Every time a client asks me how to position a blog post, I don't know what to answer because there are many variables that intervene in SEO, in addition to the fact that, in general, every day is a little more complicated, due to the growing competition in almost all sectors.
Let's say you are doing research and looking for something particular, like “SEO Expert in Pakistan”. How many people can be talking about something so specialized, right? Well, there are 5770 thousand results that Google considers relevant! (August 2020). And yes, you have to earn a place at the table among all of them.
Not only do I bring you the problem: this guide is designed so that you can achieve good enough content with your blog articles, with a reasonable probability of eventually reaching a place on the first page.
Who is this guide for? It is designed especially for people in the digital industry such as marketers, graphic designers or community managers who want to venture into the writing of blog articles, or for writers (editors, copywriters) and journalists who wish to enter the world of blogging.
“Before you continue, what will you find in this article? Specific tips to improve your technique and content creation process, especially for SEO writing (creating articles that can rank in Google)”
Before getting into the subject, I would like to make some technical and other more strategic comments, because one thing is to write, another to do it for SEO and a more complex one, to write with a key objective.
Clarifications and disclaimers.
First and foremost, of all: beyond what I'm going to say next, the bottom line for your blog posts to work is… (drum roll) that they have been written! And I want to insist on this: no matter how much the strategy is planned or the texts or the material are optimized, what is most important is the content itself, so do not let any technical minutia discourage you. The important thing is to start if you haven't already; or constancy if you've already started. The rest is not important.
This text is focused on how to make a good article in terms of writing, user experience and some elementary tips for its SEO optimization (so that it positions in Google search results). For more technical issues or that I am simply not reviewing here, you can ask us a direct query in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter.
Each strategy and case is different. Therefore, although I always try to base my advice on the experience with our clients in Digital Rain, statistical data or case studies, it is still possible that your results do not faithfully adhere to what is stated here.
On the other hand, the things that I take for granted are resolved (assumptions) are the following:
In order not to stop (more) in the middle of the post, I am going to assume that you have minimal knowledge of digital marketing and that you know basic terms such as SEO, SEM or Keywords, among others.
I'm also going to assume that you already have the entire infrastructure issue resolved: domain, hosting, and a content manager (CMS) installed on your own or with the help of the countless tools available.
Unless it is a hobby, any serious content creation strategy (including blogging) has a direct bearing on the business or organizational goals, no matter what they are. This implies that you have an editorial schedule or grid, a defined audience, a brand tone, etc.
Finally, I assume that you already have keyword research and are very clear about how they relate to the topics of each post you write. I see this as part of the overall content strategy and even business objectives, but I write it separately because it is essential if you want to position your articles.
Now, without the risk of having charges of conscience, let's go where we came: write helpful blog articles.
Beyond the purisms of language or the rules of good writing, I want to tell you about some of the essential variables that help the user to understand your articles better, and you to meet the goals of your business strategy. What ties the two together better is a clear focus on user experience (UX).
When you clearly understand the content and the user's intentions when writing your posts, mixing it with a little common sense, you will have no major problem: it is about giving the user exactly what they are looking for and facilitating the integration of information.
You may be wondering what writing "good" has to do with SEO. Well... it has everything to do with it. Even the technical issues that Google suggests for the excellent performance of your website in search results are related to UX. And I'm not saying it, it is the official guide to SEO for beginners, from Google.
In an idea: it is just as or more important to write thinking of the user, that the best battery of tricks applied to our content to "please" Google.
The following list includes some points: some more elementary in general writing, others more related to web logic, but both focused on optimizing the blog post (not necessarily in a predetermined order).
Something that I did not add in the assumptions is that you have to have a minimal idea of copywriting or writing to make quality blog posts. It is not that Google cares much about that for organic positioning (there are many horrible articles on the first pages), but the user does care about that: sometimes less, sometimes more.
That said, and to avoid that the philologists, linguists and writers get angry; This is just a shortlist of general practices to ensure your blog post is of minimal quality, at least generally.
Maybe it will seem very obvious, but even today I still correct texts without subtitles or with "two main titles". In addition to helping you organize your own ideas, it makes it easier to find topics of interest to the reader (and it will facilitate a task that you have below, in the next section, of pure SEO).
I often suggest making the first version of titles and subtitles at the beginning, even if it changes or updates later because it gives you a structure and helps you thread the themes.
I know that this is very difficult, especially when you want to publish your articles quickly or if you are the only member of your team ☹, but I think this is one of the points whose value is most obvious.
