Are you worried about whether anyone will read your blog?
Then you need to make your blog post SEO friendly.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
If you plan and publish your blog post with SEO in mind, then you will increase your chances of being found by potential customers when they search for your specific topic and offers.
If you don’t think about SEO, then it’s unlikely that search engines will rank your content. Then those poor prospective customers will never find the blog post that you poured your heart and soul into.
Doing some SEO maintenance on your blog post will help search engines find your blog post and in turn – your customers!
In the following article, I’m going to give you some easy-to-follow SEO tips to help you maximize your blog performance and increase your reach.
Whether you are using Wix, WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace – all of these Blog SEO tips apply.
What is blog post SEO?
Let’s say, I’m looking for gifts for dogs.
So I type that into Google.
Now, I’m going to be presented with millions of search results.
The pages that appear first are going to be the ones that have the keywords “gifts for dogs” either in the body text, the headings, the image data or URL.
If Doggygifts.com has just happened to write a blog post with those exact keywords and lots of useful content, infographics, perhaps a video that lots of people have read and shared and linked to, then that blog post is going to appear on page 1.
That’s because that blog post has been optimized for SEO and it’s the reason I’ve found it, and it’s now the reason why I’m buying my gift for my cockapoo, Mr Froofles from one of Google’s recommendations – Doggygifts.com.
Take a look at one of the first-page articles I found… “The Best Gifts for Dog Owners, According to Groomers, Trainers, and Other Dog Owners.” The headline, the first paragraph, the internal and external links are all optimized around keywords and related keywords and themes that help it be found by searchers.
That useful, well-written, well-structured blog was a good read, but more importantly, I could find it, because it has been optimized for SEO.
How do you write an SEO-friendly blog post?
If you are using WordPress, then the easiest way to write an SEO-friendly blog post is to install Yoast as a plugin and follow its wise owly wisdom.
However, if you are using a DIY approach, then you are going to need to make your content amazing, packed full of useful information and multimedia all related to your keywords. Then you make your on-page website code scream “I’M ABOUT THIS LOOK AT ME.” Then you promote it on social and get off-site links to it from other people.
Easy like lemons.
Well, actually, there is a bit more to it.
There are about 30 things you can do to ensure you are getting LOTS of eyes on your content and attention from Google – and that’s what I’m going to show you.
How optimize your blog for SEO
Or if you are ready to start optimizing, get my checklist at the bottom of this blog post.
1. Have the best answer
I bet you’ve been attracted to posts that have the word “The Ultimate Guide to…” or “The only guide to…” etc. Knowing that a blog has everything you need has a certain draw to it.
My background is as a researcher.
I know how to research a topic – to death! I am also never satisfied that I have a complete answer. So when it came to writing this blog post, I knew I wanted a COMPLETE answer and to collate all the best tips for making your blog post stand out with SEO. So I’ve scoured the best and mashed them all together here.
The majority of people searching online are also searching for a complete answer to their questions. If your blog post has the BEST answer then you are more likely to pull your ideal customer to your business.
The best answers to a question do not perform a little bit better than other posts, they perform significantly better. As with so much on the internet it is a winner takes all game.BuzzSumo
Our task is to become “the best answer” where it matters and on topics that are most relevant to Jane’s reason for buyingLee Odden
2. Research your keywords
What are people actually searching for? It’s easy to try and guess but don’t. Use free online keyword tools to get the exact answer.
There are lots of keyword tools to choose from like UberSuggest, SemRush, SerpStat and Moz, but just start by typing your search term into google and find “People also ask”
I also check YouTube, Ubersuggest, and Answer the Public for keywords.
See How to Start a Blog for Your Business for more help on finding keywords.
3. Use long-tail keywords
A long-tail keyword is a phrase as opposed to grouped words.
It may be much easier to rank for a phrase than one specific keyword.
As you can see from this example in Ubersuggest, the SD ranking in yellow tells me how easy it will be to rank in organic search for each keyword. A high number means it’s going to be difficult.
But some of the longer-tail keywords may help me rank, like “matching gifts for dogs and owners” or “personalised gifts for dogs.”
If you check Google’s “Related searches” you can often find ideas for long-tail keywords there too.
I also use a free version of Keywords Everywhere, a Chrome plugin, that shows me the related keywords for my search terms on the right-hand side of my search engine results page.
