5 Tips for Incorporating SEO into Your Blog Content
Promoting the content you create for your business website is just as important as writing it in the first place. After all, with millions of blog posts being published each and every day, you can’t rely on an “if you build it, they will come” mentality to get your content seen by your target audience.
There are many things you can do to promote your content, from sharing on your Facebook and Twitter feeds, to actually paying for advertisements that’ll bring viewers to the site. But one way you can promote your content without any effort at all is to simply incorporate SEO principles and best practices into every article you publish.
Here, we’ll talk about why using proper SEO in your blog content is so important, as well as how you can do it.
A Basic SEO Primer
We’ve covered SEO in other places on the iPage blog, but as a brief refresher – or if you’re totally new to the subject – SEO refers to the practice of “search engine optimization.”
Every time a person enters a question into a search engine like Google, complicated algorithms work behind the scenes to determine which pages – out of everything that’s ever been published on the web – likely represent the best fit for the question. In total, the engines may consider more than 200 different factors when assigning weight and importance to each entry stored in their vast indices.
It is, of course, in your business’s best interests to appear as one of these first-page results. As past research has confirmed (and which has been repeatedly proven in subsequent analyses), the higher your placement in the organic search results, the more likely it is that a search user will click on your listing:
Search engine optimization is dedicated to providing the search engines’ automated indexing programs with the right information to help them decide to display your site in the results. While the engines themselves would never confirm or deny the assumptions marketers make about the factors believed to be involved in SEO scoring or their relative weight, entire careers have been devoted to understanding what individual sites can do to increase their chances of “being ranked.”
Many of the best practices they’ve identified have to do with the way content is written and published. Following these guidelines may help your site appear more frequently in the natural results (versus the paid listings that often appear above them), whether or not you go on to do any additional promotion of your content.
Tip #1 – Target conversational queries
Google releases hundreds of updates to its search algorithms every year, but some of these changes are notable enough – or have a wide enough impact – to be named by those in the SEM community.
One of these updates in particular, “Hummingbird,” was released in 2013 and attempted to make search more conversational by understanding the context behind the complete query.
Search Engine Land gives the example of the query “What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?” Where, in the past, Google might have tried to find pages that match the words “buy” and “iPhone 5s,” the engine, post-Hummingbird, aims for a more complete understanding.
“It may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It might understand that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “iPhone 5s” is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.”
Knowing that search is becoming more conversational should inform the way you create your content. Rather than following “old school” practices of stuffing various keywords into your content, your articles should now revolve around both the questions your customers are asking and the answers for them.
Get Started: Write down a list of 10 questions your customers ask you frequently. Then, brainstorm different pieces of content you could create around these different questions. Any articles you generate from them will benefit not just the search engines, but your readers as well.
Tip #2 – Use a variety of keyword variations
Another SEO phrase you need to know is “latent semantic indexing,” which is a fancy way of describing the search engines’ ability to determine which words and phrases on a page are related to each other.
If you’re a dietician, for example, and you’ve built nutritional advice into your website, LSI helps the search engines make use of other content you’ve already published to determine that your pages relate to “apple” the fruit, not “Apple” the technology giant.
Get Started: The recommendation here is simple. Rather than attempting to include individual keywords or phrases a certain number of times, use a variety of descriptions to make your point.
To find out which words and phrases the engines deem related to those you’re already using, head over to Google, type your target keywords in, and scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll see related searches (pictured here for the query “nutrition advice”):
The more you incorporate these exact words and phrases into your site’s content, the better Google will be able to understand – and rank – your content.
Tip #3 – Write articles that are longer than 2,000 words
According to an analysis conducted by SERPIQ, the higher positions in the organic search results are likely to be occupied by longer articles than lower ranked positions:
But while writing longer content is rarely a bad thing, these findings come with some caveats:
- Not every post you write needs to hit 2,000+ words. However, if there are particular keywords for which you’re trying to achieve high rankings, it may be to your advantage to create longer content.
- You’ll also want to consider your industry. What’s standard for sites in your space? How long is the content that’s currently ranking for your keywords? You may not need to write 2,000 words to stand out.
- Don’t turn 500 words of great content into 2,000 words of fluff. The content you create needs to be valuable – not just long.
Get Started: Take a look at the keywords you’re targeting, and choose one around which to create a 2,000+ word article. Give it some extra promotional effort, and you may see it ranking more quickly in the search results.
Tip #4 – Place target keywords in important areas
As you’re creating content, consider that the location of your target keywords within it can affect whether or not the search engines give your content the weight it deserves.
While keyword stuffing should still be considered a “no go,” place your chosen queries in as many of the following places as you can without compromising your content’s ability to be read naturally:
- Your blog post’s title
- Your blog post’s permalink URL
- The first sentence of your body copy
- One of the H2 headlines within your blog post
- At least once more within your body copy
- Your site’s title tag and meta description
Get Started: If your site runs on WordPress, a plugin like Yoast SEO can help you find these opportunities. Otherwise, begin capturing them with the next blog post you create. If you have time, you may even find it worthwhile to go back and update past content with your other target keywords.
Tip #5 – Make your content readable
Finally, though there’s much debate in the SEO community about whether a high bounce rate (as in, a high rate of people coming to your site and leaving before visiting a second page) counts against you, we can all agree that having visitors who don’t engage isn’t great for your business’s bottom line.
One reason visitors bounce upon arriving on new websites is that they’re greeted with massive blocks of text that make it difficult for them to find the information they need. Think about it – chances are you’ve been on a site before where you determined it would be easier to leave and try again than to dig through the seemingly-unintelligible content.
Making your content more readable can, therefore, improve both your website’s performance and your search engine presence. You can help readers navigate your words by using:
- Internal headings (typically H2 or H3 tags)
- Short paragraphs (no more than 2-4 sentences each)
- Bulleted and numbered lists
- Images and other visual assets
- Bolded or italicized text
Get Started: In addition to applying the specific features listed above, “readability” comes down to something of a gut feel. Take a look at your pages. If you were a visitor, would you be interested in reading more? If not, what changes can you make to engage them further?
The great thing about so many of these SEO-oriented content marketing best practices is that they benefit both your visitors and your site’s search results placements. Using a greater variety of descriptive phrases, for instance, makes reading your content more enjoyable than engaging with bland text; as does breaking it up in a way that makes reading fun.
Keep these guiding principles in mind as you create content. What you’ll ultimately find is that what’s good for your readers is good for your SEO performance as well.
Are you using any of the techniques described above? What else do you do to improve the SEO value of your content? Share your thoughts by leaving us a comment below: