Getting people to visit your website is the most basic yet important goal of any blog. Without visitors, your blog’s messages won’t reach your target audience. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to optimize your blog for better search engine visibility—a process known as search engine optimization (SEO).
You might be asking yourself: “Where can I learn how to do SEO for my blog?” Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
What is SEO in blogging?
When it comes to blogging, SEO describes the process of designing your blog content to appeal to search engines like Google. Using SEO techniques ultimately helps your site attain higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Many people find new sites through searching for topics and keywords that interest them, so showing up in search results makes a big difference. For example: You might have found this post by searching “how to SEO a blog” or any number of related keyword combinations.
It’s not enough to research SEO once and then leave your blog alone because over time, search engines regularly update their processes for indexing websites and prioritizing information.
To keep your blog’s SEO fresh and appealing to Google and its competitors, you must revisit your blog and reoptimize it periodically. Check your content and make sure it meets current SEO standards.
Below are the five best practices for improving your blog’s SEO for 2021.
1. Track Site and SEO Metrics
Good SEO performance requires tracking key site metrics, including:
- How many people are visiting your blog
- Who your visitors are and where they’re located
- How long your site visitors stay
- Where your web traffic is coming from
- How many keywords your blog ranks for
Google Analytics is your best bet for tracking visitor data, but plenty of other tools specific to SEO keywords exist, like Accuranker, Ahrefs, and SEMrush.
Using the right tool to track your site metrics can help you understand what content is doing well and conversely, what content isn’t. Take advantage of this insight to further improve your blog, whether by developing new ideas based on your current successes or revisiting old, underperforming content to make changes.
2. Incorporate Keywords Both Strategically and Naturally
Keywords are the words that people search to find your site. When placed strategically in your content, your blog posts have a higher chance for ranking for them.
What exactly does “strategic” placement mean?
Your content’s target keywords should be included in your blog content naturally—forming coherent sentences that convey valuable and relevant information to the reader. Do not force keywords where they don’t belong or repeat them unnecessarily. For example, consider this text from an imaginary blog post reviewing hiking boots:
Want to find the best hiking boots? We’ve got a list of the best hiking boots below. Keep reading to find out the best hiking boots to buy.
The phrase “best hiking boots” is overused. In fact, the snippet above is a good example of the black hat SEO tactic known as keyword stuffing—something your blog should always avoid doing.
Aside from natural wording, strategic placement also means including keywords in your blog post’s title, header tags, and meta tags. Once again, of course, this does not equate to stuffing them.
Header tags are particularly useful for maintaining an SEO-friendly blog. Google often uses them in its “Featured Snippets”—the small portion of a website that appears at the top of many search engine results pages (SERPs). These snippets often pull header tags instead of text from the body of the post, and using meaningful keywords in your header tags can help your blog land spots in snippets.
3. Optimize Images
An often-overlooked aspect of blogging SEO is your blog’s images. Current SEO best practices prioritize three image-related details:
- Alt text
You can adjust each of these details for better optimized images.
Captions and alt text provide an opportunity to include target keywords in your post without repeating yourself in the article’s body. When well-written, descriptive captions and alt text help to support your content by telling search engines what your blog post is about and what makes it relevant to users.
While high-resolution images offer rich detail, it’s usually not necessary to include them in their full dimensions in your blog posts. Reduce the file size so that these images do not need to be resized in WordPress or whatever blogging platform you use. Larger image files can slow down your blog, and visitors can be impatient—so it’s in your best interest to use smaller image files that load more quickly.
4. Make Your Blog Mobile-Friendly
More users than ever are browsing the web entirely through their phones. In fact, about half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices—and that number is still growing. If your blog isn’t already optimized for mobile, remedying the situation should be your next step.
There are two important aspects of a mobile-friendly site: fast load times and responsive design.
Fast load times keep your visitors from getting frustrated and bouncing away from your site before it can load. A high bounce rate can lower your ranking in search results, so it’s important to reduce it as much as possible.
Responsive design helps your site fit on the smaller screen of a phone or tablet. If you don’t follow mobile-responsive design practices, visitors may see nothing but your logo when they first arrive at your homepage, boring them and leading them to bounce.
You can have the best SEO in the world, but a non-responsive or slow site will prevent people from actually reading your content.
5. Periodically Audit Your Content
Google’s algorithm changes regularly, with major updates drastically changing search engine rankings from time to time. Given these changes, you’ll need to periodically go through your past blog content and review its performance. You may be surprised at which articles have done well and which have fallen from top SERP positions.
Once you know which blog posts aren’t seeing traffic, you can refresh them by:
- Adding or removing internal and external backlinks
- Updating old or outdated information
- Adjusting the placement of your target keywords
- Correcting typos and grammatical errors
- Adding relevant images and other multimedia
Refreshing old content is often simpler than creating new content from the ground up. It also helps put the spotlight on old content that you feel deserves more attention.
Never Stop Improving
Using the five best practices above, you can optimize your blog for better results. Tracking your metrics, checking in on your old content, optimizing both keywords and images, and making your blog mobile-friendly are all effective ways to improve your site’s search visibility.
Remember that blogging SEO is not a one-time project. You’ll need to revisit your site analytics data regularly and make periodic adjustments based on the latest search engine algorithm updates.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Gabrielle Hass.