Blogging has come a long way since it’s early days. While it used to be something people did for fun or in online chat rooms, it’s quickly become the new normal online. Blogging is about more than just sharing ideas on your own platform. Now, it’s all about creating content that connects with your audience.
While blogging is a great way to create an online voice, it’s also a powerful SEO tool. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is how search engines like Google display the top results for certain search queries. Think of it this way: Google wants to make sure you get the best results every time you type something into the search bar. Websites are optimized to make sure they’re content is shown first for the right search results.
How can you make sure your audience finds your content online? Blogging. Yes, of course, a well-rounded SEO toolbox includes everything from link building, using targeted keywords, and knowing your audience, but when it comes to optimization today, blogging content is king.
Now that you know why blogging is such a big deal in the SEO-sphere, it’s time to talk about how to actually make your blog work for your website or online business. What works today and what was left behind in 2005? Most importantly, how can you actually get your posts noticed online?
Digital marketing (and content marketing in particular) isn’t always easy. There’s a lot of conflicting advice and so-called marketing gurus out there who want to sell you their best-kept secret of SEO. Don’t listen to this noise.
Luckily, you don’t need a degree in marketing to start making an impact. This guide will take you every step of the way through creating blog posts that attract your target audience without spending a lifetime on optimization. Running a blog is hard work, and you don’t have countless hours to spend making sure everything is perfect. Instead, you can learn what’s worth focusing on so you can streamline your own productivity.
So how exactly can you use your blog to boost your own Search Engine Optimization? Let’s break it down.
Know Who You’re Talking To
First, you need to know your audience. Have you ever heard the quote from Alice in Wonderland that goes “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there?” CS Lewis might have been onto something, even though he was referring to Alice’s fantastic quest through her own dream world.
If you don’t know exactly who you’re talking to, your website might as well be talking to no one. Unlike Alice, you do need a clear roadmap to get from Point A to Point B. In your case, Point B is targeted traffic.
You’re talking to your ideal reader or customer. If you’re creating a blog about cars, your ideal reader might be a middle-aged man who loves working on cars in his spare time. If you’re creating a digital marketing agency, you might target struggling small businesses who don’t have the budget to hire their own full-time marketing specialist. You see how this is an important difference?
Knowing who you’re talking to also means niching down. You’ll hear the term “niche down” thrown around a lot in the marketing world, and it’s easy to pass it off as just another buzzword that doesn’t mean anything. Your niche is important, however, since it’s what sets you apart. When you’re just getting started with your blog, your niche is everything. While some might claim you should be general with your niche by choosing a general topic, it’s always a better idea to get as specific as possible.
Let’s talk through an example. Say you want to start a fashion blog. The fashion blog world, as you can imagine, is already very crowded with bloggers and influencers. Sure, you can post your outfits of the day and favorite trends, but this won’t make much of an impact in such a saturated market.
Instead, you need to niche down to something much more narrow and concrete. You take it a step further by blogging about sustainable fashion for women on a budget. This is the perfect niche since you can paint a clear picture of just who you’re trying to talk to, and you don’t have to worry about being lost in the noise of the entire blogging world.
Once you have your niche, you’re on your way to knowing your audience. From there, you’ll develop your blog around this group. It sometimes helps to see them as one person. Where does she spend her time online? What does he look for when he visits a blog? This will help you craft a unique voice that speaks to the right audience at the right time.
Now that you understand the foundations of blogging for SEO, it’s time to talk about how to actually accomplish it. It’s not enough to just publish content regularly, though that is a start. A few more steps will need to go into the planning, creation, and promotion of your blog posts in order for you to notice the optimization benefits. Where should you begin? Look at these key things when writing new posts.
Keywords are what users type into search engines when they’re looking to answer a question or explore a subject. You should choose at least 1-2 keywords per post, and you’ll need both a long-tail keyword and a short-tail keyword. Confused? Long-tail keywords are more specific while short-tail are more general. A long-tail keyword might be something like “gardening tips for South Florida” while short-tail would be as simple as “gardening tips.”
Once you have your keywords in mind, you’ll want to include them in your posts. The key here is to be natural. Keyword stuffing, or adding too many keywords into posts to influencer search engines, is a bad practice, and one that will get you on bad terms with Google. It’s also not something your readers want to sift through. Keep it natural, and incorporate your keywords and variations as they come up on their own.
