Blog SEO: The Anatomy of Blog Posts That Rank #1

Blogging with addition to blog SEO is one of the most valuable things you can do for your site. 

Every month, there are 70 million posts published by WordPress users. These site creators and marketers aren’t just writing for the good of their health. They know that the only way to generate real success online is to invest in blogging. 

Look at it this way, according to Hubspot, marketers that blog consistently are 13 times more likely to have a positive ROI. The numbers speak for themselves. 

The only problem?

Simply publishing and promoting regular content isn’t enough. While you need to have a consistent blogging strategy, you also need to make sure that you’re writing blog posts that attract both your target audience and speak to the search engines too. 

That’s not an easy task.

Fortunately, we’re here to help.

By the time you’re finished reading this guide, you’re going to know exactly which ingredients go into making sensational blog posts, ready top rank at #1. 

Let’s get started. 

  1. Plan Content That Delivers Real Value

You’ve probably seen this blogging advice before – but that’s because it works. 

In an age where Google is paying more attention to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) of every blog published online, you need to make sure that you’re writing about the topics that matter most to your target audience. 

Your readers today are sick and tired of generic blog posts just as much as Google is. They don’t want to see the same keyword-stuffed content that any company can churn out. Instead, they want blogs that answer their question and give them actionable tips to implement. 

Make your content more valuable by:

  • Finding out what your audience is talking about: What better way to find out what you should be writing about is there than listening to your audience? You can tune into conversations about your niche on social media with #hashtags, gather questions from your reviews and testimonials, or even check out subreddits for inspiration. 
  • Checking out the competition: Examining the competition doesn’t just mean copy/pasting their content strategy onto your website. Find out what the top-ranking posts from your competitors are, then look for ways to add extra value. For instance, rather than just sharing tips on mobile-friendly emails, Campaign Monitor made sure it had it’s own statistics to bring to the mix:
  • Tracking your content: Look for feedback that your content is having the right impact. Check for low bounce rates with Google analytics, or ask your customers to leave reviews and likes on the posts they appreciate most. 

Aha Media even created its own “valuable content” checklist:

  1. Experiment with Different Kinds of Content 

These days, there’s nothing that customers hate more than a one-size-fits-all strategy. 

You wouldn’t expect a fashion store to thrive if it only offered clothes in one size. In the same way, you shouldn’t expect your business to accomplish great things if you only stick to one kind of content in your blogs. 

While it’s important to make sure that you’re sharing plenty of valuable written text, so you can capture the attention of the search engines, there’s nothing wrong with supplementing that text. Think about adding things like:

  • Video: 87% of marketers rely on video as a marketing tool. It’s one of the easiest ways to explain complex topics to your audience, and it’s fantastic for capturing the attention of clients who might not like to read. Check out this amazing “Puppyhood” video by Purina that introduces the audience immediately to the kind of brand they’re working with: 
  • Pictures: Pictures are more than just a great way to liven up your website. They can also be a valuable opportunity to bring more context to what you’re saying. Make the most out of your blogs by adding visuals. Check out all the pictures in this fantastic blog from Hubspot, for instance. They immediately add more value to the content by making concepts easier to understand:
  • Graphs and infographics: Just like pictures, graphs, and infographics offer valuable information. However, they’re also handy for sharing data and facts too. Just look at how Neil Patel peppers his blog posts with graphs:
  1. Shorten Those Pesky URLs

Once you’ve created the content that your customers actually want to read, then you need to promote it. Part of that means sharing URLs with your readers and hoping that they continue to share those links elsewhere. 

One of the best SEO tricks that you can do for your URLs, is to shorten them. Most people don’t realize this, but well-optimized URLs are great for both user experience and search engine optimization.

First, the search engines consider short URLs to be more enticing, and easier to track. URLs also describe web pages to visitors, showing them whether a site is trustworthy or not. If you have an URL that’s made up of a bunch of numbers and letters, your potential customer is going to get confused. Look at this OptinMonster URL. It’s simple and straight to the point. 

Improve your own URLs by:

  • Keeping them short and sweet. Ideally, your headlines and titles should be short too. This will help them to show up fully on the search results without being truncated. 
  • Getting rid of any mess. Remove any numbers, dots, and extras that aren’t necessary for your URL. That’s all just clutter.
  • Use keywords carefully. Remember that a keyword is a good thing to have in your URL, but you need to use them sparingly. Avoid adding too many similar words to your URL, or you could end up being penalized for keyword stuffing. 
  1. Improve Your Blog Titles

There’s more to improving the shareability and virality of your blog posts than making the URL shorter. You need to work on your blog titles too. These are the things that are really going to attract the attention of your target audience when they find you in the search engines. 

