The SEO Checklist: How to Optimize a Blog for Search

The SEO Checklist: How to Optimize a Blog for Search
The SEO Checklist: How to Optimize a Blog for Search

The SEO Checklist: How to Optimize a Blog for Search

Imagine this: you’ve worked hard and just posted a great blog. You put in hours of research and writing, feeling great about it. But, here’s a surprising bit – there’s only a 9% chance that people will find and read your post. Quite unexpected, isn’t it?

Every single day, an amazing 1.8 billion new pages make their debut on the web. But here’s a surprising fact from Ahrefs: 90.63% of these pages never get a visit from Google users. If you’re writing a blog or creating content, this might seem a bit disappointing.

However, don’t lose heart! You have the chance to be in the 9.37% that does catch the audience’s eye. The secret? It’s all about optimizing your blog to be more search-engine-friendly. Before you get started on your next post, have a look at this SEO checklist.

8 Steps to Optimizing a Blog for Search

When you’re trying to make your blog show up better in search results, there are plenty of helpful tips and tricks to choose from. But remember, this checklist doesn’t cover all of them – it’s mainly about the things you can do directly on your blog’s pages to improve how visible they are in search engines.

Now, let’s get into these 8 straightforward steps to make your blog more search-friendly.

1. Do Keyword Research

Do Keyword Research

The first step is figuring out what you want to be known for. Creating an effective blog optimization strategy begins with keyword research. This means exploring different search terms to find the perfect phrase for your blog post. By looking at things like how often people search for it and how tough it is to rank for, you can pick the right phrase to target.

Keyword research can be done in several ways, but here’s the process we recommend.

Step 1: Start with Key Topics

Let’s begin by making a list of important and relevant topics that are closely tied to your business and industry. One of the most effective ways to come up with this list is to have a chat with your sales team. They can tell you about the questions they frequently encounter or the topics that regularly come up during sales conversations. It’s a practical way to gather valuable insights.

Step 2: Generate a Variety of Long Keywords

Now, let’s get specific by transforming those key topics into longer keyword phrases known as “long-tail keywords.” These phrases typically consist of three words or more.

For instance, if your main topic is “IT Security,” you can create long-tail keywords like:

  • “Helpful Security Tips for Today’s Employees”
  • “Effective Strategies to Secure Employee Remote Access”
  • “Best Practices for Enhancing Email Security”

 

The idea here is to create as many of these long-tail keyword phrases as you can. Having a variety of options strengthens your strategy.

Step 3: Analyze Your Keywords on Google

Next, let’s dive into analyzing these keyword phrases on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Start by simply typing your chosen phrase into Google’s search bar. Pay close attention to both the search results and Google’s autofill suggestions. These autofill terms are frequently searched, and they can offer ideas for other relevant long-tail keywords.

Another useful tool is Google’s “searches related” feature, which you’ll find at the bottom of a search page. It provides a list of keyword ideas related to your main keyword. These suggestions are valuable because they indicate that other people are searching for them as well.

Step 4: Analyze Your Keyword List

Finally, take that list of potential keyword phrases you’ve gathered and put them through a keyword research tool. Pay close attention to two key factors: search difficulty and search volume. The goal is to find the sweet spot—a search term that’s searched frequently enough but not so much that it’s incredibly hard to rank for.

If you’re wondering which keyword research tool to use, here are some apps we recommend:

  • SEM Rush
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Ubersuggest
  • Moz Keyword Explorer

 

These tools can be beneficial in fine-tuning your keyword strategy.

2. Structure Your Blog Post Based on Your Long Tail Keyword

Structure Your Blog Post Based on Your Long Tail Keyword

Once you’ve completed your keyword research, you should have a clear idea of which long-tail keyword you want to target. To effectively optimize your blog post for search engines, it’s time to organize your entire post around this keyword.

There are four crucial parts of your blog that should revolve around this keyword. We’ll explore the best practices for each one.

  • Title Tag

One of the most critical elements of any piece of content is its title. It’s not only the first thing your audience reads but also the initial aspect that Google examines to determine the relevance of your content.

Ensure that your keyword appears within the first 60 characters of your title. This prevents your headline from getting cut off in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). If you have a lengthy title, and there’s no way to shorten it, try to place your keyword as close to the beginning as it logically fits. This keeps your title both engaging and search-friendly.

  • Headers & Body

It’s important to mention your chosen keyword regularly within your blog post. However, be cautious not to overdo it with keyword stuffing. It’s all about finding the right balance. A good practice is to try including your keyword in the first and last heading whenever possible, with relevant keywords woven in between.

