A company blog is among the best tools, if not the best tool, for increasing website traffic. Every new blog post you publish is a new page on your website, and with the right attention to search engines, it’s a new keyword you can rank for in organic search results that will drive visitors searching for your topic to your website.
That being said, using a company blog effectively is definitely easier said than done. That’s why I’ve put together 8 of the most important SEO best practices to keep in mind when blogging.
1. Know your long tail keyword
A keyword is a word or phrase that you want to rank for in search results. In order to rank for a specific keyword, you might have a page on your website about it or you might write a blog post. The more websites on the internet that are targeting the same keyword you are, the more difficult it will be to rank in search results. This is where the long tail keyword comes into play.
A long tail keyword is a keyword that is more than 4 words long. For example, “web designer” might be a standard keyword to rank for, whereas “how to become a web designer” or “find a web designer near me” would be long tail versions of that keyword. Because these long tail keywords are longer, there is less competition, making it easier for your blog post to get found by searchers.
2. Set your title tag
Every web page has a title tag that appears in the browser bar. This has historically been the number one thing that Google looks at to determine what keyword your webpage or blog post should rank for. An SEO best practice for blog posts is to include the title of your blog post as the title tag. This is because your blog post title should already take your keyword into consideration.
How to edit your title tag: Most SEO plugins for WordPress will allow you to edit the title tag on a blog post from the edit page for that post. We typically use Yoast SEO Plugin which is a pretty popular one and looks something like this:
3. Include a meta description
The keywords in a meta description used to be a ranking factor for search engines, but they no longer are. However, they do still serve a purpose. Your meta description is what shows up in search results below the title of the page or post.
A well written meta description will help your post to stand out from others that rank for the same keyword. A best practice for meta descriptions is to include a reason to click or next step for the user to take. Start your meta description with an action word and end it with a call to action like read more or get the details.
4. Include optimized images
Images in blog posts serve two purposes. First, in terms of SEO, they provide an alternate way to get your keywords into your post. Similar to how title tags and meta descriptions are more behind the scenes than on-page, Google crawls images differently than it crawls text, so properly naming and labeling your images will help make sure that you are using all the opportunities for Google to identify your target keyword.
How to optimize images: In most content management systems, when you add an image, it will give you an option to provide ALT text. This is what Google uses to determine what your image is of. It’s a best practice to include your keyword in your alt text and also in the actual name of the image. (Example: web-designer.png)
Second, images help engage users. No one likes to read pages and pages of text. Including photos relevant to your topic or screenshots of what you are talking about will get readers to scroll down the page.
5. Include cross-links
A cross-link is a link from one page or blog post on your website to another page or blog post on your website. Because links play such a major role in Google’s algorithm, it is important to incorporate them into your blogging strategy. This will improve the crawlability of pages on your website and also give readers some things to click around on to stay on your site longer.
How to incorporate cross-links: When linking between pages or posts on your site, you want your link text to be the keyword you are targeting on the page you are linking to. For example, if I mention “web design” in my blog post, I would want to link up that text to the web design page on my website.
6. Add social sharing buttons
While the impact that social media has on search engine rankings is largely unknown, most experts will agree that the number of social media shares a blog post has, the better for SEO. Including social sharing buttons on your blog is a way to remind your readers to share your content. Some types of social sharing buttons can also help to establish social proof for your blog with a counter of the number of times your article has been shared.
7. Use tags and categories
Many blogging platforms offer the ability to tag and categorize similar posts. Using these features can improve the SEO of your blog making your posts more crawlable by search engines and also more findable by readers. You can often pull in “related posts” based on tags or categories that provide additional links to those posts on your site and also help readers to click through to other articles they may be interested in.
8. Use proper formatting
The more you help Google to understand what your blog is about, the better the results you will see when it comes to ranking in search results. In addition to including your target keyword throughout your content, the actual placement of that keyword on the page can make a difference. This is often call formatting or markup.
Best practices for formatting blog posts include incorporating headings (H2, H3, H4) throughout the content and also incorporating bulleted or numbered lists. Blog posts that include these styles of formatting give Google a sense of the structure of your content and the most important phrases on the page. They also help readers by making your content more scannable.
One trend you may have noticed is that what helps Google and SEO tends to help users as well. So even if you can’t fit all of these ideas into your blog posts, keep readers in mind and you’ll be off to a great start.