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November 1, 2019

How to Optimize Your Blog Posts for Search Engines: A SEO Step by Step Guide

Source: Pexels.com

A blog is a traffic magnet. Social media traffic, referral traffic and, yes, organic traffic.

If your SEO game is on point, that is.

On average, marketers and content writers spend more than three hours on a single blog post.

Image via Orbit Media

I’m a very fast writer. My personal best is less than nine minutes for a 500-word blog post that required no research. 

But who writes short posts anymore?

The longest, most in-depth posts on my company’s blog (5000+ words) took days to research, outline and write. And several members of my team were involved in the process.

Why am I telling you all this?

To emphasize what a colossal waste of time this would be if you didn’t optimize your blog posts for search engines. You would, essentially, be giving up a huge chunk of your potential traffic – the organic chunk.

This is a screenshot of our Google Analytics account. 63% of Idunn’s traffic came from organic searches this year. That’s more than half!

Organic traffic is also the source of most of our customers.

All this happens because we took the time to optimize our blog posts. 

If you don’t want to miss out on organic traffic and potential customers coming through this channel, read on.

How to optimize your blog posts for SERPs in a few simple steps

1. Find the right keywords

Great SEO isn’t just a matter of ranking. It’s a matter of ranking for the right (read: profitable for your business) keywords.

How do you find these keywords, though?

Always focus on these three rules of thumb

  • They’re long-tail keywords
  • They match user intent
  • They match your business goals

Here’s why you need all three. Long-tail keywords aren’t just easier to rank for. They are also easier to match with user intent (as they are more specific) and with business goals. 

A practical example: my company sells copywriting and SEO content writing services. Naturally, I want our website to rank for terms in this field.

So I start with a ‘root keyword’: copywriting.

But it’s too vague. I don’t know anything about the intent of the users searching for it: they might be looking to hire copywriters (ideal, but not probable), they might be looking for examples (likely) or for a definition, basic info on what copywriting entails (most likely).

These people will never be my clients.

I need to add something more. 

You can find this ‘something more’ using a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Google Ads Planner. Or you can look at the most common questions you get via support chat or email.

This is what I did.

And I found out that most people ask about prices. Kinda obvious, right?

After research on keyword volume and competition on several keyword options (I need to make sure I rank higher than the competitors) the winning version turned out to be price of copywriting services.

Let’s go through the checklist again:

  • Is it long-tail? Yes!
  • Does it match user intent? Yes! Even more than similar versions like ‘copywriting prices’ – where someone may be looking to find out how to price their own services. When you add ‘services’ you know the user is almost ready to buy.
  • Does it match my business goals? Yes! I want to sell those services!

My process is this simple: if a keyword doesn’t pass all three questions it’s booted. We move on. 

2. Use those keywords

Now that you’ve found the perfect keywords, let’s put them to good use. 

Very important: good use doesn’t mean stuffing your content with them. This won’t get you ranking but it will get you penalized. 

Here’s an example of what keyword stuffing looks like:

Image via Quora

How often is too often? Well, the ‘law’ is unclear on that.

The rule I follow is keeping the keyword density below 3% and ideally below 2%.

However, you don’t have to abuse those keywords in order to rank for them. You just have to stick them in the right places:

  • Title
  • URL
  • First paragraph (or first 100 words)
  • Last paragraph (or last 100 words)
  • At least one subtitle
  • Alt image tags
  • Meta description
  • Sprinkled reasonably throughout your content

Rule of thumb here: just write naturally. Don’t force it. If your human readers like it, so will Google bots.

Additionally:

  • Use plenty of synonyms to your main keyword(s)
  • Use LSI keywords – a quick guide here

3. Optimize every asset

Don’t just optimize your written content or text body. Use your keyword (and its variations) in:

  • Image tags
  • Meta description
  • Video tags
  • Social media captions

4. Promote your optimized content

Submitting it to Google isn’t enough. We already know the biggest Catch-22 of organic traffic: the most popular websites/posts, get ranked higher and, thus, get even more organic traffic.

One other thing that’s relevant to your ranking is the number of traffic sources. So help your content become the most popular kid on the block. Here’s how:

  • Share it on social media. Not just once. Organic reach isn’t your friend, so make sure you share it multiple times at different times of day to reach a bigger chunk of your audience.
  • Tag media outlets/influencers you mentioned. Did you link to anyone’s website in your post (you should! See below)? Email them or tag them on social media. They are likely to share your post.
  • Turn it into an ad. Even a smidge of a budget on Facebook ads can boost your posts popularity immensely. Try it out.
  • Email it to your list

5. Use best linking practices

There are two major categories of links that help your blog posts grow (except for the backlinks you earn, of course)

  • Outbound links – links to other (preferably high-authority) websites. This proves that you’ve done your research and checked out trustworthy sources to back up your claims.
  • Inbound links – links to other blog posts or web pages of yours. This helps Google better understand your content. It also helps your pages/posts rank higher. An inbound link from one of your top-performing posts to other posts helps the latter gain more traction in SERPs.

6. Be useful

I’ve said this countless times: don’t write for search engines. You’re not in business with them. Write for humans, for their pain points and needs. They are the ones you want to be in business with.

Make sure your content is neatly organized, easy to read (bullet points and headlines help a lot!) and, above all, useful.

If humans (am I starting to sound like a Ferengi here yet?) find your content useful, they will read it, share it and come back to your blog for more. This is earned traffic aka the best kind of traffic. The kind that Google rewards with better rankings.

Wrapping things up

The most important thing about blog SEO is to never forget about its purpose. No, that’s not traffic. Traffic doesn’t pay the bills.

It’s getting customers.

Write for them. Choose keywords that match their needs and pains and write in a way that is compelling and truly helpful to them. Not to you, not to search engines.

Not sure how to achieve all that? We are! Take a look at our copywriting and content writing services. We create content that BOTH human readers and Google love. And we’d be happy to create some for your business, too.


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.

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