A Complete Guide On How To Write a Blog Post, Page or Product With Great SEO
What is Google’s number one ranking factor in 2016?……
Here’s a hint, it’s the same as it has always been.
Google puts content above all else when ranking a website. Granted a number of other factors affect SEO but none greater than content – written well and written with google and the end user in mind. We all have to bend and break to google’s ever demanding rules and doing so will only get your website greater traffic and bring in that hard to reach audience. For those people who are annoyed with Google creating so many rules for us – stop right there! Google’s rules and ranking factors are put in place so the end user has a great experience, fast loading times and a bug free web. This way badly designed sites, poor content and badly managed businesses are pushed to one side making room for the people who are trying their hardest to please their visitors.
Before We Get Started
Before we write a blog post with great seo we recommend you install the free Yoast SEO plugin via your wordpress dashboard. Please check compatibility of the plugin with your theme, and check current title tags and meta descriptions will not be overwritten. Yoast works well with many themes. Importing your current meta and title tags into yoast is usually possible within yoast seo settings. Yoast will also create a sitemap when installed so be aware of this as you probably already have a sitemap. We recommend if you are installing Yoast SEO for the first time to go through all the settings and configure the way you want before starting to write your article. More advanced yoast configurations, guides, tips and tutorials are found here if needed.
Before you start typing away you may also want to research the best keywords for the content you are writing about. Looking at search trends and popular search phrases can make all the difference when trying to reach a new audience. Instead of guessing the best keywords, historical search data is available to view for analysis. A great tool for researching keywords and search data is of course google, specifically found in the Google Trends Website. This will show search data and what terms are trending at the moment and what may be a good idea for the future. Another keyword research tool you should be using is Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (Now Google Search Console). Using these you can look at current keyword distribution throughout your site and see what can be improved and also see what keywords have been working currently for your site (If you haven’t got analytics and web master tools you really should before you start writing articles!). You will want to use some of these keywords in this article you are going to write.
You should have a very specific keyphrase ready after research, I will refer to this as the “primary keywords”. This should be limited to around 2-5 words and contain no stop words (I will explain what stop words are below). Then you will need some “secondary keywords” to place around the article too (e.g. sale, buy, new, top, best, UK, your brand name) Once you know what primary keywords and secondary keywords are the best for this article we can begin.
If you have installed Yoast SEO this will help you monitor how your content is progressing. When writing your content on the page editor scroll down the page and yoast page analysis will help focus your writing and show you where things can be improved. See Picture Below.
- Flesch Score (ease of reading)
- Content Size (word count)
- No Duplicate Content
- No Stealing Content
- Keyword Placement
- Keyword Density (keyword count)
- Links in Content (inbound and outbound)
- Meta Description and Title Tag
- Headings, Titles and URL’s
- Categories and Tags
- User Friendliness and Aesthetic
Flesch Score (ease of reading)
Consider the flesch score throughout the whole of your article. The flesch score is a ranking system which analyses your content to see how easy it is to read. The plan here is to keep words fairly small, keep sentences short and make sure you use correct grammar. This ensures ALL users can understand your content and keep people on your page reading. Using words with lots of syllables is not normally a good idea (e.g. pharmaceutical) instead replace these with words carrying less syllables (e.g. medical). Usually this is easy to pass with little revision, but when speaking about technical data this can be tricky. In some cases the flesch score will not be passable but that is not the end of the world. The rich content should not be damaged in anyway just for the sake of passing the flesch score, but if you can improve it will help SEO slightly.
Content Size (word count)
Yoast suggest 300 word minimum for a page, post or product. I find better results reaching for 1000+ words but that is not always possible due to time or lack of content on the specific subject your writing about. 300 should be your bear minimum word count though. Creating lots of small posts can actually harm your site. Many people believe lots and lots of blogs help SEO but they are wrong! In various recent studies people have found that by auditing, deleting and combining all the old blogs within a site they get more traffic and more sales. In this study for example the web developer DELETED A THIRD OF HIS CONTENT! and received a huge traffic and sales boost. Many people reading this will find this shocking, “delete all my hard work, are you mad?”. Content should not be plainly deleted but your content should be audited regularly. Posts combined from many 200 word articles into 1000 word super articles, re-write or delete and re-direct out of date content and then prioritise content that people actually want. It makes sense when you think about it. Please listen to this podcast if you want to know more about how deleting, auditing and merging content can help SEO.
The key to your posts is to write a lot of good content on each article at the very start instead of rushing, and every month or two read back through these, edit them with new updated information, reply to comments and make sure the topic is still relevant today. One great 1000+ word article will do much better than 4 x 300 word articles. Google also see that old posts are updated regularly, which again they rank more highly for. The word count is found in the footer of the page editor dashboard in wordpress (see image below)
No Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is something that many, many people do often and do not realise the negative impact this will have. Do not try and outsmart Google by stuffing lots of keywords everywhere, Google are smarter than you! Many tricks and shortcuts have been tried in the past by many web designers and Google know them all. Avoiding such penalties from Google is far easier than trying to get away with a quick boost in traffic. Every page, post or product you write should have a unique primary keyword phrase that you have never used on that page before. Do not copy and paste paragraphs from other pages or products within your content and try not to use the same writing style throughout your site as many sentences can be repeated without you even realising. Every page, post or product should be as unique as you can possibly get it. It you find it’s hard to be unique as you have a very similar page, explore the possibility of possible merging the two pages together.
