Blogging SEO – The Science & The Art
An Effective Blogging SEO Strategy
Blogging SEO (and other content pages SEO) can be effective in bringing visitors to your site and benefit your sites overall ranking. And what’s more, the tactics you will use in your blog can form the same tactics you use throughout your site to improve rank. But getting benefits from Content and blogging SEO work does involve ticking quite a lot of boxes, not just creating great content for your visitors.
Firstly, you will focus on keyword placement –
Basic Factors that Influence Your Content/Blogging SEO Performance
Google uses many factors, some relating to your whole site, some to your particular pages you will be working on. These all combine to affect your page rankings.
The basic stuff that you must do well, includes establishing a list of focus keywords or phrases. This is your target SEO search query. You can use AdWords Keywords planner tool or search query reports from Google Shopping campaigns to get a good idea of what search queries to focus on. Some of these queries will be very competitive, others less so. You should shortlist achievable and highly relevant search terms to target for your SEO objectives.
Once you have a target list of focus keywords/phrases, you should aim to place these in your target pages within your site, in a way matching the search query. So you have to have a list of target keywords (prefereably phrases which are less competitive), and match these then to a list of targety pages which you want to rank higher for those search queries.
Once you have identified a target page, such as a blog, you need to refine this page to match it to the query.
Where to Put Shortlisted Keywords and Phrases
Googles search crawlers don’t see everything we see. We have to help them.
First, the target keyword is placed in your meta description and meta titles. This must be placed in the first paragraph, in at least one subheading, ideally an H1 heading, and even in images with an alt tag containing the keyword, also having a relevant image title. If you can, also put your focus keyword in the page URL
For more tips on Keyword Placement, read our blog here – Keyword Placement Ranking Signals
These are all measured and easy to do with the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
There are wider factors that influence rank. These signals include internal link patterns, external links, the readability of the page, and such things as bookmarks on chrome browsers.
A blog or content page such as a topical help guide, can link to parts of your website that you particularly want to have target for higher ranking. Placing these links around your site acts like external links in enhancing page rank. This would be part of an ‘Internal Linking Strategy’ that will improve your page rank on target areas of your site.
Internal Linking Strategy
The strategy here is quite simple. The links embedded on your posts will link to the target page, with the anchor text containing the main organic keywords you want to rank more highly on in that target page. The more pages linking in a coherent way, the stronger will be the targets page authority for those search keywords. Internal link strategies have an advantage over external ones which unlike internal links can get you severely penalised if you do it wrong. Internal links do not need a ‘no follow’ rel attribute to avoid this danger with external links pointing at your site.
But if you can get your blog posts/content pages to rank more highly as well, for relevant keywords, you’ll further benefit this, and gain more traffic to your site. Internal Links do give your pages more authority, and what’s more they are totally under your control. WordPress blogs also make it easy to search for existing content and add as a link to your anchor text.
Use Your Target Keywords in Your Internal Links
Before you try to embark on a strategy, it is necessary to know what Google uses to rank your pages. Moreover, you need to know how competitive the environment is for your target keywords. And of course, you need to know what is the relevant search traffic to focus on. For most circumstances, you need to find a relatively small niche and push hard to rank highly for targeted traffic. This would be an achievable goal. So you have to identify your niche and relevant search terms you can expect to compete well on (not too competitive).
Then you need to use these in your internal sitelinks;
- Place links in various pages pointing to target pages
- These links should have the natural search query placed in their alt-text (visible) descriptions, that you have in your target page (content, meta descriptions etc).
- These links should be included in main text portion, but can also be placed in footers.
The Importance of Identifying Your Niche
In general, if you are focusing on a niche that you want to dominate in content or blogging SEO efforts, then you will want rich, valuable content. It will increase your chance of a bookmark, an external link being pointed at you, and Googles search algorithm will look at the technical quality of your content. This is the magic part, and to explore how we try to get specialised, niche traffic to your site we need to look at the newer ways that Google analyses quality and relevance signals (aside from keywords and meta descriptions).
This is a key ranking factor, and the main way it is measured is with the Flesch Readability scale. A high readability will benefit your rank. But Google is also smart enough to know that the readability level varies naturally, specialised topics have lower readability.
For most traffic, the average search is not particularly technical. Google can detect this and will then try to match pages to the comprehension level (readability) and of course, the technical content it thinks the user requires.
