In this article we are going to be looking at how you can create and optimize content on your website to give you the best results. Whilst it is very important for us to create content that appeals to our human readers, you also need to impress Search Engines especially Google if you want to rank highly within the search results.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Quite simply, Google, Bing, Yahoo and the lesser known search engines have developed mathematical algorithms that send out “spiders” and “bots” (short for robots) out to your website and discover if your website is useful, interesting or worthless. These bots and spiders “crawl” your website and compare it to other websites with about 100 or so ranking factors. These search engine ranking factors include things like domain age, keywords, backlinks, fresh content and much more.
The true meaning of SEO is to publish content that both search engines and users can understand.
First, let me explain why is crucial to write for SEO? Well, a couple of things.
I. Solving the searcher’s query
Search Engines, Google in particular is much better at essentially optimizing for solving the searcher’s task, helping them accomplish the thing that they wanted to accomplish, the writing that does the best job of solving the searcher’s task tends to be the most highly prized.
Google now uses a machine-learning artificial intelligence system called “RankBrain” to better understand search queries & user experiences which can change rankings over time. Simply put, it helps Google sort the search results, process, and understand search queries.
You must therefore improve your content relevancy to match the query intent. Writing that doesn’t do this tends will not to rank well for long. Someone who does a great job of solving the searcher’s query will outrank you sooner or later.
II. Intent Matching vs Exact Keyword Matching
Exact keyword or phrase matching for each piece of content is still relevant despite Search Engines have changed its algorithm that Exact keyword Matching is not important any longer.
In today context, we really need to figure out what is the searcher’s intent. Assemble all the keywords that a page is targeting and create a single page that serves that intent and all the keywords or at least many of the keywords that intent is represented by.
III. The user experience’s engagement metrics.
Essentially, Google is able to see that people who click on a particular result are less likely to click the back button and choose a different result or more likely to stay on that page or site and engage further with that content and solve their whole task.
Keeping your articles interesting enough that people will stay on your page to read them. That is a good sign to Google, and they want to rank more of those.
Now, we focus our attention on how to write a SEO friendly blog post:
There are several basic things that you can do to help your blog content rank within the search engines. Although these factors play a part in ranking your posts, they don’t guarantee results on thereon. One of the most important things to remember when creating website content is that consistency plays a major role.
If you are constantly producing good quality content on a regular basis and good practice On Page SEO (including Off Page SEO) techniques, then you will stand a much greater chance of ranking highly in SERP.
Many bloggers I have seen either write for their readers only OR write for SEO only. Both of these are the wrong way to go. Do your keyword research first, then write for your readers, but incorporate the keywords as you can without losing what you are trying to convey.
This will take practice, but when you master it, you will learn how to carefully implement a content marketing strategy that is both cohesive to readers AND to the search engines at the same time. This is the epitome of fantastic, shareable content.
My 16 Tips – Write For SEO
So, now that you have a better understanding of what is an optimized blog post and what is not, let’s see how to ensure (before you hit the publish button), that your blog post will be SEO friendly.
1. SEO Writing, the Human Side
You must, must write for the humans, not for the search machines. It means that you must pull out all your writerly talents and make that SEO content jibe with the true human message it entails. You must make people want to refer to the site, link to it and talk about your content.
2. Think before you start writing
Before starting a new post, spend some time doing your research and have clear in your mind what to write about and what you want to achieve.
After you have selected your topic, and you have done your research (including keyword research or phrase analysis) make sure that you set yourself this goal to make your blog post as search engine friendly as possible and most importantly its benefits your reader.
While writing your blog post, incorporate your researched keyword or phrase naturally into the content so that your post is searchable in Search Engine.
3. Create the structure of the blog post
In general, a blog post should have an introduction, body and conclusion (similar to writing an essay).
Introduction – introduce the problem you will be writing about in your article. You can also share a short story of your experience with the problem.
Body – discuss all the solutions to the problem you outlined in the introduction. Break up each point into separate paragraphs. Keep the paragraphs short, about 5 lines. Feel free to create a sub-heading for each point. This makes it easier to read as most people will scan your article when reading it online.
Conclusion – this should include a brief wrap up or summary of your article. You conclusion should also include a call for the reader to take action.
4. On Page Readability
Whilst our primary concern should be to write content aimed at entertaining our readers and providing them with valuable information, there are several things that we can do to make the reading experience easier.
The Headline – Captivating an Interesting
Something you need to consider is that your headline is your initial “make or break” of your content. It is your first impression with the outside world and it is the first thing people are going to see when your content gets indexed.
Writing a catchy and interesting title encourages reader click through and read your post. So writing really good title that people would want to retweet on Twitter or share on other social media sites.
