Dec 30, 2021
Blog SEO: How to Improve Rank on Search Results
Blog SEO (Search Engine Optimization) improves search ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). When a blog optimizes its content, it will attract more readers. Search engines tend to prioritize the blogs that drive more organic traffic than their competitors.
This SEO guide will focus on optimizing blog content, which is typically an essential factor to a website’s traffic due to the frequency of published content. Therefore, to rank higher on SERPs, it is crucial to write a lot of blog articles and optimize them well.
We will share the essential SEO tips, practices, and tools to optimize your blog posts. By the end of this article, you will know how to improve your ranking on SERPs.
What Is Blog SEO?
Blog SEO is the practice of writing and optimizing blog content, along with the site architecture, page speed, and hyperlinks. Optimizing these elements will accelerate the growth of your site and improve the user experience.
Improving SEO for blog content also helps to position your blog as a trustworthy and authoritative source, thus making it easier to get new readers.
How to Make Your Blog SEO-Friendly: 18 Proven Tips
When a blog post is SEO-friendly, search engines can interpret its content more effectively. Then, search engines rank the blog posts according to their relevance to the users’ search queries.
To help you rank higher on the search results pages, we have listed 18 blog SEO tips for improving your SEO strategy.
1. Do Keyword Research
First, understand what your target audience is searching for by conducting keyword research. This step is essential to find the correct word or sentence to highlight when creating blog posts.
There exist two types of keywords that can help optimize a blog – high-volume and long-tail. Choosing the right type depends on the site’s target audience.
A high-volume keyword is a highly searched keyword with an average of a hundred thousand searches monthly. Such keywords can drive high traffic to a site, but they are more generic.
A long-tail keyword is a more specific keyword phrase that targets users with niche queries. As a result, long-tail keywords usually don’t receive as much traffic but have a lower bounce rate and less competition.
When conducting keyword research, a few things to focus on are:
- Search volumes – the number of searches made for the relevant keywords. Google Keyword Planner is one of the tools that can help to measure this metric.
- Trends – includes the trend over time, interest by region, and related queries and topics for a keyword. One of the simplest ways to look at trends is by using Google Trends.
- Difficulty – measure how hard it is to rank with a particular keyword. We recommend using Ahrefs’ keyword difficulty score tool.
Note that each blog post should have a single focus keyword. Content that attempts to cover multiple keywords with different topics will only confuse the search engines. To find the right focus keyword for a blog post, think about what search query is most relevant to your content.
In addition, keyword stuffing or adding keywords too many times in a single post is also not good for SEO. Blog posts with too many keywords might have unnatural flow and cause a negative user experience, harming the site’s ranking.
2. Divide Your Content into Topic Clusters
After keyword research, organize the blog content by dividing it into topic clusters. A topic cluster is a subtopic that provides more specific content to support the main broad topic.
Topic clusters can improve a site’s rankings and organic traffic. With topic clusters, users can navigate a website easier, and search engines can index it faster. In addition, you avoid creating duplicate content by organizing your site’s architecture and hierarchy better.
After dividing your content, connect the topic clusters to a pillar page using a hyperlink. These links help search engines find all the pages in your website faster, improving your site’s ranking on SERPs.
For example, Hostinger Tutorials has WordPress as one of its pillar pages. All content related to WordPress is under the pillar page, making it easier for users to navigate through the main topic.
3. Understand the Search Intent
Create content that answers the target audience’s search intent, which is the user’s primary goal when typing a query in a search engine. Such content will rank higher on SERPs.
There are three different types of intent:
- Informational – searching for information on a subject, for example how to cook spaghetti or learn more about a public figure. Most blog posts provide answers to informational intent.
- Navigational – looking for a specific website through search results. So, instead of typing the URL of a YouTube profile, users write the profile’s name on a search engine.
- Transactional – searching for a place to purchase a specific product or service. Users already know exactly what to buy but are looking for the location to get it.
Search intent helps Google organize and divide the different information on the web to be more accessible to users. Then, Google matches the web pages with the most relevant queries.
Relevance is the foundation of SEO success. To make sure that your content is relevant to the intent, consider:
- Adding actionable information – giving tips, tools, and examples.
- Removing filler sentences – they don’t contribute to answering the intent.
- Visiting top-ranking pages – assess what is still missing and what your content can provide.
IMPORTANT! Note that search engine rankings are not static and can change over time.
4. Optimize Title and Title Tag
A blog post title is the first element the users will see. Therefore, the title has to be intriguing to the target audience and relevant to the post’s content. Furthermore, the title tag should be optimized as well.
