Knowing how to optimise blog posts for SEO is a crucial skill for anyone looking to grow organic search traffic to their site. Creating blog posts without taking SEO into consideration will mean they won’t ever reach their highest potential in terms of traffic they get.
Optimising blogs for SEO isn’t just needed for new blogs. You can also go through your older pages and rework them. You never know, there may be blogs which you haven’t taken full advantage of yet which are just waiting for a makeover that will help them get ranked on Google.
Follow this blog post SEO checklist for a full guide on how to improve the SEO of your blogs, and soon you’ll be getting a big boost in organic traffic!
Do keyword research
Before doing any writing for your blog, you should start with keyword research. You can use free sites like Google Trends or employ more sophisticated SEO tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs, but your goal should be understanding what keywords are actually worth targeting.
Keyword volume is the most straightforward metric to understand and the most useful information for your research. It shows the average search volume per month for that search term. Naturally, targeting queries that no one is searching for isn’t going to get you any organic traffic.
The other most useful metric to look out for is keyword difficulty. This indicates how difficult it will be to rank for each keyword. When you’re starting out blogging, it may be tempting to targeting higher-difficulty queries as they are often high volume, but it may not be the best use of your time. Look out for easier keywords that you can have more success with early on, and aim for the difficult ones later on when you’ve grown your site.
Do competitor research
Once you’ve identified the main keyword you want to target, you can start researching competitors. This part is simple and doesn’t need to require any additional tools. Simply plug the keyword into Google and take a look at the top results.
There will be a reason why Google has chosen to rank the top pages, so if you take a look at the first 3 results you’ve already got a clear outline of what’s needed to make a top-ranking blog.
Here is the best opportunity to find content ideas. Along with checking what keywords they use, look out for common headings and questions that are answered by the top competitors. These should be included in your own blog.
Make sure your writing is clear and free of errors
One of the easiest ways to have users immediately leave your site and lose trust in your authority is by having content full of incorrect grammar, incomprehensible sentences, and other errors.
As you write, focus on readability. Along with making sure that there aren’t errors, keep your sentences short and try to structure the article so that it flows naturally from point to point. Don’t underestimate the importance of proofreading your work before hitting publish. Check out our tips on being a better writer if you want to know how to develop the right habits for stronger productivity, or you can learn how to improve your writing skills here.
Use images and other visuals
To further boost your blog’s performance, try to make it more visually appealing to users. Include some images, especially if you have a long article which you need to avoid appearing like a big wall of text.
Depending on the subject matter of your blog, you may benefit from including other graphics, charts, and tables that display information in a way that can be much clearer for users. Bear in mind that HTML tables are better than images of tables, as the contents can also be read and understood by search engine crawlers.
Even without including these larger additional components, you can put in other layout options or simple features like bullet points to vary the appearance of your blog.
Don’t forget alt text
For any images you include, alt text should be added. Alt text is important for accessibility reasons as well as SEO. It helps website crawlers understand the content of your blog, so without it you’ll be at a disadvantage compared to competitors who effectively apply alt text to their images.
Alt text should act as a short description of the image. It should be concise but specific rather than a generic caption. You can find tips on how to write alt text here.
Optimise your H1 title
Along with focusing on the bulk of content, it’s also important to make sure that your main H1 title is well-optimised. You should only have one H1 title per page as it indicates to Google what the main content is.
If you’ve done your keyword research well, you should already have a good idea of what the main keyword is that you want to target. This should be included in the H1 title, but you can also check what competitors are doing as inspiration.
In addition, the H1 title will be the first thing users see when they first land on the page. For that reason it should be eye-catching and make them want to continue reading. Striking the balance between SEO and user-focus is crucial for writing a good H1 title.
After nailing your H1 title, you should also consider the rest of your subheadings. Every subheading should have a heading tag (H2, H3, H4 etc). Like with the H1, they indicate to search engines what the focus of your content is so heading tag SEO shouldn’t be something you overlook..
Each main subheading should be an H2, dividing your content in a way that makes sense for the reader. You can then use H3 tags to further subdivide the content beneath each H2. In some cases you can even go a step further and include H4s, but these aren’t as necessary.
Pay attention to meta titles and meta descriptions
Meta titles are especially important, but deciding on how to write an effective one is as easy as checking what competitors use for theirs. Usually, the meta title should start with your main keyword as this indicates its importance to Google.
Many blog posts will be built around a question, so it could be as straightforward as including that same question in your meta title. However, your H1 title doesn’t have to be identical to your meta title, and in fact it can be a good opportunity to target two keyword variations.
