Blogging can be a great way to drive a steady stream of traffic to your small business website. Publishing blogs 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.
A blog post has miles more longevity than a social media post and can last years, whereas a social media post has a life of fewer than 24 hours. So, blogs are a great way to include evergreen content to your website, that can send a steady stream of new visitors over a number of years. BUT, in order for the magic to happen, your business blogs must be created in an SEO-friendly way so that:
- Google (and other search engines) can clearly see what topic your content is about
- The content is targeted to your ideal customers and will help to boost sign-ups and sales
- the blog content is easy to read for both real-life visitors and search engine spiders
- the content is valuable enough that others will want to link to it/share it
When you’re blogging for SEO, it’s essential to start implementing some basic SEO techniques to help your blog rank and for customers to find you. And why waste time creating lots of lovely content that few people will read?!
The good news is that you don’t need to become an SEO expert to make your blogs SEO-friendly. Just follow the following advice to get you going and to develop good habits for developing and following the best blog-writing practice.
Tips for Creating SEO-Friendly Business Blogs
Step 1: Use Keyword Research to Create Effective, Targeted Blog Titles
Your blog title will be more effective if it includes keywords or phrases that relate to your product, service, or subject you want to write about. Including key phrases will help Google to understand what the page content is about and also help the writer to structure the post around those phrases and topics.
A targeted blog title is also key for the customer experience. When they see your title in the search results, they’re more likely to click on a clear, inviting blog title and description, than one that looks flat or doesn’t ‘speak’ to them. Here’s how to get started with keyword research:
How to Research Targeted Keywords & Phrases using the Google Search Bar
The Google search bar is a great starting point for getting together a list of potential keyword phrases for your blog titles. If you’re not sure what keywords to search for, start thinking about your customers:
- What are your main products and services and what might a customer type to find them? You might want to focus on your most popular products first.
- What questions can your potential blog posts answer? Are there any particular questions they ask frequently and how can your blog help to answer them?
- What are the main keywords for your industry or business sector?
Do a brain dump and get any possible ideas down on paper, readyto start researching. Don’t worry if your list is small, other ideas and suggestions will come up as you follow the process.
Start typing the topics, phrases and ideas into the Google search bar. As you type, more suggestions should appear in the search drop-down. See what comes up around this subject area and add to the list any other ideas that fit the bill and are worth exploring.
Add more focus to your search 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 (particularly useful if you run a local business serving a specific area)
- tips/checklist for…
- help with …
- advice on…
Just keep on repeating this process with other keywords or phrases you can think of related to your customers’ needs, wants and pain points. By the end of this process, you should end up with a nice list of potential blog titles and subjects to research further.
Gain Easy Keyword Wins
Typing in questions can often lead to almost ready-baked blog titles appearing in the search results and suggests that people have already searched for the answer to that question. Have a system in place so you can store these ideas and add them to your blogging plan for the future. Keep your ideas in a notebook or add them to an Excel document.
It’s also useful to select at least two phrases to help super-charge your blog posts. Note down the potential main keywords/phrases for blog titles, and also research possible secondary phrases that relate to the main topic. Google makes the link between associated words and terms so the secondary phrases could help boost impressions and visitor numbers.
Use these secondary phrases in your SEO title and description (more about this below), as well as in further sub-headings and page content. This saves you from overusing your main keywords in one blog (a no-no in the eyes of Google – more commonly known as keyword stuffing. So, keep secondary phrases in mind as you crack on with keyword research.
Step 2: Researching Further Keyword Ideas, Search Volume, and Competition
Once you’ve completed stage 1 above, you should now have a list of potential keywords and phrases, ready for stage 2 of your keyword research.
The simplest way for anyone new to SEO to start diving deeper with keyword research is to use a tool like Keywords Everywhere. It’s a browser plug-in that’s easy-to-use and keeps keyword research simple – even for complete newbies. To get the low-down on how to use it, read Simple Keyword Research with Keywords Everywhere
Once you’ve inputted all the keywords and long-tail phrases you want to research and download the reports from Keywords Everywhere. You’ll be left with reports with a list of keyword suggestions and key data for each keyphrase. Includes:
- Monthly Search Volume & Trends
- Average cost per click for a Google Ad using that term
- Competition – how popular are your chosen phrases.
This data will help you to make decisions about which keywords and phrases to use in blog titles and focus in on topics your customer is actually searching for.
Step 3: Choosing Targeted Keywords
So now that you have a list of potential keywords and volumes, you need to choose which ones to use! In an ideal world we’d go for high volume and low competition terms but sadly, these aren’t often available.
It’s tempting to choose terms that have a high volume of searches, but volume isn’t always the most important metric. Remember that you are trying to generate leads and sales, so it’s pointless to use terms that just send hundreds of disinterested customers your way.
