Before we dive into 10 highly-effective tips for creating awesome and SEO-friendly blog posts, let us hit the rewind button and journey back to the early days of the web. We are talking about when My Space, AOL, and dial-up modems (*screeeeeeeeeech*)ruled supreme.
Back then, blogs(which few people these days know derives from the term “web logs”) were largely seen as toys rather than tools. Yes, they were fine for debating the finer points of Star Trek or Star Wars. But surely, they were not a legitimateand necessary communication channel for businesses. My, how things have changed!
These days, blogs — and of course, we are referring to the awesome, SEO-friendly variety — are not just important for businesses of all sizes, andacross all sectors. They are absolutely essential. Consider these eye-openingstatistics:
· 77% of internet users readblogs. (Source: Social Media Today)
· Blogging leads to 55%more website visitors. (Source: HubSpot)
· Producing blogs and othercontent costs 62% less than traditional marketing formats, but generates3x the leads. (Source: DemandMetric)
Below, we provide 10 highly-effectivetips for creating awesome, SEO-friendly blog posts:
Tip #1: Before you write, think on topic.
Flash quiz: on average, howlong does it take to write a single 1000-1300 word blog post? Believe it ornot, but research has found that it takesabout four hours!
The reason why theend-to-end process is so time consuming, is because long before the actualwriting process starts, bloggers (who may have various job titles such ascontent writer, freelance writer, and so on) need to invest quality time tounderstand what they need to write, before they actually writeit.
In other words, the firsttip — and the most fundamental step — in writing great blogs is analyzing thetopic, conducting necessary research (both in terms of source references andwhat competitors are up to), and mapping out what needs to be covered; and justimportantly, what must be left out and perhaps moved to a future blog post.
Tip #2: Write an Attractive Heading
It does not matter howinformative, engaging, and topical a blog post is: if the headline is boring —or worse, confusing — then it will repel rather than attract readers. Indeed, research has found that traffic fora blog can vary as much as 500% based on the headline alone!
And so, what makes a headattractive? According to leading digital marketer Neil Patel, here are some proven bestpractices:
· When possible, use specificdata or numbers (e.g., “88% of Businesses…” is better than “Most Businesses…”)
· Give people a strong, clearreason why they should click to the blog. A great way to do this is by offeringtips (which is what we have done with this blog post!).
· Make headlines unique and engaging,and don’t be afraid to dial up the energy and emotion.
· Ensure that headlines areeasy to understand. Remember that many people scan vs. actually read headlines,and if something doesn’t make sense the first time, they are unlikely to tryagain.
It is also important toclosely monitor analytics to identify what headline types and formulas generatethe most engagement, and adjust based on this data. For example, if youdiscover that using the word “Secret” in your headlines generates a lot ofinterest and conversions, then use this word more frequently (though not withevery single blog post — you don’t want to overdo it!).
Tip #3: Research Keyword
Naturally, in order tocreate SEO-friendly blog posts you need to conduct keyword research to discoverwhat your prospective customers are searching for. You also want to take a lookat what keywords your competitors are using to attract traffic.
Also, remember to payparticular attention to what are called “long-tail” keywords. These are searchterms that are relatively less popular — which contrary to what you mightexpect, is actually a good thing. Why? Because it means competition for thoseterms is relatively lighter, and as such your SEO-friendly blog post has abetter chance of landing on the first page of the search results — or betteryet, in the top three places.
Tip #4: Optimize Content for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets appear onthe first position of the Google search results page. Their function is toanswer a searcher’s question in the search results page through numbered lists,tables, reviews, events, and many possible elements. According to Searchengineland.com, the nine rules ofoptimizing for feature snippets are:
- Add a “What Is” heading
- Use an “is” sentence structure
- Fully define the topic
- Match the featured snippet format
- Don’t use your brand name
- Don’t use first person language
- Scale featured snippets
- Prioritize when you rank in the top five
- Iterate your optimizations
Tip 5: Write for People, not for Search Engines
At first glance — and maybesecond and third glance as well! — this tip may seem redundant. After all, arenot all blog posts written for people instead of search engines? Believe it ornot, but the answer is no!
Often, the goal to make ablog post SEO-friendly becomes far more important than making it interesting,relevant, and easy-to-read. When this happens, a blog post might show up (atleast for a little while) in search results, but anyone clicking through willquickly head for the exit.
The message here is not tochoose one objective over another. Blog posts can be awesome and SEO-friendly —not one instead of the other!
Tip #6: Optimize the Structure of the Blog Post
Few things irritate — andultimately repel — visitors to a blog than coming across a giant wall of text.The best-performing blogs use sub-headings, short paragraphs, and bullet pointsto break down larger ideas or concepts into smaller, more digestible chunks.
This blog post is a perfectexample. We are conveying a great deal of information, but so far we hope thatyou will agree that the journey has been swift, easy, and enjoyable. In fact,you have already read more than 1,000 words!
Tip#7: Use Keywords in Content and Meta
Itis extremely important not to over-optimize keywords in a blog post (anunfortunate tactic called “keyword stuffing”). Not only does this irritatereaders, but Google is not a big fan either.
Infact, if Google detects that keywords are being used to manipulate searchengine results vs. appear organically and naturally, then a blog post is likelyto end up on page 10 or 100 — which for all intents and purposes, means that itmight as well not exist!
Asfor using keywords in meta descriptions: while this does not technically make ablog more SEO-friendly, it can help generate attention. This is because ifsearchers see their search term (a.k.a. keyword) appearing in the littlesection of text that appears below the headline of a search result, they aremore likely to believe that the result is worth clicking.
Tip#8: Use Attractive Images or Infographics with Proper Alt Text
Research hasfound that blog posts with an image once every 75-100 words received 200% thesocial media shares vs. blog posts with fewer images.
Anddo not forget to add proper Alt Text! This is very important for SEO, and a keysearch engine ranking factor.
Tip#9: Interlink to Top Existing Content
Interlinking(a.k.a. contextual linking) is a highly-effective method for establishingbacklinks from high-quality, authoritative websites. However, it is extremelyimportant to ensure that links are relevant vs. randomly inserted. As advisedby Searchenginejournal.com:
One of the key attributes that experts say canseparate a high value link from a low value link is the context in which itappears…When a link is placed within relevant content, it’s thought tohave a greater impact on rankings than a link randomly inserted withinunrelated text.
Tip#10: Use an SEO Plugin
Lastbut certainly not least, an SEO plugin can significantly help by analyzing ablog post (ideally while it is still in the un-published draft stage), andidentifying aspects that could be improved. For example, a primary keyword maybe under or over-used, alt tags for images may be missing, and so on.
The Bottom Line
Creating awesome andSEO-friendly blog posts is not (as the saying goes) rocket science. But it is notautomatic, either. Following these 10 tips — or outsourcing your blog writingand/or management to an experienced, proven, and cost-effective digital marketing agency — will help ensurethat your blog is a profitable asset now and for years to come!