A title tag is an HTML element that gives an accurate and concise description of a blog post. It is featured prominently in SERPs as it is the headline that can catch the potential audience’s attention. Optimizing title tags encourage users to click your web page.
A title tag can be different from a blog post title, especially when the title is too long. If the title tag is over 60 characters, Google will cut it. Therefore, it is better to adjust and optimize all title tags to improve ranking.
For example, Hostinger Tutorials shows the entire title tag on Google for the article How to Choose the Right Domain Name? By doing so, users can know the topic of the web page immediately.
If a title tag is longer than 60 characters, emphasize the focus keyword in the beginning. As a result, users and search engines will still know the main content of the post.
We recommend adding a brand name at the end of a title tag to help with branding. This way, users can become familiar with a brand name faster when consistently seeing it on SERPs. To separate a title from a brand name, use a dash or a vertical bar.
5. Organize Outline in Headings
Use headings as paragraph breaks to make it easier for users and search engines to understand your content. In addition, headings help to structure the page for better readability and highlight the keywords in an article.
Headings help to outline an article using the different heading tags from H1 to H6. The H1 tag is the largest, while the H6 tag is the smallest.
Every article should have one H1 tag, usually for the title. Note that H1 to H6 forms a top-down hierarchy in HTML coding, so skipping a level of a tag will break the heading structure. For example, going from the H2 tag to the H4 tag can harm on-page SEO.
Then, use a couple of H2 and H3 tags for the subheadings. These two tags break up content and enable search engines to crawl on a web page and rank a post. We recommend using H2 and H3 tags to divide the sections in an article.
We do not recommend using H4 to H6 tags unless they are for a long and technical article. Too many heading tags will only clutter a post.
For example, Hostinger Tutorials divides different sections using H2 and H3 tags in this How to Design a Website article. The H2 tag opens the section, whereas the H3 tags highlight the steps. Adding heading tags makes content easier to read when compared to just writing out the steps in a disconnected series of paragraphs.
To optimize heading tags, avoid clickbait phrases that don’t relate to your content. These phrases will confuse the search engine and harm the site’s ranking.
6. Target Main Keyword in Important Areas
To avoid keyword stuffing and improve ranking, focus on targeting the main keyword in specific parts of your post and page. Some of the significant areas to include the main keywords are:
- Title tag. The first 60 characters of the title tag should contain the main keyword to improve the relevancy of your content to search queries.
- Header tags. Include the main and secondary keywords in heading tags to keep the content focused on the main topic.
- Introduction. Include the main keyword in the first paragraph of your content, preferably in the first two sentences. It will explain what the content is about right away.
- URL. One of the first elements that search engines crawl to on a web page is the URL.
- Meta description. Add main keywords in the short snippet that describes your content. The meta description is featured heavily on SERPs – adding a keyword improves the chances for your blog to rank higher.
Always keep your target audience in mind and make sure to keep the flow natural when incorporating keywords into your post.
7. Write a Comprehensive Blog Post
Creating blog content that answers users’ questions and leaves a good impression on its readers is an essential part of SEO.
Multiple factors contribute to making a successful blog post:
- Details. Create in-depth articles with detailed and specific information to answer the users’ queries better, which will help to improve ranking. One of the ways to do so is by explaining the reasoning behind every statement.
- Research. Take a look at the top competitors’ content to assess how to make your article different and better.
- Relevancy. Create content relevant to the overall website as it builds authority and invites readers to explore more.
- Hook. Start with an explanation of why your article matters – keep users interested and reduce bounce rate.
Quality website content is practical, easy-to-read, and visually appealing. Blogs with comprehensive content attract more traffic as they always answer the readers’ questions.
8. Internal Linking to Relevant Content
Internal links help users and search engines navigate through a website to find relevant content and information. Google follows these links to find more content on a single domain and rank that content in SERPs.
By including links to other relevant content in your domain, users can also get more information on a topic. Most of the time, bloggers can’t include all information in a single post and choose to use internal links to give other relevant material.
There are two types of internal links:
- Navigational – links the web pages to help users navigate between the different pages, such as the main menu bar and a footer menu.
- Contextual – links to content, which is typically another blog post, that is relevant to the topic being discussed. This is done to help readers find additional information and to build relationships between the pages on a site.
Both navigational and contextual internal linking helps to build an information hierarchy and establish authority. Furthermore, contextual links help signal Google that your web page has a high-value article. To give signals to search engines, use anchor texts for the internal links.
