Last Updated: February 10, 2021
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SEO for Blog Posts – 13 Tips for Ranking Higher In 2021

SEO for blog posts is the art of tweaking your articles so they rise to the top of the search results.

In this article you'll discover:

  • how to optimize your SERP snippet for maximum click through rate (CTR)
  • how to format your post for maximum reader engagement and 'time on page'
  • the 7 key places your keyword must appear
seo for blog posts

Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

1. Do Keyword Research

This is easily the most important tip on SEO for blog posts – do keyword research before you even choose the topic for your blog post.

And target keywords that you can rank for - in other words, long tail keywords with low competition.

See these articles for tips on how to do keyword research.

2. Use Your Keyword  in These Places

Make sure to use your keyword in the following places:

- Title of the article

If possible, start the title tag with your keyword:

seo for blog posts

- Slug of the article

The slug is the portion of your web page URL that comes after the domain name:

seo for blog posts

- Headings and subheadings

Try to include your keyword phrase in at least one heading or sub-heading.

- Body of the article

Include your main keyword or keyword phrase throughout the body of your article. Aim for density of about 2% to 3%.

Install the free Yoast SEO plugin and follow the plugin’s recommendations.

- Meta description

Include the keyword phrase in the meta description, as close to the beginning as possible:

seo for blog posts

- First 100 words

Include your keyword phrase within the first 100 words of your article. This helps search engines and humans quickly understand what your content is about.

Human visitors will scan the opening paragraph of your article looking for the search query they typed in to Google. They want to make sure that your post is going to answer their problem.

If they don’t see that keyword in the first 100 words, they’ll most likely click away.

And that increases your bounce rate which in turn will cause Google to start moving your page down the SERPs (search engine results page).

- Conclusion

Given that the Conclusion sums up the whole article, it's more than likely that the algorithm expects to find your main keyword in the Conclusion.

If your focus keyword doesn't appear in the Conclusion, the algorithm may well give your article a lower score for keyword relevance.

3. Make it easy to read

The following tips will make your article easier to read and that means your visitors will spend more time on your page. More time on page translates into higher rankings in the SERPs.

  • Use short sentences - no more than 25 words
  • Use short paragraphs - no more than 4 sentences
  • Use one paragraph for each idea

Above all, try to avoid large blocks of text - they make your content difficult to read.

4. Use headings and subheadings

Use headings (H2) and subheadings (H3) - they help search engines and readers understand your content.

  • Use headings / subheadings for topics / subtopics
  • Use one heading for every 4 to 5 paragraphs

5. Optimize your meta tags

There are two key meta tags you need to focus on when optomizing your blog posts for SEO:

  • title tag
  • meta description

- Title tag

The title tag is the title of your article as it appears in the SERP snippet:

Title tag
  • Avoid truncated titles: use a maximum of 70 characters in your title tag. If using an SEO tool like Yoast SEO or RankMath, the plugin will tell you if your title tag is too long.
  • Use your keyword as close to the beginning of your title tag as you can.
  • Use numbers and special characters (brackets, question marks, colons, etc) in your title tag - these make your SERP snippet stand out from the others.
  • Use words that trigger emotional responses.

- Meta description

The meta description is the text that appears beneath the title tag:

example of meta description
  • Use your keyword as close to the start of your meta description as possible.
  • Google usually truncates meta descriptions at 155 to 160 characters, so be concise. Use the preview tool in Yoast SEO to see whether your meta description is too long.
  • Describe what your page is about and highlight the benefit your page provides

6. Add Internal Links

Internal links help visitors to your website find related content. That keeps them on your website for longer, and that improves your rankings.

For each new blog post you should add both kinds of  internal links:

  • Outbound internal links - these are links to other relevant pages on your site
  • Inbound internal links - these are links from other relevant pages to your blog post

Internal links are a valuable SEO tool because pass 'link juice' (link equity) from older pages with high PageRank to brand new pages with low PageRank.

7. Link Out To Authority Sites

Search engines assess the quality of a web page by the number and quality of external links pointing to that page.

But they also judge a page by the quality and relevance of the sites that that the page links to. Search engines are aware that high quality content links out to other high quality content.

So always include a handful of links to high authority sites dealing with the same topic as your web page.

8. Embed a Video

The amount of time visitors spend on your page, known as “dwell time“, is one of the factors that search engines use rank content.

And it stands to reason: the longer someone spends on a web page after typing in a search query the more likely it is that the web page answered their query.

One easy way to get people to spend more time on your page is to embed a YouTube video on your page.

Just go to YouTube and type in the keyword phrase of your article.

Look for a video by an authority within your niche or a video with a good like/dislike ratio.

9. Use Images

Images are a vital part of SEO for blog posts - they break up blocks of text and make your article more readable:

  • put your keyword phrase in the ALT tag of each image
  • include your keyword phrase in the filename of each image

10. Use Semantic Keywords

Semantic keywords are words that are often found together with your main keyword because they share the same context. For example, 'iTunes' would be a semantic keyword for 'Apple'.

