SEO 101: How To Optimize Your Blog Posts for Google
Part 2 of a 3 Part Series
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to your blog's growth and success. If you want to kick ass blogging, know that search engines can generate free traffic. It's the lifeblood of most blogs. With SEO, you can get quality traffic, build your email list, and grow your audience (hopefully enabling you to make tall dollars from your blog). In addition, if you rank in Google for your chosen keywords, you're building targeted traffic to your blog, which is of higher value. So that's why we're going to share some key techniques you can use to optimize your blog posts for Google and the other search engines.
Note, if you missed my last article about building authority, I would suggest you look back for the background on page authority, which is what this article addresses.
First, keyword research is critical to search engine optimization. You can choose from a number of tools to find opportunities. Here's a few examples:
Google Search Console (free)
Google Keyword Planner (free)
Moz Keyword Explorer (paid)
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer (paid)
I love Moz, personally, but it's a little pricey if you're just starting out.
Ideally, you want to find a way to "sneak in" to your search phrase. Three criteria affect the ability to rank and the value in doing so:
Search Volume: if there are no searches for a word, it offers little value. If there are thousands, it's of more value.
Relevance: your keyword's relevance is paired with the results of the tool. Sometimes the tool will use a variation (which may be worth researching separately).
Competition: if your keyword is broad, you'll find many more other sites writing about it. "Coffee" has much greater competition than "how to brew coffee when camping".
Overall, you'll find a level of difficulty when it comes to competition. The higher the keyword difficulty, the more challenging to rank. Once you're a popular blog, you'll be able to compete easier. In the beginning, it's just harder...
Focus On Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are phrases specific to what you’re writing about. Using our coffee example above, "how to brew delicious coffee when camping" is a long tail keyword. It's specific, and most importantly, it matches the user’s intent! Contrast that with "coffee", which could include coffee makers, coffee brands, how to brew coffee, and even coffee ice cream. Specificity works best. If you find a simple word with little competition, you're probably inventing your own search category!
The Universal Resource Locator (URL) is most commonly known as the website address. Having your keyword appears in the URL is a positive ranking factor. If you wrote a post about brewing coffee at your campsite, and you're trying to rank for our example long tail keyword, the URL should contain something like "brew-coffee-while-camping". Note, if you're using WordPress, your post's "permalink" is the URL used. In some tools, it's referred to as the "slug" (not the slimy garden critter).
Ensure your URLs are short, descriptive, and include your long tail keywords. Why short? Google cares. Why descriptive? Google cares. Why include your long tail keyword? It's critical.
As I wrote a while back, your post title will do better overall if it doesn't suck. Ensure your title is intriguing and includes your long tail keywords.
Meta Description is a little nerdier. Your blog's meta description is a hidden HTML element. It is best defined as an ad/preview of your post. If used properly, Google displays this information in search results -- the little paragraph you see below the link. If you're using meta description well, your result is more clickable, so you can greatly increase traffic. Far too often, it's left blank, and Google just grabs the top of your article, and that might not be compelling. Take a minute to pull out your best "ad copy" for your article, and include your long tail keyword.
Using your keyword in a major headline (H1, which may be the title) and subheaders (H2/H3) is also worthwhile. Yes, it's a ranking factor.
Include your keyword in the first paragraph of your post. Take a look at this post. Going in, the goal is to rank for "How to Optimize Your Blog Posts for Google". Not only is it the title, and it's expressed toward the end of the opening paragraph.
Utilize your keyword throughout your post. Yes, there is such a thing as too much (Google calls it spam), so keep an eye on your post's length. Having it appear 4 or 5 times in about 300 words works well.
When writing, keep in mind that readability is a ranking factor. Articles that are easier to read often rank higher than articles that are difficult to comprehend. Simple sentences rule. You're writing for about an eighth grader's reading skill. 🤨
It's generally good to include images in your post. If you do, try to include keywords in your image file name. In addition use them in the ALT TEXT (alternate text field tag in the HTML).
After you've written a few articles, you should remind readers of past posts that topically connect. Link to other posts in your blog, whenever possible, to drive further engagement and build your domain authority. This post is part of a trilogy, and it even links to other past posts where a topic has been addressed. "ICYMI".
Another way to demonstrate knowledge of your domain, it's smart to link to other, authoritative sites relative to the topic. Here, we've linked to some Google and SEO sites that are quite relevant. It's a signal to search engines that you're aware of the space.
Optimize Your Blog Posts for Google and Other Search Engines
Quite frankly, after years of blogging, these ideas are ingrained in my writer brain. When I create my outline, I "think keyword" throughout. I tell everyone about my brick theory - that each post is another brick of authority (sorry for repeating myself, everyone). The tactics of this post all help optimize your blog posts for Google (and Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Piece by piece, they all help increase the page authority. SEO is important. Design for it, then execute for it.
So now you should be familiar with the basics of building authority and page authority, which reflects your page or site's relevance in search. We'll talk about the ways to build domain authority in Part 3 of the series.
If you haven't done so already, please join us.
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