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10 SEO Tips to Help You Write the Perfect SEO-Friendly Blog Post

So you know the internet is saturated with content, right? That’s not particularly surprising. But what if told you that from 2015 to 2017, social sharing of content decreased by 50%?

Is that more shocking? I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve thought to yourself, more than once:

Writing the perfect SEO-friendly blog post that ranks well in Google is possible in 2019. But to do so, there are a few golden SEO rules to follow. These will ensure you’re giving Google exactly what it needs to rank you, and your blog, as an authority in your field.   You might have heard the term “search engine optimization” or SEO, but right now it feels like another language or code you’re not quite sure how to crack. Sound familiar? Or maybe you know the basics of SEO, but you’ve been writing blog posts for a while now and are still yet to see your hard work pay off with increased traffic and growing numbers in your Google Analytics. Whatever the reason, I hope to demystify the steps to better on-page SEO so you can start writing blog posts that do drive traffic.

What is on-page SEO?

Every page on your website – that includes the copy itself, images, and meta tags – boils down to keywords. This is the kind of SEO that you have complete control over, unlike off-page SEO or technical SEO. Off-page SEO relies on other factors such as external websites linking to you, or people sharing your content on social media. Technical SEO refers to any optimization that is done to your website outside of content creation. It requires a deeper, more specialist knowledge of SEO.

So now you know that optimum on-page SEO is totally within your control, let’s jump into the 9 steps to writing a brilliant blog post. Below you’ll find an overview of how to optimize your blog posts for SEO, with explanations and actionable advice for each section:

How to write the perfect SEO-friendly blog post in 10 steps. Or, your blog SEO checklist…

1. Make a plan

2. Use a shareable, attention-grabbing headline

3. Don’t forget the meta description!

4. Craft a time-stopping introduction

5. Include long-tail keywords naturally throughout

6. Make sure sentences and paragraphs are short

7. Use subheaders (H2s)

8. Add in internal and external links

9. Try to hit at least 1000 words

10. And remember the SEO-friendly images

1.Make a plan

Like all good stories, an SEO-friendly blog post should include:

  • A beginning: Your killer intro (explained in further detail below), which sets the scene of what you’re about to teach your audience.
  • A middle: The main body of your blog post. For example, if it’s a ‘how to’ article about learning to speak French, this is where you’d explain every step involved in the learning process.
  • An end: A succinct statement that wraps up what your reader has learnt and includes a call to action.

But don’t just sit down, open up your laptop and start writing.

Start with a plan.

If, for example, your blog post is about the 6 Steps To Earning Money From Your Side Hustle, why not start by listing out those 6 steps?

Brain dump your initial thoughts under each. These can be brief, and written in note form. That’s ok.

Now, do some research. Look online for recent, relevant facts and figures that you can use to back up your statements. Throw the URLs into the document, or make sure you bookmark the pages, so you don’t have to hunt them down later.

As you’re researching, keep an eye out for images that you can save now. You can either use these in the final blog (with proper credit of course) or use them as inspiration for images you create yourself.

Gradually, bit by bit, you’ll notice you’re getting some meat on the bones of that blog skeleton.

If you give yourself some time and space between planning and writing the blog out in full, you’ll notice how much easier the process becomes.

It also means you won’t forget any of the crucial SEO elements we’re covering in this blog.

2. Use a shareable, attention-grabbing headline

If you take away nothing else from this blog post, remember this.

The key to a SEO-friendly blog post is – first and foremost – a shareable, compelling headline.

But what about the actual content, I hear you say? What about the keywords, surely they are the most important?

Yes, they are. And without implementing the rest of the steps in this article, ranking anywhere close to those first few pages of Google’s search results will be almost impossible.

However, without a stand-out, SEO-friendly blog title, no one is ever going to click on your blog post. It won’t ever get shared.

Think about it like this. Your headline is your first impression. It’s your digital “hello, nice to meet you.” If it isn’t interesting, thought-provoking or obviously valuable straight away, it will be ignored.

The reader, your potential customer, will move onto the next guest at the internet party, whose content is the equivalent of a firm handshake and hilarious anecdote.

So what makes a shareable blog title?

Let’s take a quick look at the results of my query “How to become an author”.

Buzzsumo analysed 100 million headlines in 2017, and they found that the most effective phrases to start a headline were as follows:

  • X reasons why…
  • X things you…
  • This is what…
  • This is how…
  • X of the…
  • X ways to…
  • This is why…
  • The X best…
  • How to make…
  • These are the…

3. Don’t forget the meta description!

One of the most important elements of on-page SEO that I see ignored time and time again is meta descriptions. Without these, you are doing your brilliant blog post a big disservice.

That line of copy beneath your headline is your sales pitch. It’s your opportunity to offer a short summary of what readers can expect to find within the blog post.

It shouldn’t be the first line of your blog post, which is what most websites will automatically pull through if you don’t add your own, custom meta description.

For example, the unoptimised meta description below…

Notice the copy is cut off mid-sentence and there are no bolded keywords?

It’s not a very good user experience. And while Google admits that it doesn’t always use the meta description as a ranking factor, what will affect your SEO is whether or not someone clicks on your content.

And they are far more likely to do so if the copy is compelling and includes your keyword.

