30 May 2016 Writing a blog piece that search engines love & serve more often
You have waded through the arduous content creation journey to create a post that checks the boxes for relevance and interestingness. Ann Handley (author of bestseller Everybody Writes) compares content creation journey to “birthing a Volkswagen”. But before you go ahead and share your fabulous content with the world, go through this On Page SEO checklist of 10+2 steps that will help you upload a search engine optimised blog piece and get loved ‘Up’ by Google & other search engines.
Search engines care about 3 parameters when picking the content results for a specific search query – Content Relevance, Domain Authority and User Experience. On-Page SEO falls in the realm of content relevance. Lets get started.
1. Optimise the permalink URL
By default, the title that you give to the blog gets picked up as the page URL. The URL or the page title is the most important piece of content in your blog, after the actual content itself. Leverage this real estate space by ‘editing the permalink’. Try and cover additional keywords to those in the blog title. This is a good location for adding LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords too. More on that in point 9.
2. Optimise the blog title
Try to begin the post title with keywords. MOZ study shows that pages with keywords in the beginning of blog title rank higher than the pages where keyword appears in the middle or in the end of the blog title (all other ranking factors being equal).
The order in which the keywords appear matters too. Search engines are likely to serve up a page with exact match key phrase over a page with the same keywords but in different order ( considering that all other ranking factors are equal).
3. Optimise the media
Prior to upload, resize and rename all your images and videos. While resizing the images, aim for the smallest size without compromising the image quality. It is important that the image doesn’t pixelate on a big screen.
Importance of a descriptive and clear Alt Text tag cannot be overstated. Search engines depend on the ‘Alt Text tag’ to determine the context and relevance of image. Also, increasingly, searchers depend on images as the first search result to lead them to the information they are seeking on web.
Image Name or the URL path of the image is the second most important factor, after the alt text tag. By default, the image file name becomes the url path.
Text closest to the image follows next. Include a few keywords which describe the image in the text closest to the image. You can easily customise the look of image titles by modifying the css of the site.
Useful resources for image optimisation:
- ImageOptim or websites like JPEGMini or PunyPNG can be used for optimising the image before upload
- Recommended plugin for Image Size optimisation : WP Smush, Ewww Optimiser
- Renaming the media files post upload : Media File Renamer
4. Optimising the SEO title tags and meta description
Keywords matter in SEO title tag. Apply the same keywords principle stated in point 2 – early introduction and correct order.
However, meta description is the click bait. Think of it as ad copy. Write it to make it as compelling as possible for the reader to click on your result when it is served in the search engine results. Higher click through rate (CTR) of your impression translates into higher search engine ranking position (SERP).
Stay within the character limits of meta tags. For title tag, it is 60 and for meta description, it is advisable to keep it under 155. If you follow the character limits, you can be sure that your preferred title tags will be served almost 90% of the time.
Useful resources for meta tags optimisation:
Keyword ideas : Google Autocomplete, Google Keyword planner
5. Keyword prominence
Including your keywords or key-phrases in the first 100 words of your content sends a strong relevance signal to Google. So even if you want to start the blog with a preface or backstory, make sure that the important keywords are covered in the the content with in the first 100 words of the piece.
6. Outbound links
Outbound links to authority sites in your field sends relevance and content quality signals to the search engines. It also helps (even if a little) in pushing up your DA (Domain authority).
7. Give your blog the headings love it deserves
Readers (and search engines) love content that is easily scannable. Before reading the complete piece, the reader is likely to scan through the sub headings to see if a particular article is of interest to her or not.
Make it easy for her to do that. Use H1 tag (recommended only once in a blog piece, for the heading) and H2 tags for sub headings. Use bold, italics, different colours for outbound links to make the content easy to scan and read.
8. Make sure your loading speed is kickass
Useful resources to test the load speed speed of your websites:
9. Use LSI keywords
In the early days of SEO, keyword density played THE major role in On Page SEO. The only way for search engines to determine relevancy was by keywords density. But search engines have come a long way from there and they analyse the meaningof query and serve the URLs as per the search meaning.
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) are keywords that are related to your primary keyword. These are synonyms, related and linked words that make the relevance of the page clear to Google.
Additional reading on how to use LSI keywords for better on-page optmisation can be done here on beginnersbook.com
10. Get your bounce rate down
Bounce rate is another interaction element closely watched by Google and other search engines. If 80% of your site visitors are bouncing (not navigating to another page or performing an action considered as a ‘hit’), search engines get a negative relevance and quality signal.
Use internal linking, post suggestions, most popular feed, related content, engaging videos to make it hard for visitors to leave your site once they land on it. The more ‘hits’ each visit generates, the higher the site is ranked for engaging and relevant content.
11. Prefer long content
Detailed, thorough pieces are preferred by the users and the search engines over the superficial ones. So, if you are putting together a content piece on a topic, make it as high quality as possible, using infographics, videos, block quotes, internal and external links. Search engines are much more likely to serve up a long, detailed content piece as compared to a flaky one.
12. Incorporate social
More social engagement translates to better ranking. Consider floating social share bars to suggest and make it easy for readers to share the fabulous content on your site.
What are some of the on-page optimisation techniques you have tried and swear by for achieving great on-page SEO results? Look forward to your observations, comments and questions. Comment below or shoot me an email at [email protected]