Effective Blog Optimization: How to Create Content That Actually Ranks
Successful blog optimization is the cornerstone of any business’s content strategy. The most useful, interesting words in the world won’t matter if no one is able to read them.
That’s why search engine optimization exists: to help you take your content and make sure it’s not just useful, but accessible as well. The purpose of this post is to give you the tools you need to not only create that content, but make sure it does get seen.
We have one thing to admit, first: there is no such thing as an evergreen SEO plan. The search engine industry is too dynamic for that. That said, there are a series of fundamental guidelines to follow when drafting digital content like blog posts. Guidelines that will work to keep your click-through rates as high and stable as possible. Guidelines like the ones detailed below.
How do I write a strong title?
Copyblogger has told us that, “On average, 8 out of 10 [individuals] will read headline copy, but only 2 out 10 will read the rest.” Due to the sheer quantity of new content being put on the web each day, immediately standing out is integral to success. That’s why noticeable headlines are so important. They’re the hook that catches the proverbial fish. The question then becomes: how do I write a title strong enough to capture the attention of the reader? Here’s the answer:
Engage with the reader.
- Make them curious. Make them go, “huh!” You have one shot to get a prospective reader to click, and the best way to do that is by engaging with them. There are three main ways to do this:
- Make your title actionable, i.e. this post will help you answer a question or solve a problem. A good example would be this post’s title: “Effective Blog Optimization: How to Create Content That Actually Ranks.”
- Make your title intriguing, i.e. this post will answer a mystery or give information that hadn’t been previously considered. A good example would be, “What 19th Century Whalers Can Teach Content Managers About Perseverance.”
- Make your title empathetic, i.e. this post will give you something to consider on an emotional level. A good example would be, “Phoenix: One Company’s Journey from Ruin to Rebirth”
A good rule of thumb is to imply a question with your headline. You want to make sure that with the few words you’ve chosen, you have set an accurate expectation with the reader. A question in the header lets them know the body copy will have it’s answer. It makes it clearer to keep your copy focused, as well. If readers or potential leads end up disappointed when the post doesn’t deliver what the title promises, they’re almost guaranteed to become permanently cold. That’s why content marketing efforts and intentionally setting expectations is so important.
Consider keywords but don’t be tied down by them.
We know SEO is necessary. That’s why we wrote this post. However, with the ever-developing intelligence of online search algorithms, tossing keywords in willy nilly isn’t enough. You have to remember to keep the reader in mind when crafting headlines. A headline that has ten keywords but doesn’t make sense narratively simply won’t work. Write for people, not just data.
How do I hook the reader?
The headline is what gets the reader to open the door. The introduction is what gets them to step inside. Your job is to develop a title that intrigues and an introduction that “hooks.” Also called a “lede,” the introduction is the paragraph at the beginning of any blog post. A compelling, optimized introduction paragraph should have the following:
Be snappy and clever. Don’t force it, and don’t adopt a tone that isn’t representative of your brand. You still have to let them know why they should read the rest of the post. Hooks can come in the form of interesting, facts, statistics, or anecdotes
Now they’re reading, but they’re not committed yet. Transition them from your hook to what the meat of your post is going to be about. Let them know what questions the body copy is about to answer.
Sum everything up and send them on their way. They’re in and ready to read. Remind them what they’re about to learn and let them start learning.
How do I strategically use keywords to rank higher on Google searches?
Search engine and blog post optimization involve a lot of different techniques. Writing, linking, and formatting are all integral to a post’s success. They’re not the most important thing, however. The most important thing is keyword usage. That’s because strategically placed and chosen keywords are going to be what makes sure a search engine puts your content on the pages of those most likely to click on it. When it comes to strategic keyword use, consider the following:
Put your keywords in the places that need them most.
If you are going to pay special attention to where you place keywords, there are certain areas of a post to focus on. Namely: the title, meta description, introduction, and conclusion. One important tip: it’s best to not link away from a blog post using the same keyword you optimized it for. You want that post to be a place people go for info on that keyword, not a place they leave from.
Don’t choose the first keyword that comes to mind.
Do some research before choosing keywords. A little organization and a bit of reading can go a long way.
Don’t stuff keywords in places they don’t belong.
Search engines are smart and can tell when you’re nonchalantly using keywords just to make them notice. Don’t overfill with keywords. Instead, write naturally and then review. If you choose the right keyword, it should turn up in the content naturally because it highlights what the blog post is all about.
How do I implement a successful linking strategy?
The links you include in your blog posts are all part of your business’s funnel. If you’ve been able to get a reader to click on and start to read your content, you’ve done well, but your work isn’t over. Now you need to either a.) get them to dig further into your website to learn about your goods or services or b.) connect them with more helpful, useful information that adds to your presence as a thought leader. The links in part a are called inbound links and the links in part b are called outbound links.
The purpose of inbound links
To attempt to keep a reader (AKA a potential lead) engaged with your brand. It’s best to link to other blog posts on your site, especially the best optimized ones, to help continue a chain of “trust.” The more impressed a reader becomes as they experience more of your expertise, the more likely they are to inquire about your services.
The purpose of outbound links
To foster relationships between publications, position yourself as a thought leader, and let’s search engines know that you know what you’re talking about. Google likes it when your post can lead readers to other, useful information.
There are varying rules regarding the spacing and quantity of links in a given post all across the web. After a lot of research and comparison, we’ve found the most success with a “natural” approach. Put links where they fit naturally, and don’t attempt to force them in. You still need to make sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with your own website’s various pages and blogs. That way, when you write, you’re already prepared to link the most relevant places together.
How do I best call the reader to action?
The call to action is the final portion of your post. By the time the reader gets to this point, you’ve acquired enough klout to suggest where they go next. What you choose will depend on the goal you’re trying to achieve with that specific piece of content. Most successful calls to action (CTAs) attempt one of the following:
- Open up discussion
- Put a prospect in contact with your company
- Invite the reader to take a specific action
Whatever you choose, make sure you ask for something. You’ve given the reader useful information and their natural inclination will be to offer you something in return. Don’t waste that opportunity by forgetting to leave them with a compelling CTA.
We know as well as you do that these guidelines aren’t the only thing involved in creating effective blog content that ranks. However, they’re the best place to begin. If you’re interested in from-the-horse’s-mouth advice from living, breathing digital marketers, you can always get in touch with our team. We’re only a call away.
In the meantime, stay on the lookout for more relevant-to-you blog content. We have a lot coming covering SEO and the ever-important presence of content marketing in B2B and manufacturing spaces.