Everyone knows that you want to be on page one of Google, but do you know why? Only 8.5% of web traffic makes it past the first page. That's a lot of people who aren't seeing your website if you get bumped to the second page of results. We've talked a little about content marketing before, but let's look at blogging, specifically—and how to do it in such a way that it improves your SEO.
Many businesses have taken up blogging as a way to add new content to their sites on a regular basis, which is a good idea for your search rankings. But if you want to be at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to make your content not only well-written and engaging, but also rich in keywords. The keywords drive traffic to your website, and using the right ones will help drive the right traffic.
Picking Effective Keywords
The keywords you choose should be as closely matched as possible to what your target audience is searching for. How do you do that? Well, there are a few options. Social media is a good starting point—check out what's trending on Twitter, see what they're talking about on Facebook. You can gain valuable insight just from monitoring your target audience.
Google Trends allows you to search by keyword and see interest over time and by geographic area, as well as related search queries. You can also use a tool like SEMrush to see what keywords your competitors are using and their position in search.
One last thing to consider are using what's called “long-tail” keywords rather than individual words or short phrases, which can be highly competitive. Longer keywords and phrases help the searcher zero in more specifically on what they're looking for, which is better for you and your conversion rate, so keeping a balance between short and long-tail keywords is your best bet.
Integrating Your Keywords
After you've made yourself a list of keywords to focus on, brainstorm some topics you can write about that pertain to those. The idea is to create useful and interesting content that your customers will want to read. All the keywords in the world won't keep them on your page if your post is poorly written.
When writing your post, your keyword-of-the-day should be sprinkled throughout, including these important places:
You want your content to include your keyword and other relevant phrases, but don't force it. Overusage is called “keyword stuffing,” and it can actually be detrimental to your search engine rankings, not to mention being a turn off for your reader. You want your post to sound natural.
Don't be afraid to link to other websites, articles, or blogs to reinforce your point, especially to back up a statistic. Providing related reading material creates a favorable impression on your customers, helping to solidify your image of being competent in your field, and it shows search engines that you've done your homework.
Long Post vs. Short Post
Given how the human attention span has continued to shrink in recent years, you may assume that the shorter the blog post, the better. But actually, you want your posts to be longer and more in-depth because that's what search engines prefer. Longer posts will rank more easily for your target keyword.
You can optimize your post content to keep readers interested once they arrive by using bullet points, subheadings, and a conclusion: everything they need to scan the page quickly to get the information they need.
Linking to other pages or blog posts on your site encourages the reader to explore and helps search engines create a more accurate sitemap. If you can keep the reader on your site by providing a link to other relevant information that you already have, you're that much closer to a conversion.
You will want to avoid using generic phrases like “click here.” Use natural, descriptive phrasing that gives them an idea of what they'll find when they get there, like the link in the first paragraph that goes back to a previous blog post on content marketing.
In order to earn higher rankings in SERPs, you should write your blog with both humans and search engines in mind. Choose keywords that will help drive traffic to your site and provide good information that will keep users on your site longer and increase conversions.
Catherine has a degree in English literature and a passion for all things marketing. As Digital Specialist, her focus is on web design, search engine optimization, social media, online presence management, and project coordination.