Writing a captivating and share-worthy blog is only half the battle in creating content that engages and converts consumers. Marketers know you also have to get eyes on your blog. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a smart way to do that, organically attracting readers to your blog and boosting your website’s visibility.
What’s more, the traffic you attract will consist of interested, engaged readers because they’ve found your blog by entering relevant keywords via Google (or other search engines). With effective SEO, you’ve already overcome the hurdle of piquing the reader’s initial interest. If you’ve optimized your content correctly, searchers who end up on your blog will already be eager to consume the content you’ve created.
From there, all you have to do is maintain their interest with thorough research, a well-organized structure, and quality content. This is especially important for bloggers who depend largely on organic traffic to drive leads and generate ad revenue or sales.
Whether you’re a small business owner looking to launch an e-commerce site or an SEO expert, below is an in-depth overview of our top blog SEO tips to help you optimize your next piece of content. More specifically, we’ll explain how great content should:
- Leverage Topic Clusters to Organize Your Content
- Utilize Keyword Research
- Write to Rank for Featured Snippets
- Incorporate Rich Media Types On-Page
- Add Internal Links Within Your Content
- Customize the URL You’re Using
- Use Tools and Plug-Ins to Make Your Job Easier
- Monitor Mobile Responsiveness and Experience
- Simplify Blog SEO With SEMrush
Leverage Topic Clusters to Organize Your Content
In the past, blogging and SEO have focused primarily on optimizing individual posts. While this is important, you can improve your search engine rankings even more by using topic clusters. Following this model, you select a larger “pillar” topic or target keyword you want to rank for and create individual pieces of “cluster” content based on specific keywords related to that topic. This results in greater interconnectedness between individual blogs, enhancing the website’s overall authoritativeness and your audience’s user experience.
This approach also prevents individual pieces of blog content from competing. When you have multiple blog posts about the same topic, you end up with URLs taking attention away from another. An editorial calendar is critical if you want your pillar-cluster model to succeed. You can select your pillar and cluster topics in advance and plan a logical blog SEO strategy for publishing new content.
First, select your pillar topics. Then, compile six to eight subtopics based on specific questions a person might have after reading the pillar page’s content. Our Topic Research Tool can help you come up with fresh content ideas related to your pillar content. Say you run a website about at-home fitness, for example. Add the search query “at-home fitness,” and you’ll be provided with a list of ideas for related keywords.
Utilize Keyword Research
Comprehensive keyword research is critical to a blog’s success. It requires more than thinking to yourself, “Hey, what will people plug into Google?” For instance, the most obvious keyword isn’t necessarily the best choice. Popular keywords with a high search volume are highly competitive, making it harder to rank well in search engine results.
Luckily, there are SEO tools that can help with your keyword research. The SEMrush keyword research tools provide a value assessment and competitive ranking of your keywords and analyze your competitors’ organic keyword rankings. You can even discover “not provided” keywords via integrating your Google Analytics account, allowing you to cross-reference data to check organic search performance.
Write to Rank for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets appear at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). They often appear as bullet-point lists, short how-to guides, or brief question-and-answer formats. Featured snippets essentially provide fast answers to common searches, especially “who, what, where, why, and how” questions.
If you write a content piece that Google selects as a featured snippet, you automatically appear at the top of the SERPs. To optimize for featured snippets, you should first find existing SERPs with a snippet. You can also check what types of featured snippets Google shows for that term, for example, a bulleted or numbered list versus a paragraph. You can then structure your writing accordingly. In terms of style, prioritize clear, concise copywriting with thoughtful subheadings.
Our Position Tracking Tool can help you easily track if you’re currently ranking for any featured snippets and provide insight into easy opportunities to rank for a snippet based on the Google search term.
Incorporate Rich Media Types On-Page
A high-quality blog requires more than great writing. Incorporate rich media types, such as stock photos, videos, or custom infographics. Google provides a handy tutorial on incorporating rich media. Incorporating this type of media is also a great way to springboard to other pieces of cluster content under the same pillar.
