As a business owner, you juggle all sorts of plates, and blog writing is yet another string you’ve added to your bow to bring leads in through your website. Yet just when you’ve managed to write a blog, an unwelcome gremlin creeps into your mind and asks: “is this blog SEO’ed?” Your understanding of SEO is patchy at best, so you panic you lack the skills and tools to get your fabulous content found. Before you quit, let me come to your rescue with a blog SEO checklist – the ultimate beginner’s guide to optimising your content.
Is blog writing technical?
I do NOT consider myself a techy person, and when I first started writing blogs professionally, SEO was something that niggled away in the back of my mind, making me question my writing skills and the purpose of what I was doing.
I used to think I needed an official SEO qualification to give my clients confidence I knew what I was doing, but then something odd started happening.
My blogs started ranking on page 1 of Google for specific keywords relating to my own, and my clients’, services.
OK, so I’d picked up a few SEO hacks along the course of my 16-year writing career, but I didn’t think of myself as an SEO expert by any stretch.
So how did an SEO novice manage to rank on page 1?
All I can tell you is this. The content I write speaks directly to my target customer and offers the value I know you’re looking for when you find yourself on Google searching for answers.
By focusing on value and not allowing myself to become overwhelmed by dos and don’ts, I’d cracked the code to creating high-ranking content.
Now, I want to help you to do the same.
So, I’m going to tell you everything I know about how to SEO a blog post so you’ll see the same success I have. In the past year or so, I’ve had around 11 blogs ranking on page 1 and I’m still yet to sign up for that SEO course.
Read on to discover how to write blogs that rank on page one of Google.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It’s the act of optimising online content, like website pages and blog posts, so they appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) for “keywords” (which can, confusingly, be a word or phrase your customer types into Google, or whichever their chosen search engine is, to search for information).
75% of online searches start on Google, according to SEO guru Neil Patel. So, optimising your content plays a critical role in getting your content seen.
For example, if you want to attract customers to your baking website, a typical keyword might be “easy chocolate cake recipe”. So, you could write a blog with this title, guiding your reader through the process of mastering your fave bake and sprinkling your keyword into the mix as you go.
Researching what kind of terms internet users are searching for relating to your industry or chosen topic will help you decide what to blog about, so you can capture some of that traffic and build your online presence.
SEO takes many forms and is a complex process for those whose job revolves around keywords, updates and algorithms. Content is a large part of SEO, but it also involves images, links, and technical elements.
However, for the purpose of blog writing, there are a few painless steps you can take to tick the major boxes and ensure the right eyes fall onto your blog.
What’s the perfect blog length to rank on Google?
First things first, I want to touch on the question of how long a blog needs to be to rank on Google.
Again, I’m no SEO expert, but this is what I’ve learned.
Getting bogged down by specific word counts can quash your creativity or spiral you into waffle territory. So, I always advise you to focus on writing naturally and offering maximum value first, and worrying about word counts, well, never.
Google will index a blog post as long as it’s 300 words minimum. And while longer-form content generally performs better (the actual word count changes constantly, so take any figures you hear with a pinch of your finest Himalayan), value-packed content is always best, whether it’s 500 words or 5000.
Generally, I’d aim for 500 words as a minimum, and anything over 1000 words is a decent length.
But again, use this as a very vague guide and as long as nobody has imposed a word count on you, do your thing and see where your subject takes you.
Glossary of SEO terms
Here’s a glossary of the most common SEO terminology you’ll find online, helping you understand what goes where and why.
A keyword, or keyphrase, is the word/s your audience will type into a search engine searching for information.
Before writing a blog, research and consider what your target customer might enter into Google to find the type of content you’re sharing. Then, weave this keyword, or keyphrase, into your content to ensure Google understands and indexes your blog to help users find it.
Avoid keyword stuffing, which sees keywords overused, as search engines recognise this and penalise you by failing to rank your content favourably.
Search engines like Google understand variations on your keyword, so feel free to mix it up so your blog reads well and use of your keyword doesn’t feel forced.
Your meta description is a summary of your web page or blog that appears in search results pages and social media previews. Stick to the allocated word limit and make sure the purpose of your blog is clear enough to attract readers to click into it.
Include your keyword to allow Google to easily recognise what your content is about, so it will be ranked well and enable your target audience to find it.
The feature image is the main image on your blog, which usually displays on your main blog menu page and social media link previews.
Alt text describes your image for SEO and inclusivity purposes. Type in a brief and simple summary of what your feature image depicts – there’s no need to start with “image of” or “picture of”.
SEO plugins like Yoast SEO will often recommend adding transition words to your blog to make it more reader-friendly and easier for Google to understand and catalogue.
Transition words help your reader connect one idea to the other. So, use them to shift the mood or signal a new direction.
They fall into four categories – contrast words (e.g. on the other hand, alternatively), emphasis words (e.g. indeed, especially), addition words (e.g. also, besides), and order words (e.g. firstly, subsequently).
Your slug is the second part of your blog or web page URL (or link) after your website address.
For example, the slug for this blog is: blog-seo-checklist-beginners-guide-to-optimising-content
So, website address + slug = your blog URL or link.
You have the option to edit your slug if you’re adding your blog to your website back-end – it’s sometimes good to shorten a longer URL.
If you’ve seen the terms H1, H2, H3 etc in reference to website content or blogs and wondered what they mean, allow me to explain.
In the context of blogs and website copywriting, H stands for header, so your H1 is your main header. You should only have one H1 per web page or blog to help Google understand what your blog is about.
Free SEO checklist for beginners
Need a beginner’s SEO checklist to make blog writing easier and less confusing?
I’ve got you – download your free SEO checklist and start ticking off the basics to see your blog rank on page one for your chosen search term. If you have any questions, or need help with your content writing, drop me a line and let’s chat.