With 2021 fast approaching, you may be looking to plan your blog content for the next quarter, or perhaps even beyond that. The Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on each of these blogs will play a big part in whether they get seen, read and shared, so it’s vital that your content planning includes this. Here are four tips from the SEO world to send you on your way to blogging success.
1. Use Also Asked and Answer the Public for Keyword Research
Keyword research is important to make sure you’re answering the questions people are actually asking. It can also provide inspiration by highlighting related topics that you can either cover in your current blog post or use for future content.
Also Asked and Answer the Public are two online tools that are extremely handy when researching your topic. We’ll briefly dive into how each one works and how you can use them to create excellent and effective search engine optimised blog content.
Also Asked uses Google’s “People Also Asked” feature to present a set of questions related to your chosen keyword or subject. The information is taken from real searches so you can see what people are actually searching around your topic. The results are helpfully grouped and interconnected so that you can delve deeper into a topic and see how they’re related.
For example, by typing in the word ‘wedding’, one of the top results is ‘why is it called a wedding reception’. If you’re in the wedding business and looking to answer your target audience’s questions, then this could be perfect inspiration! You can then select this question and see even more related keyphrases.
Currently, Also Asked is in Alpha and completely free to use.
Answer the Public is slightly different but works well in tandem with Also Asked. This site uses the auto complete data you see when typing a phrase into Google. Just like Also Asked, you are shown lots of questions related to your keyword. These are grouped in various ways, including alphabetically, by question, or by preposition. A handy colour palette also helps you see the popularity of each search term.
Answer the Public offers both a free option and several paid subscriptions.
2. Look at Similar Top-Ranking Articles
Before you start writing, search your blog subject in Google and see what ranks in the top 5 results. This gives you a fantastic idea of the type of content that’s popular with users and therefore does well on Google. By emulating the content in the top 5 results, you’re giving yourself a boost up because you’re mimicking tried and tested content without spending months and years researching what works best.
That’s not to say that you should completely copy the top content. Bringing something new to the topic is always beneficial, and Google is very sophisticated in identifying plagiarised content. Looking at the top results is just like studying the work of someone more experienced than you so that you can learn and improve your own work.
3. Update Old Blogs
Too often we spend hours carefully crafting a blog, fully optimising it, and then never looking at it again. The truth is that, by doing this, you’re missing out on some fantastic SEO opportunities – and ones that are often easier to implement than when you’re writing new blogs from scratch. Google also often likes updated content more than it likes new content!
Take a look at Analytics and find which of your blogs see the most traffic, or research which ones rank on page 2 or at the bottom of page 1 on Google. Then go through those blogs, refresh them, correct any outdated information, update and add relevant resources, and change the publication date. If it seems relevant, you could also add [updated for 2021] to the title.
This kind of evergreen content is fantastic for SEO, and by keeping it up-to-date you’re telling search engines that the information is still relevant and useful. But what about blogs with date-specific URLs? To use our wedding example from earlier, you could have a blog called Top 10 Wedding Trends of 2015, with the slug /top-10-wedding-trends-2015, that you want to update for 2021. Create a new blog without the date in the URL (i.e. /top-10-wedding-trends), and just update the title and content from the old blog. Then 301 redirect the old blog to your new one, and update any internal links that point to the old address.
4. Combine Previous Blogs to Create a Guide
Search engines love long-form content and you can save yourself some time, while gaining a lot of SEO benefits, by combining several shorter blogs on a similar subject. By pulling together separate but related information, you’ll create an in-depth and informative guide that’s thorough and useful to your target audience.
Looking at the wedding example again, you may have several blogs that cover picking a wedding dress, choosing a caterer, when to send out invitations, and so on. Combined, you’ve got a proposal-to-wedding-day guide called Everything You Need to Plan Your Perfect Wedding – a go-to guide for any bride- or groom-to be.
Make sure you read through all the content to make sure that it’s up-to-date. You’ll also want to 301 redirect all the shorter blogs to your new Guide, and update any internal links to go to the right place. You can make use of proper section headings, sub-headings, a table of contents and anchor links to help readers easily navigate through the page, too.
Longer guides are not only helpfully comprehensive, but they provide answers to lots of different search questions, sending more traffic to that one page (instead of splitting traffic across several pages), and giving you more SEO brownie points. On top of that, a fairly new feature of Google highlights text on your website that relates directly to the user’s original question so they can easily find the exact answer they need.
Blog content still has a big part to play in search engine optimisation, but it doesn’t always have to be hours and hours of work. Make use of the tools out there, learn from others, take advantage of your top-ranking content, and continue to inform and help your visitors.
Wishing you success in 2021 and beyond!