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+1 866 324 8899

LET'S TALK

Get smarter digital strategy, expert research tailored to grow your KPIs.

Driving online growth that exceeds expectations is a massive challenge and requires a made-to-order approach.

  • Search & KPI dashboards
  • Search template optimization
  • Enterprise SEO audit

+1 866 324 8899

contact@veloxmedia.com

December 19, 2019

SEO Best Practices: How to Optimize Your Blog to Improve Search Rankings

Search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer just an optional practice. In fact, SEO should be a pillar of any brand’s digital marketing strategy since executing a successful SEO campaign can increase traffic, brand awareness, conversions, consumer trust, and revenue.

Modern SEO Begins with Quality: Understanding Google’s EAT Score

Google’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) score is nothing new to marketers, although the guidelines are constantly being updated as Google improves its algorithms. A page’s EAT score is one of the top ways Google quantifies that page’s value. Improving this score, along with following on-page SEO best practices, is vital to remain competitive in organic search rankings.

How Blogs Can Contribute to EAT Scores

There isn’t a secret “hack” to improve your EAT score—it takes work and consistency. Regularly updating your blog with authoritative, comprehensive content that demonstrates your expertise is one effective SEO strategy. Doing so can improve your EAT score and capture inbound traffic. With each new optimized post, you’re creating another organic path for users to find your site through search engines. If you fail to include your blog in your SEO strategy, you’re missing out on these opportunities.

There isn’t a secret “hack” to improve your EAT score—it takes work and consistency.

SEO is an ongoing effort. You can’t do it once, see results, and then forget about it. Proper optimization takes time and requires consistent work to keep ahead of competitors. Because it’s so complex, many companies partner with SEO agencies to handle their paid and organic search engine strategies. The right SEO partner will provide advice based on your site and industry and will help you implement on-site changes. Whether you choose to partner with a search marketing agency or handle SEO in-house, here are the best practices to follow on your blog.

Please note that these are just guidelines recommended to improve your site’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) score with Google. Feel free to adjust these as you see necessary for your website and/or industry.

Best Practices for Blog Structure

Before optimizing the content, it’s best to ensure your blog’s structure is sound and easily searchable. Your blog’s structure is like the skeleton that holds everything together. Elements of structure assist both users and search engine crawlers with navigating your site. They also help search engine algorithms understand how your pages relate to one another. No matter how well-written your blogs are, if you haven’t optimized the structure first, your other efforts might go to waste.

Optimize Your Meta Tags

Your meta tags essentially tell users and search engine algorithms what each page or blog post is about, which indicates how your content relates to a particular query. In our experience, you’ll want to optimize the following meta tags (in order of importance):

  • Title Tags: Carrying the most weight, title tags appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) and in the tabs of certain browsers. They tell users (and search engine algorithms) what your page’s content is about. Well-worded title tags can entice users to click through, and the keywords you use in them help search algorithms know which search queries you’re targeting. Get them close to 70 characters and use your most important keywords, but in a purposeful, user-friendly manner.
  • Meta Descriptions: Although meta descriptions don’t directly provide SEO ranking benefits, they provide essential information to users that can impact your click-through rate (CTR). Write a compelling and accurate description to convince users to click your link from the search results. Most experts (currently) recommend writing meta descriptions long enough to be compelling but under 160 characters.
  • Header Tags: Your H1, H2, H3, and other header tags are visible to readers, so it’s crucial that they not only contain targeted keywords but also read naturally and are relevant to the on-page content. Headers allow “skimmers” to quickly absorb your content and find what they’re looking for on the page. They also help in-depth readers understand the logical and topical flow of the content. In addition, they’re a factor for keyword rankings and are a great opportunity to insert long tail and broad match keywords.
  • Alt Tags: Image alt tags are often overlooked and undervalued, but no solid SEO strategy is complete without them. Image alt tags are an accessibility feature used by screen readers so they can read a text description of an image to visually impaired users. Google and other search engines treat accessibility features as significant ranking factors. Write user-friendly, descriptive alt tags for the images on your site. Make sure to incorporate contextually relevant keywords that accurately describe the image. Write as if you’re concisely describing the image to someone who can’t see it, and use 125 characters or less. 

