There are many reasons why your business should be blogging. Sharing your expertise and information grounds your company as a thought leader in your space, and helps you establish relationships with visitors. Once you begin blogging, your goal is to drive traffic to your blog and website without spending budget on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. One challenge that arises is how to contend for audience with your competition, particularly if they’ve been blogging for longer than you have and therefore have a better-established blog. The solution? Search engine optimization (SEO). Using SEO to make your blog more visible to the search engines makes it more likely to show up in search results, giving you more mindshare and clickthrough.
Optimizing your blog posts for SEO is no easy task, but it’s well worth your time. There’s no guarantee that your post will show up in Google’s top five results…but optimization will bring you several steps closer to your goal of reaching that larger audience.
The first rule of SEO is to know your audience. Write specifically to them, about the things they care about, in a straightforward way. The better you can do this, the sooner your blog will get noticed.
Here are three simple tips to help you better optimize your blog for your specific readers:
1) Google AdWords is a free keyword research tool that helps identify search terms globally and locally, and allows you to see how competitive a keyword is. (Note: a “keyword” can be more than one word.) Use this tool to find a good keyword for your post and then tweak your blog around that specific term. Try focusing on low competition terms which may not be searched for as often, but will give you the opportunity to rank higher in that search result. Note: Make sure your keyword and your content and your audience are a strong match all the way around.
2) SEO plugins are helpful and powerful optimization tools when used correctly. Optimizing your blog for search engines won’t necessarily bring the right type of traffic to your blog, so you must optimize for your readers instead.* Once you know who your target audience is and you’ve written your post, it’s time to put the plug-in to work. If you’re using WordPress, WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great tool with many usable features such as xml sitemap, breadcrumbs, webmaster tools verification, RSS optimization, rich snippets, social integration and page analysis. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different plugins; trial and error is a big part of the blogging experience.
3) Use images related to your search term, and optimize your alternative (alt) image text. This will help search engines identify your image in search results and it will also “tell” search engines that your image is relevant to your blog post.
Bonus tip: One of the biggest factors in blog SEO this year is going to be authorship. Google wants to identify the person behind the content and ensure that they’re willing to put their name and face with it. The only way to configure authorship is by linking the content to a Google+ account.
SEO is extremely dynamic. Google constantly updates its algorithms, but if you stay proactive and continue to optimize your blog, you’ll make progress in the ongoing battle for better search engine results.
Got more tips? Leave us a comment below and share your insights!
*Learn more about writing for your audience in the SEO 101 series Part 3, Write Great Content by Martin Laetsch, Act-On’s Director of Online Marketing.