It’s a common myth: Blogs are great for search engine optimization (SEO). But writing about any old thing that comes into your mind today and slapping it on your website does not constitute an SEO strategy.
The reality is that only blogs that have been built with blog optimization in mind and populated with posts geared to attract searchers are great for SEO. The good news is that blogging mindfully while following SEO best practices absolutely can be a great SEO strategy.
Blog optimization comprises two important aspects: modifying the structure of the blog itself and writing blog posts to attract searchers.
Writing the Posts for People
If you want searchers to find your blog posts, you need to write about topics they are already searching for, using the words that they use. Keyword research, as well as research done within other departments in your company, can unlock some great ideas for blog posts.
After you’ve chosen your topic and have some idea of the keywords you want to target, make sure to explicitly use those keywords within the headline and the text of your blog post. Place the most important keyword in the first sentence, and try to get a secondary or supporting keyword into the same paragraph.
While there is no ideal number of times to use keywords, use them as often as you can while writing naturally. If you read a sentence to yourself that has a keyword in it, and the sentence feels awkward, then rewrite that sentence without the keyword if you need to.
Natural-sounding writing with strong grammar that portrays a positive customer experience is your first priority. Keyword optimization is a close second.
If it feels too artificial to write using keywords and you find it difficult to get the words out, try writing without them first. Then, once you’re happy with your post, go back and add the keywords into it. You’ll end up restructuring some sentences, but it might work better for you that way.
Look for opportunities to link to other relevant blog posts and a few — very few — products within your post. Internal linking is an excellent SEO tool for spreading link authority throughout your site, but when overused, it loses its value and detracts from your readers’ experience. And things that detract from customer experience on a post tend to also cause Google’s customer experience algorithm to devalue that post.
Optimizing the Blog
Structural SEO for blogs is designed to give the posts you write the most authority possible, allowing them to reach more people via organic search. Because blog posts are new pages and don’t have any authority of their own, other pages on the site need to pass some of their own link authority to the blog posts.
Creating blog categories related to the topics you’re blogging about lends structure to the blog, provides additional contextual relevance for the posts in each category and passes more link authority to more posts for longer. Limit yourself to 10 categories at the very most. If you can’t group everything you write about into 10 buckets, you’re probably not focusing closely enough on the areas that are most relevant to your business.
Just like every other page on the site, the blog homepage and category pages need to be optimized for their own keyword themes. This will lend contextual relevance to the posts being linked to and will also help anchor the keyword theme for each page.
Once created, the category pages will need to have links pointing to them. Two navigational structures enable this: sitewide header navigation and secondary blog navigation.
- Header navigation: Add a drop-down menu in the header that links to all of the blog categories or a list of the categories in the footer. These sitewide links in the header or footer feed link juice directly into the category pages so that they can pass more of it on to the new blog posts.
- Intra-blog navigation: You’ll need a place to help visitors navigate within the blog — a left or right navigation channel is typically created for this purpose, though some sites use a secondary top navigation element instead. The intra-navigation would have links to the blog categories, recent posts, a search bar, and a signup form for readers to subscribe to your email list.
Author pages are another way to point more internal links to each post. Each article should be attributed to an author, even if the post was ghost-written. It’s good to have multiple authors to give the appearance of a collective of knowledge. The author page should have a photo of the author and a short bio so readers can get to know and trust your authors’ expertise.
Lastly, every post needs a date. It helps readers decide how relevant the content is and ensures that any outdated information within a post is safely attributed to a time in the past as opposed to being mistaken for incorrect current information. The date should appear on the post itself, as well as on the pages that link to the blog post — the homepage and the category pages.
By optimizing both the structure of your blog and the posts collected within it, your blog will have a far greater chance of driving relevant traffic to your site. Many of those visitors will be new to your site, which contributes positively to your brand awareness.