8. How to Optimize a Blog Post

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing a website in order to increase chances of it being shown in the search engine results. Each blog post contributes to search engine visibility and helps you position your blog pages, which is why optimizing a blog post should be your practice when publishing content on your blog.

When you think about optimization, you should consider three types of optimization, also called “friendliness”.

SEO-friendly

Being SEO-friendly means that the content is created based on the search engine guidelines. This kind of optimization is done because of the search engines. Search engines have spiders or crawlers which discover and index new content on the internet. These spiders use tags to understand the content and thus connect it with relevant search queries. When a blog post is optimized for search engines, this means that it is SEO-friendly.

Title optimization

Start by optimizing the title. Use relevant keywords and make an engaging title that encourages clicks. Also make sure that the title adequately describes what is in the article, to increase the time the readers spend reading. Otherwise, they would quickly abandon your site, which can indicate the search engines that something is wrong with your page.

The title tag is an HTML element that is used to mark this segment of the page. Besides on your blog, titles are also displayed in the search engine results. They are clickable and they lead directly to the article page. That is one of the main reasons why the titles are important. Being a part of the result pages means that they have the power to get visitors to your blog.

General SEO guidelines regarding titles include:

  • Use a keyword, at the beginning of the title if possible
  • Include a brand name if you have a strong, recognizable brand
  • Avoid all caps
  • Recommend length is approximately 60 characters

Of course, you cannot always follow all of these recommendations for each title. For example, some titles will probably be longer than 60 characters. Even if that happens, it is important to have in mind that search engines will display only a part of the title in the search result pages (hence, the recommendation to aim for 60 characters). In this case, it is helpful if you have included the keyword in the beginning. This way, the online users are most likely to see that the article is relevant to their query.

Content optimization

Content of the page is another factor that affects page ranking in the search engine result pages. In terms of SEO, content needs to:

Provide value to the readers

This is reflected through signals such as average session duration, whether the user goes back to the SERP with the same query, shares, etc.

Be keyword-targeted

Apart from the title tag, the primary keyword should appear in the page URL, and in the text. Specifically, the keyword should be highlighted with some of the tags such as heading, bold, etc.

Be unique

Any duplicate pages or parts of text should use the canonical tag to link to the original page. This way the original page increases its value and visibility in the search engines.

Be accessible to the search engines

This means allowing search engine spiders to crawl and index the website, having an XML sitemap, etc.

Have meta description

Meta description is shown in the search results, so it an element you should add to the blog page. Try to include both primary and secondary keywords in the meta description.

Link to other pages on the blog

Pages that stand separately with no links pointing to them or outbound links are almost impossible to rank, because search engines use links to crawl new content. Make sure your blog page links to a category (if those exist) or to the homepage. Also, include other internal and external links, if they are relevant and helpful.

Image optimization

Images are optimized using Alt Text, also called alt attributes or alt description. It is an HTML tag that is used to add a context to an image. It is a descriptive text that explains what the image is about. This text will be displayed when the image cannot be loaded. More importantly, alt text provides a description for the search engine crawlers, assisting them in indexing the image.

There are several recommendations you should have in mind when optimizing images:

  • Include a descriptive text that conveys the image message
  • Keep it short (Usually, up to 125 characters of alt text is shown)
  • Use keyword if it fits the context of the image
  • Avoid keyword stuffing just for the sake of optimization because it will have an opposite effect
  • Do not use phrases such as “image of”, “this is a picture of”, and similar

Not optimized vs. optimized image

Links optimization

Regarding link optimization, you have two groups of links to think about when you start optimizing your blog page. The first link is the actual link of the blog page. It is the page URL. When you add the post title, an automatic URL is created. However, you can edit this URL to create one that is more SEO-friendly. In fact, there are even plugins that do this for you.

Here are the SEO recommendations to have in mind:

  • Make URL simple, relevant, and accurate
  • Avoid using numbers, codes and funky characters (i.e., %, &, {, }, etc.)
  • Use lowercase to avoid confusing the search engines
  • Remove stop words (such as a, and, but, the, etc.)

The second part of optimizing links includes the links posted in your article.

Anchor text represents the visible part of the hyperlink. It is a clickable word or phrase that links to a specific page, internal (another page on your blog) or external (another website or blog). Anchor text is usually in blue so that it differs from the rest of the text.

