HOW TO WRITE SEO-FRIENDLY BLOG POSTS
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One thing that scares many new bloggers about writing SEO-friendly blog posts is the concept of SEO, and understandably so. When you hear terminology like keyword research, semantic words, search intent, link building, alt text, site speed, etc., it's easy to get overwhelmed.
If you add to that the social media explosion that happens every time Google releases a new update, where bloggers share their panic over lost traffic, it is even more understandable that SEO feels like an unclimbable mountain for new bloggers.
I totally get it. I’ve been there too.
When I first started to learn about SEO, there were moments when I stared at all my notes and thought to myself: is it even possible to learn all of this?
But I decided to stick with it, study daily, and implement what I learned on my blog. Eventually, I noticed that the information stuck in my head, and my pages started to rank and ultimately made their way to the first page.
And that’s what I want for you too.
So I’ve crafted this post on how to write blog posts that are optimized for search engines as the guide I wish I had when I first started because I don’t want SEO to be the thing that stops you from putting your content out. Or that you publish content that isn’t optimized, so it never gets seen by the people looking for the advice you can give them.
What is SEO?
Before we jump into how to write an SEO-friendly post, let's first talk about what SEO actually is.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. And in simple terms, it is the process you follow to structure your site and organize your content in a way that makes it easier for search engine computer programs (also known as crawlers) to find their way around your website. And also for them to understand what your site is about so that they can index it and know when to show it to people searching for information online.
SEO normally gets categorized into three main categories – technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.
Why is SEO important?
When discussing why SEO is important, the obvious answer is that you want to ensure that your content shows up in searches so that you can get more eyeballs on your content and make more money.
That is absolutely true, but I like to think about it slightly differently.
Google's mission statement says, “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
And because you want your content to show up on their platform, you have to follow their guidelines. And the better you understand these guidelines and follow them in everything you do, the easier it will be for your content to start ranking.
So to me, SEO is more a matter of; how I can, as a site owner and blogger, make it easier for Google to live up to their mission with how my site is structured and how I write my content.
A Quick Look at What You’ll Need To Prepare to Write an SEO-friendly Blog Post
Now that you have a brief understanding of what SEO is and why it’s important, let’s look at how to create blog posts that are SEO-friendly.
First, you need a target keyword.
A target keyword is basically the keyword phrase you want to build your blog post around.
Let’s say you have a travel blog and are also a new mom, so you want to write about traveling with toddlers. After having done keyword research, you decide that you’re going to target the keyword phrase “traveling with toddlers.”
Second, you need to understand the search intent for your target keyword
Now that you know that you’re going to write a post about traveling with toddlers, you need to make sure you understand what people are looking to learn when searching “traveling with toddlers.”
Or, more specifically, what Google thinks they are looking for (based on their machine learning and AI).
This is called search intent and is the most important part you need to get right with your content. If you don’t satisfy the search intent (the way Google has interpreted it to be), it doesn’t matter how well you’ve optimized your content – it will not rank.
The good news is that you have all the information you need on Google already, so it's easy to check the search intent.
When I enter “traveling with toddlers” into the Google search box, this is what’s displayed:
There are three things that I always look for when identifying search intent:
- What type of sites show up on the first page: We can see that most websites on the first page are other blogs, which is great news. This means that searchers expect to see blog posts (rather than just articles written by corporations, governments, news outlets, etc.).
- What the content format is: since we’re writing a blog post, we need to target a keyword phrase where the search intent is written content, not video or audio. For this search term, the first eight spots are written content, which is another good sign that we have a chance to rank with a high-quality, optimized blog post.
- What type of topics are covered: We can also see that Google has interpreted this search query as people looking for tips on how to make traveling with toddlers easier and more enjoyable.
Third, you need to know what type of blog post to write
To understand what type of blog post you should write so you match search intent, we’ll head back to Google and look at what kind of posts are showing up on the first page.
It is clear that users are expecting to see list posts, so we should focus on writing that type of post.
Now we’re ready to start writing!
How to make a blog post SEO friendly
Here's a step-by-step walkthrough on how to optimize every element of your blog post.
And to make it easier to follow, I'll continue to use the traveling with toddlers example. Plus, I have a Blog Post SEO Checklist you can download for free that includes all of the steps I'm outlining below.
Include the Target Keyword in your H1-Tag
The H1-tag is the title on top of your blog post and is normally the first thing we enter when we create a post since this is what we write in the “title” box in WordPress.
The H1 tag is different from what is called “Title Tag” in SEO terms (which is the title that shows up in the search engine results pages).
Optimize your URL (and keep it short) by including your target keyword
The URL, also known as permalink if you're a WordPress user, is the address to your page.
When you create a post in WordPress, it automatically uses the H1 tag information as the URL, which in this case will be too long. So make sure to change it to something shorter, like your target keyword phrase, for example.
You want the URL to be short and descriptive because it helps both the reader and the crawlers to quickly understand what your page is about.
Include your target keyword in the Title Link, and make it click-worthy.
The title link is the heading that is displayed on Google’s search result page. It is also the title displayed if someone shares a link to your page on social media (or they save it to their bookmarks).
Until recently, your title link was recommended to differ from the wording in your H1. However, these days it is no longer necessary. In fact, Google outlines in their Title Link documentation that it's essential to make it clear which text is the main title for the page and that having the same text in the Title Link and H1 element helps with the clarity.
Because this is the title displayed in the search results and, therefore, the first impression a potential visitor has of your site (and you're competing for their attention with all other pages that also show up in SERP), you should make it enticing to get people to click through to your page.
One good way of doing that is to indicate in the title link that you have the solution (or the answer) to their search query.
