As a blogger, you obviously know the importance of writing engaging content for your audience on your blog.
No matter how engaging and great your post content is, if you don’t optimize it for search engines, it will not get enough readers it deserves.
As you already know, Search Engine traffic is a vital traffic channel for the growth of your online business.
Now, your target is to optimize your blog posts for both human readers and for Search Engine Bots.
The best way to practice blog SEO is to implement it as you build it.
I am here to reveal you those best practices that help you do Search Engine Optimization as you create your blog posts.
You can apply this approach to any blogging platform although I take WordPress as reference (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr,Wix.Weebly etc)
A practical approach to implementing blog SEO(Checklist):
- Perform keyword research before writing a post.Choose and focus on only one or two long tail keywords for every post you publish.
- Incorporate these keywords in your catchy post title (Heading 1)(preferably at the beginning)
- Edit your post’s permalink to SEO friendly URL (short and simple)
- Include your focus keyword in your headings (H2-H6) in a user friendly way
- Use your focus keyword and LSI keywords in your post body in a natural and relevant way without keyword stuffing
- Fill Alt text fields in your images that exactly describe what the image is all about
- Try to use your keyword in meta description of your post
- Never use too many similar topic tags and use appropriate categories
- Don’t forget to internal link with other posts on your blog
- Out link to other blogger’s quality content from which you may earn backlinks
For better understanding of the approach, let’s consider the post you are reading as an example throughout the article
Step#1: Simple Keyword Research for Blog SEO:
Your targeted audience and the purpose of your blog post decide the keyword you should choose to rank for.
Suppose you are writing a product review post about 3 week diet e-book, your targeted audience are people who are searching for ways to lose weight and for the diet they should follow.
Hence short and broad keywords of your target could be weight loss | weight loss diet | fat loss | diet plan | fat loss | week diet | belly fat etc
If you are a beginner, I don’t recommend to focus on broad keywords because these are highly competitive and you require quality backlinks and domain authority to rank for them.
Although it is not impossible to rank for them, you need to stand out before those online leaders.
I recommend focus on 1 or 2 long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are keyword phrases with three or more words in it.(e.g: belly fat reduction diet)
Although search volume is a little less for long tail keywords, there is less competition and more chances for the beginners to rank for these keywords.
Let’s start our simple keyword research with Google’s free keyword tool.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner (Free):
Google keyword planner is a free tool available along with Google Adwords account.
Google adwords account is for advertisers who want to promote their website or products through Google search ads and Google Adsense ads.
You can use this tool to get
- New keyword ideas
- Average monthly keyword search volume
- Cost per click rates (CPC)
- Advertiser competition for the keyword
How to use Google keyword planner as a blogger to decide your focus keywords:
Head over to https://adwords.google.com/home/
On the Adwords home page, click on Tools <<< Keyword Planner <<< START USING KEYWORD PLANNER respectively as shown in the screenshot.
Continue signing in with your google account credentials.This links your google account with Adwords account.
After signing in, you will land in the following keyword planner tool page in a new tab
Follow the steps below to retrieve your keyword ideas:
Arrow 1: New keywords using a phrase, website or category: Click on this tab first
Arrow 2: Your product or service: Type the keyword you want to focus on your post (mine is blog SEO)
Arrow 3: Targeting: Select the country for which you want keyword search volume
Arrow 4: Get Ideas: Click on this button to retrieve keyword ideas
After clicking Get Ideas button, Google will present you with the bunch of keywords along with average monthly keyword search volume( range is displayed if you don’t run a single ad campaign yet), competition, suggested bid etc
The keyword ideas you see here are broadly related keyword ideas.
These keywords are too broad to decide which keywords you should focus on your blog post.
Here, I will transparently reveal you a pro tip I use.
Before clicking on get ideas button as mentioned at arrow 4 above, click on:”Show broadly related ideas” link in Keyword options section.
Turn on “only show ideas closely related to my search terms” switch and click “save” button
Now as usual click on “Get Ideas” button as above.
Now see how the keyword ideas appear now.
They are closely related to your search term ”Blog SEO” so that you can decide one or two keywords to focus on in your blog post.
Here you have two parameters to consider for your focus keyword selection
- Average Monthly searches: Monthly google search query volume averaged over a certain period of time e.g 12 months.This indicates how popular the keyword is.
- Competition: No of advertisers bidding for advertising on a particular keyword query.High competition indicates they need to pay more CPC rates to show up on the top ad position.
The term Competition here does not directly indicate organic search competition or difficulty to rank for.
But pause and use your common sense for a minute, more advertisers’ demand for a keyword indicates they have some products to sell.
As a blogger, You also will have more chance to sell affiliate products or your own products. Same is true with all the bloggers on the earth. Hence more competition also on organic search.
