Want to write a great blog post that tons of people will read not just now, but for months and months to come? This is the guide for you.
Writing a blog post sounds easy enough, right? Open any text editor, start typing, and there you have it.
Except…as a writer myself, I know how that story can end.
Deciding on a topic, organizing your thoughts, facing that dreaded blank page for days and pouring your heart and soul into your work…only to get a total readership of 20 views a year later.
It’s not a good feeling.
So how do you write something amazing?
Something that people actually want to read, and that gets thousands of visits each month?
Stay with me—I’m about to cover everything you need to know in this post, from the technical bits to the more subtle nuances of writing and editing.
Here we go!
How to get consistent readership
Let’s start off by defining “consistent readership”.
Consistent readership means that your blog post generates both ongoing and stable—maybe even increasing—interest over time.
When a post doesn’t get consistent readership, traffic coming to it might look like this:
That surge in traffic is commonly known as a “spike of hope”—which then rapidly degenerates into a “flatline of nope.”
What’s happening here is that you see a nice boost in traffic when the post is first published and promoted to your network…but this referral traffic fades away soon after.
The big question is: how do you keep that traffic coming?
Here’s a hint: 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search (which refers to traffic coming from search engines.)
Which means that where most sites are concerned, organic traffic is going to account for more traffic than all other sources combined.
Here’s what organic traffic to a blog post looks like when it’s optimized for search traffic:
That’s all thanks to SEO!
At Ahrefs, we have about 170 posts on our blog and get around 240k monthly visits from search engines.
On average, that’s 1.4k/month for every single one of our blog posts. And you can achieve similar results too—it’s honestly not rocket science.
Here’s a simple 9‑step process to writing blog posts with tons of traffic potential that’s based on the way we do things at Ahrefs.
Step 1: Decide what you want to write about
Have lots of topics in mind? Fantastic—note them all down.
If you don’t, or if you’re struggling to come up with more good ideas, don’t worry. Try this: look at what’s working for your favorite blogs (or even competitors.)
Pop any domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and go to the Top Pages report. This shows you a list of the most popular content on that site when it comes to organic traffic.
There’s your inspiration for topics—the keywords and phrases associated with these pages have already proven themselves to be popular, so they’re likely to be great topics to write about yourself.
Another shortcut to content ideas: enter your term into Keywords Explorer and use either the Phrase Match or Questions report (you can also use a free tool like Answer the Public.)
Both these reports will pull a big list of keyword ideas for you.
Now, all you need to do is shop around a little and look for the topics that interest you. Make a list of topic ideas—5 to 10 should be enough to start with.
Ideally, these topics will fall in the middle of the Venn-diagram below:
Step 2: Narrow down the topics with the most potential
Keep that list of ideas close, because we’re going to filter them so that only the contenders with the most potential remain.
Recap: you want to write about things that people are searching for month after month in order to drive long-term traffic to your website.
One way to do this is by using a combination of guesswork and free tools like Google Trends which shows you the relative popularity of any search queries you enter.
Let’s say you have three topics from the previous step: Overcooked, Overcooked 2 and Mario Kart. Enter all three terms in Google Trends and it’ll show you which topic is the most popular.
Mario Kart wins!
One drawback, though: while it’s great for tracking trends, what Google Trends doesn’t do is show the search volume of search queries.
So while “Mario Kart” is clearly the winner here, it could, in reality, get four searches a month while the other terms get one. In which case, none of them would be considered to be popular at all.
That’s where Ahrefs comes in.
Paste your topic or keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and scroll down to look at the SERP overview. From here, just check the column that tells you how much estimated monthly organic traffic the top-ranking pages have.
This is important to do because some topics may not be worth your time and effort.
For reference’s sake, it can take us more than 20 hours to write a blog post at Ahrefs. If we’re only getting a handful of visits per month to that post, then it’s really not worth the effort involved.
So: weed out the topics with low traffic potential to save yourself the hassle and eventual disappointment. In this case, Mario Kart clearly has high traffic potential.
If you’re blogging for a brand or business, make sure to check for business potential.
This means only selecting ideas that are related to your niche and that might convert a reader into a customer somewhere down the line.
For example, if you’re selling graphic design software, a blog post about “how to make an infographic” makes perfect sense. Conversely, a post about “how to change a car tire”, no matter how much traffic potential it has, is unlikely to bring about results for your business.
