You’ve started your own blog – first of all give yourself a firm pat on your back! It’s one of the best ways to keep your website content fresh and relevant. As well as making your site a more interesting and compelling place to visit (which keeps those visitors coming back) it is also a huge help in improving how google views and ranks your site – or in technical speak – it’s going to bump up that SEO. So – how do we make sure that your blog posts are doing all they can to help those google rankings?
Here’s my step by step guide for how to approach and write an article to ensure the best return in terms of visitors and google!
Step One: Planning & researching
In order to provide content in your field that people will search for and want to read, you need to research how your potential audience currently looks for and finds similar articles.
Before you start a post on any given topic, perform your own google search and read your competition. If you find a writer that you like that ranks well in google read more of their articles. Make a list of any titles or topics that you find interesting and that you may in turn write about it the future.
Regular blogging tells google and readers that you are consistent and worth taking note of. Stay on top of things by creating a monthly publishing schedule so you have a subject in mind each week to create content for.
What are the benefits of having regularly scheduled posts?
- It increases the number of pages you have in the Google index, making your website a stronger presence.
- Users will come back to your blog again and again.
- Do you have a mailing list (if not why not?!) A new blog post is a great ‘excuse’ to get in touch.
When you write any particular article do a more detailed analysis of the topic, and its associated keywords as they rank on google.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What exact topics will you cover in the blog post? If it’s one major subject (writing blogs for SEO for instance) – what sub- topics can be found within this.
- What is the goal of the post (to get better rankings for a keyword, to get more subscribers, to promote your business, to promote a particular service, to promote a lead magnet etc.) You may think that your goal is just to promote awareness of your topic – if so fabulous and mankind thanks you – but why not pick an additional motivation that will serve you and/or your business? Remember to keep that motivation in mind as your write.
- How will the new post benefit my readers?
If you have clear answers and motivations in place you’re in the best position to start your SEO boosting blog!
Step Two: How to structure your blog post for SEO
Now you have your impeccably researched topic your next step is to plan the post! in step one you should have uncovered all the topics you want your particular post to cover.
Now write them down and put them in a logical and coherent order. Splitting a post into smaller parts can making writing much easier, and more importantly as far as SEO is concerned – easier to read and digest. When it comes to writing the post these different sections will have individual headings which helps with keyword population and is also super reader friendly for those scanning your article to check that the content is relevant to them.
Step Three: Create the perfect blog title and craft the blog’s URL
Creating an interesting, provoking, and well worded title is a vital step for both SEO purposes and user friendliness. It is one of the biggest factors that will alert google as to what exactly the page is about.
What a good blog post title should contain:
- Its character length shouldn’t exceed 60. This is so it will appear in the search engines without any unsightly breaks! That said don’t make it too short – every single one of those characters matters in terms of reaching your target audience.
- Make sure it includes your target keyword – but don’t overstuff it – that looks spammy and is more likely to put people off!
- Make sure it accurately describes the content of the blog post
- Make sure it is INTERESTING! You want to make people click on to the post so it shouldn’t make them fall off their chair with boredom. You might make sure of particular ‘power words’ that have been proven by research to make titles more clickable…
Your blog title is one thing, your URL (the address of the post) is another. Your URL may well auto-generate form the title of the post, but this will probably create a long, difficult address. Within wordpress sites you have the opportunity to easily change the url to something shorter and sweeter. Remove unnecessary words and make the link concise and to the point.
Step 4: Use headings… but use them well!
A post that has been optimised for SEO will adhere to the following golden rules:
- Only use one h1 tag on the page. Otherwise google gets confused and will penalise you! The h1 tag is usually the main title of your post. MAKE SURE that this includes your target keywords.
- Use the heading hierarchy. The main title of the page is h1, the main sections are h2, subsequent subsections are h3 etc.
When your content is organised in this gorgeously tidy way, search engine spiders can more easily access the content during their crawling process. Ultimately is also makes the blog post easier to read (and scan).
Remember the more user friendly your post – the better it will rank!
