Blogging then: A creative outlet for sharing your thoughts on certain areas of interest.
Chances are, if you’re including a blog on your firm’s site, you’re looking to share important information about your industry with clients while improving your searchability in Google. But why are blogs so important for SEO? Because – say it with us – content is KING. If your SEO strategy doesn’t include fresh, quality content, you’re heading for an uphill battle. And if this fresh, new content isn’t optimized for searchability, you’re doing your site a serious disservice. That’s why we’re here to help with 10 must-dos for ensuring every blog post is working hard to drive traffic to your site and build your reputation with Google.
1. Begin with Keyword Optimization
Before you even think of putting pen to paper (or mouse to Word doc), take the time to do some keyword research. Dig around keyword research sites like AHREFs, Moz, Answer the Public or your own Google Search Console to better understand what your target audience is actually searching for. If possible, look for words, questions or phrases with a modest to high number of queries and moderate to low competition.
Once you’ve gathered a few relevant keyword phrases, use these to guide the direction of your blog post. If certain keywords are questions, answer them in your post. If there are relevant phrases, use these in your headers. You’ll want to make it obvious to Google what your blog post is all about by incorporating your most prominent keywords in your prime real estate areas: the URL, hero text, headers and metadata.
2. Avoid Duplicate Content
As tempting as it may be, copying and pasting content from your site, previous posts or other materials will do more harm than good to your blog’s ranking. In fact, posting duplicate content is a big red flag for Google’s search bots. It can create confusion within Google’s ranking algorithms because it doesn’t know how to rank either piece. This can cause unnecessary competition within your own site, which could lead to keyword cannibalism (multiple pages on your site fighting over the same keywords).
Additionally, copying content from third-party sites is known as plagiarism and can get you into legal trouble if permission hasn’t been granted.
Your best bet? Make every blog post original and unique enough to be distinguishable from one another to Google.
3. Create Skimmable Content
The beauty of creating a website is that we’re not under the same confines as print material. Why is that relevant to your blog posts? Because you have the creative freedom to create a visually appealing post that’s much easier to read than a newspaper article, magazine spread or book. With your blog post, you have the ability to create skimmable content for your readers.
Creating a skimmable blog post should allow the viewer to quickly scan your content to find the answer they’re looking for. If the viewer is overwhelmed by big blocks of text with no headers to guide them, they’re likely to be unsatisfied with the post and leave quickly. This results in high bounce rates, which tells Google your site is not satisfying the user’s search intent. Creating an unsatisfying user experience can, in turn, hurt your SEO efforts and rankings in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Instead, you want to keep your paragraphs short (two to three sentences) and organized efficiently under relevant and informative headers. Doing so creates a roadmap for the readers and creates easily-digestible content. Offering 10 small paragraphs that contain the same content as two large ones is much more likely to hold your readers’ attention and keep them on your site.
4. Incorporate Visuals
Along with creating headers and shorter paragraphs, consider what visual aids may work best with your content. If possible, we recommend including an image or graphic every 100 words to break up the text and enhance your message. Eyecatching images, icons and videos can keep users engaged with your site and interested in reading your materials. And as you’re incorporating images into your post always be sure to add alt text.
What Is Alt Text?
Alt text’s original and most prominent purpose is to offer a description of an image to viewers who are unable to see it, whether it’s due to a site loading issue or visual impairment. Its secondary purpose is to inform Google’s crawl bots what the image is of since Google is unable to actually “see” the image. Your alt text should be a descriptive, informative and accurate portrayal of the image itself.
5. Optimize the Length
As a general rule of thumb, blog posts should be longer than 300 words. Creating especially short pieces of content can be problematic for several reasons. More likely than not, it won’t be especially informative or comprehensive for your readers, and it can often appear as clickbait to Google. This will likely result in lower rankings because Google thinks you’re not delivering on the quality of information promised.
