Writing blog content is hard work.
Really hard work.
And I can fully appreciate how much time and effort goes into creating just ONE blog post.
Hours of research, writing, editing and formatting. It all stacks up.
And when you’ve finally finished, you then have the small matter of promoting it.
Which, in most cases takes much more time and energy.
Some bloggers even shell out their own money on advertising, in order to get people to read their content – and free content at that.
I feel your pain…
But what if I told you that there are a few simple tweaks you can implement during the blog writing process.
Tweaks that could see your web traffic double, triple, quadruple… without spending a penny and with very little effort?
The answer, of course, is SEO (search engine optimisation).
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
There’s this little phrase I like to use. ‘If Google says jump, we say, how hi?”
That’s because even basic SEO can have a huge impact on the amount of web traffic you receive to your blog.
Understandably, a lot of people are wary of SEO. Why is this I wonder?
Maybe, it’s because it can seem too technical.
Maybe it’s because people keep saying “SEO is dead”
Or maybe, it’s something to do with all those spammy SEO emails we get? I think I receive more emails about gaining 10,000 backlinks for five quid than I do about Viagra pills.
Not only is this type of approach annoying to us as business owners but it also de-values the effectiveness of SEO as a viable marketing activity.
What do Search Engines want to see?
Essentially, what the search engines want to do is to give the end-user the best piece of content for their search.
If they succeed, the end user will come back. However if using Google was a difficult experience, that delivered crappy results then that would damage their brand and users would find another source of information.
So, by following Google’s rules you’re not only improving your rankings and gaining more traffic, you’re also delivering a better service to end the end-user.
That’s why I have put together a 9 point checklist for you to use in order to optimise each and every blog post you write, giving you the best chance of ranking for your chosen search topic.
So, let’s get started!
#1 Keyword Research
Once you have an idea for a blog post in mind, I recommend doing some keyword research before you start writing.
For this, I use the Google Keyword Planner. This is a free and simple tool to see how popular certain key phrases are.
The Google Keyword planner gives you an indication how well searched your topic is. If your keyword/topic is searched for a lot, then you know that there is a potential audience for your post. If not, then you might want to shelve the idea before you waste time writing.
The reason I recommend this to bloggers is NOT to find a topic to write about. The purpose of this is to verify that the general idea of your blog post is going to be useful to somebody – or lots of somebodies more specifically.
The Google Keyword Planner
The keyword planner has the ability to offer more commonly used search terms that you can incorporate within your blog post. I have changed titles, web addresses, subtitles etc. following the research I have conducted using the Keyword planner. Let me give you an example…
Let’s just say you’re writing an article teaching people how to bake cakes. It’s fair to say that you might want to name your article “how to bake cakes”. However, readers might not necessarily type this into Google.
By simply placing the name of your article into the keyword planner you will instantly be presented with a number of
“average monthly searches”, followed by a list of other “relevant keywords”.
The first thing you can see is that the search term…
“how to bake cakes” is searched for 1000 times per month.
In most cases this would be a good amount of people that will potentially benefit from reading your post. SO, you have successfully validated your blog post idea. Good for you.
But the really great thing about this tool is that Google also provides you with a list of other similar keywords. I would suggest spending a minute scrolling through the list, some of them won’t be relevant but it’s still worth checking them out just in case.
As you can see from the list below, there is another search term that people use far more frequently than the original one and it’s still very similar.
“how to bake a cake” is searched for 27,100 times per month on average.
That’s over 20x more than “how to bake cakes” and just by using the keyword planner you have identified a better headline for your article. And a bigger audience!
#2 Keyword Rich URL
One of the most important ranking factors that search engines use is the structure of the URL for your blog post.
WordPress and other content management systems will try and automatically assign a URL based on the title of each post. They do this because they want to make it as easy as possible for you as a content creator. However, it’s worth putting some thought into your URL before you hit the publish button.
The best thing to do is create your own unique URL, based on the keywords from the keyword research you’ve carried out.
Keep in short and snappy
Keep it relevant
Get rid of any messy code
Separate each word with dash (not an underscore)
For this example
This is a clean natural looking URL and it looks good to users as well as being keyword rich.
This example is a bad URL. It does have some keywords put it also has some messy code that looks unappealing to users and search engines.
Plan each end every URL before you publish the post following the steps above.
# 3 Keyword Rich Title Tags
Every page on your website has it’s own “Title”. This is the main description shown in search results. Google value the “Title tag” very highly so you will need to ensure you think about it carefully.
