Blogging Tips for Small Business
Blogging is a great way to drive traffic to your website and a blog post has miles more longevity than a social media post. Blogs provide evergreen content that can send a steady stream of new visitors over a number of years. Blogging regularly will build a bank of content that will help Google to find your site, index more of your pages and increase your chances of making it to page 1 of search results.
An extra bonus is that writing a regular blog will also give you content to share with your network on social media to help boost your audience. Ensuring your blog is SEO-friendly is key to making your content stand out in news feeds and catch the eye of potential readers. However, without implementing some basic SEO, your blog is like a car without petrol and won’t get you very far.
If you’re new to blogging, it can be hard to know where to start. You don’t need to be an SEO expert to employ a few basic SEO Follow this basic advice to get you going and to develop good habits for following a best blog-writing practice.
5 Ways to Make a Blog SEO-Friendly
1. Blog Title & Keyword Research
Your blog title will be more effective if it includes the keywords or phrases for your product or service. It helps Google to understand what the page content is about and will favour SEO-friendly sites in its page rankings.
A targeted title is also key for the customer experience. It’s what visitors see on the search page and they’ll be more likely to click on a clear, inviting description than one that looks flat or doesn’t speak to them.
If you’re not sure what your keywords should be, think about your customer. What are they searching for? How can your blog help them?
Using the Google Search Bar for Blog Title Inspiration
To help you, I’ll use this very blog as an example of what to do. I want to reach small businesses to help them with SEO blogging tips. Blogs are a great way to attract custom but many business owners aren’t sure how to utilise SEO to make this happen. My blog will provide valuable knowledge so my crowd can do some DIY-SEO if they choose. But if they are actually looking for an SEO consultant, this blog will help to attract potential customers.
So, I start by typing the words “SEO Tips Small Business Blog” to see what appears in the little box below – this shows the most popular types of searches for these terms. This brings up some nice little suggestions and I note down the ones that fit best to the topic in hand.
The results above show me that the word ‘blog’ doesn’t feature in these results. But the term “SEO Tips for Small Businesses” could be useful and incorporated into the content. So I run another one – this time with “small business blog seo”. (Results below).
Again, not much coming up for actual blogs. But the terms tips & checklist can be used, so note them down.
Don’t despair if what you expect to see doesn’t come up – it’s a good thing! This knowledge means you don’t waste time creating a blog title that doesn’t speak to your potential audience. Or perhaps they are just using different search phrases than you anticipated, so well done – you’ve just gained some more valuable customer knowledge into your customers thought processes!
So, my next try doesn’t mention SEO at all. It may be that small business owners want help with their blog but don’t know that SEO is what they need, so they’re not specifically searching for it.
Just keep on repeating this process with other keywords or phrases you can think of related to your customers needs, wants and pain points. You may find that this process brings up your some suggestions you hadn’t thought of, so note these down too and run them through the search bar to see what else pops up.
You might add more focus by adding phrases that reflect how people ask questions when searching online. For example:
- how to…
- buy / where can I buy…
- local / in my area / near me (if you run a local business serving a specific area)
- tips/checklist for…
- help with …
Gain Easy Wins & Find Potential BlogTitles for the Future
Sometimes when doing this you may spot something that while not relevant to the blog you’re currently writing, it provides a gift to your future self! For example, in the screenshot above, the terms “SEO Strategies for Small Business” and “Does SEO work for Small Business” come up. These questions are almost ready-baked blog titles and can be used to form a blog title that you know will answer a question people are already searching for. Have a system in place so you can store these ideas where you can find them easily so that you can come back to them another day and add them to your blogging plan.
Researching Further Ideas, Search Volume and Competition
Once you’re done you should have a list of potential keywords and phrases, ready for stage 2 of your SEO research.
If you have a Google account (and most of us do), log into Google Adwords, or create an account if you don’t have one. Once you’re in, look for the Tools option in the top-right of the screen – the one with the spanner icon. Click on Planning, then Keyword Planner. Then choose “Discover New Keywords”.
On the next screen start typing in your keywords and phrases. You can input up to 10 at a time, so if you have more try to group them in a way that makes sense. Enter your keywords, then click “Get Results.”
A report will then be generated. You can look at it on-screen if there’s only a small list of results. For longer reports, you’ll need to download it using the “Download Keyword Ideas” link, above the report to the right.
Understanding Google Adwords Reports
You need only worry about data in three of the columns for the purpose of crafting targeted SEO blog titles for small businesses:
Keywords: This column will give you a lovely list with other ideas to explore or incorporate into your content.
Average Monthly Visits: Gives you a rough idea of how many people a month search these terms. Now, it doesn’t tell you if there are seasonal variants but you could use a tool like Google Trends if it’s key for you to have this information.
Competition: As Adwords main purpose is to sell ad space on Google, this column shows how much competition there is amongst advertisers to get the top spot on page 1 for these terms. Depending on what you sell, competition can vary greatly. It will be higher for fast-moving consumer goods, online retail and anything dominated by big players in the market place.
Ideally, you’re looking for terms that have low to medium competition to give you more of a chance to rank on page 1. You may find that low competition phrases have a low search volume. This can still work as blogs are ever-green content that’s so targeted it will keep bringing a steady stream of visitors – potentially over several years! If you have a number of published blogs all generating visits, it all adds up and they are working for your business constantly. Conversion is the key – not the highest number of visits.
