On-page SEO used to be very easy. Stuffing a page with keywords was enough to rank it on the first page of Google ten years ago, but today you’ll find your site blacklisted using similar techniques.
Search engine algorithms have evolved to the point that crawling bots can pretty much tell whether your content is unique and worth ranking for without any human intervention. This is why you should pay attention to content creation and in addition to technical SEO.
Some may argue it is illogical to place “SEO” and “quality content” in a single sentence but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Google now uses Click Through Rate, Bounce Rate, and Time on Site data for ranking websites. Which means if your content does not positively affect all three of these metrics, your site will not rank high on Google.
You’re writing a blog post because you want to answer some questions your audience has. Be active in your niche’s community through presence on forums and various other community focused sites like Quora. Listening to what problems people have is a great start for a quality blog post.
Let’s say you’re in the clothing industry and you run an eCommerce site about jeans. You’ve just started your blog and you want to add a post answering questions about jeans sizing. The title you choose to use:
“US Jeans sizes”
This is not ideal on so many levels. First of all if you write about jeans sizes in the US, you’re not saying anything new. People can go to Wikipedia and search for this information. Also, we’re living in a highly competitive Internet era, so you’ll have hard time ranking for a keyword like this one. A smarter blog post title would be:
“Difference between Levi’s US and EU jeans sizes when ordering on AliExpress”
Why is this a good idea? Well, you’re answering an exact question adding value to it, which readers can’t find on almost every site. Adding couple of real life examples makes your blog post even better and provides additional value.
Structure your post and keep paragraphs in mind
Readability is important not only from user experience but also from SEO perspective. That’s why you need to think about the structure of your blog post before you start writing it. Know the approximate number of words so you can decide how many paragraphs and subheadings you need. Using <h1> and <h2> headers is important and we’ll cover this later.
Run a readability test
If you write a content nobody can understand, you’ve wasted your time. Test the readability of your article with a Flesch-Kincaid readability test to avoid this. The test shows how easy it is for the user to go through your article and scan the content.
Having anywhere between 60 and 70 points on the test means you’re good to go, if not make sure you make some adjustments to the length of your sentences and the structure of your article.
Test your article
Testing is a huge part of the money making side of internet marketing. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll always need to test different versions of your content. This can be a landing page or an infographic you’ve created, but it’s always good to get statistical data evidence or a second opinion on your piece of content.
Don’t make big breaks between two blog posts. Make a schedule and stick to it. Create different types of content like researches, opinions, reviews, etc.; and set a number on weekly basis. For example:
10 or so years ago, a content with mere 300 words would rank on the first page of Google. Now a days, unless your site is a major brand, if you are creating a post with intention to rank high of Google, ideally it should be at least 1000 words.
Having said that, you also need to think about user experience. Be concise and don’t do “writer’s diarrhea”.
So to sum it up – If it’s too long people won’t read it. If it’s too short Google won’t rank it.
Bounce rate and time on site are ranking factors
Google looks at how user react after clicking on the search result. If the user clicks on the “back” button right away, it indicates your blog post is not relevant to what the user was looking for.
This is why it is important to have a relevant content so user will not leave right away and stay to read your blog post.
Use headings and header tags – Headers are ranking factors
Headings help the reader skip to parts of your article which really interest him. This is a good practice for longer articles, but it’s not wrong to use headers with 300 word posts as well…..as long as it makes sense.
Each heading should be tagged with <h></h> tags. The title of your page or blog post should be a <h1> tag and all of your other headers and subheaders should start from <h2>.
Below is an example:
<h1>NBA Draft Busts</h1>
<h2>2014 NBA Draft busts</h2>
<h2>2013 NBA Draft busts</h2>
Ideally, the target keyword(s) should be included in at least H1, if possible H2.
When you can’t create a header go with a signal word
Signal words play a similar role as headers do, with the sole difference being they don’t require tagging in your code. Placing these words in your article will help the reader scan your article and look for important parts of content. Adding a single word can give your reader an idea how you’re close to some conclusion in a particular part of the blog post. Some of the most used signal words include:
First of all,
Optimize your meta title tag – Click Through Rate is a ranking factor
Title is one of the most important ranking factors, especially the position of the keyword. Make sure the target keyword appears towards to the beginning of the title.
Optimize your meta description – Click Through Rate is a ranking factor
Although meta description is not a ranking factor, make sure your meta description contains the target keyword because it gets highlighted on the search result page.
Add images with an alt tag
Yes, images are important if you want to have an SEO optimized blog post. You don’t need to go over the top with images if your content doesn’t ask for it.
Make sure you add your focus keyword in the image alt tag. Since search engines cannot read images, the image alt tag is the only way they can find out what the image is about.
Have keyword placement in mind
Ideally the target keyword should be present in the following onpage elements
Also, try to use your focus keyword as early as possible in the content.
If you have planned well, your title should already contain the target keyword so naturally, you will likely to mention the keyword once you start writing sooner rather than later.
This is the part of your linking strategy where you have a total control.
It’s important to have cornerstone articles, pieces of content you can refer to in future posts, if you want to create a successful internal linking strategy.
Let’s say you have a blog post about internet marketing. Creating an epic piece of content on certain subject gives you the opportunity to link similar pieces of content to a single cornerstone article.
Depending on the topic of your blog, there are a couple of other SEO you could do. Over the years, Google (and other search engines) have recommended implementing Schema code. Google especially has experimented displaying various rich snippets.
The only remaining prominent rich snippets is review related ones. If you site provides reviews, adding review schema code may get you a rich snippet under your search result.