4. Use Semantic Keywords
Semantic keywords (also known as Latent Semantic indexing – LSI) are conceptually related words to your keyword. So words like “dog parents,” “dog lovers,” “grooming,” “treats,” are all related to the topic of dog gifts. Google bots can therefore say to the searcher – I’m confident this website will fulfil everything you are looking for as there are lots of words that relate to your search theme.
To help find semantic keywords, think about what your searcher’s intent is. A person searching for dog gifts might be looking for more unusual gifts for friends for example. You could try sites like LSI Graph if you want to get some help finding semantic keywords.
It’s easy to get tied up in keywords, so I recommend just keeping them in mind, but really drilling down on what your customer wants and needs to help shape your blog content.
5. Optimize Your Headline
You Headline needs to be keyword rich and impactful as well as using H1 formatting.
Check out this post on how to optimize your blog post headings. How to Write Phenomenal Headlines for Your Blog Posts.
6. Use H2 and H3 heading tags
In Microsoft Word, do you remember how you could change the style to be Normal, Heading 1, Heading 2 etc? This would then enable it to show in a table of contents. All that was doing was writing code that says, hey Word, this text should be a heading.
The same is true in your Blog post, except this time, you are inputting information into your web code and telling search engines, “hey bot, this heading is a secondary heading, H2.”
Bots crawl your website and also see, oh, look this is a heading and it has the word ‘dog gift; in it. That must mean there’s a high likelihood that this page is useful for people looking for dog gifts. Excellent, your blog post is returned to the search engine results page (SERP) for that viewer.
When you are creating your blog post, make sure all your headings and subheadings are correctly tagged.
7. Create keyword-rich, but not stuffed body text
Don’t stuff your blog post with keywords. It used to happen back in the day, where people would hide a load of keywords at the bottom of a page in white font to help them rank better in search.
Well, the search engines got wise to this trick and penalized that behaviour.
Instead, just write naturally, but keep your keywords and long-tail keywords in mind as you write. Include it in the first paragraph and scattered about 5-6 times in the text.
8. Ensure you have a structure (e.g. bullets, lists, questions, and sub-headings)
I don’t have time for rambling. I want a structure. I want bullets, lists, infographics, questions and sub-headings that lead me through the content.
A good structure means good scannability.
And let’s face it, who is actually reading every single word online anymore? We scroll, we peruse, we scan, we hop from tab to tab and forget which way is up. So make it scannable and eye-catching.
9. Use short paragraphs
Reading on a computer or phone can be difficult. Make it easier by having short paragraphs rather than a wall of text. Aim for two to three sentences a paragraph with a strong point in each one.
10. Emphasize words for scannability
I love a good bolded word. It helps my eye hop through the content quicker. I can quickly scan to see if the post has what I’m looking for and usually convinces me to go back to the beginning to read it properly. LIKE THIS!
11. Check your word count
Unless you are the marketing guru, Seth Godin who can write single-paragraph blog posts, you need at least 1,000 words on your post. Why?
Because otherwise, Google will find it very difficult to understand what your page is about. Google is definitely not counting how many words you have and has said that “word count is not a ranking factor”, but it is looking for evidence of the content topic and assessing quality.
Yoast, Search Engine Journal and Banklino all suggest between 1-2k words is good for SEO.
But, more importantly, around 1,000 words is about the right amount to make a point and offer value. Anything over 2,000 and you’re likely to be waffling.
So, while you shouldn’t get overly hung-up on the word count, just make sure you keep your customer in mind and their core problem in your writing and don’t scrimp on the text.
12. Add internal links
If you have useful content on your website or other related blog posts, make sure you link to them in your current blog post.
Search engines are looking for indications that your page is valuable, and links are one of its criteria.
Your linking enables Google bots to determine the skeleton of your site and determine how useful it will be for people searching for your particular product or service.
13. Add quality, high ranking external links
External links are links to other people’s content or references. 4-5 links is a good number to have in a post.
It’s also a way of telling Google – hey – my website has lots of useful content on it and if you follow this link you’ll find even more useful content.
However, make sure you are linking to good quality content which is highly ranked. If you link to spam content, your site will be affected in search.
Go for reputable companies, or check out the DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority) by using the Moz bar.