Step 5. Keep your post’s paragraphs short
There is a distinct possibility that your audience is reading your content on their phone – long impenetrable reams of text are intimidating and unattractive. Make it easy for your reader to digest your content. Use small paragraphs (2-3 sentences long) and take advantage of the various formatting options (bold, italic, underline etc) to break up the monotony of the text and to keep your reader hooked!
Step 6: Add links as and when you can!
Whenever you write a new piece, it’s an excellent opportunity to link it to previously published content on your site. Do this by creating internal links. This is one of the most effective and easy to apply SEO techniques so don’t forget about it!
Here are some of the benefits:
- Internal linking helps search engines discover any new pages on your website. How I hear you cry?! when crawling a page, search engine spiders will follow any link and add it to their index if it wasn’t their already!
- It helps search engines work out what the destination page might be about.
- It’s user friendly! You’re giving your audience an opportunity to learn more about a topic that interests them.
- It can reduce the bounce rate of your site (how quickly people bounce away to a different place on the internet). This in turn tells google that you are interesting and relevant and they will give you preferential ranking.
Step 7: Make use of keywords, but avoid stuffing (good for turkeys – not for websites!)
You should absolutely use your target keywords (and variations) in your blog posts – it’s a major way that google will recognise that they should display your site when those words are searched for.
HOWEVER – do not make use of keyword stuffing. This is when you add keywords to the text just for the sake of doing so, leaving you with disjointed spammy sounding content. Your use of keywords should always feel natural. There’s definitely an art to this – but the more you put it into practise the easier it will become.
Where should you add keywords?
- In the title of the post
- In the main headings of your post
- Within the content of the post
- Within your concluding paragraph.
Top Tip: Get creative!
To avoid repeating the same keyword over and over again, use the Google keyword tool and search for your main keyword. It will give you a list of keywords that are closely related to your main keyword. Use those too and stay relevant without being spammy!
Step 8: Make sure your blog post is the right length
Simply put, longer posts perform better both in search and in social media. However the most important element of your writing should be quality – a shorter more relevant article will perform better than a bloated difficult to digest piece.
Your blog may be competing with hundreds of different posts already published about your chosen topic.
Your aim is to make your blog posts better.
Excellent content is more likely to be organically shared and will attract the attention of more users. Google – when evaluating how a page should rank – does not take into account the number of words, but the number of links that exist that point to that page.
Promoting an in-depth post, with images, external references and useful information is much more likely to get links compared to a post that is short and not so interesting.
The best way to find out how long your particular post should be is to use Google. Find out what your competing posts are doing. Open the top ten entries that appear in the first page of your keyword search. Find out how many words they use, and examine the type of content they provide. Then publish a piece that is better! Simple right!
Step 9: Optimise the post’s meta description
The meta description is the summary of the page that appears in google search. It must always be less than 156 characters. It should be descriptive – clearly telling us what the page is about, and interesting – you want people to want to click through! Not sure how to change the meta description? There are a few different ways – but if you’re a wordpress user by far the easiest is to download and make use of the fabulous Yoast plugin… Or of course you can always ask me for help!
Step 10: Optimise all your images
It’s a great idea to include visual aids (think images, graphs, infographics, video etc) to your content.
They make it more interesting to read – keeping those readers hooked and reassuring google of your quality. In order for all those visuals to be additionally helpful to our SEO we need to make sure they’re optimised to the extent that google will recognise their context.
The spiders aren’t yet at a place where they can visually decipher what an image contains so we have to tell them! How do we do this? By giving all media elements relevant file names and human human friendly ALT TEXT (the text that is shown if the image cannot appear for some reason)
Top Tip: Use the ALT Text of an image to include more related keywords
So what have we learnt?
Here are your pass notes!
- Before starting a new post, research your topic and your audience and have clear directives about what you want to write about and what you want to achieve.
- Follow my guidelines (!) and write SEO friendly blog posts. If you have existing blog posts – take some time to go back through them and make the changes necessary to make sure they’re doing everything they can to direct traffic to your site.
- Create a realistic publishing schedule – and stick to it!
And remember good results with SEO take time – so be patient and stick with it – if you follow the rules you will get results!
Want some help co-ordinating your SEO efforts or want o organise a site analysis to see what we can do to improve your site’s web presence. Get in touch!