When you draw more visitors to your website, you increase your chances of converting them to customers. One great way to do that is with an SEO blog that speaks to your target audience’s interests.
Think that blogging is outdated? Let’s unpack that.
While blogging has been around since 1994, it didn’t gain momentum until the late ‘90s – early ‘00s. Platforms like Blogger made it easy for anyone to publish a post, and many people jumped on the bandwagon. There are no good statistics on how many blog posts are published daily (estimates range from 6 to 7.5 million posts worldwide), but its ubiquity can make it feel like it’s no longer a helpful tool.
And yet, SEO blogs remain popular as long as they educate, inform, and inspire. Plus, since organic search relies on high-quality content to deliver relevant search results, optimizing blog posts can help you increase your web traffic.
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In this guide, I’ll explain why you need an SEO blog, what to avoid when creating optimized blog posts, and blog SEO tips for writing content that appeals to both search engines and readers.
How Do Blogs Help SEO?
Blogs can serve numerous purposes. For this guide, though, I’m going to focus on one: capturing more organic traffic.
Google wants to help users find the best answer to their queries. To do that, they prioritize useful content, including web pages, blog posts, images, videos, and more.
When you create a blog, you can target keywords related to your niche and deliver information that users are looking for.
When your business is focused on sales, a website with information about your products and services may seem like enough to generate leads. With more companies competing to rank highly in search engine results, SEO blogs remain a critical tool for boosting online visibility and conversions.
Your blog content is a valuable opportunity to:
- Add more keywords to your website to increase the queries you can rank for
- Boost organic traffic and clicks (and hopefully, conversions)
- Build backlinks from trusted sites to your posts to boost your authority
- Generate internal links that guide readers through your site and into your sales funnel
Each post is a strategic way to provide information to your target audience while satisfying Google’s ranking factors to improve your SEO performance.
8 Things That WON’T Help Your SEO Blog Rank
Often, people fail to see the value in SEO blogging because they’ve heard too much misinformation or have been inundated with bad content. With a good strategy, though, you can avoid the pitfalls of poor SEO blogging and hopefully reap its benefits.
Now, you may have heard common sense advice like “using keywords a lot will help you rank higher” or “you need at least 3,000 words of content to rank.” While there are morsels of truth in these aphorisms, they aren’t exactly correct.
Let’s talk about what to avoid when creating and optimizing blog content.
1. Copying Content
Your competitor just scored the number one spot on the search engine results page (SERP) for a keyword you want to rank for. It may seem like putting out a similar post will help you gain more visibility and possibly knock them off their perch.
Unfortunately, that probably won’t help you at all.
If you want to rank for a keyword that your competition has captured, you need to create a post that better covers the topic and meets searcher intent (more on search intent below). You will need to bring your own viewpoint and unique perspective to create a post that provides useful information and showcases your brand voice.
Now, there’s never any guarantee that you will rank for a particular keyword. However, by creating quality content that aligns with searchers’ queries, you increase your chances of showing up in SERPs.
2. Keyword Stuffing
If using your desired keyword 3-5 times in a post is good, using it 15 or 20 times is better, right?
In the early days of SEO, it wasn’t uncommon to come across pages or posts that used their focus keyword everywhere. Often, these sites were practically unreadable. Thankfully, search engines caught on to keyword stuffing. Now, search engine algorithms are able to distinguish between keyword stuffing and naturally occurring keyword use.
Use your keyword and related phrases (semantic keywords) in a way that feels natural. Don’t overcomplicate your text trying to get as many keywords in your post as possible.
3. Too Much or Too Little Content
Have you visited a blog with a short post that answered one particular question? How about a blog that managed to cover every little detail about one topic? When optimizing for search, it may seem like this is the way to go — especially if you want to capture the featured snippet for a particular query.
In reality, Google has been clear that there’s no recommended word count when it comes to SEO blog posts. What they pay attention to is how comprehensive a blog post is.
Now, this is a subjective measure, and one that will vary depending on the topic. There’s only so much you can say about squeaky dog toys, for example. Meanwhile, it would be pretty time-intensive to create a comprehensive blog post covering quantum physics.
