Your SEO strategy is your number one method for bringing in relevant, interested and engaged people to your website – for free. It’s therefore vital that you can optimise a blog post for SEO.
But why would people be flocking to your site when they sit down, open Google, and make one of the 40,000 individual search queries that the platform handles every second?
People use search engines because they are searching for something. Whether that’s the answer to a question, a snippet of information, for news, for entertainment – they are using Google, or Yahoo if they live in 2001, to search for information.
That’s where your blog comes in. Having a site blog is by far the easiest way, and the most important first step you can take, in having a successful SEO strategy.
Your blog is where you provide the answers, the entertainment or the news that a user is searching for. By becoming a useful source of information on the internet, you boost your chances of being found on Google, in doing so increasing your chances of making sales on your website.
But you can’t just write a blog and hope for the best. There are billions of webpages out there, all scrambling and scrapping their way to the top of the SEO rankings mountaintop. Google has to figure out which of them deserves that hallowed number one spot, so you absolutely have to optimise every single one of your blog posts for SEO.
In this blog, we’ll run through all the ways you can ensure Google’s crawlers interpret your page as a really high-quality piece of internet real estate, giving yourself a chance at ranking highly.
WordPress is undoubtably the most effective and comprehensive CMS out there, and the one we use to build our own website. For that reason, we’ll write for those of you also using WordPress.
In all fairness, there are a few stats to back up this decision. As of October 2018, there were 75 million websites made with WordPress, and that number is only growing. So, we’re going to show you how to optimise your blog page as if it was being built on the platform.
It goes without saying that your blog posts have to be, well, good. And by good, it doesn’t need to be a Booker Prize winning novel, written in beautiful language and evoking all kinds of complex emotions.
To be a good piece of writing for SEO, your blog needs to offer value.
Consider what users are looking for when they go online. They want answers or information. If your blog provides value by providing the information they are looking for, that’s a good piece of writing for SEO.
The best way to ensure your doing this is to consider where your expertise lies, before asking yourself a couple of questions:
Where exactly does my expertise lie?
What would people with an interest in this area want to know?
When you’ve got the answer to these questions, you’ve got your first blog titles.
When it comes to the writing itself, Google can’t actually determine whether the words you put down are useful or not. It can’t determine whether it’s written in language worthy of a literary festival or a poor piece of homework from a junior school goer.
What it can determine however, is how long people spend on your blog post. It can determine how often people leave your website immediately after landing on your blog post, or whether users decide to explore your site further.
These are the metrics that search engines use to determine the ‘quality’ of a blog post. Your job is to keep people on your blog post for as long as possible, and it’s your job to offer enough value that will actually convince your reader to explore more of your website.
To do this, there are a few general rules you should follow that essentially make your text easier to read and keep users on your page for a little longer.
1. Keep your sentences short.
Long sentences, full of interjections, too many commas, complex structures and clauses simply aid to confuse or frustrate a reader, as your sentence drags on and on without getting to the point of what it’s trying to say and gets more and more like hard work to read, pushing the reader to do the only sensible thing they should do and press the ‘X’ and escape you and your terribly written website forever.
This will do nothing for your SEO.
Keep your sentences short. Keep your language simple. You want your content to be easily consumable – easy to read. This is what keeps people on a page. Complicating your writing is a huge turn off and will just push your audience away.
2. Break up your text
There aren’t many more daunting sights than a seemingly endless block of text on your computer screen. Or worse, on your phone.
A great way of increasing your bounce rate (the rate at which people click onto your page, then immediately leave your site) is by writing blogs that consist of huge chunks of text.
A high bounce rate is an immediate red flag for search engines. If they see a page that makes people leave a site quickly, they will not rank it highly.
Break up your text with images, punctuate impenetrable paragraphs with eye-catching headlines. Make your text look inviting, as if it could be read through quickly and easily, rather than looking as dense as a philosophy paper.
3. Don’t use passive voice
Passive voice doesn’t help anyone. It feels a bit limp, and a bit vague. Users have clicked on your result to get clear, definitive answers set out clearly and authoritatively.
An active voice is a far more effective tone for achieving this. Now, it would be perfectly reasonable for you to ask the very pertinent question – what is passive voice?
Essentially, passive voice is when, in a sentence, you write as if you are telling the reader what is being done to someone or something. Active voice occurs in a sentence where it tells the reader what a person or thing does.
