Keys to Blogging: Keep it Simple

BlogWhen I started this blog in late August of 2011, I tried to solve the world’s problems one blog post at a time. It didn’t work.

That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t writing good content. In fact, I’d suggest that it was some of the best, most comprehensive content that I wrote.

But no one was reading it.

Why not? Well, it was partially because these blog posts were so long. They were hard to read. But I’d contend that this wasn’t the biggest problem.

The main issue: a lack of focus.

Over time, I’ve come to realize how important it is to be focused on one topic. Keep it simple! It’s not only better for SEO, but it’s better for the reader and better for my planning and organization of content.

How I Plan Simple Blogging Topics

I keep a running list of blogging topics. Things change quickly in the digital space, so I’ll move topics up or down in priority and cross them off as I cover them.

My list is made up of topics that each focus on a single detail. A great example is the blogging I did when Timeline was announced for Pages.

I could have written one big blog post covering all of the main features of Timeline — Cover photo, tabs, pinning, highlighting, milestones, on and on. But instead, I wrote one blog post for each component and exhausted the hell out of it.

How Simple Helps SEO

As a result of this approach, I wrote about 40 blog posts during the month of March. It was a wildly successful month for me. It seemed there were always several blog posts that Google was driving people to at any given time.

There’s a good reason for this. Let’s consider two scenarios:

  1. I write a comprehensive blog post about Timeline. In it I mention Cover Photo Rules.
  2. I write a blog post called Cover Photo Rules and discuss it in great detail.

Which do you think will come up higher in the search engine results? You bet the second one will.

When someone is searching Google, they are looking for help in a very specific area. It’s rarely broad. And when it is broad, it’s also more difficult to compete in this area.

Where you can shine is in the details. Write a blog post about specific problems and cover the background and solution in exquisite detail.

How Simple Helps the Reader

Your readers will love you for this approach. If someone is looking for an answer to a single problem, they don’t want to have to scan through a long blog post about multiple subjects to find the answer. They want to find the answer quickly, and writing well defined titles with focused content will bring in happy readers.

I find this works extremely well for tutorials. People want to know “How to…” In this case, it’s important to provide detailed step-by-step instructions. But this may cover a very simple task instead of multiple tasks. I then provide thorough details to give the readers what they want.

Don’t think that this means you have to write short blog posts. You’ll notice that I still often write long ones (I’m a wordy guy). But it means that your focus will make it more likely that the content you write will be more relevant to the reader from start to finish.

How Simple Helps Me Blog

Taking this approach has made a world of difference for me. Before, I’d write a blog post that covered six topics. As a result, the following day I would struggle to find something to write about.

Now, I break that old blog post up into six separate blog posts. It seems I never run out of topics to cover, which makes my life a whole lot easier.

This also makes the process of writing much more enjoyable. When I’m focused, I find that I can plow through a topic very quickly. I know exactly what I’m going to cover. I hit the main points, exhaust the details, and I’m done.

And when there’s always something to write about, I rarely have a night when I’m struggling to piece a blog post together. You know the nights. I used to regularly write and rewrite, edit and discard. That just doesn’t happen now because it’s rare that I am forcing content. As a result, I’m confident that the consistency of quality content I write is far greater now even though I write way more often.

What Do You Think?

What’s your approach? Do you find that simple works better for you as a writer? How about as a reader? Are you more likely to read a very general post that covers many topics or a focused one that exhausts a topic?