Content marketing is the cornerstone to every powerful digital marketing strategy. However, in an online world where nearly everyone is competing to reach the first page of search results, writing quality content and sharing it on social media is barely enough to generate traffic and reach a wider audience. This is where optimizing your blog is crucial to today's online survival and success.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of determining what matters to Google (or to any other search engine such as Bing). With the development of Google's automatic algorithm, a software program best known as "spiders" can crawl various blogs to help determine its ranking. These data searching robots perpetually seek out modified content on webpages, essentially indexing them online. In turn, indexed pages are rated by "spiders" to help search engines determine relevancy levels to a search. The name of the game is to make these "spiders" happy!
The thing about SEO is that although most of us are aware of its significance in today's digital arena, majority lack the skills and education needed to compete against other blogs. To complicate matters even more is Google's copious algorithmatic updates. How do we know what's valued and what's not?
In a complex landscape that's ever changing, there are a few basics that remain true. In this article, we will revisit the main processes and steps to keep your blog ranking high and well.
SEO Basics: How to Optimize Your Blog
#1 Create Content for People, Not Spiders
I know this may sound contradictory to what was mentioned above, but hear me out for a second. Quality content works hand-in-hand with optimization. Without quality content, there is little to no shareability. This means low quality blogs will lack both referral and organic traffic. Yikes!
While you write your blogs with SEO in mind, it's also essential to create original content that solves people's problems. This will foster stronger relationships with your audience as they continue to revisit your website for valuable information.
Another helpful tip for all you bloggers out there is to diversify your content types. People process and retain information differently, whether that be via text, photos or video content. By doing so, you're not only keeping the intent of the visitor in mind, but also keeping your competitive edge sharp in a world where the battle for conversions is fierce.
#2 Use Longtail Keywords
Let's talk about keywords for a minute now. It's important that I address a common misconception shared amongst bloggers which is that optimization involves incorporating as many keywords into a post as possible. That is completely invalid! In doing so, you're essentially getting yourself into the bad habit of keyword stuffing which hurts more than helps your SEO.
As a means of fostering a good reader experience, it's essential to incorporate keywords in a natural manner rather than forcing in ones that don't quite relate to your post in question. Not only does this help answer the intent of your visitors but also aids in complying with Google's ranking factors.
A good rule of thumb is to add in long-tail keywords. These are 3-4 keyword phrases that are very specific to what you are selling or offering. By keeping the focus of your keywords narrow, you actually have a better chance of centering the blog around the intentions of your audience, ultimately helping them find answers to the questions they are seeking.
So in short, keep your posts focused on the goals of your audience. You will then begin to generate the right type of traffic - visitors who actually convert!
#3 Optimize Specific Elements of Your Post
After writing up your blog post with your audience in mind, you can now further optimize it by targeting specific elements such as its:
- Page title
- Meta Description
The page title is the first component in assessing relevancy of your post by Google and your target audience so it's important to make it count! Include your keyword into the first 60 characters of your title. For instance, if your blog is about saving up for college and your keyword is "college savings", your blog title can be read along the lines of, "College Savings 101".
Recall the act of keyword stuffing mentioned earlier? Well, keyword stuffing can also be mistakeningly done for headings and should be avoided. Unfavoured by Google's algothrimic standards, adding in multiple keywords (without a real relation to your blog) within the title and headlines is a huge no-no!
A meta description is a short but concise summary about your blog. Located below the link/title of your blog in the search results, meta descriptions help people determine whether your content is what they are seeking and ultimately if it's worth clicking into.
The maximum length of characters for meta descriptions is now greater than what it once was - now around 300 characters compared to the 160 character limit previously enforced. This suggests the importance of relevancy to readership by search engines today.
#4 Link Internally
Internal links direct one landing page to another within your website. If there are two blog pieces that bear some sort of topical relation to one another, it's a good idea to interlink them. Not only will this boost your website navigation, but also reduces bounce rate and resurfaces relevant and authoritative pages to search engines.
Above all, by linking to less authoritative or hidden pages of your website you can pass on "link juice". This creates a powerful hierarchy of content on your website, allowing "spiders" to easily crawl and index your webpages.
#5 Optimize Blog Images
To optimize blog images is to include image alt tags which, technically speaking, are attribute texts implemented within HTML coding. It may not seem as a huge ranking factor or a big concern for you at the moment but the truth in the matter is that Google cannot see images the same was as we do. Instead, it relies on image alt texts to help translate what the image is depicting. So changing a name from "img_725" to "google.jpeg" is worth the increase in readability both by your audience and search engines.
Image optimization further smooths out the user experience of your website. We've all been faced with an image loading issue before. By implementing alt texts, an image container will display alongside their image alt tags.
The Wrap Up
Online success is not an overnight phenomenon but with the right steps and patience, it isn't short within reach. Although the above tips are not by any means a complete formula for ranking higher on search engine results, it does provide a solid backbone for building out your content strategy.