Have you ever given up on a blog post part-way through?
Sure, the post contained a few good ideas, but it wasn’t worth the effort of finding them. You were starting to skim before you’d finished the (over-long) introduction, and you got lost in the middle.
Chances are, that blogger who wrote that post didn’t pay sufficient attention to the structure of their post. And they paid the price: you stopped reading, and so did many others.
Why Structure Matters
Think of the structure as the skeleton of your post: it might not be immediately visible to the reader, but without it, your post would collapse into a big blob.
When your posts are well structured:
- Readers will easily grasp the points you’re making, and see how things are connected.
- Readers won’t instantly forget what you wrote – they’ll be encouraged to take action.
- You will spend less time staring at the screen and more time actually writing.
- You won’t have to waste time writing long sections that you later cut out.
How to Structure Your Posts
The great news is that you definitely don’t have to be a highly experienced blogger, or an award-winning writer, in order to structure your posts well.
Here’s what to do:
Step #1: Plan Before You Begin
It’s often tempting to jump straight into writing your post – but a few minutes spent planning can save you a lot of time later on.
- Come up with a nearly-there title: it will inform your structure. “How to write faster” isn’t going to have the same structure as “One great way to write faster.”
- Decide on the key points you’re going to cover – you might want to create a mindmap to help you get your ideas down onto paper.
Step #2: Figure Out a Good Structure
Once you know the topic of your post, and your key points, you can decide on the structure. There are dozens of great post structures – here are a couple of my favorites:
X Ways to …
Why X Matters … and How to Do It
Why It Matters
How to Do It
Step #1: …
Step #2: … (etc.)
Your structure should always allow for an introduction and conclusion. The introduction needs to hook the reader and set up the post; the conclusion should round things off and include a call to action.
Step #3: Be Consistent Within Your Structure
Some bloggers make a good attempt at structure, but don’t get things quite right. The more consistent you can be, the better your post will come across to readers.
In particular, you should write the subheading for each section in the same way. If each item has a # symbol then a number, keep that going throughout. If you’re using “Tip #1” for the first, use “Tip” for all the others.
Where appropriate, structure each section the same too. A great example is 45+ More Websites that Pay You to Contribute an Article, Instantly, where each section in structured in the same way:
#[Number]: [Name of Blog]
Amount per post:
Payment info confirmed on website: [Yes/No]
Paragraph about the site with a link to their information on contribution.
Step #4: Vary Your Post Structures
List posts are often easy to write and easy to read – but if every single post you write is a list, your readers may start feeling a bit bored with the format.
Switch things around with different structures. That might mean having an in-depth post about one point, instead of writing a list with multiple ideas. It could mean changing a list into a how-to (with steps to be followed sequentially, rather than items to pick and choose from).
When you read other blogs, pay particular attention to structure. Pull out the main points and subheadings from a post to see how it’s put together – then use that structure in your own work.
Step #5: Show Your Structure
Even if you’ve structured your post well, that won’t necessarily come across to the reader: you need to include features like subheadings to indicate new sections.
(If you’ve written a very short post, putting a line or two in bold, or simply having paragraph breaks, might be all the formatting you need to support the structure.)
However … you don’t have to flag up every single separate element of your post. Your introduction doesn’t need the word “Introduction” at the start. Your conclusion doesn’t need to have the subheading “Conclusion” – though you might choose “Action Points” or “Over to You” or similar, when leading into a call to action.
Your posts will stand or fall based on their structure: make sure you get it right.
Good luck … and feel free to share your favorite post structures, or your top tips, in the comments below.
Ali Luke blogs for SEO Training, focusing on content creation and content marketing.