Use Categories and Subcategories to Organize Posts

Keywords and on-page SEO are important, but always keep the user in mind. They want to read content that is compelling, related to their search query, and easy to navigate. They will bounce (leave without any interactions) if the site looks confusing, the content is weak, or they feel tricked by the title tag and meta description.

To start, you need to organize your blog posts into categories and subcategories.

You should only create a category if you have a minimum of five articles to fit it. If you have 15 or more articles in a category, you can then develop subcategories on the site. Make sure that these subcategories make sense and flow well together.

For example, if one category on your blog is “Job Seeker Tips,” and the subcategory is “Resume Advice,” it makes sense to users. But, if you filed “Financial Advice” under that same category, it wouldn’t be entirely relevant. Consider what makes the most sense to your readers and organize your blog accordingly. 

Organize Further Via Tags

In addition to your meta tags, you should add topic tags to individual posts to further your organization efforts. Tags will help users find what they’re looking for faster, and they’ll also discover other posts on your blog they might be interested in as well.

You want your tags to be specific and relevant to the content. For example, rather than merely tagging an article about phone interviews as “Interviews,” tag it as “Interview Tips” or “Job Seeker Advice.” Be cautious not to get carried away with tags on an article. Pick a couple that accurately describe the primary topic of the page to help users.

Put Redirects in Place for Deleted Content

As you’re reorganizing and optimizing your blog’s content, you need to ensure that you aren’t putting up roadblocks for users and crawlers by deleting pages without using 301 redirects. Any link to a deleted page will return an error, which is likely to cause users to leave for a better-functioning site. These types of errors also waste the time of crawlers, and enough of them can create indexing issues.

Your blog’s structure is like the skeleton that holds everything together.

Redirects avoid this error by loading another page instead, mitigating potential damage to SEO value. For example, if you have a blog post you want to remove because the product it highlights is no longer available, use a 301 redirect to send users to a similar page. Redirects are an especially important step during website migrations for preventing errors that can impact SEO.

Optimize URLs for Articles

Along with using categories and tags to organize your posts, you need to optimize the URLs of your blog pages. You want them to be easy to find and descriptive of the page itself. Your URLs are also precious opportunities to add your relevant target keywords to the content. For example, you could include “beauty marketing” in the URL of a blog post about beauty industry trends. Aim to keep your URLs between 50 and 60 characters to stay in line with SEO best practices.

Improve Your Site Speed to Reduce Bounce Rate

The last piece of blog structure optimization is improving your site’s speed. This applies site-wide, not just on the blog. Having a fast website helps you in a few different ways.

  • Site speed is a ranking signal that can help or hurt your SEO efforts.
  • Users are more likely to spend time on a fast website because navigation is a breeze.
  • Site speed may affect a site’s “crawl budget” with Googlebot, which can impact how much of your site gets crawled. This is generally only a concern for websites with thousands of unique URLs.

Fast loading speeds, especially on mobile sites, improve usability. When someone clicks your link and finds the site takes longer than a few seconds to load, their chances of hitting the back button rise significantly. Ideally, you want your desktop site to load within a maximum of four seconds and a maximum of two and a half seconds on mobile. Not sure if you have a fast or slow site? Use this handy Site Speed Tester from Google to find out.

Now that you’ve optimized your blog’s structure, here are things to keep in mind as you write and publish your blog content.

Best Practices for Blog Content

These days, there aren’t many “tricks” or “hacks” you can use to improve your SEO rankings automatically. It takes work, investment, and remaining diligent in your optimization efforts. Following white hat SEO practices and writing authoritative content that’s relevant to your target search queries can go a long way in boosting your visibility in SERPs.

Use Keywords with High Search Volume

Keywords, among other things, are the lifeblood of any solid SEO content strategy. You must be strategic in your keyword research and focus on keywords that are relevant to your brand, your content, and your audience. If you were searching for your target keyword on Google and landed on your blog, would you feel like you clicked the right link, or would you back out? Think about why users are putting certain words into search engines and write content relevant to the intent behind their search.

Years ago, marketers thought that “keyword stuffing” (inserting keywords as frequently into content as possible regardless of relevancy) was the way to go. These days, Google and other search engines are wise to this, and it could negatively impact your SEO efforts. Now, your targeted keyword selection must be more thoughtful.

