Blog SEO is no joke!
After restructuring our website and deleting most of our previous content, we expected our blog posts to take a while to rank on Google. But with blog SEO, we were able to get our blog post to rank #1 for the particular keyword: challenges of an African blogger between 16th Jan. 2022 when we uploaded and 12th Mar. 2022 when we checked.
This blog post shows you what I did and how I did it and links you to the relevant resources available that have helped and keep helping to keep my SEO strategies working for me.
How do you get your blog posts to rank on Google’s top 10? How do you optimize your content for search engines? How do you get organic traffic to your website consistently?
When it comes to the common questions among bloggers and blog marketers, it is usually one of these. To gain organic traffic and make Google rank you on its first page, you need to have valuable content and utilize on-page SEO techniques that get you there and keep you there.
The truth remains that blog posts that do not appear on the first page of a search result have shallow click-through rates.
When last did you check out the second page of the SERP? Millions of blog posts are being uploaded on the web daily, and only 10 make it to the first page of Google.
You might think, “Wow. I’m not sure I can rank high.” Oh yes, you can!
It all boils down to your content, keywords, plug-ins, and links. This blog post will teach you how to optimize your blog posts to rank on search engines.
Abbreviations used in this post
- SERPs – Search Engine Result Page
- URL – Uniform Resource Locators
- HTML – HyperText Mark-up Language
- TOC – Table of Contents
- FAQs – Frequently asked Questions
- AIDA – Attract, Interest, Desire & Action
- SD – SEO difficulty
- Alt texts – Alternative texts
- SEO – Search Engine Optimization
- CTR – Click-Through Rates
What is Blog SEO?
Blog SEO or blog optimization involves optimizing your blog contents, blog sites, and website’s HTML for organic search results. This HTML is the language browsers use to understand and display your website’s contents fully.
SEMrush defines blog SEO as the process of using technical and on-page SEO techniques to increase the visibility of your website during an organic search.
Search Engine Optimization can be done on-page or off-page. However, this blog post is focused more on the on-page SEO tips that you can use to make sure that your blog posts rank among the top 10 posts on Google.
Benefits of Search Engine Optimization
There are several reasons why you should blog for SEO:
- It is free
- It boosts your website’s domain authority
- Establishes you as an authority in your niche
- Increases your online visibility
- You can track your website’s results
- Increases your site’s visitors
- Increases users experience
- Gives web crawlers/search engines a better understanding of your website and its contents.
- Gets your content to a targeted audience
- Increases your credibility and trust
How to Search Engine Optimize your blog posts
1. Improve user experience
This includes both on-page and off-page optimization. Optimization to improve the user’s experience includes
Your blog posts need to be skimmable to improve the user’s experience, i.e., the user should get what you’re trying to say at first glance. You can do this by using bullet points, short paragraphs, or infographics.
- Word choice
Avoid the use of big words as much as possible. If technical terms are embedded in your posts, include links to blog posts that explain them in detail.
Headings are important in SEO because they show search engines a breakdown of the contents in your blog. When you segment your posts into headings, you also increase the chances of being in Google’s featured snippets.
Make sure to include keywords in your headings.
- Table of contents
To improve user experience, they must get a glimpse of what your post is about within the first minute of opening your post.
A table of content makes it easy for first-time visitors to go straight to what they’re searching for. You can use the Table of contents plus plugin to automatically insert a TOC in your posts if you are on WordPress.
It is a known fact that visuals are more appealing than texts, and they also stick longer in the memory.
Using visuals will get the user to stay longer on your site and get them to come back for more of your content.
Use original pictures and avoid images from Google image SERP or other websites for visuals.
- Optimizing your contents for all devices
One of the turn-offs for users is when the page isn’t optimized for their particular device.
Most people access the internet through their mobile devices, which has influenced the various site themes produced today. If your selected theme isn’t optimized for mobile devices, then you have to do the extra work and make sure that it is.
- Increasing site speed
Images, videos, excess plugins can affect the time it takes for your blog sites to load. Most online users are impatient and will leave to other sites if yours isn’t loading fast enough.
Use plugins to compress your images and videos, and make sure to delete the plugins that are irrelevant to your site or have been used already.
Google is trying as much as possible to make sure that its users get answers to questions swiftly. This is one of the reasons why featured snippets, FAQs, and Table of contents are fast becoming the next big things.
When your posts have answers to questions, and these answers are strategically placed, you get a chance to be featured by Google.
Also, when you focus on improving your users’ experience, you increase the chances of being featured.
Historical optimization, in simple words, means refurbishing already existing posts on your site to make them more updated, optimized, and edited.
The goal of historical optimization is to make these ‘old’ posts do better in search engines, lead generation, and conversion.
How do you know which old posts to optimize?
Using Google Analytics, which is one of the features of the Google search console, you can gain insights on your blog posts and know which ones are ranking higher and which ones aren’t.
Attribution reports by HubSpot is also a reliable tool to analyze the performance of each of your blog posts.
What do you analyze?
- Click-through rates
- Dwell time
- Conversion rates
- Top views posts
You want to know which of your posts could give you the highest leads and which ones gave you the lowest.
Now you know which post made people click on an offer, the one they read through, and the one they bounced out of.
What do you do with these reports?
Focus on the content bucket you covered in the posts.
- Check the position of the higher-performing posts and optimize them to rank higher.
- Check the lower-performing posts, and optimize them for search engines and conversion.
- To increase conversion, you can include better offers than the original (if there is), use the AIDA model for your content, and optimize your blog site.
