If you run a blog, we have good news and bad news for you.
Good news: Google loves blogs, and especially WordPress blogs, since a large chunk of the Internet runs on WordPress.
Bad news: you have to actually work on blog post SEO to get organic traffic.
But then again, you have to do the work anywhere to get results.
Since 2012 we’ve turned hundreds of blogs into traffic generating machines.
This list of best practices for blog post SEO is a way to give back to community, so feel free to share it.
Let’s dive right in and give you an actionable and 2020-ready checklist on SEO for blog posts.
1. Mind your keywords.
Each blog post should be centered around 1-3 main keywords.
You can discover keywords on competition’s sites, Google trends, keyword tools, or content plans ordered from us.
Make sure your main keyword is included into your blog post title.
Once that is done use the keyword as it is a couple of times at the top of your post.
After that just proceed to writing your blog post naturally, covering the topic. Don’t worry about exact keyword densities nowadays, – focus on covering the topic in full instead.
Please do avoid blogging strictly for SEO though, and especially buying SEO content.
Blog for your audience, BUT make sure your posts are rich with meaningful keywords.
Big difference there.
LSI keywords are a thing.
Latent semantic indexing means Google “knows” that certain key phrases go along other ones. E.g. a blog post on mountain bikes has to mention brakes and wheels.
There are advanced tools scraping LSI keywords from seed phrases, but we recommend not going crazy about them.
Instead, double your research time. If you do enough research you don’t have to worry about skipping additional terms that help cover your topic.
Keyword research for SEO (focusing on using tools, namely Ahrefs)
Silo your site & blog.
Your site needs to be siloed into separate topics. Topically related pages need to be interlinked, with the “money” page being the goal of the funnel.
The “money” page is the page on your site where conversion occurs: a sign-up form, a product page, or a service subscription page.
Say, you are selling bikes and blenders on your site, and you blog about both. All the blog posts about bikes need to be interlinked with each other (but not with the blender posts). Ultimately, the bike posts need to link to the product page selling bikes. That’s a separate silo for your content. The blender-related content will make up for another silo. Do not mix both topics, keep the content pure – and topical relevance will be there for maximum blog post SEO effect.
Make sure your blog is fast.
Website performance optimization is one of the most in-demand web development services lately.
Why? Because everyone loves fast sites.
People don’t wait if the site loads longer than 3 seconds.
Google does not send organic traffic to sites that perform poorly on speed tests.
Get your site to a point when it loads almost instantly. Remove unnecessary plugins that slow it down, optimize images, use caching, and so on. Here’s a great resource on blog speed optimization.
Optimize images & media
Surely as you blog you use images to illustrate your point, or to evoke emotions that help readers convert into customers.
The images have to be lightweight, and you need to use alt tags in them. Here’s how adding an alt tag to an image looks in the classic WordPress editor:
The image alt tag has to contain your main blog post keyword – yes, even in 2020.
Whenever you can, add more media to your blog posts.
Embed YouTube videos, tweets, infographics, animated gifs, and anything else you want.
Google loves web pages that are rich in media.
Moreover, the more time people spend on your page (they do when they watch media) – the more organic traffic Google sends your way.
Remember, Google wants to like what the audience likes.
Google wants to be where the audience is.
That’s all there is to SEO, really, – be where the audience is, and be likeable. Or at least emulate that behavior – fake it till you make it.
While playing with media, however, always make sure that it doesn’t slow down your site. Optimize images and don’t hotlink to sites that take forever to load.
TinyPNG for image compression
Imgur for gifs to spice up your blog posts
Eliminate broken links
Links to non-existent destinations are a bad signal for Google.
Worse than that, it’s a bad signal for the visitors of your site.
Webmasters often change URLs of their blog posts and pages, which leads to broken links.
Make sure you scan your site with Xenu or Screamingfrog from time to time.
6. Build links. All kinds.
A part of the mainstream SEO community is scoffing at “link building” as if it’s something shameful.
Truth is, the Internet is made up of links and they will never become irrelevant.
Moreover, it’s mostly the good sites that attract all the best links.
Link building is more than just “manipulation”.
You need to make your site look great and fill it with great content in order to attract powerful links.
If that’s unnatural, then nothing is.
Use internal links
Each link from a page to a page is a “vote” that indicates that the target page is in some way useful.
The more links a page has, and the higher the quality of those links, the better.
Links from other sites are the strongest ones, but that does not mean you can neglect internal links.
Link from one page of your site to another and you give them a boost as well.
What’s important, you interlink only topically relevant pages on your site.
Be on social media, and be active.
Since we’re talking about blog post SEO, you need to focus on indexable, open social media pages.
Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram are all crawled by Google perfectly well.
Maintain an active presence on these social media sites, try to build a following and share every post to them.
Mentions on social media sites help your content get indexed fast and work well with all the links you build.
Sites that get links out of the blue but don’t have any mentions on social media are suspicious.
Moreover, social media mentions bring traffic and leads, which is your ultimate goal after all.
Now that we’re done with the basics of SEO for blogging, let’s take it to the next level and show you how you can dominate your niche with purely DIY SEO. If you decide to outsource your SEO still, further info will help you better understand and vet contractors.
Let’s move on to the more large-scale, strategic SEO things you can do in-house to supercharge your blog.
Know your new keywords
Not just the keywords you’ve selected while doing your research. Google is showing your blog for hundreds of other keywords that could become your future blog post topics.
You need to check Google Search Console to harvest lucrative keywords on time.
We explain how to do it in this post.
Track your old keywords
Every time you publish a blog post, add keywords from it to a SERP tracking tool.
SE Ranking is a great service that tracks keywords for you daily in any country you are targeting.
Watch your competition
Your SEO competitors are very often not your direct business competition.
Basically, any web page that is ranked for the same keywords you are targeting is your competitor.
This can be a forum thread, a quora answer, a scientific article, or an actual competing service.
Google your main keywords manually and save the results into a list.
SE Ranking has a module that tracks competition, use that as you progress.
Know your best content
Use Google Analytics -> Behavior -> Site Content reports to identify your most visited, most read, and most converting content.
Match the content with
- the keywords it ranks for
- new keywords it picks up according to Google Search Console
- external links it has
- internal links from other site pages
…and identify your opportunities. Every successful article can be expanded further or get more links for higher ranking.
An SEO strategy should be answering several main questions:
- Who are your expected visitors from organic search?
- What are their motivation and challenges?
- What do you expect them to do?
Once you answer those, you will have a clear understanding of what to blog about, what keywords to focus on, and where to ask for links.
Tactics mean exact activity types you decide to focus on to implement your full strategy.
Depending on your needs, you may focus your blogging SEO tactics on:
- creation of more fast content to cover long-tail keywords (e.g. a blog post per location you operate in)
- creation of long-form authoritative content that covers certain topics in full
- exact emulation of competitors’ activities
- promotion via guest posts
- promotion via outreach and links from existing content
- creation of satellite sites and communities off-site
- creation of content syndication network (e.g. each post published gets posted in 7 more places)
SEO tactics are plentiful and you can really get creative here.
However, you need to be crystal-clear on what exactly your goals are and who your customer is.
That brings about clarity on why exactly you blog and what you want to achieve.
If you need help answering any of those questions – sign up for consulting with us.