If you own, run, or are thinking about starting a blog, you aren’t alone. In fact, blogging is massively popular across the globe, with some statistics suggesting that there were 31.7 million bloggers in the United States in 2020.
There are many reasons to start a blog: improving your writing skills, documenting a journey, educating customers on your products and services, or even writing reviews in order to generate cash from brand deals and affiliate marketing.
But with 31.7 million competitors in the USA alone, how do you make your blog stand out from the crowd?
The importance of getting your blog ranking on search engines probably needs no explaining – especially when you consider the fact that the first result on Google typically receives 36.4% of search engine traffic.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with 7 essential steps to optimize your blog posts for better search engine rankings.
It’s actually very easy to rank highly on search engines – all you need to do is find a supremely obscure keyword, and optimize all your content to target it. Of course, this isn’t going to generate very much traffic – and that traffic is unlikely to be valuable!
So, before you start employing the blogging tips and tricks in this article, you’ll need to decide which keywords you actually want to rank for. There are three factors to consider when choosing the best keywords to target:
- Relevancy: Your target keywords need to be highly relevant to those who you want to visit your site
- Competition: It’s typically better to target keywords that have lower competition
- Traffic: How many people are actually searching for the keywords you have chosen
Get one of these wrong, and you won’t see the results you want. For example, if you target keywords that have:
- Low relevancy, low competition, and high traffic, you’ll get lots of low-value visitors to your site
- High relevancy, high competition, and high traffic, you’ll end up with high-value traffic which is very difficult to secure
- High relevancy, low competition, and low traffic, and you’ll have high-value traffic, but very little of it!
Finding the best keywords is a fairly straightforward process – when you have the right tools, that is. There are plenty of keyword tools on the market that can provide you with insights into how popular keywords are, and how difficult they are to rank for. These tools range from simple tools such as Google’s own Keyword Planner, to tools that offer a deeper look, such as SEMRush or MOZ.
The simplest way to understand the importance of links is to think of them as a vote of confidence. When you link to another page within your blog, you’re telling search engines such as Google:
“This page is relevant to this content, and I trust that it adds additional value to what I am trying to say”.
This is why gaining external links from other sites to your site is so important, as those sites are ‘voting’ for your site as containing worthy content.
Similarly, you can include internal links within your own blog to show search engines how your content is focused on key themes, and how your blog posts are relevant to each other. As Google uses links to find content, the more internal links you use in your site, the easier Google will find it to rank your page.
However, make sure that your internal linking is relevant to the point that you’re trying to put across, as poorly considered links can lead to search engines penalizing your content.
Metadata can simply be described as data about data. Your blog metadata is all the data that is usually automated behind the scene when you create a new post. Search engines use metadata to build a picture about the relevancy and key themes of content.
This means that it isn’t just what’s written on your blog which impacts how you rank on search engines. Including meta descriptions and meta tags can help search engines understand exactly what your content is about, and quickly rank it accordingly.
Many people don’t fully grasp the importance of optimizing images when it comes to boosting SEO. They spend hours creating quality blog posts, just to throw a few images up with it to brighten up the readers’ experience.
But images can have a big impact on your search engine rankings.
Large, high-quality images can drastically slow down page load times. Search engines can penalize you for this, as it creates a poor visitor experience. Compressing the images you use will help speed up load times, and, therefore, positively impact how your blog posts place in Google’s search results.
You can further leverage images to improve SEO by taking advantage of the following techniques:
- Use images that are highly relevant to your content and add value
- Use image file names and titles to tell search engines exactly what an image is
- Use image alt descriptions to further describe an image and add context – these are also used by screen readers, meaning they make your blog more accessible to those using them
Would you buy from a website that you don’t trust? Probably not. Would you regularly return to a blog and digest information if you didn’t trust that the information was authentic? Probably not!
There are lots of ways that you can boost the trustworthiness of your blog, such as fact-checking your content, and reviewing past content to ensure that it’s still accurate.
One way you can secure your site is by getting an SSL certificate. This certificate basically shows those who visit your website who owns that site, offering transparency and further developing trust. It also highlights that there is a secure connection between their personal device and the website, which is especially beneficial in ecommerce settings.
Search engines such as Google value transparency, and will give a little boost to your site’s rankings if it has an SSL certificate.
Over time, search engine algorithms change. This means that what is important today, might not be important tomorrow. This can be a little frustrating – particularly when you’re investing considerable time into getting your website ranking well.
However, there is one golden rule to remember, which will pay dividends regardless of changes in algorithms:
“Publish great content”.
Search engines change their algorithms in order to serve their users with the most relevant search results. Therefore, they’re always being updated to help them find the best content. So, it makes logical sense that if your content is of high quality, then you’ll also end up with high-ranking content.
The first thing to remember when creating content is to ensure that it’s super relevant. This can be done by finding relevant topics and keywords, then creating content surrounding them. For example, if a search engine can identify keywords and key themes that are repeated across titles, subheadings, text, and images, they’ll easily be able to identify what that content is about – and rank it accordingly.
Improving the readability of your content is also beneficial to both readers and search engines, as it makes it easier for both to find key information. You can improve readability by:
- Writing in a concise manner
- Using headings and subheadings to break up text
- Adding images that add context to your content
- Using bullet points or numbered lists to highlight key information
Duplicating content is a bad move when it comes to SEO. This is even true if you own the content and have every right to republish that content elsewhere. There are three main reasons why duplicating content is a bad idea:
- Search engines don’t know which content was the original and should be included in their indices
- Search engines don’t know whether to direct the link metrics to one page or split it between the multiple versions
- Search engines don’t know which version to rank in search results
As duplicate content tends to confuse search engines, when it occurs it will typically damage the rankings of all versions.
So, when you’re creating blog content, you should keep it original to avoid future complications!
In this article, we’ve armed you with 7 powerful tools to boost your search engine rankings. It’s important to remember that obtaining good, consistent rankings is a journey, and should be worked on over time.
Plan regular reviews to identify what is and isn’t working for you when it comes to boosting your blog’s SEO, and remember – keep publishing high-quality content, and you can’t go wrong!