Regarding SEO, anchor text should:

  • Be relevant to the page you are linking to
  • Be descriptive
  • Not be generic (such as click here, source, etc.)
  • Not be the same each time you are linking to a certain page

User-friendly

Unlike SEO content which is designed with search engines in mind and best practices used for such optimization, user-friendly content is all about the users. Outstanding content should fulfill both of these purposes together. While still having in mind the optimization elements above, you also need to think about:

  • Providing a summary of the topic at the beginning to get readers interested
  • Online users often scan the text rather than reading it so make sure you use emphasis such as bullets, bold, headings, etc.
  • Another way to emphasize things is to repeat or paraphrase something
  • Shorter sentences and paragraphs are recommended to make comprehension easier
  • Keep your thoughts organized, preferably share one idea or thought in one paragraph
  • Do not go overboard with the keywords as the wording might seem artificial and unusual
  • Use a personalized approach when you address your audience
  • Do not use too many adjectives or dilly-dally for too long just to reach that recommended
  • 1000+ word count. If there is not much to be said on the topic, try to expand the title or simply leave the post shorter

Mobile-friendly

By now, you probably are aware that a large percentage of online traffic originates from mobile devices. Some studies report that this percentage is already over 50%, and it is most certainly expected to grow. This is why thinking about mobile-friendliness when blogging is also a critical part of optimizing your blog.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-silver-iphone-7-887751/

Content structure

Starting off with content structure, think about this element when first creating the article. Due to a small screen on mobile devices, what may seem like a long(ish) paragraph on desktop, can look like a massive block of text on mobile devices. As the readers keep scrolling down, the block goes on and on.

To avoid this negative perception of your content, divide content into smaller chunks. Use short paragraphs. Sometimes, only a sentence can be a paragraph, and that is fine, as long as it makes sense to the context. You can also use bullets, lists, summaries, etc. Finally, think about this when creating headings and titles as well. Search engine result pages on mobile devices show even less text than on desktop, which means that a crucial part of your title might get cut off if the title is too long.

Understanding how mobile users read content will help you create articles that show a great level of engagement and actually get readers interested.

Responsive design

This is an essential characteristic of modern websites and blogs. The blog should be designed to be responsive which means that it will automatically adapt to the screen size. Most of the blog templates have responsive design nowadays, but it is worth checking this before choosing a template.

Page load time

Although page load time is one of the factors that affect positioning in SERP in general, when it comes to mobile experience, it is even more important. Readers expect pages to load fast, and they are unlikely to wait patiently as the page takes them through numerous redirects, or pulls the data from the slow server.

Use Google’s Mobile-friendly test to check if your blog is optimized and if there are things you can do to improve the mobile user experience.

Images

Images can increase load time, so optimization of images is another very important aspect of mobile-friendliness. The general recommendation is to use tools and plugins to compress images. You should also make sure that the image displays properly within the article.

CTAs

CTAs are a very effective way of getting conversions, but with mobile users, you need to think carefully about placing the CTAs. Due to the small screen, the article will appear longer on a mobile device. So if the CTA is in the middle of the text or even in the end, it will get much less attention on mobile devices. Some users might not even see it because they quit the page before scrolling all the way down.

So, CTA should be somewhere near the beginning of the article. Or you could use a pop-up window.

Sidebar

Sidebars are great for desktop users. Most bloggers put a lot of important stuff in the sidebar, such as blogger’s bio, related post widget, signup button, or even CTA. On mobile devices, sidebars are shown below the article. They do not serve the same purpose as on desktop view, where they are positioned at the top of the page and receive more attention. A large percentage of mobile users will not even see the sidebar on a mobile device. Instead, try placing the important stuff, such as CTA, in the article itself.

Blog optimization includes all of these three segments. You cannot optimize a blog for SEO only because you will fail at satisfying the users. And since the user experience has an indirect influence on your SEO, your efforts will turn out to be in vain. The same happens if you prioritize the users and neglect SEO. The readers might enjoy the content, but without SEO, search engines will probably have a hard time finding that content and showing it for relevant queries.

Therefore, think about all the three elements of blog optimization to create posts and pages that perform well and get amazing results.