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Blog SEO: 11 Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO (like a Pro)

Optimize your blog posts for SEO

The best time to optimize your blog content for SEO is when you are creating it, but you can always go back and improve your old articles as well.

Blog SEO is important because it helps you consistently get more traffic to your website. There are many things you can do to optimize your blog posts for SEO.

In this article, we will share our best blog SEO tips to help you optimize your blog posts for SEO like a pro. These are the tips that we use on our own blogs, which gets millions of visitors from search engines.

By the Editorial Staff at WPBeginner, a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Trusted by over 1.3 million readers worldwide.

1. Plan Your Content with Proper Keyword Research

Many beginners just use their best guesses to write about topics they feel that their users would be interested in.

You don’t need to rely on blind guesses, especially when you can do keyword research to find out exactly what your users are looking for.

Keyword research is a technique used by content creators and SEO experts. It helps you discover topics your users are interested in based on the search engine data.

Plan your content with keyword research

You can then use these keywords to plan your content strategy. This will ensure that you write about topics that people are actually looking for, and it’s a great way to find new blog post ideas.

We recommend using keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs. They offer in-depth keyword data, competition analysis, keyword position tracking, and tons of other useful features.

For detailed instructions, see our article on how to do keyword research for your blog posts.

2. Find Semantic Keywords for Your Focus Keyword

After you have done your keyword research and discovered keyword ideas, it is time to pick one that has the highest search volume and low competition.

This will be your focus keyword. It is the search phrase that your users are most likely to look for.

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, then you can set the focus keyword in your article’s SEO settings. This would allow you to see how effectively you have used it in your article.

Setting focus keyword in Yoast SEO

Next, you need to find out the Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. These are the searches related to your focus keyword.

The easiest way to find them is to simply enter your focus keyword in Google Search and scroll down to the bottom of results. There you’ll find them listed as ‘related searches’.

Related keywords

You need to incorporate as many of these keywords in your content, so you can have the most complete content for users.

It’s very important that you don’t try to stuff them in your content. This would look odd to your users and search engines are pretty good at detecting keyword stuffing.

3. Write an Effective Blog Post Title

The title of your blog post is extremely important for search rankings.

A good blog post title makes your article more relevant to the search query. More importantly, it motivates users to actually click on your article when they see it in search results.

You can make your blog post title more SEO friendly by using your focus keyword in the title.

Focus keyword in blog post title

Aside from adding your focus keyword, we also recommend making your headline catchy and click-worthy. That’s because click through rate (CTR) plays an important role in SEO.

There are several formulas to write effective headlines. The one that still works is called EMV or emotional marketing value.

This formula recommends using power words that trigger specific emotional responses in your audience. There are online tools like EMV headline Analyzerwhich help you calculate your title’s EMV score.

For more tips, see this article on headlines that went viral and how to copy their success in your own articles.

4. Make Internal Linking a Habit

Once you have blogged for a while, you will have enough content that you would want users to read. With internal linking, you can send new readers to check out your older relevant posts.

Internal linking is a great way to develop a contextual relationship between your new and old posts. It also allows you to pass relevant link juice to your older articles.

WordPress makes it easy to search for your old posts right inside the post editor. Simply select the text that you want to link and then click on the link button.

Internal linking

A text pop-up will appear below your selected words. You can start typing to search for the older articles that you want to link here.

Making internal linking a habit will make sure that your on-page SEO is good, and that your older articles continue to get new links.

Often beginners make the mistake of doing 1-way internal linking where they link to older posts from new articles. You can and should also go back to edit older posts to link to your new articles for maximum benefits.

5. Add Images and Videos to Your Blog Posts

Add images and videos to your blog posts

Search engines often rank engaging content higher in search results. Images and videos are far more engaging than plain text.

You want to make sure that your blog posts contain images between paragraphs.

