Headlines, Categories, Topics & More: Design Blogging Q&A
Today, I’m answering your most frequently asked blogging questions, from word count to SEO to images.
Because after writing and publishing hundreds (literally) of blog posts for our clients, we’ve got this thing down!
The CONTENT Question…
Q1: WHAT SHOULD I BLOG ABOUT?
This is a loaded question that we’ve written a ton about, so I’ll paraphrase here…
Topics that speak to your target client’s pain points
Topics that are relevant to the services you actually want to provide (i.e. don’t blog about color if you dislike using it in projects)
Topics that educate your clients about the process of working with you (or someone in your profession)
Topics that include visuals that coincide with you and your target client’s aesthetic
ALL ABOUT SEO & FORMATTING
Q2: What is SEO & HOW MUCH SHOULD I CARE ABOUT IT?
That’s a big question. In quick terms, SEO is your website’s ability to perform well in online search results. And yes, of course you should care about it—but you also shouldn’t let it control your life.
There are a few quick and pain-free tactics you can use to help with SEO, many of which will be described throughout this post. So keep reading!
Q3: ARE BLOG POST CATEGories important & What should they be?
YES. Categories are not only important for your readers to find topics they’re interested in, but they’re also essential for search engines like Google to catalogue your website accurately for SEO.
So what should your categories be? Well, there’s no precisely right category label, but the best ones are straightforward.
If you have many blog posts devoted to design advice, call it “Design Advice.” If you publish several blog posts devoted solely to kitchen renos (and that’s your bread and butter service) have a category called “Kitchen Renovations.”
I know it’s creativity-killing, but being straightforward on this one really is best.
Anatomy of a Blog Post
Q4: What are the headers of a blog post & Why Are They Important?
In layman’s terms, “headers” are the different size fonts in your blog post. Your title is H1 size by default. The next size down is H2. And most sites usually have a size smaller, called H3.
Usually when you write a blog post, these headers are like the subtopics of a post. For example, in this blog post, I’ve created H2 headers for the big topics (SEO & Formatting, Anatomy of a Blog Post, etc.) and the questions are all H3 headers.
The reason each of these headers (H1, H2, H3) are important is…
1) A blog post is easier to read when it’s broken into chunks, and
2) The almighty Google reads headers first when cataloguing your website for SEO.
The verdict? Headers are very important.
Q5: What Should my headers be?
If you were to outline your blog post, your headers would be the biggest ideas. It’s best for SEO to keep them straightforward (like categories), but I won’t lie to you… straightforward headers are borrrrrring.
My suggestion is to mix it up. Keep some straightforward for SEO and spice up others so your readers can feel your personality.
As far as segmenting your post for headers, if you’re sharing a before & after reveal of one of your projects, break it down by room.
If you’re offering up inspiration from High Point Market, break it down by trend. If you’re giving advice on assembling a renovation dream team, break it down by the who, what, when, and where. Etc.
Look through any of O&B’s blog posts for examples. (If you use O&B Studio’s blog post templates, this part is done for you!)
Q6: What is the best word count for a blog post?
I’ve been asked this question on at least 2 podcasts (The Kate Show and Profit is a Choice), but I’ll say it again: there is no right answer. A lengthier blog post (with great written and visual content) will keep people on your website longer… but a shorter blog post is easier to consume on the fly.
The verdict? Don’t stress about it. (Or even look at it… seriously.) Write however much is succinctly appropriate for your topic + leave it at that. Over time, you’ll naturally end up with a variety of blog post lengths—which is the best of both worlds.
If you’re still skeptical, I’m happy to report that O&B and many (if not all) of our clients have seen SEO improvement without us being confined by word limits! Amen to that.
Q7: What is a call to action & what should mine be?
A Call to Action (CTA, for short) is a sentence or two at the end of your blog post that is meant to inspire your reader to take a desired action.
By far, the best action your readers can take after reading a blog post is to sign up for your mailing list—and you can inspire signups by offering a freebie, or Lead Magnet.
Mailing list signups not only show you that this particular person finds you + your content valuable, but it also creates an intimate connection between the two of you. Now, you can send them newsletters and continuing building that positive relationship of trust and value—the one you’ve already started building with your blog.
That said, depending on your blog’s level of engagement, you could also ask your readers to respond to a question in the comments section and get a conversation started!
Using Images in Blog Posts
Q8: WHAT IMAGES SHOULD I USE?
Images can make you look like a million bucks or like a budget designer… regardless of how great your designs are! In other words, you want high-quality images ONLY.
For our clients who have a lot of project photos, we’re able to use their photos in almost all of our blog posts, regardless of whether we’re blogging about lighting, space planning, window treatments, etc.
If you don’t have access to high-quality project photos, stock photos are your best bet. Here’s a list of free stock photo resources. We’re able to make these work for pretty much any topic, but you can also pay for stock photos if these aren’t your jam.
If you use O&B Studio’s blog post templates, you’ll have plenty of pre-curated photos to choose from!
Q9: What size images should I use to optimize my website’s speed?
This is a fantastic question, because site speed is SO important. Anything longer than a 1-ish second load time and your visitors are likely to lose patience and leave! (Blame the dwindling human attention span…)
Overly large images are usually the culprit of a slow website. Many photos (stock or from a professional photographer) are gigantic, so you’ll want to resize them. We use this online image resizer to condense photos without losing quality and have got it down to a well-rehearsed science…
For standard photos within a blog post, make the longest side no more than 600-650px
For banner photos (the big one up top), make the longest side no more than 1000-1200px
For your PROJECT photos (so people can see your work!), make the longest side no more than 800-900px
Again, if you use O&B Studio’s blog post templates, this part is done for you! (What didn’t we do for you? *wink*)
Q10: Can I use other people’s images if I source them?
The short answer is no, but it’s also true that almost everybody does it. For many businesses, having you link to their content on your website is welcome free marketing… but not everyone will feel this way. Technically, you don’t legally own the photos, so you could get into trouble.
Speaking as a Cautious Cathy, I advise you not to use other people’s images or to get the photo owner’s permission first. But again, it’s your call. (Stock photos are okay!)
Q11: WHY & How should I label my image files?
Another fabulous question and one related, again, to SEO. The problem is that search engines don’t have real eyes, so they can’t “see” photos like we can (at least not yet). This means that we need to label the images in the most accurate way possible for our search engine friends to find us.
Let’s take that Kitchen Lighting blog post example we discussed above. A file name for a picture of pendants over a kitchen counter might read: ABC-interior-design-denver-best-lighting-options-kitchen-pendants.jpg.
No surprises here—we’ve done this labeling for you already with our O&B Studio blog post templates. Just add your business and location to the filename and you’re good to go.
Sharing Your blog Posts
Q12: Where should I share my blog posts?
Sharing your blog posts is important—otherwise no one will read them!
The best place to promote your posts is where your target clients are, be it Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or LinkedIn. This blog post helps you understand which platforms are already working most effectively for you.
For pretty much any platform except LinkedIn, you can share your blog posts multiple times in a week. For LinkedIn, which caters to professionals, once per week is more appropriate. You can also promote your blog post within your newsletter, though you definitely don’t want to copy and paste it.
Well, there you go! Did I cover it all? Any burning questions left over? If so, feel free to ask in the comments below and I’d be happy to elaborate.
In the meantime, be sure to sign up below for a free template from O&B Studio. You won’t regret the time it will save you & the peace you’ll feel knowing all your blogging bases are covered!
Til next time,