How to Write a Better Blog
Blogging, it’s not why most people get into business, but written communication remains an important part of customer acquisition. And online, that means writing high quality blogs, articles and landing page content to help send the signals to Google that will equal long term SEO success.
With today’s tech-based, always-online economy, the value of good writing may not be obvious. That’s where we’ll start before addressing how to write a more effective piece of website content.
A 24/7 Salesman: The value of an expert blog
Without a website, companies are passing up on 30 percent of their potential business. Even when no one is at the office or manning the phones, the company’s website is there representing the brand. In this way, an effective website is like a salesman who never takes a break. Publishing high quality content is like giving that salesman the best possible sales pitch – with it, they’ll represent your company well and earn more customers as a result.
In the end, as the company’s owner and resident expert, you have complete control over your brand’s messaging through the power of blogging.
Every business owner is an expert, so put that expertise to good use
The first hurdle for business owners to get over is a psychological one. “I can’t write,” said just about every business owner ever, but as an expert in your industry, your insight has value to Google and to users. That’s true even if you can’t write like Shakespeare.
If you’re willing to practice writing and get better, you’ll eventually develop your spoken voice into an effective written voice. For many niche subjects, all that’s needed is clear, direct writing with some expert insight or examples sprinkled in.
One easy way to come up with blog topics – listen to the customer
Looking for a good blog angle? Pay attention to what customers are concerned about. These could be your customers or a competitor’s customers, wherever they provide feedback. This could be a question asked in an e-mail, a comment in a product review or a complaint on social media. Whatever it is, there’s probably a blog angle in there somewhere, as long as you’re looking for it.
Google wants original, expert ideas, so be careful with AI writers like ChatGPT
Although some of the ChatGPT mania has died down, there is still plenty of conversation regarding what it, and other AI writers, can do for website owners.
ChatGPT can help with some writing-related tasks, but it cannot replace the expertise needed for the content writing itself. It’s not a cut-and-paste job. You’ll have to do some extra work to get the page to a publishable level.
Google is on the record saying that it’s okay with some AI content as long as it meets the search engine’s quality standards. Unfortunately, AI content doesn’t. When AI “writes,” it’s actually scraping content from tons of existing pages, pulling out information and reordering it to create the semblance of an original article.
But nothing in the AI page is original – just an amalgamation of the pages it pulled from. Google doesn’t like that because users don’t like that. Users don’t want an internet full of same-sounding, no-value junk, and so Google doesn’t want to fill its SERPs with same-sounding, no-value junk.
As such, search engines will penalize sites that rely too much on AI for their blogging and website content. And yes, Google can easily detect AI writing.
There’s room for AI to fill a role, though, so here’s how to use it
To summarize so far – don’t take what the AI writer gives you, then turn around and publish it on your website. That’s a no-can-do, but what can you do with ChatGPT and similar AI generators?
- Generate a pool of subject-relevant keywords – Every blog should be optimized with high-value, subject-relevant keywords. These provide Google with the signals it needs to understand the page’s content and properly categorize it for its search results pages.
And you can ask ChatGPT to provide those keywords. Writing a page about what to look for during a home inspection?
“Hey ChatGPT, give me a set of keywords for an article about home inspections.”
And the AI will immediately spit out the terms to include in your page, for SEO purposes. Simple.
- Create a quick list of potential blog topics – Not sure what to write about? What AI does well is generate a ton of low-resolution, high-level topics related to anything you prompt it with. Run a sports equipment shop?
“Hey ChatGPT, give me 10 article ideas related to choosing or maintaining sports equipment.”
That’s just one example, but no matter what the overarching topic is, if you ask for blog ideas for it, ChatGPT will provide several potential starting spots. Many won’t be good enough to make the first cut, but they can at least provide inspiration to get going.
- Develop an outline for a blog post – Once you have your blog topic settled on, ChatGPT can provide an outline for that topic. Let’s say you’ve decided to write about the most important features to look for in a family vehicle.
“Hey ChatGPT, what should be included in a blog about important family vehicle features?”
This can be used with any topic idea and will give you an idea about what to cover in your blog post. It’s likely that ChatGPT will list out its suggestions – each one can serve as a subsection on your page, so using this approach, writers can flesh out a proper outline that descends in hierarchy as each section is expanded on.
If you need to go deeper into a particular section, you can ask ChatGPT to expand on its “thinking.” For example, ChatGPT may list additional airbags as an important safety feature for family vehicles. In response, you could ask ChatGPT to list the kinds of airbags that might be included in a family vehicle. This information can be included in a section dedicated to “airbags” or “safety features.”
As this example illustrates, there’s no limit to how deep you can go with an outline using ChatGPT in this way.
- Generate a (very) rough draft to get started – At this point, the only thing left to do is write the blog. It’s the hardest step, of course, but ChatGPT can provide a rough first pass at the page.
“ChatGPT, write a blog about how to prepare a home for the winter. It should be about 2,000 words long and include tips on how to reduce heating costs.”
Again, just another example, but any topic and important details can be included in your prompt.
Again, you cannot take this rough draft and publish it as original content. If you do, Google will eventually penalize your site. Instead, take the draft, ensure it is factually correct, add in relevant expertise and examples, remove any unusual transitions or turns of phrase (AI parrots a lot of cliches and unprofessional sounding language in its copy) and format it so that it reads well for users. Now, and only now, is the blog worth considering for publication.
Google is constantly raising the content bar, so site owners need better blogs to compete online
Any successful business owner knows that communication is key to winning new customers. Online, that communication is managed through blogs, articles and other forms of written content.
And the better that written content, the more effective your website will be at earning better search engine rankings and more customers. ChatGPT and similar AI writers can be of assistance here, but they cannot replace a human writer entirely – especially one with expert-level insight and experience.
That means site owners now need to write better blogs (which can be done with ChatGPT’s help) or, at the least, bring in someone who can write to Google’s increasing content quality standards.
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