Blogging + SEO: How to Optimize Blog Posts for SEO (+ Blog SEO Checklist)
When I started blogging a few years ago I thought it would be as easy as putting my thoughts down in a word doc, posting it to my website and watching the readers roll in. I quickly learned that was not the case. Sure, my tales and tips would draw readers in, but if I wanted to master the true art of blogging it would require so much more than being able to craft a quality sentence. There is a science to blogging. A science that revolves around SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. And, whether you’ve been in the blogging world for a lifetime or a hot minute, you know it is the magical elixir that will fix all of your blog post woes. As magical as SEO is, however, it can be confusing to navigate if you don’t have a good map or guideline. So, that’s what you’re going to get today.
Begin to optimize your blog posts for SEO by getting to know your audience.
The truth about blogging, whether it is for a personal page or a business website, is that you have to find a way to draw your audience in. But, in order to draw your audience in, you have to know who they are. That’s why the first step of how to optimize your blog posts for SEO is to get to know your audience.
If you don’t have the time to find your website visitors and talk to them individually (hint: you don’t), here are some questions you can research in order to get an idea.
Who is your audience?
To answer this question, you need to know your audience demographics. A great place to locate your audience demographics is through Google Analytics. Although the data collected through Google Analytics won’t tell you your audience members’ names and what they had for breakfast it will give you insight about how, when, and from where they access your website. It can also tell you what their other interests are (aka what type of content keeps them engaged). Each of these pieces of information can give you some insight about who your audience really is.
Of course, you can always truly connect with your audience through various forms of social media as well - but that’s another blog post for another day.
Why does your audience visit your website?
If you offer a tangible item through your website, the most obvious reason your audience visits your blog is obviously that they are searching for goods or service similar to yours. Yet, each individual reason someone visits your blog might be different. That’s why having a rolling dialogue with your audience is so important. Although it might take you a while, creating a talking to your audience and listening to what they have to say back through a series of blog posts and activity on social media can help you really hone in on the specific needs of your site visitors.
Remember, getting to know the audience on your website is a process, but be sure not to skip this step because the answer to each of these questions will come in handy as you navigate the rest of the blogging + SEO road.
Understand the difference between types of keywords.
After you get to know your audience, the next stop on the blogging + SEO road is keywords! Chances are, you constantly hear about keywords and how important they are. Well, what you hear is not a lie - keywords are the bread and butter of great blog SEO. But, the key to keywords is knowing what the different types of keywords mean AND how to use them properly.
Keywords are words or phrases that define the most important and searchable topics for your website. When used correctly, keywords can attract site visitors and add to the credibility of your work. Like choosing a new tattoo, choosing keywords at random isn’t a good idea.
To find the right keywords for your blog you will need to do some thinking and research. Here are a few tips for finding the right keywords to optimize your blog posts for SEO.
Write down a list of topics that attract people to your website.
Let’s make this easy and consider Buzzy Blogs. Obviously, topics that might bring people to the Buzzy Blogs website are “blogging”, “blog content”, and “blog writers”. These words/phrases are the foundation of the Buzzy Blogs keywords.
Think of different terms and phrases that relate to those topics.
Now, not everyone who NEEDS Buzzy Blogs is going to search using the EXACT words/phrases mentioned above. So, in order to attract a wider audience, we need to expand our keywords. Other terms and phrases related to the topics above are website marketing, content writing, website content, and quality blog content.
Do research to find related terms or phrases you might have missed.
In order to make sure you haven’t missed anything, you can also do a little bit of Google searching to find anything you might have missed. Just head over to your search bar, type in the words/phrases above and see what Google suggests! Those are other ‘relevant searches’ you want to be aware of. For example, when I type ‘blog writing’ into Google, below I see ‘blog writing tips’, ‘blog writing for beginners’, and ‘blog writing sites’.
Now, what to do with all of that information. Separate your keywords and phrases into categories and get to work. To help you do that, here are some of the most common types of keywords you should use to optimize your blog posts for SEO.
Short Tail Keywords
Short tail keywords are the most basic keywords used in blogging. And, as their name suggests, they are relatively short. Most short tail keywords are between 1-3 words.
Long Tail Keywords
If you guessed that long tail keywords are longer than short tail keywords, you are right! Typically, long tail keywords are more specific and targeted than short tail keywords and are phrases that contain 3-6 words.
This is where the world of keywords gets slightly more complicated. LSI keywords are words or phrases that are related to your main (short tail and long tail) keywords. Contrary to popular belief, LSI keywords are NOT synonyms, instead, they are words and phrases that naturally occur in relation to main keywords.
Now that you’ve been through understanding keywords 101, it’s time to put that new knowledge to work. Here are a few more tips you can use to REALLY take your writing the extra mile when you are working to optimize your blog posts for SEO.
Remember, Google (and your readers) REALLY like original content.
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers and business owners make when it comes to mastering blogging + SEO is that they stop once they understand keywords. And, as a result, their posts become redundant and boring to both their readers AND Google.
