Blog SEO has never been more important. The competition in organic search rankings is getting more and more cutthroat over the years.
Bloggers today are scrambling to keep up in order to stay ahead of the competition. Add to that the search engines’ non-stop algorithm changes and improvements.
Search engines are the first port of call in today’s digital age if we want to look something up. Google, in particular, still stands as the biggest source of organic traffic, so it only makes sense to optimize your blog for SEO.
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In this article, I will share some blog SEO tips with you. On top of those are some strategies that go beyond conventional SEO wisdom. So you might find some tips that have no direct correlation with SEO but directly impact known SEO ranking factors.
Using power words in your headlines or calls-to-action (CTA) in your meta descriptions.
Power words and CTAs are not ranking factors. But they are proven to increase click-through rate (CTR), which is known as a ranking factor (though this is contentious in the SEO community).
How Do Blogs Help SEO?
Does blogging help SEO? Yes, blogging helps SEO in so many ways. In fact, blogging and SEO can’t go without the other.
How do blogs help SEO?
A huge part of SEO still hinges on the use of words. That’s exactly why a blog is important for SEO, and that’s exactly why content is part of every SEO strategy.
It only makes perfect sense to do blogging — and content creation in general — to leverage the maximum power of words.
15 Actionable Blog SEO Tips to Boost Your Organic Traffic
Now let’s dive into the 15 blog SEO tips that you can use to improve your content’s organic search visibility and traffic.
This list doesn’t cover everything, but it has the most important blog SEO basics to get your SEO strategy right.
1. Hit the Right Keywords
Adding keywords to your blog posts is one thing. Targeting the right keywords is another.
This is why proper keyword research lays the groundwork for any blog SEO efforts. Screw it, and you’re off to a bad start.
So how do you choose the right keywords? You need to look at four things:
- Search intent
- SERP intent
- Search volume
- Keyword difficulty
Search intent — also known as keyword intent — is the motivation of a searcher when using a search engine.
Search intent can be informational, navigational, or transactional.
Knowing the user’s search intent is important because it allows you to meet the needs of the searcher more effectively. It’s even more important in eCommerce.
There are a few SEO tools out there that give you a scoring system to know the intent level of a specific query. Unfortunately, no tool has hit the nail right on the head yet.
I can talk on and on about it, but for now, you can refer to this eCommerce keyword research guide to wrap your head around this topic.
Sometimes, you really don’t get what you expect of a query.
What is Google trying to show you with a certain query? The only way to find out is to look at the top search results.
Is the query returning product pages? Tutorials? Whatever it is, that’s the SERP intent.
When using that keyword to build your content around, keep SERP intent in mind.
There are no hard and fast rules on how much search volume per month you should consider as this varies. But as a rule of thumb, anything over 20 searches per month is worth giving a shot.
Keyword difficulty — or search difficulty as others call it — measures how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword.
Ubersuggest is a free tool you can use to look for the search difficulty of a keyword.
You might have heard of the “competition” metric on Google Keyword Planner to measure the same thing. But I’ll burst your bubble, that metric is actually intended for Google Ads, not for organic keywords.
Remember, if you can find a keyword with high search volume and low keyword difficulty, which is rare, you strike it lucky.
2. Group Keywords Together According to Themes
Keyword grouping or mapping is an SEO process that a lot of bloggers downplay. If you haven’t heard of it, let me walk you through the process.
Once you’ve done your keyword research and collected enough keywords, it’s important to group keywords together according to themes.
As you may already know, optimizing a blog post for one lonely keyword is not a viable blog SEO tactic anymore. Adding different keywords into the bargain may increase your search visibility and even rankings.
You might be wondering how to optimize blog SEO without falling into the dark crevices of keyword stuffing.
All you need is a list of closely related keywords.
Closely Related Keywords
For instance, your main target keyword is “how to create a website.” Your keyword themes could include “what is a website,” “how much does it cost to build a website,” “best web hosts,” etc.
You can build your blog posts around those keywords. But of course, your keywords have to come from your keyword research and not just based on your assumptions.
Also, be on the lookout for long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are phrases (at least 3 words) that are specific to your industry. Often they are in question form.
Why should you use long-tail keywords? Long-tail keywords are:
- Easier to rank (not cut-and-dried though)
- Higher CTR
- Better conversion
Long-tail keywords tend to convert better because they are ultra-specific. It means the searcher likely knows already what he or she is looking for. And these keywords are clicked more because they meet their search intent at first glance.
The easiest way to find closely related keywords is through Google Search.
You can also use the Google Keyword Planner to find closely related keywords.
However, it’s too limited. It doesn’t show you keyword difficulty, and the search volume range isn’t so precise. In addition, it doesn’t give enough long-tail keywords if you are using short-tail queries.
You can also use the “People also ask” section on Google to find relevant questions to your target keyword.
