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As a blogger, there are certain aspects of writing that you should be aware of: catchy titles (and subtitles), an appropriate introduction, and attention-grabbing sentences while remaining knowledgeable throughout the entire post.
One key aspect that is often forgotten about when it comes to SEO—outside of keyword density—is page optimization. Page optimization incorporates various elements such as meta description tags, header tags, optimized images keywords within content, etc., all of which play their own roles when it comes to SEO.
Blogs are an integral part of the content on any website—they are rejuvenators in a way, breathing life into the otherwise mundane subject matter.
But the fact remains: no one wants to read a blog filled with fluff and filler content.
A blog is not your personal soapbox; rather, it should be used to provide valuable information related to your site/brand/industry while simultaneously engaging and entertaining readers. It’s a fine line to walk but once you get the hang of it, blogging can enhance your SEO efforts.
Meta Tag Optimization
Blogs are not limited to the written word; images, videos, infographics, and tables can be present as well.
When optimizing your blog—or any page on the web for that matter—it is important to focus on meta tags first. Your meta description serves as a short synopsis of your article’s content while the meta title tag is the title of your blog post that will appear in search engine listings.
When a visitor types in a keyword into Google, The search engine returns a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This page shows snippets of websites related to the query (searched term).
The snippet will show the title, meta description, and URL. Sometimes the snippet will include enhanced features like site links. (More on that in a bit.)
The meta description can help you improve your click-through rate, which is crucial for Google. More clicks signify that they returned a relative page suggestion for that query. As a result, it will be seen by more people.
If the snippet receives only a few clicks and has a poor click-through rate, Google may decide to eliminate the page suggestion from the SERP.
The click-through rate, or CTR, is a key indicator. When a snippet from your page appears on Google’s SERP, it’s called an impression. Your click-through rate is low if you have many impressions, but not many clicks.
To discover your CTR for keywords you rank for, go to Google’s search console.
Header Tag Optimization
Header tags have been known to influence SEO, but their effect is generally negligible. That being said, we see a correlation between improved rankings and perfectly optimized pages which include smart use of heading tags.
Heading tags are <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc., and they are used to organize content.
The most effective way is to use them at the beginning of your posts—the “bigger” the better.
Header tags help Google discern what your page is about, especially if you’re targeting long-tail keywords.
They provide an outline for readers scanning your blog post, enabling them to hone in on what’s important quickly. They can also improve readability by providing visual breaks between sections of your article.
However, it’s important to note the difference between header tags being present and headers simply being written in an attempt to increase keyword density throughout a blog post.
There is no limit as far as the number of headers allowed per post, but don’t go overboard or else your blog will look like one enormous block of text.
The best way to format a blog post using heading tags is to use a combination of strong and emphasized text, with an occasional third-level heading—especially towards the end.
Keyword density is frequently mentioned in articles involving SEO.
Having a greater number of occurrences per page means that you’re targeting a keyword or phrase more effectively. In other words, it increases your chances of appearing as a relevant search result for those specific queries.
However, stuffing keywords into your blog post will likely have the opposite effect on Google’s algorithm. A key component of SEO involves content being beneficial to readers first and foremost. The last thing you want to do is irritate them by providing incorrect information or writing in a confusing way just so that you can increase your keyword density.
Today, the key to keyword density is in having a balance of your target keyword, used naturally throughout the blog post, and semantically related keywords.
Semantically related keywords are keywords that are highly relevant to your target. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about “how to get better at basketball,” it would be wise to have terms like “fitness” and “nutrition.”
You should also use variations of the keyword throughout the article, but don’t overdo it—Google is smart enough to ignore common misspellings or pluralized words.
Images are another important factor in influencing Google’s search algorithm.
The number of clicks on an image can have a substantial effect on your CTR, which consequently affects rankings.
It is recommended to make them eye-catching by using more than one across each blog post, but bear in mind that excessively large images can have a bad effect on load times.
Imagery can also improve readability when used appropriately, but don’t distract readers with too many images that are unrelated to the content. This potentially forces readers to view an advertisement by mistake, which could lose you money and/or popularity points.
When it comes to keywords, there are two important best practices: image file names and alt tags (alternative text). Make sure your blog post has credible title text for all of its images—it helps search engines classify them, especially if they’re illustrated.
The alt tag serves the same purpose; however, it’s also useful for accessibility purposes because screen reading software reads them aloud to visually impaired users.
Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking it’s unimportant to give an image credit the alt text, but if you’re using someone else’s work it’s probably covered under fair use. By not crediting them, you’re risking legal trouble.
