Setting up a blog is a great way to drive traffic to your website. In order to drive that traffic, search engine optimization is what helps your posts be found by people who are looking for information associated with your brand, product, or service using search engines like Google.
Confusion when it comes to SEO is a common issue facing both bloggers and marketers. How do you know what matters and what doesn’t? What is a ‘SERP’? Why are keywords important and how do I use them effectively?
Not everyone understands how SEO works or where to even start – and I want to help. In this post, I’ll cover how to optimize your blog content for the keywords you want to be ranked for, along with a few other tactics you should keep in mind.
These tips will cater to beginners so I’ll keep things simple.
How to Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content
It All Starts With Keywords
Keyword research is arguably the most important stage of SEO. They are split into two main categories – long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are shorter, more generic and higher competition phrases or search terms. Long-tail keywords are more specific and generally less competitive.
Using a keyword tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner will help you find a range of terms that real people are searching for. The best way to start this is to brainstorm some terms and search queries that relate to what your blog post is about. You can then expand on these terms using a tool like Ubersuggest.
Ubersuggest allows you to put in keywords and it will then generate a list of more specific long-tail queries related to your base keywords.
You should get a good list of long-tail search queries that you can use for creating content – this is a great strategy for bringing in more traffic over time.
Focus On Long-Tail Keywords
Optimizing your blog is not about putting as many keywords into your posts as possible. This will hurt your SEO because search engines will think you’re keyword stuffing (using keywords as much as possible in order to gain ranking in Search Engine Results Pages) and it will lower your reading experience.
Instead, you should use selected keywords in your posts in a way that feels natural and doesn’t feel forced.
As a general rule, you only want to focus on 1 to 2 long-tail keywords per blog post, so you need to make sure that your most competitive terms are what you’re focused on.
Include These Keywords In Specific Parts Of Your Post
There are four essential places where you should try to include your keywords: headlines, headers and body, URL, and meta description.
The title (i.e., headline) of your blog post will be a search engine’s and reader’s first step in determining the relevancy of your content, so including your keyword here is vital.
Be sure to include the keyword within the first 65 characters of your headline, which is where Google cuts it off on search engine results pages (SERPs). Technically, Google measures by pixel width, not character count, and it recently increased the pixel width for organic search results from approximately 500 pixels to approximately 600 pixels, which translates into around 65 characters.
Long title? When you have a lengthy headline, it’s a good idea to get your keyword in the beginning since it might be cut off in SERPs towards the end, which can take a toll on your post’s perceived relevancy.
Headers & Body
Mention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, but only in a natural, reader-friendly way. Don’t go overboard at the risk of being penalized for keyword stuffing.
Whenever you create content, your primary focus should be on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content. Focus on being helpful and answering whatever question your customer might have asked to arrive on your post. Do that, and you’ll usually find you naturally optimize for important keywords, anyway.
Search engines also look at your URL to figure out what your post is about, and it’s one of the first things it’ll crawl on a page. You have a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its own unique URL — so make sure you include your one to two keywords in it.
Your meta description is meant to give search engines and readers information about your blog post’s content — so be certain to use your long-tail term so Google and your audience are clear on your post’s content. At the same time, keep in mind that the copy matters a great deal for click rates — the more engaging, the better.
Use Optimized Images
Blog posts that only contain text make it harder to read – to help this, you want to include images that support and help explain your content.
Because search engines don’t have eyes, they can’t see the images you’re including in your post. This is where alt text comes in. An image’s alt text tells them what an image is about — which ultimately helps those images be found in search queries. Alt text also makes for a better user experience, as it’ll display inside the image container when an image can’t be found or displayed, and can also improve accessibility for people with poor vision who are using screen readers.
Plan A Link Building Campaign
Now that your blog post content is optimized, it’s time to start strategizing how you’re going to get other sites to link to yours. These are called ‘backlinks’ and are a huge ranking factor, so it’s worth the time spent to work on this.
The first step is getting a diverse number of relevant links from related websites. The more relevant the link is, the more powerful it is. Get a backlink from a domain that is considered to be a high authority and you’re on to a winner.
Link building strategies vary depending on the content you’re creating, but here are a few standard methods to get you started:
- Commenting on other relevant sites/blogs with valuable feedback.
- Guest posting on other blogs.
- Running competitions on your blog and getting other sites to place a link to your contest on their site.
- Creating quality, informative content that people will link to as a reference point (like a how-to guide)
- Speak at an event related to the topic and get a link from the event page.
- Be active in forums and social media groups related to your topic and place a link to your blog within your profile.
There’s no shortage of ways to get links back to your blog or site, but most of it stems from having and creating great content. If you’re producing great content, the links will follow. You also want to get creative with your link building in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Have a great example of some blog SEO tactics or link building strategies you’ve used with success? Let me know in the comments below, I love to hear about success stories, so get in touch!