Anchor texts are phrases that you use to add a hyperlink to a text. For example, this anchor text “launch an online portfolio” links users to another article entitled How to Make a Professional Online Portfolio.
9. Generate Meta Descriptions
A meta description helps users get a summary of the overall content. It is an HTML element that drives organic traffic to your web page.
Search engines automatically generate a snippet from the first 160 characters of your post. However, we recommend writing your own meta description to optimize your blog. This summary appears in the SERPs under your title tag.
Google won’t show the full meta description if it is too long, so we recommend writing around 50-160 characters only.
Search engines also highlight keywords included in the search bar in your meta description. So even though it does not help with ranking, including keywords in the first sentence can help with driving traffic.
Avoid quotation marks as Google will automatically cut the description after quotation marks. However, if you need to put a word inside quotation marks, use apostrophes.
Each meta description should be unique. Add the descriptive and factual information as well as the benefits of reading your post.
Don’t forget to make sure that the meta description is relevant to the web page’s content. Search engines might not use the description if they do not think it matches the content.
10. Utilize Alt Text for Images
Alt text or alternative text describes the content and context of an image. For example, web pages will display alt text when an image is not loading properly.
Adding alt text for images helps search engines read pictures on a page. The highest-ranking result on a Google search often has visual content. However, images that do not have alt text can be confusing to search engines and hurt rankings.
To optimize the alt text for your images:
- Keep it straightforward – describe the image objectively, keep it short and avoid using unnecessary words. If you want a longer picture description, use a caption instead.
- Add context – write down how the image relates to the article.
- Use keywords – add keywords only if they naturally match the context.
To add alt text using HTML, add:
<img src="image file" alt="alt text">
11. Enhance With Visual Elements
A post without visual elements can quickly turn its audience away. Visual elements are images, graphs, videos, diagrams, and infographics that illustrate a post. They help to reinforce the idea you are trying to convey and retain your readers’ attention.
Visual elements have to be relevant to the content. Otherwise, they will only distract and confuse the readers. Therefore, make sure a visual element provides additional information to a post.
There are different types of visual elements:
- Images. Use original photos or graphics to make the content unique. Not only that, optimize all images to boost your website ranking. Another way to drive traffic using images is by adding featured images or a post thumbnail.
- Screenshots. Show people how to do something or give an example using screenshots. Blog posts with screenshots often use annotation, for example, a box, circle, or an arrow, to show a point of focus.
- Videos. Increase the time users spend on your page by adding videos to your post. Videos also help to connect a post to another channel by the blog, such as YouTube.
- Diagrams. Visualize a process or concept using a diagram. For example, use a map diagram to visualize different locations.
12. Use an Effective URL
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) specifies the location of a web page on the internet. An effective URL provides users and search engines an easier way to understand the website’s content.
A URL consists of a protocol, a domain name, and a path. Without URLs, users can only access a website using a unique numerical series, called an IP address.
Search engines use URLs to determine if a particular web page is relevant to a search query or not. Here are some ways to ensure your URL helps to rank your website higher:
- Keep it relevant and straightforward. Describe a page using compelling but simple words that users can understand.
- Keep it short. Long URLs are not SEO-friendly.
- Include keywords. Place your main keyword at the beginning of your URL to help search engines connect your URL to search queries.
13. Speed Up your Blog
Google penalizes websites that load slower, lowering the rank on SERPs. Currently, Google is pushing for websites to improve page speed to provide a better user experience. Page speed means the page load time.
Google measures the speed using the time to first byte (TTFB). When a user clicks on your blog on a search engine, their web browser will request bytes from a server. TTFB is the amount of time it takes for that web browser to receive the first byte of the information from your web server.
47% of users expect two seconds maximum loading time. If your blog is too slow, there are ways to speed up your blog page:
- Web hosting. Choose a web hosting plan that offers an uptime of 99.5% for faster page speed. Select your web hosting provider wisely, as a website’s page speed is highly affected by its host server speed.
- Optimize code. Remove unused code and unnecessary characters to increase the page speed.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN). Use CDN to increase the speed of content delivery by replicating the static content across the data servers within the network.
14. Make Your Blog Easy to Navigate on Any Device
Blogs should be accessible on all devices, including mobile, tablet, and computer. In 2019, around 61% of Google searches took place on mobile devices. With most users using smartphones, Google’s algorithm also rewards sites that are responsive on any device.
Blog posts that are responsive to mobile devices also help users find content quickly and easily. If users can navigate your website using mobile, tablet, and desktop with the same level of ease, your website will rank higher.
