If you’re wondering how to optimize blog posts for search engine optimization (SEO), you’ve come to the right place! In a recent blog post, we spoke about how content marketing can boost your search engine optimization efforts and gave a brief introduction into the expansive topic of SEO.

This post will focus specifically on how to SEO blog posts, including good practices and the best SEO tips and tricks to rank your website’s individual blog posts. It is important to apply the same optimization best practices to your individual posts as you do to your main website pages. In fact, it may even be more beneficial for you to focus on these individual pages as they will target specific topics, features, goods or services that you provide. These individual pages often have higher conversion rates than your home or about pages and since they’re more specific, they are likely easier to rank for, as you will be targeting long-tail keywords as opposed to broad phrases.

For example, “digital marketing” is a broad term that is non-region specific nor non-industry specific. The keywords “digital marketing for Vancouver landscapers” is far more specific (i.e it targets longtail keywords) and consequently far less competitive. Note: it is definitely worth remembering that some phrases are easier to rank for as they are rarely, if ever, searched for. These are the phrases targeted by unscrupulous companies to attract potential clients by promising first-page rankings.

How To Optimize Blog Posts For SEO

There are many points which should be adhered to for each and every page and post on your website. Rather than go through these individually, we’ll focus first on the WordPress plugin Yoast. If your website isn’t built on WordPress, you can still read what SEO factors the Yoast plugin helps with in this blog and then apply them to your site accordingly as it’s still very much relevant.

Yoast

Yoast is a WordPress plugin that adds fields for you to complete the SEO for your pages and posts. As you fill in each, it uses a traffic-light grading system (green, amber, red) to score your completed SEO elements. The better your optimization efforts are, the more green and amber you will see. It provides information to help you complete every element and also tips on how certain elements work together. It is very intuitive, excellent and a proven way to help improve SEO efforts.

It also has a great newsletter with additional helpful hints and blog content about SEO topics and industry developments.

It is worth noting that there are other SEO plugins, but this is the one we use, know and understand the most. While we think it is great, if it’s not for you, be sure to do your research and check out the other plugins available in the WordPress eco-system.

Keywords (Content & RankBrain)

There are many tools available to assist with keyword research. For those with a Google Adwords account, you may be familiar with Keyword Planner and Keyword Tool. Should you use any of the other numerous SEO apps available, (Moz, SEMRush, Bright Local, etc), they all have their own keyword tools that allow you to target top-searched phrases for your product, service or industry.

The top-three ranking factors for Google are as follows:

  1. 1/2 Links
  2. 1/2 Content
  3. RankBrain

Google has not yet divulged whether content or links come first or second in importance on the list, just that they are the two most important factors. Following those is RankBrain, which is Google’s machine learning (artificial intelligence) aspect of its overall algorithm.  

Keywords (content) and RankBrain are, though different elements, intrinsically linked together.

Keywords should always match the products, services, industry or information you are wanting to rank for, and as Yoast will assist with, are the words you want to have consistently on each page or post. For example, if you are writing a blog post about a new tea flavour you are selling, the word “tea” should appear in page title, url, the meta data (info that appears in the search results under the link), page headings, page copy, and also in information for the related images. 

What RankBrain does is learn how searcher intent uses different words and thoughts to find that one keyword/product/service. This semantic way of returning search results is much better for copywriting as it allows content to read more naturally while containing many related keywords. It also does a great job of ensuring that a page doesn’t have the same word repeated too often and read unnaturally.

Some keywords related to tea might be:

  • Teas
  • Hot drinks
  • Refreshing drinks
  • Breakfast drinks
  • Drinks to relieve indigestion

By having content as one of the main ranking factors, Google is essentially asking us to “write often” on our websites and is promoting content marketing as an essential element of search engine optimization. Essentially, you should see it as building more pathways to your website: the more ways there are to reach your website, the more likely you are to be found by people searching. And when people are searching, they are at a point in the sales funnel when they are about to make a purchase or buying decision.

Another great reason for writing frequently is, as the consultant and marketer Simon Sinek points out, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Linking

“Nobody is going to link to an About page,” said Neil Patel, owner of Kiss Metrics. Not only is he correct but he, like Sinek above, is espousing the benefits of content, content, content. By publishing regularly you can do two things: create regular content that generates inbound links through its quality and relevance to your brands, topics, or services. It also create links to relevant, high-authority websites. Google very much likes to see both of these as part of your link-building plan.

Don’t sit and wait, however, for all the links to come to you. Often the Field of Dreams myth prevails: “Build it and they will come.” Ultimately this is the goal but until you have generated a strong reputation and a large enough audience, you will likely have to ask relevant websites to link back to your content.

Not only are content and links the two most important variables of the ranking algorithm but they are intertwined: one generates the other. And this is what Sinek and Patel’s quotes get to the essence of!

Social Sharing

The jury is out on whether social interactions (on Google, at least. Bing has been forthcoming with the fact that social signals play a part in its ranking algorithm). But do social signals play a part in search rankings?

This is a major area of study and conjecture, and without wishing to sound like we’re sitting on the fence, the answer is both yes and no.

There are many easy ways to gain social signals so simply posting links is unlikely to have a direct impact. However, if your brands are very active on social media with engaged and honestly acquired followers, Google will see this positively. If your content is shared for being informative, educational or entertaining, it’s also going to have a positive impact, most likely, because shares are the result of page views and various other metrics Google analytics can measure and use in SEO rankings… If people are reading your content, staying on the page for a while and going elsewhere within your site, then this is good for ranking. More shares = more eyeballs on your site.

Ultimately, you should always focus on creating quality content and engaging honestly with your social followers and SEO will (should!) take care of itself.

Here’s a useful article from Search Engine Journal. There’s plenty more out there too…

These SEO tips and tricks will help you rank your content and homepage for all manner of keyword searches. Optimization is not a dark art, as some believe, but rather a series of points that need to be regularly checked off as part of your business’s operating procedure. If you continually follow the best practices, as highlighted here in our other SEO article on content marketing and on the web you will, in time, be successful and rank higher.

If you want help optimizing your website or blog, contact us to find out how we can help!