Quora is also a good source of long-tail keywords.
3. Use Keywords in Most Important Places
Putting your keywords in the right places is just as important as finding them.
The places with more SEO value where you should place your target keywords are:
- Meta description
- Image alt text
Be sure to have SEO-friendly blog titles. Your target keyword should appear in your title, right at the beginning, if possible.
Google looks at your title and heading tags to make sense of your page, so they should contain the main ideas of your blog posts.
You can use your keyword themes as part of your headings. Do NOT put keywords in your headings just for the sake of it. Your headings should guide your readers, not confuse them.
One more important thing to remember: make sure your headings are in the right order to avoid confusion. Your keywords must appear in the upper headings, from H1 to H3, as they have the most important SEO value. And your H1 tag could be your title tag.
You’ve probably heard of multiple H1 tags as something you need to avoid. While Google’s John Mueller confirmed it doesn’t matter, I recommend using one H1 only to avoid confusing your readers.
Here’s how you can apply title and heading tags in WordPress:
And in Google Docs:
Though Google automatically generates a meta description based on your page’s textual content, make sure to customize it, and incorporate your keywords.
Image Alt Text
Putting your keywords in your image’s alt tag enables Google and readers to understand the image even without looking at it. Be sure that your keyword applies to the image, though.
It’s also important to add your keyword to a page’s URL. In WordPress, you can change your permalink pretty easily, like so:
4. Use Power Words in Your Headlines
While it has no direct relations with rankings, using power words can help increase your CTR in massive proportions.
What are power words?
Power words are words that copywriters use to stir up a psychological or emotional response. Power words are persuasive and irresistible.
Use Advanced’s Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer to measure how emotionally evoking your headline is.
Here’s a massive list of power words from OptinMonster.
Here are more writing tips to spice up your headlines:
- Incorporating numbers in your headlines perform so much better (Conductor)
- Headlines with odd numbers get more clicks than even numbers (Outbrain & HubSpot)
- Adding square brackets, parentheses, dashes, hyphens, or semicolons increases CTR (Outbrain & HubSpot)
5. Include a CTA in Your Meta Description
Meta descriptions are the first thing searchers see in the SERPs alongside titles, so pay attention to your meta description as well.
Adding a CTA in your meta description doesn’t directly affect your rankings. But it does help increase your CTR. And CTR, as I previously mentioned, is a ranking signal.
Here are some meta description guidelines you should follow:
- Limit your meta description between 50 – 160 characters
- Include a benefit or value proposition
- Add 1-2 keywords
6. Write for Featured Snippets
A featured snippet provides a brief answer to a search query displayed on the topmost part of the first SERP, hence the other name position 0.
Featured snippets can be in paragraph form, a number or bullet list, a table, or a video. Many of the featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords.
Featured snippets don’t necessarily hold the most power in the SERPs for organic rankings.
In a 2017 Ahrefs study of 2 million featured snippets, it got an 8.6% CTR, while the no. 1 result got a 26% CTR.
Featured snippets, however, occupy more real estate, so it gives you more exposure and more attention.
7. Make Your URL Short and Sweet
Search engine bots use URLs, among other things, to figure out what a blog post is all about.
Apart from adding your primary keyword in your URL slug, make sure it is descriptive yet short. Using special characters or random string of numbers and letters in your URL won’t help.
For instance, you have a blog post titled “57 interior design trends to watch out for in 2020.” While that exact title is good, having a URL slug “/interior-design-trends” is better since it’s short and descriptive enough.
And be sure your content does what it says on the tin.
8. Include Relevant Internal Links
Internal links — or links from a domain that go to the other pages of the same domain — are useful for a few reasons:
- Site navigation
- Information hierarchy
- Link equity
The last one is the most important SEO-wise. Internal linking is a great opportunity to pass on link equity or ranking power to other pages on a website.
Anchor links — or links pointing to other parts of a page — are useful for linking to your main keywords early on.
Note that Google gives special attention to hyperlinked words than non-linked words. Therefore, anchor texts — or texts that you use to carry the anchor links — are just as important to optimize your page.
9. Link Out to Credible Sites
Why should you use outbound links?
First, it helps search engines understand who you are. So it’s important to link only to domains within your industry.
Second, Google and readers love credible sources. Linking out to them helps boost the trustworthiness and quality of your domain by association.
Outside of SEO, outbound links make for a good foundation in building relationships with bloggers and publishers, which is an opportunity to gain backlinks as well.
Which domains should you link to? Some questions to guide you:
- Is it relevant to your website?
- Does Google trust it? (Check page and domain authority)
- Does the page explain the matter well?
You definitely want to avoid linking out to link farms or private blog networks (PBNs). They are bad for your blog SEO.
Also, avoid using too many outbound links. It will impact your bounce rate greatly. Too many outbound links can also be annoying and less user-friendly.
