Once you’ve composed your blog post, your next step is to prepare it to get as much as visibility as possible. Your biggest sources of traffic in the long run is likely to be Google. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can optimize your blog posts for search engines for sustainable, long-term traffic and rankings.
The first thing you need to do is decide on the best keyword phrase for your blog post. You may have already chosen this before you started writing, but if you didn’t, now is the time to do it. Start by thinking of what you want people to search for to discover this blog post. Then put some of those ideas into Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You will likely discover different keywords phrases that have a good amount of search volume to target.
For this post, I found the keyword phrase blog post sep, which has a nice monthly search volume. Although this is an estimate, you can use it to determine what keywords and phrases are more popular than others.
The title of your blog post is the most important element of its search optimization. The keyword phrase you discovered during your keyword research process must be used in your title tag, preferably at the beginning of your title assuming it makes sense. The goal for your title is to make it search engine optimized and something that people will want to click on to read more. Title tags should be no longer than 65 characters, otherwise they will be cut off in search results.
If you have your blog set up to use keywords from the title of your post as part of the URL structure, be sure that your main keyword phrase is in the URL, preferably first. If you can modify the permalink on your post, try making it include just the main keyword phrase.
Your blog post’s meta description is a 160 character summary of the post. While it doesn’t help you rank well in search, it does show up beneath the blog post title in search results as well as in the description when people share your post on social media. So think about your meta description as a sentence that will encourage more people to click through to your post and write it accordingly.
In order to create a custom meta description, you will need additional SEO fields in your blog’s admin dashboard. WordPress users can install plugins like All in One SEO or Yoast SEO in order to get these fields unless they are using themes with built in SEO options such as StudioPress or Thesis.
If you can’t install a plugin to enhance the SEO functionality of your blog, your only alternative is to make the first sentence of your blog post your meta description. Keep in mind that it will need to flow with the opening of your post too.
Image ALT Tags
Whenever you add images to your post, make sure the HTML code for those images includes alt=”keyword or phrase”. The keyword or phrase you use should be short, describe the image, and preferably include a keyword that you want the blog post to rank for. This could help the image rank in Google Image search results and lead more traffic to your post.
As an example, the HTML coding for the earlier image is as follows.
<img src="http://k1olt1c5i7t4e1qur59ofqfnn.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/blog-post-seo-search-volume.png" alt="Blog Post SEO - Keyword Research" width="582" height="111" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-8851" />
Note how the main keyword phrase is in both the image file name and the ALT tag!
A well formatted blog post will include several header tags like H2 or H3, like the one above this paragraph. These header tags not only help break up content so your readers can quickly peruse the main points of your article, but they also help you optimize your blog post for keywords. Try to use your main keyword phrase in at least one header tag along with other related phrases you want to rank for.
Last, but not least, is bolded text for blog post optimization. You don’t want to get too carried away with bolded text, so just look for opportunities to call out specific keywords and phrases for your readers while helping boost the keyword optimization of your post.
Those are the search optimization basics for blog posts! Be sure to tune in next month for the next blog post in this series on how to optimize blog posts for social media.
- How to Rank: 25 Step SEO Master Blueprint (seomoz.org)
- Getting On-Page SEO Right in 2012 and Beyond – Whiteboard Friday (seomoz.org)
- 12 Amazing Common Sense SEO Tips to Help Get Amazing Results (socialsolutionscollective.com)
Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net