SEO Basics: A Step-by-Step Guide for SEO Blogs in 2021December 17, 2020 3:20 pm | Published by Next Horizon
Recently updated on August 26th, 2022
Search engine optimization, or SEO, plays a fundamental role in getting found on Google and other search engines. When you publish SEO blogs and web pages, you’re making your site more accessible to search engines, and to the people that are looking for content like yours!
According to WordPress stats, there are over 409 million WordPress users that post about 70 million new blog articles, and view more than 20 billion pages each month.
This equates to just over 2 million blog posts every single day. So if the goal of posting content to your website is to get found in search engines, how can you get ahead of this endless uphill battle, and get in front of new audiences? No surprise here – by optimizing your blogs and site structure.
What is SEO?
If you are in any way active in the digital realm, you’ve likely heard the term, “SEO.” SEO stands for search engine optimization. Great – but, what does that actually mean?
Search engine optimization is the act of organizing content with the goal of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a page or blog post.
SEO Blogs: It Pays to Plan
SEO blogs and web pages attract new audiences by using relevant keywords, great content, and proper blog structure! The more relevant your content is to a search query, the more likely it will be displayed in search results.
Millions of people and search engine crawlers scourge the web every day. If your content is not optimized, it will be passed over by both bots and humans alike.
According to Net Market Share, 70% of all web searches are made through Google. Paired with the fact that the first five organic results account for 67% of all clicks for a given search query, it’s pretty clear that everyone’s goal should be to learn how to strengthen their SEO strategy!
Let’s explore how to better organize your SEO blogs, in order to help your business organically rank on search engines.
Do Your Keyword Research
Your site should always provide relevant content to your visitors. Keywords play a vital role in creating quality content. Keywords tell search engines what your page is about.
When a user types in a search term, they are often either looking for relevant, engaging answers to their questions, or they are searching for a specific product. With that in mind, you want to make sure that you’re selecting the right keywords by using terms that people are actually searching for, and words that are relevant to the page content!
Before writing any content, think about the search terms that you’d like to be associated with. Get into the mind of your audience by mapping out the buyer journey and conducting keyword research.
The more specific you are with your selected keywords and key phrases, the better your chances are in getting shown on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Keyword quick tips:
- Assign only one keyword per page or post.
- Do not designate that same keyword to other pages or posts.
- Use the keyword in your title, permalink, sub-headers, and throughout your content as naturally as possible.
- Keyword density should be 1-2% – meaning for every 100 words, your keyword should appear 1-2 times.
- Don’t keyword stuff – this will negatively impact your SEO score!
A page’s chosen keyword should be threaded throughout the content – and this includes in the meta title and meta description. Meta tags trigger signals to search crawlers. When used properly, the descriptive text that lives within these tags can help draw traffic to your website.
A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. Meta titles are displayed on search engine results pages as the clickable headline for the search result. These are important for usability, drawing traffic, SEO and social sharing. They should be an accurate description of a page’s content.
Meta Title Quick Tips
- Keep your meta titles under 60 characters – Google displays 50 – 60 characters of a title tag.
- Give every page a unique title.
- Make the title descriptive and natural.
- Place important keywords at the front of the title. (ex: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name)
- Keep your users in mind – these are meant to be attention-grabbing and relevant.
A meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a summary of a web page or article. Meta descriptions are often shown on search engine results pages, which can influence click-through rates. Think of them as your opportunity to advertise the content that lives on that web page!
Meta Description Quick Tips
- Keep descriptions around 130 characters – Google truncates snippets to 155, and sometimes even shorter on different devices.
- Do not use duplicate meta descriptions for your content.
- Always fill in a description – if you don’t, the default site-wide meta description will fill itself in.
- Don’t include double quotation marks – search engines cut off descriptions at the point the quotation mark appears.
SEO-Friendly Page Title
The title of your article is a key driver in drawing people to your content. It should make people want to click on your content! It needs to be catchy and should include the chosen page keyword – more on that later.
If your title falls flat, people will ignore your posts and move on to the next result that does catch their interest.
A good SEO blog title must:
- Help you rank for a specific keyword.
- Intrigue people and draw traffic to your content.
Your H1 tag should be the title of the blog, and the first headline that your site visitors see. It should not appear anywhere else on the page. There should only ever be one title tag or H1 tag on a page. Multiple H1 designations will confuse search engine crawlers. Check out this article on how to craft a great page title for SEO blogs!
SEO Quick Tip: Keep your H1 between 20 – 70 characters.
If a visitor can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they’ll likely leave your site and look for another answer to their question. Break your content up into sections by using headers and sub-headers. This will improve the overall user experience, which has a major impact on bounce rate and your overall SEO score.
Headers and sub-headers help people and search engines understand what your content is about. SEO blogs make use proper of H2 and H3 designations to help guide viewers through their content in bite-sized chunks.
SEO Quick Tip: Use H2 tags to signal large, significant headings throughout your article. Use H3 tags to signal subsections.
A permalink is the string of words that lives after your domain extension (.com, .net, .org, etc). It should be short and descriptive – but don’t put unnecessary words in for the sake of hitting a certain character limit.
Permalink best practices:
- Include your chosen keyword for that page.
