Blog Writing Best Practices for SEO
When you’re trying to keep up to date and make sure your website is the best it can be, it is easy to get caught up the many possible tasks you can take on to effect improvements. Making sure the site is mobile-friendly, eliminating bulky images that slow down load time, and exercising due diligence to understand your competitors and what makes them successful are all relevant efforts. However, there is one thing you should make sure not to lose sight of in the mix: always keep your content in the forefront of your mind.
Fresh content is a must. It makes a lot of sense to update your main pages with new information to keep your audience informed. But beyond those changes, adding regular quality content is a big step along the road to high search engine ranking. If you are taking the time to make strong, consistent blog posts, give it a little more forethought and make sure your SEO is up to the task as well.
Choose Your Topic – Choose Your Keyword
Once you have decided on your topic for a new blog post, consider the primary keywords for which you intend to rank. Don’t force-fit keywords; make sure the one you choose flows easily and fits well with the main focus of your post. If you have a pet care service in Hoboken, NJ, for example, you may decide to write a story about walking dogs during owners’ working hours. If you then choose “dog walking” as your focus keyword, you’ll want to make sure to use it in all the ways that will give you maximum SEO benefit. Here are your next steps:
Write great content. Think first of the reader, rather than Google. Make sure that the person who lands on your page will find your content relevant, entertaining, heartwarming, or whatever your goal is for the piece. Using at least 500 words makes it better for SEO. If you can write a longer article all the better, as the trend is moving toward longer articles for higher search engine ranking. A 1,000 to 1,500 word article that is authoritative, engaging, and well-focused on a topic relating to the target keyword will not only please your readers, but will signal to Google that the web page is worthy of ranking.
Add the keyword to the text of your blog post. Make sure you use the keyword in the text two to three times. If you’ve chosen your topic well and matched it to a strongly associated focus keyword, this should be a seamless effort. Be careful not to use the keyword too many more times than the recommendation. Search engines will penalize keyword stuffing.
Use your keyword in the H1. The H1 is the main heading of your blog post. If you’ve chosen “dog walking” as your keyword, your H1 might be “Dog Walking in My Favorite City.” Using the keyword as close to the beginning of the heading is best. “Dog Walking in My Favorite City” is stronger for SEO than “100 Other Things I Love to Do While Enjoying Dog Walking in the City.” If it is not too awkward, you can use the target location in the H1 as well, as in “Dog Walking in Hoboken, My Favorite City.”
Use your keyword in the meta title and the meta description. The meta title appears in the tab of your web browser. You will also see it as the bold, blue title at the top of a Google search result. Next, write a meta description that gives a brief glimpse of what will be found in the blog post. This meta description will not be visible at all on your website, but will appear below the meta title in a Google search result. Again, it is important to use the keyword and local modifier close to the beginning of the metatag. Here is an example of a meta title followed by a meta description:
Dog Walking Hoboken | Pet Care in the City
Looking for dog walking in Hoboken? We care for dogs, cats, and even some exotic pets while you’re at work or out of town. Call us at (201) 867-5309.
Link up. Find related content within your website and link to it from your blog post. You may want to provide a link to your About or Contact page, or you may reference a previous blog post and want to make the connection. Whichever links you choose, one to two internal links should be the maximum. Next, link to an outside, high authority website. Good possibilities for links that would make sense in the course of our hypothetical blog post would be Dogster or PetSmart.
Use images and ALT tags. Adding images and other media to your blog post makes for a pleasant experience for your readers, but it is also good SEO. Use at least one image in your blog post and find the area where you can add background information for the image. In the space labeled “ALT tag,” write a brief description of what is depicted. In this space, using the exact keyword is not ideal unless it is truly in the interest of the description. “A man with a standard poodle on a leash” or “children petting a dog on Washington St.” are examples of typical ALT tags.
Categorize and tag your post. Some popular blogging platforms such as WordPress and Wix give you the opportunity to create categories that describe your blog topics. You can also tag a few people or terms in the blog article that it makes sense to highlight. Choose a category and tags that are consistent with your keyword choice. A thematic category might be “Dog Care.” Tags might include more specific things like “North Jersey,” “pooper scooper,” and “Cesar Millan.”
Check your speed. Make sure you have the edge on the competition by keeping your mobile website up to speed. Use Test My Site to see how yours rates. Test My Site, a Think with Google tool, offers optimization tips to help you if the text shows that your site has room for improvement.
Resubmit the sitemap. Once you finish with your changes, resubmit the XML sitemap to Google Search Console. This helps the pages of your website to be more easily found and indexed by Google. Here’s how to do this easy, but easily overlooked step.
- Log into your or your client’s Google Search Console.
- Take note of the exact web address of the website’s homepage. For example, the web address may begin with https://www or https://. If multiple versions of the site have been verified in Google Search Console, navigate to the version that matches the homepage URL.
- Click “Sitemaps” on the left-hand side of the screen. The Sitemaps screen will appear.
- Input the tail end of sitemap web address, such as “sitemap.xml,” into the “Add a new sitemap” field.
- Click “SUBMIT.”
- That’s it!
Share it! After you have finished all the steps it takes to complete a great blog post, don’t forget to share it on social media. Raise awareness about your blog and get people talking about your web content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other places online. Those who are interested in what you have to say may mention you on the web and create links back to your website, which is very valuable to SEO. The more buzz, the better! By following these guidelines, you will have a blog set up for success.
Read more about efforts you can make to improve SEO in our previous post, The SEO 80/20 Rule.