8 SEO Blog Tips: How to Write SEO Friendly Blog Posts
There are TONS of articles and posts out there that’ll tell you you need to choose between writing to captivate your audience and writing for SEO purposes. And I couldn’t DISagree more!
The truth is, the best blog posts create content that visitors AND search engines love.
Does blogging help SEO?
When you craft a post the right way, your readers will be much more inclined to link, share, and tweet about it — which will lead to more readers, likes, and tweets. I’ve seen it myself! Which is why I’m so excited to share these tips to create content that ranks highly for good, relevant keywords — which can drive TONS of traffic and sales.
1. Do keyword research.First thing’s first: you need to determine exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. More often than not, one of your main goals will be to rank your website as highly as possible in Google for specific key terms. (Because ranking first for “#1 best blog on the entire planet” doesn’t mean much if no one is searching for it.)
That’s where keyword research comes in.
This is the process of sorting out the good key terms from the bad. You don’t want to try to rank for the term “blog,” for instance, because there’s just too much competition.
The trick here is to find the perfect blend of attainability and sufficient traffic. These should be words that aren’t too common (like “blog”), but that your audience is actually searching for. These are the topics you should write about and the terms you should use in your text.
So how do you find the magic words for your site?
Checking Google Analytics for “seed keywords” is a good place to start. This will tell you the keywords people are already using to find your site.
Next, you’ll want to look at the terms your competition is ranking for. In addition to helping you brainstorm strong keywords, this will also help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of their site — so you can capitalize on things they may not be doing so well.
Google Trends is another great place to find keyword inspiration. Check it out to see what’s popular and trending in the world right now.
Lastly, do some good old fashioned brainstorming. Get creative and come up with a list of 25-50 keywords you think might work. Then do the work — a lot of keyword research is simply putting in the time.
2. Perform a competitive analysis
Once you have your primary keywords, it’s time to define your competition. Use Google Analytics to determine your top 20 most searched keywords that are not your name or brand name. These are excellent clues, and it’s easier to optimize these words than rank for something completely new.
Manually search each of these terms and see what comes up. This is your competition! Make a note of any site that shows up in the top five search results, as they represent your most immediate competition.
As you go through your list, pay attention to how often each site pops up. (The more they show up, the bigger competition they are.) Spend extra time studying the top three sites that appeared most in your research and keep an eye out for strong key terms you might not have come up with. You may be able to leverage them for your own site — especially if they haven’t been implemented properly. (You may come across misspelled keywords. It's up to you if you decide to target those or not.)
Note the strengths and weaknesses of your top competition. It’s often easier to evaluate other sites objectively and then use the same criteria to assess your own.
3. Create a clear structure
Text structure is critical for both readability and SEO strategy. I always recommend outlining the structure of your piece before you begin writing. This way, your message will be crystal clear and easy for your readers to pick up.
When your readers can easily understand your message — and therefore, find answers to the questions they have — Google will notice that you provide answers to certain queries, and they’ll rank your page higher.
Here’s a simple way to set up a structure for your text:
- Create a list of topics
Always think before you start writing. The writing process will be much easier if you map out everything you want to address before you get started. This is not the time for perfection — just make a list of everything you want to address in your post.
- Organize your topics
- Determine the best order for your topics
There are several different ways to order your topics. Once of the most popular is to arrange the topics according to theme (or aspect, topic, etc.). Another option would be to order them chronologically (old to new). Or, if you’re solving a particular problem, you could choose to present the problem first and then list the possible solutions.
Now that you have a skeleton of your article, it’s time to craft paragraphs. There’s no hard and fast rule for length here, but six or seven sentences is generally a good rule of thumb (short paragraphs are best when writing for websites).
Clear headings are another essential element of SEO friendly blog posts. Google will use your headings to determine the topic of the content on your site, so it’s important to optimize the headings of your posts.
As you probably know from your own experiences online, headings are a big deal for readers as well. Clear headings allow readers to skim your content and decide whether or not they want to read your article (or which sections they want to read).
Always put some thought into crafting clear (and catchy!) headings that reflect the content and structure of your text.
4. Pay attention to language
Above all, your post should be a high quality piece of writing. And as with all writing, you’ll want to pay close attention to language and word choice.
Here are several strategies that work particularly well for blog posts:
- Prioritize your chosen keyword(s)
Your keyword(s) should appear in the first 100 words of your article.
- Incorporate LSI keywords
LSI keywords are words that are semantically related to your keyword. Search engines use these keywords to decide which pages are relevant to a given search query.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that LSI keywords are synonyms, but that’s not true. They actually function to help search engines understand the context — or meaning — of a web page.
For instance, let’s say your post is about “Apple.” How does Google know if you’re writing about the fruit or the company?
It looks for LSI keywords.
Google will figure out that you’re referring to the fruit if your page contains these words: red apple, green apple, honeycrisp apple, eating apple, apple tree, etc.
If your post contains words like: apple itunes, iphone, apple stores, apple stock price, etc. Google will understand that you’re writing about the company.
If you’re not sure how to find LSI keywords for your posts, an easy way is to do a Google search and scroll to the bottom of the results page until you see the ‘Searches Related To’ heading. You’ll find plenty of LSI keywords here — Google’s algorithm has identified them as words that appear with your search term in predictable patterns.
Incorporate LSI keywords where they fit naturally and appropriately into your posts (don’t force it). They’ll help you rank higher for your main keywords and also show up in related searches.
- Signal words
Like LSI keywords, signal words (or transition words) help establish context and meaning. They also help readers understand how thoughts and ideas are connected.
Transition words don’t directly influence SEO, but they definitely contribute to readability (which is very important for SEO). Here are some examples:
‘Therefore’, ‘but’, ‘however’, ‘for example’, ‘above all’, ‘most importantly’, ‘meanwhile’, ‘during’, ‘similarly’, ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘so’, ‘because’
Do you see how these words can be used to show your reader the relationship between the phrases and sentences in your text? Without them, your text will be more difficult to read and people won’t stay on your page as long.
5. Optimize length
You may have heard the SEO adage, “length is strength.” Studies have shown that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page results, so it’s worth spending a little extra time to really build out your posts.
Longer content also boosts “dwell time,” which is another way Google sizes up the quality of your content. (If someone hits their back button immediately after landing on your site, it’s a sign of a low quality page.) You can increase your average dwell time by writing long, engaging content that keeps people reading.
I recommend 500 words at the very least. If your article is shorter, it’s unlikely to rank within search engines.
However, articles of 2500 words or more can really help grow your organic traffic. (Google loves this length because there are more clues within the text to determine what your article is about.) If you optimize your copy well, your keywords will appear naturally throughout the text.
But! Don’t overdo it here. High-quality writing should never be sacrificed for the sake of length.
The longer your article, the more space you’ll have for relevant headings, links, and pictures. There’s no excuse for keyword stuffing.
A longer text will also help you rank for multiple long tail variants of the keywords you’ve optimized for. (Long tail keywords are keywords or phrases that are more specific — and usually longer — than more commonly searched for keywords. Think “lifestyle website for women” vs “blog.”) Since these keywords are more specific, they typically get less traffic but will have a higher conversion value.
6. Don’t forget links, images, and buttons
These factors may seem small compared to biggies like keyword research and top notch content, but links, images, and social media buttons are super important when it comes to SEO.
Outbound links to related content are a relevancy signal that helps search engines determine the topic of your content. Pages with outbound links tend to outrank pages without them.
Internal links are helpful for your Google rank, too. I recommend adding 2-3 internal links to each article you post. Linking to previous content you’ve written on the same (or similar) topics will make your post stronger because you’re demonstrating some authority on the subject. Plus, readers may have a genuine interest in reading related posts. (Like this one about SEO blogging in 2019!)
It’s always smart to include engaging images, videos, and diagrams when possible. These can all reduce bounce rate and increase time spent on your site: two critical factors search engines use to rank user interaction. (Make sure all multimedia file names are optimized to include your target keyword as well.)
In addition to making your content more visually appealing, there’s a big SEO benefit here too: multimedia boosts the user interaction signals Google and other search engines pay attention to.
Multimedia can also increase the perceived value of your content — which means more people are likely to link to it.
Similarly, prominent social sharing buttons can significantly increase sharing on social media. They may not play a direct role in site ranking, but social shares generate more eyes on your content — which can turn into more readers, more likes, and more links.
7. Try guest posting
Guest posting is one of the absolute best ways to grow your audience, email list, and search rankings. It can work very well as a tool for SEO because you can often include a link back to your own website.
There are TONS of sites that accept guest posts (Twitter is a GOLDMINE of guest posting opportunities!). This strategy works best in niches that have established influencers with large audiences.
Guest posting has had a bit of a bad rap since 2017 (when Google issued a warning about abusing guest blogging to build links), so it’s important to make sure you play by the rules. Here are a few tips to make sure you stay within the realms of ethical practice and Google’s guidelines:
- Only write for sites that curate well-written content on topics that align with your own interests and expertise.
- Don’t mass produce the same content for multiple sites.
- Always write original content that provides value to your target audience.
- Write for people — not search engine bots!
The most important thing to remember when creating content for other sites is that it’s more than a link opportunity. Your primary objective should be to educate and provide value to your intended audience.
A few solid guest posts may even earn you a spot as a regular contributor on a reputable blog.
The bottom line: publishing useful content on trustworthy, relevant websites can significantly boost your search engine rankings and ultimately bring more traffic to your site.
8. Add *awesome* content regularly
Even when your goal is to write SEO friendly blog posts, your content should still be fun and engaging for your readers. Remember, readability ranks! High quality writing will ultimately lead to higher rankings and more traffic for your site.
As the Google algorithm gets better and more ‘human-like’, it’s becoming much better at predicting what people want to read. The demands on readability will continue to rise as Google becomes better and better at assessing topics and texts in the same way a human would.
Readers tend to do a quick scan of most texts — reading only headings, subheadings, and maybe the first few sentences of topics that interest them. People are known to skip ahead to the main conclusion of an article. As Google continues to mimic this kind of human behavior, the way you write and structure your posts for SEO will become increasingly important. The first sentence of each paragraph (sometimes called the core sentence) will gain even more significance, and having a clear, logical structure will be an absolute MUST.
Regularly adding new content is another must for SEO friendly blog posts, as new content tells Google your site is active. If your site isn’t active, Google will crawl it less often, which will likely have a negative affect on your rankings.
But don’t just post for the sake of posting! Make sure the articles you post provide informative and well-written answers that fit common search queries. Strong content should demonstrate value to both readers and search engines.
Remember, Google rankings will come naturally if you have a website filled with high quality posts. Write more of those, and conquer the world!