Every post you create needs to be set up in the optimal way to draw positive attention, both from human readers and search engine algorithms.
Thankfully, modern algorithms are designed to reflect what’s most attractive and useful to humans, so to a certain extent, when you optimize your content for your audience, you’ll naturally be satisfying the algorithms too. Still, there are some important things you need to be aware of.
Keywords and how to use them
Each post needs to have a keyword or phrase and a family of related keywords that are relevant to the subject matter. The three different types of keywords you’ll be dealing with are:
- Short-tail keywords – consisting of one or two words
- Medium-tail keywords – consisting of three or four words
- Long-tail keywords – consisting of four + words
So, for example, if you’re writing an article for people looking to learn how to sell pictures of their feet online (yes, that’s a thing), you’d be wanting to include keywords like “foot fetish,” “sell feet pictures,” “sell photos of feet,” and “how to sell foot photos online.”
Since short-tail keywords are general, they cast a broader net meaning you’ll reach a wider audience by using them. In our example above, “foot fetish” is appropriate for your target market of budding foot photo sellers, but it also captures a wider audience of appendage appreciators. While this is good in terms of general reach, highly-targeted long-tail keywords capture the precise thing people are searching for and, therefore, have a far higher conversion rate.
In addition to this, the massive search volume of short-tail keywords makes them highly competitive, so you’ll find yourself up against content production giants when you target these keywords. Long-tail keywords have a lower search volume due to their specificity, but as a smaller blog, you’ll be better placed to hit the top search engine results by targeting them.
To help you figure out which keywords are going to be the perfect fit for your subject matter, it’s best to use a keyword research tool. These programs mine the internet for data on the most-searched terms relating to your niche. A few excellent ones to choose from include:
- Ask The People – Its front page may be unusual (you’ll see what we mean the moment it loads) but Ask The People is one of the best free keyword research tools for budding bloggers. Enter a couple of words describing the subject you want to write about and the site will produce beautifully laid-out visual representations of the most common searches surrounding these words.
- Google Ads has an inbuilt Keyword Planner which does more than just hunt down viable keywords for you. The tool will also forecast your likely performance with certain keywords while tracking historical data. This is a good choice if you’re already using Google Ads.
- Keyword Tool – an excellent free alternative, Keyword Tool allows you to do your research with or without an account, making it a marvelous option for novices and SEO professionals alike.
- KWFinder – possibly the best tool for growing blogs and startups, KWFinder focusses on giving you the easiest keywords to rank for. This tailored approach takes much of the hard work and confusion out of keyword hunting.
Search engine optimization and images
We’ll keep this one short and snappy:
- Ensure the dimensions match your blog design.
- Compress images before uploading them – this will help your site load faster (use Kraken or TinyPNG for this). If you are using WordPress, there are a few plugins that will compress your uploaded images on the the fly.
- Always add alt text, preferably featuring your keyword – search engines pick up on this.
Spark social media action
When blog posts go viral, that action is all happening on social media. With this in mind, you need to ensure your site is set up in such a way that social sharing is both intuitive and attractive to readers.
At the very least, you want to have clearly displayed social media widgets on each page of your blog. WordPress comes with dozens of social plugins, with features like:
- Click to Tweet – allows readers to hover over a poignant quote or clever one-liner from your article and instantly Tweet it without having to leave the page.
- Social login – a feature you’ve probably used before that allows you to speed up the account creation process and log in to sites instantly using one of your social media profiles.
- Social share count – a tracker that shows how many likes or shares your article has received.
- Pinterest-specific pictures – Pinterest pics defy the norm by displaying in portrait rather than landscape alignment. Some plugins will automatically generate an ideal Pinterest image so you don’t have to.
Only you know what kind of social experience will suit your site best, so explore the social media plugins available to you and choose the package that ticks all your boxes.
Ensure people sign up to your mailing list
Another on-site feature that’s worth setting up is a newsletter signup box. This allows you to keep in contact with visitors to your site, and if you’re always providing useful and engaging content, you’ll be able to convert casual visitors into long-term fans.
To encourage more action here, consider adding an incentive, such as free access to an online course, a free e-book, or a discount code if you have merchandise for sale.
Where to next with SEO?
If you haven’t yet checked out our guides to creating and designing your blog posts, please do so as the articles takes you through everything you need to know about SEO and content creation.