Expert Checklist: SEO for Blog Posts

Cover image for article on SEO checklist for blog posts showing checklist on clipboard

Blog posts should never sound like you wrote them solely with SEO in mind. Which is to say, they shouldn’t read like a robotic regurgitation of formulaic keywords and information you garnered from a 90-second internet search. That type of content does nothing to convert consumers, drive up revenue or foster positive behavioral metrics for better performance on Google.

But that doesn’t mean SEO for blog posts is something you can ignore. Check out what the experts are doing to ensure viable SEO while also engaging target audiences and driving conversions.

ALSO Hire Blog Post Writers to Craft SEO Friendly Content

1. Blog Content Answers User Questions

Brooks Manley, an SEO Lead for Engenius, says that comprehensive content is a key to good blog post rankings in 2019.

“This doesn’t mean just touching on the subject you write on, but answering every question a user may have on it,” says Manley. “For instance, if you write a blog on how to kill roaches, you need to cover the different kinds of roaches, what products to use, where to buy the products, etc. Google wants to see queries answered with a single click, and posts that do that will be rewarded in 2019.”

You might start with one focus keyword that you want to rank for after doing your keyword research, but that should inform you as you learn more about the search intent behind that keyword.  You’ll discover what questions and related topics are semantically linked to your targeted search queries, which will help guide you when you start writing.

Graphic with three large questions marks

2. Complete Content that Covers Numerous Subtopics

Ryan Underwood, an SEO Specialist & Digital Marketing Executive at YourParkingSpace.co.uk also points to complete content as a critical factor in landing at the top of the search engine results page.

According to Underwood, it’s not just about answering all the right questions. You also have to do the keyword research to understand the various subtopics individuals are interested in when it comes to your main subject.

“Google wants to see that your content is covering a topic in-depth,” says Underwood. “We make sure we show Google this by including subtopic terms. These are terms that are slightly different but are associated with the main topic. For example, if we were writing an article about Harry Potter, subtopic terms could include Hogwarts, Snape, Quidditch, etc. The more of these terms you include, the more Google recognizes that your content covers as many points of interest as possible, and you rise in the rankings.”

Underwood adds, “An easy way to find Subtopic Terms is to type your target keyword into Google Images. A list of words and phrases will appear between the search bar and images. Pick a few of these and scatter them throughout your content.”

Just don’t get too heavy in peppering your page with these types of terms without ensuring they fit in an organic way into content. Keyword stuffing is never a good idea, and you’ll see in some of the expert tips below that user experience is important for SEO. Keywords are still important, but you should aim at creating complete content, not aiming for specific keyword density.

3. Use of Multiple Types of Media to Tell the Story

When talking about search engine optimization, many content marketers often think solely in terms of text on page. But that’s a mistake in the modern market, where people expect to see narratives conveyed via a variety of media.

Luke Wester, Digital Marketing Analyst at eCommerce company Miva, Inc., says, “What’s working for SEO in 2019 are visuals that help tell the story of your blog post. A large portion of users are skim-readers, and visuals make the content easily digestible. In addition to understanding the point of your post quicker, users also tend to stay longer, which increases key metrics like time on site. Basically, when you’re going over your SEO checklist for your next blog, make sure you include visuals that help tell the story of your blog.”

4. Video On Pages to Rank Higher

David Sanchez of Mammoth Web Solutions also picks up on the need to encourage more time on your pages. After all, behavioral stats such as time on page, bounce rates and whether someone clicks deeper into your site can all impact your RankBrain score. Which in turn impacts your position in the SERPs — Google wants to provide links to pages consumers find helpful and engaging, and a past history of that type of behavior looks good for your site.

“Use video,” says Sanchez. “Video increases length of time on page, which in turn causes increased rankings.”

5. Authentic Content

You know what else keeps readers on the page? Authenticity they feel like they can connect with.

Sanchez says, “Be intensely honest and personal. To quote Seth Godin, this is the Connection Economy. If people feel connected to you, they’ll trust you, engage more, share your content more, and, in turn, your rankings will increase.”

6. Optimized for Mobile and User Experience

You shouldn’t need an SEO expert to create this box for you, but here it is. Sanchez points out, “Your site cannot take more than two seconds to load anymore, even on cell phones. This is no longer optional.”

graphic showing hand holding a mobile phone

The truth is that internet users have many other options, and they won’t hesitate to tap or click their way to them. And with more people accessing the internet on mobile devices than on desktop devices today, you can’t afford not to invest in responsive website design and providing a mobile-friendly experience. Plus, Google’s mobile-first initiative that launched in 2018 means that sites that don’t perform well on mobile get ranked down in the SERPs regardless of other factors.

7. Authoritative Content

Sarah Blocksidge, Web Producer at Sixth City Marketing, reminds content marketers that SEO for blog posts and other content in 2019 relies heavily on authority. “In 2019, for our agency, it’s all about establishing authority. So we are writing informative blog posts on topics that potential clients might be searching for.”

Blocksidge and her agency aren’t alone in chasing authority for online marketing. Google has signaled repeatedly that authority content is important, going so far as to publish its own E-A-T guidelines aimed at helping marketers create more authoritative content.

For a more detailed look at this, check out our article on creating E-A-T content.

