So you've decided to write a blog, maybe about your book or its impact, but you're wondering how people will actually find your post amidst a sea of endless online content. Never fear! We've got you covered. We've compiled some best practices that can increase your chances of boosting engagement and reaching the right audiences.
Choosing The Right Keywords For Your Content
Once you have picked your topic, you will want to make sure that search engines understand what your content is about. This will help your article be ranked by search engines and found by users who are searching for similar topics - the industry jargon is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). One of the best ways to be ranked well on search engine results pages is to clearly define the main long-tail keyword you would like to rank for.
A long-tail keyword, as defined by HubSpot, is “a keyword phrase that contains at least three words … [and is] used to target niche demographics rather than mass audiences.” A short-tail keyword, by contrast, is a one- or two-word keyword that more broadly defines a topic. So, as an example, “men’s shoes” would be a short-tail keyword while “blue suede men’s shoes” would be one of its long-tail keywords.
An easy way to find useful long-tail keywords is to download Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension and begin to use it in your search results pages. Once you download it and activate it in Chrome, simply type your category (or short-tail keyword) into Google and use the insights from Keywords Everywhere to find a useful long-tail keyword. As an example, let’s say you are writing about “servant leadership.” Here is what you might find in your results page:
As you can see, your short-tail keyword, “servant leadership,” gets 60,500 average searches per month. “Servant leadership examples,” on the other hand, only gets 2,900 average monthly searches. While you may be tempted to just optimize your post for “servant leadership,” keep in mind that short-tail keywords also have the most competition. So, although the short-tail has the most volume, it may be very difficult to rank for. The long-tail keywords, on the other hand, have much lower search volume, but may be relatively easy to rank for. It is always best practice to identify a specific long-tail you want to craft the article around. This will increase your odds of being ranked in the results pages and attracting an audience.
Attracting Organic Traffic With Your Title
Once you find the long-tail keyword that you would like to rank for, you will want to couch that keyword into a title that search engine users would naturally search for. We recommend navigating to Answer the Public, typing the long-tail keyword you would like to write about in the search bar, and clicking the “get questions” button. As an example, let’s say you would like to write about “servant leadership examples.” Here is an example of what you might see:
In looking at the topic cloud, “servant leadership examples in business” is a great start to a title. By couching the long-tail keyword in user search optimized terms, you increase the likelihood that your title matches how users will search for it.
Next, you will want to run your title through Headline Analyzer, a free headline analyzer tool. Here you can see how the headline scores, making sure it aligns with best practices. Continue to add or delete words until you hit on an impactful title that scores well.
To further our example, let’s say you settled on this title: “5 Remarkable Examples of Servant Leadership in Business.” It has these stats:
- Headline Score: 66
- Character Count: 55
- Word Count: 8
Here are some key things to note:
- You do not need to have all the words from your keyword in the correct order for Google to rank you for it. Google’s ranking algorithm is sophisticated enough to understand the context of words and their relationship with each other.
- Your headline score should be over 60.
- Your character count should be under 70 (ideally 55).
- Your word count should ideally be under 11.
Once you are confident that you have an intriguing title that is optimized for your long-tail keyword and how users might search for it, you are ready to begin to craft your article!
Optimize Your Post's Content For Search and Reader Engagement
Here are a few things that are important to note when optimizing the body of the text for search engines:
- Readers first: All content should be 100 percent human-friendly. After all, you are writing to readers, not search engines. What we describe below should be woven naturally into the fabric of the text.
- Use synonyms: It is recommended that you write out a short list of synonyms of your keyword and make sure to use them all in the body of the text. This will help search engines better identify the topic of your article and rank it accordingly.
- Subheaders: Break your text into natural sections (with subheaders). Many online readers skim an article first to see if it is something they want to read. Breaking up the text gives the online reader a more friendly experience.
- Keywords: Once you have your sections, make sure one of your subheaders has your direct keyword in it. This will clearly signal to the search engines what your article is about.
- Links: Make sure to only link back to authoritative, highly relevant web pages within your article.
- Anchor text: Make sure that one of the anchor text (text used in a hyperlink) you use is either your keyword or a close synonym. This sends another clear signal as to what your article is about.
Craft Your Meta Description For Discovery
Finally, once you have your article written, it is time to craft your meta description.
Defined by Moz, “meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of webpages. They are between one sentence to a short paragraph and appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).”
Here are the items you will want to take note of when writing your meta description:
- It should be 275-300 characters.
- It should include your exact long-tail keyword.
- It should neatly summarize your article.
It is OK to tease the reader to click on the link in the results page and read on. One simple way to do this is describe the challenges faced by the reader and then suggest that answers to those issues lie inside. Here is an example based on our servant leadership example post:
“Businesses face a growing competitive environment. For many corporations, the only edge they have is their people. But how do you inspire them to do their best work? Servant Leadership. These five servant leadership examples in business will not only inspire you, but your whole leadership team.”
Please note, not only did we use the exact keyword, we also used other words to bolster the keyword (bolded for identification. You do not need to bold your keywords/synonyms).
And there you have it! A comprehensive guide to optimizing your blog and reaching your readers and beyond. Interested in submitting a blog post to the BK Blog? Click here to review our submission guidelines and send your article our way!