Why SEO for Blogging? Because the majority of online experiences—including those of your customers and prospects—begin with web search. And when those customers and prospects launch a query related to your products and services, you want to be there, at the top of the list and ready to assist, because these are some of your most qualified leads.
Blogging is one of the most valuable tools that companies have to engage with customers and generate new leads. Your blog is the heart of all of your content marketing efforts. It’s fodder for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email newsletters, e-books, etc.
If you’re not blogging, it’s time to get started. If you do have a blog, here are the most important checkpoints (in no particular order) to ensure that your blog is optimized for search engines and will drive traffic to your website.
WordPress SEO Plugins by Yoast
Install the Yoast SEO plugin (for blogs in WordPress) and learn about it’s features to make sure you’re getting the most from it. Pay special attention to Titles and Metas, XML Sitemaps and Permalinks). Use the “noindex” metatag to exclude certain pages from being indexed and appearing in SERPs. This tag may be useful for excluding low-quality pages as well.
Content is truly king, and since Google’s introduction of Panda, content’s pre-eminence in SEO just keeps growing. The line between B2B and B2C content will continue to blur as storytelling and customer experience become more important than ever. Here are the main content-related points you need to take care of:
Write good titles
Create titles that are catchy, concise (i.e., no more than 70 characters), and descriptive enough to whet the target audience’s appetite and convince them there’s good value to be found within. Avoid being ambiguous or tricky. As always, remember your keywords—the ones your audience uses for the selected topic.
Move your best content above the fold
Search engine crawlers and website visitors alike see the content featured at the top of the page first, so it’s not surprising that content placed above the fold carries more weight in SEO. You can have more content above the fold by tightening your copy, widening your content frames, and reducing the height of your page headers.
Length – your blog post need to be long enough to score high in Google ranking. The majority of the web pages that appear on the first page of Google contain at least 2,000 words.
Duplicate content – avoid copying and scraping others’ pages and content. Create original content and stand apart by offering something useful that isn’t already freely available elsewhere online. Did you take any content from another source? Make sure you link to it! You want to avoid copying yourself, too, since multiple pages containing the same exact text or anchor links, for example, also raise the spam flag.
Thin content – is your blog post thin and mediocre? Writing blog posts purely for SEO reasons is a great way to get hit by a Panda penalty. Focus on the quality of your content instead of quantity. As mentioned above, use the “noindex” metatag to exclude low-quality pages from being indexed and appearing in SERPs.
Add relevant keywords to your existing content and write new content around important keywords and phrases.
Keywords and key phrases are the primary components of SEO for blogging. A Web page’s rank is directly connected to how well it relates to the search terms—the keywords—that users input into a search engine.
For best results, place keywords high up on the page, preferably in the first paragraph and within headings and subheads. Use bold and italic text treatments in moderation to help important keywords stand out.
Pay special attention to long-tail keywords (i.e., those that contain three or more words), which will help you reach a more qualified audience.
Also research the search volumes and competition for the keywords you selected. Tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, SEMRush Advanced Competitors Keywords Research Tool can help learn what your customers are looking for. Ideally, you want to focus on relevant keywords that have high monthly search volumes and low competition.
Incorporate keywords (but don’t overdo it). Add relevant keywords to your existing content and plan new content development around important keywords and phrases.
Make sure these words and phrases are always used in proper context, and avoid stuffing too many onto a single page or document. Once every 100 – 200 words is generally a safe frequency to follow. Use variations of your keywords and phrases as appropriate to break it up even more. Google is like a dictionary — it looks at keywords as well as synonyms to get a better understanding of what your blog post is about. Just make sure your copy sounds natural, not spammy or repetitive.
Google places more emphasis on keywords that are larger in font size. So make sure you include keywords within your headline and headings.
When possible, place keywords high up on the page, preferably in the first paragraph within your first 100 words and within headings and subheads. Google places more emphasis on words and phrases that are placed towards the top of the page.
Keywords to avoid Don’t waste your time optimizing for:
- Branded keywords such as your company name
- Insider terms and industry jargon that the average person or prospect doesn’t use
- Broad terms that apply to many solutions, industries, and concerns
Even though keywords are core to the search optimization, links have become more influential in boosting search experience because they serve as strong signals about a page’s relevancy and context.
