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The easiest way to stay invisible to over half the customers searching for you is to fail to create SEO friendly blog posts.
And to make matters worse, the Search Engine Journal reports that only 10% of all internet traffic comes from paid search. Which means that unless your pockets are deep enough to pay your entire way to success, you will need the help of some high quality content on your website.
Luckily, to be of high quality your content only has 2 things to really nail down:
- It should be Useful (word length + topic relevance)
- and Accessible (easy to skim, read and understand)
Make your content useful and accessible and it will quickly swim its way up search engine results.
Why, you might ask? Because search engines would lose their relevance if they didn’t provide users with the best results to their search queries. No relevance would mean losing users, which would mean losing Ad money. Simple internet math.
So the golden rule to create SEO friendly blog posts is to design your blog post to be the best result to a specific search query.
How you do that, is by following the steps below.
1. Install An SEO Plugin
Why? So that you can verify as you go, what is still needed to fully optimise your post.
Not using a plugin does not mean you won’t rank. It just means you will have a hard time knowing when your post is ready. Hands down, the most beginners friendly SEO plugin currently available is called Yoast SEO.
The rest of this post will assume that you have downloaded and installed this plugin, and that your post creation panel has changed to include the Yoast SEO section (usually at the bottom of your post).
2. Create A New Blog Post
In your WordPress dashboard, click on Post (or “Blog Post”), then Add New. Leave your post empty for now.
3. Define Your High Quality Keyword
A keyword is the term that your customers will type-in to find your post in search engines. It can either be short tail (e.g: “Goat cheese”) or long tail (e.g: “The best goat cheese in Perth”). Favour long tail keywords. They rank better because of less competition and because they target more specific searches.
Your chosen keyword will impact your post and become more effective as you use it across the following 5 areas:
Your Image Alt Tags
Your meta description
Be careful however not to over-use it or just slap it around in a non-natural way. Doing that is called keyword stuffing and is frowned upon by Google.
Keywords with high search volumes have a better chance of driving more traffic to your website. Even better, are those with high search volumes and low competition.
To find them, you will need a keyword research tool. Here are a few examples:
Google Keyword planner
Once you have decided what keyword to use, scroll to your Yoast SEO dashboard and insert it in the Focus Keyword area.
4. Write A Magnetic Headline
In the title area of your post, write down your keyword. For example, “the best goats cheese in Perth“.
Research shows that the most successful headlines are on average 12 to 14 words long and they either:
Make a clear irresistible offer.
Bridge the gap between the readers and their aspirations.
Offer to uncover something the readers have considered hidden.
Speak to the readers’ fear of missing out
By adding a few words to your long tail keyword, you can design a headline that does the above. For example, using the keyword “the best goats cheese in Perth“, we could have any of the following headlines:
The Unbelievable Story Behind The Best Goat Cheese In Perth
My Life Is Complete. I Just Tasted The Best Goat Cheese In Perth
Stop The Search. This Is The Best Goat Cheese In Perth
The Broke Millenial’s Guide To The Best Goat Cheese In Perth
All this to say, write your keyword in the title area of your blog post, then dress it up to create a magnetic headline.
5. Define Your Post URL
Your URL is the web address of your post and ideally, it should change automatically once your finish writing your headline.
Because your URL gets crawled by search engines, it is important that it contains your keyword and isn’t too long. If your URL does not contain your keyword, either click on it right under your headline editor bar, or scroll to your SEO section and change it there.
6. Choose a Post Category
A post category in WordPress is like a deli aisle. It allows you to put similar posts under one banner, so that visitors can easily find their way to the content they are after.
If you are going to have blog posts about different types of cheeses for example, then it would make sense to have a category called “Cheese”.
On the right of your post creation panel, find the Categories (sometimes “Blog Categories”) section and click on Add New Category. Write yours in and press Enter to validate. Alternatively, simply select the most appropriate category from the ones already available in your categories list.
