SEO 101: How To Write A Great Blog
The holidays are around the corner, the temperatures are dropping, pumpkin spice lattes abound – and marketing teams are going through their yearly test to see if they pass muster. That’s right, in between holiday parties and gift exchanges, marketing teams around the globe are reeling from their success – or failure – to meet metrics for the year. A major component of who wins and who loses? The blog.
Consider: was your blog created because your company is under the impression that you must have a blog to be a legitimate brand, much like how toddlers believe if presents aren’t opened before dawn, it isn’t really Christmas? Or was the blog created with a specific goal in mind? If the latter is true, congratulations! You’re already one step closer to creating A Great Blog. But don’t open that bottle of champagne just yet – there’s still the little matter of actually writing valuable content for it.
Blame it on holiday cheer, but we decided to share our best tips on creating a great, search engine optimized blog. These tips are geared towards those who may have a background in writing, but haven’t written web content, or those who are subject matter experts who suddenly got saddled with the task by some unknown committee. You’re welcome to also take a seat if you’re a bright-eyed new grad looking to conquer the content marketing world. If you’re none of the three, and you just want to improve your skills a bit, we’ll take that as well. Blame the eggnog, but we’re feeling generous:
#1 Pick Your Topic
Sitting down to a blank page is slow torture, even to the most seasoned of writers (we would know). However, do not despair: there’s a simple trick to filling that page, or at least your brain, with ideas that not only your team, but also search engines, will love. You could call it one simple trick that your competitors wish you didn’t know, but that would feel a bit spammy, wouldn’t it?
We lied – it’s a series of tricks:
- Go to Google Trends. Consider what industry your brand is in while browsing through the top 100 searches. Unless you’re very glamorous, you likely will not find anything terribly relevant, but check anyways. Every so often you’ll strike gold.
- Click on “All Categories” and navigate to the one that is closest to the space your brand plays in. Now check those stories. Find anything you can comment on yet? You probably did, so congrats! Revel in that wonderful feeling of inspiration.
- Still nothing? Navigate to the normal Google search page and query your industry – for example, “marketing,” “finance,” “software,” or “basket weaving” are all great examples.
- If you still have found nothing you feel capable of commenting on, check what your closest competitors are talking about, and then do it better.
The point of these “tricks” is really to inspire the author to talk about something that other people are also talking about, which is a major factor for successful SEO. This is why it’s important that you use Google for these exercises – we love DuckDuckGo as much as the next person, but when it comes to global trend tracking, there is no competition.
#2 Pick The Right Keywords To Unlock Your Marketing
Before you start writing, brainstorm what keywords you’d like your post to rank for. As this is a company blog, and the goal is to improve the SEO of your entire domain, it would be best to have one of the top two words be related to your offering. The other of the top two should either be related to your offering, or related to trending news or discussion.
In order to keep your writing uncluttered and flowing naturally, focus on two as your primary.
#3 Writing For People And Google Without Annoying Either
Alright, so you know what you’re going to write about. We won’t pretend to be able to teach you how to write in a single blog post, so let’s continue with the assumption that you are already capable of the basics. If you’re having trouble, think back to high school English classes – no, seriously, because the first rule of writing for the masses is to write at about a 6th grade level. Just ask Stephen King if you don’t believe it.
However, writing SEO and sharable content requires that we tweak some of the rules of thumb you learned in grade school, such as:
Pronouns: Reduce your use of pronouns that refer to your keywords. For example, notice that your blog is never referred to as an article or another synonym in this post – that’s because the goal is to rank for the keyword “blog.” It may be slightly noticeable as repetitive, but your goal is to get your top keyword at about 3% density of text.
Paragraphs: Keep your paragraphs under four sentences, and aim for three to maintain skim-ability for your reader. Again, we’re aiming at a more accessible reading level, so no long tirades. Feel like having a one sentence paragraph, or a three word sentence for emphasis?
Have at it.
Links: Cite sources, especially if those sources are friendly brands, or brands you’d like to be friendly with. Is there a brand that you somewhat share an audience with, but aren’t in competition with? Have they written a great thought leadership post? Give them a link! They’ll be likely to return the favor. Unfortunately, linking to your own blog no longer does much for SEO, so only link to another post your brand published when it’s relevant – don’t force it.
#4 Create A Title Worth 1000 Words – or However Long Your Post Ended Up Being
The title of a blog post is incredibly important – not only for SEO, but also for the click through rate of your article. Ever wonder why so many viral blogs have numbers at the beginning, the word “actually” as a challenge, or “How to” to start? Because all of those tactics really work.
So be creative, and think of how you can make readers curious enough to read more. However, it’s important that the title does stay accurate – I think we can all agree that there are few things more infuriating than clicking on a link, only to find content that is completely unrelated. It’s in the realm of parking tickets for us.
#5 Find – Or Create – An Image That Acts As Bait
The image for your post acts as more than just a reference – it shows up when the blog is posted to your website, as well as in search results. Consider: how many times have you clicked on an article because the picture looked interesting?
If your answer is hundreds or thousands of times, then you’re normal. It’s the whole reason why you need a six pack to sell yogurt – the image is as important, if not more so, than the content, at least when it comes to consumers choosing what they’re going to pay attention to.
Google also wants to make sure you have a sexy picture, but it can’t understand images. So instead Google needs to settle for you having an image (it’s a yes/no question), and the alt-tag description. An alt-tag is where you describe what the image is of, and happens in the content editor, such as WordPress or Hubspot. The reader doesn’t see it, but the crawler, or algorithm that reads the page, does. A great alt tag description includes a keyword, though accuracy still reigns supreme.
Congratulations! You just wrote your first SEO blog – how does it feel? Did you enjoy this guide? Was it helpful? Let us know in the comments.