How to Optimize Your Blog Content for Search Engines
By Katrina Langer
While there are a lot of ways to write a great blog post, there’s really only one way to write a blog post that’s optimized for search engines. Are you ready? Here it is:
Write for humans.
If the content you post on your blog is fresh, informative, and interesting, people will love it. And if people love it (and read it, engage with it, and share it with other people), search engines will love it too.
Figuring out how to write content that visitors love isn’t as hard as it sounds, either. If you’ve already cultivated an extensive list of keywords relevant to your business, you’re halfway there.
Target keyword intent
In the early days of SEO, bloggers targeted specific keywords and stuffed blog posts with as many of those keywords as possible. So, if there were a lot of searches for “best real estate markets in southern california,” you’d write a post about that—and every paragraph and sentence would include that phrase or parts of it.While this tactic may have fooled search engines at the time, the content was often robotic, uninteresting, and uninformative.
Realizing that keyword stuffing was taking away from users’ experiences, Google and other search engines have made significant adjustments to their algorithms to discourage the practice. Today, search engines care more about the intent behind a search, rather than just the keyword phrase. In this case, someone searching for “best real estate markets in southern california” may want to learn more about investment strategies in Southern California. Or, they may just be wondering where to buy a house.
None of this is to say you should stop targeting specific keyword phrases in your blog posts, but the content of your posts should reflect the intent of the consumer you’re trying to attract. So, if your ideal customers are investors, make sure you’re writing about investment, not first-time home buying.
Organize before you write
If you’ve taken the time to build a keyword list and organize it by theme, you’ve probably noticed some common patterns. For example, people often search with qualifiers like “how to” and “where.”You can use these phrases to organize and structure your post. From your larger keyword list, select 5-8 phrases with similar intents, then organize your post around the qualifiers attached to them.
For example, the main focus of your post might be, “Top Southern California Real Estate Markets in 2018,” and the topics you cover might include:
- Southern California Investment Trends in 2017
- Best Markets for Rentals
- Best Markets for Commercial Real Estate
- What to Expect in 2018
Break content up with subheadings
Most people only read 28% of the words on a webpage, and headlines are the easiest way to grab their intention. By breaking your posts up under a few smaller subheadings, you’ll enable people to scan them for key phrases and valuable insights. If the subheadings include the specific keyword phrases people used to find your content in the first place, that’s even better.
Keep it simple
As you’re writing, it’s important to focus on one main topic that’s related to those 5-8 keyword phrases you pulled out earlier. If, for instance, you also have expertise in Nevada real estate markets, be sure to write about that in a separate post.
Typically, your blog post should be between 500-800 words. It’s okay to go over a bit, but if you have a lot more to say about a particular topic, consider writing a second (or third and fourth!) post. Breaking long posts up into series can help drive repeat visits to your site, and encourage people read more of your content—which, in turn, signals to search engines that your site is helpful and informative.
Optimize your post
Include keyword phrases in your post where it feels natural, but don’t overdo it. As we discussed earlier, if you cram keywords into the body copy and subheads, your content will sound forced—and that’s not something search engines or people like.
In addition to the headings and body of your posts, you’ll also want to incorporate your keywords in a few other places:
- Post URL: Your web address is an important signal of on-page content for search engines, so be sure to include your keywords in your post’s “slug” (i.e., the end portion of your URL). For example: “mywebsite.com/best-california-real-estate-investments-2018”
- Title tags and meta description: While these elements won’t impact how search engines rank your content, they may change how users engage with it. Your post’s title tag and meta description tell search engines how to display your entry in search engine results, and are your first opportunity to grab people’s attention.
Finally, go through your post and add links to other, related pieces of content. Start with your own content, then link out to other experts and articles. Take care not to use too many outside links—after all, you want to keep people on your website!
Add a strong call to action
What is it that you hope your visitors do when they visit your site? Do you want them to fill out a form so you can collect their email address? Or, do you want them to contact you and set an appointment to learn more about your services?
Whatever you want your visitors to do, be sure to end your posts with a call to action (CTA) that matches. For example, they may need an agent to help them uncover investment opportunities in California. Go ahead and tell them to contact your business!
Whenever possible, make sure your CTAs invite visitors to interact with your site by submitting a form or clicking a link. Interactions with your content provide additional signals to search engines that you’re an expert in your field.Plus, they’re a great way to collect leads.
Edit, edit, edit
The secret to great writing is great editing. Before you publish any blog post, ask a trusted colleague or friend to read it over and provide constructive feedback to improve your content.
Never skip this step! Content that’s full of typos or grammatical errors is a signal to both users and search engines that it can’t be trusted. Search engines won’t rank this content very high, and users will likely leave your site to find the answers to their questions elsewhere.
To learn more about building a strategic keyword list, check out our previous post about keyword research tools, and stay tuned to learn more about organic link-building.
Published on July 24, 2018
Written by Katrina Langer
Katrina is a Content Writer and Strategist. She's worked with both Fortune 100 companies and small startups to create awesome content on their websites. She holds a BA in English from Northeastern University and an MBA in International Business from SNHU.