Marketing

Blog SEO: 39 Expert Tips for Optimizing Your Blog Posts for SEO

Want to increase the search visibility of your blog posts? Over 100 SEO experts shared their best tips for optimizing every blog post for search engines.

Masooma Memon Masooma Memon on July 28, 2020 (last modified on August 5, 2020) • 51 minute read

Does writing blog posts for your business feel like an additional task on your plate – one that you dread?

It wouldn’t be, once you learn the SEO benefits that blogging brings home. In particular, creating value-packed blog posts answering your readers’ questions can improve your chances of ranking.

However, navigating the path to ranking your blog posts in the search engine can be tricky. But, again, it doesn’t have to be. Which is why we asked 99 experts to share their tips.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write SEO blog posts, how to optimize your pieces, and much more. Here’s a peek before we dive in:

Post CTA Databox will help you access all your SEO KPIs in one place. 2

Are blogs good for SEO?

The short answer: absolutely!

To go deeper, blogging helps improve SEO in multiple ways that boost your ranking or positioning in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Some of the top ways include:

  • Blogging answers questions that your target audience has, therefore, helping to position you as an authority and showcase your expertise
  • As you answer your audience’s questions and they read your blog posts, their dwell time on your site (time spent on the site) increases
  • If your blog posts boast high quality content that offers value, bounce rate also goes down
  • Blogging gives you a good opportunity to use long tail keywords and get backlinks, both of which improve your ranking in the SERPs

However, be warned “if you are writing purely for Google and not your readers, don’t bother blogging,” Bernadette Kelly of ACTIVEWIN MEDIA insists.

Wondering why?

Because “creative, informative, well-written content will always attract more views, which will improve rankings and the likelihood of backlinks. There’s nothing worse than reading a blog that was obviously written for search engines.”

Read on to find out how to write blog content that appeals to your readers and, subsequently, ranks well.

How often should you blog for SEO?

Publish over 11 posts a month – that’s how often you should blog for SEO. Studies suggests that 11+ seems to be the magic number that moves the traffic needle in favor of both B2B and B2C blogs.

However, reaching the right answer here isn’t as straightforward as this since your blogging frequency depends on multiple factors including:

  • Your goals: are you planning to drive traffic or are you aiming to increase brand awareness?
  • Your company size: creating blog content takes time and effort. Of course, a small team can’t afford to do what a large one can

Not sure where to start? Here’s help based on recent research:

  • If your goal is to drive organic traffic, you need to blog 3-4 times a week in case you’re a small business and 4-5 times weekly including both fresh and updated content if you’ve a large blog.
  • If your goal is brand awareness, work on 1-2 fresh blog posts weekly in case you have a small blog. For a large blog, create 3-4 new posts and refresh others every week.

Whatever your blogging frequency is, keep in mind that you want to follow a consistent posting schedule, so your audience knows when to hear from you.

One of the respondents we surveyed, Kevin Miller of The Word Counter, for instance, shares

“we try to publish often, at least every 2-3 days, so that Google is consistently indexing new, fresh content.”

How do you write a blog for SEO? 28 Tips from professional bloggers

It’s really not that tough. Aim to “write for the reader not the algorithm,” as Meg Coffey of Coffey & Tea shares and you’ll be good.

But an important question that springs to mind when talking about SEO blog writing is: should you add keywords from the start or later on?

Our experts are divided into two camps on this. One side insists you dive in without worrying about keywords. The other, however, suggests you keep keywords front and center as you write and add them along the way.

Try both the ways and see what suits you best. Either way, “write for your reader and SEO will come naturally,” SyncShow’s Jasz Joseph shares. “Google is getting smarter every day and marketers no longer need to keyword stuff [in] their blog posts in order to get found. In fact, it is just the opposite – Google is penalizing blogs that keyword stuff with lower rankings.”

With that out of the way, here are 28 SEO writing tips to stick with as you pen down your blog posts:

