Before we get down to the blog SEO checklist that will take your blog’s online visibility to the next level, we need to ensure something right away. If you are a business with an online presence, you already know the importance of blogging for your business. If not, here is a reminder. Every business needs to blog. Period.
Blogging is the most substantial way to improve your website’s SEO. It is no hidden fact that Google loves content. But not just any content. Google will only notice a content that is search engine optimized. Creating content can be fun but creating meaningful content that is loved by your customers as well as by Google’s crawlers is a tougher task than you can imagine. There are a few pointers that you should remember before sitting down to write the next blog for your company. Here is a SEO checklist for your blog that you might want to keep in handy.
1. Know your target audience
This is the most crucial process of any marketing strategy. And since blogging is a vital part of your inbound marketing strategy, knowing your audience is definitely important before you start writing your blog articles. A great blog SEO tip is to remember to always write for your readers first and for the search engine second.
Most of us make the mistake of focusing our blogs entirely for the search engines. In turn, we end up not achieving the results we desire. Research your audience and build your buyer personas based on your research. Find out the problems of your customers and what kind of answers they are looking for. Then, seek to answer those questions and solve their problems through your blogs. Always write keeping in mind that there are humans looking for solutions to their questions. Your job is to provide them with the best possible solutions. The more readable and sharable your blog content is to your readers, the more it will be loved and noticed by search engines.
2. Setup Google Search Console
The Google Search Console, previously called Google Webmaster Tools is one of the most powerful tools available online. And it is free! Before taking up any blog SEO activities, or even SEO for your entire website, it is imperative that you set up the Google Search console for your website.
Once you have set up the search console for your website, you can check a lot of important information regarding all of your important web pages, like your blog pages, for your website.
You can view crawl errors, sitemaps, google index status and track your website’s performance on google search as well as see any security issues. You can also find keywords that are working best for your website and ones that bring the maximum traffic to your site. Then focus on creating content for your blog using these keywords.
3. Setup Google Analytics
Google Analytics helps you know how people find, use and interact with your website. Set up Google Analytics for your site as another important task as part of your SEO efforts. Using Google Analytics, you can check how much traffic google search is getting to your website, monitor if the traffic is increasing and view if any other websites are bringing you traffic. You can also check pages with maximum traffic and work on optimizing your blog pages for larger traffic.
A great tip is to connect your Google Analytics with the Google search console. Once you do that, you can see a lot of helpful SEO information inside your Analytics account.
4. Keyword research
This is probably a no brainer. A great keyword research is one of the most valuable tasks for leveling up your blog SEO game. Once you have built your audience personas and have a fair idea about your user behavior, hop over to a good keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner and type in the keywords you would want to rank for. These words or phrases will be very close to what your target or potential customers are typing in as questions on Google search. These keywords should be also, of course, related to solutions your business provides.
There are a ton of free and paid keyword research tools that you can find online. Some of the best ones are Keywordtool.io, KWFinder and Answer The Public. Utilize them to come up with a couple of the most important keywords that are the closest to what your audience might be searching for and what your business also caters to.
Try to use long tail keywords as your primary keyword since they are closer to what people search for. You could also research on which keywords your competitors are ranking for and use similar set of keywords. Similarly use LSI, or Latent Semantic Keywords, which are keywords related to your primary keyword by context.
5. Apply your keywords in all the key locations
After you have determined the primary keyword you want to rank for, the next step in making your blog SEO friendly is time to apply it on all the important locations of your blog. Starting with the URL of your blog article, the title of your blog, the body and images. It is important that your primary keyword appears in in all these places. This gives search engine crawlers an idea of what your blog is talking about. You can also use close variations of your primary keyword. This makes it easier for the search engine to interpret the gist of your blog and makes it better to understand.
Use shorter URLs. Short Urls are known to perform better on search rankings compared to longer URLs.
