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Are you frustrated with your blog’s lack of traffic? Do you want to learn how to optimize a blog post for SEO? If so, then here are some tips for you.
In this post, you will find all the steps necessary to create well-optimized blog posts that get noticed by Google and other search engines.
Follow these tips and watch your rank skyrocket!
1. Keyword is the Key
You can’t just write about anything or put up any old content without considering what people are searching for in Google. The only way to get high rankings is if your posts match what people are looking for on the web. So take some time every day (or at least once per week) and brainstorm keywords related to your niche.
I would even suggest you have a bucket list of at least 100 keywords before even starting your blog. This prevents you from running out of ideas.
Most importantly, look at the search volume and SEO difficulty. Currently, I use the Ubersuggest tool to do this.
If you want to dig deeper, then there are several premium tools like Semrush that can give tons of valuable information. Such tools even help you to find out what keywords your competitors are using. Ubersuggest too has a paid version with competitor analysis.
When thinking of writing about a topic, note down the key phrases that people may use. Then enter them into your keyword research tool.
Most often, the phrase that you initially come up with may not be the best one. There can be variations that are more popular with less competition. Most keyword tools show you what other people are searching for.
You can also look at the bottom of the Google search results page to get more ideas.
Some of these suggestions can be ideas for future posts as well.
2. Place keywords at relevant places
Once you have the keywords and the data, the next step is to use them strategically in your articles.
Insert the focus keyword within the text of your blog post or article. It’s important that search engines can easily find your content, so you should include keywords in relevant parts of articles.
Plugins like Yoast can give you suggestions on keyword placement. It can also calculate the keyword density as you write your article, which helps find out whether you are doing it right or not.
3. Link to related posts
Linking to other related pages helps the user discover more useful content. If a user is reading a particular post and wants to know more, they can click on related posts which help them find other related topics.
This also reduces bounce rate and improves dwell time, which is a good SEO signal.
For example, someone who was reading about how to photograph the milky way may want to read another article about how to stack photos together to reduce noise.
The two articles aren’t exactly related by topic but it’s helpful for users who might be searching for the same concept in the future and don’t want to go through articles one by one until they find what they’re looking for.
In your web analytics tool, you can set up link tracking to know the no. of clicks the internal links get.
This is how I’ve set up a simple trigger in Matomo Analytics that fires when someone clicks an internal link:
- See also: 12 Best Google Analytics Alternatives
4. Link to external sources
Also known as outbound links, external links add credibility to your statements.
A disadvantage is that it drives the user away from your website. So always set the link to open in a new tab.
Always link to sources when referencing crucial facts in blog articles. Many people use facts from external sources while writing posts, but fail to link them in their articles.
Links to other sites and pages can help give context to your article and provide important research material for your readers.
It’s a good practice to limit the number of links you place within an article and always ensure that they’re relevant and high-quality; otherwise, you risk providing spammy-looking content or distracting users with too many choices.
5. Optimize headings
Optimize the headings in your blog posts to draw in readers with catchy titles.
A good blog headline will grab your reader’s curiosity and inspire them to click on the post. Great headlines accompanied with crisp meta descriptions help improve click-through rates for your web pages in SERPs.
Create a title that depicts what the content is about, but is also exciting enough to entice readers with an interest in what you’re writing about.
- Use numbers
- Power words
- Generate curiosity, but avoid click baits
The most important element of a blog post is the headline, which uses the h1 tag.
Not only the main headline but pay attention to the subheadings also.
Use h2, h3, etc for subheadings that define the skeleton of the article. This helps Google understand your content better with their algorithm’s ability to identify different sections within it.
You can also insert a table of contents section at the top if you have more than 5 headings in an article. That makes it easy for readers to skim through and find out the sections that are important to them.
When you optimize blog post headings, make sure it is descriptive enough but not too long.
6. Add title and meta description
Continuing from the previous section, you should consider adding a custom title and meta description if necessary.
The post title (<h1>) and the SEO title (<title>) are usually the same. But in some cases, slight modifications can be beneficial.
For instance, in the below post comparing WordPress with Ghost, I appended the year to the SEO title to make it more relevant.
Similarly, the meta description is also important. It’s what search engines show below the headline on SERPs.
If you don’t set it, then it usually picks the first few words from the beginning of your post, which may not depict what your post is about.
7. Format the blog post properly
As you might have already heard by now, the average attention span of human beings has decreased considerably in recent years. Whether that’s a good sign or not is a different topic.
But the consequence is, people no longer want to read long and wordy sentences. Most people just skim through the article to get the most important information.
So what does that mean for you? When you write something for the web make it as readable as possible.
Always keep in mind that a blog post is not a place to exhibit your language skills and vocabulary. Never aim to write an article that looks like a newspaper editorial.
That’s why you should properly format your blog posts. Split long paragraphs into smaller ones, emphasize the important text, add lists, images, and so on.
- Check this article to learn the tips I use while formatting a blog post.
8. Write in an engaging tone
Not only formatting, but you also need to take care of the way you write each sentence.
Always try to write in an engaging tone rather than just explaining things neutrally. The user should feel that you are talking directly to them as in a personal conversation.
How to do that?
- Write in first and second persons: often use the words “I” and “you”
- Use simple sentences
- Mention your experiences
If you are explaining a topic to a friend, how would do you do that? That’s the tone you need to bring in your blog posts.