When adding images, you want to be careful about image copyrights. Often beginners copy images from other sites to use on their site, and this can get you in legal trouble if you do so without proper permissions.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of places where you can find royalty free images to use in your blog posts. You can also use your own original photographs or use websites like Canva to create engaging graphics.

Make sure that you optimize your images for SEO. See our tutorial on how to optimize images for search engines for detailed instructions.

Videos are even more engaging than images. You can convert your blog posts into videos by creating slideshows, vlogs, or experiment with other formats.

However, you should never directly upload videos to your blog posts. WordPress is not optimized to serve videos, and your shared hosting service can’t handle them.

We recommend uploading your videos to YouTube. It is the second most popular search engine, and the second largest social media platform right after Facebook.

See our article on how to embed videos in WordPress for more details.

6. Add a Meta Description to Your Blog Post

The meta description is an HTML meta tag that you can add to any page. Its purpose is to provide a short description of your article for search engines and other crawlers.

Some SEO experts believe that the meta description tag on a page has become irrelevant. However, many others would disagree. At WPBeginner, we recommend using the meta description for all of your posts.

A good meta description can explain a lot more about an article. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also display it when your articles are shared on those platforms.

Meta description shown on Twitter

Since now you know that people are going to be reading your meta descriptions, you want to make sure that it’s helpful.

You also want to make sure that you at least mention your focus keyword once in the meta description for search purposes. The character limit for Meta Description is 155 characters.

Try to stay within that limit or your meta description will be truncated after 155 characters. You also want to make sure that you use the focus keyword earlier in the meta description rather than later.

To add meta description, you need to scroll down to the Yoast SEO meta box on your post edit screen.

Adding meta description for your blog posts in Yoast SEO

7. Make Your Articles Easier to Read

Readability is an important factor considered by search engines. Articles that are easier to read often rank higher than articles that are not user friendly.

Computer and mobile screens are still not an optimal platform for reading.

This is why most users just scan through articles. In fact, studies found that users spend less than a second to decide whether they want to stay on a page or leave.

That’s a very short time for you to convince the user to stay and scroll through. By improving readability, you can make it possible for your users to quickly scan an article.

You can improve readability by using shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, punctuation, headings, and bulleted lists. We recommend adding white space around text and use images to make your text look easier on eyes.

You can use tools like Grammarly, which allows you to check grammar, punctuation, and spelling on the fly. It also gives suggestions to improve the readability of your articles.

Yoast SEO plugin also comes with a built-in readability checker. It shows the flesch reading score of your article under ‘Readability analysis’ tab.

Readability score

For more on this topic, see our article on how to improve the readability score of your blog posts.

8. Use Categories and Tags to Organize Content

Categories and tags help you sort your content not only for yourself, but for the readers and search engines.

The problem is that many WordPress beginners often end up using them incorrectly.

If you think about your website as a book, then categories would be the table of contents and tags will be the index part of the book.

Categories are used to divide your content into major topics discussed on your blog. Tags, on the other hand, are the topics discussed in an individual blog post.

To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on using categories and tags for maximum SEO benefit.

9. Aim to Be The Featured Snippet in The Search Result

Google has been trying to answer user questions as quickly as possible. As part of this effort, they have introduced the featured result or answer box.

Answer box in search results

This is the highlighted search result that appears on the top. Google generates a custom snippet from the article’s content highlighting the part that their algorithms believe to be the answer of user’s query.

According to research conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, Answer boxes secure almost 32.3% CTR. This makes them immensely important for your SEO strategy.

There is no specific set of instructions provided by Google regarding how they would pick the featured snippet. Their recommendation is to improve your content and make sure that it offers the information users are seeking.

However, at WPBeginner, we have created helpful tips based on our research that will help you appear in Google answer boxes with your blog posts.

10. Make Your Blog Posts Comprehensive

Search engines love articles that cover a topic with great detail. This is why we asked you to gather the semantically related keywords (LSI Keywords) as part of your content planning step.

