5 Steps to Optimize a Blog Post for SEO

Marketers know it’s important to optimize a blog post for SEO (search engine optimization) to help really great content be found by the right people. But smart SEO tactics do not make up for mediocre writing or lackluster ideas — they serve to highlight well-written, intriguing content.

Optimizing blog posts for SEO might sound like something a robot would uniformly rattle off as a planned course of action before pressing a flashing SEO button on a computer of the future, but, in fact, it’s a task any blogger can do before hitting publish — and this step in the blogging process should not be ignored.

Follow these five steps to make your next blog post Google’s favorite new thing.

1. Act naturally, but write strategically.

Like I said above, making blog content SEO-friendly will do little for a “blah” blog post. Don’t stress about SEO before you sit down to pump out a great post — but DO sit down with a plan. Think about the purpose of your post. What questions are you answering? What do you want your readers to gain? Who are you trying to reach? If you start with a rough guideline, you’ll craft a more strategic post. Next, do what you do best — put that pen to paper and write. Let your unique voice ease into the mix. Capture your expertise in creatively structured sentences. Weave fresh ideas within the text. This is the fun part — enjoy!

2. Research and gather the right keywords.

Depending on your preference, you can choose your keywords before OR after writing your post. I usually opt for after, because if you write naturally about something you know a lot about, relevant keywords (or the beginnings of a great keyword) are bound to pop up among your words. Choose 1–2 long-tail keywords (long-tail keywords are more effective; here’s why), and don’t go overboard. Use a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner or HubSpot’s Keywords Tool (what we use!) to figure out how your keywords will perform. Tools allow you to look at how your company AND your competitors rank for a specific keyword. It’s not snooping; it’s research — dig deep.

3. Properly place your keywords.

Once you have your 1–2 keywords, place them purposefully throughout your post. Keywords work best if they are placed in the blog title, in the body of the post (more specifically, in first few sentences), in the post URL, and also in the meta description. Do not keyword-stuff — it’s bad blogging etiquette and it won’t help your SEO efforts. It’s tempting to do, but stay strong.

4. Picture this (for Google).

Yes, a picture can be worth a thousand words, and we know our brain processes images quicker than it does text, but search engines need some assistance when it comes to blog imagery. Include keywords in the image file name and add a short, keyword-rich description to the alternate text field. Google looks for images with text — it’s as simple as that.

5. Get responsive and mobile-friendly.

People want to access content whenever and wherever they want, so if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you lose folks who access your blog, find it difficult to maneuver, leave, and go back to Google to find an alternative. A recent Google algorithm update resulted in mobile-friendliness being used as a ranking signal. So, if your blog isn’t responsive, it will be penalized in SERPs (search engine results pages).

Originally published at calypsocom.com on October 27, 2015.

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