The Busy Blogger’s SEO Checklist 2016
Blogging can be massively time-consuming, so it’s important to get maximum return for every post and piece of content you publish. SEO-friendly blog posts are a great way to increase your Google ranking potential, and therefore the chances of your content being found. The ideal blogging scenario is that your posts amass their own traffic and links. Find out how to quickly optimize your posts for traffic and conversions with this practical guide.
“If only there was an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of blog post ideas in the world…”
The truth is, you are probably already pushed for time. Churning out blog posts, even in a niche you love, is no mean feat. By properly optimizing your content you up your chances of getting your content in front of the right audience. Once you have found a receptive audience, traffic and links should come of their own accord- just sit back and let your content do the talking…
Keyword It Up- Themes & Relevancy
Start with keyword research: it’s time well spent. Begin with Google’s keyword suggestions in Adwords, but use tools like Ubersuggest and Keyword Tool as well. The key here (excuse the pun) is to find the main keywords that people search for, and then build a list of supplementary keywords and long tail phrases to add relevancy. You want natural variants and synonyms as well, so think along the line of keyword themes- building up relevant lists as you go along. Once you have your list of keywords (and not before), you are ready to start writing. Keyword research is an integral part of the creative process, and never throw any of it away- you never know when it might be useful again. This great blog post generator from Hubspot will even give you a handful of post title ideas from a seed keyword. Handy.
Top tip: To save even more time, return to old blog posts armed with a fresh list of keywords and optimize the content by adding them to your page title, headings and copy. This way, your already published content can pick up new traffic. Genius.
SEO Friendly Content
So you have your list of keywords in the niche you’d like to write about. Before you start brainstorming, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What are they likely to want to read about? What makes them tick? The more audience value you are able to provide, the more likely your content will pick up links through shares. Here are some tried and tested blogging techniques that work:
Market research into what other posts in your niche have been popular recently is essential. Use a tool like BuzzSumo, which allows you to explore the most shared and linked-to content in your keyword area. Want to know what’s viral in the world of carp fishing? Now you can.
Anything newsworthy (or even just timely) is more likely to get shares. Whether it’s an awards ceremony, another tweet from Kanye West (sigh), or an industry-relevant conference- jumping on a bandwagon with your content is always a good idea.
This can be a hard one to pull off. But if you are funny (or someone thinks you are), then humor is a great vehicle for your content. If you are not feeling so confident, spend time on sites like The Onion or Buzzfeed to see what the funny threshold is these days. All you might need to do is to relax a bit and add some GIFs…
Roundups and Ego Bait
A roundup post is a great way to naturally invite inbound links. Collate a list of your favorite blogs, services or insights from key thinkers and influencers, and then ask them to share the published post. Writing ego bait posts is a great way to get links in a natural way- people love to share something they have been featured in.
Controversy & Ranting
Sometimes writing about a controversial topic and letting off some steam in a rant can be a great way to create a buzz. Many people have thrived off this blogging strategy. Ruffling a few feathers is great for SEO. Just make sure your brand can handle it.
How to, Top 10 Lists
Tried and tested formulas like How manuals and Top 10 lists can seem a bit predictable, but they work!
User Value & FAQs
Simply answering people’s questions is one of the easiest ways to amass links. It’s all about adding user value and providing unique answers to common problems. Collate a list of FAQs in your niche and answer them yourself- a great piece of content that people will actually want to link to.
SEO Content Structure
SEO success is about using tried and tested digital marketing methods and following certain guidelines. Here is the best practice structure for a search engine friendly blog post that you will be able to replicate across all your posts:
Title, URL & meta description: Clickbait & keywords
Make sure you have an attractive title that included your keywords, a URL that Google can easily crawl (again, think of your keywords), and a meta description that will encourage a click-through rate. See here what Moz has to say on meta descriptions.
Your post title should appeal to both people (conversion rate) and search engines (SEO). Use a free tool like this Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule to make sure your title is catchy and shareable. Make sure your keyword is near the start of your title, where it will have the most impact.
A strong introduction invites people to read on. Strike a balance between a preview of your content, but don’t give it all away at once.
Frontloading & Linking
Your good content should take center stage as this is where people (and search engines) will be looking. Make sure it is centre-page and presentable, not shrouded by ads or an awkward theme. You should also include relevant in-content links to external and internal resources. Choose high authority, relevant sites.
Use a logical heading structure where your keywords cascade from the most important H1, down to the H6 (if needed). A good headings structure will help search engines and your readers.
Image alt texts
Add meaningful image alt texts, using relevant keywords. This shouldn’t take long but can have a great SEO impact.
CTA & Social signals
Always end your post on a high- use a strong CTA to encourage post engagement. Make the post easy to share with social signals and embedded share buttons.
Optimising Your Posts- Quick Recap
- Dedicated, serious keyword research is absolutely essential. Use a variety of online tools to determine your seed, primary and secondary keywords. Use longtail keywords and keyword phrases to maximize your ranking potential.
- Make sure your primary keywords are in the page title, heading and copy (and URL if possible).
- Add social share buttons to encourage backlinks to your content.
- Linking to outside resources is good for SEO, as is linking to internal content so include links to other blog posts you have published.
SEO Housekeeping On You Blog
All this hard work on the content side won’t really pay off unless you also take care of some basic housekeeping on your blog.
- Make sure that the page code is all in order (ask someone else to check if you are not sure) and submit a sitemap to Google. Healthy code is easier for Google bots to crawl and a sitemap means Google can crawl all your content easily.
- Obviously for SEO, an original domain name is better than a hosted platform- here’s a guide on how to switch from a platform to a unique domain.
- Make sure you are using an SEO-friendly theme and install an SEO plugin (like Yoast for WordPress).
- Check that all your links work and fix any 404s.
Post Publication SEO
After you have published a blog post, always share it across your social media channels. Always add images to increase engagement rates and share it directly with people who you think would be interested in the content. (Mondays are the best days for social media engagement levels).
Top tip: Reach out to industry influencers with a juicy soundbite (especially if you have featured them in your post). Giving people a shareable snippet may just sway an influencer into sharing your content.
What is your blogging resolution for 2016? Share your blogging tips below.