Practical Blog SEO: 3 Elements of a Successful Post
This is a guest post by Adam Tanguay, SEO and Content Marketer for Weebly, the award winning drag & drop site builder that lets anyone create a website, online store, or blog.
Blogging has become a vital part of the online content strategy for brands big and small. Great blogs build influence, drive user acquisition, and help define voice. However, if you can’t get traffic to your blog, none of this matters. Social and search are the two biggest organic channels for online traffic, and sites with a strong blog SEO strategy will attract the right visitors from both channels.
How does a blog perform well in search? It starts with solid blog SEO. These are three SEO elements you need to know to boost your blog influence one post at a time.
Blog SEO lives and dies with proper keyword implementation. I try to incorporate keyword research into the creative writing process during the second stage of my post drafts, also known (by me) as Keyword Drafting!
Keyword Drafting forces me to ignore SEO and put all my effort into writing quality during the first draft. When the first draft is finished, I take the content and research keywords related to what I’ve already written, then integrate the best ones into the content during a second editing round. This way I can write without keyword barriers, focus completely on content, and then implement keywords organically.
For example, I recently wrote a post on the Weebly blog discussing free embeddable tools. In the first draft, I focused on finding interesting tools and sharing their best features and applications on a Weebly website. Keywords played no part in this stage.
I started the keyword research once the first draft was complete. I found popular phrases related to website embeds using Google’s Keyword Planner. I found that “embed code” was a popular term that fit well into my current draft, so I modeled the original terminology to reflect that term. Therefore, content quality didn’t suffer. My article shifted to match real world user intent, and created a strong SEO-friendly keyword base for the post to build from.
2. URL and Meta Tag Harmony
You need to hit the URL and Meta tags appropriately to maximize the SEO value of any post. Your post URL should be clean and readable, with keywords placed as close to the root domain as possible.
This makes it easy for the Googlebot and other crawlers to understand keyword hierarchy. It also makes it easier for users to remember and share (link, social, etc.) your post URL. Sharing is the key to off-page SEO and anything you can do to encourage it is huge!
Meta tags play a big part in the off-page SEO as well. Social tags like Open Graph for Facebook and Twitter Cards give you control over the messaging and rich content (photos, videos, media) shared on those networks. Getting the right keywords and visuals into these tags is not a direct ranking factor, but it helps promote shares while framing the discussion with your language. This means visitors are more likely to write, link, and share the post in a context most valuable to your SEO needs.
While it’s not technically a Meta tag, your post title tag is the single most important element on the page and is often used with the description meta tag. It’s one of the biggest factors for ranking and click through rate from the search engine results page (SERP), so your top keywords need to be represented in the title tag along with some pithy and persuasive messaging. The meta description shouldn’t be ignored either, despite it’s lack of direct ranking signals, it’s role in the SERP snippet is valuable for clicks, so make sure it covers the most valuable and interest pieces of your post.
3. Mobile Optimization
Websites with poor mobile implementation run the risk of rank de-prioritization from Google. To avoid this, you should make sure that your entire blog is following mobile optimization best practices. Even if this wasn’t a potential ranking penalty, you should still do it as mobile traffic continues to grow and outpace desktop for many publishers.
Responsive design is the recommended configuration for mobile optimization since it works with a single URL and set of content, making it more efficient and less error prone than other methods. Google created a great resource for mobile development fundamentals that should be applied to your blog, if it’s not already implemented.
Responsive mobile optimization is a matter of checking that all elements in a blog post are aligned to perform on varying viewports and devices. If your post has an image, make sure it’s size is minimized. Excessively large pictures can slow down load time on a mobile. If you’re embedding a video from YouTube make sure it can detect and resize for a smaller screen. Content considerations are important as well. For example, focus on headlines and opening paragraphs so visitors on a mobile device can understand and engage without having to scroll down the page to find what they came for. If you don’t engage early mobile users are more likely to bounce back to the SERP, a factor that search engines record and use for ranking.
If executed properly, these 3 blog SEO strategies will help bring more organic search traffic to your blog and send high quality ranking signals back to your main domain, spreading even more search love to your on-site content.