If one of your key business goals includes boosting your SEO rankings in 2022, you’re not alone (unfortunately). There’s a ton of competition out there, along with loads of outdated, vague, or plain unhelpful advice about SEO strategies.
In this modernized SEO guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about creating content that converts, from basic formatting tips to advanced SEO strategies. No matter where you’re at in your content creation process, this guide will show you the latest techniques and best practices for success.
Let’s jump right in!
Basic Components of a Blog
If you want Google to show your site to more viewers, it’s important to understand how the algorithm “reads” your blogs. Search engines use different components of a page to determine what your content is about, who it’s for, and how helpful it is.
When you’re outlining an article, add in the following details to your draft:
The SEO title is different from the page title, or the title of your article. The SEO title acts like a backend description of a page, which helps search engines figure out what type of content it’s looking at.
Generally speaking, an article’s SEO title should include your primary keyword or keyphrase, and it shouldn’t exceed 55 characters.
The unique text following a website’s main domain is called a permalink. Permalinks are unique for each page or blog on your site.
You can customize the URLs for your blogs to make them more SEO-friendly. Try to include the main keywords or phrases that are featured in the page’s title.
This is the actual name of your web page or blog that viewers will see when they visit your site. Make sure to incorporate the primary keyword in the page title to let people know they’ll find the information they’re looking for.
Similar to the SEO title, a meta description is a short blurb that describes what’s on a web page. This text is usually featured on search engine results pages. If you don’t include one, Google will usually just display the first few sentences from your article.
Your meta description should be fairly brief (155 characters or fewer) and include your primary keyword.
Nobody wants to read a long, unbroken block of text. Subheadings are used to break up a longer article into more manageable sections, and they make it easy for skimmers to find the information they’re looking for right away.
Subheadings are usually formatted like <H1>, <H2>, <H3>, and so on. Pages are limited to one <H1> heading, and most articles label general sections with <H2> headings. Then, writers can use <H3> to <H6> subheadings to dig into the specificities of each topic.
Categories and tags
Bloggers can use categories and tags to organize the posts on their website. Creating simple ways for users to navigate between major topics is a great way to keep them on your site longer and boost click-through rates.
You can begin a tagging system by selecting a few categories you frequently post about, such as eCommerce, marketing, or writing tips. From there, you can use more specialized tags to describe each article in greater detail.
Image alt tags
Adding images or graphics to a long article is another great way to break up a long-form blog post. If you decide to supplement your blog with a photo or infographic, add your primary keyword in the image alt tag. This tag gives a brief text description of an image that search engines can view, but not users.
Want to prove that your posts are reliable? Link out to sources you used to research your piece, professional websites of experts you’ve interviewed, or scholarly articles that offer more in-depth explanations. Giving readers the ability to instantly fact-check your work will make them more likely to trust your advice and expertise.
Adding internal links, or links to other pages on your website, is a super easy way to boost your rankings. Search algorithms will identify and crawl the other pages you include in every post, so it will start to recognize how each of these posts relate to one another. The search engine will be able to better understand your website as a whole, and visitors will be more likely to keep browsing content you’ve created yourself!
SEO Keyword Research Tips
HubSpot defines keyword research as “the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose.” Marketers and writers often use keyword research strategies to discover the popularity and relevance of certain terms.
The key to keyword research (see what I did there?) is finding a good mix of head terms and long-tail keywords.
- Head terms are shorter and more generic phrases, such as “writing” or “blogging.” They tend to be highly competitive and difficult to rank for. It’s also challenging for search engines to figure out the user’s intent without any additional context.
- Long-tail keywords are longer phrases or questions that clearly show the user’s intent. Instead of searching “writing,” someone might type in “writing tips for new bloggers.” These longer keywords have less competition, so smaller websites can boost their visibility by targeting these specific terms.
When you start planning your next article, use a keyword research tool to help you come up with a list of terms to target. If you’re new to blogging, try these free resources to get you started:
Best Practices for SEO
At this point, you’ve got a good understanding about the components of a blog, a list of keywords, and a general outline for your article. As you jump into drafting and uploading your piece, remember these best practices for SEO success:
Quality > Quantity
Long-form content is valuable for readers and great for SEO rankings… when it’s formatted and written correctly. Nobody wants to read flowery prose or skim through several paragraphs to find a piece of important information. If you want to improve your SEO rankings, get to the point, explain it concisely, and move on to the next topic.
