Nearly 60% of businesses and brands are taking advantage of blogs and their ability to improve online visibility. Your brand posts consistently to your blog, but now what? Google is all about relevance and value, conveyed through their copious amounts of algorithm updates that prioritize information online. Google means business, and the implementation of algorithm updates (as recent as their year-old mobile update) seek to squash SEO specialists’ best efforts to game the system by flooding high ranking search results with invaluable content. In an attempt to demystify blog optimization, we have curated a list of SEO best practices.
1. Keyword Research
If your blog topics pertain to your product or service, chances are you’re organically including keywords at a standard cadence. The overarching goal of effective SEO is to augment your content in the online space, so strategically manicuring your blog with relevant keywords drastically influences traffic to your site. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a great resource for finding what people are searching for on Google and adapting content around these topics (or seamlessly threading keywords within the perimeters of your blog).
Once keywords have been identified, assess competitiveness and determine if there is an opportunity to rank for it. Generally, the ideal keyword is less competitive with significant search volume.
However, bombarding your blog with a plethora of keywords will ultimately hurt your blog optimization and SEO efforts since search engines filter through keyword stuffing. We recommend including 1-2 longer keyword phrases because searchers using longer terms are generally more qualified traffic.
2. Strategic Keyword Placement
Once valuable keywords are identified, integrate 1-2 keywords into specific parts of your blog.
- Title/Headline: Search engines first index website content relevancy by scanning your blog’s headline, so your keyword(s) should be housed within the first 600 pixels (equates to around 65 characters).
- Headers/Body/Subheads: Your whole blog content shouldn’t revolve around keyword strategy, but it should definitely be considered prior to writing. Keywords should be sinuously laced throughout the body of your blog, and if your content answers the searcher’s query, then you’re probably already including keywords that matter to your brand and your audience.
- URL: Brands can capitalize on URLs by including long-tail keyword phrases, especially since search engines consider a URL to determine what the blog is about.
- Meta descriptions: The meta description appears on the search engine results page (SERPs) and provides a synopsis about the link’s content. However, search engines have begun displaying blog text other than your meta description with the intentions of providing the searcher with the most optimally relevant results.
- Your meta description needs to have two components:
- Captivating and pertinent copy
- Long-tail keyword
3. Optimize Alternate Text Field
Visually enhanced blog posts receive 94% more total views than those without images and fostered longer content retention. Your audience has a low tolerance threshold for how long they’ll wait for a webpage to load, so ensure all imagery has a two-second load time (plugins and large photos effect load time).
Secondly, adding keywords in the alternate text field of an image tag’s HTML and/or changing an image’s name to an accurate description can slightly contribute to higher search rankings.
4. Build Link Credibility
The relationship forged between blog influencers can build credibility within the blogosphere, not to mention an easy outreach solution. Your individual blog can’t discuss every paltry detail of a topic, but back linking to an outside resource will enhance your blog’s experience, readability and credibility (and your blog might get mentions from an influential source).
5. Broaden Opportunity and Reach of Your Blog Posts
Your blog should already be doing this, but your brand should offer accessible RSS or subscription forms so interested parties can receive your content via email. Additionally, your brand should be leveraging social media channels for increased exposure. Hootsuite is a free resource to easily schedule and execute content across all your brand’s social media sites.