In this post you’ll find blog SEO tips to help you improve your website’s chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). It teaches you how to write SEO friendly blog posts, so every page you publish helps appeal to both readers and search engines.
This post also includes a blog writing checklist you can print out and an infographic you can reference each time you prepare to hit publish on your latest post.
Click here to download the blog SEO checklist now.
Click here to view the infographic.
3 Phases of Writing Blogs for SEO
Phase One: Select Your Keywords
Your work to create SEO-friendly blog posts begins before you start writing. First, you must select the best keywords for each page.
1) Identify one primary keyword.
To optimize content for blog SEO, start by performing research and identifying one primary keyword that:
- Is closely related to your blog post. Look for a phrase that captures the main theme of your content and is naturally tied to your topic.
- Is popular with users. Choose a variation of the phrase that is frequently used by searches. (For example, if your topic is “editorial calendar,” you may find that more people are searching for “content calendar.” Therefore, “content calendar” may be a better primary keyword for your post than “editorial calendar.”)
- Has a low competition rate. Find a variation of the keyword that has a completion level you can compete with. To be able to compete for a term, the phrase must have a limited number of brands competing for the term and/or your website must have an authority high enough to compete for the term. For a higher chance of success, choose low competition keywords that are within your reach.
To find keywords that fit this criteria, use Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. The keyword discovery tool produces:
- A report of top keywords related to your topic or theme.
- Each keyword’s popularity score, which indicates how frequently users are searching for the term.
- Each keyword’s competition score, which indicates how hard it is to rank for the term. It also takes into account the authority of your website, so you can see if you can compete for the term.
Use this information to select the primary keyword for your post.
2) Identify a few secondary keywords.
Once you identify a primary keyword, choose two to four secondary keywords to also use in your post.
Secondary keywords, which may also be referred to as Latent Semantic Indexing keywords (LSI keywords), are related keywords that are closely tied to your main keyword. By incorporating a few secondary keywords in a post, you help search engines understand and properly rank your SEO blog posts.
- Enter your primary keyword in a Google search.
- Look at the related search list.
- Choose two to three search phrases that relate to your primary keyword.
Now that you have one primary keyword and a few secondary keywords, start writing your post for blog SEO.
Phase Two: Write Your Content
Great blog content is practical and useful for both readers and search engines. Use these blog SEO tips to learn how to optimize posts for search while keeping readers in mind.
3) Write for readers, not search engines.
As you write, remember that while you’re writing for search engines, SEO copywriting is really for humans. As a best practice, never create content exclusively to appeal to search engines. Always keep your readers in mind, and as you create posts, don’t make changes if they are going to improve SEO but decrease user experience.
4) Write more than 300 words.
While there is no magic word count for a blog post, there is a minimum word count you can use as a benchmark. Writing 300 or more words provides enough information to help search engines understand the page and rank it better. There are many different opinions about what word count is best for blog SEO, but as a best practice, write as much as you need to cover your topic while writing between 500 and 2,500 words. If you write more than that, it may be a good idea to break up the text into multiple, linked pages.
5) Use the primary keyword naturally throughout the text.
Using the primary keyword throughout the text helps search engines understand and categorize the page. A good keyword density is about 2%, so use the keyword naturally about one to two times for every 100 words.
PRO SEO TIP: Rather than writing with a keyword in mind, draft your text and then go back and add the keyword where it fits naturally.
6) Use the secondary keywords once throughout the text.
Secondary keywords provide additional context for your content, which helps search engines further categorize the text. Use two to four of your secondary keywords at least once in the post.
7) Use the primary keyword in the first paragraph.
Include your primary keyword close to the top of the page and in the first paragraph if possible.
8) Use the primary keyword in a subheading.
A subheading is text that creates a break in the page and is formatted with H2, H3, H4, etc. Great SEO content uses subheadings to break up big blocks of text. This makes it is easy for web readers to scan the content and for search engines to understand the copy. Utilize subheadings and use the primary keyword in at least one of your subheadings.
9) Use the keyword toward the end of the page.
Wrap up your post with a conclusion that includes the primary keyword. This bookends the post with signals that define the page.
10) Write original content.
Search engines do not like duplicate content (identical content used on multiple webpages). Do not copy content from other pages on your website or pages on other websites. Instead, write original content that is not published anywhere on the internet to boost the SEO power of your website.