A great high-ranking title will be optimized for SEO, which means that it’s short, straight to the point, and great at grabbing attention. Improve your titles by:

  • Including your keyword: Add your keyword to the beginning of the title if possible, to help grab the customer’s attention straight away. For instance, SharpSpring instantly adds “Marketing Tips” to its title here: 
  • Use questions to engage the reader: A question can be an excellent way to connect with your reader and show them that you understand their pain points. It can also encourage conversation in the comment section. For instance, rather than just listing marketing tips, Optimize My Brand asked “which marketing concept is best?”
  • Use numbers: Numbers are a fantastic way to boost the impact of your titles. People like to see exactly how much value they’re going to get from the posts they click on. 

Remember, get your capitalization right too. You can either choose Cap case, where you capitalize on all the major words in your title like in the Buffer example above. Or you can keep all your words lowercase. Whatever you do, be consistent. 

  1. Make Your Blogs Easy to Read

Today’s readers are confusing. They prefer blog posts that mass over 2,000 words and beyond in length. However, they also need the content that they view to be scannable and easy to read. That’s because although your readers want to know that you can give them in-depth information, they won’t necessarily want all of that information at once. 

When your customers have a specific question that they need answering, they need to be able to jump through your post with ease. That means that you need to:

  • Keep sentences simple: While the occasional long sentence and complex word is fine, keep things simple for the most part. Don’t make your customers struggle to understand you. Neil Patel is an expert in keeping sentences simple:
  • Cut the complexity: If you’ve got a particularly complex post (something over 10,000 words), split it up. Create a series of posts instead. 
  • Add pictures, videos, and graphs: Use your visuals to split up the content and offer more information to your users. 
  • Structure properly: Make sure that you’re using plenty of short paragraphs and bullet points in your writing. This will make it easier to read. Check out how Neil organizes his blogs for simplicity:
  • Remember subheadings: Subheadings are a valuable part of simplifying your content’s structure. They show your audience where to jump to. 

Look at this example from Campaign Monitor, for instance. It’s got plenty of accessible languages, easy-to-read fonts, and even a video thrown in

  1. Use Bigger Fonts

You might think that this tip belongs in the section above. However, it’s actually so important that it deserves its own paragraph. 

Why? Because Google now uses a mobile-first index. That means that when the search engines are looking at your website and deciding where to rank you, they consider the accessibility of your content for mobile users first. Neil Patel’s content is always easy to read on any screen, with well-spaced and large fonts:

When designing a website, think about your most common reader. They might be on a mobile phone, and they probably don’t have 20/20 vision. If your content size is too small, then you’re asking your users to pinch and zoom to read your text. This is asking for extra effort, and it constitutes a bad user experience. 

The Google Lighthouse tool even measures font size when looking into the mobile-friendliness of your site. If you haven’t upgraded your font size yet, then now might be the time to start. 

  1. Speed Website Pages Up

Speaking of the mobile-first strategy that Google is imposing on all website owners today, it also requires your website to be fast. Page speed is often confused with site speed for ranking purposes. Page speed involves how long it takes to fully display the content on your page. 

While your site needs to be fast, your pages also need to load quickly if you want to avoid losing your audience. The good news is that you can get an insight into your current speed with the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. 

If your site isn’t as quick as it could be:

  • Compress your files and images: Enabling compression using something like GZip can be a great way to reduce the size of the files on your website. This means that your site doesn’t need to load as much on each page. 
  • Reduce plugins and widgets: Plugins, widgets, and other add-ons for your website might be fun, but they also weigh your code down. Make sure that you actually need a plugin before you install it. Anything that’s not driving real value should be removed. 
  • Use a CDN: A Content Delivery Network can speed up your pages by making sure that your users can access your site from an environment that’s closer to them. This is an excellent way to drive better SEO results if you’re reaching customers around the world. 
  1. Make Your Site More Visual

We’ve already discussed the benefits of adding visual content to your site to help shake things up a bit. However, it’s also important to use images and videos on your website for other purposes too. For instance, even if you don’t define yourself as a visual learner, images will still have a positive impact on your experience with a website. 

Psychological study proves that our brains respond well to visuals. What’s more, many experts agree that people would generally rather watch a movie than read a book. Some companies are already recognizing this trend. The number of videos in Facebook’s news feed has increased 3.6 times year over year. Make your site more visual by:

  • Adding real, unique photos: Whatever you do, don’t rely on stock photos. They’re not going to attract your audience, and they’re just going to make you look unprofessional. However, real photos of your staff and customers are great for giving your business a touch of authenticity. The “About Page” from Squarespace is an excellent example of the power of authentic photos:
  • Implementing graphics and explainer videos: We mentioned above how graphics can help to add more information to a page. At the same time, explainer videos can help the people on your website who can’t be bothered to read everything. 
  • Illustrate: Want to show your fun side with visuals? Get illustrating. Your illustrations can be simple and quirky, or they can show off graphs and information that are valuable to your audience. For instance, check out the Dropbox example here:

Ideally, you’ll want to include an image once every 100 words in your blog. That might sound like a lot, but research proves that the most visual blogs get the most shares on social media. 