- Keep it around 59 characters in length.
- Use hyphens to separate words in your URL. Do not use underscores in your URLs.
Categories & Tags
Your blog should also be broken up into categories, or topics. If your blog content consistently covers a series of topics, each of those should be its own category. This will help search engines and users find the type of content they want.
For example, if your website features content about the different businesses in your area, you might consider breaking your categories into broad topics such as “Healthcare,” “Technology,” or “Startups”.
Tags get even more granular. They are helpful in creating specific clues or paths to your content. If a user searches a name or a business title on your website’s search bar, your designated tags will help float that content to the top of your on-page search results.
Using the previous example of a website that addresses local businesses, if your recent blog article talks about a new startup in your area, this is where you tie in tags. Note the name of the business, the person featured in the post, the industries, and the location.
Images and Media
The best SEO blogs include images, videos, and engaging media. But if your images are not optimized for web use, it will slow down your website speed and load time.
Site speed and usability have a major impact on your SEO score. If your website takes too long to load, a previously interested user will “bounce” off your website and hunt for faster results.
What is considered too big a file size for images? Anything above 100KB is not ideal. Your goal should be around 72KB. If you see media files with 1MB or above, those should be your go-to fixer-uppers!
How to optimize your images for blogs:
- Open Adobe Photoshop.
- Select your desired image file.
- Ensure the image resolution is 72 dpi.
- Select the appropriate image size – a 1200-pixel width will suffice for most browsers.
- Select “File,” “Export,” and “Save for Web (Legacy)”.
- A new dashboard will pop up that displays your image. In the “Preset” section on the right side of the new dashboard, select the “Optimize Menu” icon – four horizontal bars with a small dropdown arrow.
- Select “Optimize to File Size…”
- In the “Desired File Size” box, type in 72K or below. The smaller the file size without corrupting the look of the original image, the better!
- Once you’ve landed on acceptable file size, make sure to check your image dimension.
- Then, save and upload it to your website!
Reducing massive media files will improve your website’s load time, decrease your bounce rate, and enhance the overall user experience!
Alt tags and proper use of alt text can help your content get found in more searches. The alt attribute signals to search engines and screen readers that there is an image present on a web page. The alt text that lives inside of the alt tag should be descriptive text that uses relevant keywords. Alt text provides a text alternative for your images. This is helpful for both search engines and site visitors that use screen reader assistance.
Alt Tag Tips
- Be specific and descriptive.
- Include keywords in the alt tag.
- Be relevant to what’s shown in the image.
- Keep alt text around 125 characters.
- Be unique – don’t copy & paste alt text from another image.
Remember: always save your image files with relevant and descriptive words, using “cute-kittens-playing-in-green-grass.jpg” rather than “IMG9904958.JPG”.
Internal vs. External Links
When a user lands on your website, you want them to be engaged with your content – all of your content. In order to further hook an interested reader, you should include internal links on your pages and SEO blogs. An internal link directs a reader to another relevant page on your website. It can be a button or hyperlinked text.
To use internal links in your text, highlight the word or phrase you’d like to turn into a hyperlink. Press Control + K, or Command + K, then paste the link. You can also navigate to the top of your blog post toolbar and create a link from the link button – it’s the icon that lives next to the right – center – left justification icons and looks like a paperclip.
For a more obvious call-to-action, you might want to create a button in your text that links to a page. For example, this button is an internal link:
When linking to other pages on your website, properly structured SEO blogs should take into account the website content hierarchy. Always make sure that your links point users to relevant blog posts, cornerstone content, or sales pages.
Why? Directing your website visitors to other blog posts or service pages will get them further ingrained in your content. The more you can teach someone about a topic of interest, the more you will be seen as a trusted source. Once you are seen as an authority figure, people will return to your site, or recommend your content to others.
If your content mentions other businesses or pulls in statistics from articles not on your website, you should include an external link to that website. Make sure to enable the “Open in New Tab” option for all external links. You managed to hook a reader’s interest – you certainly don’t want them navigating away from your site!
This button is an external link:
SEO Next Steps
The sections above cover the basics of formatting for SEO blogs. Once you get comfortable with blog layout, then you should dive deeper down the rabbit hole.
Functional SEO includes meta titles and descriptions, which describe what a webpage or blog post is about. Meta descriptions are used by search engines to show a quick summary of your page in search results. It may feel like a lot of unnecessary work to write a unique description for every single post, but it’s worth it.
SEO Quick Tip: Meta descriptions are another touch point that get displayed directly in search results.
Schema markup is the language that search engine crawlers read when they’re sifting through websites. This markup language helps note significant aspects of a webpage or blog post. Signaling certain document types or layouts – such as recipes or lists – helps search engines get more granular when categorizing your content, which can lead to landing a spot as a Featured Snippet.
Conclusion: Basics of SEO Blogs
Proper content structure plays an important role in getting found in relevant searches. You want search engines and users to see your content as a voice of authority – and you won’t be seen if your content lives on page 275 of search results. Formatting your blog posts will help both search engines and people find your content.
You should be better equipped to format your blog posts into a search engine-optimized format. If you still have questions or would like an SEO agency to address a more comprehensive audit and action plan for your website content, reach out to our digital marketing team.
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