I can tell that looking for Dog gifts in Google, Etsy and Marie Claire have really DA / PA comparative ratings and lots of other sites link to them, so will be good sites to link to as well.
14. Add in Click to Tweet (Optional)
Click to Tweet is a functionality you can add to your blog that makes it easy for people to tweet a quote. Just head over to the Click to Tweet site, and type in your text and ad the code. Or if you are on WordPress you could try the Better Click to Tweet plugin and just use the Better Click to Tweet block.
15. Have a strong conclusion
When you finish saying what is it you want to say, it’s often easy to just…drift…off at the end, with some unsaid ‘ta-da.’
But your readers will have probably forgotten why they were reading the blog post, or just toddle off back to Google.
A strong conclusion is your change to remind your reader of what the core problem was, and summarize the solution.
Plus NOW is your chance to add value. Give them actions they can implement to make their lives better!
16. Have a strong call to action
You want your reader to take some action – hopefully, action related to your business or service.
Or at the very least stay on your website and look at some more of your amazing blog posts.
To do this, you need a strong call to action.
This can be as simple as, check out my service. Or call me if you want to chat.
Don’t let that reader simply drift away, direct them elsewhere.
17. Ask readers to comment
Getting people to engage on your blog posts can also give your SEO a boost. Back in the early 2000’s I used to spend hours and hours liking and commenting on other people’s food blog posts in the hope that they would reciprocate on mine…and they did.
Google now looks for sites that are updated regularly as a sign that they are worthwhile for searchers. So if you get comments and you regularly comment back – this is all great for SEO.
So at the end of your blog post, ask a cheeky question, or for people to share their insight or wisdom.
18. Ask readers to share
If your post is being shared on social media – then that is another health tick for your SEO and another sign to Google that your site is alive and well, and useful.
So remember to ask people to share on their social media accounts. Make sure you also have your social sharing buttons at the bottom of your post or somewhere prominent as well.
19. Show and tell your reader where to go next
If a reader has found the answer, chances are they’ll be off straight away. But, you have a chance to cross-sell your other value-laden blog posts here.
Show them related posts, or posts that they might be interested in and keep them on your site.
Did you see what I did there?!
20. Image optimisation
a. Use images that are related to your content and your text
You want to make sure that your images help the user and add value to what is in your text.
b. Compress your images
Once you have all your text in, now you need to add some good quality images or graphics.
When you are uploading images you want to make sure that they are good quality, but not too large a file size that they slow down your page’s load speed. A low loading speed will harm your SEO.
Aim to keep your images below 500kb.
You can also check that other images on your blogs are optimized for speed by using Page Speed Insights.
c. Include keywords in your file name
Make sure you change the filename of the photo to include your keywords.
Google uses the file path and name to help rank images.
By adding more context around images, results can become much more useful, which can lead to higher quality traffic to your site. You can aid in the discovery process by making sure that your images and your site are optimized for Google ImagesGoogle Search Console
d. Include keywords in your alt text
Now upload the image to your blog post.
Alternative text is essentially descriptive text for visually impaired people and will describe in detail what is going on in an image.
However, it is also useful for search engine bots as well.
Google Image search has become incredibly popular for searchers, and having metadata descriptions for your image will help.
When you are uploading, WordPress will have a section in the sidebar menu for “Alternative Text.” For Squarespace, you add alt text by adding a caption to your image and then hiding the caption.
e. Correctly size your image for the width of your blog post
Check the width of your blog post. This will be determined by the style you have chosen for your website.
21. Have a featured image
In WordPress and Squarespace, you can set a featured image. These images are your blog post’s thumbnail image and don’t appear inside your blog post. This is the first image people see when they share your blog, so you need to have a clickable, eye-catching image.
This image will appear on your blog’s front page also.
In Wix, it is called a cover image.
22. Write a keyword-rich meta-description
A meta description tells search engines and readers in just 155 characters what your blog post is about.
This description is input as HTML code in the header of your page for search engines to read.
In Squarespace this is found in the Blog Settings > SEO > SEO description.
WordPress has Excerpt, but this is just a text description that will appear below your blog on your website and is not the same as a meta description.
For WordPress, why not try an SEO plugin like YOAST to add to your meta description.
If you don’t add in a meta description for your site, then Google will just extract the opening lines of your blog post. You don’t want that…as it’s likely just to be your opening introduction and won’t hook people into your content.
