I‘m a strong advocate for blogging as a marketing strategy for most business web sites. This is primarily because nearly every client I’ve ever worked with (over 15 years) gets more search referrals from their blog posts than any other content beyond the home page. When any strategy works so well to consistently produce a top 10 landing page from search, as blogging does, I’ll strongly recommend that they continue and extend that effective strategy.
There are a few very good reasons that blogs allow for this marketing success:
- Answering top customer questions in complete detail, with embedded rich media that encourages sharing posts.
- Post titles create URLs on initial entry, but both can be edited to optimize for search.
- Easily add posts and re-edit content quickly any time without need for tech.
- Categorization of posts by topic (there’s a weak spot here I’ll discuss later).
- Tags to help tie similar posts together (possible weak spot due to editor error).
- Easy to link automatically from body text to similar posts, products or category level pages.
- Most blog software includes the ability to incorporate highly effective & complex third-party seo tools.
- Ability to automate behind-the-scenes markup which improves discoverability and social media tools.
- Built-in search friendly URL structure includes keywords, removes stop-words, controls for length limits, forces lower-case, removes punctuation & odd characters.
Let’s look a bit closer at the listed elements from above to see how they support the most effective blog SEO structure. Not all things on the list are supported by default in every platform and may need some customization to incorporate these important elements.
The Content Subject should always and without fail, be strongly user-focused to clearly address any questions about the product or service offered. Posts can take a Q&A, FAQ, or How-To approach. My preference is How-to simply because it feels less mechanical and more instructional, helpful than a canned and often too-short FAQ or forced Q&A. However, How-to articles sometimes yield to the temptation to answer more than a single question and should address a single topic without attempting to be overly broad. The same is true of keywords – focus and don’t attempt to rank for many things.
Post Titles are so important that I routinely recommend that several clients check-in with me on their blog headlines at publication. Keywords MUST be incorporated early in the title to address questions that customers might be trying to answer via search engines. No matter how commonplace or seemingly simple that question may be – you must resist the urge to be cutesy or clever with your blog post title for best blog seo. Structure of titles should be the reverse pyramid model – that is, first two or three words include your most important keywords and then qualifiers and creativity only toward the end of a 6 or 7 word post title. No commonly used cliches or well-worn phrases should ever be used. Notice this post title – cutesy, common phrase at the end, important keywords early.
Keyword Density is an outdated concept which assumes Google Artificial Intelligence (Called RankBrain Algorithm) is very simplistic and it isn’t. Focus writing on a clear, reader centric topic, don’t hesitate to use variations on a phrase, such as qualifiers, similes and synonyms and repeat the headline phrase a couple of times – once in the first paragraph and in the first sentence if possible – then again later a couple of times – but only where it makes sense. Using keyword phrases should never seem forced or unnatural.
Don’t be afraid to edit and improve posts once they have gone live. There is no rule that says the first version should remain forever as though carved in stone. The beauty of blog post SEO is that you can continually optimize to best serve your audience and improve content. Editors should feel free to continually polish and refine a post based on user comments, internal priorities or due to product changes.
Categorization of posts is important to best blog SEO and should be from 5 to 7 post types for most blogs. These categories should focus very clearly on topics that will be most often covered by roughly equal numbers of posts. Many sites could settle on things like:
- News & Press
Don’t put posts in multiple categories – some editors feel that every single post should be in the most important category and then add it to another category or two for good measure. Only one category per post for best blog SEO and don’t use overly broad categories that you feel all posts belong to. Make them simple, but each differentiated from the others. Some software allows categorizing in multiple places, but making one “Primary” – which is the best approach if you must do this.
Post tags. Many editors again make the mistake of using one tag on all posts because it is important to the business – but tags are intended to help refine posts to ever more granular levels and not to gather all posts together. Tags are intended to help understand what is most important within that post – what makes the post unique.
Option of Automated Internal Linking of similar posts, cross category, topic focused and truly effective to increase relevancy. This capability is available either via external third-party plug-ins or can be built as a homegrown system. Cross-linking posts from within body text and sometimes linking externally to relevant topic focused pages improves SEO.
Simple integration with SEO tools – the most popular blogging software allows for simplifying SEO tasks, including title tag bulk editing, canonicalization, sitemaps, social media markup (like Twitter Cards), Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), control over related posts links, and ability to noindex or 301 redirect post pages. All functionality that would require complex customizations if not for these widely available and inexpensive SEO tool plug-ins.
It’s a breeze to Automate Schema.org, canonical tags, Open Graph, breadcrumb schema, and social media tools in most blog software or via third-party plug-ins for most platforms. These tools improve and enhance display in search results and sometimes leapfrog competing pages where they wouldn’t have shown up otherwise.
Platforms Automate Ideal URL Structure including arcane things like stripping stop-words from URLs, removing punctuation and special characters that often break URLs, limit word or character count, automatically rewrite upper-case by forcing lower-case letters in titles. (critical task that last one!) Avoid using the default date-based URL and change to title based URLs without query strings and shallow folder like https://domain.com/blog/post-title-keywords/ instead of https://domain.com/blog/2016/03/28/p=4028?p1#more.
As difficult as it may be to believe, there’s more minutia to powerful blog SEO Structure, but the items discussed here are the most important and will make any blog more search friendly and guarantee rapid indexing and better rankings. You’ve got it wired now – go blog well, blog often.
And although it isn’t specific to blog SEO, Google has already recommended a switch to https everywhere and has stated as long ago as 2014 that secure pages will at some point outrank non-secure equivalent pages. So add that to your to-do list for the blog if you want an edge over the competition. Here’s the video from Google I/O 2014 where they advocate for secure web sites. Not hugely important ranking factor so far, but it will matter before too long – so take the first opportunity and make it happen for your site.
Mike Valentine consults on startup and enterprise SEO