A blog is a must have element of a modern online marketing strategy. A blog lets you share your expertise in a way that helps your target audience make decisions (hopefully in your favour). If you’re taking the time to create awesome content, can you afford NOT to make that content SEO-friendly?
If search engine optimisation makes your brow crinkle a little, relax. I’ve put together a beginner’s guide to writing SEO-friendly blog posts.
#1 Do you know the keywords your audience use?
A little while ago, I said that you should stop thinking about keywords and start building a tribe. Keywords and SEO aren’t everything but they are still important.
Keywords help Google understand what your blog is about. The key to finding the best keywords is to understand what information people are looking for, specifically, and why.
Topic + intent generally reveals popular phrases.
Once you’ve chosen a blog topic, use Google to check which phrases are used to search on that topic.
You can use Google’s keyword tool or simply start typing your key theme into Google and see what it suggests. You don’t have to be an SEO expert or spend very long on this. Just long enough to get a feel for 2-3 phrases people use when searching on the topic you have in mind.
If your topic gets hundreds of thousands of search results, narrow your focus. Niche topics usually have less competition.
#2 Are you using those keywords in your blog post?
While Google is now a whole lot better at understanding context and intent, you still have to give it some signals about what your content is about. That means using your keywords!
The best way to use keywords in your content, without sounds like a spammer, is to turn vague phrases into more specific ones.
When you use longer, more specific phrasing you’ll often be able to use your keywords too.
Rather than writing about “marketing ideas”, get specific with “low-cost marketing ideas”. Rather than writing about “content”, get specific with “content marketing techniques”.
As well as using your topic keywords as often as is natural you should also use them strategically:
- In H1 and H2 headings – blog post headlines and subheadings
- The first and last 100 words (or so)
- The beginning and ends of sentences, headlines and lists.
- For instance, my first headline was A beginner’s guide to writing SEO-friendly blog posts but I rewrote it so my key phrase was at start of the headline.
- In highlighted phrases and links (but don’t only highlight or link your keywords)
- Page title and page description fields
- Page URL
The page title and description are particular important as these are the two fields displayed in search result and matching keywords are highlighted.
#3 Are you linking between blog posts?
Creating links between new and old blog posts makes it easy for your readers to discover other content, which naturally keeps them hanging around for longer.
From an SEO point of view, Google pays attention to links, making them the ideal location for your keywords too. I won’t pretend this kind of linking will lead to an SEO payday but every little bit helps your SEO efforts.
As you write new posts, think about old posts you can link back to and make time to revisit old posts to add links to newer posts. All this linking creates a content net that keeps visitors on your site, and that does help to make your blog SEO-friendly.
#4 Have you optimised your blog images?
Using images in your blog post is a great way to keep eyes balls on the pages. Images are visually interesting but they can also give you some SEO-love, if you make the most of them.
The key is to make your images have meaning for search engines. You can do this in a few ways.
Populate the ALT tag (or alternative text) for an image to help search engines ‘see’ your image.
- Be specific by adding subject names like services, places and objects. This will help you capture long-tail keywords that are highly convertible.
- Use your keywords and related keywords – but always write for human readers.
- Make them unique. If you use the same text over and over again, Google will think you’re spamming.
You can also make your blog image file names SEO-friendly but popping a keyword into the filenames. Just make sure you can still find your image!
#5 Are you promoting your blog post?
Promoting your blog posts is about 80% of the effort of building a successful blog. The more people read and share your blog posts, the more Google will see you an authority on your topic and will rank your blog posts well. That’s an SEO-friendly blog!
So once you write a blog post (or a guest post) and you optimise it using the steps I’ve covered so far, it’s time to share it! And not just once. Share your SEO-friendly blog post across several social media networks at different times of the day, week and month.
Invite comments and discussion. Get people thinking, talking and sharing your content.
Also share old blog posts. You’ll often be able to find new readers and ignite new conversations with every new share!
So let’s recap.
Checklist for SEO-friendly blog posts
If you ever feel a bit over-whelmed by the idea of optimising your blog post, here are some super handy steps in an easy checklist, just for you.
- Is your topic specific enough? Niche topics face less SEO competition than general topics.
- Do you know which keywords your readers are using in searches?
- Is your keyword used in your headline, introduction and blog conclusion (as a minimum)?
- Does you blog using vague, general phrasing when you could be using specific phrases with keywords?
- Have you optimised your blog’s title and description fields?
- Are you linking to old posts to keep people reading?
- Are your blog images SEO-friendly? Using keywords in your ALT tags, captions and file names helps your SEO.
- Are you promoting your blog posts more than once?
Not even ten steps to write SEO-friendly blog posts that build up your authority in Google’s eyes! Once you write your post, run through the checklist and boost the SEO love coming from your content.