  1. Make it Shareable

Speaking of shares on social media, you’re going to need to find ways to encourage this kind of word of mouth marketing, however, and whenever you can. 

One of the best things that your audience can do for your website is to share their favorite posts with their friends and colleagues. However, unless your posts are truly groundbreaking, there’s a good chance that your customers will forget all about sharing them.

However, if you can add little nudges to your website pages that remind your audience to share and make it easier for them to get involved too, then you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish. 

Make your content more shareable by:

  • Adding floating share buttons: According to Siege Media, floating share buttons that follow a reader down the page can lead to 27% more social traffic. Trello always has sharing buttons stuck to the bottom of each blog page:
  • Put sharing buttons at the bottom of the blog: Add your sharing buttons to the bottom of your posts if you’re afraid that your audience will get annoyed by floating options.
  • Request a Share: In your CTA, don’t just ask your customers to buy your products or sign up for your newsletter, ask them to share your content on social media, and get in touch! 

Moz is constantly showcasing its commitment to shareability on the Moz blog. Here, you’ll find all the sharing buttons you need, as well as insights into the likes and comments on each page. 

  1. Try Linking Out to Authority

Most bloggers assume that the key to success is getting people to link back to them. 

That’s true, to some extent. Having links back to your website from authority companies helps to improve the trustworthiness of your site. It also tells Google that you’re likely to be an expert in your field. However, there’s more to linking for SEO than most people think. 

While incoming links from experts are excellent, and internal links from one page on your site to another help Google to navigate your site, outbound links are helpful too. Just look at these outbound links from the Trello blog, for instance:

Links provide Google with essential clues about the relevance and context of your page. Linking out to an authority shows that you’ve done your research. It also tells customers that you know what you’re talking about. For instance, look at how Healthline always links back to trusted sources when referencing studies:

Outbound links significantly improve the reputation of your site and highlight how accurate your content is likely to be. The more you link to reputable companies, the more authoritative you’re going to appear. 

Just make sure that you’re linking to the right people. Make the mistake of linking to a low-quality website, and Google could start to associate you with those low-quality sites. That means that your reputation starts to drop drastically. 

  1. Make Your Content Longer

Content authorities have been talking about this for years now. However, it turns out that the longer your content is, the more likely you are to rank. 

Why? Studies show that longer content dominates the first page of the search rankings. Here’s a graph taken from SerpIQ that highlights the leading positions on the Google search results. According to the study, you can see that the top 10 results for any keyword on Google tend to have at least 2,000 words:

word count content

Lengthier content shows your audience and the search engines that you’re knowledgeable about the topic in question. It gives you a chance to get in-depth with your discussion, and include various keywords in your content without getting spammy. 

Research also shows that long-form content has a better chance of earning backlinks from high-quality companies that want to reference good data. 

Ultimately, Google knows that its users don’t want to search for chunks of data and information that they have to stitch together themselves. People want to find all of the information that they need in one place, and long-form content improves the chances of that. 

Just make sure that every paragraph of your long-form content delivers value. Waffling about the information your audience isn’t interested in isn’t going to impress anyone. 

  1. Share Content Socially

As any true content connoisseur knows, there’s more to ranking than producing the right content. You also need to make sure that the material you produce reaches the best people. 

Get involved in the conversations that your customers are already having by finding them on social media. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are an excellent way to find niche audience members with a specific interest in certain topics. You can also:

  • Check out content promotion networks: Content promotion networks are becoming increasingly popular today. Tools like Viral Content Bee, for instance, help you to connect with other people who want to promote their own content so that you can generate like-for-like buzz. 
  • Visit online communities: There are plenty of people online asking for answers to specific questions on places like Yahoo answers and Quora. Use these tools to connect with your customers and suggest your blogs as an additional resource for them to check out. 
  • Improve your cold outreach: Don’t forget to work on cold outreach methods, too, like email. Your subscriber list should be packed full of people who subscribed to you because they were interested in your brand. That’s why Campaign Monitor says that brands are 6 times more likely to get clicks from email campaigns than tweets. Every time you publish a new piece of content, make sure your email list knows about it.

Remember… You choose to share your content, make sure that you’re measuring your results. Pay attention to who is clicking on your emails and when, as well as what kind of platforms get the most engagement. This will help you to identify the most valuable sharing forums for your needs. 

Ready to Create Blog Posts that Rank?

All marketers and businesses, no matter how big or small, want content that’s going to rank. 

After all, organically ranking content is the best way to keep attracting customers back to your website over the long-term. 

While it does take time and effort to find a strategy that works for your brand, the tips above have been scientifically proven to make a difference to your ranking chances. Combining a handful of the tricks mentioned here could help you to achieve crucial goals for business growth. 

How are you planning on making your blog posts rank this year? What plans have worked for you in the past? Let us know in the comments or get in touch on social media! 

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