EASY SEO: 6 Ways to Optimize Blog Posts for Google Ranking
Blogs are great.
You get to let your creative words loose on the page — er, screen —, you have your own designated space to build your portfolio, you can choose your own theme, colors and let your inner creative loose on the design.
A visually attractive blog is always a … Um, relief. BUT. Colors and fonts can only get you so far. In the same vein, you can be a cracker of a writer, but if you don’t know how best to optimize blog posts, they are going to mostly remain within the confines of your visually delightful website.
If you want your blog to be read (by anyone other than your mom and your best bud), you need it to be found. On Google. By strangers.
This requires some inside info on a little thing called SEO, or search engine optimization. Don’t let the fancy lingo put you off — this is pretty simple once you get the idea.
Here are a few easy SEO tips to optimize your blog posts for better rankings in Google search results.
1. Choose A Good Keyword – And Use It Just The Right Amount
Your blog post needs a focus keyword that Google can latch onto and essentially “label” it with — this is the key to optimizing blog posts, ranking in search and helping people find your website.
But hold up. It’s not quite that simple. There are ways to do keywords, right…and there are ways to do them wrong.
If you’re writing about how to choose a new washing machine, you need the phrase “washing machine” in your post, right?
Right. The part most people go overboard on though is how often to use their keyword throughout their post. Getting this right is highly important when it comes to SEO.
“Choosing a new washing machine is important. Your washing machine needs to have great washing machine capabilities and do the job a washing machine should be able to do. If you need a new washing machine, this washing machine of washing machines is the washing machine for you.”
Isn’t it just uncomfortable to read that? By the end of that paragraph, the phrase “washing machine” is starting to get a little mixed up in one’s mind and on one’s tongue. The only thing this is going to optimize is the reader’s confusion, and the chance of the author getting in trouble with Google.
The best way to do keywords is to write normally, naturally, and without thinking about your keyword at all. Once your post is done and you’re in the editing process, take note of how often your keyword appears. It may surprise you how many times it ends up in your blog post naturally without you even realizing.
At the very least, your keyword should appear in your blog post title, your URL, within and H2 headings, and at least a few times in every section of your blog post.
If you feel it appears too little, try to add your keywords into a few places where they fit nicely and feel right.
The most important thing here is that your keywords appear as naturally and organically as possible.
2. Get Your Length Right
Research suggests that longer-form blog posts are better optimized for good rankings in search results.
The reason? There’s more content for Google to crawl and rank it. There’s also a higher likelihood of your keyword being used more often and more naturally.
So what counts as long form?
This is a tricky question and mostly depends on your goals for your blog post. To optimize blog posts for best results in Google rankings, your post should be … Wait for it … Around 2500 words.
Hello? Are you still there? That number might freak you out a little bit, but try not to let it worry you.
Firstly, if your post is shorter than 2500 words, it can certainly still rank well.
Secondly, the best way to get to writing posts that long is to work your way up to it. Longer posts typically require a lot more research, and once you start researching you’re likely to find a lot more relevant info to quote, reference, or write about than you thought you would.
The standard blog post length is between 300 and 600 words, which is a great nugget of a read and a good length for generating comments (if you have regular readers).
If you’re cool with standard length but are not quite at monster length yet, try to up your posts to between 1000 and 1500 words. This will significantly boost your rankings, and once you start finding that length pretty easy to write, then you can go for the big ones.
3. Format It — Make It Easy To Read
Nobody wants to read a solid page essay, especially one of 1000 words or more. Quite frankly, in the internet age, people just don’t have the patience to read a bunch of densely written blog posts.
Formatting is super important to give your reader a comfortable and enjoyable reading experience — even if your post is 2000 words plus.
This simply means formatting your blog post in such a way that it looks pleasing to the eye and is not a chore to read. Solid blocks of text are intimidating to most people, and that’s the last thing you want a person to feel when they land on your blog post.
There’s a good reason you see so many blog post titles advertising “3 Ways To Do This Thing,” “5 Lists About Why Lists Are Important,” or “10 Killer Tips: How To Format A Perfect Blog Post.”
The absolute easiest way to begin formatting a blog post is to break it up into smaller chunks that make it simple for a reader to breathe as they’re reading — and lists are perfect for this.
Add a heading to each list item and you’re A for away.
WordPress uses H1 (Heading 1) for the post title, so for headings within your blog post, use H2 and H3 as needed.
Another trick is to make use of the bold, italics, underline, and color options to highlight specific bits of text and draw the readers’ eye to them.
Adding images throughout your post is another easy way to break up the density of your text.
4. Write An Effective Meta Description
When you search for a topic and Google spits out its list of results, each heading has a little blurb underneath it which gives potential readers an idea of what the post is about. This is your meta description.
Meta descriptions are 156 characters long, which doesn’t give you much space to summarize your article. The most important thing is that it’s catchy, it gives just enough info to make the reader curious, and, most importantly – it contains your focus keyword.
The purpose of the meta description is to entice readers to click on it and land on your blog post. Having your keyword in your meta description will optimize blog posts to pop up higher in the ranking when someone searches for your keyword on Google. Obviously, you want your blurb to catch this stranger’s eye and draw them in.
But don’t stress too much about writing the “perfect” snippet. As long as your keyword is in there and it gives an idea of the topic, you’ll be all good.
5. Add Links
Remember, whether it’s a reader or a potential client looking at your blog post, you want to come across as an expert in your niche. Linking to other content in your niche is a smart way to show that you know what’s out there and you’re up to date with what’s going on in your field.
Besides being a great way to optimize blog posts (Google keeps an eye out for them), including links to other people’s sites is a subtle bit of networking on your part.
If you’re talking about a particular person or a specific course or product, it is also good blogging etiquette to include a link to said thing. If you’re lucky, you may get a link on someone else’s site in return.
Another great trick that many people forget is to include links to your own content. This is called internal linking.
Linking to another blog post of your own means the reader is enticed to explore your site a bit more. Search engines also like this because it indicates that you have more relevant content on your blog. Of course, if you’re talking about a specific topic, don’t link to something totally irrelevant. You’ll only end up annoying your readers.
This can be one of the harder parts of optimization, but don’t stress about it. Just a few good quality links will give you a boost.
If you’re keen to learn more about how this works and how it can help, check out this post, which goes into a bit more detail.
6. Install Yoast
Now that you have all the know-how to optimize blog posts, it’s a great idea to go ahead and install Yoast SEO on your WordPress blog, which will monitor all of the above for you as you write, and provide a nice little real-time snapshot of what you need to change or improve.
If you’re starting out, the free version is perfectly adequate.
- Install a “Click to Tweet” plugin. This goes a long way for improving your formatting and gives your readers a quick, easy way to share a snippet of your content and link back to your blog.
- Add your keyword into the “alt text” section of your images to give them an extra optimization boost.
- Rename your pictures before you upload them. A picture named “optimize-blog-posts.jpg” will be far more helpful to your post than one named “img_2567.jpg”.
- Share your stuff on social media! Don’t totally rely on Mr. Google to bring your readers in. That being said, the above tips apply whether or not you’re sharing your stuff. Don’t think because people check out your stuff on Facebook, you don’t need to optimize. Optimizing is as much for your reader’s comfort as it is for your rankings.
Optimizing your blog posts for search rankings doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s a handy checklist for you if you start to feel overwhelmed before hitting that publish button.
Happy blogging! (and ranking!)