Blogging is something a lot of small business owners do. When it’s done well it can be a great low-cost way to reach out to potential customers.
However, many new businesses can find that the effort they put into their blog isn’t as well rewarded as they’d hoped.
So to help you realise all the benefits blogging can bring to your business, we’ve asked Luke Budka, of TopLine Comms to reveal 5 ways to make sure that your blog gets the desired results.
Blogging is a concept that the majority of SMEs will already be familiar. What they may be more unfamiliar with is how to use blogging strategically to attract new leads – especially as it relates to search engine optimisation (SEO).
Contrary to what some might believe, making your blog content SEO-friendly isn’t all that complicated. The rules of Google – and other search engines – aren’t purposefully mysterious or unknowable: they’re simply designed with the user in mind, not the writer.
Accordingly, relevance and quality reader experience will typically be rewarded; irrelevance and poor reader experience will be punished.
So, making your blog content SEO-friendly is, to a large extent, about making it reader-friendly. That said, there are certain best practice tips you can keep in mind to maintain and boost the quality of your output – and rise in the search engine rankings at the same time.
1. Create useful, detailed content
This should be obvious enough, but it isn’t always: the blog you’re writing should be good. That means useful, detailed, and valuable to its target audience. It doesn’t mean writing a blog for the sake of it.
But how do you create something meaningful to your audience?
It’s simpler than you might think. Start by just doing basic research into the questions and concerns your target audience has.
Provide fresh, insightful material and most of the work is done for you: you should see higher engagement and correspondingly higher SEO value.
Specific tactics include:
Use a tool like Soovle to find queries, and write a blog that speaks directly to your readers. Soovle essentially pulls together the search results from all the major search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and YouTube.
When you type in a keyword or phrase, you gain a window into the sorts of topics people are searching for – and you can use these to form the basis of new blog content.
Use a question and answer forum like Quora to identify questions your target audience is asking, and then attempt to answer them using your blog content. You can easily search for questions relevant to your area of interest, whether that’s technology, finance, business, health, or something else entirely.
In the world of SEO, relevant, useful content goes a long way – especially if you’re able to answer the tricky questions which trouble your key prospects.
Review your goal completions in Google Analytics to identify the affinity interests of your website users. This means evaluating how well your different blogs are performing and picking out the content that is driving the most goal completions (specific actions such as page visits, clicks, and form submissions).
Similarly, you can use a CRM like HubSpot to identify which content is generating the most leads.
Lastly, you can also check Google Search Console to see which keywords and phrases have been driving traffic to your website.
To take advantage of this, populate your website with blog content that is directly relevant to your target audience’s search queries. This will increase your site’s chance of ranking for those keywords and phrases – and, consequently, your organic traffic.
2. Choose the right keywords
Your audience will be searching for certain key terms, and the aim is to rank as highly as possible – ideally within the first three results – for these terms. So, when you have an idea about what to write, you’ll need to select appropriate keywords to use throughout the text.
This will require some research, and Google’s own Keyword Planner can help you in this task, though it only provides ballpark search volume sizes.
The most obvious keyword choices may be too competitive for your business: if you’re discussing colour printers and attempt to rank for “colour printers”, you’ll need to spend more time on SEO than Currys, Argos, Brother, and several other manufacturers and retailers.
If you’re writing a blog post, a long tail keyword – “what is the fastest inkjet or laser printer?”, to pull an example out of the air – is probably easier to rank for. You want to strike the right balance between monthly search volume and competitiveness.
When you have the right keywords, put them everywhere important in your blog: the title tag, meta description, URL, and heading tags – as well as strategically throughout the text.
And yes, Google will punish you for spamming keywords without rhyme or reason. Don’t do it. Instead think of synonyms and variations on the keyword that will benefit the reader while simultaneously helping search engines to understand what the post is about.
3. Optimise any images
Google can’t determine the relevance of your image in and of itself: it is not an art or photography critic.
That said, a relevant, high-quality image is important for user experience, which is important for SEO – so make sure it’s in the right resolution and aspect ratio, and that it’s not too large. When pictures take too long to load, they negatively influence load times – which negatively affects your post’s ability to rank.
But for the purposes of SEO, the most important factor is the alt text/attribute (often left blank). You want to make sure your alt text includes the keyword – without spamming it. Don’t forget alt text is primarily for visually impaired users, so make it useful!
4. Link, link, link
Links are an essential part of SEO, and though they’re usually associated with off-site activity, it’s just as important to make sure that you’re following best practice with on-site activity.
That means including internal links to other relevant pages on your site – other blogs, product landing pages, or other resources. Internal links spread link juice and help search engines understand what’s most important on your site.
To use a recent example from the TopLine website, our post about Making an Interactive 360 Video strategically linked to the video company page at the appropriate moment – and the video company page, in turn, strategically links to our training video, virtual reality video and explainer animation pages.
It also can’t hurt to link to related, authoritative secondary sources at the appropriate moment – it serves the purpose of making sure you’re backing up your blog with appropriate sources – it also, arguably, affects ranking.
5. Harness the power of social media
When you’ve got high-quality, link-filled, keyword-rich, alt-text-optimised content, it’s time to distribute it over social media – and this has much more SEO value than you might imagine.
If a post is broadcast to a large audience, it increases the possibility that external sites will link to your content – which boosts the authority of your page.
Of course, this isn’t going to happen immediately, and it’s important to have a relevant, well-written, interesting blog to share with your followers and the wider community.
You can tinker with keyword placement, link to your heart’s content, and choose the perfect images, but none of it will matter if your audience doesn’t care.
Don’t put the cart before the horse: as essential as following SEO best practice is, it’s nothing without the right content.
About the author
This guide has been exclusively written for Bytestart by Luke Budka, Director of TopLine Comms, a London-based integrated marketing agency with expertise in PR, content marketing, SEO, video production and animation.
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