Typically, you’ll want to have keywords in mind first, and then write the content around it. Or, if your content is already relevant to your targeted keywords, you can update it to include them. Use keywords with high search volumes behind them, and you can capture a wide audience.

Use your targeted keywords in the following places:

  • Titles
  • Headings
  • Internal link anchor text
  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions

Search volume is not the only relevant metric for healthy keywords. There are also metrics that measure a keyword’s difficulty and competition among other sites in paid and organic results. Choosing the right keywords is a complicated process and requires a lot of research. Working with a leading digital marketing agency can really help. When you work with VELOX Media, we’ll provide you with a keyword ranking report that breaks down where you stand and which keywords you should target with your blog.

Use Internal Links When Applicable

Internally linking to other pages on your site can help users better navigate to different pages and helps search engine crawlers index your posts. Internal links also help spread out link authority throughout your website and can keep users engaged as they move from post to post via links.

You can also use internal links as a part of your inbound marketing strategy. For example, you can link from an authoritative blog post to a conversion or sales page on your site. This has the added benefit of establishing keyword relevancy between both your informational and sales content too. Just be sure internal links are applicable and not overdone—too many links can be penalized as link stuffing.

Publish a Variety of Content 

Variety is the spice of any solid SEO blog strategy. You should implement a mix of good content, including cornerstone topics that produce subtopics and evergreen content that will provide long-term ranking benefits, as well as content specifically optimized for your keywords.

Think about why users are putting certain words into search engines and write content relevant to the intent behind their search.

You’ll need to be consistent and post regularly to support your site’s authority. You want users to see your blog as a source of trustworthy information. The more relevant your content is to your target audience, the higher the chances that they will interact with it, thus sending positive ranking signals.

Write for Quality Above All Else

Above all else, you want to produce content that is well-written, includes your targeted keywords, and provides real value to your audience. The days of putting X keyword X amount of times on a page are over, and Google and other search engines have gotten smarter. They’re looking for websites that people want to actually read. If you write for humans, it will reflect in your rankings more than if you write strictly to try to “hack” the algorithm.

Some like to say that long content is better for SEO than short content. Realistically, content length depends on the subject matter and your industry. Check out competitor blogs and see how long their content is and follow the average. Or, if you sense that the topic isn’t fully covered by others, lead the charge and expand on it.

Over time, make sure your content is frequently and consistently updated and maintained on the blog as needed. Also consider giving visitors the option to subscribe to your blog, which will provide opportunities to engage them with remarketing efforts as well as entice reoccurring visitors.

Most importantly, write with quality and purpose in mind—not length, shocking clickbait titles, or keyword density.

Ask Yourself These Questions

To wrap up, before you hit “publish” on your next blog post, ask yourself the following:

  1. Does the content serve the genuine interests of visitors, or was it written solely to guess which keyword terms would rank best in SERPs?
  2. Does the content display well for mobile devices?
  3. Does the content provide an original, substantial, complete, comprehensive description of the topic?
  4. If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on this topic?
  5. Is the content free from easily verified factual errors?
If you write for humans, it will reflect in your rankings more than if you write strictly to try to “hack” the algorithm.

Be honest with yourself and proceed accordingly. Make content optimization a priority and continue to experiment. Try different types of content and track the performance of every new post to see what users respond to best. Keep asking yourself these questions, work to learn more about your audience’s needs, and create content that addresses them.

Conclusion

Optimizing a blog for search engines is relatively easy to learn. However, continuously producing positively ranking content with real value for your audience while meeting business goals takes a lot of work and knowledge. Google and other search engines frequently adjust their algorithms, and your SEO strategy must continue to evolve and change. At the core of your strategy, continue to create authoritative content that is valuable to visitors and honestly answers their queries. The results are worth it, and your blog can be an integral part of your inbound marketing and SEO efforts, which can, in turn, provide significant ROI.

Dominating in search is difficult and requires endless labor. If you have ambitious SEO goals, work with a team of SEO experts who will keep up with Google’s latest updates and changes, perform in-depth keyword research, and do the legwork to keep you ranking highly.

VELOX Media is an award-winning, ROI-focused digital marketing agency that specializes in strategy, organic search marketing optimization, paid management, and web development.

We specifically target a 400%-800% monthly ROI above spend and are ranked among the top 3% of agencies in the world by Google.

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