Posted by Murray Sye
on Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 09:53 AM
Not feeling the love?
Are you looking for ways to turn on the charm with Google so that your posts rank higher?
Getting the attention your fabulous content deserves can be a challenge.
But despite the revolving door of new algorithms and search engine policies, the fundamentals of getting your blog content found have remained pretty consistent.
Here's what you need to know to optimize your blog posts for search.
Next time you're about to publish a blog, take a look at this post and see if you've included each of these recommendations:
- Optimize your URL for search
Your blog post URL is one of the first things that search engines crawl on a page, so make sure to include keywords in it and make it reader-friendly before posting. Here's an example that has been optimized for search engines: http://www.whitespace.on.ca/blog/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-every-blog-post you'll notice that the end of the URL is essentially the title of the post with hyphens in between. This approach is both user-friendly and helps your content rank faster. That's because it's an easy URL for both humans search engines to read and understand instantly. Note that words that ad little or no meaning to the URL – like "and" or "that" – can be removed for the sake of brevity and/or readability.
- Headlines that appeal to both humans and search engines
Your headline is crucial to attracting both humans and search engines, so make sure it's enticing and naturally contains words and phrases that people are searching for. Then, be sure the rest of your article delivers on the headline. You'll want to avoid headlines that are strictly click-bait because social networks like Facebook are now devaluing content that gets high click-through rates, but low on-site reading time or low social media discussion.
- Include relevant keywords
You definitely shouldn't keyword-stuff your posts, but it's wise to create blog posts on topics that people are searching for, and then naturally include commonly used words and phrases on that topic within your posts. Remember to always keep your target personas in mind when placing keywords throughout your posts. Don't bother trying to rank for things that don't matter to your potential customers. The reason you want to rank at all is so more perfect customers can find you.
- Add share buttons
Share buttons should be prominently displayed – having them next to your post is a little reminder to your readers that they should share your post. Make sure that when you click on a share button the title of the post automatically populates with the author and/or company's Twitter handle. For additional social amplification, use ClickToTweet links throughout your posts.
- You must be responsive
Just like your homepage, it's important to have a blog design and elements within the post that look and work great on mobile – you never know what device your readers are using. On April 21st, Google rolled out its new standards, which will require that websites be mobile-friendly or be penalized in search results. (Penalties will be on a page-by-page basis, not all-encompassing.) So, it's imperative today to make sure that your website translates properly to mobile.
- Consider what language you use
Keep it relatively informal. No one wants to dig through industry jargon to understand what you're writing about. Use simple language to explain things. (And remember: if somone is reading your blog to learn about your industry, they might not know what that jargon means anyway.)
- Properly cited images
You should always make sure you have the rights to use every image in your post and that you're properly citing the source. Use images as supporting examples throughout your entire post to increase comprehension and scanability. When you purchase stock imagery, it's license free. You bought it, you own it, and you can do what your want with it. But many marketers are trying to find images for things like, say, blog posts and don't pay for a stock photo every single time. You may want to check out Creative Commons, a site that lets you search for free images that you can actually use.
- Section headers
People love to scan articles on the web. If you want your blog to be skimmable, you should break up sections with large headers. Headers make even the longest pieces seem easier to read.
- Shorter paragraphs
Also, part of catering to that whole people-love-to-scan-articles-on-the-web thing is writing short paragraphs. It's much easier for people to scan when there are small chunks of content to look over – so make sure you're keeping your paragraphs short and sweet.
- Relevant internal links
Blog posts are often the first interaction people will have with your company, but you don't want it to be the last. So make sure you're including a reasonable number of relevant internal links to other pieces of your content throughout your posts. These links could be helpful to your readers.
- Comments enabled
Even if you don't have comments enabled, people are going to make remarks about your content – and often, this feedback is incredibly helpful for future content. So why not enable people to have that conversation all in one place?
- Smart calls-to-action
Smart CTAs help you show tailored content to people in different lifecycle stages or lists in your database – and because the content is more relevant to them, they're more likely to convert. If you show the right people the right messages at the right time, those readers are much more likely to come back due to a pleasant and helpful experience.
But wait, befor you publish consider these:
With software from companies like HubSpot, the majority of these are all set up and automated with the installation and configuration of your blogging platform. Once I spend time on the content, I go through a checklist to ensure that I've optimized my post.
- Title: Try to connect with your reader. Create a sense of curiosity, maybe a bit playful so they'll click through.
- Featured image: I try to find a unique and compelling image that will also help to encourage click through.
- Visuals: I try to include as many relevant visuals as I can to help the reader understand the message.
- Category: I try to only select 1 or 2. We do have some in-depth posts that cover more but I try to keep the target highly targeted.
- Tags: I make mentions of people, brands and product names that I'm writing about. Additionally, I'll research for keyword combinations people might use to search for the post.
- Social: At the end of the day I want to broadcast my content. I'll share the posts in every channel throughout the day - at least four times.
If optimization is done the right way, there are still no guarantees and it's not immediate, but it is ongoing. If you take the time to apply all or as many of these suggestions as possible - you'll eventually see your ranking improve. Optimization can be a time consuming daily task, but the payoff is worth the effort.
Written by Murray SyeMurray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.