As they usually do in medium and large media newsrooms, you can assign a general editor to review other people's writing.
At the agency, we usually edit articles among ourselves, especially the longer ones. We always intersperse reading and editing with someone different. These types of exercises help limit language vices and natural biases in writing.
For the subject of spelling, if the tools of text editors such as Word or Google Docs are not enough, you can use an online grammar correction tool.
This is a powerful element that is often downplayed because it seems insignificant.
Adding an introduction, as in the case of the table of contents or the highlights, helps the user to determine if the article has what they are looking for, avoiding wasting time if it does not.
Many marketers prefer to distract the user with long sentences or by hiding valuable content in the middle of the text to force them to get there: that is not a good practice, because it violates the golden rule that is to give the user what they are looking for.
You must connect your article; otherwise, your text will look like a telegram, without rhythm. You have to weave from beginning to end, except in cases where the connection is obvious or when you are making bullets. I give you an example:
Example 1. Digital marketing should be based on a lot of research, founded experiments and data analysis, mostly quantitative, to understand the market as best as possible and adapting our strategy. Social networks are used to distribute our content, find insights (social listening) and maintain communication with our fans, clients and prospects.
Example 2. Digital marketing, in general, should be based on a lot of research, founded experiments and data analysis, mostly quantitative, to understand the market as best as possible and adapting our strategy. For its part, social networks have a different nature, as they serve to distribute our content, find insights (social listening) and maintain communication with our fans, clients and prospects.
What sounds better to you? (If it's the first, I've made a terrible example...) 😅
It is very common to find experts in some field who, to show their knowledge or establish themselves as an authority on the subject, end up educating their competition.
And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you have a product to sell to your competition (although most of the time it is not. Even if that happens, writing a too technical blog can alienate users who are new to the topic.
On the opposite side, if your audience has a medium knowledge of the subject, your blog posts should not contain terms or such a basic language, because they will be things that they already know very well.
All this will depend on how defined you have your market and therefore, your audience (or audiences).
This topic is the main dish of this section, as it is about everything that can make it easier for the user to complete their tasks in an easier and faster way. The following are some of the elements that I consider most important.
This is especially relevant if your content is long, as it will be of great help to the reader, especially if they are looking for something particular. The idea is that there are hyperlinks so that you can jump directly to the section of your interest.
In many cases, the fact that the user does not have quick access to specific data can lead them to leave the page, and that is not good for SEO.
I don't want to get demanding and talk about your brand manual or the relevance of using a font with or without serif (please, without serif), but the idea is that you do not complicate the reader's life with strange things.
Indeed, you have seen many examples: super tiny letters to which you have to zoom in, backgrounds of a colour similar to that of the letter that make it very difficult to read, a typeface that looks like an old manuscript, etc.
That is why I recommend that you present your text to someone, anyone, on a tablet or cell phone, and see if they have any difficulty reading it. This is one of the most common sources of faulty content, where it doesn't matter how good your content is - if it's not understood or readable, it's useless.
Although perhaps all this topic is more related to user interfaces (User Interface or UI), I include it here because it is key that you take it into account as part of your SEO strategy.
It would be good to define at some point if SEO copywriting and SEO writing is the same because I have seen the debate there. I'd say there is no difference, overall. We could do an article about that (when we ran out of ideas).
You can do this with bold, enlarging the letter or adding images for the highlighted fragments. In the case of WordPress, some plugins do it for you and add the option to share on networks. This helps to speed-read or reinforce some ideas.
Except for particular cases, I think it is no longer a secret to anyone that people almost never read full texts, especially if they are long: they only scan and read the fragments that contain what they are specifically looking for.
“Although it can vary significantly in particular cases, users tend to have the same reading patterns, in general terms. Try not to do things that are too far out of line and everything will be fine.”
For this reason, together with the point of highlighting visual elements (which we will see now), it is very important to keep short paragraphs that are easier to digest. In that sense, if the idea is very long, find the pause for a point and continue in another paragraph. The idea is that there are paragraphs of three or four lines.
When someone is doing research, the most they want is to find everything they are looking for in one place so that they can make a decision, in most cases (hence the success of comparators). On this, I give you some examples.
Have you ever noticed how boring plain text is? It doesn't matter if you're a great reader; visuals are invaluable for several reasons. They can serve as examples of what you are saying, or they can complement the context of the topic.
Something very important: I wrote "as many as you can" because I think they add a lot of value, putting the relevant images help in SEO & you come across, to fill in space. If it does not contribute anything, if it does not reinforce the point, entertain or inform, it is useless.
