5 Actionable Tips To Improve Your Blog's SEO
Ready to start blogging for your business but not sure where to start? Use these five SEO tips to start creating keyword-driven blog posts and structure your website to attract Google.
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You’ve been around the Internet long enough to know blogging is a great way to improve your search engine optimization (SEO). As a business owner, you want that extra SEO boost so more people land on your website and you have more chances of converting that traffic into potential leads and sales.
Where things get a little fuzzy is how to start blogging for better SEO.
Because you’ve probably written a few blogs, or have business friends who have, but aren’t seeing website traffic or money flow in from those posts. And the Internet seems to be full of fluff pieces on the “Best SEO Practices” but they rarely give you actionable steps you can use on your own blog.
The truth is, SEO really can help you land on page one of Google if it’s done right and it really can lead to more inquiries and sales for your business. You just need to know what SEO strategies work and how to use them in your own business blog.
So here are my 5 actionable tips to blogging for better SEO.
And it all starts with a cluster.
Create Blog Topic Clusters
Most businesses and bloggers start blogging by creating individual posts on a range of topics. When it comes time to categorize our posts, we squeeze them into one of the many categories we’ve accumulated over the years – whichever topic category the post kinda, sorta fits into best.
We’ve focused more on our blog posts and less on our topic relevance to Google and our readers.
In other words, we’ve been more concerned about how to rank individual posts (and making sure they’re search engine optimized) than we have been concerned with becoming a topic authority to Google and our readers. This blogging system is flawed and ends up making us work harder to get ranked on search engines.
Topic Clusters fixes that.
What are topic clusters?
Topic clusters are a way to structure your blogging process. Using Topic Clusters mean you organize all the blog posts you write to fall under a few broad blog topics and then allow you to link them together.
To do this, choose the broad topics you want to rank for based on carefully researched keywords related to the types of services or products you provide in your business. These will be your Pillar Content topics or PCTs.
Next, create blog posts around those Pillar Content topics by researching more specific keywords and long-tail keywords related to each PCT. Those are your individual blog post topics.
Once you start publishing those blogs, create internal links inside every blog post that takes the reader to other, similar posts that fall under that Pillar Content Topic.
Here’s an example of one of my actual Topic Clusters.
Notice the image above has one large circle that says Marketing? That circle is my PCT. The small squares are individual blog posts that fall under my PCT. These smaller squares are topics based on long-tail keywords and keywords related to my PCT. Dark grey lines represent internal links that I’ve created within my posts, linking each individual post to the main Cluster. The light grey lines show how I’ve linked each blog post to at least one other blog post under that PCT.
How do topic clusters help my blog’s SEO?
Topic clusters are helpful to your SEO in three major ways:
- Topic Clusters tell Google how much of an authority you are on this topic by showing there are multiple pages or posts on your website about the topic.
- By linking your past blog posts or web pages, you create internal links, which help your reader fall into your Ant Hill Effect. (More on that in my fourth tip!)
- Creating Pillar Content topics specifically around major services, keywords, or products in your business helps you research more relevant SEO-driven keywords and long-tail keywords.
Speaking of keywords…
Limit Your SEO Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords
A search engine optimized blog post doesn’t mean you have as many keywords you can stuff into it as possible. In fact, Google actually punishes posts that practice this method, which is called keyword stuffing.
What are SEO keywords and long-tail keywords?
A keyword is a single word (or two) that acts as a topic people search for. Google and other search engines recognize these words when people start a search and match them to relevant websites – creating search results. They’re terms like marketing, photography, life coaching, and other topics that often coincide with your business services, products, or themes.
You can find these keywords by using tools like Google Keyword Planner, MOZ, Google Trends, or even asking your ideal audience what they type into Google!
A long-tail keyword is typically three or more words, or a phrase, that is commonly used in searches. An easier way to understand long-tail keywords is to think of them as the questions people type into search engines.
In fact, you can use Google to find some of these questions by paying attention to the little boxes like these:
You can also get some great suggestions at the bottom of the page, like these:
How many keywords and long-tail keywords should my blog post have?