  1. “Don’t just start writing; start by researching” – Sharon Hayward, Digital Platypus
  2. “Focus on one topic and one topic only. Hitting on one large topic as well as a bunch of smaller subtopics makes it hard to rank for anything.” – Jacklyn Heinlein, Denamico
  3. “Start with an outline of your topic. Add bullets and sub-bullets. These will become your H2s, H3s, and H4s, etc. Work your important phrases and keyword variants into these headings when possible (don’t over-do it). Explain and exemplify each heading with 2-3 paragraphs, lists, tables, or other content types. Load up on lots of images.” – TJ Kelly, RaySecur, Inc
  4. “Stay away from lengthy anecdotal intros… Use an intro that is universal and gets to the point. Tell the reader exactly what they’re going to get from the article. Sell them on why they should spend their time on your page.” – Jakub Rudnik, Shortlister
  5. “Do not try to force the issue with clunky and convoluted keyword-heavy sentences. Use synonyms to guard against keyword monotony and to keep the post as engaging as possible.” – Alistair Dodds, EIC Marketing
  6. “Do not target too many keywords. Keeping only two or three keywords in focus per article would be best.” – Zach Passarella, SMP Nutra
  7. “Don’t be robotic. Be human. Write like you are explaining the core concept of the article to someone who’s sitting across the table from you.” – Kris Hughes, Domain Authority Pros
  8. “Don’t fall into the trap that ‘longer content is always better for SEO’. It’s a popular myth, but in reality, this is not always true. Try to avoid fluff and write straight to the point.” – Ognian Mikov, VIP Spades
  9. “The most important thing is to stay on topic, and to deliver a relevant story that truly engages and ignites your reader’s curiosity. Use anecdotes, personal experiences and research that isn’t common in the top 10 SERPS. The highest form of content optimization is originality – it’s also the least common.” – Carla Dewing, Copyhog.com
  10. “Think about rhetoric. You may also use your keyword in exactly the same way within your industry or region, but that doesn’t mean that your personas use it the same way. The perfect example of this is soda, pop, and coke. They are technically all the same thing, but each is used differently depending on where you are in the country.” – Julia Tiedt, SmartBug Media
  11. “Write to be understood. Your goal isn’t to win a Pulitzer Prize. The role of every single line of content is to get the user to read the next line of content.” – Michael Norris, Youtech
  12. “Write for one person. Know what’s on their mind, and speak to the challenge they’re facing. Keep your blog post focused on answering one key question for them. Use the words they’d use in your copy, because they’ll be the ones people will be typing into ‘search’ to find the answer you’re providing.” – Sharon Tanton, Sharon Tanton
  13. “Write the way you speak. There’s no need for long run-on sentences or verbose language. That type of writing doesn’t translate well to the internet.” – Tom Barrett, Encirca
  14. “Always run your post through some type of spell checker—not everyone is great with grammar, and that’s okay! Nobody wants to read a blog with incoherent sentences or misspelling of common words—it may make the user believe they cannot trust your website or brand.”– Carey Shook, Eastside Exterminators
  15. “Back up absolute statements with relevant statistics, examples, or case studies. Better yet, gather original quotes from folks with social media presence. When you quote and credit them, they’re likely to share the blog post with their network. This further adds visibility and increases the odds of people linking to it. Kinda like what Databox is doing.” – Priscilla Tan, Content Kapow
  16. “Write your posts in ‘reverse pyramid’ style with the key information at the top, and less important info towards the bottom. This is a style of writing taught in journalism and goes a long way towards increasing visitor engagement on a page.” – Brendan Tully, The Search Engine Shop
  17. “Cut the salesy language. If you had provided a very useful post, users are more likely to trust and sign-up for the services that you will recommend.” – Joseph Tsaker, DeAnalyst
  18. “[Don’t] use ten-dollar words where two-dollar words will work. Avoid using jargon, fancy vocabulary, or showing a professorial attitude unless the audience calls for it.” – Rameez Ghayas Usmani, PureVPN
  19. “Focus on writing compelling headings and subheadings and sourcing great images” because “a lot of people do not automatically read an entire post. Instead, they read the first couple sentences, skim the headings and look at the images.” – Mary Clare Bland, Bespoke Digital Solutions.
  20. “Use short paragraphs, headers and subheaders, bold text, bullet points, and images to make it easy for visitors to read or scan your content. Visitors who arrive at a page that is a long wall of text are likely to bounce, and that sends a signal to Google that your page wasn’t helpful to them.” – Marc Andre, Vital Dollar
  21. “Write in short paragraphs. Make each paragraph 2-3 sentences long so it is easy to read on mobile screens.” Sarah Taher, Delta Growth
  22. “Always write with proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Don’t keyword stuff, don’t use grammatically incoherent phrases like ‘near me’ in your copy… This will also give your audience a better user experience.” – Katie Stone, Leadhub
  23. “Always try to avoid valueless adjective and undefine words like ‘some’, ‘a few’, ‘a little’.” –  Biddrup Mallick, Biddrup
  24. “If a sentence doesn’t sound native to you, don’t do it. Articles (the, an, a) save lives (of blog articles).” – Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf
  25. “Don’t be too overly promotional when trying to use a blog post to market a product. Use your blog posts to answer questions a visitor might have, or to solve a problem they’re facing. A lot of the time, the product you’re marketing will be a solution to the reader’s problem!” – David Lynch, UpPhone
  26. “Inject your humor. Be a little weird. Tell stories that make people laugh. No SEO ‘trick’ can match the power of a gripping story.” – Riah Solomon, IronCore Labs
  27. “It’s critical that SEO writing is clear and succinct. Readers don’t have much time or patients for poorly written or hard to understand articles. Clear and succinct content does a better job engaging readers, which improves SEO performance.” – Bruce Hogan, SoftwarePundit
  28. “[Eliminate] complicated sentences and industry buzzwords. Read your post out loud, then read it to someone out loud. You will be surprised by how many improvements you can make to your writing when you write for an audience that is listening.” – Sy Naqvi, Make The Logo Smaller

39 Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO

There are several steps you can take to optimize your blog posts for SEO ranging from keyword research to optimizing images in a blog post.

Start with “keyword research to ensure there is interest in your topic and to ensure you can potentially beat the competition and rank for your term,” Mostly Blogging’s Janice Wald explains.

“Then, optimize your post by putting the keyword at the beginning of your headline, in a subhead, in the first 100 words, in the alt tag, in an image tag, in the meta description, and in the conclusion. In addition, sprinkle the keyword throughout the post. Use Yoast or RankMath to make sure you don’t overoptimize or underoptimize.”

Let’s break this plan into several steps:

  1. Start with keyword research
  2. Grab keywords from Google
  3. Tally all your researched keywords against user intent
  4. Check your keywords competitiveness
  5. Use the right keyword research and optimization tools
  6. Consider search intent
  7. Use Q&A platforms to learn more about your audience
  8. Decide to cover what your target audience is searching for
  9. Conduct a content audit
  10. Find out what’s already ranking as part of your research
  11. Weave in keywords in your content
  12. Ask questions in your H2
  13. Use variations of your main keyword
  14. Use long-tail keywords
  15. Use topical keywords
  16. Add in semantically-related keywords
  17. Optimize the images you add to your blog posts
  18. Compress images to improve page load speed
  19. Include a table of contents in your blog post
  20. Work out your blog post’s focus first
  21. Write an outline for your blog post
  22. Write a compelling title for your blog post
  23. Find the right balance between creativity and keyword addition
  24. Write authoritative content
  25. Write in-depth blog posts that answer all of your reader’s questions
  26. Get to the point immediately
  27. Write conversationally and use your audience’s language
  28. Be super specific with the audience you’re targeting
  29. Organize content to get into Google’s answer box
  30. Get links to your blog post
  31. Interlink your content
  32. Link to other authoritative sites
  33. Include video content in your blog posts
  34. Don’t worry too much about the word count
  35. Make sure your site is mobile optimized
  36. Use Google’s Natural Language API demo
  37. Don’t over optimize
  38. Always favor quality over quantity
  39. Make a checklist of all that you need to do

Let’s dig in:

1. Start with keyword research

Global App Testing’s Amelia Whyman advises, “effective keyword research is the key to create blog posts that are best placed to rank highly on google.”

Begin with keyword research and go on to “decide which keyword you are targeting, and whether it is a ‘low hanging fruit’ target, or higher volume. Create your content accordingly, researching similar blogs that have ranked highly for that term.”