Video content is particularly worth the effort for any new blog post. A video automatically demands the user to stay on a page for a certain amount of time, improving your bounce rate. Video is also an extremely popular media, as the popularity of platforms like TikTok shows. Global online video viewing is on the rise, and ad spending reflects this. Note that you can often repurpose blog content for videos, streamlining your content creation process.
Add Internal Links Within Your Content
Another SEO best practice that doesn’t require you to be a technical SEO expert is to insert thoughtful internal links in your blog content. Linking to other pages encourages readers to further explore your website, keeping them on your platform for longer. It also helps search engines find other relevant authority pages you have to offer. When hyperlinking, don’t use more than five words for your anchor text. To get users to click a link, make it clear where it will take them and what value clicking will provide.
Last but not least, ensure any internal links are logical. Hyperlinking anchor text for the sake of it won’t give readers any added value (which means they won’t click). Above all, Google rankings are focused on the end-users and the value that content provides for them. In general, these blog optimization tips are all geared toward that end.
Customize the URL You’re Using
An important ranking factor is the structure of your URL, so you don’t want to rely on automatically generated URLs for your blog posts. Customized URLs make it easy for search engines to understand what the page is about and allow Google bots to index pages accordingly. For example, a pillar page about content marketing might have the subdirectory “/content-marketing” at the end of the URL structure. A cluster about using blogs for content marketing might conclude with “/content-marketing/how-to-use-blogs-for-content-marketing.”
Customized URLs also make it easier for users to see what a page is about quickly. This can be especially handy when it comes to internal linking. If a user hovers over an anchor text and a URL is displayed that indicates where the user will be redirected, they will be more likely to click on it. Just be aware that if you change URLs, you will have to go back and amend internal links. Additionally, inbound links may no longer work. Get your URLs right the first time.
Another benefit of a custom URL? You can use keywords you are trying to rank for. Just be sure that when using keywords, your URL is SEO-friendly, meaning it’s concise and simple.
Use Tools and Plug-Ins to Make Your Job Easier
Content management system (CMS) plug-ins will streamline your blog SEO efforts. If your chosen CMS is WordPress, for example, you can use Akismet to monitor comments and spam or Workflow Enhancement, which lets you easily alter font size, create tables, and more. If you use Ghost (popular among bloggers), you can integrate plug-ins from Google Analytics, YouTube, Twitter, and Zapier, to name a few.
Plug-ins can save you valuable time when it comes to on-page SEO. Take Yoast, for example, a WordPress SEO plug-in. This is a one-stop-shop for optimization. When you install it, you get a module on each page’s edit post, showing you how your page performs in key SEO criteria. It analyzes everything from content length to inbound links, the meta title, focus keyword placement, and the length of the meta title. Any issues in need of further attention are flagged so that you can make a quick fix.
Monitor Mobile Responsiveness and Experience
Mobile is no longer an after-thought when it comes to web design. Google has now confirmed mobile-first indexing. This means that the search engine giant prioritizes the mobile version of the content (over the desktop version) when indexing and ranking webpages. The mobile-first approach was implemented in July 2019 and is now the default for all new websites.
The first step you can take to check if your site is mobile-friendly is to run it through Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. This will flag some basic issues and how to fix them. In general, ensure that you have a responsive design so that your blog pages have just one URL (instead of two different ones for desktop and mobile). This ensures that backlinks to your blog won’t be divided among two URLs, increasing the power of these inbound links.
There are also simple stylistic steps you can take to make for a more user-friendly mobile experience. The best blog structure for SEO will prioritize readability. Avoid large chunks of text, for example, which are harder to read on mobile devices. Use headers to break up the text and organize it. Other key points that might be flagged by Google’s mobile-friendly test tool include having content wider than the screen, placing clickable elements too close together, and using text that is too small to read.