When thinking about comprehensive content, consider the types of questions people would naturally ask if they didn’t know anything about your topic and do your best to answer them thoughtfully.
Part of the goal of SEO blogging is to show that your company is an expert in its field. By creating posts that help educate visitors about what you do and how you do it, you help establish your credibility and engender trust.
4. Spammy Linking
There are three types of links that are important when it comes to SEO.
First, there’s internal linking. Internal linking is when you link a reader to another part of your website. To learn more, check out Victorious’ comprehensive guide to using internal linking for blog SEO. (And that, right there, is an example of internal linking!)
Then there are two types of external links: outbound links (links from your site to another website) and backlinks (links from another website to your site).
Internal links play an important role in showcasing your site architecture and highlighting how your content relates to each other. It’s a key on-site SEO ranking factor.
While some may take that as an invitation to create links on their site wherever they can, this can actually hurt your SEO. Links to relevant & helpful content are great, regardless of the number. But links to junky content frustrates users and can send a signal to Google that you think those pages are important, so you really should link to them unless they’re important.Readers may lose trust in you if you are constantly linking to random or irrelevant information.
Outbound links are a good practice when creating blog posts, though they aren’t a search engine ranking factor.
When creating outbound links, make sure you only link to reputable sites. While not a direct ranking factor, they do provide search engines with further context regarding the topic of your post. If you link to disreputable sites, you may impact a Quality Rater’s E-A-T evaluation and create a bad user experience. (Think of it as the company you keep.)
Link building is a crucial part of off-site SEO. When you earn backlinks from other sites, you are essentially receiving a vote of confidence. Each quality backlink you receive imparts some authority and helps you increase your page rank.
At their most basic, links are a recommendation. When you add links to your SEO blog post, you’re essentially saying that you think the linked resource is of value to your reader. Link judiciously and avoid extraneous links to preserve your authority and your crawl budget. Focus on creating quality content that others will want to share and link to.
5. Too Many Images
People love gifs, infographics, and videos. So, it may seem like a good idea to include all of these media types into your blog post — but it can actually harm your post.
If you want to optimize your blog post to increase your chances of ranking organically, only include images and videos that are useful for your audience and that relate to your targeted keyword.
When thinking of adding an image, ask yourself, “what value will my intended audience get from this?”
If you don’t have a clear answer, then think about leaving it out.
Too many images can:
- Slow down your page loading speed.
- Clutter your post and create a poor reader experience.
- Obscure what you’re trying to say.
Avoid slowing down your page load speed. When you optimize your images, compress them to the right size for your website theme.
You can learn more about the impact of page load speed by reading up on Core Web Vitals.
6. Putting Search Engines First
If you want to rank well, it may seem like you need to focus on how search engines view your post. However, search engines don’t actually have to read your post.
Here’s one of the biggest SEO blog tips I can give you. While your goal is to rank high in search engine results, you should always write for your reader. As long as you’ve implemented key SEO practices like the ones I’ll be covering below, rest assured that search engines are in the background, performing their job of identifying and categorizing your content.
Remember, it’s not enough to persuade someone to click over from the SERPs. Users want content that’s helpful, entertaining, interesting, and inspiring. Create content that captures their curiosity, delivers valuable information, and keeps them exploring your site. Leverage your blog to build relationships with readers, keep them engaged, and ideally, draw them into the buyer’s journey.
7. Just Hitting Publish
You did it! You wrote a fantastic, comprehensive post. It’s original, and it’s precisely what your target audience is looking for. Time to publish, sit back, and just watch the leads roll in, right?
While publication may seem like the end of the road for an SEO blog post, there are a few more things you’ll need to do after hitting publish if you want to increase your visibility.
Share on Social & PPC
After investing in creating great content, don’t just let it sit there! Share it across your social media channels. You can even use PPC to promote your blog to increase visibility and hopefully help you attain backlinks.
It can take a while for your post to rank organically. By getting your followers to check it out and share, you can help your post gain some traction. When creating your content calendar, talk to your social media manager about incorporating posts that link to your new blog content upon publication and at specific intervals in the future. You can also speak to your digital marketing manager to learn about opportunities for PPC campaigns.
