Your next blog can be better positioned than your last to rank higher in SERPs (search engine result pages).
In my last blog, I singled out one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle by unpacking the importance of writing longer blogs to win the SEO battle. Here, I want to focus on the more technical aspects of getting more eyeballs on your next blog.
Debunking the mysterious SEO code
First, let’s demystify this process a bit. With all the bad information out there on SEO, it can be tempting to believe good SEO only happens when you pay an expert a lot of money or download a set of exclusive power apps that blast you to #1 in search engine results overnight. That’s simply not true. And while experts and apps have their place, the idea that it’s just too complex to optimize your blog for search is a complete myth.
You’re likely aware that search engines use spectacularly complex algorithms to prioritize content they believe users want to find based on terms searched. However, a critical key to remember is that algorithms are math-based. Math is not a guessing game. It is an equation. And equations can be solved. Look at the math-filled way the experts at SEO Chat describe algorithms in their very interesting blog, Search Engines and Algorithms: Search Engine Algorithms Explored [bolding mine]:
“A search engine algorithm uses keywords as the input problem, and returns relevant search results as the solution, matching these keywords to the results stored in its database.”
While that may seem complicated, what it boils down to is this …
So the question becomes, what elements are search engines looking for in their formulas? There are several common factors that are simple to implement in your next blog.
Four elements that will get you primed for better search rank
Before we jump into these, I want you to keep in mind that SEO is not an overnight game. If you’re looking to be number one tomorrow, set up an AdWords campaign, and pay for temporary visibility. What I’m talking about is positioning yourself for actual organic growth. Organic SEO is a long-term endeavor, but if you don’t start in your next blog, your journey to better never begins. So, here are some things you need to do.
1. Get keywords in key places
While a few well-placed keywords in and of themselves aren’t going to unlock Google’s door anymore, the way you hear some “SEO experts” talk today, you’d think that a focus keyword is a complete waste of time. Wrong.
If you read my last blog, you know the importance of making sure your core idea (which will contain your focus keyword) is communicated in the first line of your blog. The reason for this is that it lets your readers immediately know the one main thing you want them to take away from your blog. Search engines also care very much about knowing what your main topic is right from start. A clearly established focus keyword helps them make that determination.
For this reason, you want to make sure your focus keyword appears naturally in your content, URL, headline, one or more alt tags and at least one of your H2/H3 subheads. Those words are bolded for a reason. For example, if you’re writing about “blog SEO”, you can’t just copy and paste that everywhere. Search engines want to see context, which is where related keywords come in. We’re getting to that next.
Bonus tip: headlines specifically, a focus keyword is important because it increases the chance of someone using your keyword as anchor text (the text they add a link to) when they link to your blog from their own site. This goes a long way in telling Google and other engines that people are going to your blog for info on that keyword – and that’s a big SEO helper.
2. Incorporate related keywords
Related keyword have only become more important as search engine algorithms have grown in sophistication. Spiders are looking for authoritative content on topics being searched for, and related keyword reveal authority. Why? Because all core ideas have key themes that are related to them. If you’re writing with authority, you’ll know about the core idea and the related themes.
Think about it. If I’m focusing on “blog SEO”, tell me which scenario you think search engines are designed to favor?
- I put “blog SEO” in my headline, include it five times in my copy as I write about how important it it is, and I add it to alt tags, meta tags, H2s, H3s, etc.
- My content is focused on “blog SEO” and naturally weaves in information related to “outbound links”, “inbound links”, “key words”, “search engine spiders”, etc. which are all related to blog SEO and how to succeed at it. My headline, URL, and H2s/H3s follow the same principle
It’s pretty easy to see which option search engines would recognize as more authoritative.
3. Add relevant internal links and outbound links
Internal links take people to related area of your site where visitors to dig deeper into a specific detail in your blog. Probably the most popular internal link is the “related blog” link that takes the reader to another blog that’s in the same arena as the one they’re currently reading. Writing a blog about how to enhance blog SEO and have another one that’s related to the topic? Link to it. (See what I did there?)
Outbound links take visitors from your blog to other websites. Just like internal links, these can’t just be super-popular, random websites. They must be related to your content topic. If they’re not, the search engine algorithms are designed recognize and penalize your blog for that kind of deceptive tactic. Makes sense, right? Just like you wouldn’t want to click a link that takes you to some unrelated, random site, the search engine spiders don’t favor that either.
4. Seek out the coveted inbound links
Hands down, the most critical link you can ever have is the “inbound link”. This a link from another site that points directly to your site. The more popular and relevant the linking site, the more authority Google assigns to your site.
How do you get it? Share. Share. Share. Post your blog on your social channels. Post your blog in LinkedIn Groups you’re a part of. Submit your blog to powerful content curation sites like AllTop.
Know someone else who has a blog in your topic realm? Guest blog for them and link to your blog from your post. want more ideas? Hubspot offers 33 inbound link tactics here – and while they all won’t be relevant to you, there are likely 3-4 you can implement to increase you chances of amassing those coveted inbound links.
I hope this blog has helped you to see that this isn’t a mystical process. While there are some technical aspects, there’s nothing here that you can’t start doing in your next blog. Make sure your topic is front and center, link to related sites and other places on your site, share your content and write intelligently about your topic so that related keywords find their way in your content. While the adage, “write for people, not for search engines” oversimplifies things a bit too much, there’s a lot of truth at its core.
Have some additional ideas on how to help your blog rank well in search? Share them in the comments!