Each new blog post is a new piece of content to share on your social media profiles and in your email newsletters, another piece of content that demonstrates your expertise in your field, another link back to your site, and another chance to rank on a new, unique keyword phrase that could lead new customers to your small business. In order to make the most of each blog post, you want to make sure you optimize it correctly for organic search. Let’s take a look at the 8 elements to a well-optimized blog post.
8 Elements to a Well-Optimized Blog Post
Good SEO means you have a well-researched keyword phrase, and well-written title tag and meta description that reflect the nature of the content on the page you are optimizing for search. But great SEO is all that plus high-quality, original content on each page or blog post that you are trying to SEO.
So, combining the best practices for on- and off-page SEO, here is a checklist of 8 elements you need to follow to get the most organic search goodness out of each blog post.
- Research your keyword phrase on Google Keyword research doesn’t require the use of a pricey software; using Google.com to seek out keyword phrase possibilities and determine which phrase is best for you to use, is all that you need (and with keyword data that is much more current than a 3rd party tool, too). You can see what the nature of the search results are with each keyword phrase you type into the Google search bar, what popular keyword phrases are auto-suggested to you as you type, and the count of results as you complete each keyword phrase search on Google. And remember: the most popular keyword phrase in your industry isn’t necessarily the best keyword phrase to represent any given page of your website content. The keyword phrase you select needs to correspond to the content on that page.
- Write a strong (and unique) title tag and meta description for the blog post Your title tag is instrumental in your organic ranking and what, along with your meta description, tells a searcher what your blog post’s content is about…and then hopefully drives that searcher to click on your link from Google search. Your title tag should be written as a long phrase (almost a sentence) – basically what your chosen keyword phrase is for the page – and is 60 or so characters long. Your meta description is written with full sentences and at least 150 characters long. Google has been experimenting with longer meta descriptions – even up to 300 characters – and now says that the length of your meta description is dynamic based on how much of it Google will decide to show. Your meta description should be a summary of what a person will find on that blog post.
- Include at least 1 image on each blog post Visually, it makes a blog post more appealing to the reader. Plus, you’ll need at least 1 image for social media sharing. Your image(s) also presents additional keyword opportunities for you as Google bots don’t understand an image by itself, but if you add an ALT tag to it, that image is immediately understood and given keyword value by those same bots.
- Use your targeted keyword phrase as the ALT tag for your first image on the blog post, in your first paragraph, in your largest heading (H1 or H2), and (variations of it) throughout your blog post copy These additional on-page SEO best practices are really what can put you over the top. After you have written your blog post and completed your title tag and meta description work, make sure to work through your blog post one more time to insert SEO elements like: your focus keyword phrase in your first paragraph, at least one Heading near the top of your blog post that includes your focus keyword phrase, your focus keyword phrase as the ALT tag for the first/only image in the blog post, and then natural conversational variations of your focus keyword phrase throughout the blog post itself.
- Write your blog post for humans, not bots Doing so will make your readers and Google, happy! Google pays attention to things like time on site after clicking through from Google search results. So if you get someone to your blog post from Google search, but they don’t like what they are reading and quickly return to Google.com to continue their search, Google sees that. Google also understands natural variations of speech (it’s what Google calls ‘semantic search’), so Google knows things like a car is a vehicle and kids are children and second hand is used. This is better for you, too, because it means you can comfortably write your blog posts with those conversational variations like you would normally use if you are having a conversation with a customer or potential customer in real life.
- Add links to other blog posts or service pages in your blog post Linking to related content that can deepen a reader’s understanding of the topic helps keep people on your site longer and is helpful from an SEO standpoint.
- Have an introduction, conclusion, and at least 3 healthy body paragraphs Of course, your blog post can be a lot longer than this, too. What you really want to make sure is that you don’t have minimal or “light” content that you are trying to optimize for organic search. Your blog post content should be substantial enough that a reader feels like you adequately covered the topic/answered their question/solved their problem. So, one blog post might fully cover a topic or answer a question in 400 words and another might take 1,000 words.
- Don’t forget your social meta settings Many CMSes (i.e. website platforms) now have built-in fields that allow you to set the title and description that shows for your link when it’s shared on social. Some even allow you to upload a differently-sized image than what you are using for your blog post, for sharing on social channels (think: tall, skinny image for sharing on Pinterest). Even though we are focused on optimizing your blog posts for search, you still want to maximize their social sharing capabilities for post-publishing.
Writing blog posts with SEO in mind takes a bit more work than simply writing the blog post itself, but it gives each blog post a much, much longer “shelf life” and pays off for you and your small business in terms of site traffic and sales, for months and years to come.