How to search engine optimise your blog content
One of the most effective and efficient forms of digital marketing, one that has stood the test of time, is search engine optimisation. Also known as SEO, it is an essential component of any successful blog. Regardless of subject matter, a blog owner needs to cater his content to the search engines in order to succeed. Surprisingly, staying “compliant” with the unwritten rules and suggestions of good SEO does lead to better writing.
This article will take a deeper look into what search engine optimisation actually is and how to utilise it in your blog posts.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
Search engine optimisation can be defined as any action that is taken to improve the search ranking of a web page. SEO for a blog involves many techniques that are proven to improve the ability of that blog to be seen in search engines.
Search engines are very important for blog owners to consider. Depending on who you ask, the major search engines in the United States (Google, Yahoo! & Bing) control anywhere from 60% to 90% of all American web traffic. Most new readers to an unknown blog will find that blog through the search engines, not a direct URL request.
The search engines “optimise” their results by attempting to present the most relevant options for a search query to the web surfer. The idea is that more relevant results makes the surfer happier, and that person will come back to the search engine with his next search. Google is the biggest search engine in the world, but it is not the only one to consider, especially for content that is meant for an international audience. Japan prefers Yahoo, Russia uses Yandex most and China has Baidu as the number one search engine choice.
No search engine puts out hard and fast rules about how it optimises content. They do give guidance, but the exact percentage or weight placed on each aspect of optimisation is an unknown to the public. SEO experts make highly educated guesses based on direct guidance and the results of past campaigns. The best experts are able to show their worth through rising search rankings for the end user.
How Does Search Engine Optimisation Work?
Search engine optimisation works, as stated earlier, by improving the search ranking of a web page that contains the optimised content. Ideally, optimised content with a higher search ranking is seen more, which leads to more clickthroughs and conversions for a business.
According to SEO Profiler, the first three organic search listings on Google get 60% of the clicks for that particular search keyword. The first page of listings gets 89% of all clicks. If your listing is number one, you can expect a full 1/3rd of clicks for that keyword to hit your page. Other search engines have been shown to have similar behaviour patterns.
In order to improve search ranking, the content of a blog must be seen as relevant, timely and helpful:
- Relevant content is content that delivers on the promise of its introduction, advertisement or keyword infrastructure. In the past, many scammers used to game search rankings by simply placing keywords of popular topics in content that had nothing to do with that content. For instance, a cat food producer might have littered its web content with the keyword “Justin Bieber” for no reason to gain notoriety. [Protip: This tactic no longer works, by the way.] The modern search engine has many ways to determine if a blog is talking about what the page says it is about.
- Timely content means that the content is up to date. There are more content creators making blogs every day. The sixth edition of DOMO’s Data Never Sleeps report tells us that 2.5 new quintillion bytes of data are made every day. This number will only increase over time. By the year 2020, every person on the planet will create the equivalent of 1.7 MB of data per second. In an environment like this, searchers want the latest and greatest.
- Helpful content means the content is actually adding value to the reader. Believe it or not, search engine algorithms have ways to consider this (bounce rate, time on page metrics). Just because content is on topic and on time does not mean that it is unique in any way. In fact, content that is literally copied from another site will be punished, with a possible total blacklist for the offending URL in search rankings.
There are some tried and true techniques to improve search rankings through optimisation efforts. Here are some best practices to consider, using Google as the benchmark:
- Length of post – In general, longer posts are seen as more trustworthy. They also have room to include more relevant information and naturally cause a rise in the very important total time on page metric.
- Readability of post – Long paragraphs of text do not read well online. It is usually best for SEO to break up content into short paragraphs of three or less sentences. The major search engines can also index pictures and videos, both of which work well as text breaks. Humans who take the time to view pictures or videos are also staying on the page longer, which increases the trust metric of that page with search engines.
- Keyword density – Keywords are a very important part of how a search engine recognizes a page’s content as relevant. However, overusing a keyword can be mistaken for spam. The density of your chosen keyword should be between 2% and 3%. After that, alternative phrases and synonyms of the keyword are best. The bottom line: Good writing beats any “keyword strategy.”
- Uniqueness of post – If your post copies long phrases of a post that is already on the Internet, your post may be punished. This is true even if you didn’t mean to do it. Use plagiarism checkers to ensure that your content is 100% original.
- Timeliness of post – Many webmasters believe that once a post has been published, its SEO value cannot be renewed after a peak. Not true! Posts can be updated with new information and gain new life in search engine rankings. Companies often update popular posts with new information and achieve new notoriety years after the original publication.
Generally, anything that makes a blog post look more natural is great. The search engines are very attuned to auto-generated content or content that is created specifically for SEO purposes. The secret is to add value so that humans want to stay on your page longer. This will signal the search engines to view your content favourably.
Remember: The search engines are being built to filter out bad content just like a human would. As more blogs are written across the Internet, the engines get better and better at this task. Google and the other search engines employ sophisticated AI and machine learning technologies to “teach” the algorithm how to act. Therefore, always look to the future when creating posts – trying to game the system in the short term will probably not work out very well for your blog.
If you have the time and the manpower, you can optimise all of your content for the search engines using the best practices above. The problem is that most businesses do not have this extra time or labor just sitting around – even the biggest companies in the world. You will routinely find marketing companies outsourcing their own SEO. Why? The experts know better than anyone that having the right help is essential to success.
Flesh out your content marketing strategy with the right delegation. Use a search engine optimisation partner to bring your ideas to life, and let your staff focus on the more creative aspects of the marketing process.