3. Keyword research.
Keyword research is one of the keys to SEO. For blog optimization, you need one focus keyword and at most four (4) other keywords.
Our blog post on SEO writing shows how to research for keywords and the best free tool to use for your keyword research.
Long-tail keywords are best for SEO, and they are less competitive than short-tail keywords.
Several keywords have a ridiculously high search volume but are very competitive. When deciding on the focus keyword to use for your posts, consider these points:
- Your website’s domain authority
If your site is new, you should settle for a keyword with a high search volume but little competition.
- Your SEO skills
SEO Difficulty (SD) shows how competitive that keyword is in organic searches. If you’re new to SEO, go for a keyword between 30-50 SD, but if you’re confident of yourself, you can go for a 50-60 SD.
If you are an SEO expert, the SEO difficulty might not be a factor to consider except if your website is new.
- Probability of monetizing the post
To monetize a post and have a significant profit, you should go for a keyword with a price higher than $0.5 – $1.0 cost per click.
When you monetize this post, you can get a higher price for each click on the offer.
Where to place keywords in a blog post
You should include your keywords in your title (preferably the focus keyword) and other strategic places.
- Meta description
4. Meta description.
(We have the definition of meta description in our blogging dictionary; DOWNLOAD HERE)
A meta description consists of about 300 characters, and it is the additional text that appears below your website’s URL in a SERP.
This meta description shows the searcher a summary of your post. A meta description can also display a list snippet, a table snippet, or even your table of contents.
Usually, your meta description is what shows on the SERP, but there have been instances where the meta description displayed in a SERP is different from what was published.
There is no known information about the specific requirement used by Google to determine what part of your content reflects in your meta description. Still, it depends on what the searcher types into the search engine.
When a searcher types a particular keyword in the search engine, the web crawler crawls your site and displays an answer that it thinks is appropriate to the searcher as your meta description. This is Google’s way of improving its user experience.
Nevertheless, you need to optimize your meta description by adding relevant keywords. Ensure it is in an appropriate amount and avoid meaningless phrases.
Also, make your meta description catchy and concise. It should show what your post is about while still raising more questions, and this will help increase the organic CTRs for that post.
5. Image Alt texts.
This is a description of your selected image embedded in your HTML to let the browser know what the image is all about.
Web crawlers are not human, so they cannot ‘see’ the image itself, but the alt text lets them know what is in the picture, and this helps them get it indexed and optimized for search engines.
Your alt texts should be as descriptive as possible and contain relevant and correct keywords. However, avoid stuffing the text with keywords.
If your keyword does not relate to the image, find a new image or use the alt text with different words.
For instance, instead of uploading a picture named IMG 1A2BCCC000 that shows white cats sleeping on a mat; utilizing alt text, you can name this image as alt= white-cats-sleeping-on-polka-dotted-mat.
The purpose of alt text is to describe the image to the search engines. This makes your images show up on Google’s image SERP for particular keywords.
6. Link building.
Another often overlooked blog optimization tip is link building. Either linking to your website or away from your website, both are effective ways to increase your site’s authority and tell search engines you have relevant content on your website.
External linking is linking your blog content to authority websites in your niche. This is often done to lay a backlink structure, but it usually doesn’t turn out that way.
Authority websites usually do not link back to smaller sites. Imagine having over 2,000 sites linking to you; chances of getting a return link are slim.
Backlinks work best for websites that are not too high up and not too insignificant, increasing your chances of being backlinked.
External links are great for credibility and trust. It shows your reader that you are interested in giving knowledge, even referring to other websites with similar content.
Internal linking, however, involves linking to other similar or related blog posts within your website.
This is important because it tells the search engine that there is relevant content on your blog.
In a blog post, you should link the new post to at least 2-3 related posts already existing posts on your blog, and at the same time, link old posts to the new one as well.
This creates a link between your blog posts and enables search engines to navigate your blog quicker.
Include search engine and user-friendly URLs for your blog posts.
Your URL should clearly showcase the position of your blog post and the site’s navigation.
https://sarmlife.com/why-content-marketing-is-important-for-your-business/ is a perfect SEO-friendly URL.
You can also have a URL that reflects your site’s subdirectories.
https://www.example.com/blog/marketing/digital marketing for startups/
In this example, there are two subdirectories: blog and marketing.
This URL tells the search engines that this website has a blog and the blog posts are segmented. It also reflects the structure of the website.
This is favored by search engines and will help increase the domain authority of this website.
Features of a good URL:
- It carries a keyword
- It is not keyword-stuffed
- Not too long or too short
- Shows the content of the blog post
- It’s secured (HTTPS)
8. Title Tag optimization.
Your headline or title tag is as important as your keyword. Some schools of thought believe that you can rank high on Google by investing more in headline optimization than keyword research.
Not something I believe in, but this is just to tell you how important your headline is.
Use context, power, and emotional words in your title tags. How-to posts and ‘Secret’ posts tend to have higher CTRs because they instigate curiosity.
At least a keyword should reflect in your headline (preferably your focus keyword), and your headline should be between 60-65 characters.
Sharethrough headline analyzer is the go-to headline tool for me.
These on-page SEO tips can get you over 50,000 monthly visitors from organic results alone. To incorporate these tips when writing a blog post, you need to understand the process of SEO writing and follow it.
FREE BONUS: Make your next SEO writing process easier by getting SARMLife’s blog post SEO checklist here for free.
Read also: The best SEO plugins for WordPress that are entirely free (COMING SOON).