Google is rewarding pages that do well according to their E-A-T guidelines with higher placement in the SERPs.  This usually means your site’s posts have expert bylines, bios, links from expert sources, and high-quality content. This is especially true if you’re writing blog posts in certain niches, such as medical, financial or legal. Google (and users) expect to see content that offers in-depth answers and comes from people with the professional experience to back up their words.

8. Content Aligns with Business Goals

The SEO Manager at Brand Buddha reminds content marketers that we’re never writing solely for the search engines. Yes, on-page SEO elements are critical to finding your audience and attracting them to your page, but there’s always a danger in chasing metrics for the sake of those metrics. Make sure you’re putting SEO tips to use in ways that align with business goals. Brand Buddha’s SEO Manager advises “communication with the sales team to come up with content that serves them better.”

If your content doesn’t align with business goals, it’s also possible that it might feel out of place to your visitors in context with the rest of your site. If this happens, your behavioral metrics like time on site and bounce rate might suffer, which could also end up impacting your rankings.

9. Link Internally a Few Times

Don’t forget about the content you’ve already generated. Just because you wrote it two months or even a year ago doesn’t mean there’s no SEO value for those blog posts. Doing some internal linking from new posts to old ones can help older posts get more eyes on them and boost its rankings. Consider:

  • Linking internally to a couple of relevant pages or blog posts to keep readers on your website (and increase those critical behavioral metrics)
  • Make your internal links contextual with the article it’s in and keyword rich with the targeted keywords of the destination post. This can help pass link equity to the destination page, which can boost its rankings.
  • Updating older blog posts with keywords that are performing today to drive more new traffic to your content “backlist”
  • Finding ways to repurpose older content; for example, if you’ve answered a lot of questions about a specific topic in older posts, create a pillar post that addresses the overarching topic, includes relevant keywords and links out to your other posts

Jeremy Harrison of Hustle Life believes internal linking is critical for every blog post’s SEO. “I’ve seen several sites boost rankings and average time on site by refreshing their internal links. I can’t stress enough – when you publish a new post – make sure you’re internal linking is on point.”

10. Link Externally a Few Times

While it’s really important to sculpt your site’s internal links, don’t neglect to link to authority sites in your blog posts. You’ll want to do this for a few reasons:

  • Links to authority sites where readers can dive deeper into topics you cover quickly adds value to your readers
  • Having links to sites considered authorities in your space can associate your site and blog post with those sites in search engines. There’s some evidence this can help your content rank after you publish
  • When linking to authority sources, let them know you did. Often they’ll promote your post and their contribution there, which helps you get some visitors, social shares, and possibly even some backlinks.

It’s important not to go crazy with outbound links in your posts, but when done properly, they can add real value to your posts.

11. Meta Description and Other Tags are SEO-Friendly

Keywords aren’t just for the text content that readers see. Remember to include your keywords in title tags, image alt tags and meta descriptions. When possible, incorporate secondary or long-tail keywords into these locations too — search engine bots crawl all of this information, and when you include keywords here, it points to increased relevance. Title tags and alt image tags are direct ranking factors, so it’s critical you do this.

Including focus keywords in your meta descriptions has an indirect impact on search rankings as well, since search engines highlight keywords in the descriptions that they show in search results. This can boost your organic clickthrough rate, which not only gets you more clicks, it also serves as an indirect ranking factor through Google’s RankBrain. If you want to rank in Google search results, doing well with RankBrain is key.

For a full look at this, check out our article on SEO for metadata.

12. Schema Markup and Structured Data

It’s always advisable to look at your post to see which schema markups and structured data formats you can include on your content for a variety of reasons. While there’s no conclusive evidence that schema and structured data has a direct impact on rankings or getting featured in Google’s featured snippets (position 0 as its often called), many SEO experts have found that to be the case.

At very least, schema helps search engines better understand what your content is and that has a number of benefits including improving how your link appears in search engines.

By setting markup like the one for articles, Google may be able to pull additional fields such as adding the “last updated” field or including an image when displaying your post in their search results. That can make your post more attractive to searchers, which can boost your organic clickthrough rate and help your rankings.

For a full list of marking up your blog posts, check out Google’s guide to article markup here.

Similarly, consider using the FAQ or how-to structured data types when creating your next blog posts. At the very least, Google looks to content formatted like this when pulling content for their FAQ and How-to featured snippets, so even if structured data itself doesn’t help you get placement in the snippet, following their formatting guidelines might help.

13. CTA or Encouragement to Engage

Finally, encourage your audience to like, share, link to or engage with your blog posts. This type of engagement can be a boon to SEO for blog posts in numerous ways. First, linking to or sharing your blog posts on social media creates more backlinks and referring domains to your content. That’s a major factor that can increase your performance in the SERPs. Next, the more time someone spends engaging with your content, the better your behavioral metrics are. Again, that’s good for search engine placement.

To see how social media affects SEO, read Social Media: How Does it Impact Your SEO in 2019?

Get Content that Enhances SEO for Blog Posts Today

If you’re ready to publish blog content that serves you well on both the sales and SEO fronts, consider working with the teams at Crowd Content. Whether you want someone to manage the entire process or you just want to find a writer or two who can craft blog content that helps you move toward success with business goals, we can help.

Posted in SEO
Eric Hoppe

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Eric has been working in marketing and product management for over a decade with companies in the software, eCommerce and content creation spaces. He’s particularly drawn to both content marketing and SEO and is excited that the two areas are increasingly converging. While he’s pretty serious about marketing, he does love to drop a great dad joke on occasion.

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