If You Want More People to Read your Blog, Read this

Do you spend hours creating online content and feel like no one ever sees it?

myMarketing Cafe_Don't give up slide

You’re not alone.

This terrible scenario happens because creating your website and blog content is only 50 percent of the marketing strategy, the rest requires promotions.  There are two effective ways to promote your content: promote through your marketing channels and promote with search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, affects where your content appears when a prospective client is searching about your industry or product.  The ranking is based on your website’s relevance to the terms being searched.  Search engines use many different, ever-changing, algorithms to determine website rankings.  Some key factors include the information on your website, images, video, local search information, number of links to the site, number of visits and other criteria.

Here’s some great news!

Your business blog can boost the overall website search engine rankings AND the rankings for each individual post. If you write fantastic blog content, other websites will link to your blog or specific blog posts, which also increases the number of inbound links to your website.

“Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links.” –HubSpot

A business blog is conversational in nature, so it has a greater chance of appearing in search results than a landing page on the website, or a download. Want to learn how to optimize your blog posts? Read on, and download our free SEO excerpt here.

Don't miss a step! Download a free copy of Search Engine Optimization

Don’t miss a step! Download a free copy of
Search Engine Optimization

Identify Keywords

To begin, the best SEO strategy is to focus on keywords that are important to your industry and business.  When optimizing a blog post, begin by developing a list of 15 to 20 keywords related to the post.  Then review the components of a blog post shown below and optimize each area.

Blog Headline

The blog headline, or title, holds the most power because it is what visitors use to determine if they will click on the link and read the material.

A sparkling headlines attract clicks!  With your headline, focus on keywords and showcasing relevance. Your headline creates a reason for the reader to click, and this is supported by the number of shares of and links to the blog post.

Let’s look at an example.

How to keep your pet healthy with simple at-home strategies

Pet Health: Five tips to help your pet live longer

Which would you click? While both are good, chances are you chose number two, and the reason is, it appealed to an emotional trigger.  Pet owners love their pets like any other family member, and headline number two touches on that important relationship.  We recommend using an editorial calendar as a post storyboard. A free sample editorial calendar is provided in our Marketing Toolkit.

Blog URL

If your blogging platform allows writers to create a customized URL, take advantage of this important SEO benefit.  The URL is the webpage title and it should match the headline, if possible, and include the most important relevant keywords.

www.petcarecenter.com/blog/pet-health-five-tips-to-help-pets-live-longer

Blog Anchor Text

Anchor text are words or phrases used to link to other important information.  They may be linked to inbound pages, meaning pages on your website, or outbound pages, meaning pages on other websites.  Using anchor text helps to tie the blog post content to other relevant information and improves the reader experience.

Sample anchor text:

Follow these five steps to improve pet health supported by your pet’s healthy diet program. (healthy diet program is the anchor text and it would link to information specifically about a healthy diet.)

Search engines look for anchor text when determining the content of the post.  They also typically rely on the first occurrence of a link, so if you plan to link to the same page a few times throughout the post, ensure you optimize the first occurrence of the link.

Blog Tags

Blog tags have not been proven to directly affect search engine ranking for blog posts or websites, but they do help organize the content and direct readers to other relevant content, thereby lengthening their engagement with the website.  And… the longer your visitors remain on your site does affect search engine rankings. Tags should be created using the top keywords of the post.

Tag warnings: Some experts argue that having too many posts with similar tags can show up as duplicate content and hurt the page SEO ranking.

Blog Images

Blog posts that use relevant images have proven to rank higher in search engines.  This may be because the image captured the reader’s attention and it is what encouraged them to click on the link in the first place.  When adding images to a blog post (and you always should), follow these tips.

Optimizing blog images begins before you even upload the image. It begins way back when you save the image and create a file name for the image. 

  1. Before you upload an image to your blog media file, create a name for the image that is relevant to the blog content.
  2. When uploading the image and saving it to the media file, include an Alternate Title. This field is what search engines use to determine what the image is about, because search engines can’t see images.
  3. Include text in the Caption–if you want a description to appear under the image on the blog post.
  4. When inserting the image into a post, include an Image Title if you want a box to appear when a reader’s mouse pointer hovers over the image. This can be used in place of a caption and give the reader additional details about the image.

Bonus when Image Title field is used: When the reader’s pointer hovers over the image, a title is displayed. This is especially useful in posts that share about a product or service. Use the image title field to share information, such as where the photo was taken.

Bonus when image Caption is used: A descriptive caption appears below the image. This is useful for drawing the reader’s attention to the image, and is a great place for a call-to-action.

