3 painless rules for improving your blog writing style

I have been helping a client improve their blog writing style today and thought I’d share three simple tips for building a consistent style.

The “rules” I’m about to share are common in the world of journalism but not widely appreciated outside the newspaper industry.

10 should be ten when leading a sentence

The first tip relates to numbers.

As a rule of thumb, I stick to the convention that you use words when writing about numbers one to nine and numerals when writing numbers 10 and beyond.

And, as with all rules, there are exceptions.

You never start a sentence with a numeral. Hence, 10 is fine here, mid-sentence. Ten is the choice here, leading the sentence.

This rule can also be broken in blog titles, where it is stronger to lead with numerals, as I outline in 3 powerful reasons for using odd numbered lists in your blog post titles.

Using capitals consistently

There is debate in writing circles about how to deal with capitalisation.

For the purpose of blogging, however, I suggest choosing and sticking to a simple rule that will work for you.

You might choose to use Title Case In All Your Titles or choose Sentence case in all your titles, the choice is yours.

However, one thing that bugs me is when people use capitals for all sorts of nouns, rather than just for proper nouns.

In the realm of business blogging, this crops up in sentences like, the building was removed because of a Council rule that it should be so. Or, get a loan from a Bank to build your extension.

My suggestion is to keep it lowercase unless you are referring to a particular body or institution by name, eg, the building was removed because Happytown Council deemed it so, or, seek a loan from the Safeplace Bank.

Google is smart, Google is dumb

The final rule is a reminder that when you create titles for your blog posts, you need to treat Google as if it’s a bit dumb.

Google has a big job to do by indexing your article so it knows how your work might be relevant to people searching for certain topics.

If your title is too generic, it is unlikely to get much time in the sunshine of the first page of Google.

For example, Are you ready for the new season, could be an article with great content across numerous fields. But the question is, which fields?

Is it about clothing and fashion or sport or business or something else?

The inclusion of some helpful words will add context and make it easier for Google to help you get found.

For example, Are you ready for the cricket season, or, Is your business ready for the cold and flu season this winter, and so on.

At the same time, we need to remember Google is also smart. This means we need to avoid repeating these “keyword” terms over and over again in a robotic style.

Ultimately, blogging is all about balance: Striking the right balance in the writing “rules” you follow, and balancing your approach to content in a way that engages humans and gives Google all the help it needs to help you connect with human readers.