Writing SEO friendly blog posts is partly about helping search engines understand your content. But it’s also about writing content for humans:
- persuading people to click on your title
- keeping readers on the page for longer
- and making sure you answer the visitor’s search query
In this article, you’ll discover 15 ways to make your blog posts more SEO friendly.
#1. Do Keyword Research
Always start a new blog post by doing keyword research. Remember that when you’re writing an article that you want to rank on Google, you’re answering a query.
A query is what a searcher types into Google. But from the point of view of someone writing content, a query is a keyword or a keyword phrase.
The key metrics you should be aware of when choosing a keyword are:
The search volume should be at least 100 and preferably between 500 and 1000. In general, keywords with high search volume (i.e. in the 1000s) will be hard to rank for.
Keyword difficulty is a rough indication of how hard it will be to rank on Page #1 for a given keyword. Every SEO tool has its own keyword difficulty score. The more you use a particular SEO tool, the better you’ll get at interpreting the keyword difficulty score used in that tool.
The DA or domain authority of the pages that already rank for that keyword is a vital indication of whether you can get on Page #1 for that search term.
For example, if there are two pages with domain authority in the high 20s and your website has DA of 25, you stand a good chance of getting on Page #1 for that keyword.
In a nutshell: an SEO friendly blog post is an article that focuses on a keyword where the competition is low enough that you have a chance of ranking.
#2. Understand The Searcher Intent
Getting on Page #1 of Google is about understanding what the searcher is looking for. This is called searcher intent or search intent.
Let’s say you wanted to write an article about ‘SERP checkers’. But before you commit to writing the article, you want to see what the search intent is behind that keyword.
So you go to Google and type in ‘serp checkers’. But what you see on Page #1 of the search results is software itslef. There’s not a single article about SERP checkers.
In other words, when people do a search on ‘serp checker’ or ‘serp checkers’ they’re looking for software or an app, not an article about SERP checkers. That’s the searcher intent behind that keyword.
But if I change my keyword to ‘best serp checkers’, the search intent changes. Go ahead and type that query into Google. You’ll see some articles that compare the different SERP checkers.
That’s why understanding searcher intent is key to writing an SEO-friendly blog post.
#3. Choose The Correct Format
Make sure the format you’re using aligns with the format of what’s ranking in the search results.
For example, if all the top search results for your target keyword are videos, then an article probably wouldn’t rank for that keyword.
You can take this a step further and look at the type of article that’s ranking in the search results.
Let’s say you’re planning to write a ‘How To’ article - how to prepare for a wedding. But when you check the SERPs, all the articles in the search results are numbered list articles. In that case, you would stand a much better chance of ranking on Google if you write a numbered list article.
Always make sure that the type of article you’re writing matches the type of article that is currently being displayed in the search results for that keyword.
#4. Create a Structure
The structure of your article refers to the topics and sub-topics you’ll be covering in your article.
Let’s say you have seven main topics in your article and each of those seven topics has two or three sub-topics. That’s the structure of your article.
Make a list of your topics and subtopics before you start writing.
A well-defined structure helps ensure that your article covers a topic properly. And that in turn will help your article rank on Page #1 of the search results.
#5. Get To The Point Quickly
Blog posts that rank on Page #1 of the search results are blog posts that get to the point quickly and answer the searcher's query.
The most important thing to remember if you want your article to be SEO friendly is that you're answering a search query. So you need to put yourself in the shoes of the searcher.
When a searcher clicks on your snippet in the search results, all they want to know is: "does this article answer my query?" And that's why you need to signal to the searcher in the first hundred words that you understand the query and you have the answer.
If you don't convey that message in the first paragraph or two of your article, the searcher will click back to Google and look at the next article in the search results.
The algorithm will record that as a 'bounce'. And that's going to push your page down the search results.
Because the algorithm interprets a bounce as meaning that your article didn't answer the query.
In a nutshell: to rank well in the search results, it's best to avoid ‘chatty’ introductions - get straight to the point and show the searcher that you know what they’re looking for and you have the answer.
#6. Use Headings & Subheadings
Headings and subheadings are like sign-posts that tell your reader where you are taking them. They also break up your text and make it more readable. In a nutshell: headings help to keep your reader on the page.
Headings also help search engines understand what your article is about. And that’s why headings and subheadings are another key ingredient of SEO-friendly articles.
With your headings, remember to use the heading tags properly.
