What do I mean blog SEO? I mean applying certain search engine optimization techniques to each of your blog posts to help get them showing up prominently in the search results. The beauty of blog SEO is that it’s a whole lot easier and less technical than performing SEO on an entire site. In fact, you can do just about all of it right in your blog editor.
I’d love to be able to tell you that all you need to do is start writing blog posts and wait for Google to send you a tidal wave of traffic your way, but it’s just not that easy. Sure, any blog post is better than having none, and yes sometimes you can write a real traffic magnet without even trying. You’ll find, however, that you can make things a lot easier on yourself with a little planning and thoughtful execution. It doesn’t need to be difficult- blog SEO is something any business owner can do.
To make this as easy as possible for you, I’m going to break everything down into sections explaining each task in detail. You can treat these sections as a step-by-step guide, checking each off as you go.
Choosing Blog Post Topic
Choosing the right topic for your blog post is one of the most important factors in determining how much traffic you will get, but it can also be one of the hardest parts of the blogging process. You want to find a topic that will generate interest, that will get your article shared, and for which you will be able to provide helpful insight to.
Think about what your customers want to know the most about. It’s easy to lose sight of what your average customer wants to know when you are immersed in your business every day, so don’t hesitate to ask friends or family for ideas. Host a brainstorming session to establish a backlog of topics you can use in the future. The next time you’re choosing a topic to blog about, you can refer to the list from your brainstorming session.
Already covered all the burning questions your customers could have in previous blog posts? Try looking to industry news for ideas. Are there any particularly hot topics right now? New product lines? Scientific breakthroughs? Legal considerations? What are people in your line of business buzzing about right now? The more active a topic is, the better chance you have of getting a slice of the search engine traffic to your blog post.
Choosing a Core Keyword
Now that you have a killer topic for your post, it’s time to decide what the main keyword is going to be. Start by making a list of search terms you think your customers would use to research the topic you’re writing about. Try to think of the kind of words they use, as opposed to the words you use when talking about this topic.
Once you have come up with five to ten phrases, it’s time to start plugging them into keyword tools to help discover related terms and terms that are searched heavily. There are several keyword tools out there that can help you find high traffic keywords. Try using something like SEM Rush, or Keyword Spy to look for keywords with a lot of traffic, but try to avoid phrases that are only made up of one or two words. Identify a term that has a good amount of searches being performed and is also highly relevant to your topic, this is going to be your core keyword for the article.
This part is pretty easy. Now that you have your core keyword, Google it. Look at some of the top sites coming up in the results, and what the headlines of their listings are. This can be a good source of supporting keyword ideas. Next, look at the bottom of the search results for the section called “Searches related to…” This is a list of other search phrases that Google thinks is closely related to what you just searched for. Make a note of these, since you should try to incorporate some of them into your post later on.
Writing the headline for your blog post is a very important step for blog SEO, but does not need to be a difficult one. You already have the topic you’re going to be writing about and the main keyword you’re going to be focusing on. Between these two things, your headline should practically write itself.
Make sure you use your main keyword in the headline/title of your blog post, and try to place it as close to the front of the headline as possible. The title of your post is the first thing Google sees when looking at the page, so you want to make sure you’re telling them up front what the page is about. If there are a couple words before your keyword, don’t sweat it. You’re writing this post for people too, and an oddly written headline can be a real turn off for potential readers.
Writing the blog post itself is one of the easier parts of all this. Simply write what you have to say on the subject. If it makes it easier, think of it like the essays you wrote in high school with an intro paragraph and thesis statement, a few paragraphs supporting the thesis and a conclusion paragraph to wrap the whole thing up.
As you write your post, try to incorporate your main keyword into the content as often and as naturally as possible. You don’t want to stuff it into every sentence, but make sure you remember to use it a few times. You can also use some of those supporting keywords you found earlier if they fit better.
Images & Alt Tags for SEO
A well written article on an interesting topic is great and all, but even the best blog posts feel a little stale without a couple of images to break up the text on the page. Make sure you choose at least one image to include in your blog post, but more than one is great depending on the length of your post. If you’re interested in video marketing, new mobile phone apps like Vine and Instagram allow to you create short 6 to 15 second videos to embed in your blog posts.
When you click the preview button in your blog editor, is there a portion of your post where all you can see is text? Try adding a relevant image right in the middle. Images help keep readers engaged in your post and increase your chances of someone sharing the post with their friends. You can easily find free sources for stock images to place in your post in our 45 Free Marketing Tools guide.
When uploading an image through your blog editor, you are usually given a text field in the image uploader that says something like “Description” or “Alt”. This is text that is used by search engines and the visually impaired to find out what is in the picture. Make sure you write a clear description of the image, and if possible include your main keyword or one of your supporting keywords. This helps to strengthen the relevancy of your post to the keyword for search engines.
SEO Friendly URLs
Many blogging platforms allow you to customize the web address, or URL, where your blog post will live. Search engines actually read the text of a web address as a cue to what the page might be about. That means that this is yet another place to use your core keyword to get an SEO boost. At the very least, make sure your blog is set up to use words in your URLs, and opposed to something like “?postid=12345″.
The final step in blog SEO is probably the most fun, and that’s sharing it with the world. Once you hit that publish button, it’s time to get out there and post a link to it on your company Facebook page with a little blurb about why your customers should read it. Tweet out a link to your Twitter followers to let them know you’ve written something they’re going to love. Include an excerpt in your next email newsletter and link it back to the blog post.
Google doesn’t necessarily give preference to articles that are being heavily shared on social media, but they don’t ignore it either. Blog articles that are heavily shared do tend to perform better, and they certainly start showing up in the search results faster. Share, and encourage your readers to share as well.
That’s it! A step by step guide for blog SEO that doesn’t require much more work than your normal blogging routine. Use this guide the next time you sit down to blog and you’ll put yourself in a much better position to get more traffic from Google.