Search engines play a critical role in attracting traffic to your website, especially considering the free recurring nature of organic search engine traffic. Ultimately, the better you rank on search engines, the more visibility you get, and the more potential you have to build subscribers, members, and revenue.
But how do you rank well on search engines? The exact algorithms aren’t public knowledge, so there are no precise guidelines to follow. Nevertheless, years of research and experience have allowed the SEO community to develop a set of blogging best practices that can be applied to any niche or industry.
Here is a list of tips that will help any blogger drive more traffic from search engine.
1. Create articles that are timeless, or evergreen, regularly. This type of content serves as reference material or comprehensive guides, which links and residual traffic years after publication.
2. Write articles that will provide useful, practical information – not only to your regular readers but also to other bloggers who may share and link back to these articles.
Like evergreen content, articles with actionable ideas serve as reference material, which helps with organic backlinks, and in turn boost your search engine rankings.
3. Write long-form content such as guides and how-tos. Many blogs got hit by Google’s Panda Penalty because of short, low quality content. With long-form content, you avoid getting caught in Google’s filters. These articles are also more likely to be linked to by other bloggers – again aiding your link building campaign. Another bonus benefit of developing long-form content is that you may unintentionally target long-tail keywords.
Generally, long-form content is your best chance to earn money online with a blog.
4. Identify other target keywords, which are related to the top keywords that bring traffic to your site. Using Google Webmaster Tools, you can take a look at these top-performing keywords. You can then target similar keywords as those top-performing keywords give you an idea of what your readers are looking for.
5. Be consistent in publishing posts. Regularly producing great content can be difficult, especially if you really want to provide high-quality, timeless content. However, once you get into the groove of writing, you will find that the process makes you a more disciplined blogger.
A side benefit of developing more content is that you eventually rank for more keywords, therefore translating into a better chance of ranking higher and being discovered. Sometimes, you only need one viral authoritative post to skyrocket your blog’s reach and exposure.
Finally, developing regular fresh content is one way to keep your blog audience engaged and active.
6. Provide answers and solutions. Don’t just ramble on about any topic. People who do a Google search have one thing in mind: to find a solution to a problem. Write content that give in-depth answers to questions. This is the best way to provide your readers value.
7. Be thorough about keyword research, and identify a single primary target keyword for each post and additional secondary keywords. Keyword identification is a means to rank on Google, and if you do not focus on keywords, you may very well end up writing awesome content for years with few visits.
However, do not start targeting the most popular (aka competitive) keywords immediately. Instead, start with less competitive keywords and establish your site’s authority from there.
8. Target long-tail keywords. The result – you get targeted, high-quality, recurring traffic that is easier to rank for.
Use tools such as Google Keyword Planner to identify long-tail keywords related to your main keyword. Use these phrases naturally in your content.
9. Use headings and sub-headings marked with H1, H2, and H3 tags. Be sure to include your targeted keyword and variations thereof.
Not only does this practice offer SEO value but it also breaks up your text for improved readability.
10. Change your title tag to contain your ideal keyword. The best practice is to use the keyword at the beginning of the title, but make sure it reads naturally. If necessary, use a punctuation mark (colon, dash, or question mark, depending on how you craft your title) and then create the hook with a quantitative statement. Your titles can make the difference between a reader clicking on your post or the one above or below you.
11. Optimize your images. Use a featured image or insert one at the beginning of the post. Not only do images tend to lure readers in, they also have some SEO value.
Make sure you use a relevant name (title) for your image and use alt=“keyword”. Don’t use the same keyword for all image titles and alt tags so try to diversify.
12. Make internal linking a practice. Linking to related posts on your blog should be a habit. It’s particularly effective in increasing on-page time and stickiness, thereby improving the likelihood of a user becoming a lead or generating revenue.
13. Aim for high-quality backlinks. Backlinks are not all the same. Your mantra should be “quality supersedes quantity”.
Before you approach a site for a guest post request, do a background check. Look at the following elements, for example: keyword rankings, social media following and engagement, site authority, backlink profile, and the types of content they link out to.
14. Focus on building a strong presence on at least one social media platform. Take a look at similar blogs in your niche and which platforms work best for them. Begin with one network and learn how it works and the types of content that get shares. More specifically, learn if it works for your blog audience and industry. Check if your readers are active on that platform and if you can reach and engage with them. If it doesn’t work for you, choose another social platform.
If you’re running a B2B blog, you’ll likely see your competitors active on LinkedIn and Twitter, where the target audience is most active. If you’re running a B2C blog – especially one that’s image-focused – you’ll likely see your competitors highly active on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, where user engagement and CTRs are high.
Social engagement and SEO may not have a direct correlation, but social media offers visibility. This may get the attention of other bloggers, and as a result, earn organic links.
15. Make user experience your priority. Aesthetics plus good UX equals good design, and that is what you want to achieve. Choose font styles and sizes that are easy to read. Make use of white space liberally, and use visuals to break up and complement the text.
Make it easy for your readers to find related content by providing menu bars that aid in navigation – the fewer clicks, the better for your site structure and user experience. Use relevant internal linking to provide additional information for readers without them having to manually search for it.
Don’t let ads interfere with the reading experience. Analyze their placement so that they don’t annoy readers (which may prompt a quick exit) but at the same time optimize your CTRs.
The bottom line – to get a huge, steady flow of search engine traffic, you must invest the time and effort into creating a great overall website. This includes excellent content, SEO, social media, and design. Be consistent in creating great content, follow the above tips as well as develop your own SEO checklist, and execute on a robust outreach campaign, and you will likely be a successful blogger shortly.