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4-Point Blog Post Checklist for Better Search Engine Rankings
If you do even a bit of digital marketing, you’ve most likely heard that content is king at one point or another. Content can come in many forms, but blog posts currently remain the most popular option.
Not everyone has the tools to create infographics, take beautiful photos, or record videos. However, most of us can open a new Word document and start writing about topics we’re interested in.
In this blog post, you’ll see a 4-point checklist for improving a blog post’s search engine rankings. The items in the checklist can be completed with a bit of technical knowledge and the help of a powerful WordPress plugin.
Let’s get started.
Do keyword research.
Keyword research is the process of finding keywords used by potential customers. You can then attempt to rank for these keywords with your content, leading more users to your website.
Before we go any further, let’s define a few terms.
Keyword volume is the amount of traffic a keyword gets during a specific timeframe.
Keyword difficulty is how difficult it is to rank for a keyword. Usually, if a keyword receives a lot of fo traffic each month, it will be more difficult to rank for.
A short-tail keyword is a keyword composed of three words or less. Example include “ps4 games”, “medical equipment”, and “consulting business”. These types of keyword often receive a lot of traffic each month.
A long-tail keyword is a keyword composed of four words or more. Examples include “best ps4 games for kids”, “medical equipment suppliers australia”, “starting a consulting business”.
At first glance, you might want to target short-tail keywords since they receive plenty of traffic, but you also need to think about what kind of traffic you’re getting. You might lead users who are looking for something entirely different to your website, resulting in a negative experience.
Unlike short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords give you more information about why a user is searching for something.
For example, a user searching for “medical equipment” might want to learn more about the topic or might want to make a purchase. The keyword doesn’t give you enough information to determine the intent behind the search.
On the other hand, the keyword “medical equipment suppliers australia” tells you that the user is looking for suppliers in Australia. They’re most likely going to compare the suppliers they find before making a final decision.
Keyword Research Tools
There are plenty of keyword research tools online. If you’re starting out, we recommend Answer the Public and Ubersuggest. Both tools are free and could easily be used by keyword research beginners.
When using Answer the Public, enter a keyword and click on Search. The tool will then generate keyword suggestions, some in question form which could be helpful for voice search optimisation.
Once you have a list of potential target keywords, you can check their keyword volume and keyword difficulty using Ubersuggest.
Write page titles and meta descriptions.
The page title is the title that users see in search engine results pages. It also appears at the top of the browser window.
Having the right page title is essential for better rankings. It’s the first things users see so it needs to grab their attention and tell them what your page is about right away.
Instead of clicking on your competitor’s website, an interesting and succinct title tag could persuade users to click on your website instead. The more users click on your website, the more valuable search engines will think your content is.
When writing page titles, keep the following in mind:
- Keep your page titles under 60 characters. If you write page titles that are longer than 60 characters, search engines may be unable to display the entire thing and cut off the rest. To see how your page titles will look in search engine results pages, you can use the Title Tag Preview Tool here.
- Write unique page titles. You need to show search engines that every page on your website is unique to ensure they all get indexed.
- Use target keywords first. Research shows that users have a tendency to scan page titles instead of reading the entire thing. By placing the target keyword at the start of the page title, you can tell users right away that your content is exactly what they’re looking for.
Meta descriptions are the brief descriptions of the content that appear under the page titles in search engine results pages. Written properly, they can improve your click-through rate from search engines.
When writing meta descriptions, keep the following in mind:
- Keep meta descriptions under 160 characters. If you write more than 160 characters, search engines may be unable to display everything. To see how your meta descriptions will look on search engine results pages, you can use the Meta Tags tool.
- Use your target keyword. If you use the target keyword in the meta description, Google will highlight it in search engine results pages. This could help grab users’ attention.
- Include a call-to-action. What do you want users to do after reading the meta description? Giving them a specific course of action could give them a much-needed push. You can ask them to try something or to learn more.
Readability scores how easy it is to read your content. It takes into account your word choice and how complicated your sentences are.
Research shows that users are most likely scanning instead of reading content to quickly find the information they need. By checking your readability, you can ensure your content is easy-to-understand without being patronising.
If you use WordPress, you can use the Yoast plugin. The plugin has both free and premium versions, but the free version alone helps you easily update page titles and meta descriptions and checks your content’s readability.
It uses the Flesch reading ease test to measure how readable your content is. The test uses two things to determine this–how long your sentences are and the average number of syllables per word.
Your content can score anything between 0 and 100 with 0 being the most difficult to read and 100 being the easiest to read. The higher your Flesch reading ease score, the better.
To improve your Flesch reading ease score, you can give the following tips a try:
- Use simpler words. If possible, use words that are three syllables or less. For example, instead of indolent, you can use lazy. Instead of apprehensive, you can use nervous.
- Shorten your sentences. Short sentences are easier to scan and require less time to digest.
Add internal links.
Internal links are links from one webpage to another within the same domain. They’re important, because they show search engines and how your website is organised and how pages relate to one another.
Internal links also pass link equity from one web page to another. Link equity also known as link juice is how one webpage can pass “authority” and “value” to another.
Let’s say you have two blog posts. Blog Post A ranks in the top three for its target keyword, and plenty of relevant blogs in your industry have linked to it. Blog Post B is relatively new and isn’t ranking that well.
If you add a link to Blog Post B in Blog Post A, it can pass some of its “importance” to the former. You can then improve its chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages.
Examine the content you’ve published so far, and see if you can add more internal links. For example, in this blog post, we have a section about keyword research, so we’re going to add a link to an old post we wrote about that topic.
Don’t add internal links for the sake of improving your rankings. Add them in a way that looks organic to both search engines and users. Only add links to relevant content.
Blog posts can be powerful tools for generating more traffic and leads. They also establish your business as an authority in your niche.
Keyword research could help you bring in the right kind of traffic through your blog posts.
Writing interesting page titles and meta descriptions improves your click-through rate from search engine results pages.
Checking your content’s readability makes your content easier to scan for both users and search engines.
Adding internal links makes it easier for search engines to find your content and to determine how your website is organised.
Cornerstone Digital is a digital marketing agency in Sydney. If you’re struggling to find more leads online, we’d be glad to help. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected]
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.