Three ways to improve search visibility in your blog posts
Search engine optimization and social media sit side by side on the shelves of most digital marketing agencies, as toolkits waiting to be grabbed.
Not a natural fit for social? Well, let’s try it out and see how you do in search. Search isn’t working? Let’s try on social for size.
We’ve encountered businesses who switch their goals back and forth, or just want it all from the start: first page ranking in search, and top-tier brand visibility and engagement on social.
It’s not that this is impossible. Search-friendly content can perform well on social, and social-oriented content can definitely work well for search.
But I think the fact that content lies at the heart of both has lead some people (both businesses and bloggers) to assume that, as long as they keep creating “good” content, they will eventually start to rank well in Google.
(We’ve even heard people — other SEO companies in our local Orlando scene– telling this to audiences in presentations.)
The Truth about Good SEO
I’m not going to say it can’t happen. But writing with search engine success as your ultimate goal requires a lot more than just “good” content.
First of all, let’s change that from “good” content to what my partner Greg would call “f****ng AMAZING content.”
Good isn’t good enough anymore — not if you want to hit the first page. You’ve got to make your pieces better than the articles you are trying to compete against. No small feat in today’s heavily saturated content landscape.
But even amazing content isn’t always enough. Google ranks websites and content based on more than 200 signals, not all of which are known.
There are a range of SEO factors worth knowing about. Some of them are technical and require knowledge of code. Some of them are basic and can be handled by a plugin like Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO.
Some may even involve social signals. Jury’s still out.
In other words, SEO success is not just about the content. It’s about where it lives and what you do with it.
That being said, here are three basic on-page tips you can use to tune up your blog posts and give your search rankings a nudge.
(Full credit to Greg, who keeps his eyes on the well-being of our blog’s SEO, for watching over my posts and reminding me about the importance of these sorts of opportunities, which I often miss.)
Use headings for readability and important SEO content signals.
Give Google clues about the subject of your article through the key terms you choose for headings.
Headings (which you can change in the area indicated below if you use WordPress, or similar areas on other platforms) provide a visual hierarchy for your site, breaking up the content and labeling sections of the post with relevant titles.
The key part is, because these headings are indicated with code (<h1>, <h2> tags and so on), Google can read them too– and is believed to pay attention to that when it comes to ranking for key terms.
Include both internal and external links for maximum SEO value.
Internal links (links within your website) and external links (links to other websites) help signal additional relevance to you.
Think of it like this:
By linking to another page within your website, you signal to Google that people who read one article might be interested in a related topic. (This can also reduce the number of people leaving your site, also known as the bounce rate).
Then, by linking to an external website, you demonstrate that you are a part of a broader conversation of ideas. While this does give readers a way to leave your site, it demonstrates a willingness to cite your sources and show your research as well.
Bonus Points: When you link (especially within your site), put the hyperlink on an appropriate key term to signal additional relevance to Google for that page, like when I linked to an article expanding on the bounce rate above:
Images matter for your SEO (and your readability).
Much like headings, when images appear in code, Google can read them.
As a result, choosing good keyword-friendly descriptions for your images matters.
It doesn’t help me very much, for example, if Google reads that this image is “photo 001.” Chances are, no one is going to be searching for that.
If, however, I title it “Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers”, that is much more likely to help signal Google to show what this post is about.
Bonus Points: The ‘alt text’ is a descriptive indicator for an image that can be understood by text-only Internet readers (such as those used for assisted reading technologies). This text should reflect what the image is, but can also be used for search engine friendly terms when appropriate.
There is a lot to know about writing search engine optimized content, and these three tips should not be taken as a one-shot fix to get your site to the top of Google.
However, small steps add up, and consistent usage of properly optimized, EXCELLENT content over time goes a long way toward eventual success.
If you’ve never taken the time to implement basic SEO best practices into your writing, there is no time like the present to get started.
Do you have more questions about how to succeed in search engines? Wondering about any other digital marketing topic? We’d love to answer your questions on a post like this. Tweet it to @CTSocializer or message us on Facebook or Google+.