As you probably already know, adding fresh content to your website is a highly effective way to improve your search engine rankings. Additionally, publishing regular blog posts or adding more depth to your web pages provides you with valuable original content to use in other digital marketing efforts, such as in digital ads, social media profiles, and email marketing platforms. To make the most of your content creation efforts, we put together a practical guide to blog writing for SEO to ensure you’re maximizing your brand’s reach — one blog post at a time.
Step 1: Keyword Research
Start by creating an editorial calendar. We use Google Sheets, which are accessible and editable by our entire team, to document anywhere from six months to one year’s worth of blog topics, keywords, and due dates for each team member to keep everyone on track. Consider blog topics that are relevant and valuable to your target customer for which you can provide some valuable insight. If you find it difficult to come up with topics out of thin air, start by doing a competitor analysis (you can use Moz’s Link Explorer or SpyFu for this), look at your Google Search Console for existing search queries, or check out some of your favorite industry blogs and publications for ideas.
The missing piece that many blog writers forget (or don’t know to do), however, is identifying a unique target keyword for each blog post. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to keyword research in a separate blog post, so we’ll just cover the basics here.
- Use a keyword insights tool, like Moz’s Keyword Explorer, and simply enter keywords that are relevant to your blog topic. Use the “Keyword Suggestions” feature in Moz to find more related keyword ideas.
- Try to select keywords that have some search volume, low difficulty, and high click-through opportunity scores. *TIP: Keep in mind that it’s better to rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) for a keyword with low search search volume than to not rank on the first page for a keyword with high search volume. If your first keyword choice is highly competitive, try an alternative keyword or long-tailed (more descriptive/specific) version of the keyword instead.
- Document your target keyword in your editorial calendar. *TIP: Make sure you use a unique target keyword for every page and post. Otherwise, you’re pitting your keywords against each other in search engines.
Step 2: Blog Writing for SEO
Once you’ve identified your blog topic, outline, and target keyword, it’s time to start writing! But before you put pen to paper — or, more likely, pixel to Word doc — make sure you keep the following SEO writing best practices in mind:
Try to use your target keyword in the following places in your blog post:
- In your blog title (H1 tag)
- In a subtitle (H2 tag or below)
- In the intro copy
- Elsewhere in the body copy, where feasible
Other blog writing tips:
- Don’t overuse your keyword or force your keyword into the copy unnaturally. Google’s algorithm can recognize when a keyword is “stuffed” unnaturally, which can result in your blog post being flagged as webspam.
- Keep your blog on topic, and include synonyms or related search phrases. Google’s search algorithm is intelligent enough to recognize when a blog is on-topic and relevant to the target keyword you’ve identified.
- Search engines also want to ensure your blog posts are readable, so keep these best “readability” practices in mind:
- Make your sentences short and clear.
- Use introductory and transitional phrases.
- Introduce a variety of bullet points, pullout quotes, and subheadings (be sure to use H2, H3, and H4 subtitle tags, not just bolded text) to make the post easier to scan.
Step 3: Publishing Your Blog for Maximum Optimization
Whether you’re using WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, or some other platform, most CMS platforms give you the ability to define image alt tags and SEO meta data for every page and post on your site. If they don’t, consider installing an app or plugin that allows you to customize these important SEO details.
If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of great SEO plugins out there to use, but for the purposes of this tutorial, we recommend Yoast. We like Yoast because it is easy for almost anyone to learn and lists clear instructions on how to improve your blog post. It also gamifies the task of on-site optimization by issuing red light, orange light, and green light signals on your blog posts and pages based on how well you’ve followed the recommendations, which even makes it sort of fun. Here are our top tips to consider when publishing your blog post:
Use your target keyword in the following places:
- As your image alt tag *TIP: Always include an image and size it appropriately before uploading to your website for optimal page speed and performance.
- In your SEO title
- In your SEO meta description
- In your page/post URL
- Use inbound and outbound links from your blog post. *NOTE: Inlinks are links to other pages or posts within your own website; outbound links are links to external websites. Both are valuable.
- Make sure your URL, meta title and meta description are of the appropriate length. Meta titles should be approx. 50-60 characters in length, while meta descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters.
With these SEO blog writing best practices, your blog post or page should enjoy higher rankings in search engines, which will ultimately lead to more impressions, clicks, and — ideally — leads for your business!
If you have any questions or are interested in offloading your blog writing and SEO, contact us to request a free SEO audit on your website.