Content on the web has never been more vital to a successful online presence than it is now. One of the ways companies of all sizes are leveraging the power of web content is by writing blog posts regularly. Writing a blog post is one thing, but optimizing the content is an entirely different task. Remember when you Googled “Best Turkey Recipes for Thanksgiving” last fall? You probably found exactly what you were looking for in the first few options, because of search engine optimization or SEO.
To help you conquer SEO for your blog, I’m going to explain what SEO is, how it works and then give you a checklist for how to conduct your own SEO Audit for any blog post you write. Ready?First of all, let’s explain what SEO is and how exactly it works.
SEO in the simplest terms is a function that makes your website and content more visible and relevant to both search engines and search engine users. Search engines use tools called “spiders” to crawl websites searching for content. The spiders gather data from pages (aka blog posts!) and create a list of results that are relevant and useful to searches. Then results are ranked by the popularity and authority of the websites. Popularity is determined by the amount of website traffic (visits) a page gets. Authority is a little more complicated.
To build authority around a specific search term or topic, a page should be optimized for spiders to easily determine it’s about that topic. You can also build authority for a page by earning links back to it from other relevant and reputable sites. For example, if you publish the world’s greatest blog post on techniques for cooking a turkey in a solar oven and Wikipedia uses it and links back to it in the Wiki article on turkey cooking techniques, you’re going to earn some awesome authority points from that link!
Putting the two together: popularity + authority = higher ranking position in search results.
Now that you have some background on SEO, let’s run you through an on-page SEO audit so you can get started on how to optimize a blog post! We’ll go over 6 different sections of your blog post you must check against the SEO audit.
SEO Audit Checklist for Blog Posts
Let’s imagine you’re writing a blog post on cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. Our focus keyword for the article will be “how to cook a turkey” because frankly, it’s nearly lunchtime and I’m starving. A quick note: the term “keyword” is applied loosely because most individual keywords are too broad to use in SEO. Instead we use “keyphrases” or “long-tail keywords” that consist of more than one word.
1. Page title
Creating a relevant and clear page title is one of the most essential parts of optimizing a blog post. Your audience needs to know right away what they are getting themselves into when they click on your blog post.
Also, make sure to include the focus keyword for your blog post. The page title will show both on the browser tab as well as the link in search results. In this example, the focus keyword for your blog is “how to cook a turkey.”
Here’s a page title suggestion: How to Cook a Turkey Using a Solar Oven
Your next step on your optimizing journey is to add the keyword to your URL. Similar to the page title, this will also be seen on the page you’ve created and the search engine results.
If you’re using a long-tail keyword, such as “how to cook a turkey,” your URL should look like the following: www.[companyname].com/how-to-cook-a-turkey. Remember to always use dashes as spaces in your URL! Lastly, if you’re updating a live page, it’s important you create a 301 redirect page that will direct the old URL to the new one.
Now this is where it gets fun—inserting the keyword into the real blog post content! This is one of the most important factors of optimizing a blog post. If you’re writing a blog on cooking a turkey, you will want to include “how to cook a turkey” throughout your blog post—but, just like the turkey, you shouldn’t overdo it.
Here’s where it gets cool. You don’t have to be afraid of changing up the keyword slightly or of using synonyms—the “spiders” crawling your blog post are pretty smart and will recognize what your post is about from context! But remember, be clever with your keyword placement throughout a blog post.
This step stays in line with the previous step. You must include your focus keyword in at least one of the paragraph headings in your blog post. The “spiders” don’t read every single word in a blog post, but they do scan headings and will recognize certain short and long-tail keywords there!
5. Image alt-text
In most circumstances you will want to include some visual pieces in a blog post. And guess what? You can optimize pictures also!
In the image alt-text, (which is also called the “alt-tag” or “image description” field in your image options) you will want to include your focus keyword, or similar dialogue relating to the image. The search engines cannot decipher what an image is, but they can understand what it’s about through the alt-text. This also helps the blind to understand the images your using, so don’t neglect alt-text.
6. Meta description
Meta description, or the link preview text, is the short description of a post or page you will see on the search engine results. It’s important that this short summary contains the focus keyword and unique information about the page or post. Although the meta description doesn’t affect SEO, it will help visitors click through to the page!
Well, there you have it, 6 simple blog post elements to check for an SEO audit. I hope these tips get you started on the journey to better, more efficient blog posts and better SEO as a whole. Or, maybe you just want turkey now…
Want to read more about blogging? Check out how to start a blog here, from my fellow Inbound Marketing Consultant, Dayo Horton.
If you have any questions about SEO, or would like additional information on something else, head on over to our contact page and get in touch with us!