Peter Thaleikis of Bring your own ideas Ltd. echoes the same idea. Your keyword research should aim to answer the following questions:

  • “Which keywords are more often searched for?
  • What questions are frequently asked?
  • How difficult are these keywords?”

Thaleikis continues, “often a glimpse over the SERP can give you an idea: Are Q&A sites such as Quora or StackOverflow in the top ranks? If so, these are usually easier to replace than established blogs with strong internal backlinking.

If you got access to a tool such as Ahrefs you can check the keyword difficulty there. However, you should know that the numbers are more estimated than actual facts.”

As you research, keep in mind that “some search phrases are more commonly used than others,” UpPhone’s David Lynch shares. And, “generally speaking, you want your blog post to target the most popular keyword for the topic you’re writing about.”

Once you use these “properly targeted keywords will help increase your chances of ranking higher in Google’s SERP,” Steve Bourie of American Casino Guide Book confirms.

2. Grab keywords from Google

While you research the right keywords, it’s crucial to take to Google to hunt down keywords to target.

Quincy Smith of Test Prep Nerds points out two areas to keep an eye on:

“(1) the autocomplete suggestions of a query and

(2) the also searched suggestions at the bottom of the SERPs”

“If you include and answer a few of [the questions in these sections] you will have a lot of success earning long tail traffic. Pro tip – format them as questions (when possible) and you might even land a featured snippet for the query!”

There’s also a third section to look out for. It’s “Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ sections,” as Indigoextra Ltd’s Martin Woods points out.

“When writing a blog for SEO, enter the keyword, or your blog’s title in Google’s results and see if there’s a ‘People Also Ask’ section. If so, then aim to answer the questions asked here in your blog post.

Start with a short answer, then elaborate, providing more detail, concrete examples and as much useful information as you can.”

Woods’ explains how answering questions from this section helps:

  • “Give you the chance to appear in the ‘People Also Ask’ sections yourself.
  • Ensure that you are addressing the questions or concerns that people have when looking for a particular keyword.  In turn, this will mean people spend longer on your site.
  • Help create a clear structure for your article before you start writing.”

3. Tally all your researched keywords for user intent

Tony Mastri of MARION Integrated Marketing Agency recommends, “while creating SEO-optimized blog posts, qualify all of your keyword research for intent.”

Wondering why? Because “you could spend hours researching, writing, and publishing a blog post about a transactional topic, only to find out that your blog post will never rank on the first 10 pages of search engine results.

For example, writing a blog post about ‘shoes’ is a bad idea because search engines have established that people searching for ‘shoes’ are trying to shop for and purchase shoes, not read an informational blog post about shoes.”

Therefore, “before pursuing a topic, do an actual search to see if blog posts like the one you plan to create show up in the results. If all of the results are Navigational or Transactional in nature, your topic doesn’t belong in a blog format. If the results are Informational, you are safe to pursue the topic.”

4. Check your keywords competitiveness

Always keep in mind, keyword research is never complete without checking each keyword’s competitiveness.

Khabeer Rockley of The 5% Institute advises, “always check your keyword numbers first. When we started, we’d write articles based on what we thought people were searching for. A few years later, we now check how many searches per month happen for that keyword, as well as the competitiveness of the keywords. This allows us to write articles based on what people are looking for.”

LambdaTest Inc’s Junaid Ahmed goes on to suggest you figure out “the potential keywords with low keyword difficulty and good search volumes.”

5. Use the right keyword research and optimization tools

It’s also essential you pay attention to the tools you’re using for comprehensive keyword research. Some keyword research tools that our experts recommend include:

  • Google search console

Sharon Hayward of Digital Platypus recommends this free tool to “identify any search phrases or questions for which your site is already appearing, but maybe not very well, perhaps on page 6 or so.”

Hayward further explains, “Start there because Google has already recognised your site as an appropriate response to this question. Then ensure the blog title matches the search question, and the first sentence explains how the blog will answer the question.”

Editor’s note: Quickly identify which search queries are worth focusing for your SEO efforts with this Google Organic Search Performance dashboard.

Screen Shot 2020 07 15 at 5.43.05 PM

  • Clearscope.io

Omniscient Digital’s David Khim suggests using “a tool like Clearscope.io to have a data-backed approached to optimizing your content.” The tool also helps prevent keyword stuffing.

  • Yoast premium plugin

Alistair Dodds of EIC Marketing says the plugin helps “ensure your blog posts are fully SEO optimized for your target keyword.” Additionally, “it helps with readability scoring” which “helps to ensure that your writing style is engaging and readable for the vast majority of users. This is essential if you want to not only rank but improve the dwell time and deeper site visits your SEO work should be aiming for.”

  • Surfer SEO tool

Chili Fruit Web Consulting’s Milosz Krasinski applauds Surfer SEO tool’s “Content Editor feature”

“This allows you to use suggested keywords based on the top 10 results in a Google for given result. Make sure you click NLP function so it will give you even more long phrases, semantic keywords, LSI and God knows what else. Overall, it will tell you the basics like number of required headings you need and so on. It did work not only for myself but to all my SEO professional circles so it’s something to definitely look into it.”

6. Consider search intent

“This is what’s going to drive on-site optimization moving forward” Carlo Barajas of Alert Logic opines.

It isn’t just about picking a keyword and optimizing an article for it anymore. Instead, we need to consider if content we’re presenting actually meets the needs of the searcher, and additionally, that it’s in the format most useful. In other words, content needs to *deserve* to rank.”

What’s more, “your article needs to address a common pain point across your target audience in order to attract site visitors. Searchers are looking for immediate answers to their questions and you need to position yourself as a resource for your target audience. Try to anticipate the needs of your ideal site visitor and write to those needs with your search engine optimized blog content,” as FiG Advertising + Marketing’s Niles Koenigsberg elaborates.