PRO SEO TIP: While it will not help your content be SEO friendly, you can republish or syndicate content to expand your brand reach. If you choose to reuse content, you must follow best practices for republishing content, so you don’t receive duplicate content penalties from search engines.
11) Write grammatically correct content with no spelling errors.
It’s not just readers that value high-quality, well-written content. Search engines also rank pages using signals from their grammar, syntax, and spelling. Carefully check your copy before it is posted to ensure it does not include errors, typos, or mistakes.
12) Write for an eighth-grade reading level.
The best blog posts are easy to read and written for easy consumption. Both readers and search engines value this, so use short sentences and paragraphs and avoid lengthy and complex terms.
PRO TIP: You can find your Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and tips for improving your content by using the Readability Score.
13) Add inbound links.
Inbound links are hyperlinks to posts or pages that exist on your website. Hyperlinks help search engines understand pages and guide users to the information they need. So include hyperlinks in your content when relevant. Also, when you add links to inbound pages, use anchor text that is closely related to the keyword of the page you are linking to.
14) Add outbound links.
Outbound links are hyperlinks to posts or pages that exist on another website. These types of links should be used to source information in your content and guide readers who are interested in learning more about a topic. Use these links naturally in your content when you reference content or ideas from other websites.
PRO SEO TIP: Set your outbound links to open to a new page so your webpage remains open even if users move to another website.
Phase Three: Optimize Your Post
Once you write your copy, improve your blog SEO by optimizing the following page elements.
15) Use the primary keyword in the page title.
The page title is the actual name of the page that readers can view on the page. Create a title for the page that uses the primary keyword. If possible, try to put the keyword toward the beginning of the title.
For additional information on writing compelling headlines, read our post: 12 Tips for Writing Headlines That Readers (and Search Engines) Can’t Resist
16) Use the primary keyword in the permalink.
A permalink is the part of the URL that is unique for each webpage and post; it’s the text that comes after the main domain or subdomain. To create an SEO-friendly URL, include the primary keyword and limit the other text that is included in this part of the URL.
17) Use the primary keyword in the SEO title.
Unlike the page title, which users can see while viewing the blog post, the SEO title is a secondary title for the page that is used as a backend description of the page. It is visible on search engine results pages and helps search engine crawlers understand what is on the page. This SEO title should include your primary keyword and not exceed 55 characters, as that is the limit for SEO title characters to show on search engine results pages.
18) Use the primary keyword in the meta description.
A meta description is a blurb that describes a webpage. Like the SEO title, the SEO meta description adds backend information that informs search engine crawlers. The text is also usually visible on search engine results pages, which can help users make decisions about which results to choose. Write a meta description for your blog page that includes the primary keyword and does not exceed 155 characters, so the full text can appear on search engine results pages.
19) Assign appropriate categories and tags.
Tags and categories are taxonomy systems used to organize blogs posts on a website. You can assign categories and tags to each page to connect them to specific topics and themes. A well-structured taxonomy system can boost a site’s SEO. Set up a strong system by assigning one or two categories to each post and using tags that accurately describe the post.
20) Use the primary keyword in image alt tags.
Adding images to a blog post makes it look reliable and useful to both search engines and readers. So include at least one image in your content. When you include images, use the primary keyword in the image “alt tag,” which is a text description of the image visible to search engine crawlers but not to users.
Phase Four: Double Check Your Blog SEO
Once you create your post and hit publish, check your work with Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker. This tool will tell you if you’ve succeeded in creating an SEO friendly blog post.
21) Use Alexa’s on-page SEO checker.
To check on-page SEO, enter your page URL and your primary keyword into the Alexa tool.
You will receive a full report on the page’s SEO as it relates to the primary keyword. It highlights ways to improve your page while pointing out errors that exist on the page. It also includes directions for exactly what you need to do to make improvements.
The On-Page SEO Checker report also tells you if you have selected the appropriate keyword for the page. It considers your site’s Competitive Power score (which is a number that indicates how much authority your site has in search) and compares it to your primary keyword’s competition score.
If the keyword’s competition score exceeds your site’s competitive power score, the tool notifies you. It also helps you find keywords that are a better fit for your site given your authority and ability to rank.
By going through this list of blog SEO tips, you can plan for, write, optimize, and check your content for good blog SEO. To make sure that you implement all of these steps before you hit publish, click here to download this Blog SEO Checklist.
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