The key takeaway when structuring and writing the body of your content is to focus on addressing the reader’s questions and presenting the information in the most helpful manner. If you prioritize this aspect, your blog post will naturally flow with the keyword usage you’re aiming for.

  • URL

Remember to consider the importance of your URL. It’s one of the first things that search engines examine when they visit a page. Remember that each post you publish has its own unique URL, so it’s crucial to include your long-tail keyword in it.

For instance, take a look at the example below from HubSpot, where they’ve included the keyword phrase “email marketing examples” in the URL.

Furthermore, think about the long-term perspective when optimizing your URL. Whenever possible, avoid using dates and numbers in your post’s URL. Try to exclude anything that might change as your post ages. This way, you won’t need to edit your URL when you update your post. This is essential because, over time, your post gains authority from other websites. Changing the URL could risk losing all the authority you’ve built up.

  • Meta Description

Don’t overlook the importance of the meta description. Its purpose is to provide both search engines and readers with a glimpse of what your post covers. It’s often the brief description displayed on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) just under the title tag. However, keep in mind that Google’s algorithm has evolved, and it may not always use the meta description in the SERPs. If Google finds another part of your content more relevant to the reader, it may choose that snippet instead.

When creating your meta descriptions, remember to summarize your blog within a maximum of 300 characters and include your relevant long-tail keyword phrase. This increases the likelihood that Google will recognize your meta description as helpful and pertinent, giving you more control over what appears on the SERPs page.

Avoid simply stuffing keywords. The wording of your meta description matters significantly for click-through rates. It provides readers with context about your post and influences whether they choose to click on it or not. Always aim to make your meta descriptions as engaging as possible.

3. Format for Readability

Format for Readability

When people search on Google, they often seek quick answers to specific questions. They don’t want to spend a lot of time reading lengthy articles. Therefore, it’s wise to be direct in your posts and format them for speedy reading. This approach benefits both user experience and SEO optimization.

It’s important to clarify that writing for quick answers doesn’t mean your blogs have to be short. In fact, a study conducted by HubSpot discovered that longer blog posts, typically between 2,100 to 2,400 words, perform best on Google and generate more leads.

This makes sense because the more content you provide on a page, the better a search engine can understand the post’s topic. Additionally, for readers, a comprehensive and informative post enhances your credibility as an authority in your field.

So, how can you strike a balance between readable content and valuable, in-depth information? Here are some essential tips:

  • Use concise, easily digestible writing.
  • Break your content into short paragraphs.
  • Employ headers and subheaders to create sections.
  • Utilize bullet points and lists.
4. Use related keywords

We’ve touched upon the importance of selecting a primary long-tail keyword to target for ranking. However, it’s equally vital to incorporate related keywords throughout your blog’s content. This approach helps Google understand the context of your content without overusing the same keyword repeatedly.

It’s important to note that Google’s algorithm has advanced significantly since the early days of SEO. Today, it recognizes related concepts and synonyms, making it easier to identify relevant keywords to include.

Here’s a practical tip: When you enter your long-tail keyword into Google, pay attention to the search results. For instance, if you search for “actionable SEO tips,” you’ll notice terms like “quick” and “important” also appearing. Google associates these with the searcher’s intent when seeking “SEO tips.”

Before you begin writing your blog, take some time to research potential related keywords. This not only enhances the readability of your content but also boosts your ranking for a wider range of related search queries.

5. Link to Existing Content

It’s a smart strategy to include links to related content wherever they fit naturally. This not only benefits your readers but also boosts the rankings of all your pages. Let’s delve into why this works.

When Google “crawls” a page, it follows links. Google’s bot, known as Googlebot, begins at a website’s homepage and follows the first link it encounters. As it navigates through your page via these links, it starts to understand how each page is connected and which ones cover similar topics. Google then distributes the value of these links across your pages. For instance, if you have a well-ranked and relevant blog post with numerous backlinks, adding a link to that post in your new content will pass some of that established link value. This is a valuable strategy to capitalize on.

Beyond the technical aspects of search engines, internal links greatly enhance readability. Remember, our primary goal as bloggers is to provide a great user experience. By offering additional resources and links to relevant content on your site, you improve the user experience. This, in turn, helps your content rank naturally and makes it more informative, useful, and enjoyable to read.

  • Pro Tip:

Regularly update older content with new internal links. This helps Google establish connections between related posts and speeds up the ranking process for similar search queries.

For HubSpot users, the SEO panel is a handy tool for identifying internal linking opportunities. It suggests linking to other relevant resources on your site, saving you the effort of searching for related topics.

