Image Credit: Flickr
Over the past several months I’ve collected a ton of good resources about how to write a perfect blog post. So I thought it’s better to do a mashup than simply rewriting/reposting what’s already said in the blogosphere. So I’ll be focusing on writing a blog post that’s well optimized and that attracts search engine and social media love.
As you probably know, there are a lot of bloggers who write really awesome content but the problem is their blog posts are not so optimized. The reason could be they don’t care about SEO much or they are not so tech-savvy so they don’t know how to optimize their blog posts. Hence I believe that this blog post will also help the not so tech-savvy bloggers (food blogs, personal blogs) so that they can optimize their existing and future blog posts to skyrocket the traffic.
In A Nutshell: 18 Steps To A Perfectly Optimized Blog Post
Be Original. Be Yourself.
Use Keywords Effectively.
Write An Epic Title
Write An Alternate Title And Make It Your H1 Tag
Write A Good Introduction
Use Sub-headings (H1 – H3 tags) & Bullet Points
Write In-depth Articles
Interlink Your Blog Posts
Link Out To Other Blog Posts
Write A Nice Meta Description
Add Relevant Tags & Categories
Make The URL Friendly & Optimized
Use Relevant & Quality Images
Optimize Images To Maximize Traffic
Embed Audios & Videos
Add Call To Action (CTA)
Add Google Authorship
1. Be Original. Be Yourself.
It’s okay to write a blog post about a news story that’s already blogged by 1,000 websites in your niche. The question is what makes your blog post unique? Are you just rewriting what’s written in other blogs or are you including your own views and ideas? If you’re adding value to your blog posts in one way or the other then you’re on the right track. It doesn’t matter if you have haters or if they’re criticizing your blog posts as long as you’re right.
You don’t really have to write a blog post daily only to engage your readers. It may increase your traffic, your Alexa rank but that won’t make you an awesome blogger. I would say write only if you have got something nice to say.
2. Use Keywords Effectively
As you probably know, keywords are search terms that people use to find webpages and keyword research is the practice of finding the value of those keywords. Keyword research is not required for all your blog posts but it’s very important when you’re writing an in-depth blog post or a tutorial.
So, why is keyword research important? If your awesome blog post is missing the important keywords then it means it’s not search optimized. Since search engines use keywords (and of course other signals too) to determine the relevancy of a page it’s important to include the keywords that people will be using to find your blog post.
If you’re in a competitive niche then you should target long tail keywords (keyword phrases that usually have 3 or more words in the phrase). Because it’s easy to rank a webpage for a long tail keyword and the traffic quality will also be great especially when you have a niche blog.
3. Write An Epic Title
People will read your title and that’s guaranteed but they don’t read your blog post word-by-word unless they want to. So writing a powerful title is the quickest way to grab the attention of your readers. Make sure it’s less than 70 characters and it’s a good practice if the primary keywords that you’re targeting are at the beginning of the title.
Also, if you’re #9 in Google for a keyword and if users are clicking on your link (that is if your click through rate is high ) than the top 5 search results position then your ranking will improve and eventually you may end up in top 5.
If you’re bad at writing titles like me then give a try to Content Idea Generator by Portent or learn how to spin a title that’s already popular. I also recommend reading the advanced guide by Buffer about writing great titles on Twitter, Facebook, and Blog based on their research.
4. Write An Alternate Title And Make It Your H1 Tag
When you have done an in-depth blog post after the necessary keyword research and competitor analysis you can think about two titles (in fact the 2nd one is the H1 tag). WordPress (and some other content management systems) by default assumes that your Title tag and H1 are the same and there’s no option to change it. Tip: What are <h1> to <h6> Tags?
But if you’re using Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin (or other SEO plugins) then you can write a custom <Title> tag from your WordPress dashboard. It’s useful when you want to write two versions of the same title – one should be search optimized and other one should be user friendly.
If your blog is an authority one then it won’t be a problem but otherwise it’s somewhat difficult to write a title that’s both user-friendly and search optimized. If it’s user-friendly then there’s less space to add the targeted keywords and if it’s a search optimized title then it may be boring to users.
And Google will either show your Title tag or the H1 tag as the title of your blog post in search result pages. In my blog the title that you’re seeing within the blog post is actually the H1 tag and the title that you’re seeing on the task bar (or your web browser tab) is the <Title> tag. When people share your blog post on social media it’s mostly the <Title> tag.
5. Write A Good Introduction
Introduction is the next thing after the title that people actually read. If you have a great introduction then most probably they will read your entire blog post or at least scan it. You can summarize the whole blog post in your introduction by telling what you’re writing about and why people should actually read it.
Also, it’s important to include the primary keywords that you’re targeting in the first few paragraphs because that tells the search engines that your article is about that keyword.
I must admit that I suck at writing but I’m good in research (or at least I believe that way) so I usually write to archive my mind or to share the resources that I’ve collected over time. But I do refine the blog posts regularly to make it as useful as possible.
6. Use Sub-headings (H1 – H3 tags) & Bullet Points
Like I’ve mentioned, people don’t actually read your blog posts they scan through it. You’ve to make your blog posts more readable by using subheadings and bullet points. Why? Because it improves the user experience as it’s easier to read subheadings and bullet points than just paragraphs. And your readers will know what they will get without reading the entire paragraphs. For example, you split a single blog post into several sections using subheadings and bullet points even if they’re closely related.
Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) effectively. H1 tag is the most important and H6 is the least important heading in a page. And remember, you can have multiple H2 – H6 tags but it’s a best practice to limit to one H1 tag per page.
7. Competitor Analysis
If you’re writing something awesome and something that requires a lot of effort then do some competitor analysis. Because that’s the only way to tell whether you’re going to rank for the target keyword or not. If the topic that you’ve planned is already covered on a ton of other blogs then you have to make it even better to outrank your competitors. Otherwise ask yourself what makes you unique? Why your webpage should rank higher on Google? If you believe that your content offers more value than your competitors then it should rank higher someday (of course it takes time and it depends upon several other factors like authority of your blog, keyword competition, etc.).
For example, if it’s a “Top X Tips” kind of post and if your competitor is listing up to 50 tips then you can do your research and make it a list of 100. Another technique is regularly updating the content on your blog. It’s a good practice to update your content to make it more relevant and fresh so that it will become one of your evergreen content.
8. Write In-depth Articles
Last year Google released a new feature called “In-depth articles“. The idea is to highlight quality in-depth content in Google search results as their research indicated that 10% of users needed in-depth content. So optimize your blog for the “In-depth articles” feature and write in-depth articles whenever you can.
9. Interlink Your Blog Posts
If you want to increase the ranking of your blog posts then make sure that your blog posts are interlinked. Internal linking not only means that your pages must be reachable from your homepage but it also means that the inner pages must be linking to each other. When you’re linking your own internal pages you’re actually passing link juice to those pages thereby increasing its ranking.
10. Link Out To Other Blog Posts
Even if you’re linking to a competitor it doesn’t mean that you won’t outrank them. Since search engines use 100s of signals to rank a webpage so you may outrank your competitor even if you’re linking to them.
And it doesn’t mean that when you’re writing a blog post you should link to your competitor who has covered the same topic. If that is the case then it means that you’re giving a vote to your competitor for the current topic and it will boost their ranking. Instead you can use the following linking strategy. For example, this blog post is about “How To Write A Blog Post” so as you can see I’m not linking to any of those pages that are exactly about the same topic but I’ve linked to a ton of other quality resources that’s highly relevant to the context.
It’s annoying if you’ve mentioned a website or reviewed a product but are not willing to link to it. After all the web is all about links. We want to offer the best user experience possible so feel free to link to other websites.
11. Write A Nice Meta Description
Meta description tags don’t impact your search engine rankings directly but they can significantly improve the click-through-rate in search engine results pages. If your blog post is missing the meta description tag then search engines will automatically show an excerpt from your page. But if you write a meta description then search engines will show it when it’s relevant to the context.
12. Add Relevant Tags & Categories
Make sure that you added the most relevant categories and tags to the blog post so that your readers can easily find more interesting content in the same topic on your blog.
13. Make The URL Friendly & Optimized
People may or may not pay attention to your URL (address of your blog post). But still… it’s nice to make it friendly and readable. Use hyphens and not underscores or spaces to separate keywords in your URLs. Also, I’ve noticed that most SEOs don’t recommend the usage of stop words in your URLs to save space. I would say write a URL that reflects the content of that page so that even the naked URL itself becomes self-descriptive. I try to make my URLs less than 60 characters or say less than 7 words including the primary keywords that I’m focusing.
Example of a self-descriptive URL that has a stop word, http://www.minterest.org/my-favorite-iphone-and-ipad-apps/.
14. Use Relevant & Quality Images
A picture is worth a thousand words and it requires no further explanation. That’s the reason why infographic is very popular these days because it’s engaging and presents the data in a nice way. I always try to use high quality images and I love to show branded images. Also, unless it’s something exclusive or proprietary I don’t insert any watermarks. You can read the ultimate guide to web images to learn the best practices.
And here’s a list of over 20 websites to get free stock photos for your blog.
15. Optimize Images To Maximize Traffic
Search engines can’t read images and they don’t understand what the images are all about. But there are several ways to optimize images on your blog posts so that search engines will understand it better and will rank accordingly.
You can see this video where Google’s Matt Cutts discusses how to optimize your images.
16. Embed Audios & Videos
Embed videos and audios in your blog post when it’s required or when you’ve got something interesting to share. A case study by Neil Patel shows that videos may not drive huge traffic to your blog but it’s also true that people love videos. So it builds loyalty, increases the time they spend on your blog, and gradually your subscriber count will also increase (if you produce videos regularly).
17. Add Call To Action (CTA)
The conclusion or the closing paragraph can be short paragraph asking your reader’s feedback and you can add a call-to-action(CTA). A call-to-action is simply an image or short text that prompts a user to click it and take an action. It can be anything like – download an e-book, newsletter subscription, product trial, free coupon, etc.
18. Add Google Authorship
Google+ Authorship allows you to verify your identity and establish authority. It improves the search quality as authorship information can be used to differentiate human-generated content and spam or low quality content. Also, it helps you stand out in search results thereby increasing the click-through rate. If you haven’t claimed your Google authorship yet then read its definitive guide here.
Also, learn how to claim your Bing authorship here.
If you know a better resource than any of the recommendations then let me know and I’ll replace it. Just make sure that it’s not so advanced so that newbie bloggers and non-tech-savvy users will also find it useful.
Have I missed something or is there any other resource that you’d like to suggest? If so, let me know as a comment below!