5 Tips to Optimize Your Blog for SEO
There was a time when SEO simply meant using the right keywords, and using any keywords meant keyword stuffing. Algorithms are much more intelligent now, and much more persnickety when it comes to how rankings are determined. Content creators and business owners need to be a little more clever (or sneakier, depending on how you look at it) when trying to optimize their site for SEO purposes.
Blog posts are a gold mine of opportunities to do just that.
1. Write For Readers, Not For Search Engines
Optimizing a blog for SEO purposes doesn’t mean you are writing a blog post that Google will like, because Google will ignore you if potential readers do too. Always be mindful of your audience, their interests, their problems, and what motivates them consumer behavior. Your topics and content need to resonate with them and address their pain points.
It also needs to be presented in a format that is enjoyable to read. Obnoxiously long blocks of text are a major turn off to readers. Organize your content well with subheaders and a table of contents if your content is on the lengthier side. Use visual aids such as graphs and charts when presenting data to provide some context and make it easier to understand.
2. Strategic Headings
Headings are not the same as titles. Headings should reflect the content in a way that is meaningful and engaging, but also concise. They help Google’s web crawlers, which are bots that search and index content online. If your headers are dry, unnecessarily long, or off-topic then the bots might get confused and not know where to put your content.
These web crawlers, also known as web spiders, are the ones who retrieve content whenever someone performs an inquiry on a search engine. Your header needs to provide an overview of your content so the web crawler knows when to pull it out and present it in the SERP. Web crawlers skim the entirety of the piece, so your subheaders should also contain relevant keywords. Your header, however, is where the keywords reflecting reader interest and intent need to be.
3. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are just, brief snippets from a blog post or other piece of written content that Google presents. Snippets are brought up when they offer a direct answer to a question or contain a phrase verbatim.
For example, if someone were to perform the search ‘How to increase traffic to website’, Google is going to present a snippet featuring phrases like ‘Here’s how to increase traffic to your website’. These snippets are broken down into two types, normal and rich.
A normal snippet shows the title, URL, and metadescription. Rich snippets include other tidbits like ratings, number of votes, prices, number in stock, product release date, and contact information. Rich snippets are much more visually appealing and provide information to help inquirers and consumers make quicker decisions. These are also known to help increase your organic click-through-rate.
4. Images and Alt Text
Earlier we mentioned adding visual aids for sharing data in your blogs. Feel free to include regular images in your content as well. A quick picture in between subheadings can break up the monotony of a wall of text, provide examples of what you are describing in your content, or complement your content by putting a face to it. Alt text is a brief description underneath each image.
Here is an example. Let’s say that your written content is about breakfast dishes made of tofu, and vegans make up a bulk of your readers. This image is somewhere in your content:
This alt text references what the content is about as well as who it is meant for. The alt text creates a narrative that brings the image to life, like a snapshot of someone’s daily life. Someone just like your readers.
Bonus- even if there are no keywords, alt text is ADA compliant and makes content more accessible to inquirers with disabilities that can affect vision and reading comprehension, have lower language proficiency, or are non-native speakers. For this reason it’s best to avoid using images of texts whenever possible, and include alt text whenever possible.
5. Make It Easy to Share
By which we don’t just mean include a feature that lets readers automatically share it to Facebook and Twitter, but that is the primary reason. It’s been firmly established that consumers like being able to share content that they find engaging. Just ask the 86% of marketers that rely on blogs for organic content distribution. People are more likely to click on a post that has been shared by someone they follow or are friends with on social media. The content is already ‘pre-qualified’, so to speak. We are naturally more inclined to read or view content from people with similar interests, hobbies, views, beliefs, and so on.
Not only can you make the blog itself shareable, you can also recycle the blog’s content and share it through other channels. It can be repurposed into social media posts for different platforms, scripts for video advertising, in-text advertising, and interactive content such as quizzes and ebooks. If you find your organic traffic is starting to drop then find your most successful blog posts and recycle them. Same identity and tone, just a different format. You’re sure to re-obtain the people who have already expressed interest in what you have to say. Doing so in a different format keeps it fresh and looking new.
Different demographics are going to have preferences though. Pop culture sites thrive on quizzes, surveys, and polls. Many video game sites, which are still technically pop culture, have polls as well as downloadable guides and even calculators for players to use.
We hope that this has given you some insight into ways that you can use a simple 400-word article in a mean, lean, traffic generating machine. If we can add one last little tidbit it’s that you’re allowed to have fun with this. Blogs are not good for SEO, they’re great for establishing your brand. Read the comments to interact with readers to show them that you value their thoughts. Use your blog to create your identity, your voice, and your values.
If somewhere along the way you find yourself inspired to create social media content or want help with brand management, all you need to do is get in touch with us and embrace the collaborative spirit.