27 Ways to Optimize a Blog Post in 2019
OK , so I keep reading what all of the experts are saying about SEO and every one of them say to “Optimize your Blog Post” The experts talk about this like it is no big deal but I wanted to know exactly how to I optimize a blog post. And guess what? Optimizing a blog post in 2019 takes time and careful thought to successfully craft your post.
There’s no sense in working on optimizing your blog writing if you don’t understand what you need to do to improve it. Having said that there is still no substitute for a blog full of great content. You can’t optimize your way to the number one spot on Google without quality articles.
What I will show you in this post is a step by step method to optimize your blog post starting with researching your topic.
Please, I want comments after this post. I want to know if you have found other methods or if you can improve on my research. Good information is always welcome.
I am going to organize everything I will talk about here in an easy to use checklist for you to download and I’ll update the information regularly as I get quality information to add to this post and the checklist.
Start Your Blog Post Optimization with Research
Start by typing long tail questions into Google on your topic. For instance if you were going to write about trolling motors for your fishing boat you could ask the following questions in the google search box:
- Best trolling motor for 16’ runabout
- Are there electric start trolling motors?
- Who makes trolling motors?
- What is the quietest trolling motor
You will also see other questions pop up in Google Suggest.
Now take the information from the search results and go through the first 3 blog posts on page 1 of your Google search. Do this for several questions.
Make the following notes
- What are the length in words of the posts (use wordchecker.com)
- What words or phrases appear more than once in the first 3-4 paragraphs
- What are the subheadings in the posts?
- How many outbound links are in the post?
- What is the size of the website? (small, medium or large)
- Are the results from manufacturer’s sites?
- Which keywords and keyword phrases show up the most?
- How rapidly do you start getting irrelevant results that have nothing to do with your post idea? If irrelevant results appear on page one or two of the search engine there is a good amount of opportunity for you.
From looking at all of this information make a decision as to where you will most likely successful in beating out the competition. It is unlikely that you will rank above a manufacturer’s site but if you can rank #1 after the manufacturer I’d give it a shot.
Know When to Move On To Other Ideas and Keywords
Here’s some reasons to find other article ideas or take a different approach to your blog post idea with a new set of keywords:
- Your research demonstrates long in depth articles right away and they continue past the first couple of articles, you will have a hard time showing up on page one in any search engine.
- If many of the blog post articles come from authority sites that always seem to win the search results
- High quality long form articles are several pages deep in the search engine
- The first page is “owned” by manufactures and major retailers.
Optimize Your Blog Keywords to Be More Specific and Develop Keyword Phrases
In a previous post I explained that niching your topic choice to be as specific as possible without cutting out all search traffic could be key to good traffic and your reader will get exactly what they intended to find.
When a reader finds exactly what they are looking for they are likely to remain on your page for a longer period of time and this reduces your “bounce rate.” A lower bounce rate is a signal to Google that the reader has found what they are looking for and are sticking around to read it. This helps Google in deciding who should be higher in the search engine results page. (SERP)
Using the trolling motor example, here is a method to get adequately specific to help you be found
- Start with: “Trolling motor”
- Get more specific: “Gas trolling motor”
- What traits or adjectives do you want to add: “Quietest Gas Trolling Motor”
- What is the specific use: “Quietest gas trolling motor for a 16’ runabout”
The questions and adjectives will change on a case by case basis obviously. Follow the formula however to get a specific idea and this will lead you to an optimized blog post topic.
Choose Your Main, Secondary and Tertiary Keyword Phrases
These are the phrases that will help you to rank. Your main Keyword Phrase (KWP) should be in your title, meta description page H1 and H2 titles and mentioned naturally about 2-4 times in your opening paragraphs.
Your secondary and tertiary keywords should be mentioned in your meta description H1 and H2 tags as well as regularly used in your text.
Notice in this post the use of
- Optimize Your Blog Post
- Keyword Phrases
- Blog posts
- Search engine optimization
Not the most exciting keywords but I really wanted to write this article for my readers. There is a need for plain language information on search engine optimization and hopefully this will fill that need.
