In the present era of content marketing peak, it is not enough to be simply an excellent writer and an expert in the field. Whether you want it or not, you must enquire essential search engine optimization knowledge to succeed. Your blog might become a really powerful weapon if it is developed with correct search optimization strategy.
Blogs are considered to be the 5th most trusted source of information given online, thus blogging is the best way to increase brand recognition, build authority and get more quality leads. Sufficient SEO knowledge will sky rocket your performance you aim at. People search for information, and it is critically important to be there in the right time with the right knowledge to share.
If you are still not sure if blogging is right for you, consider the following:
- 70% of customers learn about a company through blog articles
- If you are a writer, blogging costs you nothing but time
- Blogging benefits only increase with time if you write regularly
Below, I’ll share many actionable tips to facilitate your becoming an SEO-savvy blogger. Let’s proceed to the first order.
Is Your Website SEO-friendly?
First things first, you need to make sure your entire website is healthy and ready to conquer search results. For a detailed and thorough website audit, you will require an expert SEO, but I will let you know the content related issue you can fix yourself.
Is there duplicate content?
I have come across situations when website owners, admins or content managers copied content (either partially or fully) from other sources. Duplicate content might be extremely harmful in terms of SEO, especially for small-sized recent websites.
Are there internal duplicates?
Internal duplicate content is the one that can also be found elsewhere on your website. These may be true or near duplicates. Dr. Peter J. Meyers wrote an excellently illustrated article about what content is considered to be thin and how to fight it.
Check your external links
There is nothing bad about linking to others, but you need to make sure you are linking out to quality sources that give extra value to your readers. You can check your outgoing links with Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool which is free.
If you website was managed by someone without SEO knowledge, I still recommend asking someone to perform an audit before you start blogging.
Know Your Audience
You must know whom you will write for, so you should spend some time on creating a persona. This process might take from 30 minutes to many hours.
Spend as much time as it is needed for you to realize:
- Who you reader is
- What kind of information they look for
- How you can help them
- How you can use your knowledge to reach your goals
- What other types of content can be used
In order to have a clear picture, you can write down the answers. Once you have them, you will be ready to develop your blogging strategy. Don’t worry if you feel that it needs changes; it’s routine practice. Below, I will teach you how to measure your content performance. Equipped with the knowledge, you will be able to find out what works for you and what is to be improved.
Create an SEO-friendly Content Structure
In the beginning was the Word! Keyword research is where you should start planning. You can do with Google AdWords Keyword Planner, which is easy to master. It can give you key phrase search volume estimates within the geographical location you choose. You will be amazed by plenty of topic ideas to spring out.
Have goals that you can achieve
When you run your first keyword search via Google AdWord Keyword Planner, you will get enormous search volumes for one- or two-word key terms you intend to rank for. Unfortunately, ranking for those phrases is difficult to achieve and your focus should be on key phrases that consist of three and more words.
Evergreen content is the one continually relevant to your readers. This type of content has almost no expiration date, for instance:
- How-to articles
- Various lists
- Tips and tricks
Consider some sample titles: “How to Do an SEO-friendly Blogging”, “Interesting Facts about the Beatles Band”, “10 Books You Should Read Before 30”, etc.
While evergreen content is good for brining consistent traffic and building your brand reputation, seasonal content is more likely to go viral. Here are some examples:
- Industry news
- Articles on Trends and Statistics
- Specific holiday or event-related content
The value of this content will fade out with time, but it has a potential to temporarily boost traffic to your site. Consider sample titles of seasonal content: “Bjork to Perform Live in New York”, “Blogging Trends to Consider in 2016”, “How to Choose a Present for the St. Valentine’s Day”.
Page title optimization
Page title is the most powerful weapon you have. It is not only one of the strongest on-page ranking factors; it’s what people see in search results first. Include your most important keywords (but don’t stuff too much!) and make it informative at the same time. Before you choose the title, ask yourself: will the page content deliver upon the promise?
Writing an SEO-friendly text
The best thing you can do before you start writing an SEO-friendly text is to forget about SEO; use the power of words instead. Google and other major search engines use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) to collect and identify keywords. This assumes your article should have synonyms and other related keywords. You, though, can use your SEO knowledge to plan article writing. Find some tips below.
Subheadings & long-tail keywords
Your keywords search will result in plenty of key phrases used to find information on your topic. Look carefully at the phrases and select the ones that may become a basis for the entire paragraph. They represent what people search for, what they are interested in and what you should finally give them.