Because Google analyses the readability of your content using certain language analysis, it will select out results to the SERP which reflect the likely subject interest and level of the user, combined with how ‘readable’ it is.
How Google does this is fascinating. Lets look at the general principles;
This is a formula that is based on (Total Words/ Total Sentences) – (Total Syllables /Total Words).
High readability means;
- Less Words Per Sentence
- Less Syllables Per Word.
Google can also assess other factors relating to grammar and spelling, so this also all needs to be good
The scale ranges from 0 to 120, and an optimal range for generic, mainstream content would be 70 to 85. But is is also matched to your niche
Google will rank you higher the easier it is, but ask yourself if this benefits you and is practical to get a high number on more technical content as you may still be so low down in rank that it is of no benefit to you.
When Low Flesch Readability is Good
If a high rank on more specialised, advanced level traffic suits you, then the readability can be different, and it usually has to be for it to be useful.
Google uses a chart to match the ideal readability for different subjects and comprehension levels, and it matches these to particular search terms (and probably other information it gathers on the user). Technical stuff has to be more complicated. Google will match less traffic to that. But it can also detect the users desired reading level. In that situation, content with a low Flesch number, between say 0 and 30, would be given a boost in its position.
If you go for easy reading where the volume traffic is, that also puts you in the mainstream, highly competitive marketplace and unless you have a lot of positive signals, links and site wide factors that make you seem very popular, you will have a hard time being found with basic level content.
Technical Content Should Have Different Readability
Go for technical content, and those who put more advanced queries that relate to your content, will be much more likely to get matched up with your site higher up the page. But you also need to get the best readability you can. The readability Google expects depends on certain values and also on how technical it thinks it should be. It actually expects different values for different types of content. Make it very technical, you will lose rank on generic searches, but you can conversely gain it for a more specialised search. For example, this blog has a low readability in some of these measures by design, because we’re not aiming for general interest traffic about SEO subjects.
Readability is not only determined by its Flesch value, so you don’t have to compromise.
‘Passive Voice’ to ‘Active Voice’
This is not the only aspect Google uses. Its possible to get a great Flesch number, but be meaningless gibberish. Google uses an assessment of ‘Passive Voice’ to detect sentence structure and readability as well, as well as the use of transition words and spelling.
The percentage of sentences in ‘passive voice’ compared to ‘active voice’ is important. High passive voice is generally bad. You can read more about it here
There may be some exceptions where a high passive voice ratio is not a bad thing.
Transition words are another signal of quality text. These show that you are putting intellect into your posts. Transition words include comparisons (instead, less than etc), causality (because, since etc), emphasis (most importantly, primarily etc), enumeration (firstly, in addition to etc) and conclusion (in summary, therefore etc).
Additionally, overall content structure affects the SEO signals. Text under subheadings with a general limit of 300 words and paragraphs which are not too long are also influential.
- Establish focus keywords
- Identify target pages you want to rank higher, not just your content pages, which can link to each other, so some pages are used to push up others.
- Link your content pages to each other with target keyword anchor text that relates to the target pages focus target keywords.
- Put primary Focus Keywords into URL, Title, a Subheading/First Paragraph, Meta Description and title tags on your blog or content page.
- Incorporate relevant Focus Keywords into the anchor text of URL’s pointing from any content to your target pages (i.e. to products), you can have dozens in each page (but not recommended to be more than 100) and establish an internal linking strategy (this can point in both directions), and
- Ensure the target pages have focus keywords related to the internal links display text, in their titles, First Paragraph, images on that page
- Include images in your content pages with alt tag matching focus keyword.
- Raise the readability level for your target niche;
- – Relevant Flesch readability, generally lowest as is practical for the level, so lower the words per sentence, don’t use unnecessary syllables if you can.
- – Low ‘passive Voice’ ratio. Make more sentences ‘active voice’.
- Incorporate transition words.
- Paragraph size after a sub-heading try to keep under 300 words. Use more sub-headings.
- Aim to be as useful and helpful as possible – rework pages and aim to get bookmarked.
Yoast calculates almost all the above, so get the plugin! With a good blogging SEO strategy to aim for, you should achieve results.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please add them below.
If you need any help with Improving your Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) performance or on how to make more opportunities for your online business, then please get in contact with us here at Network Intellect. Telephone: +44 (0) 844 543 0980