all, blogging helps customers early in their buying process, so we want to add as much value as possible at this stage to keep them in your lane.

Of course, sometimes your call to action will be a simple ‘buy now’. And that’s fine.

But if we’re not directly selling when writing a business blog, how else can we use a CTA to nurture your customer through their experience of your brand?

Call to action examples

Below, I’ve listed a few non-salesy calls to action you can use in your next blog. This is a handful of examples, so always make it your own, speak in the language your customer uses, and keep it short and sweet.

When you’re next writing a blog, how about ending it with one of the following CTA examples?

  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Follow us on social media
  • Read this blog next
  • Download your free template
  • Request a free sample
  • Ask us a question
  • Sign up to our webinar

Which of these is sounding good to you right now?

What sort of CTA should I end a blog with?

You’ve worked hard to plan and write your business blog, so let’s keep that momentum by signing off with a killer CTA that keeps your reader feeling hot hot hot about your brand.

Remember, blogs are generally for building trust and sparking engagement. Your customer is developing a connection with you and your product/service by reading the advice or information you’re offering 👀

They’ll encounter different touchpoints along the way in their path towards buying from you and each one plays its own part in getting them over the line.

So, a blog CTA may be less URGENT than one on your email campaign or landing page, but no less important.

Put yourself in your reader’s mindset and think about what will help them learn more about your product or service, or help them arrive at the point of being ready to buy.

Would they benefit from seeing customer testimonials?

Reading around your subject more?

Listening to your podcast, or watching a YouTube video to form an even closer connection to you and your business?

Whichever route you choose to maintain your reader’s attention, don’t be sleeping on your CTA!

How to get help with blog writing for your business

My next business blogging course starts in January – drop your email into the box below for updates and generate chitchat. Please also follow my Instagram for the latest tips and updates, say hi so I can get to know you better!



How to write a business blog

how to write a business blog

How do you write a business blog? And why should you?

Well, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got a banging biz with a wicked website. Kudos to you, my friend.

And I have some good news for you.

Your DREAM customer is scrolling the web *as we speak* looking for exactly what you’re selling.

One small matter: how will they find you?

There’s something you can do RIGHT NOW to grow your business.

Write a blog!

And before you ask “what’s a business blog and how do I do it?” Chill. I’ve got you. Let’s break it down and make it happen.

What is a business blog?

First things first. What even IS a business blog? A blog is simply an online article written and published for web browsers’ reading pleasure.

If you’ve got a website, you can add a blog to it. You might want to call it your news page, journal, or something snazzier – as long as your customer understands what it is, you’re good to go.

Most website platforms make it simple to add a blog function to your site, or your web developer can easily do it for you.

Once you have a business blog, you can add fresh content to your website as often as you like – and the advantages are HUGE.

Benefits of blogging

Here’s a handful of advantages of having a business blog with fresh content added on the regs.

  • Great for SEO – watch your Google ranking soar as you post relevant content your customers want to read
  • Boosts web traffic – the more useful stuff you post, the more users will come across it and visit your website to find out more
  • Converts more web browsers – blogs aren’t salesly, they’re informative and entertaining, so readers feel relaxed and receptive. They see you as a helpful resource, rather than an aggressive sales machine, making them more likely to buy
  • Positions you as an expert – blogging on industry news and issues builds your rep as an authority on your subject
  • Encourages brand loyalty – when customers see that you’re helpful and knowledgeable about your subject, and start to enjoy your writing style and content, they’ll keep coming back and recommending you to friends
  • Shareable – great blogs are super shareable, because we all want to tell our friends about stuff we love.

What makes a good business blog?

So, what are the business blog basics you need to know before you get cracking?

There are different types of business blogs, including company news, expert opinion, how to guides/tutorials, reviews, comparisons, and listicles (my personal fave).

You can – and should – include a mixture of content types on your business blog, to keep readers informed and interested.

All good business blogs feature:

  • A strong headline to draw readers in
  • Multiple headers for easy reading
  • Stats to support your points
  • A mixture of long and short sentences to hold readers’ interest
  • Call to action telling readers what to do next

How to write business blog posts

Before writing a business blog, put yourself in that dream customer’s shoes for a moment. What is their pain point? What are they worried about, or interested in learning about? Remember, your business blog isn’t about overtly selling your products or services. It’s about helping your customers and building that connection between them and your brand.

