A Beginners Guide to Optimising Your Blog for SEO
An often overlooked aspect of the blogging process is optimising your content for SEO.
Blogging for SEO positions your content as relevant and useful to your target audience. Search engine, keyword optimised content allows you to target various key-words, keep visitors on your site for longer, and provide greater opportunities for backlinks (inbound links, where one website links to another). Integrating SEO within your content – including within the writing, structure, and more – is a great way of furthering your SEO efforts.
Although you should generally prioritise writing for your target audience rather than for search engines, there are useful methods that allow you to achieve a maximised result when it comes to both. Some methods are more complex, and you do not need to follow them all – however, it is a good idea to make a consistent effort with SEO where you can.
This post covers copywriting SEO, keyword research, website and theme SEO, and other useful SEO tips.
Firstly, keyword research is crucial in an effective SEO strategy, and should be the first point of consideration. An effective keyword inclusion method involves deciding on one or two primary long-tail keywords to target – various secondary keywords should still be included throughout your writing, however time spent optimising content for keywords should be focused on the primary keywords you have chosen.
Keyword inclusion should not involve cramming as many keywords into your blogs as possible – cramming can have a negative impact on your SEO as search engines consider it to be keyword stuffing. Not to mention, it can result in unnatural writing, which detracts from the reader experience.
Long-tail keywords are specific, multi-word terms – they can be a great point of focus, as opposed to short-tail keywords – this is because they ensure your post is focused on a specific issue that a reader is looking to solve. This means that your posts are able to generate traffic that accurately reflects your specific target audience.
These keywords should be included throughout your content – this includes within your meta descriptions, post titles, subheadings, and throughout the body content itself. Also try to include one or two keywords within the opening and closing sentences of your post, anchor text, and the URL of each post.
When it comes to writing a meta description, ensure that you utilise as much of the given space as possible, and include a long-tail keyword if you can – however, still focus on readability and engaging your target audience.
You may also want to utilise a writing analysis tool that can analyse your content for structure, readability, length and keyword usage.
There are various methods and steps within researching and determining the most effective keywords to boost the SEO of your blog posts. To determine an effective keyword strategy, consider the following process:
- Firstly, make a list of possible blog topics – you may have already completed this step as outlined earlier in this guide.
- Within each topic, make a list of possible relevant keywords – this should include search terms that you feel are likely to be used by readers. In doing this, you can also include keywords that your website is already getting found for – this can be done with a website analytics software such as Google Analytics.
- If creating this list becomes difficult, you can include related search terms. To decide on these terms, put a brainstormed keyword into a search engine such as google, and scroll to the bottom of the results page for related searches.
- Ensure that your list has a mix of both long-tail keywords, as well as head terms (shorter keywords).
Another good approach is to research how your competitors are ranking for certain keywords – to do this, either search for specific terms within an incognito browser, or use an SEO reporting tool such as SEMrush.
Using an SEO tool can be extremely helpful in researching keywords – it allows you to easily analyse your own website, as well as competition and keywords in general. Otherwise, consider a keyword research tool, which is a more focused solution that can display keyword competition figures and rank potential keywords.
Finally, ensure that you are consistently re-evaluating and updating your targeted keywords.
Website and Theme SEO
The URL: This is one of the first things a Search engine will crawl on a page, so be sure to include one to two keywords in it. Not to mention, your overall permalink structure should be logical and straightforward, so that search engines and readers can easily understand your website structure.
Image alt text: It is important to include images throughout your writing – not only is this helpful for readability and creating a pleasant reader experience – it also helps with SEO. Particularly, it is important to include images with alt text. This helps google to understand what your images are about, and also improves the user experience as it provides an explanation when an image doesn’t load. Not to mention, it improves accessibility for visually impaired readers.
Website Architecture: A great way of improving the SEO surrounding your entire blog and website is to create broad topic focused posts, and then create various specific posts that go into more detail on specific keywords within the broad posts. You can then link your posts to each other, thus creating broader search engine authority and providing more thorough content for your readers.
Optimising your theme: Search engines will take into account a huge range of aspects regarding your website theme – mobile friendliness, loading speeds, responsiveness and security all affect the ranking of your site. A cleanly coded website, with a minimised use of sliders, minified code, and a coherent structure all contribute to an SEO friendly web page theme.
Domain and hosting setup: Ensuring that you have a decent domain and hosting setup is important in avoiding many SEO penalties. A good setup will ensure that your website speed, uptime, security and other features are all maximised.
Other Useful SEO Tips
- Blogging consistently lets Google view your site as active and reliable, which can boost your rankings.
- A less common thought is to consider voice search (and how it differs) when doing keyword research and deciding on long-tail keywords – the popularity of searching by use of voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa is rapidly increasing, and thus can provide a unique advantage.
- Building backlinks (when an external website links to yours) is a great way to boost traffic and improve SEO. When it comes to building backlinks, you want to ensure that they are high quality.
- Effective backlinks are from relevant/reliable high authority websites, whilst low quality backlinks (e.g. comments on irrelevant blogs, bought backlinks on public networks) will incur a penalty from search engines.
- There are various methods to build quality backlinks – leave value-adding comments on relevant niche articles, improve your social media presence, and build relationships with bloggers in your industry.
- You may also want to consider guest posting – valuable guest posts including backlinks are SEO friendly, provided that the posts are of a high quality.
- Ensure there are no broken links throughout your website.
- Keeping your content original, relevant and fresh will contribute to your SEO efforts.
- Building internal links – a good internal linking strategy can boost your SEO, increase traffic to other posts, and improve the overall reader experience. Google looks for internal links to determine which content is relevant and how valuable it is.
- The internal linking strategy you choose can depend on the structure of your website – an extremely effective method includes utilising the aforementioned website architecture design, which allows you to have consistent, relevant backlinks throughout all of your posts.
- You can link to posts and pages that are contextual, popular, and/or recent.
- Consider strategic use of tags and categories. These are designed to organise your content and improve your website’s navigation, and can impact your SEO.
- Categories are designed to organise your blog posts on a more broad basis (and are hierarchical, so you can have sub-categories), whilst tags are for describing and sorting your posts based on specific details.
- If you do not want to worry too much about this, it is important to at least categorise your posts in a simple way, as categories prevent your individual posts from competing for rankings.
- You should have category pages/archives – each acts as an information hub with an introduction and links to all content under that category. In many ways, these pages can be more important than the blog posts themselves. This should also be done with tags.
- Ensure you do not have any duplicate tags/categories.
- SEO tools and plugins: There are a range of SEO tools that can be extremely useful when it comes to keyword research, content creation, and more. Here are a few examples:
- SEMrush offers various SEO tools, such as a plugin that analyses your writing for SEO, website SEO audits, position tracking and more.
- There are a range of free and paid online keyword research tools. For example, check out Wordtracker, Moz, or Google Keyword Planner.
- Google Search Console is a highly recommended website analysis service, designed for webmasters and provided free of charge.
Overall, developing an SEO strategy can be a complex process. Although this post on optimising your blog for SEO doesn’t outline all SEO advice, it provides a solid foundation for an SEO strategy within your online blog, and will allow you to create lasting SEO value.
At the end of the day, following the basics and creating high quality content will decrease bounce rates, improve reader’s trust in your content, and thus improve your search engine rankings.
For more on effective blogging practices, check out our page on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BLOGGING.