How long you make your blog post will, of course, be up to you and the nature of the topic you’re presenting. Google tends to favor posts in the 1,500 to 2,500 range. This is most likely due to the comprehensive nature of having such a lengthy piece.
When in doubt, write out your blog post first and worry about word count later. You want a piece that flows naturally and covers the important information that pertains to your topic. Trying to stuff in extra paragraphs or irrelevant information for the sake of length won’t be doing you or your readers any favors.
6. Include Internal and External Links
A solid linking strategy is a key ranking factor for SEO and an important tool for guiding visitors through your site. Think about it, you want your blog posts to drive audiences to your site in hopes of turning strangers into potential clients. To get from point A (your blog) to point B (your contact page), you need to provide the user with a map to get there. That’s where internal linking comes into play.
Internal links are used to link from one page of your site to another page on your site. For example, your blog post could link to other relevant blog posts or to your services page – both of these would be considered internal links. Not only do internal links guide visitors through the pages of your site, but they allow Google’s bots to travel throughout your site as well. In fact, think of a blog post with no internal links as a dead end for both the user and Google because you’re leaving them with nowhere to go.
Alternatively, an external link is any link that leads the user to a third-party site. While not always necessary, external links can be used to build authority on a subject matter or to exchange audiences with peers.
7. Establish Unique Metadata
Every blog post should have an original meta title and meta description. These are the title and description shown on the SERP listing along with your URL. Not creating your own unique metadata increases the likelihood of Google pulling whatever information it sees fit off your site and using that instead since listings cannot be blank in the SERP.
Instead of considering metadata to be an optional afterthought, think of it as some of your most important real estate. A compelling meta title and description can make the difference between a user clicking on your listing or passing it by in the SERP.
Take this time to consider your URL slug as well. Use your most important or descriptive keyword in the URL to tell Google and the reader exactly what they can expect in a clean and concise manner:
8. Proofread and Edit
Of course, you want your blog to be free from errors and misspellings, but what does that have to do with SEO?
Because a poorly written blog post = bad user experience = lower rankings in the SERP.
In short, the user experience can have a direct impact on your standings with Google. Before you hit publish on your next post, have a trusted coworker look it over for grammatical mistakes or misspellings. Often times, a fresh set of eyes can find small errors you may have missed. Alternatively, there are programs online, such as Grammarly, that are designed to do the proofreading for you.
This step is crucial in publishing your next post because errors in content can quickly lead to a loss in authority and credibility with both Google and your viewers.
9. Make It Mobile Friendly
With half of all site visitors viewing websites on mobile devices, it’s time to make your site mobile friendly if you haven’t already. Part of making your content skimmable and easily digestible is allowing viewers to enjoy it on their smartphones.
In fact, neglecting to create a mobile-friendly version of your site may result in penalties from Google. This is likely because Google understands the percentage of users viewing sites on a mobile device will only increase over time. Therefore, they’re starting to index mobile sites as they would the desktop version and using these assessments in their ranking algorithms.
10. Publish Posts Consistently
Okay, okay. So this tip isn’t about optimizing any one specific blog post. But, if you’re not publishing those optimized posts consistently, every other tip could be for nothing – we’re serious. The only way you’ll get your posts to stand amongst a virtual sea of white noise is to post. them. consistently.
Create a content schedule for yourself as you commit to publishing every week, biweekly or each month (Psst, the more often you post the quicker you may see results). Sporadic posting, no matter how optimized the posts may be, will not be enough to catch Google’s eye. You need to instead establish yourself as an authoritative figure that’s committed to creating fresh, relevant content consistently.
Are Your Posts Optimized for Searchability?
While many consider SEO to be an ever-changing effort, Google has made it clear that the need for fresh, unique content is here to stay. It’s no longer enough to post as you please. Instead, it’s important to strategize and optimize your content for high rankings. Post informative and relevant posts consistently to show Google’s bots that your website is an up-to-date and important resource for its users.