Once you’ve identified a great topic to blog about, let’s start writing.

The ideal length for a short blog is between 500 and 700 words, so aim for 500 words as a minimum. Longer form content is fantastic for improving your search engine ranking, as long as the content is still relevant and insightful to your target reader.

If you’re unconfident in your writing skills, download a spellchecker like Grammarly to catch any errors. However, don’t let this put you off writing a business blog. You’re the expert in your business, so who better to write posts your customers want to read?

Try to write how you’d speak, so your readers come to recognise and enjoy your distinct tone of voice.

Use short words instead of long ones – simplicity is key.

Explain around your subject – this aids comprehension and is also awesome for SEO. So, for example, if you’re writing about the benefits of soy candles, start with a header: What is a soy candle? Going back to basics is ALWAYS a good thing, as we can never assume our customers know everything we do about a subject.

Using your blog for marketing

Business blogs are an amazing marketing tool for your company, as they develop trust and build brand awareness.

You can use your business blog to market your products or services in loads of different ways, including posting links to social, sending it out as an email campaign, or filming the content featured in the blog as a YouTube video.

How to get support with business blogging

Need a little extra support venturing into the blogosphere? Help is at hand. I’m running an online course – Blog with confidence to grow your business – and I’d love to see you there and help you unlock the incredible benefits of blogging for your business. Find out more or bag your spot here: www.tinyurl.com/blog-with-confidence-register 

Top 12 words that make us cringe (and why they give us the ick)

words that make us cringe

Why do some words make us cringe? Buzzfeed did a survey on the most cringeworthy words in the English language – and the results are unsurprising. But what are the most cringetastic words? And why do they give us the ick?

Top 12 words that make us cringe

Here are the top 12 words that make us cringe. Plus, see the percentage of people surveyed who found them cringeworthy (at this point I’ve already typed the word cringe so many times it has lost all meaning):

1.  Squirt – 55%

Coming in at number one, the word squirt was voted the cringiest word in the English language in Buzzfeed’s survey. Does this word make you feel queasy?

2.  Moist – 51%

Surprisingly, the word moist was second in the grossest words poll. However, it was a very close second, making over half of the people surveyed cringe. Aversion to the word moist has spiralled in recent times, becoming a highly fashionable word to dislike.

Are you freaked out by the word moist?

3.  Squelch – 45%

An excellent example of onomatopoeia, squelch came in third in the cringe awards. The word squelch made 45% of the people polled feel gross. Does squelch have that effect on you, or doesn’t it bother you?

4.  Secrete – 43%

The word secrete is defined as a verb meaning “to produce or discharge”. But does it make you cringe when it’s secreted from someone else’s mouth? (ugh)

5.  TIE:  panties – 35% and defecate – 35%

Vying for the position of the fifth cringiest word in the English language are panties and defecate. Do you think their place in the top 12 is justified?

6.  Flaccid – 33%

The word flaccid came in midway in the survey of the words that make us cringe the most, putting off 33% of people. Why does this adjective, meaning soft or loosely hanging, make us feel so uneasy?

7.  Yeast – 31%

Yeast was voted the seventh most cringey word in Buzzfeed’s poll, disgusting 31% of people questioned. What is it about the word yeast that offends you? Or do you fail to see what the fuss is about?

8.  Chunk – 29%

29% of people surveyed agreed that chunk was a cringe-inducing word. Do you agree?

9.  Orifice – 28%

Another bodily-related word that makes us cringe is orifice. Does it have the same effect on you?

10.  Coagulate – 26%

Coagulate, a verb that refers to a fluid changing to a solid or semi-solid state, came in at number 10 in the cringiest words in English. Do you agree with this position?

11.  Ointment – 25%

A smooth, oily substance used for medicinal purposes, ointment is having the opposite effect on many of us, as it’s making us feel worse when we hear it. Are you one of the 25% of people put off by the word ointment?

12.  Crevice – 18%

A narrow opening or fissure, especially in a rock or wall, the word crevice has earned its place in the top 12 words that make us cringe, offending a respectable 18% of people surveyed. Does the word crevice make you gag?

What is word aversion?

The feeling of cringe we experience when certain words are said or written is down to a psychological curiosity known as word aversion.