Consider the following factors to create a blog responsive on all devices:
- Responsive theme. Select a theme that can help web pages adapt to all screen sizes. Most WordPress themes are responsive to different devices.
- Single-page layout. Optimizing pages for scrolling will make it easier for mobile users to navigate.
- Clear links and buttons. Create large and clear buttons and links that are easy to tap on.
To check whether your blog is responsive on a mobile device, use Google’s tool Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply add your URL, and this tool will give a pass-fail score as a result.
15. Add Your Blog to Google Search
Listing your blog on Google makes it easier for users to find your blog. Increase your ranking on Google by submitting your blog to the search engine and providing updated information.
The first step to add your blog to Google search is to create a sitemap for your URL. Google uses XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemaps to store your web pages. Once you have uploaded the sitemap to your website, head to Google Search Console.
Then, create a Google Search Console account and add your domain or URL. This tool will offer different ways to verify your domain.
Select Sitemaps in the menu and insert the URL of your sitemap file in the Add a new sitemap section. Finally, click on SUBMIT to finalize the process.
16. Monitor Your Blog Traffic
Monitoring your blog traffic helps to assess which topics to focus on and which blog posts do not bring as much traffic. Analyze the number of blog visitors daily, weekly, or even annually, depending on the goal of your blog and the amount of traffic.
- Acquisition Overview. Check the general traffic trends on your site and understand the source of traffic. This section shows how specific channels contribute to traffic, such as organic, paid, direct, referral, and social media.
- Engagement Overview. Analyze the average time spent on your site, along with the pages with the highest engagement.
- Demographics. Understand where your audience is coming from to help adjust your content. For example, if most of your audience is from a particular country, add more content related to your readers’ culture.
These insights will help to make data-driven decisions to grow your blog efficiently.
17. Regularly Update Your Content
Updating your content helps to build loyalty and keep the audience coming back. In contrast, focusing on only new blog posts can hurt your ranking as your old content will be no longer relevant.
Users want to get the most recent information. When updating your content, you will also be able to optimize your blog more. Creating a new blog post takes a longer time than updating a blog post, making it faster to add fresh content.
Updating your content also alerts a web crawler to crawl your website and store information for search engines. With your content updates, search engines can also update your website’s ranking.
Google’s search engine algorithm includes the freshness factor of content. Google prevents old pages from appearing at the top of a search result page and regularly replaces it with updated content.
Updating your content includes improving SEO, changing the format of the article, and adding new information.
Note to keep the same URL when updating the content. Changing a URL will only harm your ranking as it might create broken links and 404 errors on your website. Then, search engines will find it hard to index your blog pages properly.
18. Build Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are links added by other websites that direct users to your site. When another site links your content, search engines will mark your content as valuable, credible, and useful. Not only that, search engines list quality backlinks as one of the most important ranking factors.
However, not all backlinks are valuable. For example, a single quality backlink can be more powerful than a thousand low-quality backlinks. Therefore, backlinks from a trustworthy and popular website are more valuable than backlinks from unpopular sites.
A high-quality backlink is topically related to your site. So, Google will check if your site and the site that links you are related to mark it a quality backlink.
To build quality backlinks for search engine optimization, follow these steps:
- Social media. Add your website URL on your social media profiles.
- Ultimate guide. Create a long in-depth post, such as a how-to post, that covers different angles of a topic. These posts usually receive more backlinks than standard posts.
- Community. Contact established bloggers or communities in your industry and refer your article to link their content.
The Importance of Content-Length for SEO
The length of blog posts is not as important as the quality of the content. However, SerpIQ found that the first article on Google search results on average has 2,416 words and the 10th – 2,032 words. Keep note that, on average, the most high-ranking content has more than 2,000 words.
Even though content length does not influence Google rankings, longer content provides more opportunities for getting quality backlinks and people tend to engage more with longer content.
Why You Need SEO for Your Blog
The first Google organic search results get an average of 43.32% of the clicks. Then, the second search engine results get 37.36%, and the third results get around 29.90% of the clicks. So, ranking higher on SERPs increases traffic and brand awareness, and SEO helps to achieve that.
Here are some of the benefits of creating an SEO-friendly blog:
- Drive more traffic – optimized content can eventually convert traffic into engagement and online marketing.
- Boost your credibility – increasing brand awareness and constantly providing content that answers users’ queries will make it easier to find collaborations and build authority.
- Improves user experience – writing high-quality content that suits your readers’ needs will result in them coming back and recommending your site to others.
- Reduce bounce rate – readers stay on the blog page longer if the content is easy to understand and well written.