These related keywords give you an idea of different variations of user searches regarding that particular topic. By covering those keywords in your article, you would be able to make it more comprehensive, informative, and useful.

You should use headings and subheadings to include those keywords and try to cover as much ground as you could.

Aside from LSI keywords, another tip to create complete content is to type your desired keyword and then switch to Image Search. You will see topic bubbles with a variety of keywords.

Blog SEO - Image Search Complete Content Tip

We recommend including these when creating your content, so you can have the most comprehensive content.

11. Optimize Older Blog Posts

Many beginners tend to forget about a blog post after they have published it. In fact, you are not done optimizing your blog post for SEO once it is published.

Here are some things that you need to do after publishing your blog post:

  • Promote it on social media – Promote your blog post across your social media profiles. You can even automate this task by using IFTTT to share your content.
  • Add internal links – Once you have published a post, you can go back to relevant old articles and add a link to your new blog post. This gives your new articles link juice while also allowing users to discover it more easily.
  • Track search rankings – You have optimized a post for SEO, but how do you keep track of its search rankings? See our guide on how to track search rankings for your blog posts for instructions.

We recommend optimizing old posts on a regular basis, so you can continue to improve your rankings.

We hope this article helped you optimize your blog posts for SEO like a pro. Need more tips to promote your content? See our article on how to get more traffic to your blog posts.

We could help even further by evaluating your current website and providing suggestions for improvements for SEO. Reach out to us today for website improvement or a complete redesign.

 

Mobile-First Indexing: Your Guide to Google’s Big Shift

Google-mobile-indexing

Mobile-First Indexing: Your Guide to Google’s Big Shift

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As Google makes the big change to mobile-first indexing, it’s important that your site is ready for the shift. Are you fully prepared?

Let’s start at the beginning.

What Is Mobile-First Indexing?

The mobile-first initiative is an effort to address the growing percentage of mobile-users in today’s search landscape.

Back in March, on their Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that they are rolling out their mobile-first indexing initiative more broadly which is a big change to how Google crawls and indexes your site. The push is on now and Mobile Indexing is being fully implemented.

What’s Changing about Google’s Rankings?

Per Google, “Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your websites content for indexing and ranking.”

But what does that mean?

Currently, Google crawls and indexes your site based on the desktop version of your site and the content that exists there.  With this change, Google will be looking at your mobile site first and the content on that version to determine how your site is ranked.

For example:

Desktop vs. mobile versions of your site; Google will now index the mobile version of your site.

Over the course of the last year, Google has been slowly experimenting with a small percentage of sites to make the switch to crawling, indexing, and ultimately ranking sites based on their mobile experience, not their desktop as they always have.

This doesn’t mean your desktop site isn’t important anymore, it just means that they will be looking at it as a secondary source, not the primary one for crawling, indexing, and ranking as it has been in the past.  But even if your site is doing well organically, if it’s not responsive (mobile friendly), your ranking will drop substantially.  Don’t lose those years of building your search engine position, contact us today.

How Mobile-First Indexing May Impact Your Site

Depending on how you handle mobile, this change may or may not directly affect your site.

  • If your site is built in responsive design, you will see no impact, as your site adapts to all devices.
  • If you have a separate m. site (or something similar) and your primary content does not exist on it, then you are at risk of seeing a negative impact as Google will no longer be looking at your desktop version.
  • If you do not have a mobile site/experience then this change will negatively impact you.  Also, it’s 2018: if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site then you have much larger issues that this change.

What Mobile-First Best Practices Can I Follow To Ensure I Maximize My Opportunity?

Google has published an entire list of best practices for mobile-first indexing on their developers’ blog.

While there are many things to consider and you should read through the entire list above, two major points are ensuring you have mobile-friendly content and that your site loads as fast as possible.  Site speed is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, which coincides with users’ needs to get everything as quickly and seamlessly as possible.  With the rapid adoption of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) and the popularity of Progressive Web Apps (PWA’s) growing, it’s not surprising to see Google pushing site owners in this direction.