So at the end of that quick SEO research session, I decided to go with the main title of “Blogging Tips for Small Business”. I then chose some secondary phrases – those were:
- how to make a blog SEO-friendly
- SEO blog writing tips
- how to optimize a blog for SEO
It’s useful to select at least one more phrase to help super-charge your post. This is for two reasons. The title is specific to my audience of small businesses so it’s clear who I’m talking too. The secondary phrases help to drill down further on the specifics that these tips are about SEO and their role in effective blogging.
You can also use these secondary phrases in your SEO title and description (more about this below), as well as in further sub-headings and page content. These associated keywords will show Google that this article covers both bases and it will also be clear to visitors when they read your listing in the search page results.
This explanation covers the key basics you need to know to find keywords for your business blog titles. To increase your knowledge in this area further, here’s a great in-depth article from HubSpot about ‘How to do Keyword Research’
2. Blog Title, Description & URL
Now that you’ve chosen your targetted title and keywords, you need to work this into your blog. Work these into the main content of the blog as well as these key places:
Page Title: This is the title of your blog as seen at the head of the page. So the title for this blog is “Blogging Tips for Small Business”
SEO Title: Web pages can have two titles – page and SEO. The SEO title is what Google reads and is what appears in the search page listing. It can be used to add more keywords or add clarification to your page title. If you don’t add a specific SEO title, it will just use your Page Title.
So, my SEO Title is “Blogging Tips for Small Business | How to Make a Blog SEO-Friendly”. See how I’ve used both a primary and secondary phrase here to get the point home as to who is my intended audience and what the topic is.
For reference – SEO titles should be no longer than 60-70 characters. Longer ones will get the end chopped off in the search results so get laser-focused and don’t waste those characters!
URL: URL is the techy term for web page address. This too needs to contain your keywords and phrases. The URL/web address for this page is http://virtuallyoptimized.co.uk/blogging-tips-for-small-business/.
See how it matches my blog title – you could also add elements of your secondary phrase if desired. URLs are often automatically generated as you draft your blog so do remember to double-check this before you publish.
SEO Description: Another element that appears in the search results listing and provides another opportunity to ‘speak’ to both Google and your potential customers. SEO descriptions should be no longer than 150-160 characters. Use it to make it clear to the reader as to what this blog is about and entice people to click through.
My chosen SEO description for this blog is:
“SEO is key to a Small Business Blog ranking well with Google. Try these 5 basic SEO tips and make your blog content targeted to customers and SEO-friendly.”
3. Editing Images for Blogs
Are you just uploading images to your blog without editing the images data and sizing? If so, time to change that practice! All website images should be optimized for SEO ensuring that the search engines know what your images are about and that they are accessible to all visitors. It’s also key for site loading speed.
- Alt Text/Tag: This is the data the Search Engines use for indexing images so it’s important to provide this data. It’s important to describe what the image is in the alt text then it can be ‘read’ by visually impaired visitors as the content will be described to them by their screen readers. Adding alt text seems like a small thing but it’s extremely important so don’t forget to do it!
- Image Name/Title: make sure the file name includes your keywords. Sometimes, images are found via image search so your content will look much better in the results if the file name matches your keywords/phrases. Having a random file name like IMG12345.jpg just doesn’t look very inviting.
- Image Size: It’s important to resize any images for web use. Print quality images are too large for websites and can slow site speed down in a big way. Google ranks pages and sites down for slow loading speed, so it’s another small step that’s extremely important. Make sure all files are saved as .jpegs (or .pngs) and are saved for web or file size has been compressed before uploading to your website.
4. Add Sub-Headings to Blog Content
It’s important to structure your blog in such a way that is easy for the Search Engines AND your visitors to read.
Google uses information found under the Heading 1, Heading 2 etc. sections to find out more on what your blog is about and rank the information presented in order of it’s importance. That way, they can return a relevant results page to their users.
This tactic also makes your blog easier to read for visitors. It gives your blog a clear structure, makes it easier to skim-read for the key points and also make it’s easier on the eye (and therefore to read on screen). This is particularly important for longer blogs but even shorter blogs should aim to get at least 1 header in.
For an example of how this works, let’s look at how I’ve structured this blog:
- Header 1: My Header 1 is ‘5 tips to make a blog SEO-friendly.’ This shows that my blogging tips for small businesses are seo-related.
- Header 2: Each of the sub-heading showing the main details of the five tips is formatted as a Header 2 Again, both Google and your readers can easily see exactly what areas the give tips cover. No need to wade through the text for this information, it can be seen clearly with a quick scroll down the page. It reinforces what the important points of the blog are to both Google and your readers.
- Header 3-6: Use further headings as sub-headers as needed throughout the text., continuing up to Header 6 if you wish. That would depend on the length of the blog and the subject matter.
By ordering your blogs in this way you make it easier for Google to index them, improve how they appear in the search results, thereby increasing click-through rates.
5. Internal Links
Where possible, (and within reason – don’t go bananas as you’ll be penalised) try to link to other relevant pages on your website. If your blog relates to another blog post on your site, link them. If you are trying to sell a service, link to that service page.
The purpose of this is to keep visitors on your site for longer. It’s also a way to show Google that you are the authority on that particular subject and have more than one blog/page on that topic.
It’s such a simple step but worth doing. If you have no other blog posts or pages on that subject do some lateral thinking! Link to service pages or add signposts to your freebie or sign-up offer.
This way, Google can see I have other pages about blogging and I also get the chance to let my blog readers know about my services.
So, there you have it – 5 ways to help make your blog more SEO-friendly and to help potential readers & customers to find you. Get into the habit of following these tips and you should start to see results from your organic visits.
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Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net