You may be blogging just for fun. Alternatively, you might be attempting to earn an income from your blog. Either way, one of the primary objectives of all bloggers is to build up a sizeable readership.
Posting top quality content will go a long way towards achieving a good ranking on the search engines. However, if you want to get your blog noticed by large numbers of people, you will need to optimize your blog post for the search engines.
It would be best not to allow search engine optimization (SEO) to become your sole blogging strategy. But, if you do not make it easy for people to find your content, you run the risk of never having a substantial number of people visiting your blog.
So, the reader must come first, but SEO comes a close second. Here are ten tips to optimize your blog posts for the search engines without compromising the reader experience.
Table of Contents
Plan Posts and Research Keywords
It would be a good idea to plan your blog posting schedule rather than posting content ad-hoc. So, consider the topics that you want to post about and create a posting calendar. A blogging calendar will give you deadlines and help you post consistently. A posting schedule will also help you develop topic themes. When you are setting your posting schedule for the coming month, it would also be advisable to research the keywords relevant to your posts. Look for the terms that your target audience is searching for and include those terms in your content.
Consider Keyword Competition
When you are choosing your keywords, think about how much competition there will be for those terms. If you use widely used short phrases, you will likely find that many other websites are also targeting those keywords. It would be better to use long-tail keywords that a narrow audience would search for rather than broad terms that many other blogs will have already been ranked.
Include Keywords in the Critical Elements of Posts
It is advisable to only use your chosen keywords sparingly in your blog posts. The optimum keyword density is generally accepted to be around 3-5%. It will also help your SEO efforts if you include your keywords in certain critical elements of your posts. The important places to include keywords are the URL of the page, the title of the post, and the meta description.
There are several places that you can add keywords to images in blogs, and it would be advisable to take advantage of all these placeholders. To boost your SEO, use your keywords in image file names, the captions of images, and the alt description. Remember, though, to only use keywords in a way that looks natural to the reader. The alt description, for example, describes the image to visually impaired readers. So, the alt text needs to make sense when read; it should not be merely a list of keywords.
Link to External and Internal Sources
Don’t be concerned about linking to other websites because linking to external sources adds authority to your posts. One or more outgoing links can be handy for illustrating points you have made in your content or citing sources for facts you have quoted. However, it is best not to use your keywords in the anchor text for outgoing links because doing so can diminish SEO. Linking to other relevant pages on your blog can increase the ranking for your chosen keywords and topics. Internal links in posts will also encourage people to read more content on your blog.
Avoid Short Posts
It would be unwise to pad out a post merely to make it longer. However, long-form content will generally gain you a higher ranking than short posts. Longer posts also provide more opportunities for including your keywords and terms related to those keywords. The optimum length of a blog post is in the region of 1,500 words. However, remember to break up your long-form content with images and subheadings. Too much text will be off-putting for visitors and may lead to higher bounce rates.
Research Your Competition
It can be beneficial to look at the content you will be competing with for your chosen keywords. A quick Google search using your target keywords will show you which websites are on page one for that term. Looking at high ranked pages will help you understand what has led Google to rank the page. Look at how long the top-ranked posts are, how the pages are formatted, and what topics the content covers. Researching the competition will also allow you to judge the level of competition for your keyword. You might find, for example, well-established, well-known websites dominate the first five search engine results pages (SERP) for your keyword. In which case, you might want to consider amending your keyboard to a more narrowly defined long-tail keyword.
Experiment with Different Formats
Blogging is mostly about words. However, there are many other formats that you could include in your blog posts that could improve the user experience and help with your SEO. Indeed, user experience is becoming increasingly important in search engine optimization. So, consider making more use of visuals, like videos, infographics, charts, and diagrams. Then track your visitor numbers and content shares for the various formats to discover what type of content works best with your audience.
Monitor Your Analytics
It is almost impossible to guess what type of content will attract the most visitors. It is advisable, then, to track your blog posts’ performance with Google Analytics to gain insights into your audience. If you have not already done so, set up Analytics for your blog and use it to discover which of your blog posts performs best. You can then use what you learn from Analytics to format future posts and go back and optimize old posts.
Promote Your Brand and Blog
One of the crucial factors in search engine optimization the backlinks you have pointing to your website. However, people will not link to your blog post if they are unaware that your blog exists. So, put some time aside each day or week for promoting your blog. Share your blog posts on your social media accounts, contribute to forums related to your niche, and comment on other people’s blogs. Get your brand and blog known in the community you are targeting, and then visitors and backlinks will come naturally.
Without search engine optimization, your blog might sit on the back pages of Google forever. But, if you use the above SEO strategies, you will probably be surprised at how easy it is to get your content appearing prominently on search results pages. So, use keywords to tell search engines what your blog posts are about, produce quality content that people want to read, and promote your blog. Then, monitor the results of your efforts with Google Analytics. Get these fundamentals of SEO right, and you will soon be seeing more visitors coming to your blog.