Likewise, your meta description can also be influenced by competitors. However, as these can be longer than meta titles you will have room to work in more keywords. This is where you can use your keyword research to pick a few priority queries to include.
Remember about mobile-first indexing
While you may well be working a lot on desktop when you write your blog post and publish it on your site, it’s crucial to remember that the majority of Google users will be visiting your site will be on mobile devices. This means you need to pay just as much, or arguably more, attention to how your blog post will appear on mobile compared to desktop.
Because of the dominance of mobile users, Google employs a mobile-first indexing policy. So not only should you consider mobile user experience to benefit humans, it will also help in terms of SEO to get your page indexed and ranking well.
Write for mobile users
With all your blog posts, it’s therefore important to focus on readability for smaller screens. The best way to achieve this is by breaking up your text into smaller paragraphs. While it can be easy to get carried away writing lots of content, nothing is more off-putting for mobile users than being faced with a large, unbroken wall of text.
Likewise, make sure to include plenty of subheadings to also help break up the blog, and check that images appear as they should on mobile.
Also, check that your overall site is compatible with mobile. Any good WordPress theme should do this automatically, but any time you publish a new page, try out a new page builder block, or install a new plugin, it’s crucial to check that it works and looks okay on your phone as well as your computer.
Try adding schema
Schema structured data is a type of code that can be applied to pages on your site to help search engines understand its content. They can even enhance how your page appears on the SERP through the snippets that appear beneath your page title.
One of the most popular types of schema, and perhaps the most useful for blog pages, is FAQ schema. This is a way of marking up FAQs on your page so that they could appear on the search results. Because Google tends to like question and answer content, it can really improve the SEO performance of your page.
One option for applying FAQ schema is by adding the code yourself. This is made easier by using an FAQ schema generator. However, some WordPress plugins and page builders provide FAQ blocks that automatically apply the code so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Anytime you add schema to a page, you should make sure to check it is valid and formatted correctly by using a schema markup validator.
Add internal links to your new blog
Internal links are useful for two reasons: they help users navigate your site and they make it easier for search engine crawlers to discover all your pages. Whenever you add a new blog, you should make sure that other pages link, and not only from your main blog page.
It’s important to use relevant anchor text too, as this also helps Google understand the topic of the page. By adding more links, you indicate to Google that the page is important, so this can improve the rankings for the page.
Add external links
In addition to having internal links, it can be important to include links to other websites. This shouldn’t be excessive, after all you don’t want to keep directing readers away from your site. However, linking to high-authority websites can help your SEO by improving the credibility of your own site. Some SEO experts say that, compared to internal links, external links have more impact on search engine rankings.
How to get your blog indexed by Google
Once you’re happy with your blog, there’s no need to delay publishing it. Make it live on your site, do a final check over in case there are any errors you might have missed, then share it on any social media platforms you use. But to get organic traffic from ranking on Google, you’ll first need it to get indexed.
In the majority of cases, it should get indexed by Google after a couple of days. You can check whether it is in Google Search Console, but if it isn’t then it can be disappointing to see all your hard work seemingly ignored by Google. In this case, there are a few things you can do.
While you may be desperate to see your blog appearing on Google, it can take days or even weeks to be crawled then indexed by the search engine, let alone ranking highly. This is especially true for smaller sites.
So, the most productive thing for you to focus on is creating other content. Write more blogs, get them published, and then you’ll start seeing them be indexed. But, if you want a more a more active approach, then it is possible to give Google a nudge.
Manually submit it for indexation
When you inspect a URL on Google Search Console, it should flag any errors if it’s not possible to be indexed. But if there are no errors, then you will have the option to request indexing. Do this and wait a minute or two to get the success screen.
Requesting indexation isn’t a surefire way to get a page indexed, but it can make a difference in some cases. Making a manual request like this is more of a way to prompt Google than guarantee it being indexed, and it might still take days or weeks before the URL gets crawled then indexed.
If, even after that period of time, the page still hasn’t been indexed, then there might be some bigger issues with your page.
Review your content
After weeks or months of not being indexed, then you may need to do a more in-depth review of your blog. First, check on Google Search Console in the page indexing section. You should be able to find your blog in the “Crawled – currently not indexed” list, meaning that Google has discovered and crawled the page but, for one reason or another, not indexed it.
The main reason for not being indexed is that Google doesn’t think your content is unique, accurate, or useful enough. Firstly, make sure that you’ve not copied any text from a competitor so that the content is entirely unique.
