If you're using content to gain traffic, you're thinking about search engine optimization. In the previous blog post, I highlighted how important SEO is for growing a blog. I only briefly mentioned how optimizing for search helped me grow Digital Bounds over the years. I started planning how I could expand on the topic of SEO but almost sidelined the topic until @pradipcloud asked for more details.
As promised, I am working on some rough guidelines that will help you optimize a blog post for search engines.
Get the right tools
Before you start optimizing or writing blog posts - you need the right tools. If you're working on WordPress, you'll need to install Yoast SEO plugin. I recommend buying the premium plugin for some of the advanced features. It'll save you time and help make the process easier.
If you want to avoid WordPress for one reason or another, I recommend Ghost. This blog runs on Ghost and runs the blog for IronMic. When possible, I recommend the platform for someone looking simply to blog. WordPress is capable of running a whole site, but Ghost is more focused on blogs. It has built-in features to handle many of the basics optimizations you'll need to do SEO.
Know your keyword
Before you jump into writing a topic, don't forget to think about which keywords you want to target/use. You'll want to target longer tail or less competitive keywords. You don't want to write a blog topic that everyone else is writing about. Focus on the way people may search. The best example of this is how Nomad List dominates search through long-tail keywords. Instead of writing about "SEO for blog posts," you should write about "how to optimize your blog post for the b2b SaaS space."
You can use tools like SEM Rush or Moz to research the best long-tail keywords to focus on. While these keywords have low search volumes, you will rank higher and get more clicks.
Understand the basics of technical SEO
To start blogging and optimizing for search, you should understand how Google ranks websites. No one fully understands why or how Google ranks websites or blogs, but SEO's have a fairly good grasp on what they look for. Google wants a website with the best experience. The sites that rank higher due to technical SEO include:
- The site is secured with SSL (https://).
- The website loads in 3 seconds or less. Google wants a fast website because users don't want to wait for a site to load, especially on mobile.
- The site has a robots.txt file to tell Google where to crawl and where not to crawl.
- The website is free of broken links, images, and other elements.
There are several other on-page technical SEO items you could improve upon. You can crawl your website with tools like SEM Rush to show you what other technical details are errors or notices.
Write less frequently, but longer articles
Google's Search engine prefer longer articles. Pumping out 300-word articles won't help you rank on Google. Instead, write 1,000 plus articles that will likely dominate Google Search.
Longer articles often rank higher and have more chances to rank for more than one keyword on Google. The more words mean, the more chances to rank for various keywords. Some of the top-ranking articles on Google are 2,000 or 3,000 words. Now, this doesn't mean everyone reads them, so be sure to break up the article with bullet points, sub-headings, and images.
Beyond the other items I listed, there are a few core things you need to do, including:
- Link to others & yourself
- Add Alt Titles & Descriptions to Images
- Update Titles & Meta Descriptions
- Remove stop words (to, the, of, etc.) from the blog URL
These are the basics to help you start optimizing blog posts to help grow your blog. There are other ways to tackle search engine optimization, but if you start with these tactics, you'll start to see growth in your organic traffic.