A few ways to go on and understand search intent include:

  • Using “Google predictive search or Answer the Public to find out what people are wondering about or what questions they have.” John Frigo (Best Price Nutrition)
  • Reading “user comments on the blogs which are already ranking in the top ten SERPs. By having this information in your blog posts you can precisely target unanswered questions and create an absolute advantage over your competitors.” Farasat Khan (IsItWP)
  • “Studying the SERPS. With your target topic or keyword(s) in mind, actually do a search and comb through the top 10-15 results. Take note of how the title tags are written, word length, sections of information within your competitors’ content, type of content present, url, and meta descriptions. Use this information as a baseline of what your target audience wants for that keyword or topic. You know the content ranking well will satisfy their intent because Google put it there. From there, take note of what all of these articles DON’T have that you can assume the user would like to know.” Ken Marshall (Doorbell Digital Marketing)

As you go about reading blog comments, analyzing the SERPs, and checking out Answer the Public keep one thing in mind: the customer journey.

This one’s a hat tip to Tom Shapiro of Stratabeat. According to Shapiro, “it’s critical to look at the entire customer journey when optimizing your blog posts.”

Ask yourself:

  • “What triggered their search?
  • Where do they go outside of Google for information online?
  • What questions are running through their mind when they land on your site?

The more you can understand the ‘why’ underlying their visit, the easier it will be to deliver an experience that aligns with their precise search intent.”

In short, “understand user intent behind keyword sets [and] aim to answer their questions thoroughly in your article,” in Hedgehog Search Marketing’s Shawn Powrie’s words.

7. Use Q&A platforms to learn more about your audience

VIP Spades’s Ognian Mikov shares another tip: “find out what information people are looking for in Q&A websites and include it in your content.”

Ashish Gupta from CodeLathe’s agrees, “before writing, research on the target audience, what they are already reading on blogs like Medium, Quora, Reddit and try to replicate the language. Always write for the end user while thinking about how this blog will answer their questions and solve one of the use cases.”

Mikov goes into the details: “when looking for inspiration for keywords and ideas you can head to Q&A type of websites such as Quora and Reddit. These sites are known for their huge audience covering every subject you could imagine. No matter the industry you are in, you will be able to get a few cool topics to write about.”

Here’s an example: “if you are in the card game niche, simply type ‘card games’ in Quora’s search field.

In a matter of seconds, you will get some juicy ideas.

DB screenshot www.quora .com 2020.07.01 15 15 09

They will be sorted by the number of answers. As a general rule of thumb, the more answers, the more popular is the topic.

In our example, questions such as ‘what are the most popular card games’ will appear. That’s a killer topic to write about.”

Mikov adds, “another cool thing is that if you go briefly over the answers people left, there is a handy little info-number of views. So, in our case, we can quickly see that they in the range of 5-6-7k which is pretty solid.

People are definitely interested in learning the answer of this question, so it makes sense to prepare a blog post on the topic. After all, we want to create content about something that people are searching for.”

8. Decide to cover what your target audience is searching for

With all the work that you’re putting in, you might already have a bunch of topics you could cover. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. It’s really about covering “topics and concepts users are actively interested in,” according to Dylan Zsigray of Kiwi Creative.

Zsigray remarks, “when creating optimized blog posts for SEO, your content should reflect what users are searching for on Google.

“Most marketers understand the fundamental SEO best practices when writing blogs. You could write an amazing blog post that follows every single SEO best practice. However, if no one is searching for that topic before landing on your website, then this piece of content is not valuable.”

The solution, you ask? Zsigray has the answer: “before writing a blog, take some time to look over the queries your website shows up for on SERPs. Concentrate on those with an average page ranking… Look at terms relating to your business that users are searching for. Do you have impactful pieces of content for these? If not, steer your blog strategy in this direction.”

9. Conduct a content audit

This is another important task to add to your checklist as you plan which topics to cover.

Nicole Sengers of Spitfire Inbound reminds, “keep in mind that helpful, useful content that offers value to users is always the best approach for blog posts. Great content that adds value to your buyer personas is critical.”

This begs the question though: how do you always make sure you’re offering value to your readers?

While you’ll get the answer to this throughout this in-depth guide, here’s an important answer to begin with: “you should perform a content audit at least once a year.”

The aim is to “ensure that you update outdated content, update old blog posts and have a clear understanding on what content you have on your blog. Like many other marketing strategies blog posts should not be published and forgotten but instead, they should be optimized and updated and having a formal content auditing process can assist with this.”

10. Find out what’s already ranking as part of your research

Besides looking for the right keywords to target, studying what’s already ranking is also essential.

“This is the content that Google has deemed most relevant to the searcher, and it’s the content you have to ‘beat’ to get the traffic,” as Shortlister’s Jakub Rudnik puts it.

Here’s what you’ve got to do according to Alex Deckard of Aeroflow Healthcare: “after you have determined your primary keyword for the post, search that keyword in Google. See what type of content is ranking. Is it an ebook, long-form article, infographic, video? Additionally, record the what people also ask and people also search.”

On top of that, ask yourself question that Rudnik asks from looking at the “top five articles for the target term:

  • What does each do well?
  • What sections are essential?
  • What doesn’t make sense for the search term?
  • What headers do they use?
  • How could your blog post become the best of the group?”

As you do so, keep in mind two things. Firstly, as Brooks Manley of Brooks Manley suggests you take “a different approach, going more in-depth, or getting creative” than what’s already ranking.

Start with “research[ing] the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for the keyword or keyphrase you want to rank for before writing. See what posts currently ranking are doing, and ensure you make your post better.”

Secondly, you could mimic the model that these ranking posts follow as Henry Chen of Ergo Ventures Ltd. shares. “Always research the current ranking posts on Google and mimic their model, i.e., if the ranking posts for your target keyword are list posts, then you need to create list posts. If they are guides, then you need to create better guide posts. So on and so on.”

11. Weave in keywords in your content

With the research part out of the way, let’s tell where you need to start adding keywords in your blog post.

Isaac Lauritsen from Optimistic Spokane Marketing Agency says, “to create SEO optimized blog posts, pay close attention to the placement of your keywords. Are they in each header and subheader? Do they come up in the first or second sentence of each section? If your answer is ‘no,’ you need to change that.”

Integrate Digital Marketing’s Brian Barwig digs into why adding keywords to your content is significant: “This provides signals to Google and users letting the Search Engine understand what the page is about. Don’t overuse the keywords, though make sure they are used enough and in the correct places to tell Google what the content is.”

