SEO & Web Best Practices
David Addison
by David Addison
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How to write an SEO-friendly blog post

09/18/2010
How to write an SEO-friendly blog post

A blog is a very useful tool to add to a website. It allows an avenue for information, new and upcoming items, discussion of topics, and a personal approach that may not otherwise be seen in the static pages of your website.

If used correctly, it can also be incredibly valuable for online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and assisting at increasing specific keyword rankings. If properly informative, a blog can also help at drawing traffic to your website. There's nothing more flattering (and rankings beneficial) than having others online refer to your blog and/or website page as a reference or interesting read.

So, with that, here are 12 steps on how to write an SEO-friendly blog post:

1) Determine Your Topic - This can come from inspiration, something related to your website, a news-worthy issue, trending topic, seasonal items or other. Don't necessarily think or worry about keywords here. They will be infused into the post later.

2) Competitive Research - Search for similar information online. Check to see if anyone else has written on your topic. Determine if you are competing against others for the same information. Check to see if explanations and/or information are lacking for which you could write about. Determine a different or better way to write and format your article if a topic is written about regularly. If you can't find any others with this information online you may be lucky to be the first or... it may not be worthy of a topic to write about!

3) Naturally Write - Write your post in a fashion that speaks to you while keeping in mind the reader. Again, don't worry about keyword use at this point. Write first, analyze and edit later.

4) Keyword Research - Now you can do some more appropriate keyword research on your topic. Google offers a free look at keywords and keyword phrases based on estimated traffic and other info through their Adwords Keyword Tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Consider your own search terms used above to find other articles already online and the keywords they might be using... or not using. If, however, your blog post is driven by helping your website rankings you may also want to do preliminary keyword research in step one above and then possibly research again after you've done your writing.

5) Heading (Title) of Blog Post – The ‘title’ field within the post is actually considered a ‘heading’ in SEO. You will see information below on the use of the ‘title’ tag as related to meta data later in this article. Determine a catchy ‘title’ - BUT (big BUT) consider a keyword phrase, or two, early on in the title's words. Catchy, but with meaning - so the title will speak for itself.

6) Edit the Written Post for Keyword Use – Try to use the keyword phrases used in your blog's title a couple of times within the body of the post. Infuse other keywords as necessary and as make sense along with where they would be appropriate to help the article become clear and more precise.

7) Linking Considerations - Depending on the reason for the post, consider if links will help. Links back to your website pages are useful here if good anchor text is used and the links are relevant for pointing back to your website. Consider no more than two links per 250 to 350 words. Prioritize and place links properly. A link to your website page has a higher priority than a link to an external website.

8) Tags and Categories - Create and select tags and categories that will help enhance your website and the search terms relevant for your site. Understanding keywords can be very helpful here. Tags and categories should not be vague in their description (the words used) but also should not be comprised of more than two to four words each. Try not to assign any more than two to three different tags per post and no more than one or two categories. Refer to the list of already defined tags and categories before assigning or creating new ones.

9) Slugs and Permalinks - If possible, have your blog set up to allow you to the ability to manipulate and change your slugs or permalinks (URLs). Clean, short, concise and keyword-friendly URLs are the best. Stop words are not necessary in a URL, dashes are fine to use. Think about how easy or difficult it might be to tell someone what the link to the blog post might be. This will help you shorten and focus the URL. Having a keyword such as one used in the blog title will be most useful here too.

10) Meta Tags - most importantly the <title> tag, meta description, meta keywords, and meta robots tags should be used/enabled with your blogging software.

Examples for formatting these tags follows:

            Title tag: Should be 6 to 12 words long. Try not to repeat words here. Incorporate

            keywords as appropriate and make sure this title relates to the blog content.

            Meta Description: Should be 12 to 24 words long. Use the words chosen for the

            title above and elaborate in a sentence-like format. Meta descriptions act to

            describe the title more thoroughly, using the keywords necessary, and

            considering a possible call-to-action element.

            Meta Keywords: 24 to 48 words that are made up of one-word, two-word, three-

            word or more keyword phrases. The words chosen should be ones that show

            online traffic counts from keyword research and are words actually used within

            the blog post. Note that some blogging software will append all words used from

            all posts created so be careful at over-use here and slightly different, repeated

            keywords.

            Meta Robots: The actual post should be able to have the content indexed and the

            links followed by the search engines. A sample tag which allows this is seen

            following:

                        <meta name="robots" content="index,follow" />

            Tag files and Category files can be set this way as well. However, watch for

            duplicated content. Consider a "noindex" for archived posts or for areas where

            you know duplication may occur. The Meta Robots tag would then look like this:

                        <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" />

11) Images - If your blog post will be enhanced by incorporating images, try to name them appropriately before uploading and create appropriate image descriptions. If a keyword could act to help with the image name and/or description, then use it. The descriptive information can sometimes be seen in the image "alt" attribute and helps the search engine spiders index images for their images files.

12) Save and Post - You are now ready to release you post to the online world. The only last step we consider here is making sure you have an offline backup of your hard work. We have personally witnessed several instances of blog software malfunctions resulting in deleted posts. Always keep an offline backup.

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