The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Blogs and Content Writing
It’s time to get a bit technical.
Writing a blog post that’s useful, readable and sufficiently long is only half the battle. The next thing you need to consider is SEO (search engine optimisation). Creating SEO blog posts (search engine optimised blog posts) means making sure each blog post looks presentable when Google’s robots come fishing around.
SEO content writing is a complex skill which mixes data with writing ability. As such, this SEO content writing tutorial might get a bit wordy, but we’ll try our best to explain everything in plain English. After all, that’s the Exposure Ninja way.
The optimum word count for an SEO blog
In general, long-form content performs better on search engines, but there’s no set-in-stone rule for the ideal blog post length as there are a myriad of other factors at play.
Most sources point to 600 words being about enough for an SEO blog.
We recommend that blog posts are a minimum of 600 words because it’s long enough to keep people engaged, deliver a message and to have an SEO benefit. However, it’s short enough that you can reliably produce a 600-word post regularly.
Some data suggests that posts longer than 600 words perform better, but it’s worth considering whether that would apply to your keyword and your topic.
If you’re targeting a very niche keyword (such as “buy sweat absorbing undershirts Bristol”), you won’t benefit from writing thousands of words on the topic. If you did, your post would mostly be fluff and nonsense. A 600-word post which targets that keyword effectively and delivers information succinctly will do just fine.
Conversely, if you’re writing “The Definitive Guide to Gardening on a Budget”, you can afford to venture into the thousands with that blog post. You might even consider building a knowledge base.
Good SEO content writing includes target keywords
Including your target keywords in blog posts will help to improve your search rankings, as Google comes to associate your website with certain search terms. You should aim to fit your keywords into headings and subheadings if possible — just don’t make them look unnatural.
The art of SEO content writing is nuanced, so keyword stuffing is not the aim. We want each post to be helpful, well-written and easy to read. A post that mentions “dentist in Kent” every other line is not going to be any of those things. Instead, tailor your content so you can include keywords in a natural way.
SEO blogs need killer titles
An SEO blog needs an awesome title. It should describe what the post will be about, but it should also be interesting and catchy. Use your keywords in headings where relevant and avoid dull, obvious titles. To ensure you’re not cutting important words off in search results, your blog post titles should be 55-70 characters. Place your keywords towards the start of your title to avoid any SEO goodness being chopped off.
There are a tonne of headline formulas you can use, so there’s really no excuse for writing boring headlines. “How to” is a good place to start, and you can’t go wrong with a “Top X” list either. However, it’s best to mix up your blog post headlines. Otherwise, your content will look like a BuzzFeed wannabe.
The power of SEO for headings
Using heading tags (H1, H2, etc. when we’re talking about the back-end side of web design) is important for both SEO and making articles more visually appealing. If your blog posts are just walls of text, you’ll find that your bounce rate is super high. Your headings should include target keywords where possible, without looking spammy or super obvious.
No-one wants to read tons of text if it’s not formatted in a pretty way. Using heading tags allows readers to skim your blog posts and still pick up the main gist of what you’re saying. Headings are also a great way to set up your blog structure before you start writing. Once you’ve picked your title, choose four or five main points that you can write a couple of paragraphs about. This is an awesome way of breaking down the intimidation factor of blog writing. As a content marketing agency, it’s one of our favourite writing tips.
Write an SEO-friendly call to action
End every SEO blog post with relevant advice followed by a strong call to action (CTA). What do you want the reader to do now they’ve finished reading? This could be directing them to a specific product page, linking to a free trial of your service, or anything in between.
Your CTA is also a great place to include a target keyword, along with a link to a relevant page on your website. Every content marketing campaign should make a strong call to action a priority. It should be the one thing your customers can’t resist.
Let’s say you run an eCommerce business that sells musical instruments, and one of your target keywords is “acoustic guitar”. Your CTA could be “Grab a free pack of guitar strings with every acoustic guitar purchase over £100”. In just one sentence, we’ve managed to entice your readers into making a purchase, as well as hit a target keyword.
Of course, if your post is really long, you might want more than one call to action. As such, you might even want to include one in the middle. See below for an example…
If you’re struggling with SEO content writing, or you think you could use a hand with the rest of your SEO efforts, claim your free website and marketing review from Exposure Ninja.
SEO blogs need internal and external links
Every one of your SEO blog posts should be well-researched, with high-authority sources to back up your claims. Linking to these sources will make your blog appear more credible, as well as bring you an SEO benefit.