No Stealing Content
Another version of duplicate content is stealing content from external sources or competitor website. google index all content from every website available to index. If you steal work (copy and paste) for your own articles Google will know and penalise you accordingly. Not only this the competitor you stole off may get a boost as Google can now see that your competitor has content worth stealing, so it must be a good resource. There are things available called “content spinners” which I do not recommend at all. These content spinners are supposed to allow you to copy content, paste it into the spinner, then automatically change many words within the text using a thesaurus based search and replace. Not only does this have to be proof read and changed a bit after anyway, usually it reads like someone who speaks bad english has wrote it. You’re best to just write yourself to ensure no duplicate content.
To be honest if you do copy and paste little bits of content in your article you should be OK and avoid any repercussions, in fact not much needs to be changed or added until Google consider the article to have “new worth” to the reader. Just don’t go overboard and copy huge paragraphs of data. It’s always good to give your readers some new information anyway.
Do not get duplicate content confused with quoting someone or adding an article as the source. If you quote someone wrap the quote in blockquote html and google will not penalise you over stealing content. Similarly if you have used an article as the source of your inspiration and you feel OK about leaving a link referring to them as the source, this will only help your own SEO. Google will 1) See this as a CREDITED source and you will receive no duplicate content penalties, and 2) Outbound links within your site show google you are sharing information from others, and again rank you more highly as you’re providing answers and useful links to people without being greedy with your traffic. Please see Links below for more info.
Not only is it important to choose optimised primary keywords, where they get placed within your article is crucial. These content locations google consider to be the most important in your article and your primary keywords belong here.
- In The Post/ Page Title – your primary keywords should of course be the title for your article. Avoid if you can stop words like A, The, Buy, And, Why and Then. These are considered “filler” text by Google and should have no place in your primary keyword phrase.
- In The Post URL (Web Address) – Your post address location should feature the primary keywords. www.yourdomain.co.uk/blog/PRIMARY-KEYWORDS-HERE. This can be altered at any time if you decide to change it later but please make note = Any changes made to a current URL should have the old URL redirected. The easiest way to redirect old URLs is using the wordpress redirect plugin.
- In The First Sentence – The primary keywords belong in the first sentence and anywhere else in the main content where you can squeeze it in. Just make sure that it is still readable by any customer and doesn’t come across like your stuffing keywords. the title of the page sits right over the top of the first sentence so care must be taken here so you do not just simply repeat the title again.
- In A Heading/ Title In The Page – Keywords should be included in headings and titles you use within your article. If the page title is for example “Web Design Bird Quote” then my sub heading might read “Reasons Why You Should Apply For A Web Design Bird Quote”. For more information about how to create these read our headings section below.
- In A Link – The primary keywords will work well if they are included in a link to your page, even better if you can link to someone else’s site. Another great benefit to your new posts SEO will be to include the keyword link from another article you have already written previously. This also helps improve old blogs you have already published from the past. If you write about something you have mentioned in a previous article, be sure to re-edit the old article, link that to your new one, and use your new primary keywords as the title anchor text that the link comes from. For instance I am taking about writing content at the moment, but if I was talking about including your logo in the content I might choose to link to a design your own logo post I wrote previously. (note the link text reads “design your own logo” which will then help that specific article).
- In The Title Tag and Meta Description – The title tag and meta description is what is displayed on google search result pages. The title tag on google is shown in blue (purple if you have visited that page before) and the meta description is under your web address (any search result word matches will be shown in bold here). To fill out your own title tag and meta description see Yoast snippet editor (see pic)
- In Image Alt Text – When you add a featured image to a post (see pic) or when you add media to your content, you should use alt text featuring your primary, and possible secondary keywords. The title of the image is what people will see and is what is shown if you hover the image with your mouse, however the alt text for an image (alternative text) is the content that search engines read to establish what the picture is about. Don’t forget also, google images have a whole section on Google search that is very popular and ranking here above your competitors can really help.
Adding images to your content can be great to keep the reader engaged, and a picture is worth a thousand words. Any images added to the article should be compressed using tinypng.com before hand, or via the tiny compress plugin after you publish the article. This ensures all your photos are small in data size, are all optimised for web with all tracking tags removed, with no loss in quality. Some images I have seen a 96% reduction using this tool above. Be sure to add alt text with your primary keywords to all images on the article, page or product. Any featured image or product gallery images should all be compressed and have alt text too. Ensure alt text is unique for all pictures, but still contains your primary and secondary keywords.
Keyword Density (keyword count)
You will need to find a good balance when figuring out how many times to use your keywords. I recommend using about 4-7% of your content being made up of your primary and secondary keywords. Yoast Analysis will keep a tally of how much you have used your primary keywords, you will just need to ensure your secondary ones are being used too. Do not go overboard as keyword stuffing may have a negative impact and not read very well. 5-7% should be perfect if these keywords are at the optimum locations mentioned earlier.