Passive Voice – My Facebook ad was not clicked on by anyone.
Active Voice – No one clicked on my Facebook ad.
Don’t get too stressed about ensuring every single sentence you write is in active voice, you’re allowed to mix and match. All we’re saying is that it is a good idea to at least keep the majority of your sentences active.
This makes you come across as more authoritative, clearer, and a more instructional writer, which provides a good experience for the user who has come across your page looking for answers.
Keywords form the basis of how search engines determine the relevance of your page with the users search term.
For example, if a user makes the search term, ‘what is the difference between branded content and marketing’ and the title of your blog post is ‘What is the Difference Between Branded Content and Marketing?’ a search engine is going to make the assumption that your page is at least somewhat relevant to the search term.
And if you include the words ‘branded content’, ‘marketing’ etc, throughout your copy, it will add to this relevance. If the topic is reflected in your subheadings, in your URL’s slug and in your alt text, you are implying more heavily that your page is the most relevant result out there.
Search engines can’t interpret images as well as humans can. In fact, they won’t understand the relevance of them at all. Alt text allows you to explain to search engines what your image is of.
For example, if you had a picture of a dog sitting on a beach, then you could enlighten search engines of this fact by attaching the alt text ‘dog sitting on beach’.
You should also take the opportunity to input a focus keyphrase. Your keyphrase should be whatever you are trying to get your individual blog post to rank well for.
You should also include your keywords in your meta description. Your meta description is the small section of text that appears underneath your link and page title on a search engine results page.
Essentially, everywhere you see an opportunity to plug in your keyphrase, take it. The more you use it, the more likely you are to be deemed relevant to a particular search term.
However, be careful not to over-optimise here. Using your keyphrase in every sentence of your copy is only going to negatively impact your SEO. In fact, keyword stuffing is a well-known black hat SEO technique that used to be quite popular for artificially inflating rankings.
Ensure that your copy reads naturally and that you aren’t compromising the user experience just to shove as many keywords into your text as possible.
Finally, post consistently. Search engines like Google need to know that you’re an active, working site, and the easiest way to show this is by having a consistent posting schedule.
Bear in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean frequent, you don’t have top be posting two blogs every single day, but once you’ve found a formula that works for you, stick to it.
This might be a post every couple of days, once a week or even once every two weeks. Just ensure that you show you are consistent, and search engines will take this into account.
Correctly implementing a link structure to your website is vitally important to an overall SEO strategy. They provide the railway tracks between the ‘stations’ that are your pages, so that search engines can travel along them to analyse and rank individual pages.
Links also play a huge part in establishing the authority of a page to a search engine. If a page has a lot of backlinks, i.e. a lot of links directing a user to that page, then the page will look authoritative, and a good page to display to a user.
So, how should you go about implanting a linking strategy on your own page?
You should look to build these links into the copy of your blog post, ideally to other blogs you’ve posted before. You can do this through the use of anchor text.
As an example, let’s say you have a blog about writing a brand mission statement, and you realise that you’ve got an opportunity to link to another blog ‘How to Write a Brand Vision Statement’.
You might decide that you would link the text ‘brand vision’ to this blog. This provides a path for both search engine crawlers and users alike to move along.
Positive impacts of this involve increasing the navigability of your site, so that users and search engines can access your content more easily, and spreading link juice throughout your pages.
Link juice is the name given to the ‘SEO boost’, that a page receives when it gets a backlink to it. If you link your internal pages together, you help to distribute this link juice more evenly, meaning all your pages receive slight boosts in SEO ranking.
Whilst some SEO ‘experts’ will tell you that externally linking to other websites from your blog posts is a bad idea, here at Adversent we firmly believe that external links are a beneficial element of your pages.
Why? Because by externally linking to pages that exist off your website, you show yourself to be an open, connected and approachable member of the online community. For starters, the internet is an open, connected network. If you don’t subscribe to this mentality on how you exist on the internet, you’re hardly likely to achieve success.
When you externally link to another webpage, you might also receive a backlink in reciprocity, boosting the SEO ranking of your own page. Finally, external linking simply helps to provide the top-quality user experience required of any SEO strategy.
If you include relevant links to pages your users will find genuinely useful or interesting, they are more likely to return to your page and consume your content.
And if you have returning visitors, this is a clear sign to search engines that you are a good source of information. If you can achieve this, it won’t be long before you see your SEO rankings soar.