8 Steps To Mastering Blog Optimization
We’ve written about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before – use the right keywords to show up in search engine rankings, etc. But, we realized that perhaps that isn’t enough direction for those of you who are new to SEO. Today, I want to delve deeper into how to optimize content, specifically blog posts, in order to increase search traffic.
I’ve narrowed the process down to just 8 steps, some of which are probably second nature to you at this point, but it doesn’t hurt to keep them in mind as you work to create content and build a following.
8 Steps To Blog Optimization
- Set goals. I know we’ve mentioned this before, but goal-setting is so important! If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, how will you know if you’ve achieved it? Blog posts give you more flexibility with goal-setting than website creation. Where a website requires you to think broadly to reach the widest audience, blogs allow you to get more focused. You can have one blog post devoted to one goal this week and create a new post aligned with a different goal next week.
Examples of blog post goals include:
- Attracting new readers
- Generating “Shares” or “Likes”
- Product promotion or sales
- Gaining subscriptions or sign-ups, or list building
- Sharing important news
- Addressing customer questions or concerns
Setting your goal as your first step will help develop subsequent steps. It’s far more effective, for example, to determine keywords if you have a goal in mind than to choose keywords and then try to work them into the piece.
- Determine your audience. Who are you trying to reach with this blog post? New readers? Regular followers? Specific influencers? Narrowing down your audience can help you hone your content and ensure it is relevant to your desired readers.
- Keyword research. We know what our goals are and who we’re trying to reach. It’s time to identify 3-5 keywords and/or keyword phrases. Ideally, these keywords are:
- High Volume (have a lot of people searching for them),
- Low Difficulty (not hard to rank for), and
- Present High Click-Through Rate Opportunities (not too much competition in the search results)
Don’t be afraid to choose keywords that are similar to one another but not exact. It’s called “searcher intent” and it means identifying the many different words and phrases that searchers may use to find something, rather than just one or two very specific words. You can reach a wider audience by using synonyms than by sticking to the same keywords in different phrases. “Natural” and “Green” are an example of this as are “Luxury” and “High-End”.
- Scout the competition. Research how other businesses are ranking for your chosen keywords. Just type your keywords into Google and see what comes up. You can also see who has had a lot of Shares or Likes related to the content/keywords on social media, if that is one of your goals.
Next, you need to determine how your post can stand out from the competition. What can you do to make your post unique or provide additional or new value? What can you do to go above and beyond what’s already available?
Create the post. You’ve done the hard work, now it’s time to put all of your research together and create your unique and valuable post! You know it has a strong chance of success because you’ve identified goals, audience, keywords, and your competition. Notice this step is called “Create the post” not “Write the post”. Keep in mind that blog content doesn’t only mean written posts. Embed a video, add an infographic, embellish with images or graphs, link to others’ work. These non-written examples can be a particularly smart move, especially if you’ve noticed your competitors have had success with similar content or if you know your audience well enough to understand what type of content resonates with them.
- On-page blog optimization. Now you will take your 3-4 keywords and use them to optimize your post. Use the primary keyword/phrase in your title, your headline, and the URL. Use the rest of the keywords in other places like the meta description, image tags, and the actual content.
Next, think about any other URLs that could be used to redirect searchers to this page; maybe an older blog post, a landing page, or a page on your website. You can go to those pages and add links to this new content. This helps build internal linking, draw audiences to your new content, and draw search engine attention that will hopefully help your rankings.
Get the word out. Now that you have created the content and optimized it, you need to think of ways to get it read/viewed/shared. This step is called Outreach and Amplification. Go back to your target audience and think about how they can be reached. Who or what can help you reach them? Should you share the post on social media? Via an email? In your newsletter? Through an influencer?
- Experiment and learn. The entire process can be considered trial and error. You will find that some keywords and content are really effective and produce the results you want. At other times, you may strike out. That’s okay! The important thing is to consider this a process. Remember that processes change and you’ll have to adapt over time. So, give it a try, learn from your successes and your struggles, and keep at it. Over time, you will develop the skills and know-how needed to hit the nail on the head more often than not. Don’t expect success overnight. That’s not how search works. That’s not how optimization works. That’s not how blogging works. It’s a slow and steady climb that builds your credibility and reach. You will have to do it over and over again and be persistent to achieve the results you want, but the payoff will be worth it!
Bonus Tip: Be sure to track your successes and challenges so you know what works and what does not. Use metrics like hits, click-throughs, newsletter sign-ups, social shares or comments…whatever your goals were, find a relevant metric and track it to gauge the post’s effect.