How Do I Know If Google is Using Mobile-First Indexing for My Site?

Google will be notifying site owners that their sites are migrating to mobile-first indexing through Search Console.  The message will look like this:

Example of Google's notification of mobile first indexation

So you need to make sure that if you have an m. version of your site, it is verified in Search Console.

You will also see a significant increase in the Smartphone Googlebot crawl rate and Google will show the mobile version of pages in search results and cached pages.

What Do We Think About This?

This is a major change in how Google interacts with our websites and makes sense as more and more traffic continues to move to mobile.  While your desktop site will certainly remain important and Google will not be ignoring it, users have been trending towards mobile usage for years and this is the natural progression of our industry.

Companies need to take notice of this change.  Thinking mobile-first should not be something that is kicked down the road and moved down on priority lists, from a search perspective this should be top of mind for all organizations large and small.

Should you be concerned?  If you haven’t been paying attention to how your site functions on a mobile device, this probably isn’t going to pan out for you.  The good news is that all websites are living documents and can be changed and updated.  If you are coming in a little late to the game on mobile, then now is the time to improve that experience and ensure your site is set up to provide value to mobile users.

This is yet another banner that Google is waving to signal the importance of your mobile experience.  If you have been neglecting it, now is the time to rectify that and putting people and resources behind it.

If you think your site is not mobile friendly or have tested it and know, contact us for advice to bring your website up to speed with the current technologies.


What Google’s New SEO Algorithm Means to Your Website.

Google’s New SEO Algorithm Looks for This When Ranking Sites

The rules of SEO are constantly evolving.

Search engines like Google update their algorithms so frequently, and it can be dizzying to know how to get your site ranked the way you want. One thing is clear, however: keywords just aren’t enough to get you the traffic you want.

So what will give you results when it comes to SEO? According to Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, you need to build sitewide trust.

Trust is the core component of Google’s relevancy-oriented search, and without it, you won’t be relevant.

Building real trust with Google isn’t easy. The smarter the system gets, the harder it can be to rank. But don’t worry just yet. There are things you can do to ensure that your site still ranks the way you want it to.

Why Google’s SEO Algorithms Matter

Google’s algorithm rules aren’t arbitrary: they have a purpose. Before you can improve your SEO ranking, you have to understand the ultimate motivation.

Google’s main goal is to deliver the most relevant search results as fast as possible.

They use deep neural networks of data to create a system that can think like the human brain, or attempt to, anyway. This approach is called “deep learning” and it’s used all across the Internet to improve user experience.

It’s ultimately an effort to help computers process information the same way humans do.

So when you search for “best website design ideas,” you get results based not only on your query, but on your search history, what other people are searching for, and what sites have content that closely resembles what the engine thinks you mean.

The smarter that the algorithms get – the more humanlike – the harder it is to “game” the system. Plugging your site with random keywords doesn’t work anymore, because Google can see through your attempt to keyword stuff.

Instead, you have to get Google to trust you. How do you do this?

In a book entitled SEO 2017: Master Search Engine OptimizationR.L. Adamslays the groundwork: You build trust with age, authority and content.

Building Trust with Age

You may think that using age as a ranking factor puts newer sites at a disadvantage, but know that with Google, age is more than a number.

Google relies on its relationship with your site over time to judge whether or not you’re trustworthy enough to list on the first few pages. Time is still a factor – the longer it knows you exist, the more likely you will be to rank – but if it sees that you produce value for visitors over time (you have heavy traffic, your site gets linked to, you produce frequent content, etc.), your relationship will improve.

For sites that have been around longer, this gives you an automatic boost to your rankings, which may come as a relief. For newer sites, or those that post less frequently, you will still have to build up your reputation over time.

