I want to preface this article by stating that the number one reason for writing a blog article shouldn't be to rank for keywords. Yes, I said that. Let me explain. A blog article is an essential, multi-functional part of any good inbound marketing strategy. Content marketing plays a vital role in attracting traffic to your website, promoting your brand, and establishing you as a trusted industry expert. If you only focus on keywords, you'll be at the end of the line when it comes to being found by prospects and customers.
Here are some best practices for creating a blog article that is search engine optimized (SEO).
Here's How to Get Started
Your first goal should always be to solve a problem or answer your target audience's questions. However, it will not do you any favors by writing a super helpful article without keeping SEO in mind. SEO isn't just about keywords. When a search engine crawls a piece of content, it considers many different factors when ranking and determining Search Engine Results Page (SERP) positioning. Following these best practices will ensure you're on your way to moving to the front of the line with your piece of content.
If you've already done your keyword research, you may have a keyword in mind. Best practices are to include a variation of the keyword in your article three to five times, making sure to include it in the article title and meta description. Another "hack" I always recommend is adding the article's title to the image alt text. That way, when people are searching for that keyword, the article image now has the potential to show up in Google's image search results.
2. Blog Title and Meta Description
The article title is one of the most important aspects of whether or not the article will be successful. Here's a helpful article with tips on how to write blog titles that attract visitors. The blog title should be clear, concise, and impactful (no more than 63 characters). I've noticed it's common for articles that are "how-to" articles, guides, or listicles (think "6 Tips for Starting a Garden") to rank on page one.
3. Word Count
The standards: A short-form blog article can be 600-800 words, and a long-form article can be around 1,500+. Notice how I said "the standards" because there is no one size fits all for how many words an article should be. However, it will absolutely affect the ranking on the search engine results pages if your article is super long for no reason or if it's not long enough to be indexed (minimum 300 words). Only write as much as you need to to add value. The quicker you can get your point across, the better (as long as it's over 300 words).
It is important to include both internal and external links throughout your post. I recommend including 3-4 links in every article. This will help your internal linking structure and make the article easier to find on the website. It will also help Google and other search engines relate the article to your topic keyword.
Most people are visual learners and are attracted to imagery vs. text. When was the last time you saw a blog post without an image? If you have screenshots or images specifically related to the topic, include them! These are priceless. At the very least, grab a stock photo (make sure not to violate any copyright laws) for the featured image and include the article's title in the image alt text.
It is so crucial to include a Call-to-Action (CTA) for a blog article to be successful. Always include a clear CTA in two places. The first should be a text CTA near the beginning of the article, and the second should be a visual image CTA at the bottom of the article. This is an essential element when it comes to increasing conversion rates. And will then allow you to nurture them via workflows to help move them through the sales funnel.
Remember, don't write blog articles just for the sake of writing blog articles, and don't write posts just to try and rank for keywords. Believe me when I say this doesn't work. But by writing about a topic your audience truly cares about and following the tips outlined above, you will have yourself a fully optimized blog article that's not only helpful but will rank in SERPs!