SEO Tips for Bloggers
The world of SEO is ever changing, with algorithms being tweaked on a regular basis that require new strategies in order to stay kosher in the eyes of Google. The most recent update, Penguin, cracked down on unnatural link building and emphasized the importance of quality content. Steadily maintaining a unique and relevant blog has become vital to marketing strategies everywhere, but most content developers do not understand the methodology of combining SEO with quality content. Below is a 4-step guide to ensure you are leveraging your blog to its fullest extent.
When developing a concept for a blog post, basic keyword research should be one of your first steps. Identify keywords relating to the topic you wish to discuss. The best tool for this is the Google Keyword Tool, and it is available to use free of charge. Look for keywords that fit the following criteria:
- High Search Volume
- Low – Medium Competition
- Long Tail (at least 2 – 3 words)
- Grammatically correct
Put together a short list of 3 – 5 keywords that relate to the topic you’re writing about. When outlining your blog post, keep these keywords in mind. Which make the most sense to use?
Optimized Title Tags
As far as on-page SEO elements are concerned, the title tag of a blog post is the most important area to include a keyword. With your keyword research completed, you should now have an understanding of which you wish to use. Be sure to include your most important keyword in the title as Google weighs this the heaviest, and as far as usability is concerned, it lets the reader know what your post will entail. Some basic guidelines for an effective title:
- No more than 70 characters. Google only displays 70 or less characters in search display.
- Insert keywords as soon as possible in title. Google places more emphasis on the beginning of a title than the end.
- Make sure it catches the users’ attention. A well-optimized title isn’t effective if it provides the user with no incentive to read the post. Assume the majority of your readers will only read the title of your post.
If you only do one thing to improve the SEO of your blog posts, be sure to optimize your titles.
An effective blog post should be split up into sections, with a header for each section. Following titles, Google places the most weight on <h1> tags, so utilize keywords in these tags. Your primary keyword should be in your title and your <h1> tags, with less important keywords being utilized throughout the post in other header tags. Below is an example of an effective hierarchy:
<title> Most Important Keyword Used Here </title>
<h1> Most Important Keyword Used Here </h1>
<p> This is the first paragraph of your post, where you should use the main keyword once. Search engines place the most emphasis on content early in your post, so be sure to use your main keyword in the first or second paragraph. Do not purposefully stuff keywords into the body of your text, because Google penalizes for unnatural optimization. Use your primary keyword once, but focus on quality content and usability for the user. You’re writing for your readers, not for Google. </p>
Also, when implementing images into your post, be sure to give them keyword driven titles, alt text and captions. Google cannot decipher an image without this information, and a basic optimization of images can greatly improve your SEO. If you are blogging with WordPress, a great tool for optimizing images and html tags is the All In One SEO Pack.
Quality content is king, especially in light of the most recent Google algorithm updates. However, a big signal in the determining the authority of your post is the amount and quality of links being pointed towards your article. Don’t be afraid to link to your blog posts from your social media channels. As unnatural and low quality link building was penalized heavily in the most recent algorithm update, the importance of social signals increased. If people are talking about and linking to your blog post on social media, this increases the authority of your post.
A major SEO best practice when working with a blog is interlinking between your posts. If done correctly, this shows Google that you are providing other relevant information to your users, which will help your SEO. Make an effort to link to a blog post from every post you write, utilizing keyword specific anchor text. If you are writing an article about web design and you mention graphic design, and already have a post written about graphic design, use a variation of the primary keyword for that post as anchor text in your new post, and point a link towards it.
SEO is an every-changing practice, and it requires that you stay on top of the new rules. Avoid over optimizing your blog posts, because you’ll swiftly find a penalty coming your way. Develop quality, keyword driven content for your users, but do not let keywords completely dictate your content. Focus on quality and the basic tips above, and you’ll be on your way to writing content that balances the fine line between user and search engine usability.