A good estimate of how many times to use keywords in your blog post comes from Junaid Ahmed from LambdaTest Inc’s “maintain the density of the primary keyword to at least 1% of the entire content.”

In addition to adding your keywords in the opening and closing lines as well as throughout the content, add them to the following:

In your H1 heading

“Make sure your H1 heading is SEO optimized. The H1 heading is one of the biggest ranking factor for any website. If is used well, it will also help improve your site CTR as its the first and most visual content for the page,” Brendan Golingan of Studio Culture opines.

In your subheadings

“Use a keyword in a subheading, and take it a step further,” Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined shares.

“What I mean is, it’s common practice to use long tail, related keywords in subheadings. And that does help with on-page SEO. But what I’m suggesting is you treat that section of the post as a mini article, and include that subheading keyword at the beginning of the section (right underneath the subheading) and at the end.”

In the meta description

Kenzi Wood of Kenzi Writes outlines, “meta descriptions are not only a lifeline for website accessibility, but they’re essential for search engine crawlers, too.” So, it’s essential to work your keyword in there too.

Hamza Karim of Best SEO adds to this, “it’s good to use a long-tail keyword in a short description as it will give a better idea of your blog. Plus, your description should be short and crisp.

Keep in mind that your meta description impacts your click-through rates (CTR) so the more you try to engage your audience through it, the better response you’ll receive.”

One good way to write an engaging meta description involves, “creating 3 meta descriptions for your blog and then choose the best one among them.”

12. Ask questions in your H2

This is another great tip to optimize your blog content for SEO.

Leadhub’s Katie Stone shares from experience: “something I have found a lot of success with is asking questions in the H2 tags. When conducting keyword research, I always try to find relevant questions that people are asking.

I’ll then use these questions in title tags and I will immediately answer the question in the paragraph that follows. Asking questions in the H2 tags has led to an increase in featured snippets for our client’s blogs.”

13. Use variations of your main keyword

In addition to using the primary keyword, Kris Hughes from Domain Authority Pros suggests using its variations.

Hughes highlights, “it’s essential to add variations of your primary keyword(s) to all headings (H2, H3, H4 etc.), however do not awkwardly force these into the headings. Think of how people talk. How would they search for the heading of the section? That’s how you should weave these in.”

14. Use long-tail keywords

Smallpdf’s Hung Nguyen commends long-tail keywords as alternatives to using the same set of keywords.

Nguyen recommends, “instead of keyword stuffing your articles to death—which doesn’t work in the long run (natural-sounding content helps to return users), add long-tailed keywords to your image alt tag.”

15. Use topical keywords

Gleb Myrko of RGray opines, “you should target TOPICAL keywords. It means keywords that are parents for the whole topic – a list of keywords that are assigned/clustered to the topical keywords by Google Robot.”

Myrko goes on, “a topic can contain from one to hundreds of supportive keywords. The main reason to target topical keywords is that if your blog post is ranked by a topical keyword at TOP 10, most probably it will be also ranked high by the majority of keywords related to the parent topic.”

You can always use a tool to unearth cluster keywords and find the topical ones too. For instance, Myrko uses Ahrefs for this.

Editor’s note: Are you an Ahrefs’ user? If so, track all the important KPIs including domain rating, backlinks, referring pages, interlinks, and more on one screen with this Ahrefs template.

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16. Add in semantically-related keywords

Lastly, weave in semantically-related keywords in your content.

Ariel Lim of Ariel Lim Consulting shares, “instead of using the same keyword or phrase over and over, use different variations of it as well as other keywords that provide more context about the main topic you’re writing about. For example, if you’re trying to rank for ‘SEO optimized blog posts,’ some words you can use are ‘SEO-friendly articles’, or ‘creating an article for SEO.’”

MintResume’s Joseph Wilson shares the same thoughts. “I recommend not only doing standard keyword research that involves finding head and long tail keywords but also to find semantically related keywords, aka TF*IDF.

There are tools out there that can help find keywords that commonly occur throughout top ranking posts based around a specific keyword. These TF*IDF words can help to guide a writer on new subtopic ideas or even just to sprinkle semantically related words throughout a blog post.”

17. Optimize the images you add to your blog posts

“Your images are just as much a part of your content as your text and tags, so make sure you have included them in your optimization,” reminds Nicole Wolfe of TopSpot Internet Marketing

Optimizing “an image takes only a few seconds, and makes it significantly easier for Google to understand your content,” explains Jordan Eller of Forma Life Science Marketing.

Smallpdf’s Hung Nguyen elaborates, “on top of the on-page optimization, another benefit of adding alt tags to images is so that they show up on Google Images, and beside Featured Snippets. The latter helps to leech off some traffic from a competitor that ranks for Featured Snippets that you do not.”

In short, “if you use the keyword as an alt attribute in an image, there’s a good chance you’ll rank in Google Images,” Nikola Roza summarizes.

So how do you optimize images for SEO?

Listonic’s Filip Jędraszczyk answers: “Use your keywords both in the name of the image you upload to the blog post and in the alt text to help search algorithm understand the content of your post.”

Nguyen further adds, “You can also describe the images further by adding keywords to your images’ captions (which usually displays below each image). I typically add ‘Question’ keywords to these captions, which flows nicely, e.g., ‘How to do XYZ with ‘Brand Name’ below a GIF tutorial of our product.”

18. Compress images to improve page load speed

In addition to using keywords to describe images, you need to “make sure that [they are] the proper size so that you do not run into any load speed issues,” 9Sail’s Bryan Pattman warns.

Green Thoughts Consulting’s Jeff Green advises you “use image compression and in doing so choose the right size for each image you’re serving.” Aim for condensing “the images to 100kb or lower,” as Chris Gadek from AdQuick recommends.

Whatever the case maybe, remember that “there’s a delicate balance between quality and speed. Since Google is more and more interested in user experience and how fast pages load. It would be wise to focus on things that lower page speed.”

19. Include a table of contents in your blog post

Socially Found’s Rob Sanders speaks in favor of a table of content for SEO optimization. Sanders shares, “when creating a blog post, start making it a habit to include a table of contents.”

