Looking back to our August 2020 Meetup, Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries (@natasha_bd) joined us as our guest speaker to talk about ‘SEO 101 for Blogging’. Covering everything from why websites should have a blog to WordPress plugins that can give them an SEO boost, she shared plenty of information and anecdotes for people who are both new to blogging and those looking to take it to the next level.
Here are some of the key points covered and questions that popped up along the way:
Why Write a Blog?
- Write about topics of interest to your audience
- Share news, updates, press releases etc.
- Show off your personality and share expertise
- Generate income through sponsored posts or affiliate links
- Increase your website’s organic search traffic
How to Choose Great Blog Topics
“Write about the questions people are asking. People laugh at me when I say this because it seems so simple, but it works.” Content strategy could take up a whole talk of its own, but here are some of the key tips and approaches offered:
- Write about questions that readers are asking
- Choose topics that address different stages of the marketing funnel
- Write about relevant or trending topics related to your website or what your audience cares about
How to Craft Blog Titles
Natasha emphasized that the title can really make or break your blog, from both an organic ranking as well as a user experience perspective. Some considerations when writing a good title are:
- Can’t go wrong with a question
- Embrace emotion, excitement and mystery
- Use numbers and lists
- Incorporate your targeted keywords
- Aim for a length of ~50 characters
This point sparked some discussion! Some people are fans of listicles, some people aren’t and we all had a chuckle about the number 7 apparently being the number that draws the highest click-through-rate in a title.
How Long Should a Blog Be?
As with most SEO questions…it depends! While the average top-ranking blogs on Google are typically in the range of 1,200 words, Natasha recommended aiming for 700-1,200 words and never less than 500. Quality always trumps quantity and this article by Moz gives a great explanation of content comprehensiveness.
Other Writing Tips
SEO plugins such as Yoast can be helpful when writing, but take any analysis and recommendations on the content itself with a grain of salt. They can be a helpful second set of eyes on your work but also tend to include outdated or irrelevant recommendations. Proceed with caution! Recommendations around sentence length, internal linking and the use of sub-headings are typically the most helpful and the ones to pay closest attention to.
A question that was asked in regards to writing blogs was how to get them edited? Natasha is an advocate of using Grammarly because it’s better at catching mistakes than programs like Microsoft Word and is more likely to give a false flag than to miss a mistake. She also encouraged people to read their post aloud, ask a colleague, friend or family member to take a look or even use proofreading services on freelancer sites like Fiverr (but be careful there!).
Blog Publishing Tips and Steps to Take
Having great content is key but on-page optimizations will really take your blog to the next level. Here are some of the recommended steps to take before hitting the publish button:
- Use sub-headings (but not more than one H1! Google says it’s okay now but having more than one H1 in a blog can rarely be justified).
- Create internal links to other blogs and pages on your website to provide readers with additional information and to encourage Google to crawl more pages.
- Fill out the meta-data using an SEO plugin. Keep the meta title to roughly 50-60 characters and description to around 150. Make sure to incorporate keywords and don’t stress too much over the description because Google only uses the one you’ve provided about 30% of the time.
- Set alt text for any images.
- Implement schema markup if relevant. This is especially for blogs that are recipes or how-to articles.
- Optimize your images to improve the page speed.
How to Promote Your Blog After Publishing It
Don’t rely on organic traffic alone to bring readers to your blog, and some of the steps in promotion can also give your post an SEO boost! Here are some steps to take to promote your blog:
- Submit it for indexing in Google Search Console. Google will find it eventually, but why wait for them to do it themselves?
- Post your blog to social media.
- Consider other promotion strategies like offering an RSS feed, sending out an e-newsletter and link outreach.
Use WordPress Plugins to Boost Your SEO
WordPress plugins can be a huge help in boosting your SEO and even promoting your blogs. Natasha herself doesn’t have extensive experience with a wide range of plugins but some of the ones she uses and recommends are Yoast SEO and Smush for image optimization. While it’s not a plugin and discouraged by Google, Google Tag Manager can be an effective way of implementing schema markup if you don’t want to pay for a plugin and don’t want to be manually editing code.
Missed the meetup or want to see the slides again? Check out the presentation below.
Check out our next meetup where we’ll be talking about hosting: