How to Write a Blog Post that Will Rank High in Google Search Results
For most fields, writing a blog post that ranks in Google can be a complicated task. It’s not just about including keywords or writing something interesting; getting the results you want requires a little more finesse.
From start to finish, here’s what you’ll need to do for each blog post so you can build brand awareness, increase search result rankings, and raise customer confidence in your business.
Which Keyword Bucket are You Filling?
Before you start writing, you’ll want to make sure you have a strategy. We’ll start with basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO): keywords. Each page or post on your website should have a keyword or key phrase that you’re optimizing that specific page/post for.
Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless. – Morris Chang
One of the mistakes people make when plotting out keywords and phrases is they double-up on the pages. If one page is optimized for a certain keyword, then two pages must be better! Unfortunately, what actually ends up happening is that you compete with yourself. Instead of Google recognizing one page on your site that it should rank high, it now sees two pages and splits your ranking between the two. Some organizations, like Search Engine Journal, call this “keyword cannibalization“.
Instead of doubling up, you want to change your strategy from keywords to Keyword Buckets. Pick one page that you want to be Cornerstone Content – rank for one of your site’s keywords/key phrases. This page should ideally have a Call to Action (CTA) that helps you convert visitors into emails or customers or even brand ambassadors (sharing on social media).
Then you can take all the keyword phrases that relate to that keyword and make posts for them. Those posts should link back to your main page. By optimizing your site like this, not only do you bring in more traffic from the long-tail keywords (or phrases) that you’re optimizing for, you’ll also be signaling to Google that your primary page is really important – why else would you be linking all your other pages to it?
While this is a quick overview of a basic keyword strategy for websites, it directly relates to how you write blog posts. If you don’t have a keyword strategy in place, the time you’re spending on writing posts might be lost in posts that don’t “move the needle”.
For the purposes of the rest of this post, I’ll be using an example of a Massage Therapist. Let’s focus on a keyword bucket that has “Sports Massage” as their main keyword, and we’re writing a blog post about “when to get sports massage“, which is one of things people are searching for. Either during or at the end of that post, we’ll link to our main page optimized for “Sports Massage” which will have a call to action of calling to make an appointment.
Things to Know When Writing a Blog Post
Now we’ll move on to the actual writing of the blog post. Writing a post for your site is not quite sales-copy writing; not doctorate level thesis; not a company internal report; not like a professional email. It has its own set of rules you need to follow to make your post useful and effective.
I won’t get into whether or not we all have short attention spans, or our society’s obsession with speed. The bottom line is that people want to find the information they need quickly. The user has already searched Google, skimmed the results to find one that might work, and at the very basic level, they want to see if your article answers their question without wasting too much time on your website.
Bolding sentences or sections that are important is a good way to quickly communicate to people the overall idea of that section. For example, if you’re reading this, you might have skimmed the main headlines to see if this list are things you haven’t heard before. If they are new or you decide my take is interesting enough, you then read these paragraphs for the explanation.
Using headlines and smaller paragraphs can split up your content, providing another efficient way for people to find the information they need. The goal is to communicate the information and the better you organize and highlight how it’s put together, the better you’ll communicate with the user.
Throw Out the High School Rules (some of them)
All those rules of writing you learned during your education? You can throw a lot of them out. You can (and should) use contractions in your writing. Feel free to bend punctuation rules if they help you communicate better. Make sure you have a voice – no one wants to read a computer report. If your post is boring, no one will read it. Don’t write long paragraphs of text; break up your information so people can find it. As you’ve probably noticed, you don’t use the paragraph indent online. Instead of an indent, coding uses an extra line in-between paragraphs.
However, there are a few things you’ll want to keep from those high school days. Make sure you check your grammar and spelling before hitting the post button. Know the difference between your and you’re, and its and it’s. Finally, make sure you do a re-read of the post you wrote using the PREVIEW button so you can see the post the way the reader will see it. Double-check for awkward sentence structures or confusing explanations and re-write as needed. Your blog is a representation of your business, so skipping the review step can damage your business’s reputation and ultimately your bottom line.
Figuring out Your Blogging Schedule Frequency
One of the biggest questions people have about blogging is how often you should post. There’s no hard and fast rule about frequency. The more blog posts you have, the more keywords and phrases you can target, which should result in more people visiting your site, and thus more conversions. If you decide to post 3x a week, you’ll be building up your audience faster than if you post 1x a week or even 1x a month.
Choosing Images for Your Post
Every post should have images. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about stocks and bonds, the recipe from your grandmother, or structure insurance businesses: always have an image. There are two things to keep in mind for these images.
- The image should be optimized.
- Make sure your images have Alt tags.
This will require just a little bit of math because first you’ll want to resize the image. To know what size image you need, you want to think of your images as a percentage of your total screen width. Because screen sizes vary drastically, you’ll need to decide the max screen size you’ll planning for. I usually plan for a max of 2400 pixel wide screens. So you’ll take a percentage width of your image multiplied by 2400 pixels (or your max width).
BUT because of retina screens, to be safe, you can multiple that number by 1.5:
Percentage width of image (40%) x 2400 = 960 (.4 * 2400)
960 x 1.5 = 1440 pixels
You can upload the image and have WordPress resize it using the “Edit Image” link, but ideally you resize before you upload the image. If your website has a max width on it, you should use that max width as your multiplier instead of the 2400.
Next, optimize your image. If you use Photoshop or a similar program, you can “Optimize for Web” when you save that image. If you’re just uploading the image into WordPress, you can use a plugin to optimize the image. I use EWWW Image Optimizer on websites as it’s easy to install and does a great job optimizing.
Including a CTA – Call To Action
So you’ve finished writing a beautiful blog post. You chose perfect keyword phrases to support your services or other pages on your site; you crafted a post that’s easy to read; you chose images that fit with your post’s ideas and optimized them. But before you move on to the technical SEO below, utilize your traffic.
Don’t leave your user hanging with nowhere to go – send them to your services pages or have them contact you, or encourage them to share your article. Do something with the audience you got from your hard work.
Finishing Touches: The Technical SEO
The technical SEO doesn’t require any coding, but it does require a bit of organization and creativity. First, you’ll need to make sure the “excerpt” section on your post (below your post) is filled out. This excerpt should probably match or be closely related to the next thing you’ll fill out: the meta description.
In the image below, you’ll notice the Yoast SEO box. If you don’t like Yoast SEO (a plugin), there are other plugins that do similar things. But regardless of which one you use, you’ll want to click on the title and adjust as needed, and then click on the (meta) description and edit. Yoast will automatically try to create a title and description for you, but adjusting this can be beneficial. For example, in the description area above, Yoast took the first two sentences of my blog post. But there is probably a better way to entice people to click my link. Crafting that description is important.
Next, double-check your permalink at the top of your page to make sure it matches your title and correctly explains what the page is about.
Finally, categorize your post using the Categories on the right side of the screen.
To review, make sure you do the following:
- Confirm the Title
- Craft the Excerpt & Meta Description
- Double-check your permalink
- Categorize the post
These steps can help you rank this blog post and increase your website’s overall visibility.
Need some help with those keywords? Contact us for our Comprehensive Search Engine Optimization.