“Back in the day, when blog articles could be knocked at around 200-500 words, you would have the article read before even thinking about adding a table of contents.

Today, with articles reaching the word count in the 1000’s, it can provide the reader with a clear understanding of what you’re about to offer and how it is laid out. Like any good book, you can use the table of contents to highlight the key headings of the article, allowing the reader to jump to that part if they are looking for something in particular to their search.”

Carlos Castro of Wolfate also adds, “this will allow your site to have quick links added to its snippet.” So, “make sure you have an organized content structure with headings and subheadings… after your blog post’s introduction.”

20. Work out your blog post’s focus first

Now that you know extensively about keyword research and where to strategically weave in keywords in your blog post, let’s talk about the writing part itself.

To begin with, “know what you want to rank for before you start writing,” as Denamico’s Jacklyn Heinlein puts it.

Put another way, make sure you’re clear about your blog post’s focus before you dive in the draft. Coral Luck from Wyatt International suggests you “think about the purpose of the piece you’re writing.”

“If you want search engines and users to engage with your content, you need to think about the purpose and structure of the blog you’re writing.

Before you even start writing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the main focus point of the blog?
  • What key action do you want the user to do after reading your blog?
  • What is the story or message you want to convey?

It’s easy to write blogs for the sake of publishing content, but low-quality, thin, irrelevant content can harm your SEO efforts. However, high quality, well-thought-out, authentic content provides excellent user-experience, generates high CTR and can help generate backlinks.”

21. Write an outline for your blog post

As Luck mentioned, it’s essential you work out your post’s structure, which brings us to the crucial step of outlining your blog post.

This step comes “prior to writing anything” Shana Haynie of Hearst Bay Area insists. And its goal should be to describe “the problem first, and then put forward the solution your product or service is providing” in Ashish Gupta’s words.

Besides this general idea of when your product or service comes, Olivian Stoica of 123FormBuilder sticks with another structure for blog post.

This structure asks you to “divide your content into 3 parts.

  • Firstly, answer or define the topic/question the reader is interested in.
  • Next, follow up with some examples and facts.
  • Lastly, write your conclusions, add your own input (the ‘wow’, your angle of the story), something that comes as a plus and is fresher than your competitors’ content.”

Now that you know the general pattern, let’s see what your blog post should have: “the outline (or topic model as I call it) should contain your keyword-optimized title (or H1), and all of the keyword-optimized headers (H2, H3, H4…) that address the highest search volume queries that relate to the main keyword you are targeting,” according to Haynie.

“This will help you rank for many of the associated keywords as well as guide the content of your article to focus on the most in-demand subtopics, which gives you strong starting point for ranking in search.”

Augurian’s Jasmine Hippe also reminds you to “embed secondary keywords directly into your subheadings. This will boost the SEO value of your page for not only your target keyword, which should be included in the blog title and throughout the body paragraphs, but also for secondary keywords that you would like to rank for.

22. Write a compelling title for your blog post

One last thing before you work on your draft: work out a title for your blog post. If you’d like, you can always revisit this part later after you’re done with the piece.

Whatever you decide, remember that “the title of your blog post is extremely important for Google search rankings. Writing compelling titles and meta descriptions grab the attention of the searcher and entice them to click,” as Supriya Agnihotri of SurveySensum puts it.

To this end, IMPACT’s Brian Casey advises, “before you decide on a title you need do some intent research.”

“Historically marketers do keyword research beforehand to determine a good topic and title. But if that keyword and title are going to drive unqualified traffic, you’re wasting your time. To get traffic that’s interested in your content and can turn into prospects, your search result has to be found with the right keywords and align with the type of results the searcher wants to see.”

Once done, follow these tips from Agnihotri to pen down the perfect traffic-driving title for your blog post:

  • “Your title and description should not cut off on the Google page
  • It should contain your primary keyword
  • It should not be overstuffed and should look more natural”

23. Find the right balance between creativity and keyword addition

As you put pen to paper or fingers to your keyboard, remember what Endear’s Leigh Sevin comments, “strike a balance between creative excellence and strategic keyword-driven distribution.”

How so? A simple tip can help “never optimize while writing.”

So, “instead, take the seedling of an idea first (that can be a straight up keyword, e.g. ‘future of retail,’ or that can be a creative idea or customer pain point, like ‘what will the next few years of ecommerce look like.’). Then write, using your experience, research, etc.

Your goal is to craft the best possible piece. Only after you’re finished do you edit for SEO (which can be done using tools like Ahrefs or Clearscope, or just your own intuition).”

24. Write authoritative content

George Sheaffer of Sheaffer Construction thinks, “While understanding the power of valuable keywords is often talked about, the most important thing is to be authoritative and answer search intent.”

But why? “If someone lands on your page, you want them to trust that you know what you are writing about. That means writing strong content, supporting your content with research and providing useful, interesting or relevant information.”

25. Write in-depth blog posts that answer all of your reader’s questions

Undoubtedly, authority comes from answering the questions your reader has in depth. Which is why it’s important you “write a post that really educates them [your readers] and answers their questions or gives them the information/benefit they are looking for,” Delta Growth’s Sarah Taher prompts.

However, depth doesn’t parallel writing high word count “in [an] effort to use quantity as a proxy for quality,” as TJ Kelly from RaySecur, Inc puts it.

“Several of Google’s 2020 algorithm updates made clear that length does not equal strength. Instead, deliver the most best possible answer and experience that solves your audience’s search.”

Here are some expert suggestions on how you can add depth to your content:

  • “Be thorough and use different media in your post like original images and videos.” – Sarah Taher (Delta Growth)
  • “Interview people who are experts or have had a relevant experiment… You can also organize your interview questions to touch upon commonly searched terms and questions relating to your main keyword.” – Mr. SR (Semi-Retire Plan)
  • “Consider who you are writing for. What aspect of the content will bring value to the reader? Some of our most successful pieces of search-optimized content have succeeded because we work-shopped the content among many subject matter experts and compiled our insights into one succinct piece of advice.” – Colton De Vos (Resolute Technology Solutions)
  • “The way to rank quickly and efficiently for any size niche is to look at themes, and how your competitors explore them in their content. If you don’t want to create a 5,000-word blog post – work up to it with shorter form content on the same theme. Usually 8-10 individual posts can build a strong piece of themed content. When you’re done, create a master/pillar post and link to your short-form content.” – Carla Dewing (Copyhog.com)

In a nutshell, “put yourself inside the mind of your ideal reader, and answer every question. Above all, give them so much value that they want to share it with other people. A blog post that isn’t worth sharing, isn’t worth writing,” in Dewing’s words.

