Blogging is still one of the most effective types of content marketing, as it performs better than emails, white papers, and e-books.
The previous statement applies only if your blog posts are well-written, interesting, and educational, which requires a lot of research and skill.
However, if you want your blog posts to dominate search engine results and reach your audience, you have to optimize them for search engines.
Google frequently makes changes to its advanced and fairly elaborate algorithm, meaning that publishing high-quality blog posts is quite an endeavor. Staying up to date with the latest changes to Google’s guidelines and implementing the best SEO practices will both boost your rankings and make your content appealing to your audiences.
Here are some tips on how to write SEO-optimized blog posts that will bring you a lot of traffic and increase engagement.
1. Improve Your Load Time
Google’s search algorithm is an intricate system created to collect, process, and index the data from every website on the internet so that it’s capable of quickly retrieving and delivering the best and most relevant search results for a particular query.
There are more than 200 ranking factors that this AI-powered algorithm uses in order to rate your content and determine whether it will provide the answer searchers look for when they type a specific search phrase in the search box.
One of the most important metrics with a huge impact on how Google will position your blog posts in the search results is dwell time.
This metric refers to how long a website visitor spends on a page before they return to the search results. The longer they stick around, the better, as it indicates that the content on that page is relevant and that the visitor found the answer to their question.
Although dwell time is only an indirect ranking factor, it plays a very important role in user experience. If we bear in mind that Google’s main goal is to show the best and most relevant results to its users in an instant, it’s clear how much the search engine values their satisfaction.
It’s worth mentioning that this metric makes sense only for long-form content because if some of your web pages contain short-form content that takes less than two minutes to read. If that’s the case, don’t try to manipulate your content only to boost your dwell time.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Tailoring your blog posts to the needs and interests of your readers is crucial for the success of your content and SEO strategy.
That’s why identifying your target audience should be the first step of the content creation process.
Think about who will be reading your content and make sure that it resonates with those people. Determining your ideal customer profile and buyer personas is an effective method of targeting the right audience. Analyze their buying behavior, demographics, psychographics, and other factors.
With this insight, you’ll be able to picture the kind of reader that will click on your website in search results and make sure your blog posts speak to them on a personal level.
3. Conduct Keyword Research
After you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to find out what their interests and pain points are so that you can come up with the right topics.
Keyword research will give you an idea about what exactly your potential website visitors search for on the internet. Based on these insights, you can expand these topics, address your audience’s major pain points, and offer solutions.
There are different tools for keyword research, but Surfer SEO and Clearscope come with additional features that will allow you to write SEO-optimized blog posts.
SurferSEO scrapes the results on Google’s first page and analyzes them. Within their Content Editor, you can see all the relevant keywords and topics that first-page content contains as well as how many times you should include each one of these terms in your blog post. What’s even better, as you create your content, this tool shows you how your blog post stacks up against the other results on the first page in real time. With its Content Score feature, you can see how many points your content has, meaning that you can tweak and adjust.
Clearscope is another similar tool with which you can find relevant keywords and optimize your blog posts. It also shows a list of keywords you should include in your content and headings. If you’re not sure how to structure your blog post and what its sections should be, Clearscope will suggest the most suitable headings you can use to create an outline. Content Grade tells you how well your content ranks in comparison to top search results in Google. Since readability and word count are also the factors that impact your SEO, Clearscope allows you to control them too.
4. Structure Your Content Properly
While it’s true that the ideal blog post length is anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 words, it doesn’t mean that you should present your readers with a wall of text.
Instead of long paragraphs, split them into more digestible and reader-friendly bits.
Add high-quality visuals to break the text and make it easier for your website visitors to scan and consume your content.
By creating catchy and descriptive headings, you’ll tell your audience what every section is about and help them navigate your content more easily. It’s a good idea to use keywords and phrases in your headings to improve the scannability of your blog post as well as its SEO.
5. Optimize Meta Elements
Every web page should have a title tag, a meta description, and alt text to help Google better understand what the content is about.
In order to optimize a meta title, which is displayed as a clickable headline in search results, make sure it’s 50-60 characters long in order not to be truncated, and add the target keyword.
When it comes to a meta description, its purpose is to help readers and search engines get an idea about what the blog post discusses. It’s practically a short summary of your web page, so keep it between 60 and 150 characters. Again, don’t forget to include your keyword.
Finally, alt text is a brief written description that stands in place of an image on a web page. The main idea behind alt text is accessibility, as this HTML element helps visually impaired people who use screen readers to understand these images. Also, in case an image can’t load, this text will be displayed. Finally, Google crawlers will get a better context of an image so that they can properly index it. It’s also desirable to add keywords to your alt text and make it descriptive.
6. Build Links
Your Google rankings heavily rely on the reputation of your website and content.
And in order to convince the search engine that your content is relevant, useful, and valuable to your target audience, it’s not enough to create high-quality pieces. But, if authority websites that Google trusts start linking back to your blog posts, then it will be a vote of confidence in your favor.
This way, you can significantly improve your rankings and the visibility of your content in search results.
As for the most effective link-building strategies, you can create a compelling piece of content, research authority websites to find where it fits best, reach out to the website owner or an influencer from your niche and ask them to link back to your blog post. If they believe that their audience will get some valuable information by reading your content, they will be more than happy to give you a link.
Another effective tactic is creating an original guest post for a relevant website and including your link in it.
7. Link to Existing Posts on Your Blog
Apart from linking to reputable external sources that will point your readers to other valuable materials to help them expand their knowledge on the topic, you should also link to the existing blog posts on your own website.
Internal linking is an important practice as it allows you to logically connect your content and help your readers explore a certain topic in more detail. That’s why it’s a great tool for improving your website navigation.
In addition to that, by linking internally to other relevant pages of your website, you also facilitate the crawling and indexing process, as it’s easier for search engines to find different pages of your website if they’re connected with each other.
Finally, if you give your readers more reading material and resources to explore, you’ll keep them on your website longer, which Google will interpret as a positive sign and come to the conclusion that your content is valuable and relevant to their needs.
As you can see, the quality of your blog posts isn’t the only condition for good rankings and more traffic. There are other technical details you should pay attention to if you want to get to the top of Google’s results page.