Search engine optimization and blogging go hand-in-hand. Understanding the fundamentals of on-page SEO will help you rank blog posts higher in Google, generate more traffic and increase revenue.
However, there are still mountains of un-optimized blog posts out there. They collect dust and see no results because the writer didn’t take a few minutes to clean up the formatting and other elements.
Don’t worry if you’re guilty of this. I’ll be showing you an on-page SEO checklist you can apply to every blog post to boost its rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) today.
Long-Form Content Is In
Gone are the days where 500-word blog posts would rank at the top of Google. It’s almost quadruple that now! In fact, a Banklinko study found that the average No. 1 result on Google is 1,890 words long.
This makes a lot of sense, too. Google wants to reward the highest quality content to give users the best results. Longer content includes more resources, tips and tools, making it much more practical than shorter blog posts.
While writing about 2,000 words can seem daunting, let me lend you some advice to speed up the process and make it easier:
- Create a skeleton of every blog post you write before you begin. Map out each major point you’d like to touch on and collect resources to reference as you write. This will save you from experiencing writers block and staring at a blank screen as you come up with a new idea.
- Take breaks every 500 to 1,000 words to give yourself a breather. Grab a coffee, go for a walk or take up one of your hobbies. You will feel more refreshed when you return and you’ll be able to finish the blog post easier.
- Outsource content to freelance writers. This will save you time and energy from having to produce the blog posts yourself if long-form content isn’t your strong point.
Images And Other Forms Of Media Are A Must
Content needs to be actionable and entertaining at the same time. That’s where media comes into play. Images, graphics and videos can all add extra value and information to blog posts when used correctly.
Pictures can be used as featured images or to give readers a visual along with a point you’re writing about. Infographics contain extra data and statistics to back up any claims you make, too.
You can use a free tool such as Canva to make these types of graphics. Sign up for an account and choose a template such as “Blog banner.”
Add elements and information that you believe your readers would find beneficial.
Format Your Blog Posts With Header Tags
It’s been found that the average user only reads 20% of content to find what they want faster. Think about yourself. When was the last time you read an article word for word? Often you use headers to find the sub-topic you’re after.
That’s why you need to format your blog posts with header tags. These come in the form of H1, H2, H3 and others. Use these to break up content.
Optimize The Title Tag And Meta Description
Meta data tells search engines detailed information about your blog that helps index and rank it appropriately. The two main pieces of meta data bloggers need to optimize is the title tag and meta description.
They appear on a search engine result like this:
The title tag is the title of the page and should ideally include a keyword to improve rankings. The meta description is the section under where you can include up to 158 characters describing the content.
It’s also important to note that keywords are bolded in meta descriptions as you can see from the above example when you search Google for “Neil Patel.”
This helps to increase the click-through rate of your listing that will also improve its ranking, according to the Rankbrain algorithm. This update made user experience metrics more important as a ranking factor.
Title tags and meta descriptions can be easily edited through most content management systems such as WordPress. Additionally, you can use plugins such as Yoast to optimize them and receive scores to gauge their effectiveness.
Shorter URLs Are Better
The URL of your blog post is a small detail that tells readers and Google what the content is about. It can be quickly optimized to help increase your rankings.
First, let’s take a look at a poorly optimized URL so you know what to avoid:
The URL of this podcast contains random numbers and several slashes, which makes it increasingly confusing to readers and search engines. You want to avoid links like this.
On the flipside, here’s what a clean and straightforward URL should look like:
Final Thoughts On Ranking Blog Posts
Ranking blog posts isn’t as hard as you might think. However, very few bloggers are putting in the effort to clean up their on-page SEO before publishing articles. This results in poor performance, which can also be demotivating.
You can improve your rankings and see much more traffic coming to your blog by following the on-page checklist covered today. Here are the primary takeaways:
- Focus on producing long-form content because it’s proven to rank higher and offer more value to readers.
- Use images, graphics and videos as a way to provide more resources and entertainment for your readers.
- Break up blog posts with header tags to make them easier to read.
- Optimize the title tag and meta description to improve how readers and search engines understand your articles.
- Shorten the URLs of blog posts and include a keyword in them.