If you are a professional blogger, you have likely already given a lot of thought to your SEO strategy. You may have hired an outside company to help boost your pages and you know the importance of keywords. Or maybe you have no idea what “SEO” even stands for.
Either way, SEO (search engine optimization) is a critical part of any content creator’s marketing strategy. And if you are a blogger, you’re lucky! You don’t have to hire someone else to increase SEO for you, you are doing it every time you write a new blog post.
Here are some simple tricks to add to your SEO playbook to amplify what you’re already doing with your words:
Think Quality over Quantity
If you know anything about SEO, you probably know about keywords. But stuffing your post with a single targeted keyword no longer works with Google’s algorithms—they have fully shifted to quality over quantity.
Yes, keywords still matter. Just choose them wisely and only use them once or twice in your posts. Keyword stuffing is now, not only frowned upon, but penalized by Google and short, shallow articles are dismissed.
Choose the Best Keywords
Target keywords that are within your reach: good search volume, low competition, and relevant to your business.
For example, we’ve targeted the term “Quickbooks 2019”. It has very high search volume and because it’s year-specific, competition is new and weak. For us, its business relevance is high—we’re a direct competitor to Quickbooks and we are looking to move people over.
There are lots of great tools that help you to explore the volume and difficulty of your keywords as well as monitor the engagement of your target audience.
Google Analytics is probably the most popular SEO tracker and for small businesses, it’s free! Other tools like Moz, SEMrush and Ahrefs will also help you stay up-to-date with traffic, demographics and keywords. Whatever tool you choose, tracking engagement data will help you better understand your human audience and create content better suited to them.
Aim for 1000+ Words
Google wants substance, which often translates into length. Average content length for high-ranking posts is around 1900 words.
That may be a lot to ask on some topics, so start by shooting for 1000 words or more—but remember, quality over quantity. Don’t fluff up your article just to make it longer. Some topics can be covered in fewer words, just keep your reader in mind. Practical, but detailed information is best.
Mobile-Optimization is not Optional
If you want your blog to rank, you need to make sure that it is optimized for the mobile platform. The majority of users will read your content via a smartphone or tablet and if your website loads poorly on a smartphone, they will likely move on to another site.
In addition, Google may rank your page using their mobile first index. For the human user and for the search engine, mobile-optimization matters.
Update Content Regularly
A blog that looks like a graveyard will be an immediate turn off to readers and to SEO. Try to post once a week or more often if you can. And update your content regularly—bloggers who update older content are 74% more likely to report strong results.
Additionally, encourage and monitor comments to your own blog. This gives Google fresh content from your site and establishes you as an expert in your industry.
Try Guest Posting
Another huge trend in SEO right now is guest posting. Regularly produce content for sites similar to your own and collect guest posts from others—it is most successfully done as a partnership. Focus on writing and collecting high quality, insightful posts that have real value for your followers.
Guest posting increases backlinks to your site, creates good faith between business owners and adds greater value to your niche audience.
Don’t Neglect Metadata
Metadata includes image descriptions, keywords, titles, snippets and more. These small things can make a big difference in your SEO.
Your URL and snippet should be short and informative. Use the 320 characters alloted to write catchy, natural sounding sentences that appeal to both Google and your user. Draw in your reader and tell them what they need to know.
Another trick is to always edit image descriptions and alt text on media files. These visual mediums appeal to the modern internet user, but can not be read by Google—so take the time to include relevant text that search engines can find.
One of the first things your user will notice is the security of your site: is there a green padlock in their address bar? Does the url start with HTTPS?
If you haven’t taken the time to update your url from HTTP to HTTPS, do it now. There’s really no alternative for Google’s security requirements.
Use your social media accounts as another way to boost SEO. Share your blog posts on socials, using catchy titles and beautiful images.
This will add more original links that will bump you to the top of Google search results. Make sure that each of your social media profiles are current, so that these profiles will engage your audience more, not turn them away.
You write for people, not Google
More than anything, remember that you write for people, not for a machine. Your blogs should create real value to your users and if they don’t, you are missing something. Improve SEO by improving the quality of your content and keep working to get better and better.
This post was written by Jaren Nichols, Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks, free accounting software for small businesses. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.