SEO Guidelines for Writing Blog Posts

You’re a small business.

You’re told you need to blog.

You’re told content is king.

But for what purpose, you ask.

Here’s your guide to crafting blog posts in a manner that yields positive results toward enhancing your web site’s organic search rankings.

HEADLINES AND BLOG TITLES

  • Consider how people use search engines — they search in phrases in a natural manner
  • Your blog posts should emulate that type of search engine activity
  • Your headlines and blog titles (H1s) should reflect natural speaking and phrasing

KEYWORDS

  • Craft your blog post around one primary keyword/phrase (i.e., Cannondale CAAD 9 bicycle)
  • Don’t stuff the keyword into your post (because Google will penalize you for too many times); instead, incorporate the keywords in your body copy in a natural, reader-friendly manner
  • Have a secondary keyword/phrase to incorporate (i.e., specialty road bikes)
  • The topic of the post should be narrow enough to be able to spend time optimizing to just one or two keywords
  • Don’t shy away from long-tail keywords — which will likely bring in more qualified site visitors (i.e., how to clip in and out of road bike pedals)

WHERE TO INCORPORATE KEYWORDS

  • Title: the post’s title should definitely include your primary keyword
  • Body copy: as noted above, incorporate keywords in your body copy in a natural, reader-friendly manner
  • URL: ideally, a portion of your URL should reflect the actual title of your blog post. As long as your title includes your keyword, so should your URL
  • Meta description: This tells Google and readers brief information about the post’s content. Try to use your keyword here to keep visits relevant. This needs to be fewer than 155 characters (including spaces) for Google to display the entire description.

KEYWORD PLANNING TOOL

Determine the search volumes of one phrase over another and incorporate these learnings into the blog post headline, subheads, and body copy accordingly.

IMAGE ALT TAGS

Copy isn’t the only SEO purposed content in your blog post. If you have images that help add value to your blog post, make sure to include an image alt tag, because Google doesn’t look for images, it looks for images with text (i.e., what you see when you place your cursor over an image).

When assigning an alt tag to an image, think about it as a way to explain the image to the blind — here’s what you’re seeing — and do it in 3-5 words if possible.

BAD ALT TAG: bike1
GOOD ALT TAG: Cannondale 2015 road bike

BAD ALT TAG: bike shop
GOOD ALT TAG: Specialized Bike Shop in Los Angeles

Bonus points if you save your images first using the alt tag as your file name.

INTERLINKING

Linking to other pages within the same domain site helps retain site visitors, but also shows search engines that other pages are relevant and authoritative.

If you have an opportunity to add a Shop/Browse/Contact call-to-action with every blog post, that’s a great way of getting your visitor to engage past the first article.

When interlinking, try to optimize the link for keyword-rich anchor text (the actual text that links). There’s no need to link to the same page in the same blog post though, Google only looks at the first mention of the anchor text on any given page.

This means no more using “click here” or “learn more” as your anchor text, and finding new ways of copywriting so your anchor text is keyword rich instead.

SUBHEADLINES

Instead of a blog post that’s 500 straight words of content, break up copy blocks with subheadlines.

Subheads that are keyword rich are crawled by Google to help determine the relevancy of that article. First, the crawler reads the headline, then H2, H3, H4, etc.

So instead of only bolding or italicizing headlines for visual separation, make sure they’re wrapped in code (i.e.,<h1>Headline About Bikes</h1>) to highlight and separate them in your blog’s source code as well.

CALL TO ACTION

Every blog post should have one because if somebody comes in organically to the site to the blog post, we don’t want it to be a dead end.

A call to action is telling the visitor what’s next, what’s the next action they need to take after reading.

Commenting and sharing are two great calls to actions.

Commenting helps develop and engaged audience, while sharing helps increase the exposure of the website to prospects and create a new source of inbound links — both good things

POST-PUBLISH SHARING

The core of content creation is its value in inbound links. And to kick-off each post’s value, after publishing, we need to share the post to grow its exposure to both our current customers as well as prospects.

Here are five tips and guidelines for sharing your latest blog post:

  1. Share on social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn (both profiles and groups), Pinterest, etc. But each network as a different audience and warrants a different way to share the post. On Twitter, the blog post headline and link may suffice, but on Facebook, where the community is more about engagement, asking a question related to the post, with a link back may create both inbound links and community engagement.
  2. Share again on social media. Using analytics you can see when your network is most engaged — what days, what times, etc. Use these insights to share your blog post at different day parts to ensure your audience has seen your latest content.
  3. Engage with those who share your content. If somebody shares or retweets your content, thank them and engage with them — what’d they take from your post, do they agree, do they have different thoughts? Engaging will encourage people to share future content as well.
  4. Reach out to blog post stakeholders. Everybody likes to see their name in lights, so when you’re publishing a post about a bike manufacturer, an event, or an item, make sure to let the subject of your post know that you’ve featured them in your latest blog post. They’ll read and consider sharing with their own networks — yielding new readers, new traffic, new inbound links, and a partner that’s thankful for the exposure.
  5. Have a blog post intended for a higher reaching, upper funnel audience? Consider pitching it to the media. But before you blindly pitch a host of managing editors, try to develop a relationship with them first (email them personally by name, not bcc, what type of content are they looking for, what’s the best way to be an asset to their publication, etc.). Keep your pitch short and sweet (respect the editor’s time), but more importantly make sure you have a creative subject line (not “Guest Post Inquiry”).

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