You see, Google LOVES original content. When someone creates a Google search, the intelligent technology of the search engine scans the entirety of the internet to find content that is the most relevant to the search and also the most original.
In order to create original content, you need to rely on your identity. Whether that identity is you as an individual or your business as a brand doesn’t matter. What matters is that you represent who you are through the details of your story and the value you provide to your audience by telling it.
Here are some quick tips for creating original content that optimizes your blog posts for SEO:
Don’t regurgitate what you read in the first article you find in a Google search.
Use your own voice (aka don’t tell the same corny jokes as your competitors).
Compile your experience and knowledge to provide a unique point of view.
Sprinkle in the keywords you have researched (short tail, long tail, and LSI) where they feel natural.
Don’t forget, size matters.
Actually, size rarely matters. But, when it comes to your blog, it's time to make an exception. Google actually has preferences regarding sentence, article, and paragraph length. And, when you write to Google’s preferences, it favors your blog, which means your content will appear higher in the search results.
Here are the basics of Google’s size preferences:
Although it seems contradictory to human preference when you are writing to optimize your blog posts for SEO they should always be 1200 words or longer. In short, because Google believes the longer the blog posts, the more knowledge it contains. Therefore, a 1200-word blog post will win in a search over a 600-word blog post any day.
Although Google believes that longer articles are better, it’s not clueless about current human reading tendencies. Google knows that the human attention span has gotten shorter (you only have about 8-12 seconds to grab someone’s attention). Therefore, sentences in blog content should be between 10-20 words.
Just like sentences, Google prefers short paragraphs. Again, this is because the human attention span is short. But also because it is easier for Google to scan content when it is broken apart. When writing for a blog, every paragraph should be between 5-6 sentences - max.
Always link to other content...and your own!
There are basic rules when it comes to blogging about giving others credit where credit is due, but the best rule you can use to boost your credibility and your SEO is to always link to other content. Think of it like this…
When you reference an article - link to that article.
When you cite a source - link to that source.
When you quote another person - link to their website.
By creating links to outside sources, Google will recognize that you are not a plagiarism machine and reward you by boosting your post in searches.
But, while you are working hard to give others credit where credit is due, don’t forget to give yourself credit as well! Google LOVES when you link to internal content (other blog posts on your website) because it shows you have a vast amount of knowledge to share - not just one willy-nilly blog post you wrote on a whim. Just remember, your links should make sense. Linking to a cake article in a sentence where you are talking about woodworking will get Google all kinds of confused. And believe me, you don’t want that.
Last but not least, write a great title.
Although the title goes at the beginning of your article, sometimes it’s the last thing on your mind. But, no matter when you create your title during your writing process, making sure it is optimized is key in mastering the art of blogging +SEO.
A quality title that has been optimized for SEO follows a few rules:
A good title contains keywords, but only the important ones.
When Google scans an article it starts with the title. However, if the most important keywords for your article aren’t in the title it’s not likely to pick up on them.
A good title offers value but isn't too long.
Just like Google has a difficult time recognizing keywords if they are not in the title, Google also has a difficult time identifying keywords when they are near the end of a long title - because long titles are likely to get cut off.
A good title tells readers exactly what the article is about.
Although there is room to be clever and crafty in your blog title, it is important to be transparent regarding the topic of your article. If it’s a ‘how to’ guide, include that in the title. If it’s a list, include that as well. And, if your article is about monkeys, you might want to mention that. Basically, don’t make your readers (and Google) guess what your article is about!
Let’s wrap things up!
If you’re anything like I was when taking in this information for the first time (or the fifth) you are likely overwhelmed. But that’s okay! Something important you need to know about optimizing your blog for SEO is that it doesn’t happen overnight. SEO is a process that takes a lot of diligence and attention. If you start with the tips provided for your here, however, you will certainly be on the right track for SEO success.Oh, and as a little gift to you, here’s a Blog SEO Checklist for you to use every time you write!
BLOG SEO CHECKLIST:
Do you have a topic for your blog? If so, what is it?
- What value does the blog topic provide your audience?
- Why would readers want the information your blog has to offer?
What are the keywords for your blog?
- Short tail keywords?
- Long tail keywords?
- LSI keywords?
How is your blog content original?
- Do you tell a story in your blog?
- Does your blog provide a unique point of view?
- Is your blog written in your original voice?
What external sites do you link to?
- Do you provide any definitions?
- Are you quoting other blogs or authors?
- Does the main idea of your blog come from someone else?
What internal articles do you link to?
- Where does the content of this blog relate to other blogs you have previously written?
- Are there any internal pages you can link to? Contact page? Services?
Do you have an awesome title?
- Does your title include keywords?
- Is your title 10 words or less?
- Does your title draw a reader in?
Has the length of your article, paragraphs, and sentences been optimized for SEO?
- Is your article 1200 words or more?
- Are the majority of your sentences between 20-40 words long?
- Are the majority of your paragraphs between 5-6 sentences long?