Your top-level headings should be enclosed in H2 tags, your 2nd level headings in H3 tags, and so on. The only H1 tag that should appear on your page is the title of your article.
#7. Keep Your Paragraphs Short
Paragraphs help readers digest your article. They signal to the reader when you are changing the focus or starting a new topic.
Each paragraph should deal with a single idea or make a single point. When you move on to another point, you need to start a new paragraph.
Keep your paragraphs short - no more than three or four sentences. Big chunks of text discourage your readers and make it hard for them to scan your content.
#8. Keep Your Sentences Short
Short sentences make your article easier to read and so they keep people on your page for longer.
Keep your sentences between 10 and 15 words and definitely under 20 words. If you find yourself writing a sentence of more than twenty words, break it in half, and make two sentences.
Short sentences, like short paragraphs, will keep your readers on the page for longer. And that increases your ‘time on page’, a metric that search engines watch closely. So short sentences are another way of writing SEO friendly articles.
Although short sentences are preferable to long sentences, it’s good to vary the length of your sentences. When you alternate long sentences with short sentences, you set up a rhythm. And rhythm makes reading much easier.
#9. Use Transition Words or Phrases
Transitional words or phrases make it easier for people to read your article. They’re called transitions because they help the reader move from one topic to the next.
Without transitions, it can seem abrupt when you move from one topic to the next. So transitions help your readers glide, with minimum friction, from one idea to the next.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you’re writing an article about WordPress for beginners. And let’s say you’ve spent four or five paragraphs explaining what a post is in WordPress. Now you want to change the topic from ‘posts’ to ‘pages’.
Here’s how you could do that using a transitional phrase.
“So that’s what a post is in WordPress.
But what about a page? What’s the difference between a post and a page in WordPress?”
The transition (marked in italics) signals to the reader that you’re about to move to a new topic.
Transitional phrases are also a way of building a relationship with the reader. They’re often chatty or conversational. You can use them to establish empathy, by showing that you understand the questions the reader is asking herself.
Transitional phrases keep your readers moving down the page. And that’s why they make your article more SEO-friendly. Because the longer your reader stays on your page, the higher your page will rank in the search results.
#10. Write Long-Form Content
The SEO website Backlinko analyzed over 1 million search results and found that the average word length for content that ranks on Page #1 of Google is 1,890 words.
One of the reasons that long-form content ranks higher in the search results is topical authority. An article of 1500 words is likely to have more topical authority (i.e. covers the topic better) than an article on the same topic that has only 500 words.
#11. Craft a Compelling SEO Title
Your SEO title is the title of your article as it appears in the search results:
If you’re using the free Yoast SEO plugin, the plugin will ask you to specify an SEO title for each new blog post that you write:
The SEO title needs to do two things:
- It needs to be accurate and factual - the search engines won’t rank your page if the title doesn’t accurately describe the contents of the page
- It needs to be compelling - people click on search results that promise a result or a solution to their problem
Here’s a good example of an SEO title that makes a clear promise:
Here’s another example:
A good SEO title contains two kinds of words:
- your keyword
- a ‘power word’
Power words are words that trigger an emotional response in the reader.
In the first example above the keyword is ‘write a blog post’, and the power word is ‘blockbuster’. In the second example, the keyword is ‘reduce your bounce rate’ and the power word is ‘easy’.
Here’s a list of 401+ Ridiculously Useful Power Words To Increase Conversions (note the two power words in this title).
#12. Write an Engaging Meta Description
The meta description is two or three lines of text that you enclose within meta description tags. The meta description tells the search engines what your article is about.
In the Yoast SEO plugin, the meta description field is right below the SEO title:
Here’s an example of how a meta description appears in the search results:
Your meta description should tell the reader why they need to read your article.
In the example above, the meta description tells the reader (1) that blog post format is important, (2) that blog post format keeps your readers engaged, and (3) that blog post format makes it more likely your readers will convert.
The sentence that explains what is in the article got cut off. But that’s okay, because the reader has already been given three good reasons why they should read the article.
Notice that Google has bolded the words ‘blog post format’ and ‘article’.
Google will put in bold any words in your meta description that are related to your keyword. This draws the reader’s eye to your SERP snippet, so always try and include either your keyword or a related keyword in your meta description.
In the end, though, it’s up to Google whether they use your meta description or not. According to Ahrefs, Google rewrites meta descriptions 62.78% of the time.
But it’s still worth providing your own, as Google will often use the meta description you specify.