A good rule of thumb is to choose one to two keywords or long-tail keywords to focus on in each article. You’ll probably have other keywords in there, it can’t be helped, but don’t actively try to incorporate them as key focus points of your post. This keeps your posts on-topic, shows it as more of an authority piece and leaves you with more keywords and topics you can use in later posts.
Optimize Your Blog Post For Search Engines Before You Publish
HARSH FACT: You could have the best blog post the Internet has ever seen, but if it’s not optimized to catch Google’s attention then it doesn’t exist to Google or to your ideal reader.
So to make sure our blog posts exist, we optimize them to seduce Google into noticing us. There are several ways to optimize your blog post but the most important areas are:
Use keywords and long-tail keywords in the headings
This is a crucial SEO Tip: SEO-driven headings are crucial to showing up on Google. When Google looks at your blog post, it determines what your post is about in a matter of milliseconds. It does this by crawling your page and reading the information on it in a hierarchical systematic way. Your website uses a heading structure (also known as H Tags) to create a hierarchy of what your post is about from the most important point to the least. If you’ve ever seen the terms H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 while toggling through your paragraph format settings, that’s your H Tag structure.
Google takes the information it obtains from scanning your headings and uses it to determine what search terms your article would be a good fit for. Remember, if Google doesn’t know what search terms you want to rank for, you don’t rank.
Just another tip: Headings also play an important part in breaking up content on the page for your reader. It can make a lot of text seem more manageable to read or allow people to pinpoint only what they want to read on your page. I’ve been doing it throughout this article – have you noticed?
Put keywords in the page title and meta description
If you’re using WordPress and you have an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO, then you’re probably familiar with page titles and meta descriptions. If not, they’re the content you see when you’re looking at Google search results. The page title is always shown first, then the URL, then a short description of what that page is about. Google uses these to also determine if your post is relevant to a search inquiry and to show the searcher what your post is about.
If you don’t have an SEO-driven title and meta description, Google will often create meta titles and descriptions for you based on what you called your page and the first few lines of the post. Not always the best way to be represented if your opening lines aren’t 100 percent what your article is about or you named your page SEO Article June 2018.
It should be noted that people also use these two aspects to determine if your post might be what they’re searching for. If you leave it up to Google’s randomly generated titles and meta descriptions, then you’re leaving it up to chance whether your blog posts look good enough to click. As a business owner, you can’t afford to leave potential sales and introductions up to chance.
Create ALT tags for every photo and graphic on your blog post
Did you know Google doesn’t actually see the pretty pictures you have in your blog posts like a human? It reads them. More specifically, it looks for the ALT tags you create to determine what the picture is about.
ALT Tags aren’t automatically generated on most website platforms and good, SEO-driven ALT tags aren’t automatically generated on any platform. You have to create the ALT tags yourself – on every photo, graphics, infograph, video, or whatever on your website.
WordPress users can do this easily by double-clicking an image or by going into their media library and clicking on the image there. If you use a different website platform, they should have instructions on how to change an ALT tag.
Set up your blog to show up properly on social media platforms
There will be times when your main blog image doesn’t follow the dimensions social media platforms have for how images are displayed or when your page title’s a little too boring for sensational-loving Facebook fans. In times like these, you can add hidden images, titles, and descriptions to your blog post that are only displayed on certain social media websites. Facebook and Twitter are the main two you may need to have separate content for.
We’ve already touched on how important it is to link similar blog posts together under the same Topic Cluster. Now we need to talk about other ways internal links help improve your SEO and how to link to other pages on your website from your blog.
Let’s start with why.
Internal links are a type of Inbound link as far as Google is concerned. The more inbound links you have to a blog post or a page on your website, the more likely Google thinks it’s an authority on the topic. It’s very similar to social proof. If this post is being linked to often, then people must think it’s good. If a lot of people think it’s good then Sally Search Engine User may benefit from having it show up on page one of her search results.
What’s also easy is how to use internal links to draw your reader into your website and business to make more sales. I call it the Ant Hill Effect (AHE).