6. Make Content Evergreen

Whenever you can, aim to make your content evergreen. This not only simplifies your life as you update older content over the years but also ensures that your blog remains relevant and valuable to your readers. The longer your content remains useful and continues to attract traffic, the higher Google regards its authority, leading to improved search rankings.

So, what defines evergreen content? Think of blog posts centered around topics that will always be vital information for your readers in your industry. Here are some evergreen content ideas:

  • Frequently Asked Questions: These questions and their answers are likely to stay helpful for readers. You may need to expand this list over time, but major changes are usually unnecessary.
  • “How To” Guides: Relevant “how to” guides for your industry are enduring sources of knowledge that your prospects will search for year after year.
  • Tutorials: Demonstrating how to use a product or service remains crucial, and these processes don’t tend to change much.
  • Testimonials: Positive reviews always hold value and should be consistently highlighted.

 

So, how can you create evergreen content?

  • Use language that is timeless and not tied to specific periods.
  • Avoid adding unnecessary dates, especially in the URL.
  • Steer clear of discussing time-sensitive events or circumstances.

 

It’s important to note that as a blogger for your business, you shouldn’t ignore trends and industry news. There’s a place for this on your blog, but you should keep a record of blogs that focus on trends. This way, you can easily update them each year, keeping all your content fresh and valuable to both readers and search engines.

7. Optimize Your Images with Alt Text

Don’t overlook the importance of images in your blog. If you’re on the ball, you’re likely including a variety of images that enhance and clarify your content. Images also add visual appeal to your blog and make it more enjoyable to read.

However, it’s common to forget about image optimization. Despite the intelligence of search engines, they can’t fully comprehend what an image represents without some context. This is where image alt text comes into play, and it’s a crucial factor for achieving a high-ranking blog post.

When crafting your image alt text, aim for descriptive phrases that provide helpful explanations of the image’s content. They should clarify the image’s subject and, when relevant, incorporate your long-tail keyword phrase. Here are some guidelines for writing effective alt text:

  • Be specific: Clearly describe the image.
  • Keep it concise: Limit your alt text to under 125 characters.
  • Avoid “image of…”: There’s no need to start with “image of…” – just describe the image.
  • Use keywords appropriately: Include them when they make sense, but don’t overdo them with excessive keyword stuffing.

 

If you’re using HubSpot, the SEO Panel will automatically check if you’ve optimized your images with alt text and remind you if you haven’t. This ensures you’re on the right track for SEO-friendly images in your blog.

8. Don’t Use Too Many Similar Topic Tags

One common and often forgotten aspect of optimizing your blog for search is the proper use of topic tags.

Topic tags serve as a way to categorize and organize your blog content. They represent the main categories your blog belongs to and are usually displayed on your blog’s landing page, making it easy for readers to find relevant posts within these categories. However, a mistake bloggers sometimes make is using too many topic tags, thinking it will boost their blog’s discoverability. In reality, excessive use of similar tags can lead to Google penalizing your blog for having duplicate content.

Here’s why it happens: Each time you create a topic tag, you essentially create a new webpage where the content associated with that tag is displayed. When you use too many similar tags, Google interprets it as if you’re presenting the same content multiple times across your website. This can negatively impact your search rankings.

To avoid this, keep it straightforward. Use the most relevant topic tags but refrain from going overboard. This ensures that your blog remains well-organized and SEO-friendly.

Use this Checklist to Optimize Your Blog

When you’re about to write your next blog post, remember this checklist. It’s your key to improving your blog’s search ranking without a hassle. By carefully choosing your words, organizing your content, and selecting the right topics, you’ll watch your blogs rise in search results and attract more readers.

The most important thing to keep in mind when optimizing a blog for search, especially on Optamark Digital, is your readers. Your content performs best when it solves their problems, using words, images, and formatting that are all designed to help and inform.

This approach is exactly what search engines appreciate. So, our top SEO tip is simple: forget about algorithms and focus on your audience. Everything else will fall into place, ensuring that your blogs gain the attention they deserve.

Do you want to boost your online presence? Contact Optamark Digital today, and let’s start improving your brand’s visibility and success online. Whether you need web design, SEO, or digital marketing solutions, our team is here to help you achieve your goals.

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Optamark Graphics
Optamark Graphics
Optamark Graphics
Optamark is an outsourced service provider to a network of experienced, independent distributors of printing and promotional products. The Company’s services include product sourcing and order fulfillment via access to a network of preferred vendors, invoicing, collections, back office support, sales and marketing support, professional development training, and working capital support.