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Blogging helps boost search engine optimisation (SEO) quality by positioning your website as the go-to website to answer your customers’ questions. This means learning how to write SEO friendly blog posts is essential in getting you found in Google. In addition, blog posts that use a variety of SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and make your site more appealing to visitors.
SEO – the basics
When you search on Google, the Google search engine (or any other search engine) looks for a match for the words used across every post and page on every website.
These searched for words are known as ‘KEYWORDS’. A keyword can comprise of more than one word. A long-tail keyword is a longer phrase that is much more specific. For example, “catering in Shropshire” is a keyword, “cold buffet catering in Shropshire for child’s birthday party” is much more detailed and is, therefore, a long-tail keyword.
When a user searches, firstly, Google looks for the entered keyword in the user’s entered sequence, then it looks for the existence of the words in any order.
Depending on your content, Google will decide how relevant your website is to the user. This relevancy helps determine your page ranking, although other factors also come into play.
Keywords are one of the main components in SEO, and it is understanding what keywords people are likely to use to find you that is vital to making sure your website is fully SEO’d.
If you want to find out more about SEO, I have a series of SEO posts starting with this one – How to get to the top of google for free.
Ideally, you need to get into the mind of your ideal customer and think about your work in their language, not in the technical language that you understand. You can more or less guarantee they won’t understand all of the jargon.
So before creating any page or post, you need to understand what keywords you are targeting for that page or post.
You shouldn’t use the same keywords for every single post you write. A variety of keywords around the same topic shows Google that you have the expertise and are relevant. But using the same keywords on multiple pages and posts means that you are competing against yourself!
However, when writing a post, make sure you focus on only 1-2 keywords/long-tail keywords.
SEO plugins to help you write SEO friendly blog posts
If you have a WordPress website, installing a plugin that shows you how to write SEO-friendly blog posts and helps you optimise your pages and posts for your chosen keyword is helpful.
Although it is worth noting that these plugins don’t automatically boost your ranking in Google, they just guide you to do the right things with your content, links, and images.
SEO and search engine ranking require much more than just a plugin.
Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you set up keyword targeting to improve the SEO for your blog posts.
The free version is excellent, and it lets you focus on one keyword phrase. But if you want to take your SEO to the next level, get the PRO version.
The PRO version provides you optimisation for up to five keywords and also helps you find links within your site to link to.
Rank Math SEO is a new plugin that seems to be gaining a following. It’s quickly becoming the replacement for many Yoast SEO PRO plugin users.
It has several of the same features as the Yoast SEO PRO version in its free version, but of course, a premium version ramps up the features you have.
There are other plugins, but these seem to be the most popular. The free version of both of these plugins is ideal for when you are first starting out and just getting to grips with what you should be doing.
I like using Yoast’s SEO plugin to help tell me how SEO friendly my post is. If I built your website for you, I would’ve already installed this for you.
The advantage of using an SEO plugin is they do the hard work of assessing how well you are doing with your SEO. They even tell you how many times you’ve used the keyword phrase.
Generally, they use a traffic light system to show you how well you are doing (Fig 1) and will then give you an analysis to make whatever corrections are necessary.
How to write SEO friendly blog posts
For good SEO, follow these steps:
- Add your keyword to the post title
- The first paragraph should include your keyword.
- the text content should have a sprinkling of your keywords.
- your images should use an Alt text with your keyword in it.
- the slug (url), should have the keyword close to the start.
- the Meta Description should include your keyword.
- link to relevant posts internally and externally.
When writing your post, don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. A good sprinkling of your keywords throughout your content is vital whilst avoiding keyword overload. It still needs to be readable and make sense to the reader. It is easier to concentrate on one keyword when you are just starting.
Create a compelling title which includes your keyword
When creating your post, the first thing you need to think about is your title. This forms part of your URL and is an excellent place to get SEO points.
Keep the title relevant, brief and keyword-rich – within reason!
Google will crop your title at 65 characters, so ensure your keyword is before this. Also, don’t over-complicate your title by fitting in keywords that don’t naturally belong.
Remember, your title is what people are searching for, so make it obvious what your post is about from the start.
A good title with a keyword does several things:
- Entices a reader to click on the link and read further.
- Tells the reader exactly what the post is about and why they will benefit.
- Lets Google know what the topic of the post is about.
Add your keyword to your first paragraph
Practising good SEO means you need to let the reader and Google know immediately what the post’s subject is about. This means the first paragraph should include the keyword phrase.
If your title is compelling and it is evident what the topic of the post is about, then your first paragraph should build on this to summarise the post’s content before you get into the nitty-gritty of the post.
