Writing for SEO purposes is difficult and time consuming if you don't understand the process. However, it’s time well spent, as SEO helps you rank better in the search engines ...that's why it's called Search Engine Optimization.
How do you write an SEO-friendly blog post, you might ask? By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to write search engine friendly blog posts. So, take the time and read each topic. You might be familiar with some of them already. You can also download the checklist the Cognitive SEO has made available but clicking the buttons you see throughout the post.
Below you can find the full checklist you should follow if you want to have SEO friendly posts.
- Setup Website/Blog
- Perform Keyword Research
- Check Competition
- Gather Information for Writing
- Outline the Article
- Write Your Content
- Add Optimized Images
- Add Video Content
- Create the Title Tag of the Blog Post
- Create the Meta Description
- Blog Post Heading H1
- Write Optimized URL
- Add a Featured Image
- Categories & Tags
- Social Media Optimization
- Take Authorship
- Verify Links
- Are Share Buttons Functional?
- Publish the Blog Post
- Share on Social Media
- Build Base Links
- Read Comments and Reply to Them
- Upgrade Your Article
- Maximize/Repurpose Your Content
Download Checklist - courtesy of Cognitive SEO
1. Setup Website/Blog
The first step in creating a well-optimized blog post is to make sure you website is correctly setup for SEO. This is not something that you will do once, but it does depend on the platform you’re website is built on. You want to revisit and ensure that what you have in place for SEO with your website platform is still performing well and as intended. Sometimes strategies change and web managers forget to update their source SEO strategies applied to the website. Most platforms all you to optimize dynamically with blog posts, so make sure you have the right setup that you need.
Ensure your website is mobile friendly. Google tends to rank sites lower if they are not optimized for mobile platforms, so make sure you fix this issue.
More than 50% of all web traffic has migrated to mobile devices in the past couple of years. This means that most of your readers will be on mobile devices or tablets as well. You need to have a website that is optimized for their viewing pleasures.
Site Is Indexable:
If your site can’t be found by Google and listed into the search engine results, you’re wasting your time.
Problems that lead to bad indexing are usually related to the NoIndex meta tag, or the robots.txt file. Make sure the pages you want indexed are not blocked in any way. Also, ensure that extra pages you don’t really need in the search engine are blocked.
Check Site Speed:
The speed at which your website loads is very important for your business. If your users don’t see the content fast, they will abandon the page. There are two big factors that determine speed: the server on which the website runs, and the content that must be loaded.
A great tool to do this is GT Metrix.
Install SEO Plugins:
If you’re using a popular CMS such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you can make your site easy to optimize by installing a plugin. These plugins will help you optimize your content’s key elements (title, meta description) a lot easier. It will also fix some SEO issues commonly found on different platforms.
Some suggestions are: All in one SEO Pack for WordPress, Easy Frontend SEO for Joomla, and SEO Tools for Drupal. We use the All in one SEO plugin for WordPress and have had great results.
Install Social Sharing Plugins:
Writing a good article is nothing without promotion. Chances of writing something that will go viral on its own are very small. If you’re using one of the popular CMS mentioned above, you should also install a social sharing plugin.
These plugins will help readers share the content and make it more popular. Social media is one of the biggest marketing channels out there. It would be a complete waste not to take advantage of it!
Your blog posts should be easy to read. First, make sure your text is easy to understand. Have short sentences, and try to make the paragraphs shorter in width.
Ensure your background color doesn’t conflict with the font color. Some combinations make it harder for the user to read your posts. IF the user has to strain to read your content, they will exit your website and find a similar article on another website.
Last but not least, place ads smartly, without spamming the user. Avoid random pop-ups or pop-ups that appear as soon as you access the page. It's comical that this article is taken from a website where there were 3 popups just while trying to read the content. User get made with annoying popups, so use them sparingly if you must.
Customizable Elements and Meta-Tags:
The post title and meta tags are two important elements that display in Google’s search results.
Make sure you can easily edit these elements. The page/blog post should also display a H1 tag containing the title of the article. Usually it’s the same as the title tag, but this is not mandatory.
Just like the post title, it should include keywords and be captivating. There should only be one H1 tag on your page.
Canonical tags are used to solve duplicate content issues. The canonical tag should point out what page you want to be displayed in Google.
2. Perform Keyword Research
Doing keyword research before writing a blog post can maximize the potential organic traffic you get from search engines. First of all, think of what your readers might be searching in order to find your content. What is the title of your article going to be? Is that something people will search for?
3. Check Competition
After you choose some keywords, check the top 10 results for them to make an idea on who you will competing with.