On the other hand, do not forget always to add a short description and the sources of your visual resources to provide more context, unless you have a designer on the team or have a license from an image bank with commercial exploitation rights.
I don't think I have to convince anyone that examples are essential as a teaching tool, but just in case: giving context and more depth to any topic helps a lot to understand it. For example, when talking about complicated economic issues, such as buying or renting a house, it is important to specify the indicators that we are talking about and give a real example in quantitative terms so that the reader knows how it works.
Internal links could be a point for UX but also for SEO. I will leave it here because it seems to me that its value for the user is very high. This helps you better understand the topic you are addressing with concepts you don't know very well as well as broaden your search with related topics.
Internal links can be a crucial factor in your SEO strategy because they multiply the page views and significantly increase the time spent on your site.
Nobody likes copycats (I think), but the one they like the least is Google, so not only will users like your references to deepen their search, but you also avoid an SEO penalty from Google. Which consists of losing points in that area.
This is not necessarily a didactic resource, but knowing the people you are reading about makes you feel closer because it generates empathy and trust. It is usually added at the end, with a summary in the first or third person, as the case may be. You can find an example in this post.
Well, I hope this list has given you some light on how to write your blog properly and, above all, how to provide the user with what they want (or better yet, what they need). If you do not agree with any of the points listed or you can think of another one, and you are not sure if it might be useful, ask yourself the following: is it going to help the user to solve the question they have or find what they need faster? If not, nice try. If yes, it is perfect.
Now, let's go to the topic of Google, which is a bit more technical, but fundamental to achieve an organic positioning strategy for your blog articles.
Reinforcing the idea that writing for users is perhaps the most important thing, I have to tell you a secret that you may not like: there is no such thing as “writing for Google”. I have seen many examples in which blogs with excellent content and structure, little or not at all optimized in technical terms, are more successful than other “hyper-optimized”, but with low or plagiarized content.
Although today it is a total cliché, the old saying “content is king” could not be truer today, applying to all types of creation, channel and platform. However, certain essential elements help Google read and understand your content better and eventually, to position it better. The following list includes some of the most fundamental SEO techniques; most of which, of course, we apply ourselves.
Remember that these tips include some assumptions, so they will work as long as they are met, in addition to the fact that the list only talks about SEO tips that are essential in the field of action of the writer. For now, the most important thing is that you have your keywords or keywords clear because almost everything that we are going to see depends on that.
This is an interesting topic because, statistically (and this is not subject to interpretation), longer articles rank better. But it is not only a question of length but value. As we saw in other points, quality matters much more than quantity, but if you achieve a very long text with impeccable quality and that adds value at all times, you have a great chance that it will reach a good position. Look at this example from Ahrefs.
Just as information, to give you an idea, in the case of the most competitive keywords, the first places in the organic search results in Google usually have more than five thousand words, which are about 10 to 13 pages plain text (like this one you read). The most competitive keywords are those that have a greater volume of content written about them. This usually applies to the most searched generic terms—example: "cheap cell phones", among others.
This is one of the most important elements of SEO that is frequently in the hands of the writer or copywriter (and later, the web implementer). It is based on writing a title that contains the keyword and does not exceed a certain length. It is about making one of several additional texts (tags and metatags) that will not be seen directly in the article, but, in this case, the Title, which is displayed in the upper tab of the browser. I show you the example of how it looks in Chrome:
That which is seen in the red box in the upper left part is, precisely, the Title. But not only does it look there, but it is also usually what Google shows in search results.
Very good, now you know where it will be found. Therefore, all you have to do is make sure of two things:
1) It must contain the primary keyword you want to position, preferably written the same; it does not matter if it has more text before or after. Taking as an example the keyword SEO positioning strategies for beginners, a Title could be: "SEO 2020: 9 Digital Marketing Trends and Factors You Should Know" or “SEO for Mobile - 8 Tips to Optimize Your Website for Mobile”. As you can see, in both cases the keyword is included, although it is not the same.
2) The second thing to take into account is the length. This has to be short enough so that it is complete both on mobile (cell phones and tablets) and on desktop computers (desktops). Titles cannot be very short because you would potentially be avoiding valuable information that could help the user to know more about your site, to decide if they want to navigate it. To make sure your Title is fine, you can use some of the free tools out there, like Mangools.
As it will apply in several of the following points, I must tell you that, unless you are also doing the web work, all you have to do is deliver the texts to the webmaster and he will know (or should know) how to place the relevant tags.