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. Don’t force keywords into your text but use keywords naturally as you write. Maybe keep your keyword phrases on your desk in front of you as you write your blog posts.
Include Your Primary Keyword in Your Post Title and SEO Post Title
Optimize your blog post title by including your keyword or keyword phrase in the blog title. This is the title at the top of your post in your post page. This may differ from the SEO post title which is the title you display to the world when a reader searches for information. Your SEO title is set in Rank Math
Include Your Primary Keyword in Your Rich Snippet
Your rich snippet which is the description you see in Google under the SEO title can be set by many themes and also in Rank Math.
Include Your Keyword in Your URL & Aim for a URL Under 75 Characters
Your URL is set when you create your article and can be different from the blog title. If you have an exceptionally long title change the URL with the keyword or keyword phrase to as short as possible if it exceeds 75 characters.
Include Your Main Keyword Phase in the First 200 Words of Your Blog Post
Article after article I see when researching information for my post always has the keyword phrase in the first paragraph and I have seen some SEO knowledgeable folks included as many as 3 times when it makes sense and flows naturally.
Write your post in a natural manner but include keywords how did density of about 1.5%
In addition to including your keyword phrase in the first portion of your post optimizing your post with a few uses of your keyword throughout the post is important as well. Try to achieve a keyword use of about 1.5% for good optimization.
There is no magic formula however. Just right naturally and include keyword phrases often enough to signal search engines.
Include Your Keywords in Your H2 and H3 Titles
Search engines don’t stop at the title of your article. Most will search deeper into your post and look for other signals that can help or hurt your rankings. Where practical and natural use keywords in your subtitles.
If you are writing a post in a word processor it may not be enough to add a larger font. When you transfer your article into WordPress make sure you highlight your subheadings and mark them as H2 or H3 titles
In the backend menu of your WordPress site go to settings – permalinks and choose post name. This makes the most sense from an SEO perspective. Your readers don’t care about post number and you don’t want the date of publication there for evergreen posts.
In the past everyone wanted to have links that pointed to their website and have Google follow those links to pass on some authority. Many website owners thought that passing on authority to another site was poor practice as Google may diminish the original site’s authority.
So getting do-follow links and providing only no-follow links was the best you could get. This is called “link sculpting” by Google and no longer works.
Google actually wants to see you link out to other sites where is makes sense to do so. Just be warned about link exchange groups and private blog networks. These are frowned upon by Google and will actually hurt your SEO efforts.
Your Blog Post Should Include a Table of Contents
A table of content will help your users navigate longer posts. People tend to skim posts and this will give your reader a way to navigate through your post, possibly skipping back and forth and staying longer on your site.
You don’t have to create a manual table of contents. There are several good and some free plugins for this.
Your Content Should Include Media Such As Pictures and Video
Media like pictures, video, podcasts, charts and diagrams make your content easier to read and offers a chance to get more search engine recognition through the alt text and description.
Having media in your post also helps your readers to linger a bit longer and therefore reduces your bounce rate. Everything that you can do to keep your reader keep your page open a bit longer will help send positive signals to search engines and help in your rankings over time
SEO Optimized Post Titles Should Have A Number
We’ve all seen titles for articles like “9 Critical Reasons Why…”
A number in the post implied it is easier to follow and has steps to achieve an outcome. Now it may be a case with Google of “What came first? The Chicken or the Egg?”
Does Google give more weight to articles with a number or do people click on posts that have a number in them and then Google picks up on this?
It doesn’t really matter, just use a number whenever you can fit it into a blog title
SEO Optimized Post Titles Should Have A Sentiment Word
Sentiment words are adjectives that evoke feelings in your reader. Words like
Including a sentiment in your title increases click through rates and sends signals to search engines that may boost your blog post in the search engine rankings.
Give Your Readers Options As How They Can Consume Your Content.
Each of your blog posts should also have visual option such as YouTube. I’m still experimenting here but I have seen successful videos that just follow along the blog post highlighting text as they go. There are other methods such as slides loaded to YouTube and getting in front of the camera yourself and talking about your subject.