If you feel like the competition is too high, consider targeting other keywords. Some indicators of a strong SEO competition are: keyword in title, old domain age, domain and page performance and a big number of backlinks pointing to the competitors’ URLs.
4. Gather Information for Writing
To be able to compile good content, you need to gather the right resources. You will need to find at least 3 to 5 well documented and trustworthy sources. If you are writing a personal story out of the top of your head, you can skip this step.
We recommend that you read your top ranking competitors and see if you can spot any gaps. Then, gather information about those gaps and try to cover them.
5.Outline the Article
Outlining the article will make it a lot easier for you to write it. It saves you time and effort. If you have a proper outline, the structure of your article will be easier for your readers.
6. Write Your Content
There are multiple aspects to be considered during the writing process. They are outlined below, but they can't be put in a specific order. Make sure you consider all of them!
- Bullets, Bolds, H2, H3: People like it when content is split up, because it is easier to read. Search engines like it as well. Use secondary keywords in the headings, and bold important words/phrases in your article.
- Use paragraphs: Use paragraphs and make them shorter, rather than longer. A paragraph should be around 5 sentences long.
- Use the main keyword in the first paragraph: Use the main keyword in the first paragraph of your blog post, and try to place it towards the beginning.
- Use attention grabbers: Phrases like “here’s the deal”, “here’s what I did”, “listen up” help keeping readers on your page. The longer they stay, the longer you will benefit, and in time, your rankings will improve.
- Use the main keyword in the article body: Use your keyword throughout the article.
- Keyword density: You shouldn’t use your keyword more than 5 times per 1000 words. Usually, some words will repeat more than that, but when your main keyword is in the title, the meta description, every heading and 100 times throughout the content, Google will see it as keyword stuffing.
- Include related keywords: This can become a very advanced procedure, but luckily, they can be found at the bottom of Google when searching for a term.
- Over 500 words: This highly depends on the web site type and how often you post, but Google absolutely loves longer articles. Make sure they are at least 500 words long.
- Link internally: Does the blog post include 2-3 links to relevant pages on your website? If not, make sure you link to older related posts. Keep it relevant.
- Link externally: Does the body of your post link to at least 2 reputable resources in the industry? Google likes it when you outbound links. It shows you’re connected with the community. Remember, you can backup your data with the reputable sources you’ve collected in your previous step.
7. Add and Optimize Images
Make sure you add at least 2-3 relevant images in your blog post, and optimize them for the search engine. Don't write a post of how to write SEO friendly blogs and include a picture of the pentagon. Keep the pictures relevant to the content.
- Custom vs. Stock: Take or create your own photos. People prefer them over stock photos, and studies have shown this increases conversion rate.
- Give credit: Using other people’s images might also lead you into legal issues, so be careful! If you use someone else’s picture, make sure you are allowed to and give the proper credits.
- Fill the image alt tags: Search engines can’t really read images, so they use the alt text or description to know what the image is about. Make sure you don’t leave them empty, as this can hurt your backlink profile if an image ever gets linked a lot. If some keywords fit in, that’s good. Your main priority, however, should be to actually describe the image. For blog posts, we recommend using the title of the post or the section it's used in as the leading text for the image alt tag.
- Image size: We’re not talking necessarily about width and height, but about KB and MB or storage space.
Images greatly affect user experience if they are not optimized for speed.
8. Add Video Content
Consider adding at least one relevant video to your blog post. Some people like watching videos, and that will help you keep them on your page. If you can create the video yourself, that’s even better.
You will benefit both ways: if someone finds and reads your article, it might also add a view on your video. If someone finds and watches the video instead, you can mention the article in the video. Maybe they will give it a read.
9. Create the Title Tag of the Blog Post
The HTML title tag is responsible for the headline shown in Google. It’s very important as it will directly impact your Click Through Rate. Spend some quality time crafting it.
Here are some key points you should consider when creating your title:
- Use the main keyword in your title tag: If you want to rank for a specific keyword you’ve picked in part 1 of this checklist, then the title tag should be the first place you add it to. Try to place it towards the beginning of the title, but don’t make it look unnatural.
- Maximum 70 characters: The title tag should not be too short. It’s easier to rank for long tail keywords anyway. If you exceed 72 characters though, the end of the title will become invisible to the user, and it will value less for the search engines.
- Make it captivating: On average, only about 20% of the people who see your headline will click to read the article, so make it good! Use numbers and captivating words like Free, Awesome, Unbelievable and so on. People usually enjoy how-to articles, top lists, and case studies.
10. Create the Meta Description
Meta descriptions are the texts below the headlines that show in search engines. They should summarize what the post is about, and should grab the reader’s attention.