Create a Link Building Strategy
As I mentioned earlier, backlinks are a crucial off-site SEO strategy. If you want to boost your chances of ranking, make sure your piece serves as a valuable resource that others will want to link to. Discover how to get backlinks in this guide.
Track Your Success
Once you’ve published your content, you’ll want to monitor how well it’s doing. After investing time and effort into creating SEO blogs, you want to ensure your content is performing. If it’s not, you can make adjustments to better optimize your blog and improve performance.
The easiest way to measure blog SEO performance is to monitor traffic to your post with Google Analytics or a paid tool. You can also track your targeted keywords to see how well you are ranking for them. Remember, ranking in the SERPs takes time. It may take a while for your blog to rank organically.
8. Letting Content Go Stale
Don’t ignore your old content. If you have an old inventory of blog posts that were published before implementing your new blog SEO strategy, you can still use them.
Existing blog posts are an excellent source of content for building out your website and boosting your search visibility. They can be repurposed and optimized for SEO, particularly if the content is evergreen.
Once you’ve found some articles that are worth revisiting, match them to keywords, and then optimize your blog content with current resources, meta descriptions, and catchy titles. Then, use internal links from new pages to guide visitors to the content.
As you learn more about SEO for blogs in this guide, you may find that you can actually combine some of your posts to create comprehensive pieces that will help you showcase your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
- 10 Content Strategies To Crush the Competition
- Internal Linking: A Guide to SEO Best Practices
- Backlinking: What Are Backlinks & Why Are They Important?
- Quality Backlinks: The Truth About What Makes a Good Backlink
- What is E-A-T & How Does It Influence SEO?
- How to Measure Engagement on Your Website: 8 Metrics to Track
- How To Promote Your Blog with 7 PPC Techniques
Creating Content for Readers & Search Engines
We’ve covered what not to do, so let’s cover how to optimize your blog content for search engines.
Start with Keyword Research
Identify Your Focus Keyword
A good blog post has a central topic that ties everything together. Because you are focusing on optimized blog posts, your topic will be related to your focus keyword.
A focus keyword is a word or phrase that you want your webpage to rank for. It should be relevant to your industry and tie back to your SEO strategy.
Keyword research is a crucial component of a winning SEO content strategy. Each post you write should concentrate on a unique focus keyword to avoid keyword cannibalization.
Conduct keyword research to find the search terms users most often enter into a search when trying to learn more about a particular topic. A tool like Ahrefs can help to narrow down the best search terms to target based on search volume and difficulty.
For example, a coffee shop should compare search volumes and difficulty for “how to steam milk” and “using a milk frother” to help decide which one they are most likely to rank for before they start writing.
Keyword research shows what people are typing into search engines, but you also need to probe a little further to understand why they’re using those keywords.
This is known as search intent, and it helps you match your content to customer needs.
There are four different types of search intent:
- Commercial investigation
For your content to be relevant, it needs to match the search intent of the query.
For example, is someone Googling “plastic-free dog toys” because they want to be environmentally friendly or because they’re concerned about their dog swallowing something inedible?
When in doubt, run a search for your keyword and see what types of content are being returned in results. That’s a really clear indication of the search intent you need to address with your chosen keyword.
Uncover Semantic Keywords
Semantic keywords are search phrases that are closely related to the focus keyword. For example, semantic keywords for “snow” include “how is snow formed,” “what is snow made of,” and “snowfall.”
These related keywords can be used for blog search engine optimization to broaden context and make it more useful to readers.
By including secondary keywords, you can avoid accidental keyword stuffing. Plus, you give search engines more opportunity to understand what you’re writing about.
The easiest way to find semantic keywords is to scroll down to the bottom of the Google SERPs. Google provides “related searches” or “people also ask” lists, which are excellent for identifying potential semantic keywords.
You may have heard the phrase “long-tail keywords.” This is simply a keyword phrase made up of three or more words. In the above example, “how is snow formed” would qualify as a long-tail keyword. When doing your keyword research, you will likely come across relevant long-tail keywords that you can use. These keywords often have less traffic volume. However, they can be easier to rank for, making them a valuable component for your SEO strategy.
