Starting a blog is not that hard. Getting the traffic on the site might prove more difficult! We have put together a list of things you can do to improve the SEO and get more reads.
1. Craft compelling, informative headlines and use an H1 heading tag
Your headline is important. Really Important. Think for a moment about the title of this very post you’re reading now.
For example, if you are looking for tips, it stands to reason that you might Google “how to” followed by the topic or thing you want to learn about.
When it comes to headings then, include keywords that will match with people’s searches, and make your heading interesting and informative enough to give people a reason to click or continue reading.
Using headings in blog posts
The H1 heading is super important, as it gives Google critical information about the content of your page. If you are using WordPress, depending on the theme, your blog post title is very likely to be formatted as an H1 by default, but it’s worth checking, and also, make sure you don’t use more than one H1 tag on a page, as this confuses Google and will actively hinder your SEO attempts.
2. Write content that’s relevant and useful to your target audience
Relevance in terms of SEO is an important ranking signal. The more you write about similar and related topics, the more helpful this will be in terms of building authority. For Google to rank you well, it needs to be convinced that you are an expert or ‘authority’ in a particular area.
Use Moz Open Site Explorer to see what the Domain and Page Authority of any given page are, this will give you some basic idea of how well your site could rank in search. The higher your score, the more likely you are to rank better in Google searches.
Make sure your content is relevant by thinking about who your customers are, understanding their pain points, answering the questions they often ask and highlighting the benefits that your service or products provided. You can also write about company news, produce detailed ‘how-to’ guides, provides tips and advice, factsheets, case studies, detailed brand, range or product profiles, customer reviews and testimonials….For more options on what to blog about, check out 30 content ideas to kick-start your business blog.
3. Use small paragraphs, sub-headings and bullet points to engage your reader
Let’s start with sub-headings which are a great way of breaking up content, and they also have some benefit in terms of SEO, as Sub-headings should use H2, H3 and so on tags to give Google additional information.
Unlike the H1 tag, you can have as many H2 and H3 tags as you want, but again, make sure that the sub-heading provides useful information for readers as well as important keywords.
In one of my favourite books called The Shallows, how the internet is changing the way we think, author Nicolas Carr argues that our brains are rewiring themselves now that most of our information is disseminated by the internet, and so the way we consume content has changed.
In simple terms, this means people now have much shorter attention spans and simply will not read vast swathes of text.
Website visitor stats and heatmap experiments that monitor behaviour back this theory up, showing that people are more engaged when content is split up into more paragraphs when lists and bullet points are used when there are sub-headings to further break up content, and finally and perhaps most crucially when there are plenty of pictures used.
Keeping readers on your page for longer once again is an SEO ranking signal; if people stay on a page for a few minutes indicating they have read your content and are engaged, this sends a positive message back to Google.
If you don’t already, then you really should have Google Analytics installed on your website/blog. It’s a free stats programme that will give you a great amount of insight into how long people are staying on each page of your website, as well as lots of other fascinating insights into visitor behaviour.
4. Optimise your images
It goes without saying that images are important, and your blog post should have at least one. Breaking up copy with more images is the smartest move however and you should ensure each image is fully optimised.
When you insert an image into a blog post you have the ability to enter an ‘ALT’ tag (alternative image tag). These are technically for screen readers but can be utilised for SEO purposes too, your ALT tag should essentially be a succinct description describing the picture you’ve used. In the WordPress media library, you can go through each image you’ve uploaded and save a corresponding ALT tag.
5. Optimise your META title and description
Your META title is particularly important and if you aren’t sure what it is, it’s the title that Google uses to make sense of the content on your page. When you open up a browser tab, the tab will have some writing in it that you’ll only partly be able to read; that’s the META title. The META title is also generally the big blue headline that you see appear in search results.
Sometimes your actual page title will be too long and won’t work well as a META title. Other times, you might have important keywords towards the end of your page title, in which case you might want to re-write your META title to bring the more important keywords to the start of the title. You might also want to remove low-value or stop words from the META title so you aren’t wasting valuable characters with words that won’t provide you with much SEO benefit.
6. Content amplification is critical to reaching more people
One of the ranking signals that Google looks at is backlinks, also known as citations. Put simply this is an incoming link from another website, blog or social media channel.
There are lots of techniques and tools that can be used to increase the reach of your content, but the easiest way is to use social media. Once your blog post has been optimised and published, your next job is to then post about the new article across all of your social media channels, to help increase the chances of people spotting it.