Internal linking involves linking your content to and from other pages on your site. This helps the search engine crawlers find your content and offers clues about the context of your subject matter. It also helps increase page authority, and therefore rank, when those links come from other high-traffic, high-ranking pages.
Link to and from popular pages: Select high-traffic, high-ranking pages when possible. Your website metrics will help you identify the best candidates. That said, don’t avoid linking to or from a highly relevant, high-quality page just because it doesn’t get its fair share of traffic. By including it in new content, you may help boost the rank of both pages.
Link to and from old posts: on a monthly basis go into your older blog posts and add links to your newly written posts. It is very useful as your older posts tend to carry more authority than the newer ones.
At the same time perform a quick audit to identify older internal links that point to outdated or no-longer relevant pages. Either remove those links or adjust them to direct traffic to more recent content.
Use anchor text links: Rather than simply listing a link on your home page or at the end of a content article, integrate those links into your copy using hyperlinked text, or anchor text. The higher on the page these links appear, the more they can influence your page rank.
• Be descriptive: Instead of using valueless text like “click here,” use words that explain what visitors will find when they click through. Include important keywords when appropriate.
• Avoid repetition: Vary the text every time you insert a new link, and don’t link to the same page over and over within the same piece of content. Mix it up; otherwise, Google may discredit these links altogether.
Linking to other high-quality websites within your content in a relevant way (i.e., using keyword-rich anchor text in your body copy) helps associate your content with the authority of those sites and signal trust. Never list external links in your sidebar or footer even if they add value to your content.
A good idea for bloggers to add links to related blogs. This helps Google identify which blogs are relevant to yours, and it helps determine what keywords you should be ranking for.
And who knows, if those sites find out about it (for example, through Google Alerts, during their own backlink reviews, or because you send them a email letting them know) and they like what they see, they may end up linking back to your content and boosting your rank even more
It’s also important to test these links periodically and ensure they are still working. Be sure to remove any outbound links that generate 404 errors or redirect you to unrelated content.
While the text content is the most important component of a successful blog post, nowadays it’s expected that posts will contain at least one image. Taking the time to select, place, and properly code your images will provide a better reader experience and add extra on-page SEO. If you have the time to take your own images and use them within your posts, you’ll notice that those unique images have much better rankings in image search than stock photography images.
When you include images, make sure you optimize them for SEO:
File name should be as descriptive as possible and rich in keywords. In file names, use dashes (-), not underscores ( _ ). The basic idea is that Google was set up to see dashes between words as separate words, but underscores between words as joining those words together. So Google sees Online-Community-Advisor as “Online Community Advisor”, but Online_Community_Advisor as “OnlineCommunityAdvisor”.
Dimensions – the width and height of your image should be large in size. The bigger the dimensions, the better your search rankings will be.
File size – your images should be as small as possible in file size. Compressed images that are still high in quality always rank better.
Alt tags should be as descriptive as possible, as this will help them rank higher within image search.
Embed code – when you provide unique images, f.e. infographics, people might want to embed them on their sites. By providing an embed code, you’ll increase the number of backlinks to your blog.
Social Sharing options
Make it easy for people to distribute your content online by including share buttons for popular social sites next to each piece. Each network offers its own plugin—for example, Facebook’s share button, Twitter’s tweet button, LinkedIn’s share button, Pinterest’s Pin it button, and tumblr’s share buttons.
Of course, Google gives preferential treatment to content shared on its own social network, so always include a Google+ share option. You can also use online tools like ShareThis and AddThis to add multiple options at once. For videos, infographics and slides, offer embed codes in addition to links and optimize the related code so that it links back to your page.
By creating custom URLs, you can increase the chances of ranking for specific phrases. Here is how it works:
Shorter URLs that are keyword-rich tend to do better than longer ones.
Keywords – by including a few keywords within your URL, you’ll get an increase in rankings.
Numbers – in order to be included in Google news, your URLs have to have 3 consecutive numbers that are unique.
By checking the boxes against each of these points, you will ensure that your blog is set up for SEO success.
Do you have any other tricks to push your blog content to the top of the search? Please share with us!