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Granular (One Topic) Posts


One topic per post – We’ve already spoken in this series about choosing a niche topic for your blog, but another strategy of many successful blogs is that in addition to having an over arching niche topic they tend to have each post focus upon a more tightly targetted topic.

On some levels this is a fairly natural and logical thing that most bloggers naturally do – but occasionally I come across a blog post that seems to want to answer every question known to humankind in a single post. The result can be a long, unfocused, rambling post that doesn’t really go anywhere.

Instead of feeling you need to stuff everything into one post – a strategy that often works better is to be more ‘granular’ in the way you post (ie break it down into grains).

In effect you end up with a blog that can be visually show like this (click to enlarge):

200602151542

Niche Topic – Your overall Blog has a Niche topic or focus – something we’ve talked about extensively here.

Categories – Within the niche you have categories which break the overall topic up into smaller parts (ie here at ProBlogger I have a category for blog design, writing content and blog tools). These categories are important for many reasons including:

  • Readability – Some of your readers will not be interested in the whole niche that you are writing about but instead will want to only look at part of it (one or two of your categories). Categories pages become, in effect, like a mini blog within your whole blog which can help readers find and follow the elements of the topic that they are interested in.
  • SEO – Search Engines like information that is clustered together and linked to other information like it. This is one of the reasons why niche blogs work well in Search Engines. Categories help this further – with category pages often ranking well in SE’s. They also help the SE bots that come to scan your site to get around easily (important for getting your whole site indexed).

Posts – Your Categories will then be broken down even further into posts. Each post will not cover the whole category (unless your categories are very small) but will cover an element of it. Tightly focussing your posts on different elements of your category will help you to round out your whole niche topic.

This structure is quite similar to that of a book which has an overall topic, chapters and then sections.

NB: Of course the above diagram doesn’t describe every blog. For instance some blogs have another subcategory layer between categories and posts (especially blogs with a wide or complex niche) and many blogs assign posts to multiple categories). Also keep in mind that some blogging platforms (eg blogger.com) don’t come with categories as a standard feature.

Benefits of Granular Posts:

  • Ease of Use - I’ve already talked in this series a number of times about how people don’t stay long on websites and have short attention spans. Granular posts help with this. They are shorter and punchy and go directly to the point.
  • SEO - Pages with single topics help search engines to work out what your post is about. This helps them to rank you accurately for the topic you’re writing about.
  • Contextual Ad Relevancy - Similarly having only one topic helps contextual ad systems like AdSense determine what you’re writing about and serve relevant ads for that topic.
  • Ease of Writing – This is more of a personal reflection than anything – but for me, I find it easier to concentrate on one topic at a time – I’m much more productive in this way.

Granular does not equal Short - One of the criticism I’ve seen of the idea of Granular Posting is that some people like longer posts. I would argue that granular posts need not be short at all. Some of my most popular posts are tightly focussed upon a single topic, but are quite long. For example my recent post on Choosing a Blog Platform is one of the longest I’ve written for a while – but is all focussed upon the one topic. I could have chosen to break it down even further – but felt it worked better as one unit.

Different Strokes for Different Folks - I can hear the comments to this post already and know that there will be some bloggers write about how smaller/granular posts are just not their style. My reaction to this is – ‘different strokes for different folks’. Each blog needs to find it’s own style and I’m sure there are some bloggers who break this rule and still have great blogs – however I think in most cases a more granular approach works well. If you do choose to go the ‘anti-granular’ route I would recommend that you don’t do it for every post. From time to time a large sweeping post can be quite effective, but doing it every day might end up frustrating your readership.

Utilizing Series of Posts – One option for those bloggers who find it difficult to write in this granular style is to break their longer, general posts down into a series of posts. In fact this is what this current series of posts on the larger topic of ‘Blogging for Beginners’ is. I started writing a post on the topic and found that it’d be much to long and diverse to be read all at once.

Do it Both Ways – Another option for those of you who like the mega post that covers a lot of ground is to go granular AND mega. For instance I wrote a series of posts a number of months ago on the topic of Search Engine Optimization for Blogs which was originally presented as a series of short, tightly focused posts each focussing upon a different element of SEO. At the end of the series I compiled each of the posts into this one mega post so that readers who preferred to see the full topic at once could do so.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. It also helps you make, not only a series, but an advanced posted series. 7 parts, 7 days… or something.

  2. One minor extension to your hierarchical diagram of the site structure… Many posts fit in multiple categories, even if they are really only covering a single topic (this depends in part on how narrow your categories are, I guess). So in your diagram, some of those individual post bubbles will end up being linked from multiple categories… That must be why they call it a web!

    –dad

  3. Darren Rowse says:

    raising4boys.com – you’re right – that’s why I wrote a few paragraphs under it:

    ‘Of course the above diagram doesn’t describe every blog. For instance some blogs have another subcategory layer between categories and posts (especially blogs with a wide or complex niche) and many blogs assign posts to multiple categories).’

    :-)

  4. Heh. I must be one of those readers that just ‘scans’ pages rather than reading! Sorry for not picking up on that.

  5. girls-girls says:

    A woman was at home, happily jumping up and down on her bed and squealing with delight. Her husband watched her for a while and then asked, “Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look? What’s the matter with you?”

    The woman continued to bounce on the bed and said, “I don’t care. I just came from having a mammogram and the doctor says I have the breasts of an 18 year-old.”

    The husband said, “What did he say about your 55 year old ass?”

    “Your name never came up,” she replied.

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  6. Paul says:

    Sometimes, some posts can not be easily broken in pieces. For instance, if you relate an event, which would need introduction, side-stories, explanations, etc.

    For those, it can be good to start with a list of what’s going to be in the post, either in a free-way (a kind of resume), either in a bullet-ways, either in a mixture style. The mixture style can be, for instance, structured with bullets, but not so precise as a list of paragraphs, not necessarily in the order that will follow.

  7. Mattheous says:

    Are my categories too wide? They’re:

    Blogging (for announcements about my blog)
    General Bibliophilia (for stuff about books that aren’t reviews)
    Lists (for easily digestible content)
    Reviews (for my reviews of books)
    Miscellaneous (for the older posts that I did before I choose a niche topic)

  8. Brain drain says:

    What about for a more general (all topics) type of blog? I like the idea that anything and everything can be covered and usually is on my blog. Readers like this too.

  9. Thanks for the tip!!!

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