Suppose you are writing about a runny nose and you have researched the following key phrases: how to stop a runny nose (1), natural remedies for a runny nose (2), how to get rid of a runny nose (3) and runny nose medicine (4).
It’s just an example, but if you have only these key phrases, your article plan can look as follows:
Title: How to Stop a Runny Nose
First subheading: Runny Nose Medicine
Second subheading: Natural Remedies for a Runny Nose
When people search for information about the ways to get rid of a runny nose using key phrase “how to stop a runny nose”, it is not clear whether they are looking for natural remedies or for medicines they can buy at a drugstore. Thus, your article will be optimized for SEO and provide reader with good knowledge and choice at the same time. This approach offers bright prospects.
As you have noticed, there was one more long-tail key phrase – “how to get rid of a runny nose”. Writing another paragraph for it isn’t logical because it duplicates the article’s title in its meaning. What can you do about it?
- Use this key phrase or the needed part of it (“to get rid” in our case) in the article body. This will sound
- Extend the subheading, e.g. “How to get rid of a runny nose fast”. This case the subheading brings quite different focus and will easily fit in the entire concept of the article.
Measure Your Content Performance
It doesn’t matter whether user behavior affects your rankings or not; you must do your best to prove engagement with your content. It’s applicable if you want conversions, not rankings. To illustrate the point, let’s consider how content performance can be measured with Google Analytics.
It’s obvious that purchase or sign-up is not the only goal you should have. There are some other micro goals to consider: social shares, comments, certain page visit or even average visit duration.
People don’t always convert when they meet you product for the first time. Some of them study more offers available before they make a decision. Assisted conversions will show how the user had interacted with your website before they completed the goal.
Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions during which one page only was visited. High bounce rates are considered to be the sign of poor content performance. It should be noted that the visitor may have spent 10 minutes reading your article and closed the page totally satisfied, but Google Analytics starts counting session duration after one enters the second page only.
Average time on site
The average time spent on your website is also a good way to measure content performance. Of course, the longer they stay on your website, the better. Compare this metrics to the number of pages per session and the bounce rate. Low bounce rate & low average visit duration may just indicate that people can’t find the required info and quickly leave the website.
I consider this Google Analytics feature highly relevant & efficient. It allows you to segment your traffic the way you want and get the same behavioral data to measure. If you are a London plumber, you are interested in measuring service requests from London, aren’t you? If you get traffic from Facebook, you’d like to know how your account visitors esteem the content. Google Analytics is an ideal tool in this case.
Improve Your Content Performance
Analyze existing traffic
Be it organic traffic, referral or PPC traffic, you need to see what content is underperforming and, what is more important, why! In case of organic and PPC traffic, you should compare entrance keywords with the actual content people see when they land on a page. Ask yourself: if it were me, would I be happy with my experience with the website?
Let’s assume many people have searched for ‘natural remedies for a runny nose’ & landed on your Runny Nose page. Unfortunately, it turns out the page has one single sentence about natural remedies; might it be the reason for high bounce rates? Yes, it might!
Go ahead and write more about natural remedies; moreover, create another great page with a list of natural remedies and insert a link to it from your Runny Nose general page.
Regarding the referral traffic, check in what context your content was linked to and see how user experience can be improved.
Do Internal Linking
You should never forget you have plenty of premium content on your website and your visitors want to consume it. Insert only relevant links and do it naturally. Keyword rich anchor texts in internal linking can do more harm than good, so think of your users first.
Categorize your content, set priorities and create lists, talk to your content writers and tell them to write texts in which those links can be added naturally.
Analyze internal site search
Analyzing internal site search will give you plethora of actionable insights! People can tell you a lot about what they look for.
Check the top key terms they use to find information within your website, look at the search results and ask yourself again: I am satisfied with what I see? Analyze your bounce rates and conversions after the site search was performed the same way you would analyze organic traffic.
Improve your pages’ look on SERPs
By improvement, I mean not only behavioral factors, but also what people see when they get your page among other pages on SERPs (search engine result pages). Did you know that you can increase your CTR up to 30% by implementing structured markup? If your website pages are not properly marked up, you should start moving in that direction right after you finish reading this article.
There are other elements to improve: meta descriptions, URLs and page titles. Ideally, you need a copywriter with the required level of SEO knowledge or an SEO expert with a gift of writing excellent copies for great articles; let them pool their efforts on the task.
Surely, I cannot cover every possible aspect of the issue in this article; I haven’t even covered every item I planned to, but it is already much longer than I expected. I definitely welcome your blogging ideas in the comments, for a thorough discussion.