So, the term competition here indirectly indicates organic search competition also.
If you are a beginner blogger, select one or two keywords of low Competition and as high monthly average search volume as possible.
My selected focus keywords for the post you are currently reading are
1.SEO blog (High search volume and low competition)
2. SEO blog tips (Low competition and as high search volume as possible in the keywords list)
Now the most important and difficult task of keyword research is over now.
Let’s move on to blog post title.
Step#2: Writing SEO friendly blog post titles:
The first thing your audience come across is your title.
80% of your readers see your title and will never click on it to access your content unless your title is catchy and compelling to click on.
Your post title is the gateway to your quality content for both search engines and your blog audience.
So, you need to optimize it equally for both for higher click through rate and hence more traffic.
Tips to SEO optimize your wordpress post title:
- Keep your post title precise and not more than 65-70 characters in length.Google shows only upto 70 characters (including spaces) of a page’s title in its search results. If a page title exceeds 70 characters, Google will show as many whole words as it can, and the rest are replaced with an ellipsis (…).
Note: Google measures length in pixels not in characters. Current maximum post title width adapted by google is 600 pixels which translates to 65 to 70 characters
- Include your focus keyword within 65 characters of your post title.In case your post title must be more than 70 characters for good reader’s experience, include your keyword in the beginning like this post’s title ”Blog SEO: A to Z Guide on Writing SEO Friendly Blog Posts(Step by Step)”
- Your title must reside in heading tag H1.Check your posts source code to ensure this.This happens automatically for WordPress users.
Pro tip: To check this, open any of your posts in chrome, select post title, right click on the title, select inspect element.Your title should be in H1 tag which is shown on right sidebar of chrome browser
- Use catchy title modifiers such as “how to, the best, free,2017, ultimate guide, A to Z guide etc” along with power words for higher click through rates both on search engine result pages and on your blog
- You can take help of following tools to generate catchy titles for you
Finally after composing your title, you can check Google search result preview here modify further if required. My post looks like this on search results preview.
Step#3: How to make WordPress Post URL SEO friendly:
By default, WordPress generates post URLs inheriting content from your title.
A post URL is also known as permalink.
Have a look at the auto generated URL for my post here.
Each word is separated by hyphen(-) which is good for SEO and the URL content is fetched from title which needs improvement for SEO advantage.
You can your post URL by clicking on edit button as shown above in the screenshot.
Best Practices for SEO friendly URLs:
- Don’t forget to check and edit the permalink of your post before publishing
- Don’t use any symbol other than hyphen(-) in your post URL.Google interprets hyphen as space which is required for SEO.
- Do away with horrible and ugly URL like this http://yourdomain.com/axgsdjhsjbfd
- Avoid long URLs: http://yourdomain.com/avoid-using-long-url-because-it-may-hurt-your-seo.
Research shows short URLs get higher click through rate on Google search pages.
- URL should be easier to read and understand: URL should indicate what the link is all about. See my SEO optimized URL:http://victorvijay.com/wordpress-blog-post-SEO-guide.The URL is short and clearly indicates there is an article on victorvijay.com which is a guide for wordpress blog post SEO optimization
- Do include your focus keyword in your post URL. Just like I included my keyword “blog SEO” in my URL: http://victorvijay.com/Wordpress-blog-post-SEO-guide
- Posting date in your URL like http://victorvijay.com/2017/07/Wordpress-blog-post-SEO-guide/ does not hurt your SEO but increases the length of URL unnecessarily.
Step#4: How to write SEO optimized post body content:
Your content should always be written for human readers as you optimize it for search engine bots.
Google is always committed to improving reader’s experience by presenting quality content to its users based on their search query.
When you write user friendly content, search engines also love it because they serve users.
Best Practises for SEO optimized post content:
- Try to include your focus keyword in the first paragraph (at least within first 100 words) of your post body content
- Provide deep insights into your content that changes the life of your users.Solve their day to problems from your blog posts so that they become your loyal readers
- Write long (about 2000 words) and detailed content along with media like images, screen shots, infographics, videos ets which improve user experience and an added SEO advantage
- Divide your content in a user friendly way by using appropriate headings from H2-H6. Including table of contents at the beginning is a good idea.
- Try to include your focus keyword in subheadings (H2-H6) in a natural way
- Optimize your content for better readability. Do not use lengthy paragraphs. Avoid using more than 3 or 4 lines in any paragraph.Use bulleted lists for key points.
- Take note of some of the keywords we have retrieved from keyword planner above, try to use some of them in a natural flow without affecting the user experience.
- Sprinkle your content body with some appropriate LSI keywords.
Note : Beware of keyword stuffing, Google is smart and will penalize you if you practice it
Step#5: How to Optimize your images for SEO:
A picture speaks thousand words.
