A strong presence on search engine results pages (SERPs) is everything in today’s market. Businesses know that when users want a solution to a problem or pain point, the first place they go looking is Google (or any other search engine). So, you have to be there among the top results when they come looking because 75% of internet users never get to the second page. But with the ever-changing algorithms, making your blog posts rank on Google can seem tricky. What you need is a basic understanding of blog SEO and its best practices. As long as you are covering all the basics of SEO blog writing, you’ll find that the search rankings will take care of themselves.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about blog SEO, including some invaluable blog SEO tips for making your blog posts rank higher on Google. With the knowledge gained from this article, you can skip the guesswork and actually invest your time and resources in things that’ll get you the results.
What is blog SEO and why is it important?
Blog SEO tips to rank your blog post on Google
- Blog SEO with keywords
- Create a blog post outline for SEO success
- Optimize blogs for featured snippets
- Choose compelling blog titles and meta descriptions
- Place keywords strategically
- Invest in link building
- SEO-optimized blog images
- Create an SEO-friendly URL structure
- Install an SSL certificate
- Make your blog mobile-friendly
What is blog SEO and why is it important?
Blog SEO is simply the process of optimizing your blog posts with both on-page and technical SEO techniques. This can include improving the blog content quality, adding keywords, hyperlinks, and meta descriptions, enhancing page load speed, etc. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold –
- To achieve greater visibility on SERPs and increase your blog traffic by making sure that Google can find your blogs.
- To ensure that the content is in line with the interests and requirements of your audience
If you’re already somewhat familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll find that blog SEO techniques are not very different from the SEO techniques used for other types of content. The only difference here is that you’ll be actively implementing SEO best practices to support a content strategy specifically for long-form content. You will be using SEO tactics you might already know to develop relevant, informative, and engaging content that aligns with the search intent and needs of your target audience.
TL;DR Here’s a quick summary of the article in this video.
Now, let’s take a look at why blog SEO is important.
When it comes to driving traffic to your blog, there are several ways you can do that –
- Paid advertising
- Social media marketing
- Guest blogging
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
But if you’re looking for the most consistent and stable way to drive organic traffic to your blog, search engine optimization (SEO) is your answer. The key is to rank for the specific keywords your audience is searching for, and maintaining those rankings to get consistent and targeted traffic from the search engine.
According to a 2022 Backlinko study, the average CTR of the first search result in Google’s organic search results has been found to be 27.6%.
So, if you’re looking to improve your blog’s visibility in organic search and attract new audiences, blog SEO is the way to go.
The other important benefits of writing SEO blog posts are as follows –
- Builds site authority: Using the right SEO blog writing techniques to answer your audience’s search queries will help boost your credibility as a trusted source. It will also help in building your blog’s authority over time.
- Reduces bounce rate: Search engine blog writing is mostly about creating content that is valuable, easy to understand, and engaging. When you make it a practice to build this type of content, the readers will be encouraged to stay on your page for longer, which will help reduce bounce rates.
- Improved user experience: Blog SEO aims at improving the user experience on your blog website by ensuring a simple and clear navigation structure, accessible design, faster load speed, and more. When you offer your users an improved user experience, the likelihood of them coming back, and even recommending your blog to others increases many folds.
With the basics of blog SEO covered, let’s take a look at the ranking factors Google takes into account to determine the organic search rankings.
Ranking factors on Google
The search engine rankings for blog posts on Google are determined using a complex algorithm that contains more than 200 individual ranking factors. Even though the exact number of ranking factors has not been disclosed, SEO experts and professionals have been able to identify some of them through research and analysis. These Google’s ranking factors for blog posts can be primarily divided into –
- On-page ranking factors, which are concerned with keyword targeting and content quality.
- Off-page ranking factors, which examine the number of backlinks, endorsements from other sites, etc.
- Technical ranking factors, which judge how easily your blog website can be crawled and indexed.
While the Google algorithm updates and changes from time to time, the primary characteristics it uses to parse out relevant blog posts remain the same – Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E.A.T). And the ranking factors help in the measurement of E.A.T.
Here’s a look at the individual ranking factors within each of these categories –
1. On-page ranking factors
- High-quality, relevant content, which is fresh, readable, trustworthy, and matches the intent of the keyword.
- Image optimization: Image quality, file size, alt text, etc.
- Keyword placement in URL, title, headings, meta description, and body.
- Niche expertise
2. Off-page ranking factors
- Brand mentions
- Social signals
- Domain authority
3. Technical ranking factors
- Page speed
- Core web vitals (LCP, FID, CLS)
- Interlinking structure
- Site security
With a thorough understanding of the ranking factors, let’s move on to some great blog SEO tips for creating SEO-friendly blogs that rank higher on search engines.
Blog SEO tips to rank your blog post on Google
1. Blog SEO with keywords
If you want your SEO article/blog post to pop up on Google search, it’s important to research and target the right keywords. This will help Google understand exactly what your content is about. Keyword research is, in fact, one of the most crucial aspects of an SEO content strategy, and should be done before you start with the blog writing process. It forms the basic foundation of blog optimization.