Keep in mind that age doesn’t necessarily mean when you launched your site, though. Age refers to the indexed age, meaning when Google actually discovered you first. So if you had a site for a while but haven’t done anything with it until now, you will still be a baby in Google’s eyes.

Building Trust with Authority

If you don’t have age in your favor, you can also boost your ranking with authority.

In the past, you would build authority through your Google PageRank. The higher on the scale of 1-10 your site sat, the more trusted it would be. If you could link to more established (higher ranking) sites, you could boost your own score.

While Google still uses PageRank as a factor in SEO, they no longer gives public access to PageRank ratings, making it impossible to know how you actually fare. Instead, Google uses Domain Authority to determine the trustworthiness of your site.

Domain Authority is a score (100 points) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERP). While it’s not a direct replacement for PageRank, it does allow you to see where your site sits in the rankings.

What makes Domain Authority helpful is that it gives you a way to measure the strength of your links. You can see exactly which sites are giving you the best boosts and which links are altogether worthless for your ranking power.

A few ways to improve your Domain Authority include:

  • Optimizing your internal links – Making sure links go to relevant content, use natural anchors that make sense to users, are linked to the right keywords, etc.
  • Creating more link-worthy content – Avoiding keyword stuffing, but creating content that does link out to other sites
  • Pursuing higher quality links – Linking to trustworthy (older, more established) sources, putting your site in a directory like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and the Better Business Bureau, etc.
  • Running link audits – Eliminating broken or bad links as often as possible

The better links you have (the better your link profile is), the better your Domain Authority will be.

Building Trust with Content

The other thing that Google looks for when building trust is fresh, quality content.

When you publish quality content on a regular basis, you give Google more opportunities to index your site for links as well as for targeted keywords (yes, keywords still matter).

Frequently adding content, like blogs or articles, allows you to optimize the article with pertinent keywords that can attract visitors to your site, and provides you additional ways to link to authoritative sources and higher ranking sites.

The trick is that your content has to deliver genuine value. In the past, Google’s algorithms would look at the number and frequency of keywords being used throughout the content on your site to determine relevancy.

But the trouble with this is that Google’s new algorithms actually punish keyword stuffing. Instead, the algorithm looks for specific keywords or keyphrases (even “natural language” search phrases and questions) that fall into the content naturally.

In other words, the keywords have to make sense in context – and yes, Google can tell.

This means that for content to help you build your credibility, it has to:

  • Be popular enough to attract traffic
  • Include relevant keywords naturally
  • Provide enough value that users share and save it
  • Include meta tags, title tags and descriptions
  • Be published frequently

The good news is that you can publish as much content as you want, as long as it’s high-quality. This can be one of the best strategies for newer sites looking to rank higher in SERPs, since Google will still build a relationship with your content even if you haven’t been around for long enough to have age or link authority.

Final Thoughts

If you want to create a site that ranks under Google’s new SEO algorithm, you have to focus on building a relationship with Google and steer clear of smarmy tactics like keyword stuffing or over-linking.

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Google thinks and acts more like a human when it processes your site, meaning that, in a way, it’s judging what you have out there.

In order to make sure it trusts your content, you want to produce content that offers value for searchers, build natural links and relationships with other high-ranking sites, and stick around long enough for Google to see you.

Ask us what we can do to help.  It’s easier than you think.

This is How Top Bloggers Get 90% of Their Traffic

Get your SEO strategy figured out, then go crazy creating content.

This is How Top Bloggers Get 90% of Their Traffic

Image credit: lechatnoir | Getty Images

Related: 3 Essential Tools to Utilize When Starting a Company Blog

Social networks, for example, can be a great way to drive traffic to your blog. But they are not the most dominant force out there. Similarly, advertising on social networks can be effective, but only for the length of time you are running them and shelling out cash. It’s yet another machine which, with rare exceptions, does not compound upon its success. This is why the vast majority of top bloggers, even those spending a lot of time promoting themselves on social media, will tell you that social media is not where they get the majority of their traffic from.

