You’ve spent all of this time researching and writing blog content that offers your audiences extremely valuable information. But, for some reason, the content just isn’t being found organically.
It’s time to reevaluate your content marketing assets and look for opportunities to further optimize. What exactly does this entail? Blog optimization includes everything from proper page tagging to keyword research and usage, heading updates, cross-linking and much more.
Ultimately, optimizing existing blog posts will increase organic traffic, help reach new and highly relevant audiences and boost conversions.
In this post, I’ll be covering 10 essential tactics for blog optimization that will surely take your organic visibility to the next level.
1. Analyze Keyword Visibility
While keyword research is typically the starting point when creating SEO blog content, you can easily uncover new keyword opportunities by analyzing existing visibility after a post has been published for some time.
Run the URL in SEMrush and Search Console to determine top keywords that the post is driving visibility around. Focus on keywords where the post is ranking in positions 5 – 15, as these typically present the most immediate opportunity to move up in search results.
Consider the longer tail terms that are most relevant to the post. Ranking for the shorter tail, super competitive terms may be a long shot right now, but if you can build visibility around the longer tail targets first – you’re on the right track.
For example, instead of targeting a particularly competitive term like “marketing automation,” start by targeting a more specific term like “b2b marketing automation examples.”
Once you’ve set your primary keyword target(s), look for additional opportunities to use the phrase in a natural manner throughout the post. While incorporating the keyword in your content is absolutely essential, it’s also important that you’re not forcing it.
There are a couple of steps we recommend to ensure your content sounds natural:
- Always read the copy out loud before publishing
- Ask yourself: does this sentence, phrase or paragraph offer value to the reader?
- Would this sentence, phrase or paragraph make sense without the keyword? Or, would it make more sense with another term?
2. Evaluate Top SERPs
Understand what’s currently showing up in search results for the keyword targets at hand. With this type of evaluation, you will have a better understanding of what’s required to rank based on what Google has already determined as most relevant to the query.
This includes looking at both traditional search engine results features and more advanced features like the Featured Snippet, People Also Asked, Related Searches and more. Consider the type of assets ranking, the style of posts, the format, etc.
This post provides examples of what each SERP feature actually looks like on Google, and outlines considerations that SEO professionals should be aware of.
3. Optimize Your Title
Title tags might be the most important, individual factor on a web page or post. HTML titles appear as the titles in search engine results, as well as default titles for bookmarks and social media shared assets (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
Ideally, the keyword or a variation of the term should be included towards the beginning of the title tag, but don’t force it.
Of course, other SEO best practices should be kept in mind as well. The length should not exceed 55-60 characters (if it’s too long, consider condensing it), and the title tag should be unique.
Part of your analysis of what’s ranking in top search results should include looking for commonalities of post titles. For example, are most of the posts ranking structured as a list like “[X] Ways”, do they address the definition “What is…” or do they reflect “How-to” style articles?
Because adjustments to HTML titles can have a significant impact on SEO efforts, it’s important that potential implications are considered and proper planning is put in place before any changes are made.
Make sure that changing the title won’t cause any significant ranking drops or loss of existing organic visibility to the post.
4. Craft a Meta Description
Your meta description should provide both search engines and users with a brief and unique description of what is covered in the post. Ideally, the meta description will be one to two sentences and will not exceed 200 characters in length.
While meta descriptions don’t play a significant role in driving rankings, they can impact the click-through rate. For this reason, look for opportunities to make the meta description more engaging and entice users to click into the post.
Again, ideally the keyword or a variation of the term should be included towards the beginning of the description, but don’t force it.
5. Incorporate Headings
The overall structure of your content can make all the difference when it comes to optimization. Post headings and the depth of use should be leveraged for establishing organization patterns in association with the subject.
For SEO, ensure that H2 tags (main headings) and H3 tags (subheading) are implemented on blog posts to help search engines better understand the hierarchy of the content. Heading tags with lower headline variables (4 and lower) are generally not recommended.
Adding headings and subheadings can be a quick and easy way to improve the overall readability of a blog post. Keep paragraphs between 3 to 4 sentences to ensure readers can easily navigate and digest the content.
Look for opportunities to use keywords in headings when possible, while aligning the overall content structure with your analysis of assets ranking in top search results.
6. Add Cross-Links
Optimizing blog posts will also give you a chance to update any broken cross-links in the post and add new ones.
If possible and natural, I encourage at least 1 cross-link to a relevant product page with the appropriate anchor text. However, it’s also worth considering adding cross-links to any newly published related blog posts.
7. Optimize Images
When it comes to blog optimization, the most commons issues are around broken images. As a result, ensuring existing file names are not changed without proper consideration is key.
Look for opportunities to add more engaging images, and ensure images are optimized. Image file names and ALT text can impact how they perform in search engine results, and help with overall post performance.
When it comes to image naming conventions, best practices include using a dash vs. a space or underscore, incorporating descriptive keywords, and using lowercase letters. Also, try to keep the image size under 200k.
8. Avoid URL Changes
It’s important to recognize that the implications of changing a URL can be pretty serious, especially if a blog post is driving significant organic traffic already.
Avoid making updates to existing blog post URLs that won’t offer any noteworthy SEO value. For example, removing descriptive words, rephrasing, shortening, etc.
If a URL is updated to offer additional SEO value, having the proper redirect in place (from the old URL to the updated one) is essential. However, in most cases, I suggest avoiding URL changes to prevent an unnecessary 301 redirect.
9. Provide a Call-to-Action
Users have read through your entire post and absorbed all of the amazing content you’ve spent time crafting. Now what?
Make sure that the bottom of your posts provides a clear next step or call-to-action for users to take, whether that is through text, a banner, or a button.
The call-to-action might be to learn more about a product or solution related to the challenge, request a free demo, download an eBook with more information, or contact a representative.
Whatever the next step is, make sure it’s clearly defined.
10. Clean Up Content
While evaluating and refreshing top blog posts can lead to impressive organic traffic results, there’s also a chance to clean up old content.
Remove underperforming content that is adding clutter to your website, and/or consolidate posts that cover similar topics and could be cannibalizing keyword performance.
With all of the algorithm updates Google has made over the past couple of years, we know that there are increased expectations around content quality. Having fewer high-quality pages is better than many low-quality pages.
Evaluate the blog content that isn’t performing well, and look for opportunities to remove it or redirect it appropriately. Key questions to consider:
- How long has the post been live? (Has it had a solid chance?)
- Has the post generated any backlinks? If any, from what sites?
- How much organic and total traffic has the post driven over the past year?
By answering these questions, you’ll get a better idea of how much value the post is providing your site.
There are a variety of tactics for updating blog content to gain organic search visibility, and these are some of the ones that I’ve found to be most successful.
As mentioned, optimization is key from the start of blog post creation; however, there are almost always opportunities to further optimize a post after it’s been published and has time to gain traction.
What tips do you have for blog optimization? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or reach out to me directly via Twitter!