There’s no doubt; slogging away for hours over a blog only to watch it sink without a trace is pretty soul destroying. But all is not lost! Here’s an easy 3-step process to improve your content’s SEO and get it to rank higher.
Guest blog by Lucie Gill
There was a time when it all seemed so simple, this business blogging malarky. You chose your best keywords. Breezily pushed out a couple of blogs a month. Liberally peppered them with said keywords and watched the traffic sail in.
But in a world where everyone and their dog is creating content, it can be really difficult to get your blogs to place higher up on Google.
After all, we’re drowning in output. Your target audience is adrift on a sea of blogs, vlogs, feeds, posts, captions, live streams, groups, stories and tweets.
Unless you’ve been living in a hole, I’m sure none of this is new to you. And you’re probably already on top of the Number One thing you can do to improve the impact of your content – which is just to make it the best quality you can.
Even so, here’s a simple 3 step process I use for my clients which can give any blog a helping hand up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
A little preamble…
One of my clients is in a super-competitive sector – their main target keyword gets almost 50,000 searches per month in the UK alone, which makes it one valuable search term.
They’ve got some amazing, in-depth content on their site. Their content is well structured. They’re basing their overall strategy on creating topic-driven content with a really strong internal linking structure between one main, definitive page and a series of shorter, more specific blogs.
This is called a Topic Cluster strategy. Championed by Hubspot, it’s designed to work with today’s sophisticated Search algorithms. Want to know more? You can find Hubspot’s own in-depth guide here.
Frustratingly though, their content wasn’t getting the results they hoped, and so we went through these 3 steps to optimise and improve traction.
1/ Do a SERP Snoop
I always kick things off with a little snoop on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). It’s simple and obvious – and free. It’s also really effective.
Content ranks well for a reason. What we’re doing with this step is studying the top results to see what the reason/s might be.
With my clients, we typed their target keywords and phrases into Google. We looked at how their top ranking competitors had worded and structured their pieces, and we picked out anything useful we thought we could apply.
Look out for:
- How those top results have phrased their title tags and meta description snippets. Whereabouts in the title tags are their keywords (see point 2 below for a way you might be able to gain an advantage here).
- The layout and format of their content, the length of their copy, how and where they had used the target keywords throughout.
- How they’ve used headlines and subheaders. Have they included the keyword (or a variation) in each? Are there any variations you’ve not thought of that you could include? How long are their paragraphs?
- Is there a common theme to the top results – perhaps a good number of the links are list-based, are budget/ price options or are “best” deals or brands. If there is a theme here, it’s a good indication of what searchers have found valuable for that search term.
By studying the organic links on page one, you can build a good picture of why those particular results are doing well – and then you can tweak your blog based on your findings.
(A caveat. Sometimes, they’ll be up there just because they’re massive global behemoths. You’re not going to beat the domain authority of a Wikipedia or Amazon, but you can learn from the others.)
And if there’s a featured snippet at the top, a “rich answer”? Google pick these results at random. Again, have a look and see what might make Search Engines think it’s the best quality, most relevant result for that particular search term.
2/ Work your findings into your Content
Now to use your findings to optimise your own content.
Simple tweaks you can make include:
- Move your target terms to the left of the title tag, because it makes it easier for users to pick out – this could give you an advantage over other results on the page.
Make sure you craft a great Title Tag with these tips.
- Update your meta description. Make sure it contains a clear explanation of your content, the benefit to the reader, an action word (buy, learn, read, find out) and your target keyword, or a variation of it.
Want to know how to write a winning meta description?
- Update your headers and subheadings so you have your main target keyword in the heading, and your strongest variations running down the subheadings.
- If there’s a rich answer, see if you can incorporate the format of that post in yours. For example, say you wanted to rank for “improve instagram reach”, the top result in the SERP is this post from Agorapulse with a list of tips. So you could incorporate an overview list, or clickable table of contents into your blog.
- Include more of your target keywords and keyword variations all through your blog – make sure to include any new variations that your research has thrown up.
3/ Links are your friend…
Google loves a link – they’re a crucial factor in ranking so last is definitely not least – make sure you add in some internal and external links.
Top tip – If you have a related blog (or blogs) on your site and can add internal links from the target keywords in your body copy, Search Engines will identify your other blogs as ALSO being relevant for the keyword you’ve linked from, giving both blogs a boost. Win win!
Good SEO Copywriting = Test, Measure, Refine
In case you were wondering, our tweaks worked well for my client’s content. And it steadily climbed up the rankings over a few weeks. Their most valuable blog has gone from the middle of page four to the bottom of page one. There’s still work to do, but we’re getting there!
So, to the moral of the story. Don’t panic if you publish a blog and it doesn’t sail straight to the first page on Google.
SEO is a test, measure, refine process and there are plenty of tweaks you can make to improve your chances and make sure the content you’ve worked so hard on shines like it should.
Have you tried any of the tips in this piece? I’d love to know how you get on. Pop a comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Described by one rather lovely client as “a woman with all the right words”, Lucie Gill is the owner of LVGVirtual. She specialises in writing SEO-optimised copy for all her client’s digital needs – from websites to blogs to email marketing to social media to video descriptions. Mum to a 4-year-old role-play obsessive, when she’s not working she’s generally contemplating the distressing shortness of school days, buying cake on a rotational basis from local cafes and/or having to pretend to be “whingey Harry Potter”. Again.