If you’re wondering how many outbound links per page should have, anything less than 100 outbound links is a good tip to keep in mind. But that’s still too many for me.
When using outbound links, make sure to open them in a new tab to avoid poor bounce performance. Link out only if necessary or if you need to expound a subject matter.
10. Add Videos to Your Blog Posts
Adding videos to your blog posts does NOT directly improve your organic search rankings. I’ll start with that. But…
Video lengthens your visitor’s dwell time on your site and curbs a page’s bounce rate, an SEO factor. Hence, having videos on a page is sending Google the impression that your page could be something trustworthy and worth reading.
But not all videos make the cut. They have to be relevant to your website. And they have to be hosted on a trustworthy site.
11. Use Schema Markup
Schema markup — you’ve probably heard of it. It’s also called structured data.
Schema markup is a code that you use to label data on your website so search engines will serve results that are more informative and useful for users.
Structured data is best used for different types of content like:
- Book reviews
- Job postings
- Local businesses
- Q&A page
- Software applications
- TV episodes
It is becoming an important component of a modern SEO strategy. By tagging data intelligibly, we can help search engine bots to index and show our content in rich snippets on both mobile and desktop devices.
This is how schema markup looks on the front end:
There are a couple of Schema plugins on WordPress that you can use to label parts of your content easily.
You can also use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
In a nutshell, schema enables you to use the best blog structure for SEO purposes.
12. Publish More Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is the type of content that stays relevant and valuable for a really long time. Often it’s your cornerstone or pillar content, which will help search engines understand your website’s information architecture.
On top of that, evergreen content is something you can share with your followers over and over again (with few tweaks here and there), and they will still find it useful.
Evergreen content is so useful in a lot of ways. It will help you rank over the course of time, not just in the foreseeable future. And ranking means more stable traffic coming to your blog or website.
Depending on how practical and helpful your evergreen content is, this steady stream of traffic could well translate to revenues.
Some content that should last a long time are:
- Long-form articles
- How-to guides and tutorials
13. Upgrade Thin and Underperforming Content
If you have a lot of blog posts already, it’s probably time for you to slow down on cranking out new content and start focusing on content auditing.
The goal of content auditing is to find thin, duplicate, and underperforming content. They are all the enemies of Google Panda.
Upgrade Thin Content
Thin content has no SEO value more often than not. You can only save thin content from the axe if you beef it up by adding more information and new insights. Otherwise, you need to let it go.
“How long should a blog post be for SEO?” you might ask.
The ideal blog post length for SEO is at least 300 words. But you don’t want to do the bare minimum if you aim to stand out and be of more value to your audience.
Backlinko and BuzzStream’s study of 912 million blog posts reveals that long-form content generates more referring domains and social shares.
In another Backlinko study of 1 million Google search results, the average SEO blog length in the first page results is 1,890 words.
Redirect Duplicate Content
For duplicate content, what you can do is 301 redirect (with a rel=”canonical” link) that content to a related, more authoritative content.
Improve Underperforming Content
Underperforming content is content that has not driven enough traffic, engagements, or conversions. It’s not necessarily an SEO threat, but it can leave a question mark on your blog.
There are several ways to treat underperforming content:
- Improve “evergreen-ess”
- Add videos, images, or visuals
- Restructure it to make it more readable
- Add more internal links
- Inject more related keywords
- Repurpose and distribute accordingly
If you don’t think it’s worth lifting a finger, scrap the content by all means. But be sure to 301 redirect the page to the most relevant page.
14. Submit URL to Search Console for Speedy Indexation
After hitting the publish button, submit your post URL immediately to Google Search Console so you won’t have to wait for Google to crawl the blog post, which sometimes takes a LOT of time (days, even weeks or months).
15. Avoid Too Many Ads and Opt-Ins
One important ranking factor that many bloggers often overlook is site speed.
Be wary of the content-to-ad ratio on your pages. For optimum user experience, strike a balance between content and ads, but not a 50/50 balance, though.
The ideal content-to-ad ratio is 90/10. If you push your limits, probably 80/20 would be acceptable.
I get it — you are trying to monetize your blog or website. But don’t overdo it at the expense of user experience. Use only your 2-3 top-performing ads on a page.
The same goes for pop-ups and opt-ins. Too much of it can slow your website down.
That’s it for our blog SEO tips and tricks. We hope you got some golden nuggets of lessons to help you optimize your blog for SEO.
Remember, the best SEO tip for bloggers has actually been written all over the wall for so many years — and that’s to create bomb content. That should be your top priority above all else.
If you are not serving your audience well, your blog SEO efforts will most likely go down the drain.
And of course, promoting your content is just as important. With 4 million blog posts being published on the internet every single day. Distribution is key to making yours stand out.
Which blog SEO strategies brought in tremendous results for your website so far? I would love to hear them in the comments!
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