Do the blog posts that you write with so much effort also bring you a good amount of organic traffic from search engines? It’s true that SEO has become more difficult and more competitive in the last few years, specially after Google rolled out a series of massive changes to its ranking algorithm. There’s a lot of confusion over what’s best practice and what’s out of date. You really need to understand the latest changes to SEO and discover what works best.
But that’s just a lot of work, isn’t it?
If you follow the new SEO guidelines and optimize your blog posts appropriately, you can certainly drive a lot of free traffic from major search engines to your website or blog even today. It’s entirely doable!
Given below are some of the most important tips, in adherence to the latest SEO guidelines, that you should follow to rank each of your blog posts high up in Google search results and drive lots of organic traffic.
#1. Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
More than 2 million blog posts are published every day, most of them targeting specific set of keywords. Many bloggers simply stuff their blog posts with tons of keywords, which is not a best practice.
Don’t overuse keywords in your blog posts because search engines will penalize you for that black-hat tactic. Instead, choose just 1-2 keywords for each blog post that you write. Focusing on 1-2 keywords is a good SEO strategy because it keeps you on track when writing. It enables you to stick to a single topic and enhances the overall value of your blog post. When you target tons of keywords in a blog post, you will ultimately turn that blog post into a chunk of fluffy content.
At the same time, focus on long-tail keywords instead of short-tail keywords. Long tail keywords are a) less competitive and b) highly convertible. They bring you exactly the kind of traffic you want.
Essential places where you should have keywords include:
Title: You must always have the long-tail keywords in the title of your blog post. All you need to remember is that your title isn’t very long. Remember, it’s the title which both search engines and people see at first.
Body: You should also include your keywords throughout the blog post you are writing. But you need to be careful with the use of keywords because overusing them will lead to search engine penalties. What you should do is let the keywords flow into your writing naturally. At the same time, you should try to use multiple variations and synonyms of the keywords you have targeted. And all of this is part of the natural writing process, so you won’t have a hard time doing it.
URL: Normally, the words included in the title make up the URL. Make sure your URL too contains the keywords you have targeted.
Meta Description: Whether it’s Google or people, they come to know about the content of your blog post by going through the meta description which shows in search engine results. It is important that your meta description is appropriately optimized for conversion and contains the keywords. Again, don’t stuff the meta description of your blog posts with keywords because it won’t help.
#2. Write for People (not Search Engines)
According to modern-day SEO guidelines, you can’t rank a blog post higher in search if you just write to woo search engines. Major search engines like Google favor those blogs or blog posts that address the needs of the target audience through their content. Find out who your target audience is, what their day-to-day needs are and start writing to help them and make their lives easier.
When writing for people, you can –
> Answer common questions
> Teach a new skill
> Share an insight
> Break the latest industry developments
> Provide useful tips
Today, you can only rank high by providing original, high quality and value-added content to readers or the target audience. If you focus on solving people’s issues with your content, your content will rank higher.
#3. Create Long-Form Blog Posts
This is the age of content marketing. Today, businesses are investing in the creation of lots of highly useful content. Therefore, don’t just write short-form blog posts that have around 500-600 words each. Start writing longer posts which contain more than 1000 words. Writing longer posts doesn’t in any way mean creating junk or fluff. Longer posts mean comprehensive, in-depth content.
Blog posts that have 1500 words or more are proven to generate a lot of organic traffic – for the long term.
First of all, long-form content provides you with a good reason for promotion. Second, comprehensively written blog posts require more reading time, which in turn increase your time on site. Third, longer content pieces immediately attract attention from people on social media. All of this combined together results in the high search engine rankings of your blog posts.
Since creating long-form content requires a lot of time and research, it’s highly recommended that you hire professional writers for the job.
#4. Link Out to Credible, Useful Resources
Gone are the days when bloggers or web-based businesses wouldn’t want to link to external websites for loss of traffic. Today, the rules have changed. To increase the value of your blog posts and achieve high rankings in search results, you need to link out generously. Since people come first, Google wants you to provide readers as much value through your blog content as possible.
While it’s a best SEO practice to link out to other resources on the web, what’s even more important is to link to only those resources that are credible and useful. The point is to help readers delve further into the topic at hand.
So, the next time you write and publish a blog post, don’t stop yourself from linking out to other good websites and blogs on the web. If you check out the higher ranking blog posts in Google search results, you will find that most of them have at least a couple of outbound links in their content. While linking to external resources, just remember to make the outbound links open in a new tab.
#5. Use Categories and Tags Carefully
If you are using WordPress for blogging, you are definitely aware of categories and tags. Basically, these are WordPress features that allow you to categorize your blog’s content into various logical groups. Though both categories and tags may seem similar, they are used for different purposes.
To improve the SEO of your blog posts and your blog as a whole, you should understand how to use both these features to maximize the benefits.
Categories are used to create groups of content that match the primary topic or niche of your blog. If you run a niche-focused blog, you can’t have 30 or 40 categories. In case you have that many categories, you should immediately take a relook at them and reduce them to a smaller number. When you have your blog content scattered across too many categories, ranking high in search becomes harder.
On the other hand, tags feature is used to micro-categorize your blog content. You can think of tags as your blog’s index words. While using categories is essential, using tags is not. If you don’t create and add categories to your blog posts, they will be automatically categorized under the ‘Uncategorized’ category. In case you use tags as well, it’s recommended to make them noindex.
#6. Link to Internal Pages
Internal linking is also of utmost importance as far as optimizing your blog posts for higher rankings in Google is concerned. In the same way as you link out to resources outside your own blog, you should link to the pages on your own blog. So, internal linking should also provide value to the reader. You can link to other relevant blog posts, product pages or landing pages on your blog.
#7. Use High Quality Images
Good quality images are an essential part of a great blog post. But you have to choose only those images that improve the user experience. Make sure all the images you use in a blog post are of high quality, have the correct aspect ratio, have good resolution and are of a size that could be viewed across a wide range of devices. Always remember to resize your images in Paint or Photoshop so that you don’t end up uploading a huge file on to your blog post. Since huge image files make your site slow, they hurt the search engine rankings directly.
Give your images an accurate file or title name and describe them in the alt section without overusing keywords.
If you are struggling to rank your blog posts at a higher position in Google search engine results, the tips and guidelines mentioned above will prove to be of great help. Make sure you pay adequate attention to each step so that you can optimize your blog posts as per the new rules of the game and be a winner.