Here’s how the Ant Hill Effect Helps Your SEO And Sales
An ant hill typically has one way we see to get in. Once you’re in, there’s an interwoven system of tunnels that lead to the main nest area where the queen lives – the heart of the hill.
The Ant Hill Effect (AHE) is when you create the same idea on your blog.
Let’s pretend you own a company that plans people’s vacations. Your AHE might be that when a bride-to-be lands on your blog post about the “Top 5 Destination Wedding Locations” from search results on Google. While reading, she clicks on your internal link to a post about “Affordable Wedding Destinations in 2019”. (Nothing wrong with a bride on a budget, am I right?) That post mentions Jekyll Island, a place she’s always wanted to go to, and she calls up the fiancé for his opinion before clicking your internal link to book a trip to Jekyll Island for their destination wedding – right then and there. (Let’s also note she sends a link to all her guests to book their tickets with you, too.)
Notice how you lead the bride-to-be from her first discovery of your business to the sale or action you want her to take? That’s the power the Ant Hill Effect and Internal links have for your business.
And this destination wedding example of an AHE can be adapted for any business or blog topic you’d like. Your topics will be based on the keywords that fall under your Topic Clusters. If you create a strong enough tunnel system with your internal links, Google with notice people are clicking more of your blog posts and start sharing those in search results as well.
PS: If you’re a vacation planner – feel free to steal this formula and these blog topics for your own business. Send me the links to see your Ant Hill Effect in action in the comments below!
Use Videos And Content Upgrades On Your Blog
This is an SEO strategy I’ve been using for years to boost my clients’ websites to the top positions on Google but a lot of people still don’t do it! The practice of adding a video, slideshow, podcast episode, or even a downloadable PDF on your blog post is called a content upgrade or repurposing content. To put it simply, you’re just giving the reader another way they can consume the same information you have in your blog post – right from your blog post itself.
How do videos and content upgrades help your SEO?
This is a complicated answer. To start – Google loves YouTube videos. Why? Google owns YouTube. So when you embed a YouTube video into your blog post, you’re giving YouTube more watch time, which essentially means Google makes more money. Google likes money and they also like when people help them make that money.
(Stay with me here, the next few parts are going to get a little intertwined.)
So now we agree Google loves when you repurpose your blog content into a YouTube video, right? How is that helping your SEO?
Well for starters, humans like to get the information they’re searching for with as little work as possible. That’s why YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Think about it, what’s easier – reading a 2,000-word article on SEO tips for blogs (thank you, by the way!) or watching a 5-minute video where someone just tells you the most important tips?
Watching the video, of course!
And Google knows its users like videos so it often suggests videos at the top of their search results. Your YouTube video on affordable wedding destinations in 2019 could show up at the top of Google. If your video is about the same topic as a blog post you have, you can lead the viewer to your video description where you have more information about the topic in your blog post. Hello, extra traffic to your post!
As for downloadable PDFs and content that you link on your page, Google is crawling that too. Not only does it see the ALT tags you’ve created for that download link but PDFs can also have their own page rank on Google. If your PDF or downloadable content is hosted on your blog, your website will create a unique page for it. You can optimize that page to be searchable via Google as well, or opt to hide it unless someone clicks on it from your blog post.
Either way, the data is there for Google to see that you’re creating multiple pieces of content around the same topic and that makes it more likely your content will be considered an authority that search engine users will want to find.
The bottom line for businesses who blog to improve SEO…
When you decide to blog with the intention to get found on Google, you’re in for a whole new view on blogging. It may seem like a lot of work upfront but I’ve seen blogs lead to (high) six-figure sales. So the next time you write a blog for your business, ask yourself if it’s worth taking a few more minutes to use these tips if it could lead to a sale (or several)!
If you’re still confused about how to create SEO-driven blog articles, check out my SEO Savvy Blogger services, where you could get high-quality SEO blog topics and content upgrade ideas tailored to your business and delivered to your inbox monthly, or any of the additional links in this article.