If you use WordPress then you will be automatically given a title tag, like you were with your URL.
But yet again it’s best to amend this based on your keyword research.
Makes sure it’s between 45-55 characters in length
Make sure you include your main keywords
Don’t be tempted to stuff too many keywords into the title!
#4 Include Keywords in your Headings
The headings you choose to use within your blog post will also contribute to your overall search engine ranking. So, you will need to make sure you include keyword friendly headings.
It’s a good idea to break up your content with different sub headings and try to diversify your keywords throughout the post.
In WordPress and other blogging platforms, you will be given the option of what kind of heading you want. See example below.
Heading 1 will typically be your main heading. Heading 2 and 3 can be used as subheadings and so on.
Google recognises the weight you’ve placed on these headings. Essentially, you are communicating to both your user and Google what the next section of your content is about. Like I said, this SEO stuff is in a win-win for your audience and the search engines.
# 5 Include at least 400 Words of Content
Search engines like to provide their users with the best resources of information. Meaning if you’re lacking in content, you will have little to no chance of ranking highly in search results.
I recommend that the minimum amount of words on each blog post should be around 400. Any less and you’ll risk being seen as too vague or lacking some information. I’m not recommending you go on and on for pages – we don’t want to bore the reader! And obviously, the rules aren’t set in stone. For instance it’s much better to produce a high quality 300-word article, than it is to produce badly written, useless 1000 word article.
But if you can create engaging and well-written blog posts, containing a minimum of four hundred words, then you can’t go wrong.
# 6 Optimise your Images
This one catches everyone out, even me!
You have the ability within your CMS to optimise your images.
First of all, It’s a great idea to include images in each blog post for a number of reasons.
It’s more appealing to the reader, images make it easy to convey your message and it’s great for content sharing. But those aren’t the only reasons images are useful. Images are another great way of increasing your exposure on search engines too.
Use a keyword rich file name for the image
Separate each word with a dash (not an underscore)
Use descriptive alt text when you add the image to your post
Again, images are a great way to keep your readers and the search engines happy!
# 7 Include Relevant Links
When you write a blog post you will occasionally make a reference to another blog or speak about another blogger in your industry. When you do this, it’s common practise to create a link back to the original source. This makes it easy for your reader to reference. This is perfectly normal practise and it creates great user experience, which search engines love.
This is also great for you because you can also link back to your own previous content. This will allow the search engine spiders to crawl your content and label this other blog post as “relevant”. This is how Google can determine a general topic of information for your brand and website.
Top tip: Use your keywords as your anchor text
Hyperlink the keywords in your article and link to the other content on your website. Make sure you don’t over do-it! Make it natural.
# 8 Embed a YouTube Video on your Post
Not everyone wants to consume their information in text form. Video consumption is at an all time high, which is why it’s a good idea to give people both text and video options.
However, if you’re anything like me you won’t want to create a video for every single blog post you create! But, if you can include a video within your content it will certainly help when it comes to ranking highly in the search engines.
Google knows that video is just as appealing as text copy, and it wants to give the end-user the best piece of content.
Top Tip: It also doesn’t have to be your own video!
You can simply head over to YouTube and borrow somebody else’s video to include within your article. As long as the content is relevant and the information doesn’t conflict with the points you are trying to make, you should be fine.
Choose the video you want to embed and under the video click the tab “share” then click “embed”.
Just copy the code and paste it into the body of your article.
# 9 Include Social Sharing Buttons
Social media makes it very easy for people to share online content with their friends and family. Google have publicly stated that “social signals” are now, very much a part of how they rank websites. Why? Social shares are essentially good reviews of your content. Someone liked it so much, they shared it with their friends on Twitter and Facebook”. That shows Google your content is trustworthy, relevant and/or entertaining by using social signals as word of mouth referrals.
The easiest way to think about social shares is using a technique known as the “Social SEO Formula”. You may not have heard of this before, maybe because I made it up! It’s the easiest way for me to explain to my clients how content marketing works…It goes something like this…
Great content isn’t enough though, you need to make it incredibly easy for people to share your content
The easier it is, the more they will share it. It’s that simple.
Here are couple of examples of how blogger encourage their readers to share their content on social media.
You may have seen some blogs embed a tweet directly into the post itself, this is know as a “tweetable” and it allows users to retweet your content easily.
Social Media Slider
A social media sharing bar allows readers to quickly confirm they like your content enabling them to share it with their friends and family. Most content management systems such as WordPress will allow you to install a free plugin like the one pictured above.
And that’s it! If you can think of anymore please comment below..