You may approach a blog post like a Jackson Pollock painting and “drip” keywords throughout and claim a masterpiece. It may be, and you may be the only one to ever see it, which is why your blog should be optimized.
Critics argue Pollock’s “drip period”-style of paint on canvas was actually quite meticulous, as your approach to content should be. Here’s some advice on how to optimize your blog (including tactics we use at Savoir Faire for the posts we pen for clients and for our own site):
Don’t Be Content; Create Content (play on words)
For now and the foreseeable future, content is king on the Internet, at least as far as Google and other major search engines are concerned. You’re writing content for your audience and for Google – and both get smarter every day. If you can develop, write and optimize (optimization often begins with the develop step) content in various forms that meet search engines’ criteria for good quality – which includes being authoritative and solving searchers’ queries better than others do it – your content will rank higher online (eventually – more on time and patience below).
Your page content doesn’t always meet the criteria because it also has to achieve a number of objectives to be relevant to your company’s brand, such as writing about a specific product or service or, for B2Bs, how a company can succeed on your behalf. These in-house requirements don’t necessarily equate to being a solid resource in the eyes of search engines.
That said, you can do both: be on brand and inform. Educational-based content, is typically regarded as the content format elicits behavior that Google and human beings notice: it provides information not found to this degree elsewhere and solves pain points i.e. answers relevant questions that people are asking their search engines.
Ranking for Different Reasons
We continue to see this first-hand with a longtime client that performs very specific services. One blog post we wrote for them a couple years ago continues to receive high traffic volume as it’s become a reference piece.
Another example – and this one a little accidental – is a Savoir Faire post about what we considered a very clever digital-meets-traditional marketing effort where online pet supply company, Chewy, surprised customers with painted portraits of customers’ pets. Our post was pretty thorough on the tactic including an interview with one of the portrait artists and because the marketing on Chewy’s part worked and people were asking about it, our post got into that stream and continues to get many regular clicks to our post. (Just checked and that post is #3 on Google for the search “Chewy pet portraits” after the ads.)
Why we say accidental for our post is that we now rank for the keyword pet portraits, though that’s not our market. That said, we’re happy for the visibility as it demonstrates our content creation expertise.
How to Optimize a Blog
The client noted above was basically invisible online when we first partnered with them nearly five years ago. We quickly instituted a blog program, developed a keyword library and looked at the questions potential customers were asking. Strong year-over-year growth of site traffic is primarily based on the blog, which saw the most-recent year-to-year traffic growth of 53% from 2018 to 2019. Today, the blog accounts for a third of all traffic to the site, and it’s become a reference site for the industry – and helped to grow the company’s revenue. That’s the power you want – but how do you get there via optimizing?
The Secret Sauce
You didn’t think we’d give out the entire recipe, right? But since you’ve come this far, consider some of these important elements when optimizing your blog content:
What question are you answering and what keyword should this post rank for if you’re completely successful at building this post? Once you have that in mind:
- Make sure the post is a proper length, the longer the better, typically. The minimum is 350 words for Google to even validate the post as content. If you’re above 750 words, err on the side of caution and go for 1000, but only for the sake of providing depth of information. Do your research and quickly get to the meat of all angles a searcher might want answers to, as it applies to your topic.
- Don’t try to pull fast ones like keyword stuffing. Yes, use your keywords, but where they make sense and don’t overdo it. Look for ways to use semantically related words to bolster the relevance of the post to the topic.
- Write actively and avoid passive voice when possible. Google will ding you with too many passive voice sentences.
- Using good grammar, punctuation and include an editing process. Ideally, a writer should not edit their own work.
- Make sure your blog post’s url includes the target keyword.
- Add the keyword to your blog post’s title tags.
- If not using the keyword in the post’s title, write something highly relevant to your topic.
- Include relevant internal links from other posts to this new post, and later link your new post to other relevant content that might support it.
- Include images with relevant alt text.
- Include a sharing mechanism where users can share the post across social channels, which gives you more interlinked backlink value that appears when Google does its crawl of your post.
- Ensure the post is fully indexable for all the major search engines.
- Keep up with Google’s algorithm updates. The most recent, BERT, is directly related to content quality.
Timing is (Often) Everything
Quantity and quality over time is what makes the difference in Google’s eyes. Don’t anticipate that you set up this structure and post once to arrive on top of Google’s ranks. This is a relationship. You have to earn visibility by posting regularly, posting quality information, and having best practices and guidelines in place.