If you have to choose between long-tail and short-tail keywords, choose long-tail every time. Like we covered before, much of the internet is already saturated with general content. Do you know how many results there are for a short-tail keyword like “fashion trends?” Too many to count. You are more likely to rank higher for specific, long-tail keywords than general small ones. These are the results that will also be the most closely aligned with your target reader.
Using Keywords for Optimization
While you should spend time developing keywords that work for individual posts, your work doesn’t stop there. You also need to know when to use them beyond your post content. The main areas include the title tags, headers, URL, and meta description.
For the title, try to include the keyword at the beginning of the name, if possible. Remember, you want it to be natural, but you also want to make it clear what you’re going to talk about in the post. New bloggers are often tempted to include cutesy names for their titles or special characters. These don’t mean anything to Google, so keep them out.
You’ll also want to include the keyword in your headers when appropriate. Your headers are the <h1> and <h2> tags that should appear to break up larger posts. Not only will these help readers browse your content, but they’re a flashing sign to Google letting the engine know just what you’re content is about.
Finally, your keywords should be in the URL and the meta descriptions. The URL is one of the first things search engines crawl, so you should ensure every single post and page has a unique, clear URL. For example, if your post is titled “12 Top Emails to Send to Clients,” a good URL would be website.com/top-client-emails-list. Finally, customize your meta description to give both search engines and readers a glimpse of what you’ll be covering in your post.
How many times have you browsed a website on your phone only to discover the screen displayed weird? You probably didn’t stick around long after that, right? Your readers don’t have the patience for content that won’t show up properly on their mobile devices. That’s why mobile-friendly designs are so necessary today.
Mobile-friendly designs need to display correctly on all different sized screens. This type of design is formally known as “responsive design.” Luckily, most templates you’ll find today are already mobile-friendly, but that doesn’t mean you should test things for yourself. There are even trends that suggest Google ranks mobile-friendly websites higher than those that haven’t been optimized for all screens. That alone is reason enough to make the switch, but you also want to create a great experience for your users.
A picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to blogging, nothing scares readers away faster than a wall of text. Let’s face it: people are lazy today. They don’t want to read through every single block of text looking for the piece of information they came here for in the first place. They want what they want, and they want it now.
Including images, videos, and infographics in your blog content not only will help break up large chunks of text, but it also adds another element of interest. It’s shown that having images will keep users on your page longer, and this leads to lower bounce rates and higher engagement, both things that speak wonders in the world of SEO. You can create your own images or use free ones online, but make sure they’re relevant and optimized.
You can optimize images by updating their alt text. Because search engines can’t see these images themselves, you need to let them know what the picture is of in the alt text. This is the text that will display when you hover over the image, and it’s easy to customize using a tool like WordPress by editing the image properties.
Your blog doesn’t exist inside a vacuum. You likely will have to do some research to build your blog posts, especially if you’re including top content. By including outbound links to other relevant, quality content, you show Google you know what you’re talking about. You should always link stats, numbers, research, or supplemental articles that benefit your readers.
Additionally, you should link internally. It might not make sense at first to link to yourself since readers are already on your website, but this is an important part of the website crawling process. Similarly, it keeps your own users on your website. You should get into the habit of including at least one internal link in each of your new posts, and also updating older posts with links to older posts.
Finally, the goal of a blog is to attract readers who will convert or share your content. Having shareable content means having the entire package: a quality user experience, great information, and a voice that stands out. The more your website content is shared, the higher ranking you’ll have with search engines.
Shareable content takes time. There is no magic solution that doesn’t take months or even years. Allow your blog to grow naturally and network in the meantime with other bloggers. Organic growth is authentic, and it will lead you to the success you’ve been waiting for. Whether you’re trying to grow your email list or gain customers, publishing regular, shareable content will speak for itself.
Blogging for SEO
While SEO has many facets that are worth paying attention to, content marketing just might be the most effective. The internet is made for sharing content, so what do you have to share? By building a blog for your website, you’re able to attract the right users, tell your story, and rank higher.
This guide shared not only why you should invest time in blogging, but also how to blog with optimization in mind. There’s a bit more to it than just hitting publish on your new posts, but the extra steps pay off in a significant way.