Blog Subheaders

Subheaders are very important for on page SEO.  In addition to the post headline and URL, they tell search engines about the topic of the content.  The most important line on your blog post is the heading or headline, followed by subheaders.  A common example of subheaders include posts following a list format, such as in our earlier example.

Pet Health: Five tips to help your pet live longer

The subheadings in this post would list each of the five tips, and subheadings should be formatted in H2 formatting. Most blog platforms offer H2 formatting capability. This is as easy to choose as it is to choose a font.

Blog Social Sharing

Search engine ranking is now directly linked to the social value of a website.  This is true for blog posts too. Search engines now consider a reader’s social network when determining how to display results of a search query. Content that has a social connection to the reader is prioritized at the top of the results. Whether or not the content is widely shared by other users is also a factor.

Blog posts should include social sharing icons.  We’ve found that icons to the left of the text perform best.  But, specific social sharing calls-to-action positioned directly in posts perform well too, especially when the post shares a statistic relating to the topic.  The Social Sharing sidebar serves as a form of currency and shows the social validity of the post. The greater the shares, the more likely new readers will read and share the content.

Another strategy is sharing call-to-actions that give readers specific instructions directly within the text of the post. It points out valuable information and tells the reader what action to perform (ie: Tweet this!)

Integrated Calls-to-Action

For every blog post, consider the action(s) you want the reader to take while reading the post or after reading. Actions might be educational and awareness driven, where you want them to share the information. The social sharing examples above will facilitate that action. However, most of the time, we want our audience to do something more meaningful and move them to a specific stage in the sales cycle.

Below are a few sample calls-to-action.

  • Call for your free assessment.
  • Download your copy of the (resource related to post).
  • Was this information helpful? Signup to this blog.
  • Link to your online resource center or new eBook related to the topic.
  • Check out what’s new at (your business).
  • 1-month free trial. Click here.

Calls-to-action will increase the number of shares of the content and will increase reader engagement. Both activities have a direct impact on the search engine ranking.

Meta Description

The meta description is the short one to two sentence description of the webpage content.  With most blogging platforms, there is a section where writers can enter the meta description.  Some SEO strategists believe that the meta description is losing its SEO value.  This might be because writers used to stack keywords in the meta description in order to manipulate search engine rankings, and this rendered the meta description less valuable.

But, the meta description does still affect SEO.

While the article headline is the most powerful link to readership, the meta description gives a little more detail about the post content and helps attract clicks. The meta description is also what appears when you share the blog post link on your social channels like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Google Authorship

Google has implemented Authorship which allows writers to receive attribution for their work across many domains.

There are several benefits to obtaining Google Authorship for a business blog.

  1. Higher click through rate
  2. Higher visability
  3. Higher page views

With Google Authorship, content is imperative.  The longer a user stays on your page after clicking through an “authorized” link, the more information that will appear once the user hits the back button.

An authorship bonus

If a user returns to the search results after reading an author-tagged search result for a certain period of time, Google will add three additional links to similar articles from the same author below the originally clicked link.  Additional links are contingent upon how long the user remains on the first click through.

Want more help? This free SEO excerpt, pulled directly from The Guide to Successful Business Blogging, provides more tips and helpful screenshots.

About Jo Lynn Deal

Jo Lynn Deal is the founder of myMarketing Café, a small business online resource center, entrepreneur community, and professional marketing blog. The café team is dedicated to helping small business owners reach their business goals and experience business growth. Cited as an outstanding business leader by The Business Journal, Jo Lynn uses her leadership experience to help corporations build partnerships and greater collaboration with their customers. She is an Integrated Marketing Communications strategist and a contributor to some of the industry’s largest publications including PR News, Social Media Today, and Project Eve.
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4 comments
Word Ninja
Word Ninja

Alternate text is important. I didn't realize this years back when I started my first blog. I recommend that bloggers check past posts and edit items such as the alternate text to also make those older posts more searchable...something I'm currently doing with my first blog.

I don't always add calls to action on my small biz marketing blog, so thank you for the reminder of the importance of that!

avidean
avidean

Great post, Jo Lynn. Loads of good tips, even for those of us who blog often. Would like to know more about Google Authorship... :)

jolynndeal
jolynndeal moderator

@Word Ninja  Whenever I read my earlier posts, I cringe.  I generally end up deleting them, so I'm always afraid to go back and edit. Ha! But, you bring up a great point. I have done the same with all the images in my blog media files.

jolynndeal
jolynndeal moderator

@avidean  Google authorship is really essential for blogging. There are so many benefits from creating a google plus account and linking your sites to it.  We can connect offline and talk more if you want.