Links in Content (inbound and outbound)
For people with shops and WooCommerce linking from articles to their products is what their blog is all about. you create a “sales funnel”. This means your blog articles have many links to your product and shop pages, but your shop and product pages have no links going out to your blogs. This way your blogs to the SEO and traffic hunting for you, and then link people to your products where they have nowhere else to go other than seeing your shiny “add to cart” button. If you link to someone else’s site in your keyword link ensure that they are not a competitor, ensure their website is designed well and also configure the link so it opens in a new tab, ensuring your visitor still has your page open in their browser. Do not be worried about linking to someone elses site. Google sees this as standard practice and anyone with very little outbound links within their site will not get much search traffic as a result. I tend to use Wikipedia for my outbound links if i’m stuck as they have no advertising or competitor links within their site to worry about and pages rarely change extending the life of your outbound link.
Meta Description and Title Tag
As mentioned briefly above in keyword placement section above, the meta description and title tag is the text displayed to the public on google search result pages. Google and most other search engines use a title tag around 70 characters long, and the meta description is 156 characters. Anything over this will not be seen by the public and will not be read by most search engines. Having excess characters can even be damaging to SEO, if this this the case on multiple pages already published within your site. Use unique meta and titles for every article, page or product your create and ensure you use all the text you can within these guidelines.
Headings, Titles and URL’s
For people who do know html code this can look daunting but I assure you it is very easy. Your articles should have headings in the page to segment your content into easy to read manageable chunks. Some people will skim through your titles to find the information they want quickly so many headings can be great. In the page editor you write a heading like this
<h2> Your Primary Keywords Here</h2> ……The <h2> stands for heading size 2, and the following </h2> indicates the end of the heading, and must contain the ” / ” in the correct place.
Simply replace the h2 from above with the size heading you want. h1 is the biggest, h2 is slightly smaller, h3 smaller still etc. Your article should have ONLY ONE h1 heading (which is usually the page title as default an not normally needed within your article at all) and then h2 and h3 further down the page. The h3 is a smaller font size and used as sub headings to further explain your main information under a h2. To learn more and quickly try yourself visit w3 schools html editor
Categories and Tags
Categories and Tags (and also child categories and child tags) do have some importance to SEO. On an ecigarette and eliquid site I frequently work on, we recently removed a lot of old product categories that were not used much. Most of these categories featured the word “eliquid” on them. After we removed these we slipped 12 places ranking for the word “eliquid” specifically. Once added back into the system we regained our previous higher score proving that category and tag names do have an impact on keyword distribution. Be careful of duplicate content or keyword stuffing but creating keyword friendly categories and tags may help your SEO. Just be careful not to use to many as these are crucial for customers to find what they are looking for quickly. Try not to use too many categories. Product and Post Tags should be very specific too. If you sell bikes then you should not use bikes as a tag. You shouldn’t even use mountain bike as a tag as this is a category. You shouldn’t use colour as a tag as this is more a product attribute and can be sorted as such with a decent product filter plugin. Tags are more like brand names, general style, observations, etc and of course, anywhere you can mention your keywords the better. Ensure all tags and categories have at least a few different pages connected to them.
User Friendliness and Aesthetic
Your articles must be clear, well written and edited frequently. Dead links, missing images and weird layouts will scare people off and add to your bounce rate. Keeping your visitors engaged is the name of the game. Start with a good wordpress theme and increase font size for mobiles and ensure plenty of padding and space with minimal distractions. There is more chance of engaging the visitor and getting your points across to the user. Ideally your title should be followed with an image. Research here is very interesting, in studies it has been found that people prefer to read smaller sentences and are more engaged with smaller sentences and narrower lines of text. They find it more pleasing and it is easier to read and jump to the next line. This is why magazines, websites and newspapers all use the text side by side with the image format. This is where things get interesting though. Although people prefer narrow lines of text they read this slower than long lines of text, so after people are drawn in by the narrow sentences, the text lines widen to full page width in order for you to finish the content more quickly, increasing the chances you will finish reading the article. If you look at the typical newspaper/magazine layout you will see how a narrow row with image opens up to a wider text only row in most cases. Using articles like “top ten” countdowns are good as people read number 10, 9 and 8 and then have to find out what is number one is even if they are bored of reading.
If you follow my very lengthy guide above your articles should shine and you should see huge visitor improvements within 3 months, just keep up the good SEO and remember to frequently audit old articles from 2 years ago you forgot was even there. Good Articles are better than Many Articles. It is also important to remember the other factors can affect your sites SEO and do necessary research to improve these too. Image sizes, structured data tests, speed tests, markup checkers, backlinks, page authority, social presence, frequency of website updates, updating plugins and much more has some impact to your SEO. Even though content should be number one priority, do not neglect everything else. If you have any questions, any extra advice for people, or if you feel you disagree to anything above, please comment below and i’ll do me best to reply quickly.