- Between 150 and 160 characters: Meta descriptions that are too short might be ignored completely and replaced by Google with other sections from your website. Too long meta descriptions won’t show completely in the search results, as they will be cut short.
- Insert keyword: Your readers see that before they click your link, so use it to convince them to click your link instead of stuffing it with keywords.
- Captivating: Try to implement a sense of urgency in the reader to click the link. Words like Find out, Click to find more can help.
11. Blog Post Heading H1
If your platform doesn’t naturally make the blog heading a H1, then place one yourself. There should be only one H1 tag per blog post, and it should contain the main keyword you’re trying to optimize your content for.
It’s recommended to keep the title tag and H1 title similar, and almost 90% of the times they are identical.
12. Write Optimized URL
When writing the unique URL, try to make it easy for the user to understand what the article is about. Insert your main keyword here as well, or target secondary keywords, preferably synonyms.
Keep the URLs shorter, rather than longer (under 60 characters). SEO-friendly URLs can lead to higher perceived relevance and can actually improve your ranks.
Download Checklist - courtesy of Cognitive SEO
1. Add a Featured Image
Featured images have a very big impact on your audience and your click through rate. They can make the difference between 4% CTR and 40% CTR. Also, they will impact social sharing and engagement. Who doesn't like seeing relevant pictures while reading content?
- Custom vs. stock: Creating an in-house featured image is far better, since you can craft it specifically for your target audience.
- Add descriptive alt tag with keyword: Create an alt tag that describes what the image is about. Search engines can’t view images as we do, but it can read the keywords in the alt tags to know what the image is about.
2. Categories & Tags
Choose the correct categories and tags for your article. This will help the overall structure of your website.
Some people might search your site for specific articles. If the articles aren’t in the correct category, they won’t be able to find them.
Don’t pick too many of them, though! Keep it short and relevant.
3. Social Media Optimization
Your blog might require different image sizes than social media platforms do. You might want one description for your site, but another on your Facebook post.
4. Take Authorship
It’s important to create a name for yourself. Brands are now turning into faces. You can see this in any niche.
This can be done by adding a bio to the article. Most open source CMS like WordPress have author boxes for every user, use them! If you look at the very bottom of this post, you'll see that.
Correct any grammar mistakes you spot. Bad spelling can result in poor user experience. The grammar police are always out there and will downplay your credibility in a hurry.
6. Verify Links
Verify internal and external links. Do they work? If not, either fix them or don't use them.
There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on a link and waiting for it to load, just to find out it actually doesn’t work. Broken links also affect you from an SEO point of view. Search Engines have to crawl through all the links on your website. They waste time by trying to access links that don’t work.
7. Are the Share Buttons Functional?
Can your readers easily share your content on the most popular social media platforms?
You can test to see if it works by sharing it on your own profile.
8. Publish the Blog Post
Press that button and make it live!
Download Checklist - courtesy of Cognitive SEO
1. Share on Social Media
For a blog post to be successful, you also have to promote your content. Share your content on the most popular social media platforms. Use the official page of your blog/website first, then share it on your personal profile.
2. Build Base Links
Writing great quality content is not enough. You also have to promote your content as well!
Reach out to some blogs in your industry, including your competition. If you find unanswered questions anywhere, you can try to answer them. Leave a comment and, if relevant, a link to your website. Don’t overdo it!
Another good way to get some initial links is to search Forums or sites like Quora, and answer questions. Use a snippet that best answers the question, and then link to it so people can read more.
This can be time very time consuming, but worth the payoff.
3. Read Comments and Reply to Them
Find out your readers’ opinions. Try to build relationships, and fill in the gaps in your article by answering to the questions in your comments section.
This is a very good way to keep your content fresh! Comment text is considered content as well. Bloggers that engage in commenting can get thousands of extra words to their blog posts.
4. Upgrade Your Article
One of the secrets to blogging SEO success is to be consistent. Google likes it when content is frequently updated, aka freshness.
Instead of writing about the same things over and over again, try to improve some of your old content. You can use what you have learned from your readers to improve your content.
5. Maximize/Repurpose Your Content
You can turn your blog post into an infographic, video, slide presentation or ebook/PDF. This way you can maximize the exposure of your content.
Remember to link back to your blog post, and vice-versa. This way you can cover as many channels as you want by spending the least amount of time.
This is a long post and is likely something you'll want to bookmark and visit later as a reference. Once you get a few posts published and get down a system that works for you, you'll reference this page less.
Until then - bookmark us and start increase your SEO efforts through blog posts.
Don’t just write for the numbers, write to cover a topic very well. Go in-depth. Bring something new and purposeful to the table.Download Checklist - courtesy of Cognitive SEO
Original source: Cognitive SEO