Where to Get Content Ideas
You know you want to write a post, but maybe you can’t think of a topic. Thankfully, you probably have countless ideas right under your nose.
If you aren’t sure what to write about, you can:
- See what questions you get most from potential or current customers and answer them.
- Talk to your team to see what pain points potential customers mention.
- Check feedback or comments that you’ve received.
- Look at your primary pages and think about the questions someone might have when reading that information for the first time.
- Check out your competitors’ posts and think about how you can tackle a similar topic differently.
- Browse sites like Quora and Reddit to find popular questions in your industry.
- Run a Google search for your keyword to see what type of content exists and what is missing. Remember to scroll down to see related searches for more ideas!
- Use a tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or BuzzSumo to identify content opportunities based on your competition or keyword.
If your content idea comes before your keyword research, run possible keywords through a keyword research tool to make sure there is sufficient traffic volume for your potential post. If there isn’t, you may want to start with a different topic.
Focus on Evergreen Content
As you’re narrowing down your content, think about how long your topic will be relevant. Is it a seasonal piece that may rank for a couple of months, or is it evergreen content?
Evergreen content refers to timeless topics, such as how-to guides and tutorials. This type of content is ideal for driving consistent, long-term traffic.
People are always drawn to trending topics, but articles such as “5 Movies to See This Summer” or “What’s Wordle?” can go stale quickly. Evergreen content has staying power and can continue working its way up the SERPs and attracting organic traffic over time.
We recommend focusing primarily on evergreen content when establishing a blog SEO strategy. You don’t have to stay away from trending topics, but it’s beneficial to have a mixture of evergreen and topical content on your site.
To keep content timeless, use well-researched keywords that demonstrate longevity. Avoid articles about fads, trends, and specific news events that may not be of interest in six months or a year. Revisit content regularly to update sources and studies.
Seasonal content can be useful for lifting traffic — for example, before the start of a school year or an upcoming holiday — but update it annually to remove outdated references and keep it fresh. We do this with our SEO Checklist, which was recently updated with the latest data for 2022.
To find popular topics in your industry, check out Google Trends. By narrowing the search data to your targeted area, you can identify which keywords may be best to use or which are no longer in vogue.
Use a Blog Template
If you aren’t used to writing, consider using a blog post template to get you started on the right foot.
A quality blog template will help you:
- Nail down your keyword.
- Uncover who you’re writing for.
- Flesh out your ideas.
- Structure your blog post.
- Properly optimize your post with a headline, an SEO page title tag, and an inviting meta description.
- Create a call-to-action that gets results.
During this process, you’ll also want to address search intent to ensure your post is positioned properly.
Additional Blog Search Engine Optimization
Once you’ve written a great post, it’s time to optimize to make it easier for search engines to understand. During this process, keep your reader in mind. If something doesn’t make sense for your reader, it’s ok to skip it, even if it may have some SEO value.
Check Your Keyword Frequency
How frequently your keyword should appear in a blog post depends on the length of your blog post. For posts around 800-1000 words, your keyword should probably appear 4 or 5 times. Ultimately, it is more important that it appears naturally than that you hit a certain number of occurrences. In fact, some keywords will organically show up at a higher rate.
A WordPress plug-in like Yoast or a tool like Surfer SEO can help you identify how frequently you’re using a keyword so you can avoid overuse and properly optimize your blog post. If you want to do a deep dive into keyword density, get familiar with wdf*idf analysis.
Format for Readability
Readability refers to how easy a webpage is to read and understand. In addition to reading level, think about how content is presented — for example, headers, short sentences, and brief paragraphs are easily processed by both search bots and readers.
An effective blog makes it easy for search engines to scan content and pick up relevant keywords and context. Simultaneously, website visitors can easily follow the logic and structure of the content without getting bogged down by difficult sentences or jargon.
For human readability, use simple language, write with clarity, and stay on topic. Break up text into shorter paragraphs and sections, and mix up your sentence structure and length for variety. Don’t forget to make use of bullet points, too.
This is also a good time to add internal links since you are considering how your readers will engage with your post.
