The Blogger’s Guide To Making The Most Of SEO For Your Blog
Good SEO practices get you thinking about your content in a more methodical way.
Running your blog with SEO in mind will allow you to appeal to a broader audience, as well as gain more engagement from your existing fans.
Read on for more tips for bloggers looking to make the most of their blog’s SEO.
Find keywords your readers care about
In the first stage of optimising your blog, you will need an in-depth understanding of the keywords your readers use in their everyday internet searches.
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner from any Gmail account to help you with this task. Type in your blog’s most common keywords, and the planner will produce a list of popular and long-form terms.
For a blog about wedding planning, for example, popular keywords include, ‘wedding planner’, ‘wedding reception ideas’, and ‘plan your wedding’ — obvious, off-the-top-of-the-head ideas.
However, you can also find longer phrases that contain more details and clues as to useful topics you may want to expand upon in your blog. For example: ‘printable wedding planner’, ‘wedding reception decorations’, and ‘how to plan a destination wedding’.
Searchers tend to use these more specific phrases when they are closer to buying, or very sure of the kinds of articles they want to read. It’s a good idea to target a specific, niche topic like that as it’s likely to pull in engaged reader.
Broaden out the language you use with semantics
Search engines will also pick up on the general language you use throughout your blog posts. There is no point in just randomly dropping in keywords and hoping for the best. If you want a post to rank, you need to ensure that the whole post is peppered with relevant phrases and words.
For example, in a post about ‘planning a destination wedding’, Google could switch out ‘destination wedding’ for ‘wedding abroad’, because it has learnt from previous search data that these two subjects are linked.
You could try using a Latent Semantic Search (LSI) tool, but more often than not, just good quality writing and delving into a topic will do! Just remember not to repeat your keywords too often or over-stuff your post with them.
Onpage optimisation basics for bloggers
It is important that your understanding of optimising for keywords does not mean stuffing in as many of the same key phrases as you can. In fact, doing so will negatively impact your blog’s search rankings.
Instead, use keywords subtly, in a way that will stand you the maximum chance of coaxing a reader towards the end of your blog (and the CTA — call to action). A common CTA for bloggers could be ‘subscribe to my channel’, or ‘follow me on Twitter’.
As a rough guide, you will want to make one of the long-tail keyword phrases you identified earlier the central theme of one blog post. You want to make sure that by the end of the article, your reader will know all there is to know about the key phrase they used to find your site.
Titles and headlines
Use a keyword in your title tag/page title. In the case of this post, ‘SEO for your blog’ provides the reader with clues on the subject matter in long-tail keyword form. You only get 60 characters to play with, so make sure you include keywords towards the beginning of your headline.
A blog post title and a page title are slightly different. On a WordPress blog, you would edit the page title at the bottom of the page using Yoast, whereas the post title is the big title you set at the top of the page.
What is the difference?
A post title is a title that you want people to click on and engage with and may include humour or alliteration. A page title is also something you want people to click on — but it will be only be visible on search engine results pages and browser tabs. Page titles should be SEO-focused and help cover the blog post topic from all angles.
With more characters in your description, you may be able to include one to three of your keywords in this section. This text appears on the SERPs (search engine results page). Google tends to cut these off at 300 characters.
They won’t have an impact on rankings — but they do get people clicking through to your site. Any keywords used by the searcher are highlighted in the meta description.
Here is an example:
You can include some popular or long-tail keywords in the subheadings throughout your copy. Your subheadings need to edge the reader on, encouraging them to read to the bottom of the page. They also need to tell the reader what the following paragraphs are all about, enabling busy readers to skim read easily.
Not only will your reader be able to identify what the article is all about at a glance, but so will the search engine crawlers. Use HTML tags like H2s, H3s, and H4s throughout your work.
Be both broad and specific in your keyword usage throughout the body copy of your post. Aim to match your readers’ queries, but more than that, link your content with the broader topics and themes your audience cares about.
Link out to relevant and high-quality resources and embed graphics and videos to improve onp-age engagement levels.
Information architecture and UX
From the ground-up, research the ways audiences read and discover your blog content. This exercise is designed to help you come up with your ideas for a suitable content hierarchy, as well as useful pieces of content you might want to include in your blog.
For example, your keyword research for a wedding blog would reveal that audiences like content that talks about decorations, invitations, doing things on a budget, DIY tips, hiring wedding cars, and any number of related topics.
With this data, you can get into your readers’ heads and create the optimal order for viewing all of this information.
- Example A: One content hierarchy type could include a menu tab that divides posts into various categories such as, ‘Wedding Inspiration’. ‘DIY’, ‘Budgeting Tips’. with each post related to one of these main topic umbrellas.
- Example B: Alternatively you can structure the main menu by using different timings as titles, e.g. ‘Year Before Wedding’, ‘Six Months To Go’, ‘One Week To Go’, and ‘Wedding Day Tips’. The structure will depend on the overall tone and message of your blog.
To make the most of your site’s SEO, go with the structure that most lends itself to the keywords you are trying to target, as there are no hard and fast answers when it comes to user experience. In the above two cases, Example A most suits the keywords and search queries more closely related to the audience’s needs.
Image credit: whimsicalwonderlandweddings
Speed optimisation tips
Linking to your previous posts is a great way to improve the SEO value of your content. Crawlers love to see that your pages are connected in some way. It helps them understand the subject of your blog quicker, and as a result, will boost your ranking and site traffic.
As you write, keep a list of related topics you have written about in the past. Use keyword research to find key phrases you can use to create an anchor link to these previous posts.
In Google’s latest search engine update, topic clusters are becoming more favoured in search.
Image tag optimisation
Numerous data points have proven that pictures on-screen help your readers engage with your content. No one likes reading blocks of unbroken text online, so make sure always to include images. From a back-end perspective, you will also need to help the search engine crawlers read the content of your pictures, by giving them illuminating keyword-driven descriptions.
Your CMS system will also allow you to apply subject tags to your blog posts. Use these categories effectively and group similar subjects together. Use at least three tags for each blog post. However, don’t go overboard with too many similarly labelled tags. Delete your existing duplicated tags.
Get an SEO plugin
There are many paid-for and free applications that can add onto to your existing blogging platform. If you use WordPress, you may have already heard of a tool like Yoast SEO.
However, if you are unaware, this plugin is an SEO optimisation tool that scans your content as you type and makes suggestions for improvements.
For example, it will tell you if your current headline and meta description contains keywords. It will also scan your body copy for optimisation, and it will provide you with a red, amber, or green alert for publishing quality.
Image credit: Yoast SEO
Plugins are essential because they automatically update to Google’s latest search algorithm rules too. These tools enable you always to get the latest SEO tips..
Improving the SEO of your blog does not have to take a long time, and the results of your work can bring in significant traffic to your blog. With every post you write, to try to answer your reader’s main search queries.
From there, try to imagine the next post that they would want to read, then the next.
Also, think of creative ways to internally link between posts, and take your readers on an informative tour of your blog.
Do you have any strategies for optimising your blog’s SEO? Let us know in the comments.