Top-quality content is invaluable for building website traffic, and a blog is an ideal way of publishing it quickly and easily. However, even the most well-written and engaging content is worth little if new readers never find it.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of making your content as attractive to search engines as it is to readers. It ensures that your blog appears high up in the search results and works hard to bring fresh traffic to your site.
What should you do to make your posts SEO-ready without sacrificing their quality for your audience? Here’s a checklist to follow.
Before you even start writing your post, it’s helpful to find out which keywords searchers are using when looking for content on your topic. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner make it easy to find the most popular keywords in any niche, and they also offer the power to drill down to more obscure terms.
For each post, you plan to publish, find the critical keywords searchers are using around that topic. Basing your post on these words will establish a strong theme to build on. Next, compile a healthy list of secondary, related terms. These can be very effective in reinforcing the relevancy of your post to its topic.
The title of your post is vital for two reasons. First, it needs to be attention-grabbing, so that when searchers come across it in the listings, they’re tempted to click. Second, the words used in your title strongly influence the searches for which your post will rank highly.
For both of these reasons, you must include your primary keyword or phrase in the title. However, make sure it is readable and interesting for humans, rather than a list of words put together for the search engines. Also, remember that long titles will get cut off when shown on a results page, so keep them short and to the point.
It also helps to put your main keyword in your web address (URL) if your publishing system allows this. Not only does this send an additional signal of relevancy to search algorithms, but it provides a visual clue on a results page that can increase click-through rates significantly.
Your post’s headline should also include your target keywords. Often, this headline is the same as the post title, but it doesn’t need to be. While you should always use your main keyword in the headline, you will have some wiggle room. Use this flexibility to concentrate on writing a compelling sentence or two that pulls in the reader.
Keyword in Text
It’s also important to include your main target keyword once in the first paragraph, and a few more times spread throughout the rest of the post. Back in the early days of SEO, the number of times a keyword was mentioned had a direct impact on how highly a post would rank. That’s no longer the case. Don’t pay attention to keyword counts or density percentages; use the keyword naturally so that it doesn’t stand out as being repetitive.
Next, sprinkle your secondary phrases throughout your content. Always use them where they fit without forcing the issue. Ideally, include the most important second-tier keywords in subheadings when you can. Not only will this provide extra SEO value, but it’ll also break up your post a little and make it more readable.
However, the ranking isn’t only about the words you write. Links play a massive part in SEO success too, but that doesn’t mean building backlinks only from external sites.
You can boost your own linking power by adding helpful links to other pages on your site, making sure they relate in some way to your post’s content. Using primary or secondary keywords in the link text will strengthen this effect, and it will help boost both your new post and the target pages.
It also helps to link out to high-quality sites elsewhere on the web. Don’t be afraid of sending your visitors to a third party site; concentrate on providing the best value you can. If a link helps the reader, then use it. Your visitors will appreciate it, and so will the search engines.
While no one knows the deepest secrets of how search engines rank content, the basics are well-understood. Following this guide will help Google and friends understand what your post is about, and when you combine these tips with high-quality content, the rankings will follow.
Rick Hogan, CEO & Co-Founder – Bleevit Interactive
Rick possesses over 20 years of digital marketing experience and started Bleevit Interactive with the primary mission of helping local businesses succeed online. When he is not working he can often be found hiking Great Falls, Virginia with his Labradoodle Lily, or sailing the Chesapeake Bay.