A blog is a powerful tool every business should have. If you want to stay relevant and competitive, if you want to be found online, a business blog is a necessity. It’s simply the most effective tactic that allows you to attract, engage, and nurture leads as they go through the stages in your marketing funnel.
But before potential leads enter the funnel, it’s crucial that they find your blog online. To do that, you have to ensure that it ranks on search results.
Simply optimising text is still one of the best ways to improve the search engine ranking for a webpage.
There are two factors that could help get you to rank in search results:
- Authoritative links
- Quality content
To get authoritative links, your content needs to be deep and interesting enough that it will compel readers and other writers to share it and link to it.
The internet is cluttered with content. Some are well written and backed by science and data, and some are just contributing to the noise. You want your blog to be identified in the former. Quality content that people will want to read are well-researched and are written with the buyer persona in mind.
Google’s algorithm has become increasingly complex along with digital commerce. So it’s important to be stay updated. Search engine optimisation in the modern era is a full-time job. We will do our best here to break it down into a checklist that you can easily follow in a timely fashion.
Blog SEO: 10-Step Guide to Creating Content that Ranks
Step 1: Think of the Topic
Content creation should begin with identifying core topics. You can’t just talk about anything under the sun; it has to be relevant to your business and your target buyers. Your topics should be tied to your content strategy, which should be based on the following:
- General search queries written purely for SEO
- Based on your product
- A stage in the customer journey
- A recent offline event that you organise
- Entertaining clickbait or linkbait content that is written to draw attention
Step 2: Do Topic Research
What should fuel our blog ideas are our target customers’ preferences and behaviours, or we risk creating content they won’t want to consume.
If, for example, you operate a store selling vehicle parts and one of your topics is about the coolant, brainstorm the many different search intents related to this. You may also use this blog topic generator as an additional tool for choosing a topic.
Next, do an internal research in your own blog. If you have existing related content around the topic ‘coolant’, then make sure you incorporate the link within the new blog article. Also, make sure you’re not creating duplicate content so Google won’t penalise you.
Conduct an online topic research and see what has already been written. See what the benchmark is, and make your article better by writing in a fresh angle or adding new valuable information.
It’s also crucial that you do a keyword research. Your keyword is an especially important part of your content, so spend time finding the right contenders. Take a look at the search volume and the competition for those keywords. Consider using both short-tail and long-tail keywords, which are more precise or localised.
Here are some tools for your keyword research:
Step 3: Determine the Content Form
To engage your audience with your blog content, you need to diversify the types of content you publish, depending on its purpose. Going back to our vehicle parts business example, your content should fall under one of the quadrants:
To convince that your business is an authority
|To educate your target audience||
Step 4: Brainstorm an Attention-Grabbing Title
Aside from the URL that your new content page generates, the title of your content plays perhaps the biggest role in how Google indexes the piece. So your title should try to include the primary keyword, and it must be searchable.
The art in this is creating a title that makes human visitors click while attracting the Google search algorithm. If you have trouble creating this balance, start from the titles of your competitors. Look at titles that are performing best in search results currently. You may also want to keep this blog post title template handy to save you time.
Make sure that your title is under 72 characters. For best results, ensure that your title does not generate a URL that is longer than 59 characters. This helps to ensure that your primary keywords are fully rendered in your title and URL, giving your content the best chance at high search engine ranking.
Step 5: Write a Catchy Introduction
Your introduction is the beginning of your campaign to human visitors, which is very important to your Google campaign. Google takes a hard look at metrics like bounce rate and site dwell time to determine how much Google itself should trust your website.
So how do you engage people most readily? Ask a question, tell a story, or dive right into the facts and figures. People do not like long introductions, so get to the point.
Most importantly, make sure that your introduction addresses and expounds upon your primary keyword. Use the keyword once only in the first paragraph (ideally within the first 100 characters) of your introduction.
Step 6: Write the Content
Now we come to the meat of your content. Have this checklist with you when you start creating your article, or share it with your writers:
- Is this content going to make someone share?
- Is this content broken up into short paragraphs, and am I using bold text, bullet points, lists, numbers and quotes to maintain interest?
- Am I citing my sources and using them as an opportunity to link out to qualified, high-ranking websites?
- Do I have a viable call to action running throughout the piece? It is much more effective to ask for the sale two or three times in the body of the piece rather than waiting until the end.
- Is my keyword density less than 5.5%? Google penalises content with a percentage that is higher than this, thinking that it is spam.
- Is my content at least 500 words long?
- Finally, do I have my keyword in the places that it needs to be (the title, the middle description, the title tags, the URL, the introduction and the conclusion)? Have I sprinkled alternative keywords throughout the body of the content?
Step 7: Don’t Forget about the Meta Description
While the meta description is not a factor that will help you rank on SERPs, it is still important in gaining user click-throughs. So it’s best practice to include within it the keyword you want to rank for.
One of the valuable things most marketers miss to do is formulate their meta descriptions as calls to action. This is the best way to entice searchers to click on it. Try using “Learn more about…” “Discover ways to…” “Download the latest research on…”
In total, this description should not exceed 160 characters.
Step 8: Proofread
Proofreading your blog for spelling and grammatical errors is very important. Google does invoke penalties for these errors, and so do human visitors. This is especially important if your blog has been monetised — people naturally expect more of you if they know you are making money from your content.
Step 9: Add Media
Although you should focus on the text portion of your content, adding multimedia to break up the monotony is definitely a good idea. This will become even more important as Google improves the indexing process for pictures and videos. Yes, you can actually use pictures and videos to rank in Google, so do not forget the captions, alt text, and meta descriptions of your multimedia as opportunities to embed your primary keyword.
Try to stay away from stock photos. This is a turnoff to human visitors, and Google may look upon it as duplicate content and penalise you for it.
Step 10: Add Links
Your outbound link strategy should be all about “dating up.” Identify all opportunities to link your content to better ranking sites, and do so. You should also link internally to your other blog posts as relevant.
However, inbound links are definitely more important than outbound links. You can build these through your social media circles and by directly soliciting your content. Use Subreddits judiciously — these are especially good.
Make sure that all links remain active. Check in periodically for 404 pages. Google will definitely punish you if you are linking out to sources that no longer exist.
If all of this sounds too complex, take a look at the payoff for good content creation. You get around 3X more leads for 60% less cost, according to DemandMetric. So remember this blog SEO checklist and start creating content the right way — your audience will thank you for it.