Most search engines truncate titles depending on the device the reader is on, which means that if your title is long (like the first example in the image above), it will appear with a “…,” which may not appeal to readers, and they may not click through to your page.
So keep the Title Link short, to the point, and enticing while also including the target keyword.
And most importantly, make sure that your blog post delivers on what you're stating in the title (If your title is “25 Tips for Making Traveling With Toddlers Easy”, and you only list 15 Tips… well, that's not going to be a good user experience because you haven't delivered on your title promise).
Write an enticing Meta Description (but avoid ‘click-baiting')
The Meta Description is the text section you'll see in the search result list when searching for something on Google. It contains 160 characters and is there to guide users on what they can expect from the page.
Because this is the first impression (along with the Title Tag) a user has of your blog post, you want to make sure you write a compelling and descriptive meta description to encourage users to click through to your page (and not one of the others).
Also, make sure to include your target keyword in the description. Why? Because it serves as yet another indication to the search engine crawlers what your page is about.
Mention your target keyword in the first paragraph of your blog post
Alright, it's time to write the content, and one of the basic principles in SEO writing is to include the target keyword in the first paragraph of your post. Having the target keyword in your opening paragraph is a way to indicate to both readers and search engines what they can expect from your post.
Add Internal links
Internal linking means including a link in your post to another blog post on your website. There are several reasons why you want to do this, namely.
- You help guide the reader to additional pages on your site that might also be helpful to them.
- You inform the search engine crawlers how your post is related to other content on your site.
- You guide the crawlers on where to go next after having finished crawling the page they're on.
- You pass on PageRank and context through the anchor text you're linking from.
Add External links
When you’re writing a blog post, it’s natural that you are making statements, refer to various ‘facts’ or name places or products. When doing so, it is good practice to link to the source where you got the information from.
This is called External Linking and are hyperlinks that points from your website to another site.
There are many different opinions and advice related to external linking, where some say that linking to an authoritative site is a ranking factor, while others claim that it doesn’t. In fact, representatives from Google say that it isn’t a ranking factor.
Here’s my advice: include external links where it helps your readers (and most definitely when you’re stating facts or citing people).
When you add links to your blog post, it's important that you set the right follow vs. nofollow links attributes.
Optimize your images
Images are sometimes overlooked, especially by new bloggers, but they provide a second opportunity to rank in Image search, which is why you shouldn't skip this optimization step. I've written a separate blog post about Image SEO that I recommend you read after this. And here are two things you should get into the habit of doing:
-> Name your images using keywords
Instead of using random names for your images, use keywords!
Use your target keyword for your featured image, and then use variations of the keyword for all the other images in your post that you'd like to show up in the image search.
If you have images in your post that you are using to explain something (like the screenshots I've used in this post to show you how the Title Tag and Meta Description is displayed in SERP), you don't need to use the keywords when naming those images. But you should definitely include the keyword when naming infographics, Pinterest pins graphics, etc.
-> Write an Alt Text for your images (and include the keyword if you can)
Another overlooked place where you can help Google's crawlers understand what your page is about is the Alt Text, so don't skip this important step.
But be careful when you're writing your Alt Text. The primary purpose of the Alt Text is for visually impaired people to be able to interact with the website by having a screen reader tool read the alt text aloud, so include a phrase that describes what the image is showing (and include your keyword if it naturally fits into the phrase), and that is enough.
. . . . . . . . . .
Well, that's it! That's how to write SEO friendly blog posts to give your content the best possible chance to get seen by readers searching for answers you can provide.
Easy right? Maybe or maybe not, but if you start incorporating them into your writing routine, you will soon notice that more people are reading your blog posts.
I hope you found this walkthrough helpful (let me know in the comments!), and I want to leave you with these key takeaways:
➡️ Include an SEO check as part of your blogging routine. The best SEO is the one that gets done, and the sooner you incorporate it into your blogging routine, the quicker you give your pages a chance to start ranking (and the quicker your target audience will get the help they’re searching for). I have a Blog Post SEO Checklist that you can use (it’s free!).
➡️ Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. SEO is a long game, and it can take months before you see any results. But I encourage you to be patient and stick with it because if you continuously publish SEO friendly blog posts, it is just a matter of time before they get discovered by readers and start their climb to the top in the SERP rankings.
➡️ Commit to keeping up with SEO updates. The thing with search engine algorithms is that they keep changing (to give users better search experiences), so it’s not enough to learn the tactics that work today because they may not work next year. Lucky for you, if you’re on my email list, you don’t have to look for the latest information – I do the research and monitoring for you and send you the relevant information directly to your inbox.
Last but definitely not least, even the best SEO tactics won’t work unless you write for your audience first and foremost. So if you do nothing else, ensure that you give your readers the answers to the questions they’re searching for.
I'm Petra Pearce, and I help women bloggers learn and do SEO without the overwhelm. My mission is to provide easy-to-follow SEO tips and resources so you can feel confident and in control when optimizing your website and content. Read more about me here ->
Thank you so much for this post. This is helping me to learn so much as a new blogger.
Thank you! It makes me super happy to hear that you found it helpful.
This is the BEST explanation I have ever found. WOW, it was such a huge help to me because titling images, alt text and title tags was like foreign languages to me. So much value!!!!!!
Thank you! Your comment really made my day!
Wow, so I didn’t know about “alt text” or naming your images properly. I just hope I can grasp all of these concepts and plug them in properly. Very informative Petra!
I have been researching SEO for MONTHS but always felt more confused by the end of my readings. Your post was so easy to read and understand l! Thank you!
Thanks for the kind words, Abbie! ? It makes me really happy to hear you find this post helpful.
Very informative post! Thank you!