If you are using tools like Grammarly then it can automatically check the tone of your sentences.
9. Add images & Optimize them
Inserting images into your blog post adds more value to the article. It also improves user experience as images get more attention.
However, if you add un-optimized images, it might lead to poor SEO and terrible performance of the page in which the image is added.
Ensure that you properly optimize images and add descriptive alt texts so that search engines can better understand what this image is about. Users who rely on screen readers will have a good time navigating through your website.
10. Add Videos
If you are a video person who enjoys talking in front of a camera, then you can consider converting your existing blog posts into videos and embedding them along with the text content.
Many people prefer to watch a video rather than read a lengthy blog article.
Videos are a way to fight short attention spans.
Videos can be highly helpful for certain kinds of content, such as how-to posts and instructions. Especially when you are writing posts that require lots of screenshots.
Use videos to explain step-by-step processes more effectively. Also, you can use video files in place of animated gif images to improve the page performance.
Adding videos inside blog articles can have several benefits.
Most importantly, it helps to improve the dwell time which in turn impacts the page SEO in a positive way.
If you don’t know what dwell time is, it is the time period between a search engine click and returning back to the results page. It’s closely related to avg. time on page, but not the same. Search engines like Google may consider Dwell time as an SEO factor.
If someone plays a video on your site, that means they are spending more time on that page.
11. Update old blog posts
Let’s say you write product reviews on your blog. Such content becomes quickly outdated as new versions of the product get released. So it’s highly important you frequently update old blog posts so that they remain relevant.
Not only for product reviews but it is applicable to other types of posts also. Updates, inventions, and innovations happen often in almost all niches.
I don’t know if you have noticed it or not but Google often shows the date of an article on the search engine results page.
If people see an older date then there is less chance for them to open that page.
So on your posts, make sure you display the last updated date instead of the initially published date.
Updating old posts can give huge improvements to search engine rankings. Many times, I have seen pages jumping multiple pages upwards in SERPs just after an update.
But don’t just make some cosmetic changes just for the sake of changing the date. It may not give any significant benefits.
Instead, make some considerable changes to see some effects. You can try adding extra information, updating facts, rewriting poorly written paragraphs, etc to add more value.
12. Add interactive elements
Adding interactive elements is another way to increase the time spent by visitors on your blog posts.
You can try adding polls, quizzes, etc at relevant places to allow the users to interact with the page. It helps to improve the overall user experience, thereby benefiting the SEO.
Another thing you can try is user-generated content like comments. Most likely you have it already enabled on your blog.
It helps in many ways.
First, comments posted by the user often contain additional information not included in the original article written by you. This helps to improve the word length as well as the depth of your article.
Second, you can engage with them in conversations. Interacting with the users makes a good impression about your blog in their minds, and there is more chance for them to revisit your blog for more content.
If you are using WordPress, then there are several plugins that can gamify the comments section. Users can like, dislike, get badges, etc like on social media. It encourages them to participate in comments. Third-party systems like Disqus also allow this.
- See also: 8 Best Comment Plugins for WordPress
13. Enhance User Experience
This is not about a single blog post, but the overall user experience of the website. There are several things that you can do to ensure a good user experience for all the visitors.
One thing that you should never ignore is typography. Make sure you use a readable font for the body text and headings.
There are several free and open-source high-quality font families available on Google fonts.
If you want to take it a step further then there are several websites selling premium typefaces. I’ve another post on the best font websites from where you can get free and premium fonts.
Another important area is website navigation. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate around.
Add menus in the website header and footer, which include the top categories and tags on the blog. This not only helps the user to find more content but also helps search engines to crawl your site.
Site search is another feature that helps the user to find content within your website. Normally, you can add a search box on the site header. This is highly helpful when you have lots of posts on your blog.
Add the search box on the 404 Not Found page as well to help anyone who gets lost on your website.
14. Mobile-friendly Design
In this age of mobile-first designs, there is no need to mention this point. But I am doing it in case there is someone sticking to old designs.
According to a recent statistic, mobile devices accounted for more than 54% of the web traffic.
Google is also considering mobile page speed scores for indexing a web page.
On the search console dashboard, you can see a dedicated section for mobile usability.
That brings me to the next point, which is performance.
15. Don’t Ignore Performance
Even if you have a great design, format blog posts, use great typography, and do all the things listed above, there is no use for any of that if your site loads slowly.
Ideally, you should aim to load your web pages in under a second. One major factor that affects the loading times is your web host. So always use a fast and reliable hosting provider.
On top of that integrate a CDN to deliver static assets faster.
However, the page loading time is not all. Heard about Core web vitals? A set of parameters that measure how a web page performs in the real world from a user’s point of view.
A few things you can do is:
- Avoid layout shifts
- Use next-generation image formats like webP
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
- Optimize the HTML document, etc.
Test your pages on PageSpeed Insights to know how they perform.
There are mainly four parameters that you should care about:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP)
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
See Google’s documentation to learn what these mean, and how you can improve them.
However, you don’t need to aim 100/100 score on PageSpeed. Just makes sure the pages pass the Core Web Vitals Assessment and offer a good user experience.
I hope this article helped you to learn how to optimize your blog posts for SEO.