When performing keyword research, keep in mind the following –
a. Understand user intent
Every user has a specific intent in mind when they come searching for something on the web. It could be about making a purchase, solving a problem, learning about something, or finding any specific type of information. By developing a good understanding of user intent, you’ll be able to choose keywords that are better aligned with your audience’s goals.
b. Focus on only one primary keyword
For every blog piece, keep your focus on one primary keyword, and then build your list of secondary keywords tied to that primary keyword. Focusing on one primary keyword gives you a better chance of achieving SEO success. It helps prevent keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact your search rankings in the long run.
You can pick your primary keyword based on your blog audience persona and the topics they would be most interested in. When choosing your primary keyword, make sure to check for the search volume and competition with an SEO tool like Google Keywords Planner.
As for the secondary keywords, Narrato’s SEO content brief generator can be a nifty tool. When you input your primary keyword, a complete SEO brief is generated in a matter of seconds. It gives you a list of keywords, competitor links, questions to include along with the target word count, and more. You can even add to the keyword list, and track the keyword count as you optimize your content on Narrato’s powerful content editor.
c. Choose low-difficulty keywords
Make sure to check the keyword difficulty level before you compile your final list of keywords. High-difficulty keywords generally have more competition. And the higher the difficulty level of the keyword, the more tricky it is to rank for. It is a good idea to specifically look for keywords with low competition and decent traffic volume. There are plenty of tools of SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Semrush (and more) that can be used to check for keyword difficulty.
d. Long-tail keywords FTW
Users with a targeted search intent are usually further along in the sales cycle. To attract these users with your blog content, it’s a good idea to use some quality long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are nothing but keywords containing 3–4 phrases that are very specific to your blog topic. And since they usually have low competition, ranking your content for these keywords is easier.
How do you look for long-tail keywords?
Well, there are several ways you can go about it –
- Many keyword generators, like LongTailPro, Keywords Everywhere, and Answer the Public, can help you specifically with long-tail keywords.
- Google’s autocomplete feature is a great way to look for long-tail keywords.
- Whenever you conduct any search on Google, you’ll find a ‘related searches’ section at the bottom of the search engine result page. This section usually contains several long-tail keywords related to your search query.
- User Google Search Console or Google Analytics to analyze the search queries for your website. You might end up finding some long-tail keywords that you hadn’t considered before.
- Running competitor analysis can also bring up some long-tail keywords that your competitors are already ranking for.
2. Create a blog post outline for SEO success
Outlining your blog posts is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your SEO strategy. But creating a proper outline at the very start of the process does make SEO blog writing a breeze, whether it’s a how-to post, listicle, or any other blog writing format. The more comprehensive and thorough your outline, the easier the blog writing becomes. It also allows you to structure your content for enhanced readability, providing a better user experience to your readers.
Creating a blog post outline is nothing but having all the headings in place so that you know everything that needs to be covered. You would usually start with an H2 heading, which can open up a list of H3 subheadings. And finally, you close with an H2 subheading again. Structuring your content like this increases the chance of it coming up on the featured snippets on Google. If you’re looking to give your blog more depth, you can add more headers (H2 followed by H3) as and when you like.
Narrato’s AI writer can make this process a lot easier for you. With the Blog Post Outline use case, you can easily create outlines in just a few seconds. Here is an example of the tool in action –
Besides this, you can also use Narrato’s ChatGPT integration to create blog post outlines. You would just have to provide it with a prompt to create a blog post outline for a topic, and the tool creates a comprehensive outline for you in a matter of seconds. You can then choose to modify the outline, and add and remove the headers based on your own research.
Here, we asked the ChatGPT content assistant to create a blog post outline for the topic ‘Top 3 cars to buy in 2023’. This is what it came up with. Pretty neat, wouldn’t you say?
3. Optimize blogs for featured snippets
Featured snippets are usually snippets from useful blog articles, that show up in the first position in the search results when you look for something. This is what they look like –
Featured snippets are usually of the following four types –
- List (bulleted or numbered)
They can be very useful in driving more traffic to your blog as they stand out among the search results. So, if you’re looking to get more out of your blog content, make sure you optimize it for featured snippets. How can you go about doing that? We’ve already discussed how you can structure your headings and subheadings to get featured. Another great way to get featured snippets is by adding a well-formatted FAQ section at the bottom of your blog post. Make sure to include questions people usually for, and keep the answers precise and short. All that is left is to submit the page through Google Search Console, which will allow Google to find and index your page more easily.
4. Choose compelling blog titles and meta descriptions
One of the important Google ranking factors for blogs is click-through rate (CTR). If your blog post is already coming up on the first page of the search results, your content can easily scale the ranks as your CTR increases. And if you’re looking to increase your CTR, one of the best ways to do that is by writing a compelling page title and meta description. The goal is to grab the attention of the users, enticing them to click on your page. But remember, you would have limited number of characters to create both the meta title (60 characters) and meta description (150-160 characters), so it’s important to make it count.