Semantic keywords show search engines that your content has covered a topic comprehensively.

You can find semantic keywords (also known as LSI keywords) using a tool such as LSI Graph.

11. Make Your Page Load Faster

Site speed is one of the factors Google uses to rank pages – if two pages are equal in all other respects, the page that loads faster will rank higher.

Try to make your web page load in less than 3 seconds.

Test your web page load time with Pingdom Tools.

Here are some tips for improving page load time:

  • change to a web host with faster load times
  • use a caching plugin such as WP Rocket
  • install an image optimization plugin such as Imagify
  • reduce the number of plugins on your website (aim for a maximum of 20)

12. Update Older Blog Posts

Freshness of content is a major concern for Google and other search engines. If any of your blog posts are more than a year old, update them with new content. Then change the date of publication to the current date. 

Consider adding code to your WP files so that each article or blog post displays a 'last updated' date. Here's a good article that explains how to do it: How to Display the Last Updated Date of Your Posts in WordPress.

13. Cover Your Topic Comprehensively

Topical authority is becoming an important factor in how search engines rank content.

Algorithms are moving away from a focus on keywords to a focus on context and semantic indexing. This means that to rank well you have to show the search engines that you have covered the topic well.

Conclusion

Here again are the 13 key SEO for blog posts tips:

  • do keyword research
  • use your keyword in these places
  • make it easy to read
  • use headings and subheadings
  • optimize your meta tags
  • add internal links
  • link out to authority sites
  • embed a video
  • use images
  • use semantic keywords
  • make your page load faster
  • update older blog posts
  • cover your topic comprehensively

Install an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO, RankMath or All In One SEO. If you 'tick all the boxes' in these plugins each time you publish a new blog post, you'll be covering the main SEO for blog post factors.

Related Articles

Rob Powell
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29 thoughts on “SEO for Blog Posts – 13 Tips for Ranking Higher In 2021”

  1. Hey Rob! Super informative stuff you’ve got going on here. It’s not often I can find new nuggets of info that can help me. You’re the exception. I will say one of the most over looked aspects of SEO is page speed. We’ve seen rather large bumps in the serps by just doing a good page speed optimization. Works great every time. Thanks again.

  2. Hey John, thanks for the comment. I couldn’t agree more re page speed as an overlooked SEO factor. I understand Google is putting a lot of emphasis on page speed. I recently started using the WPRocket plugin together with a CDN product from cloudshare and managed to reduce my page load time from about 6 secs to 1.7 secs. Thanks for the feedback! Rob.

  3. Heyy Rob, thanks for putting everything together in short and simple paragraph. Unlike long boring blog post it never gave a burden to read big paragraph but small sentences also The conclusion was a great effort.

  4. Hi Albert,

    Thanks for your question.

    Changing your theme wouldn’t necessarily harm your SEO or your existing rankings in the search results.

    However, changing the framework could have a negative impact on the SEO of your website.

    This is what Adam Baird said:

    Changing frameworks on an established site is a big no-no. Even if your site is visually and functionally similar, your HTML will be completely different and you may be penalized by Google. It’s not the end of the world if you switch, but its a road I don’t recommend traveling

    The Genesis framework is designed to perform well in SEO so any Genesis theme would be safe for SEO.

    Hope this helps 🙂
    Rob

  5. This is one of those things I keep meaning to go back and fix in all of my posts, I started blogging less than a year ago and I feel like there is so much to learn and do, it could definitely be a full-time job. Thanks for the great tips!

  6. Thanks rob for writing a wonderful and helpful post! I am a fan of SEO and I am always checking up to date SEO strategy. Good Job for sharing a detailed post!

  7. Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for your feedback! And thanks also for your question.

    There are a couple of things worth mentioning.

    It’s widely believed amongst SEO experts that new websites are placed in a ‘sandbox’ by Google for about 6 months or even more. During this time the new site is prevented from ranking in Google’s top results. You can read more about the ‘sandbox effect’ in this article
    Google Sandbox: Does Google Really Hate New Websites?

    The other thing is your DA. I would try and raise that DA as quickly as possible. There are two kinds of blog posts that other websites with high DA often link to: expert roundups and top list posts. I would concentrate for the next 6 months on just writing those 2 types of articles. For guidance on writing expert roundups, you could look at my guest post on Jeff Bullas: How to Start Guest Blogging When You Are Completely Unknown. For tips on how to write Top List posts, here’s an excellent article: How I Get Over 100,000 Visitors a Month With Top List Articles.

    Hope this helps 🙂
    Rob.

  8. I prioritise audience intension while researching for keywords. It’s crucial to find out what my readers want to know and I structure my content accordingly.

  9. I agree. Searcher intent is crucial. In a way, its the most important aspect of optimizing a blog post for SEO.

    Thanks for your comment!

    – Rob

Comments are closed.

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