If you’re running a blog, ‘search engine optimization’ should be your mantra, day in and day out. It is an efficient and straightforward way of ensuring there is more traffic being driven to your blog (and of course, drive more conversions for your website as well).
How do you publish a blog that everybody will read? Create a great post? Of course- the quality of the content that you’re posting definitely matters. However, you can’t get to the top of the search engine pages (let’s face it- the higher you rank on a search engine page, the higher your chances are to drive more traffic to your site). So, how do you get to the coveted number 1 spot? SEO, of course!
How can you do this? Through a handy checklist of course! This 9 step checklist will walk you through all the relevant content, link building and other page optimization steps you should be taking!
1. The ideal keyword for the ideal user
When you’re identifying the right keywords for your blog, you have to think about two specific types of matching:
- Does the keyword/keyword phrase match then topic that my blog post is targeting?
- Will this keyword be appealing for the ideal user that I have envisioned for my site?
So, not only do you have to match the keywords to your content, you have to make sure that keyword is something your ideal reader is wont to use.
Keep in mind- this does not mean you shove as many keywords as you can possibly cram into one paragraph. The purpose of this exercise is to increase the user friendliness and readability of your blog, so you’ll have to include keywords in a way that’s natural and not forced (we’d suggest you also conduct a basic audit of the content on your website to see how you’ve been using keywords).
Your strategy for 2018? Focus on adding a few (just one or two) long tail keywords in your blog post. It’s been proven that readers who arrived at the site searching through long tail keywords are more likely to read the whole blog post! We recommend conducting keywords research using Google’s keyword tool to generate more relevant connects for your blog.
2. First Impressions: Your title
Do you know that, on an average, only 20% viewers read beyond the headline of a particular page? This means that you’re going to have to work twice as hard to ensure that your readers keep reading beyond then title. The best way to do this? Make your title captivating and effective.
Your title should be both SEO and user friendly, so that there’s plenty of flavour, but also purpose.
Here’s how you create the ideal title:
- Add actionable words to the title, along with adjectives that can inspire curiosity
- The ideal title length should be under 55 characters.
- You should definitely add the keyword for your post in the title (Google recognizes this as your title tag, which is what turns up in the search results).
- If you have a long keyword, make sure it is included within the first few words- or it might get cut off in the SERPs!
3. Optimize your URL
When a search engine starts crawling your page, it is definitely going to browse through the URLs. This is one of the primary ways in which it will try to identify what your post is about. When publishing on WordPress, you’ll get an option to edit and personalize the URL, so you should include one or two words of your keywords in there.
4. How well formatted is the body of your post?
Let’s face it- none of us would read a blog if it were badly formatted and had no subtitles or breaks. Having a well-portioned blog post with relevant information and search engine optimization is the absolute gold standard of the industry- and that’s what you should be reaching out to.
How can you do that? There are some simple steps!
- Use H2 and H3 tags: Break up your blog post in such a way that there are enough sub-titles on the page. This will make it easier for people to read and process, and it also makes it simple for search engines crawling your website to read and rank the post.
- Add a “Read More” tag: Instead of displaying the entire breadth of content in one go, you can add a “Read More” tag instead. This will allow you to determine how much of the blog post is visible immediately, especially on home and archive pages.
- Make the post readable and interesting: A great blog post is definitely going to draw in readers: the SEO is here only to support the content reach out to more people. In order to make your blog post more interesting, you should experiment with modes of delivery. Add bullet points, infographics, or images wherever possible. Add a call to action, so that people know how they can further engage with your blog.
- Internal and External Links: Your blog post is great, and you’ve included headlines. Now what? Let’s increase the legitimacy of the information you’ve shared! You can do this by adding some internal and external links to the post. Internal linking signals to the search engine about the efficiency of the other on your blog, so that’s a definite best practice for you to follow. External links are a good way of building a quid pro quo relationship with other blogs and sites, and will also increase your legitimacy in the future (note: make sure the external links open in a new window, otherwise you might end up losing web traffic).
5. Optimal meta description
Before you open a page on a search engine, there is a high chance you go through the meta description that’s given right under the title, to understand whether this is content that is relevant for you or not.
How do you write a good meta description? Ideally, it should be around 180-300 characters, so that the readers get a proper insight into what the article is about, but yet do not have to read much. You should also include the keyword in the meta description!
It is to be noted that meta description will not always get featured by the search engine- as Google may pull other parts of your blog that mention the keyword the user has specifically searched for (which gives better context to the reader on what they can expect). However, you should still work on improving your meta description, as it will definitely enhance user experience, and you should also increase the natural keyword inclusion in your blog post’s body, so that the relevancy in the search results is not affected!
6. Use imagery, and optimize it!
People like pictures. There’s no walking around it. We are extremely visual- and the more infographics and pictures there are, the easier it is for us to gather information.
So, you should definitely include images in your blog, but when you’re featuring an image, you should take an extra step forward and optimize it as well.
- Make sure the image/video fits the post space
- Make sure that you’re adding a description of the image (under the ‘Description’ field). This will make your blog accessible to visually impaired users as well!
- The alt text is of utmost importance! SERPs don’t look only for images- they look for images that have alt text, as they cannot process an image in its pure format! So, you should definitely include a keyword in your alt text, just to go that extra step.
- It will not hurt you if you renamed the picture/video that you have uploaded with the actual subject matter, instead of going for the odd alphanumeric code!
7. Perfect the number and kind of tags
The categories within your blog will provide readers with an idea about the kind of topics you cover within it. Tags are one level below- and give a more detailed view of what the post is about. This will help your reader (and the search engines) navigate better within your blog.
It’s preferable for you to assign a blog only to one category (the most relevant one) instead of to multiple. While you should add tags to each blog post- make sure the tags are all unique and signify a different aspect of the blog post. If you include too many similar tags, there is a chance the post will get flagged for duplicate content under Google’s search algorithm.
8. Use topic clusters
Now that you know how you should use categories and tags to make your blog more navigable, maybe it is time for you to reconsider the architecture of your site as well. Currently, you might be using a basic hierarchical structure that might end up being too vast and disorganized for a user to understand. The solution? Creating a clustered structure for your website! You’ll be ensuring that the links are bunched together in a way that will make your blog easily navigable, and also enhance your search engine ranking.
When you use topic clusters, you’ll be able to move from:
This is a fairly new area- you can learn more about it through Hubspot’s tutorial on the same!
9. Make your blog mobile friendly
More people access their search engines from mobile phones than from computers. Because of the increasing prominence of mobile phones, Google is actively promoting mobile-friendly sites over those that are not accessible.
How can you jump on this bandwagon? Make your design responsive! You can do this by using responsive themes on the WordPress platform (this will make sure that the content and images are resized based on the device they are being accessed from).
If you’re looking for a comprehensive list for how you can make your blog airtight when it comes to search engine optimization, this is it. Of course- there is a chance you might not want to do all of these- just choose the ones that are most relevant to you, and chalk out a plan where you can tackle them step by step.
Get a free 30-minute SEO consultation on your website now. Email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.