One of the key reasons for not being useful enough is that the page could be low on content. If you have 500 words on your blog and competitors all have over 1000, then you won’t be able to compete with them. So have a look at what other content they include and work on upping your word count.
In more extreme cases, you may need to completely rewrite your blog if Google still doesn’t deem it worthy of being indexed. Changing the URL could also be worth it to completely start afresh.
Be prepared to redraft your blog
Once your blog has been indexed, results won’t be immediate. Getting a high ranking on your first attempt is difficult, so start appearing in top 3 spots for various keywords you will likely have to put more work into your blog.
While your priority should be getting out new content, it can be worth returning to each blog one or two months after it’s been published to see where it could be improved. This is where having Google Search Console data can come in useful. If your page has been getting impressions, then examine those keywords – they may be worth targeting with a redraft.
It’s always worth having another look at competitors. Over time, Google’s algorithm changes and the sites that rank highly can vary. Your competitors may also be making their own content updates, so it’s important not to become complacent. Check again for any gaps in your content.
Do competitors answer questions that you don’t? Do they have a much higher word count with much more detailed information? Or are the keywords that they include which you’re missing? Find those areas for improvement, act on them, and you will see your blog performing even better.
Pump out new content
Often, one blog can’t rank well on its own. It’s crucial to remember that Google takes into account your entire website, so having only 5, 10, or even 20 blogs won’t getting you ranking top for high volume keywords.
So keep publishing new blogs at a consistent rate and try to cover very different aspects of your niche. This is how you show Google that you should be trusted as an authority on the subject. It also gives you more opportunities to interlink between different posts, improving your SEO.
As a result, you may then see your older blog posts increase in rankings without having to make any updates to them.
Don’t be disheartened
Not every blog you write will rank number 1 on Google. If you’re confident that your blog can perform well and has useful content, then your first goal should be getting it on the first page of results. However, with competitive keywords even that could be difficult.
It’s important in this case to remain positive and focus on the next stage. If you can find room to improve your blog, then make the necessary edits. But if not, then move onto the next. Get more and more content out is the best way to start getting traffic to your site, rather than relying on a small amount of pages.
Also, if you’ve only recently started blogging then it can take time to build up enough trust and authority for Google to rank any page on your site. You can’t expect to outrank competitors who already receive thousands of visits a month.
But if you’ve grown your site to a decent size and are still frustrated by a blog that’s not performing, then it might be time to turn to other SEO strategies. Backlinks will always provide a boost and are difficult to get as a small blog, or there might be some technical issues to find.
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Blog post SEO checklist
Hopefully this guide has been a useful tool for improving the way you go about writing blog posts, both to improve its rankings on Google and also to better the experience for users. As a summary, follow this blog post SEO checklist to make sure you don’t miss out any key components of an SEO-friendly blog:
- Do thorough keyword research to make sure you know which queries to target and include.
- Choose a strong H1 title focusing on your main keyword.
- Structure your blog with H2 and H3 subheadings.
- Optimise your meta title and meta description.
- Add alt text to images.
- Make sure your blog is optimised for mobile users.
- Add internal links.
- Add external links
- Include schema if applicable.
- Keep creating new content!
Blog SEO optimisation FAQs
What are the 3 most important on page SEO factors?
Content is the most important on page SEO factor. There are no tricks to make Google rank a page higher beyond providing in-depth, useful content.
The second most important factor is the meta title, as this is one of the key ways to indicate to Google what the main focus of your pages is. It’s also the first thing people see when your page appears on the SERP.
Lastly, keywords are the third most important on page SEO factor to take into account. With strong keyword optimisation, keywords can be utilised with good effect. Deploying a range of keywords throughout your blog, while avoiding keyword stuffing, is necessary to gaining good rankings.
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is when a page is over-optimised for certain keywords. Long gone are the days when you could fill a blog with dozens of uses of a keyword to try and trick Google into thinking it’s the best page to rank. Instead, you should use them sparingly and pay attention to keyword density. A handful of uses across 1000 words is a good start.
Keyword stuffing should be avoided at all costs. At best, it will make your page ineffective at ranking for keywords. At worst, Google could penalise you for this practice.
How would you make an article SEO friendly?
Google wants to provide a good experience for its users. This means showing pages that have clear, trustworthy information and presenting it in a way that is easy to read. As Google is pushing more and more for content that’s helpful for users, the best way to write an SEO-friendly article is by focusing on making it a good experience for human beings.