When you optimize your blog posts, you’re essentially improving the visibility of your blog (and website!) to those who are running a search for keywords associated with your product or service offering. In this post, I’ll cover how to optimize your blog posts for the keywords that matter to your business and share a few optimization strategies that you can take advantage of – no matter where you are in your SEO journey.
How to Search Engine Optimize Your Blog Content
1. Understand who you’re writing for
Maximizing the impact of your blog requires that you not only know who your audience is but also what they need from your post. You need to know what keeps drives them – their business goals, fears, and challenges. You need to be able to communicate your content in the language that your target actually uses in relation to your products and services.
2. Research the questions that people are asking online about your subject matter
There are a few ways of doing this.
You could go to online forums like Quora to get a sense of what people are wanting to know within the space that you operate.
You could join Facebook groups that specialize in your area of expertise, and run a few keyword-specific searches to see what the most common challenges and questions are.
You could go to Ubersuggest to find out what web searches are being run. All you have to do is go to the site, enter your “seed” keyword, and click “Suggest.” From there, you can pick the keywords that resonate, and get Ubersuggest to expand on it. Here’s what the process looks like for the seed keyword “blogging”:
Step 1 – Enter your seed keyword
Step 2 – Find what resonates
Step 3 – Expand the chosen keyword
Your findings from this step can and should inform the direction + structure of your post.
3. Research your competitors
This is where you’d seek out answers to questions like, “Who else is ranking for this keyword or phrase?” For this, I tend to just hop onto Google, run a keyword search and see who comes up on the first 1-2 pages.
You also want to seek out those who have created related content and achieved a ton of shares/likes/engagement on it. Buzzsumo is super for this.
Once you know the answers to these two questions, you need to ask yourself how you’re going to do better/different and offer even more value.
4. Choose the keyword(s) that your post will focus on
All through steps 1 – 3, you’ve been building a list of keywords and phrases that fit the goal of your post. By this point, you’ve created a list of relevant keywords and it’s time to pick the ones that will be included in your post.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on one or two keywords per blog post. This helps you stay focused on your goal.
Remember, SEO involves the use of both your chosen as well as related keywords. It’s important to speak the same language your searchers and audience do while catering to search engine algorithms.
5. Include these keywords in specific parts of your post
Ultimately, you want to include your chosen keywords in the:
- Post URL – this is probably the first thing that gets crawled when search engines are trying to establish what your post is about so start here.
- Blog title – build your keyword into the title and aim for the front end of your post title as opposed to the tail end.
- Copy of your post – So you want a good sprinkling of your chosen keyword(s) in your copy, but you’re aiming to only do so in such a way that your post reads naturally. Overstuff your post and you will get penalized.
- Meta description – this snippet appears alongside your meta title and link on search engine results pages. The meta description should give the audience a sense of what your blog post is about — almost like a first-point-of-relevance call, which directly impacts click-through rates.
6. Optimize your images
Your blog post should include visuals that complement or add to the key messages made on the blog.
Problem is – visuals are great for us humans, but the search engines simply cannot ‘see’ these visuals in the way that we can. And so, this is where image titles and alt text comes into play.
Instead of uploading an image with a filename “IMG9976” for example, you are best going with a filename that reflects the subject of the image (e.g. MailChimp as an email marketing tool). What I also like to do is make sure that the Alt Text field for that same image to carry the same content, expressed in a different way (e.g. Email marketing with MailChimp).
This practice alone will help search engines read your images.
7. Add internal links if you can
Linking internally to other related posts or pages on your website improves the stickiness of your site because the chance of keeping visitors on your website is greater. The resulting time spent on your site sends a signal to the likes of Google that your site is offering valuable content.
8. Categories are key, but be selective
I’m mentioning this point here, but I think this one qualifies as a high-level content strategy decision to be made even before you start blogging.
Categories are a way of organizing your blogs into buckets. Taking the time to think about and decide on the categories that all your blogs will be associated with will (a) help you focus on your content marketing objectives and (b) help your readers find those blogs related to the categories that interest them.
The rule of thumb here is to go with no more than 5-10 categories and be sure that the categories are clear and exclusive of one another. You don’t want “blog” as one category, and “blogging” as another because search engines (and your readers) will start thinking duplicated content – which just confuses things.
9. Share your blog on your social media profiles
I’ve spoken about this in a previous blog post about search engine optimization strategies, but basically every time you publish a post on your blog, it’s strongly recommended that you also promote it across your social media profiles because, even though social signals like Facebook Likes and Twitter followers don’t have a direct impact on your website rankings, it does help to increase the visibility of your content. This, in turn, means that it could get picked up by other content creators who might then link to it. So in a way, it’s not the actual act of promoting your post on social media that’s upping your page rankings… it’s the subsequent amplification that will do this for you.
10. Contribute positively to online forums and Q&A type environments that allow links back to your blog
You could look for forums that are related to the industry and/or niche you operate in, get involved in meaningful conversations within that community, and offer advice where it falls within your zone of genius. Ideally, you would do this within forums that allow for you to include a link to your site within your signature for example or those that use identification procedures via Gravatar or Google to find you through your profile. This helps the search engines ‘see’ the inbound links to your site, which will offer a higher ranking.
P.S. If you’re looking for other resources that are great for SEO, the Yoast website is a fantastic place to start. They recently came out with a blog post called Stop pleasing Google! which I found interesting. In it, the author set the scene by saying, “Google is becoming more and more ‘human,’ and should be treated that way.”