Images and video help break up blocks of text in a blog post. You can also use image alt text to improve SEO by describing the content of an image and communicating to Google’s search engines what you’re writing about.
Not only does alt text serve an SEO purpose, but it also helps make your page accessible to those using a screen reader. Image alt text helps Google because search bots can only detect pixels, and not meaning, from images. Google uses the alt attribute to understand and index images. It also comes in handy if an image file doesn’t load properly because of low bandwidth or technical problems by explaining what’s meant to be there.
Similar to all SEO writing, image alt text should be descriptive and concise. Use a keyword if it applies, but avoid stuffing keywords into the tag. A 3- to 10-word description, or 125 characters, should do the trick.
Create a Compelling Headline
Your headline, or h1, lives at the top of your post. You have more freedom with the length of your headline, though consider how it will display when published. To make the most of this valuable real estate, check our guide on h1 tag SEO importance.
Add Meta Data
When you run a search, the name you see in the SERPs is the page title. To make it more likely that interested searchers will click on your link, be sure to use your keyword in your page title and incorporate an engaging hook that highlights what your article is about. Use a mixture of common, emotional, and engaging words to inspire curiosity or appeal to the heart. Google will generally show the first 50 to 60 characters of a page title, so check the length to make sure it won’t get truncated.
A meta description is a 920-pixel (about 158 characters) or less description of a webpage that tells readers what a blog post is about. Mobile displays about 680 pixels or 120 characters.
Meta descriptions appear in search results under your blog’s URL and title. While they don’t directly affect your ranking, they’re an excellent opportunity to drive organic traffic and entice readers to click through to your content instead of a competitor’s.
When creating your meta description, summarize your content using relevant keywords and action-oriented language such as “learn more” or “find out why.” A tool like Yoast can help you easily input a meta description for your blog post and check that it’s not too long.
Specify Your Keyword-Rich URL
Search bots look to a webpage’s URL for clues about the content of a page. For SEO blogs, the URL should provide information about your site hierarchy and contain a keyword that concisely and accurately reflects the topic of the post.
URLs made up of numbers, letters, and symbols are difficult to understand and don’t help users or SEO. Here’s how we do it at Victorious:
The first part (victoriousseo.com) is our domain name. That’s followed by a subdirectory: blog. From there, you could have additional subdirectories if needed. In this example, we only have one. The slug for our page is next. In this case, the slug (seo-checklist) is also the keyword for the page.
For another example, check out how the URL for this page appears in your search bar.
Add Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of structured data (code) that you add to a page’s HTML to help search engines index and categorize elements of your blog post in search results.
It provides additional content for SERP listings, which can help you earn rich snippets and improve your click-through rate (CTR). For example, if you have an FAQ section on your blog post, you can wrap your questions in schema so search engines know to return them in response to specific queries..
You don’t need to add schema tags to all of your webpages, but you might want to prioritize pages that are already ranking. Try a free tool such as Schema Markup Tool by Merkle for the occasional post. A web developer or consultant can help with wider-scale implementation.
Choose a Category
Most content management systems prompt you to select a category and tags for each post you create. If you’re just starting your blog, create three to five categories to organize your posts. More established sites may aim for five to ten categories. Note that WordPress classifies a post as “Uncategorized” if you don’t specify a category when publishing, so be sure to pick one to maximize your ranking opportunities.
Be sure to use categories and tags to group articles by topic. This makes it easier for users to find related content as your blog grows. They can also help search engines to categorize material.
Preview Your Post
Before hitting publish, you want to make sure that your blog post looks exactly how you want it to. Make sure to preview your post to see what it will look like on both desktop and mobile devices. Check that your formatting is easy to read, that images have loaded correctly, and that there are no coding errors.
Once you’ve verified that everything looks great, you can hit “publish” and start promoting your new post.
Build Your SEO Blog with Award-Winning SEO Services
Interested in shifting your SEO content strategy into high gear? Victorious offers a full menu of services aimed at getting your site on the first page of Google’s search results so you can master blog SEO. Our tried-and-true methods zero in on the right keywords for your business and help refine your SEO campaigns. Learn more about our SEO content writing services and how Victorious can help your business reach its full potential.