Thanks to rapid advancements in technology, consumers now have access to a global network of information at their fingertips, forcing businesses to accelerate their content marketing efforts in order to define their brand and establish a competitive edge. Knowing that high-quality, informative content can drive traffic by boosting rankings on search results pages, marketers are publishing SEO-friendly blog posts to demonstrate industry expertise and attract potential leads.
The proof is in the pudding. According to one study, 70% of consumers prefer to learn about companies through articles instead of advertising. Further research shows that B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t, and the number jumps to 88% for B2C companies. The same study states that 61% of consumers in the United States have made a purchase based on blog recommendations.
Knowing how to create SEO-friendly blog posts is a crucial part of developing your brand identity and building a loyal customer base. Here are nine best practices you should always follow:
1) Target 1-2 long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are search phrases that typically consist of three or more words and are highly relevant to your specific niche or product. This type of keyword targeting is beneficial because the phrases often have low search volume, meaning the competition is limited.
Integrating long-tail search phrases can improve organic traffic by 80%. Wondering what the return on investment looks like for an enterprise company? Amazon attributes 57 percent of its sales to a long-tail keyword strategy.
According to Neil Patel, while search volume for long-tail keywords is low, conversion rates are usually very high because you are reaching consumers who are providing specific buying signals directly within their search queries.
Google AdWords Keywords Planner is a helpful tool as you research keywords to help boost your blog’s SEO.
2) Include these keywords in key elements of your post.
Where you place keywords in your blog is more important for SEO than how frequently they are used. In addition to coming across as “spammy” and not useful to the reader, keyword stuffing could earn you penalties from Google. Instead, use keywords in strategic locations:
- Page title & H1
- Include your keyword within the first 65 characters of your page’s meta title and H1, as close to the beginning of the title as possible. This is the first place Google – and readers – will look to determine the relevancy of your post.
- Search engines pay special attention to your headings because they expect them to include clues to the page’s main topic. For this reason, you should include your target keywords in headings whenever possible. To help Google locate your headings, it’s also important to wrap them in H2 and H3 tags.
- Use the target keyword in the first 100 words of your post so the reader (and Google) can quickly recognize its purpose and context.
- Sprinkle LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords throughout. Incorporating these keywords helps Google know that your post contains quality, cohesive content.
- Google uses your URL as a clue to help figure out the main topic of your page. And the more you simplify that process for them, the more likely you are to rank for your target keyword. Keep URLS as short and sweet as possible, and always include your target keyword as close to the beginning of the URL as possible.
- Meta description
- Include your target keyword in first 160 characters of the page’s meta description, and provide an engaging, focused summary of the content to help maximize click-through rates.
3) Post long-form content.
Publishing long-form content is critical to improving your blog’s SEO. The Hummingbird Algorithm helps Google take into account the full context of a page, instead of just looking at individual keywords. Comprehensive, in-depth content ranks higher and boosts topical relevancy, which helps Google better understand the context of the entire page.
The average length of content in Google’s top 10 search results is more than 2,000 words, and 75% of users never scroll past the first page of results. In addition to search engine rankings, there is also a positive correlation between the length of the content and the number of backlinks pointing to it.
Engaging, long-form content also helps increase session duration and dwell time, which affects search optimization as well.
4) Use engaging multimedia – and optimize.
To maximize your marketing reach, integrate visual content into your blog posts. Not only does this help catch the eye of your readers, but it also helps Google identify and index your images (when optimized properly). Keep these tips in mind when using images to improve SEO on your blog:
- Only use image formats that Google supports: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP and SVG.
- Choose a file name, alt tag and title tag that describe the content of the image.
- Ensure the surrounding text provides appropriate context for the image.
- Place an image above the fold to lower bounce rates and entice visitors to keep reading.
To provide a good user experience, you should also ensure that images are high quality and load quickly.
5) Incorporate outbound links to reputable sources.
When it comes to backlinks, sharing is caring. It shows Google that you are actively engaged in the web and that your content is well-researched and relevant. However, you should always have the reader’s best interest in mind when you include external links – only drive them to trustworthy, credible websites that are valuable resources. Avoid linking to spammy, unreliable pages.
6) Add 2-3 internal links to every post.
Driving readers to other pages on your website is beneficial for you and for them. Internal linking helps Google crawl your website and index pages, reduces bounce rate, and demonstrates a breadth of knowledge in your industry. On the other hand, internal links give your readers quick access to supplemental resources and information.
Research shows that readers are more engaged and tend to click more frequently in the beginning of a blog, so push internal links to the top of your content as much as you can. They should be integrated naturally and should always provide value to the reader.
7) Encourage social sharing.
Social media is now a significant component of content marketing, as 63% of companies believe posting on social media has increased their marketing effectiveness. Google is now looking to social media as a signal of content authority and relevance, which means it can have a measurable impact on your blog SEO. Make sure to include social sharing buttons on every post – the wider your social reach, the more organic traffic you can drive back to your native post.
8) Make sure your posts are mobile-friendly.
In 2015, as more people started to utilize mobile devices for the majority of their online activities, Google began making updates to its ranking algorithm to encourage a more “mobile-friendly” web. In 2017, it rolled out a mobile-friendly version of its index. Google now classifies the mobile-version of a web page as primary, and the desktop version as secondary. So if the design and functionality of your mobile site is limited, it could negatively impact the user experience – and your SEO.
9) Boost site speed and average dwell time.
On average, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. A high bounce rate tells Google that your page is not relevant or navigable, which can affect your blog’s SEO. One way to avoid this is by ensuring your site speed is in line with web best practices. You can test site speed and explore insights with Google’s PageSpeed Tool.
Dwell time is another factor that influences SEO. A longer dwell time tells Google that visitors are finding value in your page, while a shorter dwell time indicates that your readers are losing interest. One way to boost your average dwell time is publishing longer-form content.
Need help writing SEO-friendly blog posts to boost your content marketing strategy? Learn how OneSpace’s expansive network of expert blog writers can help you publish engaging, relevant content at scale.