Writing a quality post to meet all SEO needs looks simple on paper, but there is more to it than you might think. It used to be enough just to make sure a post was readable, sprinkled with relevant keywords, and got a couple of backlinks, but recent updates to Google’s algorithms have made things a bit more complicated.
If you run a website or blog, you know how important it is to make sure your pages and posts are optimized for SEO – the traffic and authority your site gains from a high search ranking is well worth the time and effort to get it right. Stay on the right track by following the steps below.
Step 1: Understand that search engine optimization is complicated
SEO is more than just things like keyword density and relevant backlinks. There are around 200 factors Google looks at when ranking a website, and writing a quality post that does everything it can for your SEO requires at least knowing which factors are directly relevant to content and the page the content will be on.
Fortunately, there are a few incredibly smart people who make it their business to figure this SEO stuff out. Take the time to learn from their research and experience and you will give yourself a huge head start.
Step 2: Get the content right (Part 1)
As Google’s search algorithms evolve, it is moved away from treating keywords as the primary indicator of a page’s relevance. Instead, Google tries to give users the best, highest quality result for their searches. As a result, you can optimize for keywords all day long, and it will not help if your content falls flat. A quality post should do two things:
- Serve your audience by teaching them something relevant to them or solving a problem they have
- Encourage readers to take action
Serving your audience is first on that list because it is the most important. If you can teach your readers something interesting and relevant or help them with a real problem, they are more likely to a) come back for more and b) share your content with friends and the search engines are increasingly looking at social sharing as a highly desirable indicator of quality content.
That is also where the second item comes in: every piece of content you post should include a call to action. You can encourage readers to act on the information in the post, discuss the subject in comments, share with friends (it is a good idea to embed sharing icons a la Share by Monarch), or even subscribe to your mailing list for more. And giving readers a way to engage actively with content is not just good for your relationship with them—it is good for SEO.
Step 3: Get the content right (Part 2)
Given that the content needs to serve your audience, how do you make sure it will do so? What do you actually write about? Do not just guess what will be most helpful or useful—do your research!
Consider the feedback you receive from readers, clients, or customers, and what they are saying about your brand or niche online. Find points of concern, common questions, and problems people want to be solved. It can also help to survey your audience directly.
Develop your ideas for content based on what your audience wants, and you will never be short of subjects to turn into quality posts. If creating the content yourself is not your strong suit, you can always outsource it by finding a freelancer or using a dedicated writing service.
Step 4: Create a killer headline
Every great post needs a great headline to attract attention. According to Copyblogger, on average 80% of visitors to a page will read the headline, but only 20% will go on to finish the article. You are putting a lot of effort into this post – you do not want people to pass it up just because the title does not grab them.
That means it’s worth making your headlines as strong as possible, to get the most readers to give the piece a chance.
There are many different formulas for creating effective headlines, including:
- How to [solve problem] Without [obstacle]
- [Number] Lessons I Learned from [Experience]
- [Number or Trigger Word] + [Adjective] + [Keyword] + [Promise]
Take your time and experiment to see what makes the most sense for your post, and then test to see what kind of headlines work best for your audience.
Step 5: Structure your post properly
Almost no one wants to read a huge wall of text, so to make sure people actually read your post, you need to use a readable structure. Make sure to use:
- Headings and subheadings
- Short paragraphs of 2 – 4 sentences each
- Bulleted lists
One of the benefits of using this approach to keep your post easy for humans to read is that it will help keep it easy for search engines to read as well.
Step 6: Optimize your keyword placement
Keywords are not everything, but they are still important. Make sure you have 1-3 relevant, valuable keywords to help people and search engines find your post. To help make sure your content is indexed properly, put keywords in the following parts of your article:
- Headings and subheadings
- First sentence
- Concluding paragraph
- Anchor text (text you link to other related pages on your website)
- Title tags and meta descriptions
Be careful not to overstuff your post with keywords – it makes it harder for people to read and can result in penalties from Google. Sticking to the above list of places, and using synonymous phrases elsewhere in the content, will help your post stand out without taking the keywords too far.
Recommended keyword research tool: SEMrush
Step 7: Optimize any images
This one’s short and sweet: if you use an image, use keywords in the file name and include a brief, keyword rich description in the alt-text field. Otherwise, the search engine crawlers won’t have anything to read to categorize the image as relevant.
Step 8: Link to references
If you reference another blog, website, or resource in your post, make sure to include a link. In fact- and statistic-heavy posts, this will help your credibility – and if you are referencing another blogger’s work, it is simply good manners. If you are lucky, you might even get a link back. The best outbound links will be to sites with decent authority rankings, which you can easily find out using tools like the MozBar.
Creating great content that also meets your SEO needs is not simple, but it does not have to be hard. Do your due diligence in studying the way to do things right and it will be much easier to avoid making mistakes with your SEO. Use the steps above and they will help guide you to better results – both with your audience and with Google.