The more I work with teams of writers - including content people, web developers and marketers - the more I realize that a lot of teams really don't have a conscious or conscientious approach to SEO blogging. There are plenty of resources out there about this. There are a few steps people just seem to miss, or don't understand, that seriously impact their search rank. An SEO blog doesn't have to be a compromise of your content.
Writing SEO Blogs
Often, people say "I don't have SEO keywords or anything, I just want to write a blog about..." or "I haven't researched the SEO/I don't care about ranking, I just want to provide valuable content." This is a false dichotomy. You don't have to choose either SEO content OR rich, readable content. SEO blogging isn't just a random series of keywords that don't make sense or have value for the reader.
In fact, I would go so far as to say if you are not incorporating SEO keywords into a blog, you're literally wasting your time. Unless you have a massive organic following, your blog will not get read without being optimized. The internet is too big for people to find you without some directions, guideposts, signals or signs. That's what SEO does: it drives traffic by directing people to your content. If you have good and meaningful content that you want people to find, you need to write SEO blogs.
What's in an SEO Blog?
SEO Blogging requires certain, fundamental elements that are the essence of why they help increase your search rank. Here are the six most important things to include in an SEO Blog:
- Headers (H1, H2, H3)
- Meta description and snippet
- Image alt text
- Links: internal and external
Each of these elements have an essential function to SEO blogging. They are the structure that your rich and readable content needs to be organized around. Doing so will help your blogs rank in search. Let's dive deeper into what each of these are and how you can use them.
Keyword Research for an SEO Blog
Keyword research is absolutely vital for an SEO blog. Some people think that you need to do all of this painstaking research that takes hours. You might. You also might be able to rather quickly begin collecting keywords that are relevant to your industry and will help increase your search rank. I've written about how to do this before so you can click here to access a more in-depth look at that process.
Basically, you can use a free tool or a paid tool and find lists of words and phrases that your customers are most likely to use to find you. You can do this in many ways. Start here:
- Look at your closest competitors: what kind of keywords are they using?
- Reflect on data: what are your most successful ads or digital content? What kind of wording did this content contain?
- Switch it up: search for variations of words so that you have a solid list of go-to keywords and phrases that you can use often to rank for the right search terms.
- Drill down: allocate a portion of time for every blog to search for keywords that are specific to that topic. You will want to have a global, running list related to your overall industry or business but also want to have specific keywords that help you target a narrower audience for each blog you write.
Using Headers in a Blog
In whatever format you write (directly onto your blog, in a Google doc first, wherever) you may be able to find pre-formatted options for delineating headers. Headers, simply put, are a way to prioritize your content. By using text that is categorized this way, you are telling Google which words are most relevant for your blog. For example, my H1 in this blog is: How to Write an SEO Blog, because that is most specifically what this blog is about. You will want to have one H1 that is the most accurate description of your blog and includes your best keyword or keyword phrase.
You will have one H1 but multiple H2s and maybe some H3s. You can go lower than an H3, priority-wise, but the first three are the most important. H2s in this blog so far are "Writing SEO Blogs", "What's in an SEO Blog?", "Keyword Research for an SEO Blog", and "Using Headers in a Blog." There will be more below, but essentially I've added keywords and keyword phrases that are important and relevant to the body of the content and made them headers. H3s will be lower priority keywords and phrases but still help organize your content.
Meta Description for Blog Site
I am in awe when I go into the back end of a large or reputable business's website and find they haven't written meta-descriptions or snippets for their website pages or blog posts. This is a missed opportunity! You likely use a template of some kind (Wix, Wordpress, HubSpot, etc.) and all of these will prompt you to write a meta-description of each website page and each blog. This tells Google what summary you want displayed when you pop up in a search result. This is important because it can make or break whether a customer clicks on your post. Write a very short, very succinct overview that accurately describes the blog content for each post.
Image Alt Text for Blogs
This is one of those drudgery tasks that is worth doing. I mentioned before about how image issues (sizing, to be specific) can negatively impact your website load time, which can cause your bounce rates to soar. If you want people to stay on your website, make sure your images are downsized or compressed (Wordpress sometimes calls this "smushing"). In addition, remember that Google owns Google Images. This means that images you post on the internet - on every web page and every blog - are part of your body of content.
- Leave a picture with its original title (JPG ###)
- Rename a picture something company-specific like "Joy's Photo of Trendy Businesspeople for November Blog"
- Rename a picture using relevant keywords, like "How to write an SEO blog"
- Save all of your images to your desktop in organized folders with these titles
Content for Blogs
Blog content can feel overwhelming. You need to make sure that your content meets multiple scoring metrics in order for it to contribute to your search rank. It is tempting to give into keyword stuffing, rambling to fill a word count or hidden text. These are things that will get you negatively penalized by Google and they are never worth it.
Instead, break it down into micro-goals: create an editorial calendar, divvy it up among your team, write down ideas as they come and maybe hire someone from the outside to do the work. Blog content is one of the only sources, aside from landing pages, of fresh content for your website. It can be a huge source of lead traffic if you do it right.
Your content will have to meet standards for plagiarism and readability. Keep in mind that plagiarism even counts if it's within your own world, meaning you cannot copy and paste copy from one of your web pages to another. This is also important if you change hosting or blog sites: old content is still indexed and will negatively impact your search rank if you just copy it over. Readability means that you need to write at about an eighth grade level for the average reader.
Internal and External Links for Blogs
Link building is an epic part of the blogging business. This may be a surprise. The way that expert bloggers strategically integrate both interlinking (links within your own site) and external links (links to other sites) is savvy and technical. The reason for this is that links help create traction for traffic. You may think that you don't want external links because you don't want somebody to click out of your site. However, external links can help with credibility of content and are important for site traffic. This is a huge field of study that you may need to research separately. You can also hire people to do link checking or optimize your website with these features.
Here are some other articles from great sources that I'd recommend:
SEO Blogging Resources
The days when a few SEO tricks were enough to get your website to rank well in Google are long gone. Nowadays, quality content is king. And good content also leads to more links, shares, tweets and return visitors to your website. Of course, there are always other things you can do to maximize the SEO friendliness of your post, but most importantly, just write very, very good posts!
SEO Friendly Blog Post by Yoast
Did you know that 91% of web content gets no traffic from Google? While creative marketing tactics like blogging will boost brand awareness and show that you have expertise on an industry, not writing a post properly for SEO could mean it misses out on all the great SEO traffic it could get.
Writing for SEO: How to Write Blogs That Rank on Page 1 of Google by HubSpot
Obviously, the more unique and actionable blog posts that you’re able to create on a consistent basis, the more power your blog has to pull in traffic. This then further increases your search traffic, community engagement levels, and leads.
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Blog Posts That Rank in Google’s Top 10 by Neil Patel
Hire a Writer for SEO Blogs
As you can see, this work requires some knowledge and a good amount of effort. The learning curve is NOT too steep for you: you can learn it. The question is whether or not you have the time to create consistent, high-quality content. When you don't, hire a writer to help you.