Making sure your blog content is top notch is one of the best ways to improve your rankings on Google, Bing and other search engines. 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 five 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 structure your content. You can find out what people are searching, and the questions they’re 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. I’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 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 what do I need to organise when I get married. If you’re in the wedding business and looking to answer your target audience’s questions, then this could be perfect inspiration for a blog! You can then select that question to find even more related keywords.
At the time of writing, Also Asked is in BETA and allows 1,000 free searches a month. Once the BETA period is over, it will offer 10 free searches per month, with the option to upgrade to a paid subscription.
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 paid subscriptions.
2. Include an FAQ
When you do your keyword research, you’ll come across lots of inspiration for your blog content. You’ll also likely find a lot of specific questions that your target audience is asking. While you might answer these questions within your blog post, it’s also a good idea to have a shorter, skimmable FAQ section within your post. Ideally, this should include Schema Markup, but even without this technical SEO implemented, an FAQ is great way to help your audience and get noticed by Google.
The FAQ section should include a number of commonly asked questions and their answers. These should be answered as fully and as clearly as possible in a short space. Aim to stick to a word length of 50-60.
3. Look at Similar Top-Ranking Articles
Before you start writing, search your blog subject in Google and see what ranks in the top five results. This gives you a fantastic idea of the type of content that does well on Google. By emulating the content in the top results, you’re giving your site a boost 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 is always beneficial, and Google is very good at 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.
Looking at the top results also gives you an idea of what the searcher actually wants to know, i.e. their intention. Intention is important because it will help you focus your content and decide whether this subject is right for you.
For example, someone searching sailing in the Lake District could either be looking for somewhere to launch their own boat, or somewhere to hire a boat. By searching this phrase in Google, though, the top results suggest boat hire. This tells you to either focus your content on boat hire, or else change your keyword to match the intention you want to target.
4. 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.
Take a look at Google Analytics and find out which of your blogs see the most traffic, or research which ones rank on page two or at the bottom of page one on Google. Then go through those blogs, refresh them, correct any outdated information, update and add relevant resources, and change the publication date. You could also add the current year to the title so readers know they’re getting the most up-to-date information.
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 my 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 the current year. Follow these steps to make sure you don’t lose the SEO benefits from the old blog:
- Create a new blog without the date in the URL (e.g. /top-10-wedding-trends).
- Copy over the title and content from the old blog and make any updates.
- Delete the old blog and 301 redirect the old URL to the new one.
- Update any internal links so that they point to the new URL instead of the old one.
5. 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 ensure 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.
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.
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.