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By: Donna Arriaga on July 24th, 2014

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Improve Your Blog Post SEO: 10 Easy Ways to Boost Search Traffic

SEO | Content Marketing

blog_post_seo_checklist

If your business is already blogging consistently, then you know it requires a diligent commitment of time, creativity and energy. And you want to assure you’re getting the best ROI you can for that time and energy – right?

Well, one very important quality check for each and every blog post you generate should be focused on SEO, or search engine optimization. After all, your business is generating quality content, so you’ll want to make sure you’re also doing everything you can to help people find that great content.

To help you get started, here are 10 easy things you can do to strengthen the SEO of your blog posts.

Title Optimizations

1. Include one of your target keywords in the post title.

Titles are an important part of search engine optimization, so you’ll definitely want to make sure a target keyword is included in the blog post title. When you’re developing a title, keep the wording of the title natural and relevant to your blog post, and avoid stuffing keywords into your title. Also, place your most important keyword first in the title, and place less important words toward the end.

2. Keep your post title short.

It’s important to create post titles that are short and simple. If your title is too long, it will be cut off in search engine results pages, or SERPs – the pages of results that appear after you Google a search term.

This is also why you want to keep important keywords toward the front of your blog post title.

In terms of how long your title should be, unfortunately there’s no magic number that can serve as a consistent, reliable guide. Some reputable sources (including Search Engine Watch and Hubspot) have recommended keeping your title under 70 characters. Though, it’s important to note that search engines update their SERPs over time, so the ideal recommended length is often a moving target.

Based on recent research by Moz, if title lengths are kept to 55 characters, then there’s a 95% level of confidence that the title won’t get cut off in the SERPs.

In summary, just keep your title short and sweet. And, as mentioned above, be sure your important keywords are placed in the beginning – just in case a few characters do get cut off.

Body Optimizations

3. Include target keywords in the body of your post.

Using primary and secondary keyword phrases in the body of your post are important to SEO. And, today’s search algorithms aren’t just focusing on raw keyword use and repetition. They also key in on relevance, including related phrases and synonyms. So when you’re using keywords and phrases, think back to your target audience. Consider the various phrases your clients or customers would use in relation to your post topic, and naturally weave those into your body content. In terms of placement, try to use your keyword early in the blog post, and incorporate additional uses of the keyword and related phrases naturally throughout your post.

4. Don’t overuse your keyword.

Overusing your keyword is called keyword stuffing. It comes across as spammy to your readers and it can hurt your ranking. Put simply: you should not do it.

Keyword stuffing is based on an SEO myth around the idea that search engines use keyword density (ratio of keywords to total words on a page) for ranking. They don’t. Keyword stuffing will get you penalized in search, and you’ll start to lose rank.

The easy way to avoid keyword stuffing: write content for users and not search engines. If your content flows naturally and addresses the needs/questions of your audience, then you’re on the right track.

5. Link to other related blog posts or pages on your website (internal links).

Internal links are helpful for a number of reasons. They help visitors navigate to new parts of your site, they establish information hierarchy, and they help elevate the visibility of CTAs and content offers. But when it comes to SEO, internal links are useful because of something commonly called “link juice.”

“Link juice” refers to the power or authority that is passed from one page to another via links from external or internal sources. When you use internal links, you’re passing link juice along to other pages in your domain.

The easiest way to do this is simply to be mindful of your existing content and naturally weave internal links into your new posts. And, you can periodically review old posts and update them with relevant links to newer blog posts.

If you want to be more strategic about moving around some of that great “link juice,” then you’ll want to use an internal link building plan:

  • Find Pages with the Most Link Juice (pages to link from): Identify your most credible and most visible pages. These are likely older blog posts. They’ll have a high visitor count, and they’ll have the highest number of domains linking to them.
  • Find Pages that Need Link Juice (pages to link to): Identify which pages could benefit the most from a bump of link juice. These blog posts will include content that is related to your “link from” post topics, but they’ll have a much lower visitor and inbound link count.

Image Optimizations

6. Include at least one image.

Blog post images dramatically boost your ability to attract attention and keep your audience engaged. And images do a stellar job of strengthening your marketing message. So be sure to include a compelling image in your post.

In terms of SEO, the image itself won't directly impact your search ranking. However, the alt text for an image does have an SEO impact.

7. Add alt text to your images

The “alt” attribute of an image is designed to be an alternative to the image in cases where the image is not visible on the page. Since search engines can’t “see” the content or subject of an image, the alt attribute provides valuable information about what the photo is actually about.

When you’re looking at the source code, this is what the alt attribute looks like:

<img src="seo-graphic.jpg" alt="SEO Tips Infographic" />

Most blogging platforms make it very easy to add alt text to images without having to directly edit the HTML. For example, in WordPress, the edit image option provides an easy-to-use “alternative text” field (see below image).

adding alt text in wordpress

As a general rule, keep your alt text brief, clear and simple.

Meta Optimizations

8. Include at least one target keyword in the URL.

Including keywords in your URL also has SEO value. So, if your keywords accurately describe the page contents, then go ahead and include them in the URL. Also, these days, many blogging platforms will automatically convert your blog post title into the post URL. So, if you’ve included a keyword in your title, you should be covered.

9. Add a meta description and keep it between 150 to 160 characters.

Meta descriptions are an extremely important part of search marketing. The meta description works like a promotion or advertisement for your blog post. When people see your post listed on a search engine results page (SERP), the meta description can help draw readers to your blog. A compelling meta description can help boost your click-through rates across search and social media.

When you add a meta description, try to keep it brief. If the description is too long, it will get cut off in the SERPs.

Here’s an example of a meta description from a SERP:

Meta description in a SERP

And here’s an example of the meta description in a social media share on Facebook:

meta descriptions in social media shares (facebook)

10. Include one or two keywords in the meta description.

Although meta descriptions and meta keywords aren’t a Google ranking factor, it’s still a very good idea to include one or two keywords in the meta description. Google and other search engines will embolden keywords in your meta description when they match a user’s search query. So, by including a keyword, you can draw additional attention to your post and maximize click-through rates.

Conclusion

Doing all ten of these optimizations can dramatically improve the SEO of your blog posts. At first, these tasks might seem like extra work on top of the blogging you’re already doing. But once you start building the optimizations into your blogging, it will soon feel like a standard part of your process. And given the vast SEO benefits of these optimizations, it just makes sense!

There are a number of tools out there to help you remember and incorporate this list of 10 into your blogging routine. If you’re blogging on Wordpress, you can use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. If you’re using a Hubspot blog, you can use their built in SEO panel. If you prefer checklists, you can use this downloadable blog post SEO checklist.

free blog post seo checklist