Don’t just write a massive block of text!
Its been proven that you are far more likely to keep a reader on your page if you provide smaller chunks of text, rather than on big one! Text should be split up into bite sized sections, separated with subheadings, images and video.
Keep your sentences short.
Sometimes it’s just impossible to keep a sentence short! However, in most cases, making just a few alterations and shortening your sentences can make your articles much easier to read. Keeping your sentences about 20 words make it easier for the viewer.
Keep paragraphs short too!
Don’t just through large paragraphs on a page and hit the publish the button.
There is a good possibility that the majority of your readers are on mobile so make it easy for them to read the content.
Use small paragraphs and take advantage of the various formatting options i.e. bold, italic, underline to make the text less boring.
Spelling and Grammar
Bad spelling is a big turn off for your readers, so make sure you get it right. Google now checks for poor spelling and grammar within its algorithm too. Since there are lots of “automated” tools such as Grammarly on the internet that attempt to create content for lazy bloggers, Google aims to lower the rank of poorly written or copied content. In some cases they will even omit poor content entirely from the search results.
Optimize the length of your blog post
Studies have shown that longer posts perform better in search and they tend to receive more likes and mentions in social media.
While this is hold true, it does not mean that shorter posts will not rank well. What is more important is the quality of the content and not the quantity.
You should understand that when writing a blog post for a particular topic, you are in essence competing with hundreds of other posts that are already published about the same topic.
Your goal is to make your blog posts better that covers both sides of a story, with nice images, reference to studies and useful inform so that when promoted correctly, will attract the attention of users and possibly natural links, so that eventually they can outrank the existing posts that is short and not so interesting.
5. Craft the Meta Title & Description and the Post’s URL
Writing a good and interesting Meta Title and Description, is a very important step for SEO purposes and user-friendliness.
An optimized Meta Title and Description are important for SEO because it gives Search Engines a big hint on what the page is about.
A good Meta Title should have the following characteristics:
- Has a character length between 55-60 so that it is shown without breaks in the SERPS.
- It includes your target keyword (but not keyword stuffed)
- It accurately describes the content of the blog post
- It is interesting to make users click your entry when displayed in the search engines results pages.
The meta description, not used for rankings, but it is read by searchers. When they see a meta description that includes the words and phrases that they’ve queried, they are more likely to think this will be a relevant result and more likely to click it. More clicks, as long as the engagement is high, tends to mean better rankings.
Next, when it comes to the Post’s URL, the rules are simple:
- Use “-“ to separate the worlds that make up a URL. If this is not the case for your blog and you are on WordPress, you need to change your permalink structure.
- Consider making your URLs shorter by removing unnecessary words – Usually what happens is that the URL is auto generated by your CMS based on the title. What you can do (before publishing a blog post the first time) is to manually change the permalink (URL) and remove some words. Remember to ensure that your ULR must contains your keyword as well.
So, if you can make your URL include the words and phrases that people are searching for, that is mildly helpful. It’s both helpful for searchers who see the URL and would think, “Oh, okay, that is referring to the thing that I want,” as well as for people who copy and paste the URL and share it with each other, or people who link with the URL and, thus, the anchor text is carried across by that URL and those keywords in there.
6. Heading Tags
Using headers and sub headers (e.g. H1, H2, H3 tags in HTML). This varies, depending on the blogging theme or style sheet you’re using, but the basic idea is that you should use headers and sub headers to organize your content.
A well optimized blog post, follows these rules when it comes to headings:
There is only one h1 tag on the page – This is usually the same as the <title> of the post, although it doesn’t have to be the same.
What is important is to have only one h1 tag and that heading to include your target keywords.
Use headings in a hierarchical mode: The title of the post is the h1 tag and then the main sections should have a h2 and the subsections a h3. So, the order of the tags should be H1->H2->H3.
When you create a good blog structure, then it’s easy to get the headings right.
The reason that you should have your content organized in this structural way is simple: It helps search engine spiders during the crawling process and makes the blog post easier to read (and scan) for users.
7. Add links when it makes sense
Whenever you write a new piece, try to ‘associate it’ with already published blog posts on your blog, by adding internal links.
Internal Linking is a very effective and easy to follow SEO technique that has a number of benefits:
- It helps search engines discover new pages on your website – when crawling a page, search engine spiders will follow any link (that doesn’t have the nofollow attribute), and add it to their index (if it does not exist).
- It’s another way to give search engines a big hint on what a page is about.
- It’s a great way to give users an option to click a link and read more about a topic.
- It’s one of the techniques you can use to reduce the bounce rate and keep users on your website for more time.
