Creating a blog for a business is part of an overall content marketing strategy that simultaneously builds credibility, increases exposure and traffic, and increases conversion rates. But for your efforts to pay off, your blog content has to reach your intended audience. Here are some proven ways to get the most out of each blog post and fully enjoy the benefits of blogging.
If you're using the WordPress platform, the first thing to do is install a plugin like All In One SEO Pack or SEO Yoast. Both are free and highly effective ways to give your content an SEO boost. These two plugins differ in their specific features, but employ the same general concept. Basically, they streamline the on-site SEO process by generating automatic META tags, optimizing titles for each post, optimizing SEO descriptions, and more.
Both are user-friendly and relatively easy to learn. By spending a few extra minutes to fill out the fields on these plugins, you can give your content a significant edge over other bloggers who don't utilize them. This can often mean the difference between appearing on the first page of search results vs. elsewhere.
I recommend using Google's Adwords Keyword Tool for keyword research. By entering a broad word or phrase, you will have access to a list of potential keyword ideas. Browsing through the list should offer plenty of ideas for blog post titles to choose from. These can be taken as-is or a few additional words can be added if necessary.
Use Your Keywords Wisely
After choosing the right keywords, it's time to put them into action by strategically inserting them throughout your content. In the past, keyword stuffing was a common phenomenon where search engines could be manipulated by placing an abundance of the same keyword throughout the body of a blog post.
Thanks to algorithm updates like Google Panda, Penguin and Penguin 2.0, things have changed dramatically. Now, keyword stuffing is an outdated black hat SEO tactic, which Google easily identifies and penalizes.
Here are some best practices when inserting keywords:
Site speed is a growing factor in the ranking algorithm. Cloud hosting solutions are gaining popularity as Google continues to give more emphasis to site load times. I even saw a study that concluded that as much as 40% of users will bail if a website takes longer than 4 seconds to load.
Pingdom has a great speed test tool that can tell you how long your site's load time is. If it's above 4 seconds, I recommend looking into a new hosting provider or making other changes to optimize your speed. Dotcom-tools.com has a fantastic tool as well, which allows you to test speed from 20+ locations around the world.
Understand Your Optimal Article Length
When blogging, there can be a major disparity in terms of the length of each piece of content. Some bloggers keep it relatively brief with 400 words or less and some go all out with 2,000 words or more. While it's debatable what the ideal post length is, a study by ViperChill.com showed that choosing the optimal word count depends upon the industry. The data was based around the top five blogs in each niche and breaks down as follows:
This goes to show that choosing an "ideal" article length will greatly depend upon the industry you're in. Unless you're in the gadgets or gossip niches, it's usually best to keep posts at a minimum of 250 words. Otherwise, it's easy to get passed up by search engines for longer content.
In general, it's been shown that longer content tends to rank better in search engines. Why? It could be that Google regards longer content as being more in-depth or thorough, and thus higher quality.
However, variety is the spice of the life, and also of the search engines. If all your posts are always around the same word count, that doesn't look very natural. Instead, try to mix it up.
Besides providing readers with some eye candy, inserting an image or two within a blog post has some SEO benefits. In order to take advantage of these benefits, include the keywords in the file name and incorporate ALT tags into the HTML code. This can be done by including alt="keyword or phrase" within the code. Try to keep the keyword or phrase as brief as possible and highly relevant so search engines can easily pick up on it.
Strategically Interlink Your Articles
By inserting links in one blog post to another relevant blog post, you accomplish two things. First, it makes it easier for visitors to further explore your blog with more convenience. Second, it gives credit to other blog posts, helping their rankings in the search engines. This should ultimately help your entire blog rank more highly in search engine results.
In the same vein, it's smart to include additional links in the sidebar by installing a "categories" and "recent posts" widget. This allows visitors to quickly find other blogs posts that they might be interested in without extensive exploration. Another idea is to install the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin for WordPress blogs. This will automatically display similar posts at the end of each blog post.
The single most common mistake that most bloggers make is updating their blog too seldom. Not only can this minimize the number of readers that follow your blog, it can hurt your rankings in search engines as well. According to Darren Rowse of Problogger, "The more you update your blog the more often Search Engines will send their crawlers to your site to index it. This will mean your new articles could appear in the index within days or even hours rather than weeks."
Consequently, it's important to maintain a fresh stream of content and avoid going long periods without a new post. At the same time, you shouldn't go overboard and barrage your audience with a never ending stream of posts either. A good balance of somewhere between two to five posts per week for most niches should be sufficient.
Get Active in Social Media
Finally, reposting content on any social networking sites you're a part of can be advantageous from an SEO standpoint. It only takes a minute to do this, but immediately increases your blog's visibility because each post will pop up in all of your followers' streams. Additionally, it generates social signals, which have been shown to improve search engine rankings.
This is a simple way to drive more traffic to your blog with only a few clicks. If anyone shares a post with others, this means even more traffic with no additional work. While social shares don't typically carry the same weight as traditional backlinks, a significant quantity has been known to improve rankings.
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