An influencer in this space who knows this all too well, Darren Rowse, runs ProBlogger, a website with a huge following that teaches bloggers how to create and grow their blog. I heard him speak to this issue of — where bloggers get traffic — on his podcast, so I reached out to him to get more detail.

“Most bloggers that I talk with admit to focusing most of their promotional efforts on social media,” he said. “However, when you dig into where most established bloggers get the majority of their actual traffic, the answer I often hear is from Google. It seems to me that many bloggers are overlooking one of the biggest and most lucrative sources of traffic: search. The lure of viral traffic from social is strong but if bloggers put a little bit of time each day into their search strategy instead, I believe they would be far more successful.”

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is really the only traffic-driving force that has the potential to one day cross the bell-curve and work passively in your favor. The chances of someone stumbling across your social post from a year ago and sharing it with their audience, for example, is highly unlikely. And yet year-old blog posts constantly find their way to the top of search queries and continue to bring in big ticket traffic for websites that understand the value of quality content.

For example, according to a study by Hubspot, “66 percent of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. Similarly, a report by Ascend2 stated, “72 percent of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.”

Marketing and SEO expert Neil Patel attributes his blog’s 206 percent traffic increase to the art of search engine optimization and the effectiveness of creating valuable content for the web.

So, what are the steps to creating content with an SEO strategy in mind?

1. Start with relevant keywords, and search for the low-hanging fruit.

You need a firm grasp on what people in your industry or niche are searching for in order to create successful content. A few ways you can do this:

  • Use Google’s keyword planner, or a tool like Ubersuggest.
  • Search keywords on Quora, and look for what questions people are asking.
  • Do a few web searches with those related keywords to see who is currently dominating the first two pages of search.

Once you have a sense of what people are searching for surrounding your area of expertise or interest, you can start to cater your content toward the keywords that are not as competitive. For example, ranking on the first page for “social media” is going to be much harder than if you were to try rank for something more targeted like “real estate social media strategy.”

Related: Why You Should Republish Old Blog Content

2. Create long-form content for better searchability.

Marketers often talk about how today’s online readers have short attention spans, but I don’t buy this for a minute. Readers don’t hate long form content, they hate bad content. They hate bad content even more when it’s long. If the content is great content, then they want even more of it.

A study by Buzzsumo found that long-form content between 3,000 and 10,000 words ended up performing the best online. In fact, according to the study, “There are 16 times more content with less than 1,000 words than there were content with 2,000+ words.”

What this means is that trying to stand out with short-form content in a world of saturated short-form content is extremely difficult. However, if you come in wielding long-form, keyword specific, valuable content, you are far more likely to rise to the top of the rankings and accumulate more organic search traffic. Just make sure it’s great content people actually want to read.

3. Establish a network of backlinks from other websites.

If understanding the landscape is step one, and creating valuable content is step two, then step three is expanding your reach and having other blogs and websites point to your website via backlinks. According to Hubspot, “Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.”

Here are a few ways you can get websites and content publishers to link back to your content:

  • Reach out via email to relevant content publishers in your space or market, and let them know about your content piece. Ask them if it’s a good fit for their audience, and if so, to feel free to share it.
  • Create a similar piece of content for another website, and link back to your own content as an added resource or reference.
  • Quote or otherwise include relevant content creators in your space in your content, and when you publish it, tag them in your social media posts with the article. Do you think they’ll share it? Of course they will!

The key is to get what you’ve created in front of the right people, whether that’s through email outreach, social media or even good old fashioned networking.

Related: How Real Marketers Create Backlinks That Matter

With SEO there’s bad news, and there’s good news. The bad news is that SEO is a long-term strategy, which means you’ll need to do a lot of work for a long time to get consistently great results. The good news is that because it’s a long-term strategy, most of your competitors won’t focus on it, and then you win.

 

From: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290894