Linking to highly-ranked sites. It may seem counter-intuitive to send people to other websites, but using outbound links is a great way to increase your page rank. When you link to other sites, search engines see your blog as a high-quality resource. But make sure you’re linking to quality stuff.
8. Do make use of keywords (but not keyword stuffing)
When search engines visit your site they scour the page content and meta information to learn what it’s about. When people use these keywords in their engine, they know to deliver your page as a result. That means it’s important for you to know what words and phrases your market uses on search engines. You can do this through keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush and Jaaxy. (Jaaxy is my #1 Keyword and Niche Tool, please read my comprehensive Jaaxy Review here))
Include keywords in your site and page title, in your meta tags (keywords, description), in an image (alt- text) and in the content help search engines understand what the page is about. However, it’s important to not over use keywords, or it might think you’re trying to cheat the system. If a keyword comes up a lot, consider using variations of the word.
9. Optimize your images and other media elements
Images, graphs, infographics, videos, statistics and other media elements, make a blog post more interesting to read and enhance the quality of the content.
However, Google and the other search engines don’t view images as we do. Instead, they rely on you to tell them what the image is all about. A good way to do this is simply by adding an alt tag to your images. If you are trying to optimize your post or page for several keywords then using one keyword per alt tag image is a great way to do this.
Its worth noting also that the alt tag’s function is to provide a clear description of the image in question for blind people and users that use screen readers. Therefore, it is good practice to make good descriptive alt tags, especially when an image shows something more that just a title.
Video is also a great way to increase your on page SEO. Embedding a video within a blog post has a couple of really good benefits. One of the raking factors that Google is looking for these days is the amount of time that a visitor spends on your page.
The longer someone spends on your page is an indication to Google that the page is interesting and has good content. Whilst text and images are an essential component to a good blog post, video engages your audience and keeps them on your page for longer.
Video is also another indication as to what your page is all about. When the search engine spiders check your site, one of the things that they will check is the relevancy of the videos that you have embedded within your pages.
10. Place post in the appropriate categories
Using blog post series and site categories. Increase your page rank for a particular term or set of terms by writing a blog post series or organizing articles in categories. Make sure you have a landing page that links to all the pages for that topic.
11. Add Feature Image
Why you need to add a feature image? Once you share your link on Facebook or Google +, you should see that featured image as the option that comes up when you post the link. This image becomes a clickable link back to your website post.
12. After published your blog post, fetch it as Googlebot in Google Search Console and as well in Bing Webmaster.
13. Submit a Sitemap to Google and Bing.
All In One SEO or Yeost SEO will automatically generate a sitemap to Google and Bing, alternatively you can submit the sitemap manually.
14. Post your blog in Google + and other social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
Don’t expect to get results immediately, it takes time to rank in Google or Bing so don’t just sit there waiting for a miracle to happen but start working on your next blog.
15. Keep your content fresh
Have you ever visited a website looking for information, only to find that its out-of-date? I know I have. This is an instant black mark against your website if you have outdated information. Go back over it and make the necessary changes and the search engines will thank you for it.
You need to have fresh content on your blog for a number of reasons.
- It will increase the number of pages you have in the Google index. This makes your website and domain stronger.
- It helps to build up internal linking or hyperlinking your blog posts.
- It’s another incentive for users to come back to your blog.
- It’s a great ‘excuse’ to get in touch with your subscribers.
- It’s one of the ways to stay in synch or bypass your competitors.
- It will help you improve your writing skills
- It can generate more views and increase your Adsense earnings.
16. Re-visiting your old posts
Ever had one of those days when you just couldn’t think of anything to write about on your blog? We all hit that wall at some point! Here is a great way to still remain productive without creating a new post.
Going back over your old posts and pages serves you well in a couple of ways. Firstly you can re-visit old posts and create internal links that point to newer posts. This is great for SEO and improves the ease of navigation around your website.
Secondly you can go over what you have written in old posts with a fresh perspective. Often if you read something that you have written a few months ago or even just a few weeks ago, you will want to make changes. So long as those changes improve the article, Google will reward you for it.
By going back over your old posts on a regular basis you can keep all of your content up to date and fresh. Adding more internal links as you create more content will not only aid your human visitors but will also provide Google with information on what your site is about and where it should be ranked.
Combining these elements
Quality content is a mixture of high quality text, images and video that all indicate to Google what your page is about and where it should be ranked. Producing good quality content on a regular basis is an indication to Google that you are an authority on your chosen subject. Google will reward you for this over time!
If all of this is just way too technical for you, do the following:
- Write like a human
- Use interesting and descriptive titles
- Add image and embed video
- Link to other people
- Have others link to you
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