How to Write SEO Friendly Blog Posts
We hear it all the time.
“I want blogs because I want to improve SEO.”
It seems that the marketing world has successfully communicated the message that more blogs=more SEO. And to some extent, almost any type of blog relevant to your business will improve your SEO. Sort of. Slowly. Somewhat.
“But I Want the Best SEO Blog Ever!”
If you’re a marketer who doesn’t want to settle for “sort of,” this blog is for you. While it’s (somewhat) true that simply creating a blog will improve SEO, search engines are looking for lots of specific indicators within your site and your blog content that they’ll use to evaluate your blog and your site.
Five Tips for Better SEO Through Blogging
So, how do you get the most SEO out of your blogging effort? Follow these five steps and you’re well on your way to SEO success.
Disclaimer: Of COURSE there are more than five ways to optimize your blog – there are about 500 ways. But let’s start with five. We’re writing a blog after all, not a textbook.
Tip One: Get Serious About Keyword Optimization
We’ve all heard about keyword research. Some of us have even done it. Regardless of your comfort level with keyword research, there’s no getting around this rule – if you’re serious about taking your blog and your SEO to the next level, you’re going to need to spend time researching the search words and phrases that will get you the most traction.
There are lots of keyword research sites out there – spend some time on AHREFs, Moz, or your own Google Search Console to figure out what your audience is searching for, and what words they’re actually using to search. You can also Google your topic and click on the search results to see what alternate keyword options Google recommends. (It’s how we created the title of this blog.)
Another example: recent Cup O Content keyword research revealed that people search for “lawyer” more frequently than they search for “attorney.” You can imagine how powerfully that one piece of information impacted the use of keywords in our blogging strategy for a legal firm.
For another client who liked to use the term “PA” in their keyword strategy, we found that people seldom search for “PA” and often search for “Pennsylvania.” So we started using the state’s full name in blogs and stopped using the abbreviation.
Keyword phrases, or “long-tailed keywords” (which is a ludicrous term -- like it’s an exotic lemur) are also useful. For example, you may find that people like to add the term “near me” or “best” to their keyword searches. “Find the Best Restaurant Near Me” isn’t something that just shows up in most blogs, but if you’re a restaurant looking for local customers, you might want to write blogs with these kinds of keyword phrases.
Some people input searches in the form of a question, so you may want to include a certain question in your blogs (and subheads and headings.)
Once you’ve researched your keywords, what do you do with them? You add them to your URL, headers, alt text and metadata. If any of this doesn’t make sense, keep reading…
Tip Two: Avoid Duplicate Content
Most experts agree that big chunks of duplicate content are a red flag for Google’s search crawlers. However, duplicated short phrases or chunks of content are usually not a problem. If you’re unsure what constitutes duplicate content, check with the ultimate authority (Google) by clicking here.
Tip Three: The Importance of Visual Content and Alt Text
While words are super important in a blog (no kidding, right?) visuals and images are also critical to SEO. They make the content more appealing, more readable, and they offer the secret SEO benefit of Alt Text.
Alt text was originally created to offer a description of an image to viewers who are unable to see it. But eventually, its secondary purpose, to inform Google’s crawlers, became more important to many bloggers. By creating a descriptive, informative, and accurate description of the image that also includes keywords, you give Google what they need, give readers what they need, and give yourself another way to insert keywords into your blog.
Tip Four: How Long Should Blog Posts Be?
Length is up to you. What makes sense to your readers or best prospects? Is this a topic that needs length, or is it problematic to create a long blog? (We once had to write a 5,000-word blog on one-piece adult pajamas, and believe us, that was too long.)
We strongly suggest making any blog at least 400 words (anything less will present problems for headings, images, links, etc.) Some experts say 1,500 – 2,000 words are best, but we’ve found blogs in the 500-1,500 range also provide ample space for all the elements you need to boost SEO.
Tip Five: Include Internal and External Links
A strong linking strategy can be a key ranking factor for SEO. And links can also provide credibility and guide visitors through your site.
Internal links connect one page of your site to another page on your site. The links at the bottom of this blog link to other relevant content on our site are great examples of internal links. Internal links like these guide visitors through the pages of your site, AND, important for SEO, they allow Google’s crawlers to move through your site as well.
External links (like the one you just saw) are links that take your user to a third-party site (in this case, Moz.com.) Search engines see credible external links as a sign of trust and a signal of authority on a subject matter. You’re offering credible support to your topic.
External links are also a way to show readers that you reference trusted sources when you create a blog. When you cite research, always link to the primary research source (not just a mention of research in an article.) Not only will this practice help boost SEO, but citing sources is also the first rule of responsible writing. (Thank you, William Allen White School of Journalism.)
Want to learn more about blogs and SEO? Then check out these internal links (if you’re not sure what an internal link is, please re-read Tip Five, and then come back here when you’re ready to get serious.)