Good quality pictures used in an appropriate way leads to better user engagement.
Don’t use images just for the sake of using them rather speak something out of your picture.
Your human audience can see your pictures with their eye balls. But how does search engines see your pictures while they do not have eyeballs?
Yes, they do see your picture but their eyeballs are with your images which are “alternative text attributes” of your images.
“Alt text” is an attribute of HTML tag <img>
E.g <img src=”smiley.gif” alt=”Smiley face”>
Search engines read the text you write in the “alt” attribute and asses what your picture is all about. Google image search results are shown based on “alt text” description only.
So, taking little time to write some “alt text” descriptions for your images adds some SEO advantage.
How to add Alt text in WordPress Post Images:
After inserting image to your wordpress post draft editor,
click on the image you want to add “alt text” description to and click on pencil symbol that appears over the image as shown in the screenshot below
Following Image details window will open.
In the “Alternative Text” box, enter the text that best describes your image and click “Update” button (In my case, the image is the featured image of my previous article, so I gave it the title of the article)
That’s it….This image description gets automatically added to HTML source code of your post.
Note: Alt text description is visible only to search engines for SEO. If you want to show this to your human visitors also, add your description in the caption field too.
Step#6: Adding SEO friendly WordPress meta descriptions:
What is meta description:
is an HTML tag that describes what an HTML document is all about.
Meta elements are typically used to specify page description, keywords, author of the document, last modified, and other metadata.
Remember metadata is meant for browsers and search engines and not for human blog visitors.
You will immediately ask me if so then why worry about meta descriptions?
Meta description is used by google to show a snippet that describes your post on search result pages below your title.
Meta description example:
See my live google search result here for a meta description example
This is the meta description I have manually written for this article.
Google used this meta description to describe my article in its search results based on the relevance of the search query,
If you don’t write a meta description, Google will randomly pick some text from your article that serves the searcher’s intent.
The main advantage of writing meta description is you can manually add an attractive, catchy and compelling description of your post to increase click through rates on SERP(Search Result Page)
How to write a meta description for your WordPress Post:
You do not have any provision to add meta description in wordpress default post editor.
You can do it using a free WordPress Seo plugin known as Yoast SEO.
Download and install the plugin and set it up following the on screen instructions.
After Yoast SEO plugin is setup, you will see a meta description text box at the bottom of wordpress draft editor under Yoast SEO dashboard after you click on “Edit Snippet”.
Enter your meta description for your post here and it gets automatically added to your posts HTML source code.
Step#7: Internal and external linking for SEO:
WordPress SEO internal linking:
Google evaluates a parameter called average session duration after it sends visitors to your blog through search results page.
The more time a visitor spends on your blog studying various articles and easily navigating through your blog, the better it is for your ranking.
What tactic can you use to achieve this result?
As you have rightly guessed, it is internal linking.
Contextually interlink your posts so that users stick to your blog until they find what they are expecting from your blog.
How to internal link wordpress posts:
WordPress draft editor has native internal linking feature.
- Select the text you want to link to other posts
- Click insert/Edit link icon at the top.Small link box will show up
- Click on link options gear icon
Following edit link options window will show up.
- Select one of your previous posts to link with or use search if we have more posts
- Click on “Add link” button
External linking strategy for blog SEO:
There are other bloggers in your niche who produce quality content.
Mention in your blog posts their names and link to their quality content.
This builds trust among bloggers in your niche.
Remember newton’s third law, when you have done nice thing for other bloggers by linking to their content, they will try to repay you by linking back to your quality content.
They got a backlink and you may also get a backlink by mutual cooperation.
Remember backlinks play a major role in improving your rankings.
So, make it a practice to link to other bloggers quality content.
Step#8: SEO friendly wordpress tags and categories:
Last things last! After you have composed your post and optimized for SEO, it is time for adding post tags and categories.
If you quickly recall, WordPress categories are the table of contents and tags are the index words for your blog content.
Practice a proper usage of tags and categories on your blog.
Do not use too many tags for similar categories.
Let us see a proper way to use tags and categories now.
Suppose if you run a food blog the categories can be
- Breakfast recipes
- Lunch recipes
- Dinner recipes etc
If your visitor is going through a chicken recipe post, you can tag all the chicken recipes of any category under one tag “Chicken recipes” and can navigate the visitor to other chicken recipe posts.
Optimizing your quality content for SEO is very important task that will bear you fruit in the long run.There are hungry visitors who are searching for quality content every day.
If you properly follow the guide above, I am sure you will certainly succeed in your SEO efforts.
Feel free to comment here if you find any problem while implementing the above guide.I am always ready to help you with your problems.Questions are always welcome.
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