Which blog post would you read

4 simple blog post templates (and when to use them)

If you have writer's block and are tired of staring at a blank page, blog post templates could be the solution.

Every blog post is different but most are not so differently.

Think about the blog posts you've read in the past. They probably weren't extremely different in terms of format. Chances are you didn't pay close attention to it because you were focused on the content.

This is good news for bloggers. It means templates can make life easier no matter what you're writing about.

In this post, we highlight four blog post templates that will help you generate good content faster and show you which template to use best when.

  1. The list post
  2. The step-by-step guide
  3. The extended definition
  4. The beginner's guide

List posts, also known as listicles, are lists of tips, tools, techniques, myths, mistakes - anything that makes sense as a list.

Examples

What content is this template best suited for?

List posts are best for information that is not chronological. In other words, for everything that does not have to be in a certain order.

For example, check out our list of ways to find someone's email address:

You could change any of these items within the list and it would still make sense. If this doesn't apply to your planned content, this template is not the right one.

How to use this template

Follow these steps:

1. Create a numbered title

Use one of the templates and add the brackets.

  • XX possibilities to [desired result]
  • XX [subject] tips
  • XX [kind] tools
  • XX reasons why [problem]
  • XX [subject] techniques
  • XX [products] for [target group]

Just make sure the title is legible and matches the content you are sharing in the blog post.

If your post is about weight loss tips, don't mention "13 Reasons You Don't Lose Weight".

You can also make your title more engaging by adding a utility or relevant “power words”. For example:

10 ways to get more YouTube views

10 easy ways to get more YouTube views (even if you don't have subscribers)

If this is difficult for you, check out the top-ranking pages' titles for inspiration.

Recommended reading: How to Create the Perfect SEO Title Tag (Our 4 Step Process)

2. Write a short introduction

Most readers skim through list posts. This is the advantage of the format; it's not chronological. If any of the tips on the list aren't appealing, readers can keep scrolling until they find something that piques their interest.

So it doesn't make sense to write a long introduction. You only want to achieve two things here:

  1. Establish trust with as few words as possible.
  2. Include a linked table of contents.

Here is a great example of building trust on our blog:

Adding jump links afterwards makes the reader's life easier. You don't have to scroll through the entire list to see what's in the post. You can skim through the content and directly access the tip that is relevant.

Learn how to insert jump links in this post.

3. Use subheadings for list elements

Each list element needs a subheading. Use the

heading level for this.

Usually these are numbered but this is not a must.

In our list for Google Ranking Factors, for example, we have decided not to use numbering, as all points are equally important.

Just make sure the subheadings are descriptive and useful-focused where possible. This will entice readers to read each point. For example, in a list of weight loss tips, “5. Eat spicy foods to help your body burn calories "probably better than just" 5. Eat spicy food ”.

If you're not sure which items to include on your list, check out the subheadings in other top-ranked posts for inspiration.

You can use the on-page report in Ahrefs SEO Toolbar to see them at a glance.

4. Finish with a final tip

Every blog post deserves a conclusion. There are many ways to write one, but giving a final tip or two is an approach that works particularly well for list posts.

Here is an example from our list of ways to generate more YouTube views:

2. The step-by-step guide

A step-by-step guide shows a series of chronological steps to achieve an end goal.

Examples

What content is this template best suited for?

If you want to teach people something and this process has to happen in a certain order, a step-by-step guide is the solution.

For example, check out our guide on how to write blog articles:

Each of these steps must be implemented in a specific sequence. You would not write a draft before creating an outline and you would not write an outline before choosing a topic. This is the main difference between a step-by-step guide and a list post.

How to use this template

Follow these steps.

1. Create a “how-you” title

Each step-by-step guide has more or less the same title format: How to [achieve the desired effect]

It doesn't have to be that boring, however. There are also variations.

Here are just a few:

  • How to [achieve the desired effect] (XX steps)
  • How to [get the effect you want] (even if [common obstacle])
  • How to [achieve the desired effect] (additional benefit)

2. Write a short credible introduction (PSP formula)

If you want to teach people something, they want to know why they should trust you.

There are many ways to show this, but one that we often use is to use the PSP formula (PSP stands for problem, solution, proof).

  1. problem: Show that you understand the problem at hand.
  2. Solution: Briefly mention the solution.
  3. Proof: Demonstrate your experience and success in solving the problem.

Here is an example of the PSP formula in action:

3. Use numbered steps as subheadings

Use H2s to break the process down into steps. Then explain this part of the process in more detail under each subheading.

For example, here are H2s from our guide to YouTube keyword research:

  • Step 1: Find keywords that work reasonably, but not really well
  • Step 2: Choose a keyword that you want to rank better for
  • Step 3: Find out why other videos rank better
  • Step 4: Be better than other sites on matters that matter
  • Step 5: Track Rankings
  • Step 6: Repeat these steps for other keywords

Where possible, start each step with a verb in the present tense.

4. Conclude with a brief summary

Don't worry too much about this. Just summarize the process you showed readers in the post.

3. The extended definition

Extended definitions explain the meaning of a thing or a concept before going into more detail about it.

Examples

What content is this template best suited for?

If readers are having a hard time following your post without first understanding a thing or concept, this is probably the best format.

For example, consider our post on SERPs. It deals in detail with why SERPs are important, how to get into the SERPs and with SERP features. However, since SERP is an acronym, most readers will be completely lost if we don't define that term first. So that's exactly what we did in the first sentence:

How to use this template

Follow these four steps.

1. Start your title with "What"

Use the “what is” or “what are” format for your title.