However, there is a catch involved in this process. Most often than not, in our excitement to use our keywords on our blog posts, we end up over-using them. This is called keyword stuffing and you should avoid this practice at all costs. The best way is to keep the readability of your blog natural. If you have over used the keyword in your post, you would realize it immediately once you proofread it.
Another way is to use SEO plugins like Yoast on your blogs. Yoast gives you an SEO analysis and would let you know if you have over used any keyword.
6. Optimize your title and headings
An important part of blog SEO is optimizing the title and headings of your blog article. The title is probably the most important piece of your blog, sometimes even more than the actual body of the post. Your blog title is the first thing that both search engines and your readers will find on the SERPs. It is what the potential customer would click on to reach your blog. Hence, you must focus on optimizing the title.
Make sure the title has the right keyword placed in a natural manner. Frame your title in a way that it solves a problem. This will make the reader want to click on it to read your complete post.
The next important part is using headings and sub -headings in your blog. This is often denoted by the <H> tags. Heading and sub headings are extremely essential on a blog. It provides a structure to your entire article, making it easier for search engines to crawl. Give the title of your blog a <H1> tag and use subsequent <H2> and <H3> tags for subsequent paragraphs or sub sections. If possible, include your primary keyword in all your <H> tags as well. Search engines love a well-structured content.
7. Optimize your meta tags and image tags
Meta descriptions are the small snippet of description that appear right below the SEO title of your blog on the SERPs. If you use a CRM like WordPress and have Yoast plugin installed, you would be prompted to update your meta descriptions under the Edit Snippet tab. By default, Yoast uses the first few lines of your article as the meta description. But it is always recommended to edit your meta description and place your primary keywords strategically in it.
The meta description appears as a block of text below your SEO title on the SERPs, similar to how it appears on your Yoast editor. An optimized meta description provides a brief overview to the reader as to what your blog post is about, thus helping him decide whether or not to click on the title.
Other than your meta description, images are another important aspect you must optimize. Use <Alt> tags in all your images and make sure to include your primary keyword over there as well. <Alt> tags are helpful for search engines to determine what the image is about. It also serves as the descriptive text when the image does not load properly.
8. Link internally
A good part of blog SEO involves including internal links on your blog posts. Internal links are links that redirect to other pages within your website. It could be other blog articles or some other pages, like the services page on your website. Internal links are important for your blog from an SEO point of view as it helps spread the link juice on your website, which in turn helps in increasing your PageRank.
Internal links also help in increasing the traffic on your internal pages as users are likely to click on these links. Using internal links also boosts the time spent on the site and decreases the bounce rate.
9. Use Categories and Tags
A vital step to ace your blog SEO efforts is to use categories and tags. These are available as WordPress options. Categories are like a broad grouping of your blog topic. Tags are used to describe what your blog topic is about. Both tags and categories help to sort out your blog content and improve the usability of your site.
A well structured blog content will automatically boost the SEO of your blog. Be sure to add relevant categories on your WordPress blog. And include tags that are most related to the topic your blog is talking about.
10. Social Share
Social sharing may or may not directly impact your blog SEO metrics. But if you observe any search query, you will notice that there are facebook, Quora and twitter links as part of the results in SERPs. Which means, Google does give importance to socially shared content. Once you have published your blog article, make sure you are sharing it over relevant social channels over the course of the next few days. Respond to all the comments and make sure you keep the engagement going on for your post.
Social sharing will help you get more eyeballs. This would result in increase in traffic to your blog. The more people read your blog, the more likely it is to come into Google’s notice. It’s a two way road and social media are the wheels to your SEO vehicle for your blog.
A well written, thoroughly updated blog not only helps in achieving your SEO goals but also increases the number of inbound links to your website. This ultimately leads to higher traffic to the most important pages of your website. After you have drafted your blog article and taken care of this SEO checklist, make sure to proof read it more than once. Share it on social platforms and ensure that you are engaging with your audience by replying to comments. With the right efforts, over a regular period of time, you will see your blogs ranking on the first page of the SERPs.