#13. Optimize Your Images
Make sure your images have a small file size - preferably no more than a few hundred kilobytes.
Large images are the main cause of slow-loading pages. And Google has stated publicly that page load time is a ranking factor.
One way to optimize your images is to make sure that the image dimensions are not larger than the size of the displayed image.
Here’s what I mean.
If your image is displaying at 750 pixels wide, but the image itself is 2,500 pixels wide, that’s wasted image quality. You could get exactly the same sharpness using an image with a much smaller file size.
To put it another way: that image needs to be resized down to a width of 750 pixels.
The paid version of Short Pixel has a ‘resize images’ feature that changes the size of your uploaded pictures and ensures that you never use an image that’s larger than necessary.
#14. Insert Internal and External Links
Linking out to articles on other websites can add value to your article.
This is especially the case if the article you link to discusses a topic in more detail than you have space for in your article.
External links can boost the SEO of your article because they help the Google algorithm understand the topic of your blog post.
Should you make your external links ‘do follow’ or ‘no follow’?
In general, you should use the 'no follow' tag in these situations:
- Links in comments or on forums
- Advertisements & sponsored links
- Paid links
In a nutshell: if it isn't User Generated Content, you didn't receive any form of compensation for the link, and you believe the website you are linking to is trustworthy, use the ‘do follow’ tag in your external links.
Internal links create your website’s site architecture and site architecture is important for SEO. It tells the algorithms how your content is organized.
Internal links between pages that deal with related topics create topic clusters.
And topic clusters show search engines that your site has topical authority on a particular topic. And that’s going to help your pages rank higher in the search results.
One way to create internal links is to have a ‘Related Articles’ box at the foot of every blog post (as on this website).
Internal links have another important SEO benefit. By leading your visitors to other articles on your website, internal links reduce bounce rate and increase ‘time on site.
That’s an SEO win for you because those are both factors that Google measures and uses for the purpose of ranking web pages.
#15. Add Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of code that tells search engines what kind of information is on your page.
For example, schema markup can tell search engines that your page is a recipe, that ‘Person X’ is the author of the article, or that a block of text is about a theatre performance.
Schema markup is good for SEO because it helps search engines understand what your page is about.
But more than that, schema markup results in rich snippets.
Rich snippets are standard SERP snippets with added features. Here are some examples of the extra features you can get when Google gives you a rich snippet:
In this example, the additonal features in the rich snippet are the date of the performance, the name of the performance, the rating, and the number of votes the rating is based on.
In this recipe rich snippet, the additional features are an image, a rating, the number of votes it is based on, the preparation time, and the number of calories.
In this retail store rich snippet, the additional information is the rating, the number of reviews, the price of the item, and whether or not it's in stock.
As you can see, rich snippets not only give you more real estate on the SERPs page, they also stand out. So your click-through rate will be higher with a rich snippet.
To get these rich snippets, the above three websites all had to add schema markup to their web pages.
But what if your website is not an event site, a recipe site, or a retail store? Can you get rich snippets if you just have a blog?
Here’s a rich snippet for one of my articles:
Google has turned my list of timesaving plugins into a clickable menu. Nice!
Notice that my snippet occupies more space than the other snippets and stands out from them. That means it's going to get more clicks.
So what do you need to do to add schema markup to your web pages?
Of all the tips for writing SEO friendly articles that I’ve listed in this blog post, this one is the easiest to implement. Just install a schema markup plugin, set up your preferences, and that’s it!
#16. Use LSI Keywords
Include as many latent semantic indexing (LSI) keyword as you can in your content. This will help your articles to rank for multiple search queries.
LSI keywords can be synonyms but they don't have to be. They can simply be words that are frequently in the same context as your main keyword. An example would be 'iTunes' and 'Apple'.
To find LSI keywords, type your main keyword into Google and then scan the search results, including the 'People Also Ask' section.
#17. Create Topic Clusters
Google rewards content that has high topical authority. One way to achieve high topical authority is to create topic clusters. These are clusters of web pages that all deal with the same broad topic.
In a topic cluster, you should have one page that covers the topic at a general level and supporting pages that cover individual subtopics.
For example, your pillar post might be 'rock climbing' and your supporting pages might be: 'crampons', 'boots', 'ropes', 'ice picks', and 'belaying pins'.
The key to writing SEO-friendly blog posts is to remember that you're answering a query that someone has typed into a search engine.
Try to understand the intent behind the search query and try to make your article the best available response to that query.
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