23. Optimize your URL
The URL of your blog post doesn’t have to be the same as your headline title.
You have an additional chance to make a shorter and more keyword-focused URL. In Squarespace and WordPress you can change the SEO title easily in the blog post settings.
24. Add a Category for Your Blog Post
Categories help organise your blog posts into broad topic areas. This makes it much easier for people to find related content.
Make sure you choose categories aligned to your product or services.
If you have an eCommerce site, categories are super important. Check out this helpful article from YOAST.
25. Add topic tags
Topic Tags are descriptive keywords specific to your individual blog post.
A user can click on a tag, and find other blog posts related to that tag.
You can add tags in your Blog Post Settings in Squarespace and Quick Edit in WordPress as well as in your Block Editor.
Check your spelling, as it’s easy to have a tag for “blog” and “blogging” and “blogs” and Google will be confused about how to rank and display that content.
26. Promote your blog
Now your blog is optimized for SEO, give it another helping hand by promoting your blog post on social media.
Post a graphic of the title of your blog post
Post a graphic of an alternative title for your blog post
Post a quote graphic from your blog
Tweet a question related to your blog post
Ask a poll question on Instagram
Create an infographic
Turn your blog into a Slideshare presentation, webinar, or video presentation using Canva
Create a series of Pinterest Pins to share over the next month, or schedule using Tailwind
Also think about adding your blog post to Google My Business
You can share previews of your content on Google My Business. You can then add links back to your original content. This will help boost your page rankings and drive more traffic.
The key is to keep it updated, however, and include Google My Business in your blog promotion strategy.
27. Syndicate your blog
You can further enhance your SEO, by re-publishing your blog post on other third-party sites.
When you republish – remember to add “This original article appeared in “Title + Hyperlink.”
This will not only help direct people to your website but also stops the post from looking like duplicated content.
When posting content to multiple platforms at the same time (such as your website and Medium), it’s important to make sure a single source of that content is the ultimate authority.Medium
So Google knows which blog post is the source, you should also add a canonical link. All this means is that you tell bots that your blog post is the “real – authentic – canonical” version and that this syndicated one is not.
If you are using Medium to syndicate, go to the “more settings” on your article and Advanced Settings.
If you are republishing to LinkedIn articles, you can’t add a canonical link like in Medium, so just remember to wait a few weeks and to include the phrase “this originally appeared on”
The only other danger with syndication, however, is that people read the blog post on the other site and don’t visit your website. But, that’s where it’s good to add a call to action, explaining what other content and value you offer.
28. Group your blog posts
Hubspot calls them “topic clusters” but what it means is grouping content topics together around a core blog post.
So for example, say you wrote a blog about “The Ultimate Gift Guide for Dogs,” you may mention gifts for different occasions, types of dogs, or types of owners. You then write a blog post about “Gifts for Dogs for Christmas. That post is related to your pillar content.
Your pillar content will have a cluster of posts all linking to it.
A cluster is a strategic, living artifact that prioritizes and communicates search engine authority – it tells Google you are the best resource for a topic. Clusters are successful when they offer reliable answers to searchers’ questions, provide unique perspectives, and are organized around a pillar page or landing pageMichael Keenan
29. Build backlinks
Getting other websites or bloggers to link to your content will help increase your authority and ranking.
The best way to do this is to approach people you think would benefit from your content and ask them to link to you.
Hubspot believes that posts that offer original thought leadership or are based on original research tend to do very well for backlinks.
Also, posts that offer the “ultimate” answer.
30. Create video
Adding video can help boost your SEO. Prospects may be more likely to share great video content and link to it, than they would a blog post.
So think about adding a video element into your blog, or turning your blog post into a video that you embed to your page.
You can then edit your video into shorter bite-sized videos on YouTube linking back to the longer video and your blog post. With all the social media channels prioritizing video, having a video element will complement your SEO strategy.
It may seem like a lot of checks to do on a blog post, but if you want to attract real customers, and show them you can add value and solve their unique problem, you need to put a homing beacon on your content. To do this you need to do some SEO on your blog posts.
You can make your blog post so friendly with SEO, they have best-friend necklaces.
So go SEO the hell out of your blog post and be found by the world.
Want a free SEO Optimization checklist to take the stress out of remembering everything you need to do on your blog? Fill in the form to get your free download.
Blog SEO Checklist