26. Get to the point immediately

One of the biggest hurdles that come with writing in-depth content is the risk of dilly-dallying around the topic.

Bearing this mind, Eastside Exterminators’ Carey Shook suggests, “always answer the question right away and in a complete sentence.”

Michael Norris of Youtech agrees, “understand the intent of your target keyword. For example, if someone searches for a recipe, they don’t need five paragraphs about your family’s heritage to kick it off. While it’s okay to elaborate to provide context, make sure you’re answering the searcher’s need first and foremost.”

As for the technical SEO details, keep in mind that this answer immediately comes after your keyword-packed H2.

Shook explains this with an example, “if my H2 is ‘How to Identify Hornets’ the body text would say, ‘You can identify a hornet by their similar size and shape to honey bees and their distinguishable smooth, black coloring.’

By answering the question immediately and in a complete sentence, this increases the chances of your blog getting a featured snippet or showing up in the People Also Ask feature.”

27. Write conversationally and use your audience’s language

Or, as Sy Naqvi from Make The Logo Smaller calls is, “write as if you are speaking.”

To do so, “record your articles and share them as podcasts. Google now uses audio in its SEO arsenal. Not only will your blog posts come across more authentic, the repurposed audio version of the blog will work just as hard to gain inbound traffic as the audio is scraped by search engines.”

At the same time, “write the way your prospects and customers would speak,” Jasz Joseph of SyncShow advocates. This means you say goodbye to “industry jargon and internal terminology.”

Seb Atkinson of Know Your Money is on the same page here. “Structure your article subheadings in the wording that your customers use when searching for those particular answers. This helps to make your content a closer match to what your reader is after, which could improve your search visibility for traffic driving terms.

You can use tools like alsoasked.com and answerthepublic.com to identify what phrases your customers use to find the answers you could offer them.”

28. Be super specific with the audience you’re targeting

Staying hyper-focused on your specific audience can help your content provide the most value to the reader, Roberto Torres of Turrem clarifies.

“The challenge lies in identifying who exactly your audience is. Your post can try and reach a broad audience like ‘basketball players’. But there are all types of basketball players, men, women, high-school, college, professional, amateur, and the list goes on.

Instead, try and reach ‘college players who play point-guard’. Or even more specific, ‘Big 10 female college point-guards.’

That way, you can expand upon the specific needs, challenges and experiences of that audience, which will keep them engaged and excited about your content.”

29. Organize content to get into Google’s answer box

It’s also essential you learn “how to organize your content so Google can easily use it as a featured snippet (also known as the ‘answer box’ at the top of search results),” Dan Gower from Buddy Gardner Advertising points out.

To get there, write “clear, concise descriptions” and “lists.” “Readers and search engines both find it easier to identify the type of key information that would become a featured snippet when the article is organized with clear headings, bulleted lists, etc.”

30. Get links to your blog post

Inbound links or links coming from other sites to yours are “one of the biggest indicators of a quality site to algorithms is inbound links,” Riah Solomon of IronCore Labs opines.

So it’s smart you “start working now on getting good inbound links” Doing so, will help you “slowly see a lift in organic traffic across your site.”

31. Interlink your content

In other words, link related blog posts to each piece that you write. Red Stag Fulfillment’s Jake Rheude observes, “one thing that’s easy to overlook when you’re creating a new blog post is internal backlinking.”

“It’s not very exciting, but it’s one of those important steps to optimizing for SEO, and a lot of marketers can be a bit lazy.”

However, internal linking can help you “create content clusters to rank highly for more competitive key phrases,” Mary Clare Bland of Bespoke Digital Solutions notes.

But you can always create content clusters by “creating content that serves as a reference on a particular topic. It should be well researched and written. Then, write blog posts related to this topic and link them to this post.

Google’s crawlers think a page is important if it has a lot of links to it. The more links, the better. This is true even of internal links. When you link from content in your site to other content in your site, you are sending a message to Google’s crawlers that your content is relevant.”

Osiris Parikh from Lilius also thinks internal links “allow search engines to greater understand the content of your site, and will greatly help boost your website’s rank.”

The take home message? Start adding internal links to all your blog posts. “If there is a subject you’ve written that is similar or will add additional insight, link to it,” according to Parikh.

And, if you’re thinking it’s challenging to recall all the post you’ve written, follow Rheude suggestion: “my recommendation to marketers is that as you draft up a blog post, you should take a few minutes to think about each section you write and do a quick search through your blog to see if there’s an old post you can link to. It won’t take much time, and it’ll make your content more useful for readers (and the algorithms!)”

It’s all the more better if you’re planning to add internal linking to your blog post SEO checklist. To this end,

No Majesty’s Daniel Cody outlines: “make sure that each post is built with other posts in mind. Blog posts on their own can rank well for specific, long-tail keywords, however when these are linked to other posts about a wider subject, these can start generating visibility for broader, higher competition keywords with larger search volume.

32. Link to other authoritative sites

Not only do you need to pay attention to internal links, but you’ve to factor in external links too. It’s something that “publishers tend to underrate is linking to authoritative sources,” DeAnalyst’s Joseph Tsaker observes.

But you’ve to remember: “content users appreciate it when you point them to appropriate information sources.

Hence, it helps to link to authoritative sites covering relevant topic. Joy Corkery of Latana recommends, “linking to a well-ranking piece with decent traffic.” This “will automatically give [your blog post] a boost” besides offering further value to readers.

33. Include video content in your blog posts

In case you’re wondering if that works, here’s Henry O’Loughlin of Buildremote’s experience for you: “I’ve used video as a way to increase rankings for blog posts you already have ranking.

