Search engine optimization can be one of the most challenging elements of digital marketing. SEO is the process of optimizing your website and content to drive organic traffic rather than paid.
The complexity and constantly changing best practices in the world of SEO are why a lot of businesses decide to outsource it to experts. For example, you might find a digital marketing company that specializes in one industry, like providing lawyer SEO.
Even when you do outsource your SEO, there may be times when you need to create content. Blogs are a cornerstone of SEO, but there are certain features they need to have to rank well.
The following are the elements of a well-optimized blog post to keep in mind when you’re developing content.
1. Keyword Research
Before you start writing a blog or article, you need to do keyword research. You don’t have to blindly guess what your potential readers will be interested in.
Keyword research will help you learn more about topics your readers could want to read more about, and you can see how competitive certain terms are.
When you’re researching keywords, you can also start to look at semantic keywords. These are searches related to your focus keyword. You can use Google Search to find these by just entering your focus keyword and looking at the bottom of the results to see what the search engine is suggesting here.
As you’re choosing long-tail keywords, try to stick with one or two.
If you try to include too many keywords in your blog posts, it’s going to hurt your SEO efforts because it comes off as keyword stuffing. It also diminishes the reader’s experience, which we talk more about below.
You can be strategic about how you use your keywords. You want them in your title tag, occasionally in your headers and body, and your URL. The URL is one of the first things a search engine crawls, so don’t forget about optimizing it.
You’ll also want to include your keywords in your meta description.
2. A Compelling Title
Your keyword research is going to drive everything else you do. Your blog post title is critical to your rankings in search engines. A good blog post title is what’s going to ensure that you’re relevant in search results, plus there’s a human element to your title. This title is what’s going to ultimately help someone decide whether or not they want to click on your article.
Use keywords in your title, and make it catchy and clickable.
Your organic click-through rate or CTR is part of your SEO.
Good titles might use data, lead with curiosity or ask a question. You want to try to evoke some type of emotion with your headline too.
3. Reader Experience
Too often, people will think that a well-optimized blog is only one that uses keywords throughout. In reality, the reader’s experience is what’s most important.
Reader experience includes content that’s clear and covers the topic at hand comprehensively. User experience also relies on backing up what you’re saying with data when relevant.
Content should be cohesively organized in a logical way, with headings and subheadings. These are what let users quickly scan your content and get to the information they’re looking for that’s most important to them.
As you’re creating content, be laser-focused on what your reader wants to know first and foremost and how you can solve a problem for them or help them achieve a goal.
4. Optimize for Mobile
Google is mobile-first in how it displays search results and ranks content, and it’s explicitly said this repeatedly in recent years. More people are searching from their mobile phones than from a computer, so it only makes sense. In fact, Google has favored mobile-friendly websites since 2015, when it ushered in its Penguin algorithm update.
You can use responsive design to ensure your posts are mobile-friendly. Sites that are mobile-responsible let you use a single URL instead of two, and you don’t have to worry about links being divided between separate pages.
5. Optimize Your Meta Description
A meta description is a text that shows up in search engine results, letting readers know what your content is about briefly, so they can decide if they’re going to click on it or not.
The maximum length of a meta description is around 300 characters, so you can give a fair amount of insight to your audience about what they’re going to read.
Use your focus keyword at least once in your meta description as early on as you can.
6. Use Image Alt Text
Your blogs should typically include images that support what you’re writing and further explain or highlight key concepts.
Search engines don’t just look for images in a post, though—instead, search engines are looking for images that have alt text.
Search engines can’t see images, so the alt text is what tells it what the image is about. Then, this image alt text is what helps your images rank on the image results page.
When you have image alt text, it can also improve your user experience because it displays within your image container if the image itself can’t be displayed or found.
7. Add Internal Links
Backlinks influence your rankings in a significant way. When you have a lot of links from other reputable sites, it conveys your site and content as being trustworthy.
As well as backlinks, your optimization strategy for each piece of content you produce should includ internal links, where you’re linking to other pages on your site.
The value of internal links is that it keeps people visiting other pages on your site, and it also helps an algorithm understand what your page is about.
These seven best practices aren’t everything that needs to be done for a well-optimized blog post, but they give you most of the essential basics. Once you publish content, make sure that you’re checking your metrics regularly to see how it’s performing and where you might improve on your next piece of content.