Alt tags also serve another purpose; they provide more opportunities for keywords!
For example, if your blog post is about “weight loss tips for college students,” then using relevant keyword variations like “weight loss” and “college students” in the alt tag of each image will help increase page rankings. That being said, if it doesn’t truly describe the image, Google will see the keyword stuffing as spam. Include it if it’s natural to do so.
Minimize On-Page Advertisements
Google takes monetization into account when considering where to place a website on their SERPs (search engine results pages). If your site is filled with ads that users are ultimately reluctant to click on, then it’s most likely that your rankings will be lower than they could otherwise be.
This means that if you do monetize your blog with ads, make sure to keep them somewhat subtle; overly flashy banners and popups are a big no-no.
On the other hand, there is such thing as too little advertising! If you provide content related to products or services in your niche but don’t use any affiliate links, you’re missing out on easy money. On top of that, it’s respectful to users who can tell when you’re trying to sell something and might not want to read an ad disguised as a blog post.
Never Use Repetitive Anchor Text in Internal Links
It’s important to always keep your target keyword in mind when writing an internal link because the anchor text is what will show up on Google. Trying to stuff it with keywords or using unwarranted variations can result in a penalty.
Internal linking also serves another purpose: it drives more traffic! Linking to relevant blog posts within your own site could potentially increase CTR by making users aware of related content, especially if they’re trying to learn about something you’ve already covered.
It’s always helpful for readers who are looking for more information, so try not to neglect them by including only external links.
I’ve got a deep dive on the topic of internal linking here.
Use Site Links
Site links are another type of enhanced snippet Google uses to provide its users with more information about the website they’re viewing.
The text displayed in these site links is pulled from anchor text used by internal links on the page and tends to be highly targeted and therefore aggressive. Site link extensions can also occupy valuable SERP real estate, which means it could impact your overall quality score.
The table of contents is one of the most efficient methods I’ve discovered to produce content that produces site links. If Google feels your header tags are valuable to the reader, it will utilize them to build website links.
Make Your Blog Post Readable
Blogs shouldn’t be focused on keyword density or any other SEO trick; they should be focused on what the reader wants.
Readability is defined as how easily a text can be read and understood. It involves not just grammatical factors but also word choice, sentence length and structure, and style.
There are SEO Plugins like Yoast that give a readability score. Your blog post should have a Flesch Reading Ease score of at least 70-80 which is what Forbes uses. If it’s below the 40 mark it needs more work.
Here are some tips to improve your readability:
- Use subheadings to break up your text into easy-to-digest pieces. We talked about those previously.
- Write short sentences
- Use basic words especially on pages aimed specifically at beginners or for SEO rankings
- Don’t write long paragraphs. Keep them between 2-3 sentences unless absolutely necessary.
- Use bullet points when you can by separating each point with a comma or other punctuation marks like semicolons, hyphens, or dashes.
- Use active voice instead of passive as much as possible because it’s easier to read and has a greater impact on the reader.
What are Breadcrumbs on a Blog?
Breadcrumbs are a simple navigational aid that allows the user to trace the path back to the main page from any other page on your website.
At the top of a page, you’ll sometimes notice a set of links that includes the home page, the category, subcategory, and blog post. You may also see the home page, parent page, and child page.
Breadcrumbs on a blog help users easily identify where they are in relation to the homepage and give them an option for exploring related topics. They
Breadcrumbs are easy to overlook, but they could actually be the difference between your main keywords appearing in position 1 or 5.
This additional snippet provides an anchor link directly to the homepage of your website and should feature both targeted keywords and specific page titles.
Breadcrumbs are especially helpful for websites with long titles, so if yours seems to fit that bill, this should be a priority. You can easily add them using plugins like Yoast (free) which also gives you an SEO grade based on how well optimized your post is!
Include a Table of Contents
Tables of Contents (TOCs) can be useful for content above a certain length, but they’re important. A TOC helps users by allowing them to skip over parts of the post that don’t interest them and drill down into only the information that interests them.
It’s also great for SEO because it produces more internal links and draws attention to keywords you want to rank for.
The table of contents generally includes all items from the <h2> headings and sometimes the <h3>. If you are using WordPress, a plugin can create this for you automatically.
Type in the table of contents on your add new plugins page, and choose a plugin that is highly rated and has been updated recently.
Based on what we have covered in his guide for perfect page optimization, you should be well on your way to ranking your blog posts on google. Remember, ranking on Google has more to do with your content, expertise, and authority than how you use keywords on a page. Your blog post must. match the user intent, and cover the topic in-depth.
Without the other 3, page optimization is pointless.