Word aversion is defined by Ohio linguistics professor Paul H. Thibodeau as “a feeling of intense, irrational distaste for the sound or sight of a particular word or phrase, not because its use is regarded as etymologically or logically or grammatically wrong, nor because it’s felt to be over-used or redundant or trendy or non-standard, but simply because the word itself somehow feels unpleasant or even disgusting.”

So, it’s not the same as getting annoyed because someone spells it “defiantly” or pronounces it “expresso”. Word aversion is more of an emotional reaction to a particular word, because of the negative way it makes us feel.

Why word aversion happens (and the reason certain words make us cringe)

Professor Thibodeau’s study into why people hate the word moist revealed word aversion can happen for a number of possible reasons:

  1. It sounds gross
  2. It evokes an unpleasant memory for us
  3. It’s fashionable to dislike a certain word
  4. Many cringey words are linked to bodily functions, so these words become “contaminated”
  5. We use the same facial muscles to say certain words (like moist) as we do to show disgust

The study found those most likely to dislike the word moist were female, with above-average intelligence and neurotic tendencies, and younger people were more likely to dislike it than older generations.

Do you fall into this category? And if so, do you hate the word moist and others listed in the top 12 most cringeworthy words?

Let me know your most loathed words on social media!

Copywriting vs content writing: what’s the difference between copy and content?

copywriting vs content writing

Businesses need words. Lots of them. Preferably great ones. But what’s the difference between copywriting and content writing, and does a business need both?

Whether you create copy and content in-house or outsource copywriting and content creation to a freelance writer, there’s no escaping the fact the written word is essential to your business.

Let’s take a look at the differences between copywriting vs content writing, and see how both can benefit your business.

What’s the difference between copywriting and content writing?

If you’ve heard of copywriting and content writing, you’ve probably wondered if they’re different words for the same thing. And it’s true both copywriters and content writers produce words for businesses for specific reasons – and the two can overlap. But there are key distinctions between copywriting and content writing.

Purpose

Copywriting is sales-driven; content writing is engagement-driven.

While both are written for marketing purposes, copywriting has a clearer sales objective, whereas content writing is for branding.

Content writing is specialised content written for a business that’s less salesly and more informative and friendly, designed to help and entertain to promote brand loyalty.

The purpose of copywriting is to sell or convert, so it follows a clear direction.

As the purpose of content writing is to engage, it can veer in multiple directions and have a variety of links, because it’s not there to directly sell to you.

Length

Generally, copywriting is short in length, while content writing can be longer in form. As copywriting takes the reader through a sales process, it tends to be concise without tangents.

Content writing, on the other hand, can be much lengthier and spark various tangents.

Goal

The goal of copywriting is to sell a product or convert a customer, so it tends to end with a clear call to action, e.g. a “buy now” button at the bottom of an ad or landing page.

Meanwhile, content writing is subtler, as its goal is to simply engage an audience and encourage loyalty.

Do I need a separate copywriter and content writer?

In short, it depends on the individual and business. While some writers only produce copy or content, others can successfully do both.

When finding a freelance writer to support your business, it’s most important to gel with someone and feel they “get” you and your business writing requirements. This might be one person or different people for each kind of writing, so get to know freelancers and explore their work to find a solution that’s best for your needs.

While most copywriters and content writers can adapt their writing to suit different company tones of voice, every writer has their own fundamental style, so it’s crucial to get to know what this is to see if it aligns with your brand.

Does a business need both copywriting and content writing?

In a word, yes!

Copywriting may generate sales, but content writing does the background work by warming up a customer to convert.

By encouraging brand loyalty and building a relationship of trust between customer and brand, content writing makes a reader more likely to later convert.

Content writing is part of a less direct and longer-term strategy, but it’s no less important than copywriting to a business’s overall marketing.

Examples of copywriting and content writing

This is by no means definitive because some of these (e.g. blogs) can be both, but here’s a general guide to what’s defined as copywriting vs content writing.

Examples of copywriting:

  • Website copy
  • SEO landing pages
  • Advertising copy
  • Sales emails
  • Direct mail
  • Paid online ads or social ads
  • Taglines
  • Brochures

Examples of content writing:

  • Blogs
  • Unpaid social media posts
  • E-books
  • Advertorials
  • Case studies

For more information about copywriting and content writing, check out my other blogs.