The Plain English Guide to Writing SEO Friendly Blog Posts, For Non-Techies, without Too Much of the Usual Gobblely Goop
Discover how to write SEO friendly blog posts that will drive free traffic to your site for years to come - Simple guidelines you can easily apply to all blogs
Would you spend 1-2 minutes more on a blog post that will be online for years, to drastically improve the chances of that post bringing you free traffic from the search engines without you lifting a finger? If you do, read on. If you think SEO is hard and there's something fishy about it, don't read this and others will get your traffic.
Still here? Good.
It is much simpler than you think it is. There are two things that go into writing a SEO friendly blog post:
- The first part is writing a unique, original post that has some value, whether it helps a reader solve a problem or gives them great information on a subject, makes them laugh or whatever.
- The second part, SEO if you will, is helping the search engines to put your post in front of people who are looking for that exact information.
SEO Writing for Beginners
Good writing begins with the title. It continues on to getting the attentions of the reader with great first paragraph. And the rest of the post follows through delivering what the headline and first paragraph promised. The whole text is easy to read and the same things are not repeated too much.
Search engine optimization of your posts is not any different. With these three things, you don't even have to think you're doing any "optimization", you're just writing great content. The only exception is if you decide to find good keywords and include specific keyword phrase in this, but apart from that, you'll be golden with these:
- write a magnetic headline for your post
- include the main keyword phrase for the page into the title (if in any way plausible)
- when you have proper settings on your theme and plugins, the headline will automatically be your title tag
- if you do this alone, you've done most of the SEO you have to do - everything else is optional
- continue the message of the headline in the beginning of your article
- first paragraph, and the first 50-100 words
- in addition to your headline, the beginning of the post has to capture the attention of the reader
- make sure the keyword phrase you're targeting is included in the beginning
- be careful with your keyword use and number of repetitions
- don't repeat the same words or phrase too many times
- in addition to title tag and the headline, main keyword phrase should only be "repeated" 2-3 times, not much more. Once in first paragraph, second time in the last paragraph is good, and perhaps once more in the rest of the text.
- write naturally, make the text readable.
With the above and the settings covered in the blog SEO -post, you have done most of your on-page SEO. Keep in mind that you are writing for the readers first and search engines second; the headline and beginning of the article are important for both. SEO and writing good copy goes hand in hand in this.
95% (absolute guess) of the bloggers don't pay any attention to their post headlines and titles. You do this and you're already ahead. Do a keyword research that takes 1 minute and include the best keyword phrase in the title and you've done more than 99% of the bloggers out there (again, just a number I made up with no facts backing it up).
Advanced SEO Writing and Tweaks
One part of writing online is linking, so you should learn to do it well and often. It is important to both link and link with relevant keywords as the anchor text. The anchor text is the text which is linked and those words have the highest effect on search engine rankings, especially with links going from site to another (external linking).
To help your readers find additional information and/or check your sources and references, you should do plenty of both internal and external linking. Link out to the sources and references you used, and link to your own posts with related or further information. An online page with no or very few links is unnatural, and search engines will ignore such pages and not rank them high.
Link with good keyphrases related to the post your writing AND the page you are linking to, and always link to sources which search engines see as an authority and trustworthy website. Example: see how I linked on the previous sentence to Wikipedia with anchor text "search engines".
- linking out: always link out to trusted sources of information as references
- when you link out to a website which the search engine sees as reliable source of information, an authority site, you will gain a part of that trust when you link to them
- link out a lot
- link to other bloggers
- link to Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, big news sites, etc.
- link to pages which already rank high for the related terms
- internal linking: link back to your own posts
- use good anchor text on all the links, especially the internal ones
Link to RELATED information, pages you used as references and pages with further information. Your link to the pages is a vote for that page WITH for the keywords in the anchor text. For example, as this post is about writing SEO friendly posts, I'm linking out to other pages about SEO and writing, both internally or externally.
Why? Because online, linking is the natural thing to do.
This helps the search engine understand what the post is about (because you're referencing to all those pages, in addition to what is on post itself). And more importantly, the links will help your readers find more information about related subject if they want to. I like to think that what's good for the people, is good for the search engines as well.
- anchor texts in links
- always use relevant keywords when linking
- even when you "link out", the anchor text affects your on-page SEO
- internal links on your posts are more important than external links (you linking out to other sites)
- the anchor text is even more important for the "receiving end", whether it's your own internal page or another website
- always link with keywords, and don't put the link to "click" or "here".