If you feel like choosing more than one category, please do.
7. Insert Your Post Content, Paying Attention To These Points
A good post will focus on providing value to the user. Of course. But when it comes to trying to rank high in search engines, it is important that your content be easy to consume. Do these things to make your post easier to consume.
7.1 Use clear headers and paragraphs
The main benefit of having clear headers is that it allows your readers to easily skim through your content to find what they are looking for. Content that is designed to be that easy to use will be favoured by search engines.
When assigning your header tags, avoid using H1. This is because your post title is likely to be an H1 by default. Adding another H1 within your content would throw off your content hierarchy and confuse crawlers.
So use H2 as the top level tag within your post, followed by the others (H3, H4, etc).
7.2 Use Bullets and Lists Where Possible
Everything you do to make your post organised and easy to consume works in the favour of the user. By default, search engines seek to deliver users with content they will find useful and consumable. Which is why it is recommended to use bullets and lists when possible.
7.3 Be Generous With Your Words
Although 500 words would be enough to turn your Yoast SEO light green, research shows that posts with the most interaction and shares have over 1,000 words. Yes it’s not easy to write 1000 words, but that is also why the extra mile is not crowded.
To see your current word count while creating your post, scroll to the bottom of your text window.
8. Use Pictures With Alt Tags (Alt Text)
Adding pictures to your post enhances user experience, which as we’ve seen above works in your favour when it comes to SEO. What’s even better than adding pictures, is defining an Alt Tag for every image you add.
Alt Tags are used to help describe images when loading or viewing them isn’t possible. Like in low internet connection settings for example, or to people with viewing impairment. Because this directly contributes to enhancing user experience, setting Alt Tags for your images will work in your favour.
Make sure your Alt Tag describes the image and includes your keyword.
Please remember to assign a title to all your pictures too.
9. Use Links Within Your Text
A link can either be internal or external. Internal links are those that point to content within your website while external links point to pages outside your website.
Use links to provide further reading to your users and to show your content sources. A page that uses both internal and quality external links (links to sites with a high reputation) will tend to be favoured by Google because it sends the signal that your page is useful.
10. Set Your Feature Image
On the bottom right corner of your dashboard, click on Set Feature Image. Then select a picture from your picture library. If your desired picture isn’t yet in your media library, click on the Upload Files tab (top left corner of that window) and select a picture file from your computer.
Before you confirm or set your feature image (blue button, lower left corner), remember to enter a title and Alt Text for your image.
Checkout our article on where to find unique free photos for your website.
11. Write A Meta Description For Your Post
In the simplest terms, your Meta Description is like a text advert for your post. It is a short description of its content, written with the intention to convince readers to open your post. It’s the little text you often see under the title of each search result in Google.
In the Yoast SEO section of your dashboard, your Meta Description may be called Snippet. Click on Edit Snippet to edit yours. And to help your SEO/user click-through efforts, it is advisable to include your Keyword in your Meta Description.
The ideal length for a meta description is 150-160 characters (November 2018). To help you stay within a safe description length, Yoast SEO will turn the bar under your description from orange to red if you go overboard.
12. Write Your Post Tags
Tags are used to classify content with more precision than Categories. And like Categories, they greatly improve user experience.
I like to think of my tags as the words someone would enter within my website search to find the post I am writing. If I am writing a post under the Cheese category for example, and I am describing a cheese of french origin, I would have a tag called “french cheese“.
It is easier to write your tags after you’ve completed your post because by then, you’d know all that your post is about.
Users are the top of the internet mountain and search engines will never stop trying to reach them. If you commit to climbing that mountain too, which means doing everything to serve your users, then you will eventually always meet the search engines where they are.
Put simply, the most sustainable way to create SEO friendly blog posts is to move your focus from Search Engine Optimisation per say, to user optimisation.
Write content that is useful,
Write content that is accessible,
And do everything else we’ve mentioned in the list above.
You’ll be fine.