There are two types of podcasts that you can create as well. If you want to have a podcast show most podcasters such as Joe Rogan interview guests about various topics. This is great for an established site that has a 100-300 articles posted and needs to find new content ideas.
The other method which I employ right now is just to read the content. This allows me to get a podcast out quickly and I can still have a podcast “show” at a later date.
Optimized Blog Posts that Win Position 0 and Position 1 are Almost Always Long-form and Comprehensive Posts
500 word blog posts have gone the way of the dinosaur. Really, if you can answer a question in less than 500 words there are always related questions that will add to the value of your post. Blog post today require an in depth review of your topic. Not book length mind you, but magazine length and information that thoroughly covers a topic.
If you use some method of researching your topic you will know what your reader wants and write a post that zeros in on their needs.
A longer post will not always win this game however. Google has over 200 ranking signals and long articles for the sake of length will not win the day.
Internal links for your pages will help with your efforts to get better ranking and more page views. Page views are the key to some advertising programs and you can easily double or triple your page views with good internal links.
Rank Math does a good job of this for you and the Rank Math website can alert you to broken links to fix with their site analyzer.
If you have a store under a subdomain (store.mydomain.com) or you put your blog under a subdomain of your site make sure there are links between subdomains.
Remember that subdomains basically operate as a separate website so interlinking these sites will make your subs easier to find for search engines and readers alike.
Use Easy To Understand Language.
When optimizing your blog post you should attempt to reduce the amount of technical jargon in your post. You should write in short sentences. You should try to write in short paragraphs as well.
Depending on the display, reading on-screen can be tougher than reading a printed page. Short sentences, short paragraphs, and use of bulleted lists where appropriate will make your content easier to read and therefore easier to stay on page and reduce your bounce rate.
Grammar is Important (I’m sunk)
Ok Yes! Google looks at grammar in your post. But don’t let that deter you from writing a blog post, especially if you are enthusiastic about your blog topic. There are several ways to improve your grammar and over time you will have fewer and fewer grammar issues.
What I have been doing lately is writing in Google, transferring my work to MS Word, then have someone else proofread it, (thank you Lydia) and then finally put into WordPress with the free version Grammarly. Between all of that I probably still have a few errors here and there but then again, no one is perfect.
Just try your best with the tools at your disposal and try to produce your best work. Over time you will learn what you are doing wrong because of all of the feedback your programs and your proof-reader can provide you.
I also found an English textbook which is exactly what I wanted to help with my writing and my style. It’s long out of print now but if you run across an English textbook that will help you with your grammar and style it would be advisable to pick it up.
The key is not to have too many problems with your writing. I’m sure Google has some sort of scoring and unless you rank very poorly grammar should not be a major consideration.
Use WordPress and Not a Free Blogging Platform
WordPress allows you to make a beautiful blog which will help retain readers on your site. When your user experience is better, there is a better chance your reader will stay on your site longer, giving search engines good signals.
There is a never ending stream of plugins for WordPress so you can add all sorts of functionality to your site. If you install something and it doesn’t work properly it is easy to delete the plugin and keep going.
Install Rank Math
The one plugin I recommend you get is Rank Math by MyThemeShop. Rank Math is an SEO plugin that will teach you what you are doing right and what could be better. With the feedback it gives you you’ll be cranking out higher ranking articles in no time.
- Some of the other benefits of Ran Math are:
- Find 404 errors
- Automated SEO functions for images
- Produces an XML sitemap for Google
- Rich Snippets for both your pages and posts
- Pings search engines
- SEO analysis and local analysis
- Internal Link Builder
- Twitter Card Support
- Keyword analysis
- Social Media integrations
- And this list is less than ½ of the support this plugin offers
Rank Math is every bit as good and maybe better in some ways than the other products on the market and the price is free. There is no upgrade to a paid product. I almost feel like telling MyThemeShop they should be charging for it but I’m not spoiling a good thing for myself and my readers. Seriously go take a look at the features this plugin has, and try it out.