You should also use sub-headlines when applicable and possibly use related keywords in them.
- Sub-headlines, <h2>-<h6>
- For individual post, you'll be using the headline tags between H2 and onwards
- the post headline is already H1 when you have a SEO friendly theme
- Include the main keyphrase in the first 1 or 2 subheadlines if it fits in naturally
You should highlight certain words with bolding and italics. This has very little to do with search engines, so use it to make your text more readable and scannable, making it easier for your readers to scan through the text and still get the most important parts.
- <b> or <strong> -tags (bolding) & <i> or <em> (italics)
- Little significance for SEO, so use these to highlight the important parts of the text for your readers
From these three, anchor texts in links are the most important thing to do (and linking in general). Using sub-headlines and highlighting is a bonus, which you should do if it will make your text easier to read. Bolding and italics have very small effect on the search engine rankings, but it's so small that you don't have to pay attention to it (SEO-wise).
Additional SEO Tweaks to Your Posts
If you want to do a little bit more, it is worth it to develop a SEO routine to make these part of your SEO-process as well, as it doesn't take too much time and most does affect the readability as well:
- manually edit the post permalink (also called "slug")
- The URL of a document should be as descriptive and brief as possible.
- shorten the URL, removing all the a's, and's and the's from the permalink
- set the post permalink as the main keyword phrase for that article
- e.g. for this post, instead of the default "writing-seo-friendly-blog-posts", I set the permalink as "seo-friendly-posts".
- The URL of a document should be as descriptive and brief as possible.
- Add ALT-texts for images
- Use clear image file-names
- Small thing to do when setting images for your blog
- Instead of uploading images with file name "picture12478.jpg", upload then as "keyword-phrase.jpg"
- similarly as you edited the permalink url, rename the files before uploading it to the blog
Alt-text is also a requirement for web standards, which makes it even more important. And the alt-texts and image file-names can potentially bring your traffic from the image searches, so this is very important for photobloggers, but every blogger can benefit from. More images and photos you have on your blog and better you optimize the alt-texts and image file-names, more traffic you will get from the image searches.
Meta Description and Keywords for SEO
In addition to writing a good title and content for your post, there's one more thing you need to do. Editing the "meta information" search engines read. With some themes, or plugins, you'll be able to manually edit the meta keywords and description. If your blogging software allows this, you should edit the meta description. Meta keywords you can (and should) safely ignore.
Meta keywords are unnecessary for SEO purposes today, but for historic reasons people still keep updating them "just in case". You don't have to do this. Do not waste one second to meta keywords.
Even if your SEO plugin like All in One SEO Pack has the option to manually enter keywords - don't - you'll be only giving away the keyphrases you're trying to optimize. Let you competition at least work a bit to figure those things out.
While meta description isn't important for search ranking, it is very important because this is the description the users sees in the search engine result pages, along with your title, if the searched keywords or phrase is in the description. This is important, because keywords are bolded on the search engine result pages (SERP), if they match the search query.
Thus, even that it doesn't have any, or very little, effect on the actual ranking, the description is ESSENTIAL in capturing the attention of the potential visitor, by providing enough information about the page in question, for the user to clickthrough to your page.
Your attention-grabbing description should not be no longer than 150-160 characters (so it'll so nicely in all the SERPs). Make it benefit-driven, and it'll double as a good intro / excerpt for the post.
In short, with SEO, you're helping search engines to index your great content better and thus, helping people find the answers they're looking for. Over time, you will start seeing the benefits, even if this is all the SEO you do:
- Choose one keyphrase you optimize the post for.
- Optimize your main headlines (H1) and title tags.
- Write an attention-grabbing, benefit-driven meta description manually for each post
- Don't waste time on meta keywords
- Use keywords in the anchor texts and do plenty of internal and external linking
- Write naturally. People first, search engines second.
- Don't repeat the keyphrase on the content, 2-3 times is enough:
- Use the keyphrase in 1-2 subheadlines (not all), depending the length of the post
- Put the main keyphrase in the beginning and the end of your blog posts
- Manually set the permalink for each post
- Use ALT-attribute in all images
The next step is the off-page SEO. As you have optimized your titles, you have already started, because your titles are most often used as anchor text when linking back to you, which is the most important factor for search engine rankings. Now with your homebase organized (on-page SEO), it's time to begin building trust, getting links and climbing on the search engine rankings.
This ends the two-part on-page SEO series. The first part was about blog SEO; blog setup, configuration and SEO friendly themes. This post showed what to do when adding new content, whether it's images or new blog posts.