Blogs were initially a platform used to share opinions and experiences. However, today, blogs are a way for businesses to increase their search engine optimization (SEO), build an internal linking strategy and drive conversions.
Whether writing blog content for a for-profit company, a nonprofit, or even a volunteer organization, it is important to follow a few simple rules to ensure Google properly indexes the content and a proper SEO boost is secured from both the content and the structure.
The following are a few important factors that influence blog SEO as well as some ways to improve future blog posts:
- 7 Important Rules to Remember When Writing a Blog
- Code – Basic HTML is a Must
- The Code
- Content Structure (Visual)
- Tips for Actual Content
7 Important Rules to Remember When Writing a Blog
These rules are ideal for any blog strategy, but there are other things to consider. That said, if you follow these rules when writing your content, you will be off to a great start.
- Do the research up front. Make sure keywords are right for the topic being written about. Don’t forget those keywords!
- Studies show people are more inclined to click on a blog post or article if it has a catchy title like “7 tips” or “10 reasons,” so structure content in this format when possible.
- Include multiple links to other content within the organization’s website, but remember the links should be contextual and make sense. “Click Here” is not a contextual link. A link that contains a “keyword related to what you’ll see at the URL” is contextual. The link should include a typical search term like “how to get a proper SEO boost.”
- Include images in EVERY post!
- Include video when applicable, which can be preferred over still images. If the video included in the post has a spoken audio track, be sure to include a transcript for ADA compliance.
- Be sure the ending paragraph summarizes the article, excites the reader and lets them know what the next step is, such as contacting the company.
- Make sure there is a clear call to action that aligns with the subject of the article.
Code – Basic HTML is a Must
Writing for a blog requires an understanding of how Google indexes content, and that means a basic understanding of HTML structure is a must. CMS platforms (like WordPress) have built in visual styles that make editing content easy, but they do not necessarily tell what is being created code-wise. It is best to know what the goal is and what needs to be written to ensure Google properly indexes the content and a proper SEO boost is secured from both the content and the structure.
Google looks for certain code elements in a specific order, so making sure those code elements are present and are used correctly is a big piece of blog SEO.
For example, each page title or article title should be listed at the top in an H1 tag. This is the primary headline format in HTML, and Google references this to capture the overall subject matter of the post. Content within the post must be related to the H1 content for the post to receive a higher content quality score from Google. There should, in most cases, only be one H1 tag used.
After the H1, the post should contain at least one H2 tag that summarizes the following paragraph content. There can be multiple H2 tags with content following. Ideally, each H2 will relate to the subject of the H1, and the content underneath each H2 will relate specifically to that H2 tag, as well as the overall subject. If needed, there can be sub-categorizing further within each section using H3-H5 tags.
Best practices say no headline should live on its own and should always have paragraph content associated with it, even if it’s just a sentence or two. When including paragraph content, make sure it lives inside of P tags (P for “paragraph”).
Content Structure (Visual)
Below is a sample of how the code might look, when properly written for blog content.
<h1>Article Title</h1> <p>Short lead in with high-level takeaway from the article, followed by a bulleted/numbered list of the sections below.</p> <ul> <li>Point 1 with very little detail</li> <li>Point 2 with very little detail</li> <li>Point 3 with very little detail</li> </ul> <p>A short statement like, for more detail about how to do this, keep reading below.</p> <h2>First Sub-headline Related to Article Title</h2> <p>Introductory copy paragraph that is around 100 words or less, where the first 10-15 words are related to the headline and contain several keywords and keyword phrases.</p> <h3>Short sub head related to the subject of this section</h3> <p>One or two sentences to define this particular topic.</p> <h3>Another sub-head</h3> <p>Another one or two sentences. Less than 25 words</p> <h2>Second major section of the article headline</h2> <p>Intro paragraph with more keywords.</p> <h3>Sub-section headline</h3> <p>One or two sentences</p> <h3>Sub-section headline</h3> <p>One or two sentences.</p> <h2>Headline, Closing</h2> <p>Copy, containing linked call to action</p> <special class>Call to action</special class>
The actual blog article content should be relatively concise and divided into sections that are easy for people to scan through as well as easily digestible. When people are reading online, they typically scan past large sections of text and look for easy to find, brief text that is formatted to make it visually stand out from the rest (headlines). The headlines, from a content perspective, should pretty much tell the story of the entire article.
If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, consider plugins (like Yoast SEO for WordPress) that will generate your page titles and descriptions automatically. It’s also a good practice to customize the URL for the post so that it includes search terms, but Google’s own Matt Cutts states even he does not bother writing a custom meta description for each post.
Custom meta descriptions can and do increase the chance of someone clicking on the blog post or article, but a custom description can also limit what Google displays in search results since an individual may not hit the keyword that someone uses to find their article. An auto-generated description can be beneficial in some cases, as Google will highlight matching content from within the article if the keywords match.
These same plugins can also help ensure that targeted keywords have been used in all the right places (URL slug, title, description, headlines and copy). But, when quoting exact content from another source (like a newspaper article) remember to use a canonical reference link to the original source, or Google can score negatively in the SEO department. Blog writers should include a reference link to the original article if quoting from another source – this also helps lend authority to the blog post in that it references other relevant topics that match in context.
With a tool like Yoast SEO for WordPress, it’s as simple as going under the advanced tab and pasting the source URL into the canonical reference box. Otherwise, a manual link will need to be created by adding “rel=’canonical’” into the link to the original article or post.
Writing blogs and ensuring Google properly indexes the content to get a proper SEO boost is not always easy. In some cases, Google can score negatively in the SEO department.
Content marketing tools, like blog posts, are an area of expertise for the GRIT team, and work well as part of a larger communication strategy for any company.
Talk to us today to make sure you are getting the most out of your blog posts!