Use Moz’s Domain Authority checker to gauge whether a website deserves one of your precious backlinks. If they score below 20, you should ask yourself whether their information is reliable in the first place. Sources like The Guardian (with a domain authority of 98) are well-regarded by Google, so associating your website with them can only be beneficial.
SEO content writing means you should also include internal links in your blog posts, directing visitors to other useful pages on your website. Pointing readers to other content they might find useful, or product pages related to your blog topic, will keep them on your website and increase your chances of making a sale. Internal links also improve on-site SEO and can direct readers to other important web pages.
Optimise your photos
The human brain does not process images 60,000 times faster than text. However, the reason that fake statistic is so convincing — even Fast Company fell for it — is because we know how powerful images can be. As the old saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.
As such, imagery is massively important to eCommerce businesses. As well as having awesome visuals, there are a few simple things you can do to use photos to boost your SEO.
First of all, give your photos appropriate titles when uploading them. If you can include your target keywords in the title, even better. Google loves this because it helps their robots show relevant web pages in search results.
Secondly, always write alt text that includes your keywords. Alt text is the text that comes up if your image doesn’t load for whatever reason. It’s also what visually-impaired people will hear if they use a text-to-speech device, so make it as relevant and natural as possible. Alt text not only makes your website more accessible, but it also gets trawled by Google’s robots, making it an SEO essential.
Finally, consider cutting down the size of the photos you upload. Google takes loading speed into account when ranking websites. So, if you’ve got lots of high-res images, it’s likely that your rankings will be affected. It’s also super annoying for visitors when they have to wait 10 seconds for each page to load. In fact, it’s so annoying that 40% of consumers leave a webpage after waiting just three seconds.
How often should I post?
Try to post SEO blog content at a similar time each week. We would recommend once a week as a good starting point, but posting more regularly will be even better. As long as you’re writing awesome, SEO-friendly content, your readers — and Google’s robots — will be happy. When we craft content marketing strategies for our clients, we make blog writing a big priority. If you’ve read our previous content marketing tutorials, you know that we rate blogging very highly indeed!
Your blog posting frequency will depend on a number of different factors, not just the potential SEO benefits.
Write optimised meta descriptions
Ensure every SEO blog post has a meta description added. This should include keywords and, again, aim to include them at the beginning of the text. Don’t repeat a keyword phrase, because Google will think you’re being spammy.
Meta descriptions should be approximately 160 characters to prevent your vital text from being cut off in search results. If your website is built on WordPress and you want a friendly reminder when you’re writing meta descriptions, install the Yoast SEO plugin to help you out. Yoast is an absolute lifesaver for crafting amazing meta descriptions in WordPress, but it also offers friendly advice for SEO content writing in general.
Promote your post
Once you’ve gone through our SEO checklist, you’re ready to post. Yes, that’s right: after all the content marketing tutorials you’ve read and re-read, it’s come to that time. Take a deep breath, cross your fingers and hit that button.
So, does that mean you’re done? Not by a long shot! SEO content writing is just one side of making sure the maximum number of people see your post. Now, it’s time to promote your post — and you need to promote it well.
Consider how much time and effort goes into promoting the latest blockbuster film. Yes, you probably don’t have the same budget, but the amount of time spent promoting a film can actually be longer than the amount of time spent creating it.
George Lucas says he started thinking about creating Star Wars in 1971, which means it took him around six years to turn this idea into a film franchise which has done… pretty well.
So, how did Lucas do it? Well, he created a great film, which is a good start. However, the reason Star Wars has been so successful is everything that’s happened since. The film has been released and re-released several times over, and each release and re-release is coupled with millions spent on promoting the film in every conceivable way.
The point is that a film which took six years to create has been promoted for over 40 years. Not only that, the film has been edited and re-released several times over as well. There is a powerful lesson here about how to promote an SEO blog post. If you’ve spent a day or a couple days writing it, you can afford to spend a week or a couple weeks promoting it across all of your social media networks.
What’s more, the lesson from Star Wars is that you can also afford to update your blog post over the coming years if things change, or if it slips from its position in the Google rankings. People are eager for newer posts just as they are eager for new Star Wars films.
The trick behind SEO content writing is hard work. A big part of that work comes from the creation of the SEO blog post itself. However, another large part of that hard work comes from maintaining your blog posts’ awesome Google ranking positions with as much effort as you used to climb to those positions in the first place. That means blog promotion, blog maintenance and blog editing.
If you need help creating awesome, SEO-friendly blog posts for your website, contact Exposure Ninja for a FREE website review and we’ll tell you what our awesome Content Marketing Ninjas can do for your website.