Step 3: Check if you can rank
Now that we’re left with a handful of ideal topics, it’s time to check for two crucial things that can hold your blog post back from ranking: competition & intent.
Let’s start with competition. Head to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and enter your topic.
Check the Keyword Difficulty metric, which gives you an estimate of how hard it would be to rank in the top 10 Google search results.
As a very general rule of thumb, a KD lower than 10 should be “rankable” for a beginner blogger.
But there’s another thing you should check before you begin drafting: search intent.
In simple terms, this means making sure that the keyword has “informational intent.” To check that, take a look at the SERP overview in Keywords Explorer, which shows you the current top-ranking pages for the query.
If we do this for Mario Kart, it’s clear right away that this is not an informational search.
Aside from the two results from “wiki” pages (see highlights above), the rest of the results are product pages. This shows that the query has commercial search intent. In other words, people who search for “Mario Kart” are in buying mode, not learning mode.
As such, it’s very difficult to rank blog posts for such topics, because Google’s job is to give searchers what they want.
Not all is lost though. If we check the Questions report for the seed keyword “Mario Kart,” there are thousands of related informational keyword ideas for us to choose from.
Make sure that you filter out topics that you’re unlikely to rank for. You should be left with a couple of promising topics.
Now, all that’s left is to write the post!
To kick things off, put your ideas down and arrange them into some form of structure.
Things don’t have to be super concrete at this stage. Think of this outline as the “base” of your post.
So: plan out the broad topics you want to cover and follow up by filling in the sub-topics for each section. Give each section a name.
Not sure what to write about? Use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool to get some inspiration.
For example, let’s say that we wanted to write a review of the Nintendo Switch. We could paste in a few of the top-ranking pages for “nintendo switch review,” then hit “Show keywords” to see the other keywords for which those pages rank.
Looking through this list, I see things like:
- nintendo switch durability
- nintendo switch number of players
- nintendo switch screen quality
- nintendo switch build quality
Those are all subtopics that we might want to include in our post.
Here’s what your outline might look like:
- Header: Nintendo Switch Review: It’s Amazing!
- Subheader: Why is the Nintendo Switch so amazing?
- Sub-sub-header: Great selection of games
- Sub-sub-header: Durability and screen quality
- Sub-sub-header: Number of players
- Subheader: The best games on Nintendo Switch
- Sub-sub-header: Solo play games
- Sub-sub-header: Cooperative games
- Subheader: Why is the Nintendo Switch so amazing?
This will help to create a visual hierarchy of importance, with headers being the most important (and only used once per post), sub-headers being more important than sub-sub-headers and so on.
At this point, it’s super simple to start optimizing your post for SEO.
At Ahrefs, we work exclusively in Google Docs and recommend this for a few reasons—which will become clear as we go along.
Here’s an immediate perk: go ahead and hit “Normal text” in the menu bar in GDocs, and a dropdown will appear with the options to select
In HTML formatting, this is what the previous structure looks like while using header tags:
Nintendo Switch Review: It’s Amazing!
Why is the Nintendo Switch so amazing?
Great selection of games
Durability and screen quality
Number of players
The best games on Nintendo Switch
Solo play games
If you go to View > Show document outline, your will see the outline of your draft on the left hand side.
This is what the outline for this very post looked like on its first draft (how things change!)
Clicking on each heading jumps you right to the corresponding section in the draft itself.
Super handy, and great for organizing your post.
You can also use digital tools like Workflowy to map out your ideas—it helps you to organize hundreds of notes in a format that is searchable, expandable and collapsible for easy structuring.
Step 5: Write a rough draft
Once your outline is in place, it’s time to flesh that skeleton out into a rough draft.
Use your headers as a guide and write your first draft. This stage is all about “getting it out”, which means doing your best to avoid any form of interruptions to your writing.
In other words, don’t self-censor as you go along. Don’t repeatedly re-arrange your outline to make things flow better, and definitely don’t rewrite the same sentence ten times just because it “doesn’t read quite right”.
I know, it’s far easier said than done—I just rewrote that paragraph above three times myself.
Still, try to minimize interruptions and keep going. Think of it this way: it’s pretty much impossible to…