Blog Post SEO: How to Search Engine Optimize Content
The opening keynote at Blog World Expo was Scott Stratten of UnMarketing, who wanted to convey the fact that “people spread awesome” in terms of content, and that there are five things that “stop the spread.” Number three in this list was Google SEO, and for good reason. There are bloggers that concern themselves with SEO-ing their blog posts first (such as choosing a keyword rich title) and then constructing their post around that and make sure to litter a specific percentage of those keywords throughout the post.
So let’s think about this for a minute. If you want your content to be well received, it needs to be good content. Period. As Scott mentioned in his keynote: no one shares something simply because it is “keyword rich.” They share it because it is great. So can you create great content and then optimize it after the fact successfully? Absolutely! Here are the steps.
1. Write the awesome content first.
Do you have a great idea for a post? Instead of thinking what you should write for Google, think about what you should write for readers instead. What would make someone want to read this post? What will make people want to share this post?
2. Think about what two to three word phrases that summarize the content.
Next, think about some phrases that summarize the main idea of the post. This part doesn’t have to be done in SEO terms – just what you think fits the post.
3. Use keyword tools to see what people are searching to find similar topics.
Now we’re going to get into the search optimization. Although the numbers of Google Adwords Keyword Tool are debatable, it is still a good indicator of the overall popularity of search terms (ie. maybe 260,000 people do not search for that keyword, but if another one only shows 140,000, then you know which is more popular). Type in some of the phrases you thought of above, and let the keyword tool give you suggestions.
4. Create your SEO optimized title.
You can easily combine some of your keyword tool’s suggestions to create an optimize title for your post – just keep in mind the 60 character limit. In this post’s case, I could (and might) do Blog Post SEO: How to Search Engine Optimize Content.
If you prefer having a shorter title displayed on your blog, but want the full length title for search engines, use plugins like All in One SEO or Platinum SEO Pack so you can put your SEO title in the plugin’s title field so the title you have displayed on your blog will be different.
5. Create your SEO optimized meta description.
Your meta description is the 160 character sales pitch for your post – it will be what is shown in search results, as well as what will be used when people share your post (Facebook share, for example, usually uses the meta description as the description when shared). Be sure to write your description in a way that will attract readers as well as including some of those most searched keywords.
6. Grab some images and optimize them.
This one isn’t usually an issue for me, as I like to throw screenshots into my posts often, but if you don’t have an image, be sure to go out and grab one – try Flickr Advanced Search as a starting point and list only Creative Commons images. When you code it in, add a alt tag that describes the image and (if possible) uses your keywords.
7. Link out to highly relevant resources.
Finally, find some great resources to link to throughout your post. Readers like this because they will see that you are giving them valuable information, and search engines will approve as well.
Beneficial Results of After the Fact SEO
So what is the major benefit to creating awesome content that gets spread? Simple. If people like your content, they are going to share it on Twitter and other social media networks, and when posts become popular, people will link to them in their own blog posts. So you will get social promotion and backlinks to your awesome content, making it more likely that Google will notice it and rank it highly in search results as well. And voila, you will have successful SEO content!
Your Blog Post SEO Strategy
Do you focus more on content that the search engines will like, or content that your readers will love and work on the SEO after the fact? Share your strategy in the comments!