Optimize your images
If your website loads slowly, you might notice high bounce rates, poor SEO rankings, or decreased customer loyalty. Optimizing all the images on your website is a relatively easy way to improve your site performance and keep people coming back to your store.
You can optimize your images by compressing them with a tool like TinyPNG, and then adding keywords that describe the image to help search engines understand what kind of content is on the page.
Practice link building
Link building is all about connecting your brand, content, or website to other authoritative and high-quality sources. Along with boosting your SEO rankings, link building can also help you reach new potential customers, improve your site’s trustworthiness, and find possible business partners.
Here are just a few link building strategies to try:
- Create guest blogs. Contribute to other platforms to share your insights with a greater audience. For starters, you can create posts on sites like LinkedIn and Medium, or you could submit an article to a site that specializes in a more specific industry niche.
- Share content on social media. Someone might not search for your content on Google, but they might read a relevant article if it appears on their Twitter or Facebook feed. Using social media is an effective way to share all of your content with a much greater audience than your website alone.
- Try co-marketing techniques. If you’re a small business owner, reach out to other small businesses in your area that specialize in a similar niche. With a strong social media strategy, you can develop a marketing plan that will boost traffic for both of your businesses!
Add supplementary content
There are a wide range of content features that can add value to an article or blog post. When the right supplementary content is added, it can keep people on your page longer, make your content easier to understand, and improve your page’s overall quality ranking.
Supplementary content can include things like:
- Comparison charts
- Pros/cons lists
- Key takeaways/Summaries
Ensure your site is user-friendly
Site design isn’t always discussed when SEO strategies come into play, but it’s an essential part of your content strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked. If a user can’t easily navigate your article on their phone, laptop, and tablet, you’re going to miss out on new readers.
Google prioritizes sites that are mobile-friendly or responsive. Responsive websites have the same look and feel to users, regardless of the device they’re using. Outdated websites, on the other hand, tend to be difficult to navigate, especially for mobile users. If you’ve only ever seen your site from a desktop or laptop, you should definitely check to see what the user experience is like on your phone.
Luckily, plenty of free and inexpensive website-building platforms offer pre-designed templates for responsive sites. Here are a few resources to check out if your website is in serious need of an upgrade:
Repurpose and recycle content
The best way to get people’s attention is by using a content format that they enjoy the most. For some people, a multi-page article is their preferred way of getting information. Other people might prefer a helpful infographic with the most important statistics, or a quick video breakdown of an article’s main topics.
If you pour a ton of time into researching and writing an article, you should try to extract as much value from it as you can! Your customers and your marketing team will greatly appreciate it.
How to Track SEO Metrics
The only way to tell if an SEO strategy is working is by keeping track of key performance indicators, or KPIs. Most sites use KPIs related to traffic, audience engagement, and links, such as:
- Organic traffic growth
- Conversion rates
- Bounce rates
- Number of pages per session
- Average time on page
- Top landing pages
- Page load times
- Keyword rankings for branded and unbranded terms
There are several free tools that can perform site audits and track these metrics for you. As you edit and add new posts, upgrade your site, and expand your business, you can keep an eye on your KPIs to make sure that none of your changes are negatively impacting your SEO rankings. Here are just a few options to check out:
- Google Search Console: Simply sign up for a free account and verify your websites to access numerous ways to analyze and optimize your posts.
- Lighthouse Audit: This is an automated tool from Google that can measure your site’s overall performance, speed, accessibility, and more.
- PageSpeed Insights: This tool can give you real-time data from actual users to show you how people access and navigate your site.
SEO: Final Words
Optimizing your blogs for SEO is a great way to grow your brand in 2022, but not everyone has the time (or patience) to invest in this essential practice. If this sounds like you, Content Cucumber can help!
When you sign up with Content Cucumber, we’ll match you with one of our expert writers who can take care of all your blogging and SEO needs. Whether you need someone to edit old blog posts, write fresh content, or conduct keyword research, you can rest assured that you’ll always receive high-quality content you’ll be proud to share on your website.
Ready to reach your SEO goals? Check out our plans and sign up for Content Cucumber today!