When creating the title and meta description, there are 2 things to keep in mind –
- Stick to the character limit, as you wouldn’t want the title or description to be cut off in the Google search results.
- Make sure to add your primary keyword in the page title and meta description, but never stuff keywords. It’s important for your page title and meta description to sound natural to the readers.
Using Narrato’s AI writing assistant makes the process of creating a keyword-optimized meta description a lot easier. All you have to do is enter your page title and the target keyword, and the AI writing tool generates a meta description that you can edit and refine.
As for the page titles, you can take the help of Narrato’s AI topic generator to come up with compelling topics for your blog pieces.
5. Place keywords strategically
Incorporate your keywords strategically, and make sure to use the primary keyword and variations of it in the –
- Page Title (H1)
- First paragraph
- H2 headings
- Image alt text
- Body of the content
But be careful about keyword stuffing, as it can negatively affect your SEO efforts in the long run. Never sacrifice your content quality just to include a few extra keywords. The ultimate aim is to provide value to the readers through quality content.
6. Invest in link building
Link building is the process of getting backlinks for your website, which are essentially votes of your content’s authority in your domain. To get other websites to link back to your page, you have to focus on creating quality content first. If your content doesn’t provide value to the readers, no one will want to link back to it. Once you are confident about your content quality, you can reach out to influencers and other brands (not direct competitors) in your niche with backlink requests.
Other strategies you can employ to get backlinks are –
- Guest posting
- Brand mentions
- Paid promotion
- HARO link building – When you post answers to questions on HARO, you can earn a backlink if your answer gets published.
- Link reclamation, in which you reach out to sites that have your brand mention, but without a link
7. SEO-optimized blog images
Did you know optimizing your blog images for SEO can send more traffic to your website? Here’s how you can do that –
- Make it a practice to specify alternative text (alt text) for every image, and add your primary keyword in the alt text. Alt tags help search engines understand the content of an image. And when users search with a particular keyword on Google Image Search, your content will appear higher up in the search results.
- Images with descriptive filenames and alt tags also offer improved accessibility to those with visual impairments.
- Reduce the image file size to ensure that it loads fast. This can also help with SEO, as page load time is an important ranking factor for Google.
8. Create an SEO-friendly URL structure
Optimizing your blog URLs is another good blog SEO practice. The key is to keep them descriptive and short, while also including the primary keyword. You can also use the default permalink URL structure to ensure that it remains concise. Also, avoid adding any dates and special characters in your blog URL, as these would result in unnecessarily long URLs.
9. Install an SSL certificate
As we’ve already covered, site security is an important ranking factor for Google. Make sure to install an SSL certificate on your blog website before launching it. If you skip this step, the visitors will be greeted with a ‘Website not secure’ message when they land on your page.
10. Make your blog mobile-friendly
Even if most of your traffic comes from desktops, it’s important to optimize your blog for mobile devices. People often use their mobiles to search the web, so you have to look for ways to attract and retain traffic from this source as well. If you’re running your site on WordPress, make sure that you use a responsive theme that adapts to different screen sizes. It’s also a good idea to use a simple and intuitive menu that can be easily accessed through smaller screens.
Other ways to make your blog more mobile-friendly are –
- Compressing and resizing images
- Legible and simple fonts
- Concise and clear headlines
- Fast page load speed
FAQs on blog SEO
FAQ #1: What is the difference between a blog and an article in SEO?
The main difference between an SEO article and an SEO blog post is the purpose and format of the content. SEO articles are usually standalone content pieces that are longer and more detailed than SEO blog posts. The purpose of an SEO article is to offer expert insights, while SEO blog posts are part of an ongoing conversation with the audience.
FAQ #2: Does copying an entire article from one blog to another impact the SEO results on the sites?
Yes. Google takes plagiarism very seriously and penalizes websites that contain plagiarized content. This can affect your search rankings in the long run. If you’re concerned about accidentally plagiarizing content, you can use a plagiarism detection tool like Narrato’s to ensure the originality of your content.
FAQ #3: What is the SEO impact of cross-posting a blog post onto LinkedIn and Medium?
Cross-posting a blog post on Medium, LinkedIn, and other such platforms can have a positive SEO impact as it helps in increasing the blog’s reach. It also helps in building awareness. But when you post the exact same content on multiple platforms, you can risk being penalized. And if your blog post does exceptionally well on these platforms, you might end up competing with yourself in the Google search rankings.
SEO blog writing is both a science and an art. You need to keep your content relevant, informative, and engaging for the readers. At the same time, you have to ensure that your blog is adequately optimized for search engines. The blog SEO tips provided in this article will hopefully give you some idea about navigating the process, giving your content a chance to rank higher on Google.