You’ve heard you should be blogging, but do you have any idea where to start? Wouldn’t it be great if someone lined it all out for you, maybe creating a template you could follow along? At Revenue River we’re here to help, we’ve put together a nice little checklist of how to create search engine optimized blog posts in order to raise the relevance and ranking of your website for critical keywords and topics.
Step 1) Research and Create a Pillar Page Strategy
The first and most important thing to do before you begin blogging is to research a pillar strategy. To get started with this, you must research some topics that you want your website and blog to be focused around. These topics need to be relevant to your content and surround the types of concepts you want to be ranking for. This can certainly be part of the larger discussion about your inbound marketing campaign, often taking place during an inbound marketing assessment. For example, some of the topics that we focus on are SEO, digital marketing, sales enablement, and more. We then create specific optimized pages of long-form pieces of content, that we use as the pillar of that topic.
Your blog articles serve 2 purposes. The first is to give your readers quality information that is going to further their knowledge and be a resource for them. The second is to support your pieces of pillar content to help them and the topics rank higher within the search results.
Step 2) Develop Keyword Strategy
The next piece of the puzzle is to develop a list of relevant keywords you want to compete for based on your topics. There are many tools out there that will help you develop a good keyword strategy. Here at Revenue River, we use SEMRush as our main source of keyword research. We take a look at what we are already ranking for, as well as what we are missing based off of related keywords and what our competitors are ranking for. You need to make sure you are strategic about the keywords you are choosing. Make sure that they are keywords that are going to be acheivable to rank for and are strictly related to the topics you have chosen during your pillar strategy research.
Whenever I’m looking for a topic for my next blog post I always start with my keyword list, and cross reference it with my current rankings. Maybe I’m sitting in the low twenties for "Digital Marketing Services." Since this is a key word I want to get traffic for and I’m getting close to the first page I could really benefit from some improved rankings. By blogging about digital marketing, what we do, what the industry is doing, and how you might be able to take advantage of your new found knowledge we’re able to help our readers AND improve our search engine rankings. Very simple, once you’ve went through this a couple times it will be routine.
Let’s pretend your keyword is Window Tinting for this example
So you have your keyword, now use it to develop a title. You should try to include a keyword in every blog title you write if possible, this can get tricky to make read well. We turn to SEMRush to get a list of long-tail keywords that surround our topics, that preferrably include a keyword, and that get a good amount of monthly searches. This can be a long process, but is necessary to take the time because you want to choose that blog title that is going to get the highest amount of traffic to support your topics. Again, once you’ve tried it a couple times you’ll get the hang of it.
We came up with this blog title: Window Tinting – 3 Ways to Protect Your Ride
This gives you a title that gives the reader an idea of what they’re getting into, includes your keyword nicely, and sets you up for a very simple framework to write from.
Step 3) Create the Body of Your Blog
For the body of your post you’ll need to consider working in several critical components.
1. There is no set rule on how long a blog post should be, but at Revenue River, having around 1,000 words give or take is a good rule of thumb. Yes, it seems like a lot, but once you get to writing about something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about it will go fast.
Sometimes brainstorming a list of bullets will give you a good construct to work off of. If you get stuck try using the Google, it can be pretty helpful especially if you try entering long tailed key words. Keeping with our aforementioned example, this would be a good blog topic with keywords: ‘why should I tint my windows to protect my car?’
2. Link internally to support your pages properly. If you have pillar strategy in place, you should only link to one page internally and that page should be your pillar content. This is to ensure all of the support from that page is going towards that topic as a whole. We want to make sure we are building out these topic clusters strategically and not giving away all of the page rank to multiple pages. We want to make sure Google knows what page/topic each of your blogs belongs to. This will help raise rank for your pillar page.
3. Link externally to prove your points. Google likes to see that other companies and industries are agreeing with what you are syaing, so it is very important to always be citing your sources. By doing this, you are proving that you are also an expert just like the rest of the industry and Google will have to help your blog article rank higher.
4. Include Anchor Text. Anchor Text is simply making some of the words in your article into hyperlinks. The hyperlink should link back to a page on your website. Different types of hyperlinks that should be included in a blog article are listed above. This can seem complicated because many different blog posting platforms have different paths to accomplish. From inside the HubSpot blog editor, do the following...
- Open your website in a new browser, go to the page you want to link to
- Copy the URL from the top of the webpage
- Highlight the word you want link
- Click the icon on the tool bar that looks like a chain
- In the address field – right click and paste your web URL you copied in the second bullet
- Click "Add Link", you should now see the word you highlighted show up underlined, hover over it to see the link behind it.
- Test to make sure it works, clicking on it should take you to the webpage
5. Include 2-3 keywords. Don’t over-do it, many people think blogging is a race to get as many keywords into your article is possible. This is not only a horrible way to make your content interesting and readable it’s also frowned upon by the search engines and can actually punish you more than help you. Just work in a few of your keywords naturally and you’ll do yourself some good. Focus on the other included elements to really put your article over the top.
6. Don’t forget a picture! Every blog post should include an image. Stock images are usually just fine, there are many sites to find stock images on you can buy or even get at a small version of for free.
7. All images get Alt Text. If you’re going to put up an image you better edit the Alt Text. The Alt Text is generally default to the name or number of the image you downloaded but can often be updated. Try right clicking on the image, editing title or alt text, and changing that way. Change the text to your focus keyword when possible, but most importanly make sure it describes the image properly.
8. Do you have an offer? Nothing beats a great offer to stimulate a conversion. If you write great content, get people to read your article, and don’t give them a way to give you their information or claim some additional information of value you’ve missed a big opportunity.
Sure the SEO advantages of your new post are valuable, but wouldn’t you like to get a new lead or customer while you’re at it? Write a good article, post an offer that redirects to a landing page that harvests contact information. Nurture your leads to close from there, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out the CTA at the end of this post.
9. Add Meta Titles and Meta Description no matter what. Meta Titles of a blog post are the title of the blog, so this is taken care of or you already if you are in HubSpot. When it comes to the Meta Descriptions, this is purely for the reader's benefit. When they find this article in the search results, they will want to see a description that is enticing and gets them to click through to the website. This organic click through rate is a ranking factor, so make sure people like it!
That's it, really simple right? Obviously it takes time to correctly write and post a blog article. This is why marketing companies like us exist, to take the burden off of you and put it on us. After all, you have better things to do with your time and we're in the business of generating inbound leads with your website and the blog is just one tool we use to that end.
For additional articles on blogging check out the topic on our blog or check out our eBook on the subject below.
*This blog was originally published on 9/29/12 and has been revised for freshness and accuracy.