For example, if a blog post (all text) ranked in spot six in Google for a targeted keyword, we’d add video and republish the post to move it higher in Google results. Video has been worth about two spots on Google’s page one across a number of times we’ve tested it.”

Lesson learned is simple: add video content, but make sure it’s “above the fold,” adds MiCapital’s Michael Kirkegaard Clausen.

Clausen explains, “I analyzed 200 blog posts from the same blog. Half of them with video content and the other half without. Besides the embedded YouTube videos the content was written in the same style. With video, the bounce rate was significantly lower, and dwell time was increasing.”

34. Don’t worry too much about the word count

You don’t want a blog post that doesn’t sufficiently answer questions that readers may have. At the same time, you don’t want a wordy document that delves into unnecessary detail.

So, what is the idea length of a SEO-optimized blog post? “At least 1200 words that cover answers to many questions or topics people may be searching regarding your overall topic.”

Brandon Loures of Brandlift Digital Marketing recommends.

“A 4 paragraph blog on a topic will most likely not do your site any good with driving traffic, simply because others have probably already written about this topic and you have to out-do the competition. It also has to be unique content.”

Besides, you need to “address topics comprehensively” SoftwarePundit’s Bruce Hogan reminds. Of course, you can’t cover any topic in just four paragraphs, can you?

So, “if you want your blog post to rank at the top of Google’s search results, it needs to be the most authoritative article that matches the user’s search intent. In general, this means a longer article that covers the core topic and adjacent topics is better.”

What’s more, Google tends to rank “content that is thorough and reflects the expertise of a given website or company. As such, when writing a blog for SEO, ensure that your content is thorough, covers all of the important information and possible questions from users, and reflects your entity’s industry expertise,” according to Dylan Zsigray of Kiwi Creative.

Let’s walk you through some ways to find an estimate length for your blog post:

  • “Evaluate the length of the content of your competitors. This will give you cues on how long your content needs to be to effectively rank.” – Neil Eneix (Fannit)
  • Use “tools such as the SEMRush Writing Assistant [that] can help you identify the average length of top ranking content for your target keywords, so you can have an ideal word count goal in mind when crafting your blog.” – Lee Savery (Ricemedia)

Editor’s note: Already a SEMrush user? Use this free dashboard to keep an eye on your highest ranking keywords, find out links with errors and much more.

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  • Lastly, “do your research. You need keyword research, content research, topic research, and competitor research. You must write about the topics your audience is looking for, using keywords and phrases they use, and backing it all up with valid research from established organizations that give you credibility.” – Lea Chatham (Solutionreach)

35. Make sure your site is mobile optimized

Alina B. of EduReviewer makes another useful point of mobile optimizing your site. We already know that the number of people who read news on their phones is on the rise with 85% of US adults now using a mobile device for getting their scoop of news.

Who’s to say they don’t read blog posts on their phones? Therefore, “make sure that your website handy for mobiles using Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool.

Since Google is all about providing the best experience to its users, it “keeps ‘punishing’ websites that are not optimized for mobile users.” Thus, optimizing your blog content for mobile is “the first thing to look at from the very beginning.”

36. Use Google’s Natural Language API demo

Another interesting SEO tip for blog posts comes from Sagapixel’s Frank Olivo who confesses, “I’m almost reluctant to share this tip since SEOs have a tendency to ruin good things, but Google’s Natural Language API demo is incredibly useful for creating ‘SEO-optimized’ content.”

Olivo explains, “at Sagapixel, we’ve trained our writers to run their blog posts through the NLP API demo just to see how Google interprets it.

To start, the categories should align well with the category of the blog post. If too many categories show up or if the confidence score is too low for the most appropriate category, that’s a sign that the post probably needs some revision.

Also, the salience of the entities relevant to what we’re writing about should high.

If we’re writing a blog post about content marketing tips for SaaS companies, related terms should show as the most salient entities; if writing a locally-relevant blog post, the city or relevant geographic area should be in the top 10 most salient entities.”

There’s only one thing you need to be aware of here though: “don’t treat the Google NLP API tool as a glorified TF/IDF tool. Use it to get an idea of how Google is interpreting the topic you’re writing about and edit it in response.”

37. Don’t over optimize

As we near the end, it’s important to include this tip: never over optimize. Meg Coffey of Coffey & Tea comments, “understand what you’re writing for and make sure that you don’t over optimize.

Write for the reader not the algorithm. Yes, we want to get all the Yoast lights green but sometimes we can overdo it. Keep the reader in mind. Why are you writing this article and who are you writing it for?”

38. Always favor quality over quantity

It’s easy to get lost in the charm of ‘more content.’ Like Tom Dehnel of Dehnel Consulting notes, “many content creators get so focused on the SEO basics they forget content quality. It’s easy to overlook because content quality is such a subjective thing.

But if readers of your work don’t get that nice, quality feeling, they’re much more likely to hit the back button and spend time with someone else’s content instead. And that’s bad because user engagement is only going to become more important for SEO.”

Summarizing, Vital Dollar’s Marc Andre says, “focus on creating the best content possible. Ultimately, Google wants to show searchers the content that will be exactly what they are looking for.

Creating good, helpful, interesting content that will satisfy human visitors is also good for SEO. Google is constantly changing and tweaking its algorithm with the goal of providing better search results. Don’t try to game Google, just try to provide content that will satisfy those who are searching for it.”

More importantly, “don’t try to outsmart the algorithms of search engines,” ACTIVEWIN MEDIA’s Bernadette Kelly adds.

Instead, “stick to the fundamentals of keyword placement, informative meta-descriptions, file name, correct headings, and internal/external links to build authority.”

39. Make a checklist of all that you need to do

Lastly, make the entire process easy for you by creating a checklist. NameBounce’s Axel DeAngelis reminds, “the checklist should contain detail on internal linking, external linking, keyword density, the page URL, and a primary target keyword.”

So what are you waiting for? It’s about time you use the pointers we discussed above as your checklist for SEO optimizing your blog posts.

Post CTA Databox will help you access all your SEO KPIs in one place. 2 1

About the author
Masooma Memon
Masooma Memon Masooma is a freelance writer for SaaS and a lover to-do lists. When she's not writing, she usually has her head buried in a business book or fantasy novel.
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