Add context if you feel like it and make your title less boring with one of these formats:

  • What is [concept]? All you need to know
  • What is [Abbreviation]? [Written out abbreviation] explained
  • What is [concept]? A [short / quick / detailed] introduction

2. Define the term in the introduction

Don't get around the bush. Start with the definition.

If possible, try to incorporate the bold words that Google shows in the Featured Snippets for “What is [concept?]”.

For example, check out the featured snippet for “what is guest blogging”:

If we were to write a post with an expanded definition on this topic, it would make sense to use “post” and guest posting in our definition, as they are written in bold in the current snippet. Don't force this if it seems unnatural. Your first priority is to come up with a good definition.

This means that we can possibly claim the snippet for ourselves, rank better and receive more traffic.

Recommended reading: How to optimize for Google's featured snippets

3. Answer follow-up questions

Definitions are no longer than a few sentences. For the rest of the post, you should answer follow-up questions that readers may have after reading the definition.

You can see some of these in the People Also Ask (PAA) box in the Google search.

The following PAA box appears for “what is https”:

People want to understand what the purpose of HTTPS is and what the differences are between HTTPS and HTTP. If you were to write a post on this topic, it would probably make sense to use the extended definition format. You would cite the definition and then answer these questions under an H2 subheading.

That's exactly what we did in our blog post about HTTPS:

You can find more questions people ask about a topic with Ahref's free keyword generator. Enter the topic (e.g. “HTTPS”), click on Search and navigate to the Questions-Tab. This shows up to 50 questions that contain your search term, sorted by monthly search volume.

4. Conclude with a brief summary

Don't worry too much about this. Just summarize the main findings of the post, link to other resources on the topic and you're done.

A beginner's guide is an educational resource that provides a comprehensive introduction to a subject. It should be written so that it is suitable for newbies.

Examples

What content is this template best suited for?

If you plan to write an educational resource for beginners rather than an actionable step-by-step guide, the beginner guide format is probably your best bet.

For example, let's look at our beginner's guide on canonical tags. It explains what a canonical tag is, what it looks like, why it's important to SEO, best practices, how to create it, how to avoid mistakes, and how to fix existing problems - everything a beginner should probably know

.

How to use this template

Follow these steps:

1. Create a title that is appealing to beginners

The easiest way is to use the words “for beginners” or something similar in the title itself.

  • [Subject] for beginners
  • The beginner's guide for [topic]
  • The guide to the [topic] for newbies

2. Write a simple and empowering introduction

People who track down beginner guides are just that: beginners. While there is no one to two-step formula, make sure you cover the following four points:

  1. Understand why they need to know something about the subject. Most beginner guides are long. Unless you can convince people why they should spend time learning something you want to bring them closer, they may not be willing to invest that time.
  2. Use language that is easy to understand. Calm them down right at the beginning. Let them know that your post is not all using technical terms and complex language.
  3. Encourage them. Explain that the subject is not that difficult to understand. Make them feel like they can understand.
  4. Point out what they will learn. A linked table of contents should give you this overview.

Here is an example from our beginner's guide to Hreflang tags:

3. Cover everything you should know

Clarify the questions a beginner might have about the topic and answer them. Use an H2 subheading for each question.

For example, here are the H2s from our beginner's guide to affiliate marketing:

  • What is Affiliate Marketing?
  • How does affiliate marketing work?
  • How Much Money Can You Make Affiliate Marketing?
  • How to get started with affiliate marketing

For questions that require long answers or involve multiple steps, use H3-H6 subheadings under each H2 subheading to establish a hierarchy and make it easier to grasp the content.

We implemented this in our “How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing” section of our guide as follows:

If you're not sure what questions beginners want answered, check out Google's People Also Ask (PAA) boxes or find popular questions using Ahref's free keyword generator.

4. Conclude with encouragement and additional resources

There are many ways to complete a beginner's guide. However, we tend to end ours with a final approval and links to further resources.

Which blog post template should I use?

Each of these templates work best for specific content. But the question is, what kind of content should you be creating?

Let's assume that you run a coffee blog, for example, and through your keyword research you have determined that “french press cold brew” is a keyword with low difficulty and has thousands of searches a month.

If you want to rank for this term, which of these posts should you make?

  • 10 tips on how to make cold brew coffee in a French press
  • How to brew cold brew coffee in a French press
  • What is cold brew coffee? Everything French Press Owners Need to Know
  • The Beginner's Guide to Making Cold Coffee (in a French Press)
  • The Best French Press to Make Cold Brew Coffee (Top 10)

The best way to find out is to take a look at the current rankings. Google works hard to rank the most relevant results for searchers, which is why the top-ranking pages are a good indicator of search intent.

For example, if we look at the top-ranking pages for our preferred term in Keyword Explorer, we can see that most of them consist of a step-by-step guide.

To increase our chances of ranking for this keyword, we should join this.

Just keep in mind that the search intent is not always clear. You will sometimes find different formats in the search results and then have to follow your own assessment.

Final thoughts

While these templates are a good place to start, they won't work for every eventuality. Sometimes it makes sense to combine different elements.

For example, check out our guide on creating SEO-friendly URLs. The first part of the post is a step-by-step process, while the second part consists of a list of best practices. In other words, the post is partly a step-by-step guide and partly a list post.

Don't be afraid to do things differently if necessary.

Do you want more blogging tips? Read this here.

Do you have any questions? Contact me on Twitter.

Translated by Heike Radlanski. Heike deals with all aspects of online marketing and product management.