If you are doing it yourself and using a CMS like WordPress, you can do it with plugins like Yoast (I say that because it is perhaps the largest, but there are many options too). The free version of Yoast is usually sufficient.
This point is very similar to the previous one, only that unlike the Title, the Description is a meta tag, which means that it talks about something else (meta). Therefore, we must take care of two things again: 1. That we can include secondary keywords or related to the main keyword. Continuing the example above, a keyword secondary could be strategies organic positioning for beginners, which is related to and strategies SEO Ranking for beginners, but not equal.
We could also maybe talk about how to Rank in google from scratch, for example. 2. The length (yes, again). Fortunately, we can use the same tool that I showed you before. Don't forget to test the length for both desktop and mobile.
This point may sound a bit confusing, but it is very similar to the previous ones. Anyway, I'm going to oversimplify it in the hope that no programmer in the room gets upset. For the text to have a hierarchy (knowing what is more important than another) there are up to six levels of subtitles or subtopics: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6. This is an article fragment. I highlighted the subtitle; in this case, an H2.
That little thing is the heart of the matter. It is what tells Google what we consider essential in our content. It is not the only element, but it is important enough to make it a subtitle.
So, does that mean I have to do all those doodles when writing my articles? No, you have to make the note for the webmaster to see where to put the tag H2 (subtitle), H3 (subtitle), etc. And why do you have to do this? Because only you know how the text is made and, it is assumed that you understand the keywords that you want to position, the topics and everything else.
If someone else (the webmaster, for example) did it, they would waste a lot of time trying to understand the text (at least that's my opinion). Something that often confuses is how many Hx there should be of each, and the answer is that there is no set number. The only important thing is that
There is only one H1 because it is the general, main title of the article. The others depend on the structure of your text.
Having clarified that now I can explain the two specific instructions:
All the images we see have (or should have) an alternative text (hence the alt-alternative), which serves to describe the image in case it is not displayed for some reason. There is a label called Title (yes, again, but this is different), which is the one that appears when you hover over an image (or a link), but we are not going to talk about that now, I want you to know that They are different.
The indication with the Alt tags is as follows: it only describes what is seen in the image. That's it. I leave you an example of MOZ.
This is a matter of both user experience (having friendly URLs is very valuable), and SEO. There is not much mystery here: the suggestion is to include the keyword separated by hyphens in the URL, just as you included it in the title (hoping it is not so long).
Please take a look at this another MOZ example with URL do's and don'ts.
Once again: if you only write the articles and give them an SEO dimension, you do not have to do anything more than indicating the URL to the web implementer, so he or she does not have to think about it.
As a final tip, although I could add many other things that are not strictly the province of an SEO copywriter either, such as web performance, link building, or other elementary usability metrics for SEO. GSC is the direct communication channel between you and Google for SEO purposes. Through the Google Search Console, you will be able to receive detailed information about your site, as well as receive feedback on tracking problems and suggestions to solve them.
It also offers a lot of statistical information on everything that happens in the search results! For data freaks like me, that's pure gold, because it's just the kind of information you need for SEO. But we are not here to talk about its wonders. I'll tell you what you need to know: for all the work you are going to take to write properly for SEO to be worth it, your site must be verified with your GSC account.
Something beneficial about Google Search Console is its SEO analytics, which tells you, among other things, how many times you appeared in the results, with which keywords and how many clicks you received. It can also be integrated with Google Analytics.
With that, you show Google that this site is yours and with it, you have access to all the data that I was commenting on (and much more). Once verified, you must make sure to load the sitemap (sitemap), which is like the construction plan of your website, including the blog.
For the last time, you don't have to worry if you don't carry the technical part, but you already know what to bother your programmer with at the next meeting.
Before we finish, we are going to quickly review in a hyper-summarized checklist everything you have to take into account for your SEO writing.
✔ My text is easy to read, in general.
✔ Includes examples, references and visual resources that help to understand the topic better.
✔ I exhausted all the ideas and resources that I had available in my article, reaching the greatest possible length with quality content.
✔ My main Keyword is included in Title, H1 and URL.
✔ Secondary keywords or related terms are included in H2-H6 and the Description.
✔ I made sure our website is in line with GSC, and the sitemap is up to date.
Well, more or less, because there are many more things to do in SEO, but this has been a good start with what I consider most relevant for content writers, especially those who are recently entering this world. I hope with the heart that it has been useful to you.
Do you think I missed something or would you like me to talk about something else? Let me know! I read and respond to ALL the respectful comments that are related to the topic of the post.