Add your keyword phrase throughout your text content
Text content comes in two forms, paragraphs and headers. Paragraphs will be used for most of your content, and headers will be used to structure your content.
It is essential to have a generous sprinkling of your chosen keyword phrases throughout both your paragraphs and headers. The number of times you should use your keyword will be dependent on the length of your content – the longer the content, the more times the keyword should be used. Again, your SEO plugin will help to tell you whether you have incorporated the keyword enough.
It is useful to have several variations of the keyword phrase, as one version may not fit naturally into your text, but another one might. Google is clever enough to figure out if you’re using similar keyword phrases related to a specific topic. This makes optimising your blog post for SEO much easier than you think!
Add your keyword to the Alt text of your images
Remember to add descriptions and Alt text to your images, including your keywords!
The Alt text of an image explains what the image is about, which should be relevant to your post. This alternative text pops up when your image fails to appear on a page for any technical reason, and it helps describe your image for anybody with visual disabilities.
It also helps Google understand what your blog is about, giving it an SEO boost. Google’s image search results also use it, so populate it if you would like your image to display in the image search results.
You have the opportunity to add the Alt text and description of your text when you add an image to your page or post from your media library.
Add the Alt Text, Title, Caption, and description in the right-hand panel when you select the image (Fig 2).
Reminder: A page’s load speed holds weight in page ranking in the Google search results. Make sure the images you include on your post or page are as small as possible. The image in Fig 2 is 21 KB. You should try to keep the size lower than about 100kb.
Sidenote: If you use Pinterest, the Description text is used to populate the Pinterest description if someone pins your image from the website.
Add your keyword to the slug (url)
The slug is a short, user-friendly URL link that you can customise to include the keyword phrase. By default, the slug uses the title of the page or post.
To change your slug, you must have your permalinks set up to include” %postname%” in your WordPress settings. It’s essential to make this change to your permalinks before you start creating posts, as otherwise, you will have a complex job of re-directing existing URL links.
If you are unsure what has been done on your website, ask your web designer.
You can add the keyword phrase in your slug in two ways:
- Click on Post in the right hand panel of your post and then scroll down to where it says Permalink (Fig 3). Simply edit the value in the URL slug field to make your changes.
- You can also change the slug in your SEO plugin (Fig 1 shows the Yoast plugin). Again, simply change the Slug field to the value you want. If you do nothing it will default to the page title.
Add your keyword to the Meta Description
A meta description is the text below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages. As shown in the Google preview section in Fig 1.
The meta description gives searchers greater detail of what they’ll get from reading the post, rather than the title alone, before clicking into it. This, in turn, will help improve your clickthrough rate from search, which may improve your Google ranking.
The meta description is ideally between 120-160 characters and starts with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.” Then, by using action words and the keyword phrase, you tell the reader the benefit of reading your post.
Once again, you can quickly enter your meta description using your SEO plugin. It will also let you know when you are over the Google recommended length.
If you do nothing, Google will display the first 150 or so characters from your post, which may or may not be enticing to the searcher.
Link to relevant posts, internally and externally
Learning how to write blog posts for SEO has many things you should consider, but the final step is ensuring you link other content to your post, both internal and external.
Internally, you are encouraging visitors to stay on your website and showing Google that you have read worthy content. In addition, linking to external authoritative sites improves your credibility.
This will help your posts improve in SEO ranking.
Linking to relevant content that you have also created throughout your blog can provide your readers with more helpful information. This will potentially boost search engine rankings with corresponding long-tail keywords.
When you create your link, think carefully about the text you use to create the link. This is called the anchor text. Search engines consider the anchor text when ranking your page for specific keywords. Therefore, it’s imperative to use the correct anchor text.
The anchor text helps Google identify what the link is about and the topic. So adding the link to a “click here” in each blog post or to a written out URL makes it less likely to be appropriately indexed by search engines.
Also, when Google crawls your site, it gets a better understanding of your site.
When adding an external link to your post, make sure you click the option to have the link open in a new window. This is to prevent the visitor from leaving your site. You want them to hang around on your website for as long as possible. Opening the link in a new window maintains contact with the visitor.
You may wonder why you should link to another site, but don’t think of it as having people leave your site. Instead, think of it as you providing your readers with invaluable information, curated on your post, that they can reference.
If you want to learn more about building links on your website Moz explains link building in greater detail.
How to write SEO friendly blog posts – Summary
Hopefully, by now, you realise that SEO isn’t difficult. It just takes time and effort. It’s a matter of understanding that you are writing for your readers as well as for search engines.
If you follow a consistent process for writing and reviewing all of your posts, you will soon be creating Google-friendly posts in no time, and it will quickly become natural to you.