Blogging for Beginners: How to Blog Using SEO Best Practices
As the Internet has matured and search engines have become an integral part of the online experience, the concept of blogging has evolved. Once reserved for personal thoughts, press announcements, or industry-specific thought leadership, now it seems like every business has a “Blog” section on their website. In the great majority of cases, these business blogs exist for search engine optimization, or SEO purposes.
To determine rankings for specific keywords, Google and other search engines factor in how often a website creates new content using those keywords, as well as the total number of pages a site has indexed that uses each keyword. Put simply, the more new content that a business creates around its targeted keywords, the more favorably search engines will view their website, and the higher they’ll rank for those keywords. Blogs are a great way to consistently produce content around specific keywords, but not all blogs are created equal. It used to be that companies could stuff keywords into a hastily-written, barely-edited post and start ranking for those keywords quickly. But as search engines have improved and their ranking algorithms have evolved, blogs too have changed and developed best practices to get noticed by search engines. Here’s a quick rundown of SEO best practices that businesses should follow when blogging:
Before we talk about specific best practices, let’s keep in mind that a blog’s most important attribute is being readable. Writing for an undefined audience or only with search engines in mind defeats the purpose of blogging—why share insights when no one is asking for them?
It’s ideal to write with the ultimate goal of getting eyeballs on your posts. So, how can we do that? Well, as a recent study tells us, 92% of adult internet users use search engines, and 59% do so on any typical day. As for what they are typing into that search engine? Keywords! Intelligently determining what keywords to write around is the first hurdle we as bloggers must tackle. Focus on popular, commonly-searched keywords, and the posts may not gain the traction and rankings to be discovered; the posts may never reach a lot of potential readers. Focus on niche, low-volume keywords, and there simply won’t be enough people searching for those terms to justify the time it takes to write the post. What you want to do is find the sweet spot between popularity and search volume, likely using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find these “sweet spot” keywords. Once you’ve determined what keywords you’re going to focus on, you can begin writing in earnest.
Blog Titles and Headers
Regardless of subject area, every blog on the Internet has one thing in common: a title. Titles are the best way you can let readers and search engines know what exactly you’ll be talking about. As such, you’ll want to use your main keyword somewhere in the title of our post. You should also break up the post with section headers, usually called H1 or H2 tags, or simply H-tags. These are special selections of text highlighted with HTML tags to let search engines know they are important. As such, search engines give more weight to keywords inside of header tags.
Blogging with Images and Alt-Tags
The use of images in blogs is a relatively new feature of SEO that is growing in importance. While including images in content improves user experience, it wasn’t until recently that search engines could “read” these images in a useful way. Recent iterations of search algorithms allow search engines to read image alt-tags, which are bits of text, attached to the images, that describe the image—this text is not plainly visible, however, rather it is only seen by a site visitor if they hover over the image. This is another great place to drop your core keywords, making sure search engines know exactly what you’re writing about.
Internal and External Linking
Another blogging best practice is to embed links to other pages within your content. These help readers learn more information about whatever topic you’re writing about, and as such, search engines view them favorably when determining page ranking. Links to other pages on your site are called internal links, while links that redirect to an outside website are called external links.
The purpose of internal links is to build authority for your site around certain keywords – likely keywords related to your core business. By writing about a core keyword and creating an internal link to your homepage, you’re telling search engines and users that you have more to offer about the keyword than just what’s in the blog—search engines pick up on this and will rank a page that has internal links to related high authority pages more highly than ones that don’t.
External links, on the other hand, won’t affect the ranking of your post directly. What they will do, however, is drive traffic from your post to another website about a related topic. The idea is, the owner of that site will notice lots of traffic being referred from your site, decide that it is in fact relevant to their business, and link to your page on one of their blogs or pages. This is a simplification of an SEO process known as “link building” or “link creation.”
If users are still reading at the end of your blog, you know you’ve done something right. Odds are, they’re interested in the topic and want to hear more about it. A call-to-action capitalizes on users’ desire to continue reading, encouraging them to take action. That action could be learning more about your business, contacting the business, or downloading a piece of content related to the topic – really, anything that allows them to keep interacting with your business. You know these users are interested; now it’s time to get their information and go sell your product.
Hopefully you’ve learned a little something about blogging for both SEO value and user experience—and indeed, as the Internet continues to grow and evolve, the two are becoming one and the same. If you’d like to learn more about online marketing and how best marketing practices can grow your business, click here to learn more about Clickx.