Giving your content the right structure is absolutely key if you want to drive home your message. So how do you get it right? Claire Price explains…
When we have something to say, whether we’re excited about a project launch, campaign or piece of news, it’s easy to leap into writing an article and ask questions later. But not sparing a few minutes to think about how to structure your blog can leave your content in confusion.
So, how do you go about becoming a structure supremo?
Funnily enough, we’ll need to start at the beginning…
First of all, whatever you write will need a beginning, a middle and an end. No ifs, no buts. Miss out one of these essential components and your article will not turn out the way you want it.
However, the type of article you choose to write will subtly influence how your article takes shape. It will also determine the type of information you want to include within it. A listicle, for instance, is quite a different beast to a deep-dive case study.
Before you start writing anything, you will therefore need to pin down exactly what kind of content you are hoping to produce. This will help you to define your goal and the direction of your content.
As I mentioned earlier, the structure of a good blog post or article has a beginning. And in the beginning, you will need a title.
Coming up with a headline can be a tricky business. It needs to grab attention but also give the reader an indication of what your content will be about. If you’re writing for the web, it’s very important that your header considers your target keywords too. It also needs to work when placed out of context, such as in a list of search engine results or on social media.
For instance, in a magazine, you could probably write an article about open-water swimming with the intriguing heading ‘In the blue’ and leave it at that. That’s because the reader can quickly scan the whole article and get a reference point from the imagery used.
But if you saw ‘In the blue’ in a list of search engine results, you’d be left feeling a little puzzled. Alternatively, if you saw the headline ‘The benefits of open water swimming’, you’d instantly know what the article is about. Essentially, online headlines need to be a little more descriptive.
Your headline will then need to be followed by an introduction. This should be snappy and give the reader a few tidbits of what you’re about to cover. This should be just enough to whet the appetite and encourage your reader to stay on the page.
You can generate this curiosity in several ways. For instance, you could start by asking a question. Whatever you do, keep it short and make it as enticing as you can.
Because of the need for brevity, some people find that the intro is the hardest part to write. For others, it helps them to set the scene so that they can move seamlessly into the juicy bit of the article.
If you’re in the former camp, you can’t ignore your introduction but you can certainly delay writing it. If you’re struggling to figure it out, move onto the body of the article and then come back to the beginning again later. You may find by this point that it writes itself!
Now we’re onto the fun bit!
The first thing to say is that there is no ‘ideal’ number of paragraphs that you need to include in the body of your article. The ‘ideal’ number is however many you need to get across what you want to say.
Before you tuck into the best bit of the article, you need to think about your overall story. Each paragraph should then let this story unfold in a logical way.
If you’re writing something informative, it may help to ask yourself the questions of who, what, where, why and when to get yourself started.
Remember: your body copy doesn’t have to consist of solid paragraphs. Bullet points, tables, subheadings and images can help to break up your article and give its structure extra interest. They also make it skimmable.
Indeed, the best blog structure for SEO purposes will incorporate several of these elements. Subheadings in particular can be useful for giving more prominence to keywords.
Once you sense your article coming towards a logical end, it’s time to scribble up your conclusion.
This should be satisfying and neatly sum up what you have said in the main part of the article. It should, ideally, also have some sort of call to action. For instance, ‘Want to know more? You can get in touch with us on XXX’. By giving your readers a direction, you can guide them towards the response you want them to take.
If you find the introduction difficult to start off with, you may actually prefer to write the conclusion first. This will help you to set down the end goal of your article. You can then lay down a trail of breadcrumbs throughout your body copy to neatly arrive at this fabulous finale.
If this article has helped to demystify the magic of article structure, don’t miss out on our other content marketing tips! Sign up to our newsletter today and you will get a re-cap of all our latest content sent straight to your inbox.
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