Our blog posts don’t always get the search rankings we want.
Even when we lavish them with time, attention and pure love.
When you’re competing with thousands of sites from around the world, it can be difficult to get ahead.
What can you do? How can you improve the rankings of your blog posts on Google?
The simple answer is to improve SEO. Yes, it sounds super simple, but the most important elements of SEO get overlooked by even seasoned content marketers.
We know how much other marketers love to highlight the importance of quality content, and of course, that matters just as much—you can’t slap keywords on ugly, unpolished content and rank (not these days, my friends).
But if you overlook the clean, clear fundamentals of SEO, even your finest writing can be relegated to the deep, dark depths of unseen Google Search results.
In this article, we’ll talk about exactly what you can do to improve the SEO and rankings of your blog posts.
This post won’t go breaking your heart. Once you start taking the following steps, you’re going to start seeing real results in search engines.
Ready to get started?
Before you can jump right in and start improving SEO on your site, you need to focus on keywords. Your success or failure hinges on those darn keywords.
You Can’t Improve Your SEO Without Doing These 4 Things
1. Know Your SEO Status
How can you improve SEO if you don’t know where to start?
The saying holds true for both life and SEO. If you want to get ahead, then you have to know where you stand. Once you find that out, then you can take concrete steps to improve your life or your site.
Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to figure out where you stand and then improve your site using this knowledge.
Determine your current search rankings
One of the websites that you can to use to improve SEO is SEO Centro.
To use the site, type the domain and the target keywords for any webpage. Then, click the Submit button and wait at least two seconds for the results.
Using SEO Centro, I tried to determine the ranking of HubSpot for the keyword “marketing.”
The good thing about SEO Centro is that the results are pretty easy to understand.
In the Main Result below, you’ll find that the load time for HubSpot is one second. The site ranked #10 on Google for the chosen keyword. Additionally, the related keywords for the keyword “marketing” to know are: “marketing strategy,” “marketing plan” and “marketing mix.”
The Google Result section shows the ranking of your site in contrast to other sites for a specific keyword.
The image above shows that HubSpot ranked #10 in the Google Search results, while Entrepreneur got the #1 spot. If you’re working for HubSpot, then you can make use of this juicy data to easily determine who your competition is.
You can imagine that keeping on top of this information at all times can be a big pain in the butt, especially if you’re managing multiple websites.
To continually stay on top of your SEO status, you’ll need to invest a small chunk of change in a rank checking tool like SerpBook. Click here to read our full review of SerpBook and see how it can help you achieve thousands of ranking keywords.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
How do you conduct a real keyword research session? How do you cook up a batch of keywords that are perfectly targeted to your website and desired audience? We’ll discuss the step-by-step process right now.
Use Google Keyword Planner
Keywords should never be based on what you think people might be looking for. They’ve got to be based on actual data. You can get this data through the Keyword Planner of Google Adwords.
To get to the Keyword Planner, log into your Google Adwords account. Select Tools and click Keyword Planner.
Click the words Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
Place a URL on the Your Landing Page text box. Then, click Get ideas. You can also specify your search by including your product or service and product category.
Once you select the Keyword ideas tab, you’ll be presented with a variety of keywords that can be sorted based on relevance and competition.
When selecting your target keywords, it’s ideal to choose the words with high average monthly searches but low competition. This way, you increase your chances of getting to the top by creating content with high demand and lower competition.
Below you’ll find the top keywords for H&M, which are sorted according to average monthly searches.
Once you’ve selected your keywords, the next thing that you need to do is to arrange them in a list. You can create the list anywhere you want, but it’s important to arrange them according to at least one of the following standards:
- Relevance to your audience (keywords by relevance)
- Search volume (average monthly searches)
- Absence of content (competition)
It’s important to prioritize keywords that have the most average monthly searches first. Afterwards, consider the other criteria on the list.
You can limit the keywords by indicating just one of your products or services in Google’s Keyword Planner. In addition, you don’t have to strictly adhere to precisely arranging the keywords. After all, there’s no perfect formula for listing keywords, and the order can be anything that you want it to be.
However, it’s important to arrange the list in whatever standard would be most convenient for you, and to group related keywords together. This way, you won’t have a hard time determining the keywords that you can use to improve SEO in current and future blog posts.
In the keyword results from H&M below, I could group the keywords related to men’s jeans such as “skinny jeans for men,” “mens black ripped jeans” and “ripped skinny jeans mens.”
So, when I write an article about men’s jeans, I’ll know the set of related keywords that I can target within that post. Doing this is excellent practice for improving SEO.
See, that’s one trick that’s all too often overlooked by content marketers: They focus on the main, chosen keyword phrase alone, without including any related keywords in the text of the post.
3. Revive Your Site with SEO-friendly Content
Knowing the keywords that you should target is just the beginning. In this section, we’ll discuss the steps that you need to create quality content with improved SEO.
Know the trends
The search engines don’t just rank content that has been optimized for certain keywords. The quality of content is a major factor.
For starters, visit Google Trends and type the topic or niche that you’re interested in. For this example, let’s use the topic “technology.”
By browsing through the top panel, you can adjust the Google Trends results by country, days, category and search type. For this search, I’ve adjusted the results to reflect trends in the United States for a week.
Find the results in the related queries section.
Here, you’re presented with the top topics users who are interested in technology wanted to read about for the past week. In this example, it’s “lrh technology,” “hankook mirae technology” and “five industries under threat from technology.”
If you’re running a blog for tech enthusiasts, then you can write about Hankook Mirae technology. For the uninitiated, Hankook Mirae refers to the giant Avatar-style robot that was created in South Korea.
Alternatively, another way that you can determine trending topics is to follow the top publications in your industry. By observing their content, you’ll have a better idea of what’s hot and what’s not. For technology, these publications might be CNET or Engadget.
Place the trendy keywords in your blog posts
Now that you have great keywords to work with, you can dedicate a blog post to that topic.
The next step is to remember to improve SEO by placing these keywords strategically as you write your blog post.
Remember that it’s important to place main target keywords in the title of the blog post. This way, Google understands your content and it could give you an earlier rank in the search results.
Additionally, if your post consists of long paragraphs, it’s ideal to place the target keyword at least once every three or four paragraphs.
In the scenario where the target keyword won’t fit in the sentence structure, use words closely related to the target keyword. The key is to improve SEO by placing these keywords strategically, but to use them in moderation.
And don’t forget to work in those related keywords as well!
4. Review Your On-page Optimization
When you’re presented with the search engine results, you don’t immediately click the first link that you find, do you?
I bet you, as a savvy reader, assess the title and the page descriptions first in order to ensure that the site could answer your search query.
This is why it’s important to improve SEO by having a clear title and page description.
Let’s take a look at the title and page description of Hubspot. The title and page description have a consistent message. Plus, it clearly lets users know the kind of content that they’ll find once they click the link.
To improve SEO, you need to write a title and page description that clearly describes what viewers will find once they visit your page.
Make sure you’re using some kind of SEO plugin that allows you to customized the title and meta description that appear within search engines. (One nice plugin that does this is Yoast SEO, but there are plenty of options out there to explore.)
Final Thoughts on Improving SEO
Results take time. It takes time for Google to recognize your blog posts and webpages, so don’t be discouraged if results don’t come quickly.
Here’s a recap of what you need to do to improve SEO:
- Remember the status of your site
- Choose keywords based on research
- Write blog posts with SEO-friendly content
- Review on-page optimization
What’s important is to remember these steps when planning your content marketing strategy. If you stay on track, you’ll begin to see slow but steady improvements with your site’s SEO ranking.