This is where I drive up your frustration level. You can’t buy quality backlinks and some days you feel like you are begging people for backlinks. Backlinks are touted by some SEO “experts” as one of the 3 main methods of improving your site’s ranking.
Only Google knows for sure how backlinks affect your ranking. When Matt Cutts worked for Google his entire focus was on quality and serving your reader. And there was no indication of how backlinks affected your site. The same goes today. Google is tight lipped about its algorithms.
Like most SEO ideas don’t worry about getting quality backlinks for your site if your site is brand new. Develop your writing style, get 30-40 articles on your site before you even start thinking of backlinks.
There are “dofollow” and “nofollow” backlinks in HTML5. “Dofollow” backlinks are backlinks that tell search engines to follow that link and pass on ranking to the other website. “Nofollow” on the other hand do not pass link building juice.
Once you have a good number of posts and you look like a credible website owner start reaching out to people with larger sites and ask for an interview. This works in every niche. You are giving a (dofollow) backlink first and if that person links to your article you will also have a backlink to your site.
You can speed up the process after you gain a bit of experience by doing and participating in roundup posts. A roundup post is a post where you interview or quote several authors and give backlinks to their site. Now there are several writers who will link back to your site in just one article.
Along with the above method spend some time posting on social media and reaching out to influencers. The more people know about your blog and trust you, the more likely you are to start getting unsolicited backlinks.
Should I Go After Guest Posting Opportunities?
Guest posting will get your do follow backlinks and could start the snowball rolling. A sweet feeling! Again wait until you have several articles written and you have some credibility in your chosen niche.
Think about what you have to offer other bloggers. If you say “Hey I’m new at this and I want backlink. Help me out.” No one will respond. If however you are somewhat established and present a compelling reason for writing a guest post you will get lots of replies to your emails.
Using my trolling motor example what if you had a related site that does not compete directly with the site who owns the fishing site where they are trying to sell trolling motors. The email might go like this:
“Hey Mr. Fishing site owner, I read your article about the best trolling motors. It was well put together and answered the questions your readers needed. I run a site on repairing marine equipment. If you like I could write an article on how to improve the life of a trolling motor which I’m sure your readers would enjoy. I could also include you in an article I’m writing about what fishermen should look for in a boat. Please check out my site and let me know what you think. I think we could both have some great back linking opportunities.”
In this method there is mutual benefit from an established website owner. And there is minimal effort on both of your parts since you were going to both write these posts anyway.
Use HTTPS for all of your pages
Google has started to encourage websites to use secure connections. This is also reportedly a ranking signal that Google has in place. HTTPS in the web browser address indicates that a website is using a secure connection to the web. It is sometimes referred to as a SSL certificate
You may have seen a page in place of a website saying that the site is not secure. If you are using Chrome Google has put this warning in. This is not to say that the website is a scam site but simply that the site is not using an HTTPS security certificate.
Most website hosts offer 1 click HTTPS installation and I would advise you to install it, even if you have to get on a call with your webhosting company.
What HTTPS does for your site?
HTTPS builds a certain degree of confidence in your reader, even it is only when they put their name and email address into your email sign up form.
It is essential in memberships, especially paid memberships where there are credit card transactions
If you run an ecommerce site HTTPS is a must even if your site is small. Who in their right mind would do any online banking or buy a product with their bank card or credit card without security features installed on the website?
You conversions (lookers into buyers) will increase as a result of security on your site.
If you can do everything that is in this post your blog post will be well optimized. Your content will stand a fighting chance among all of the other content revolving around your niche and occasionally rise to the top of search engines.
To optimize your content come up with a template of your own and use a checklist to try to cover all of the bases. You can build out your checklist to include promotion of your blog post which I cover in another post.
Can I ask you to do something for me?
I’m looking for ways to keep this article growing. There must be things that you are doing that helps your blog posts. Let us all know in the comments below.
A second request!
Subscribe to my email list. I am continually working on new articles and ideas. My email list is where you find out about what’s going on with this site and where I share information about site development for 4 of my sites. I test different ways to increase readership and monetize blogging. My interviews largely come from other bloggers who I often find through my email list.
So let’s keep in touch!