Another issue with high-volume searches is that they are usually highly competitive with lots of businesses vying for top spot. It can be extremely difficult to rank on page 1 for competitive keywords and phrases, especially if you’re competing with big, established brand names. Your strategy in this area will totally depend on your online marketing goals, objectives and budgets.
Low competition phrases are usually the easiest to rank well for as they usualy have a low volume, which makes them less tempting to big brands. Or you may just be lucky and find a particular long-tail phrase question that’s very specific and fits your customers perfectly but somehow been missed by your competitors. Writing blogs based on low volume/competion long-tail phrases can sbe very useful for gaining targeted traffic that converts.
It’s a long-term content marketing strategy and won’t bear fruit overnight, but if you regularly publish blogs using low-competition terms your small business will be creating a bank of evergreen content that will gradually boost clicks and provide a low-cost way for small businesses to reach their customers.
No Search Volume for Preferred Keywords?
Don’t despair if the keywords and phrases you expect to see have zero search volume. It’s a good thing to know – this knowledge means you don’t waste time writing a blog about a subject that nobody is searching for. Perhaps your audience are using different search phrases than you anticipated, so well done – you’ve just gained some more valuable customer and market knowledge 😉
Step 4: Add Keywords to the Blog Title, Description & URL
Now that you’ve chosen your targetted keywords and phrases, 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. This is usually labeled as the H1 (Header 1) in the page code. Pop your researched SEO-friendly blog title here.
URL: URL is the techy term for the web page address. This too needs to contain your keywords and phrases but don’t go mad and overstuff it. Use no more than 60-70 characters. URLs are often automatically generated as you draft your blog so do remember to double-check this before you publish.
SEO Title: Web pages can have two titles – page title and SEO title. 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. So, if your blog title is short and snappy use the space to get some relevant secondary phrases in. If you don’t add a specific SEO title, it will just use your Page Title.
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!
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 what this blog is about and entice people to click through.
If your website is built with WordPress, the SEO title and description can usually be updated using a plug-in tool like SEO Yoast. If you’re unsure, ask your web developer where you can make changes to your SEO page title and description on your company website.
Step 5: Create Headers and Add Keywords
It’s important to structure your blog in such a way that is easy for the Search Engines AND your visitors to read. (By the way, try to write at least 300 words for maximum SEO-friendliness.)
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 makes 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 have the main H1 page title plus at least one H2 within the content.
For an example of how this works, let’s look at how I’ve structured this very blog post:
- Header 1: My H1 is the page/blog title.
- Header 2: The main sub-heading “Tips for Creating SEO-Friendly Business Blogs” is my H2. 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: All further sub-headings on this blog post are set as H3 headings. This creates a hierarchy of subjects that’s clear for Google to see. And again, it makes it super-easy for readers to scroll-through and see the main points.
- Header 4-6: I haven’t used them H4-H6 in this blog, but you can do! Go right up to H6 if you need to, depending 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 and keep visitors onsite for longer.
Step 6: Try to Add Internal Links to Other Pages
Where possible, (and within reason – don’t go bananas or you’ll be penalised) try to link to other relevant pages on your website from your blog content. As an example from this blog post – if you scroll back to Step 2: Researching Keywords Ideas and Volumes, I’ve added a text link within the content to my blog about Keywords Everywhere to help my readers discover how to do their own keyword research.
The purpose of this ink for SEO is two-fold. Firstly, it links the reader to other useful content related to the topic they’re already reading about. It makes related content easy to find and tempts readers to stay on your website for longer. Google will give your site more authority if visitors stay on your site to read your content, (as opposed to loads of people clicking but leaving quickly as the content isn’t for them).
Secondly, it also helps to show Google that your small business is an authority on that particular subject and have more than one blog/page on that related topic. The more content you have, the more Google has to crawl and return to users search queries..
Internal linking is 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. You should always aim to have some kind of call to action as part of your blog posts to make it easier for your cstomers to take action – whether that be buying or entering into your sales funnel.
Step 7: Making Blog Images SEO-Friendly
Are you just uploading images to your blog without editing the image 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 as big images slow down your website. And Google counts page speed as a ranking factor, so make sure it isn’t too slow.
- Alt Text/Tag: All blog images should have alt text set. This is the data the Search Engines use for indexing images and also allows visually impaired visitors to ‘read’ the image using screen readers. Adding alt text seems like a small thing but it’s extremely important so don’t forget! Use keywords if possible.
- 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.
So, there you have my comprehensive tips for creating SEO-friendly blogs for your small business. Give them a try to help make your blog more SEO-friendly and more potential readers & customers can find it.
Put aside some time to go through existing blogs and edit them accordingly. Then get into the habit of following these tips for all new blog content you publish in the future. Depending on the volume of blog content on your website, you should start seeing some results within a few months of implementing these tips. As Google picks up on clearer keywords and structure, each post will begin to gain more impressions and start moving up the page rankings.
If you enjoyed this post and find it useful, please share the love! I’d also love to hear how Blogging for SEO is working for your small business.
Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at F
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