A good meta description will:

  • Be around 150 characters in length, to avoid being cut off by Google mid-sentence
  • Include a compelling “call to action” (CTA) e.g. “Read this blog to…”, “Watch this video to…”
  • Feature your keywords

Notice how the first example I used has the words “blog” and “blogging” bolded? This is what Google does when a meta description matches a searcher’s query.

It does a very good job of drawing the eyes of the reader straight to your piece of content, and encouraging a click. This is why meta descriptions matter.

4. Craft a time-stopping introduction

Like any good piece of writing, there should be a good beginning, middle and end. The same goes for the format of your blog post.

When I say craft a time-stopping introduction, I do so because your reader’s attention span is short and precious.

They are checking their smartphone every 12 minutes. If they’re going to give a piece of content their full, undivided attention, it’s good to be good. Really good.

How can you create a time-stopping intro? Lead with:

  • A shocking statistic
  • A personal anecdote
  • The “why” of your blog post
  • A question
  • A controversial angle (that you can legitimize with evidence)

5. Include long-tail keywords naturally throughout

To write a truly brilliant blog post that ranks, there’s one rule of thumb that remains a tried-and-tested technique. Optimizing your website with relevant and targeted keywords.

You want the keywords on your page to target a single user intent, so that searchers have a better chance of finding your content among the huge amount of results.

I go into more detail about keyword research in this blog post about aligning your keyword strategy to your sales funnel, and this one about writing SEO content that Google loves.

You want to include long-tail keywords in the headline of your blog, in the first 100 words, and naturally throughout the rest of the article.

Long-tail keywords are 3-4 word phrases that are more specific and “less popular” than the majority of search queries made about a particular topic.

For example, my target keyword for this page is “how to write perfect blog post”.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LSI KEYWORDS

As well as including your long-tail keyword throughout your blog, make sure to include some Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.

These are simply words that are frequently found together because they share the same context.

They matter, because if you are writing about Apple the brand, for example, Google needs to understand that you are writing about Steve Jobs’ brainchild, and not the fruit.

The good news is, if you’re writing natural, well-structured content focused on your ideal reader’s needs, you will include these without even thinking about it.

For example, let’s say you want to rank for “yoga tips”.

A super simple trick to find relevant semantic keywords is to use Google Suggest.

Type “yoga tips” into the search bar and see what pops up as suggest queries.

Add some of these into your blog post and it will help Google better understand your content.

6. Make sure sentences and paragraphs are short

Have you ever exited a blog post because you were confronted with a wall of text? Most readers will scan headings, the beginnings of paragraphs and any mention of the keywords they initially searched for to make sure the content is relevant.

Using short sentences (around 15 words is optimum; maximum 25) and paragraphs (around 3 – 4 sentences) better showcases your keywords and improves readability.  Most importantly, it keep your visitors on the page. On the other hand, if they are presented with reams of text and lengthy paragraphs, they will likely jump straight back off your site. This increases your bounce rate, and makes ranking in Google even harder.

7. Use subheaders (H2s)

Related to the point above, make sure to break up your text with relevant subheaders – or H2s as they’re technically known.

They should be descriptive and include your target keywords. And don’t worry about being lengthy – it’s better to have a 20-word subheading than one made up of 3 words.

This is because H2s are there to serve a purpose. They need to progress the narrative of your blog post, encouraging the user to read on by offering a taste of what is to come, or opening up a question that you will answer in the next 200 – 300 words.

8. Add in internal and external links

When you’re drafting your next blog post, make sure to include links to relevant blog posts, news articles, and recent studies that add weight and substance to you’re saying.

External links to authoritative websites with high domain authorities are key. But so too are internal links to other pieces of content you’ve created.

Linking internally helps Google to crawl your website more easily, and find new content faster. As a result, indexation will happen faster, too, and the benefit of this is improved search engine rankings.

It also increases the likelihood of an engaged reader staying on your website for longer. If you’ve written a valuable, well structured blog post that they find useful, chances are they’ll click on through to other blog posts you’ve written on the same subject.

9. Try to hit at least 1000 words

The old adage “quality over quantity” is fitting for this next point: blog length.

If you want to write the best blog post possible, then shoot for around 2,000 words.

It might sound like a lot, but if you plan your blog post in advance and make sure to cover at least 5 key points, you’ll be surprised how quickly you hit that word count. Especially if you include personal anecdotes and real life examples as you go.

If you’re still thinking, woah, 2,000 words seems like a lot. I thought you said above that people’s attention spans are decreasing by the year?

10. And remember the SEO-friendly images

Last, but definitely not least, make sure you include SEO-friendly images in your blog post.

Blog articles with images get 94% more total views. 94%!

But if you’ve never used Photoshop or an alternative image creation application before, fear not. Good old screen grabs will do. You just need something visual to express the point you’re making.

It comes back to the point above about walls of text.

In 2016, 43% of people admitted to skimming blog posts.

Alt tag is another way of saying “image description”, and it’s really important you rewrite this to include your target keyword.

No more uploading images that say “CT232320” or “shutterstock32332”.

Why? Because Google cannot see images. It’s way of understanding what your image is about is reading the alt tag.

If your alt tag is SEO-friendly – in other words, includes your target keyword – this gives Google another reminder of the context and relevance of your blog post. And this helps rankings.

For example, notice how Jeff Bullas includes the headline of his blog post in the “alt tag” of his image.

This is what you want to be doing, too.

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