The Best Tools for Blog SEO
To help optimize your blog posts, we have listed the five best tools for blog SEO that provide user-friendly navigation and insightful suggestions, as well as pull the most necessary data.
- Notable Features: forecast for keyword performance, grouping keywords, negative keywords.
- Best For: keyword research
- Price: free
Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for keyword research and discovering new keywords. This tool will show the average monthly searches, competition level, forecast, and the cost to target a potential keyword.
To use this tool, first sign in using a Google account. Then, discover new keywords to get new ideas on how to reach more people. You can also analyze the search volume and forecast of a potential focus keyword to estimate the keyword’s success rate.
- Discover new keywords related to your blog.
- Organize keywords into different subcategories.
- Filter keywords with low search volume.
- Uses a rounded average for the monthly search, so it might not be accurate.
- Hard to find associated keywords and related terms.
- Notable Features: Core Web Vitals Report, Legacy tools and reports, Page Experience
- Best For: ranking optimization
- Price: free
Google Search Console gives an overview of your blog’s performance and traffic, along with recommendations. Blog owners can implement Google’s suggestions in this tool, directly affecting the blog’s ranking.
The first step to using this tool is to verify that you have access to the website. Then, you’ll be able to go through a performance overview to see your site’s performance on Google Search rankings, including impressions, position, and click-through rate (CTR). The tool also provides data on the page experience and backlinks.
- Learn all about your website’s status on the search ranking pages.
- Track your website links and growth easily.
- Identify issues on your website directly and give suggestions.
- Data takes around 2-3 days to show.
- Some features have limited or incomplete data.
3. Yoast SEO
- Notable Features: Meta Descriptions, Permalink Cleanups, and Social Sharing
- Best For: SEO optimization
- Price: freemium. Yoast SEO premium costs $89/year for one site and offers up to a 15% discount for multiple sites.
Yoast SEO is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. It optimizes WordPress content by enhancing technical SEO practices and informs you if the post needs improvement. There are also options to optimize specific content, such as video or news.
One of the tools that will help boost your content is the Meta Box, which includes a snippet preview of how your post will appear on SERPs. In addition, it gives the option to change the snippet’s title and add meta descriptions.
- Preview posts on social media and search engine results.
- Get SEO and readability scores together with suggestions on how to improve them.
- Update link structure, remove orphan links and delete pages.
- Speed – it’s fairly slow due to its prodigious size.
- Only available to WordPress users.
- Notable Features: Site Explorer, Keywords Explorer, Site Audit, Rank Tracker
- Best For: monitoring SEO performance
- Price: freemium. Lite costs $99/month, Standard costs $179/month, Advanced costs $399/month, and Agency costs $999/month.
Ahrefs is a tool that includes link building, keyword research, rank tracking, and site audits. Best for marketing professionals, this software gives an in-depth analysis of your web page and industry that is useful to improve your rankings.
There are multiple ways Ahrefs can boost and optimize your blog, from finding critical SEO issues to fixing broken backlinks. Most information and data that you need to optimize your content are available in this tool.
- See keyword volumes and difficulty levels.
- Track backlinks to specific pages.
- Track website performance in terms of keywords and rank.
- Not beginner-friendly, especially with the amount of information it provides.
- Costly compared to other SEO tools.
- Notable Features: Content Score, keyword research tool, SERP analyzer
- Best For: keyword and content optimization
- Price: freemium. Basic costs $59/month, Pro costs $99/month, and Business costs $199/month with discounts if paid annually.
SurferSEO is a user-friendly tool that helps to improve content strategy, creation, and optimization. What makes it unique is the direct analysis of your content against other pages in search engines. It will also make suggestions based on that analysis.
The aim of using this tool is to optimize your keyword usage and content structure. It can also be integrated into your Google Docs, making it easier to enhance your content while still creating it.
- Present a beginner-friendly interface in a visually appealing setup.
- Offer real-time suggestions when writing the content.
- Show a comparison of the keywords among the top websites.
- Recommended keywords can be unrelated to the content.
- Suggestions are highly affected by competitor’s pages.
Incorporating blog SEO helps to rank higher on SERPs and drive high organic traffic to your site. We have shared 18 different ways to optimize your blog, from researching keywords to building quality backlinks.
Remember that the content length of an individual blog post does not affect the search ranking. However, most high-ranking articles have around 2,000 words as it’s near-impossible to produce valuable content in just a few hundred words. We have also listed down the five best SEO tools for blogs that give a complete report of your content and suggestions to help.
We wish you good luck in creating SEO-friendly content for your blog articles.