Blog SEO: The Complete Guide
Since 2015 we have expanded the Ahrefs blog from zero to over 600,000 monthly search visits.
What is our secret Consistency.
We used the same thing SEO Strategy for the past six years and it's working fine.
In this guide, you will learn how to:
First, let's make sure we're on the same page.
Blog SEO is the process of writing and tweaking blog content to rank on search engines like google. Common tasks related to blogging SEO This includes keyword research, content writing, and on-page SEOand link building.
Why is blog SEO important?
While there are many ways to drive traffic to a blog, search engine traffic is usually the most stable and consistent. If you can rank the keywords people are looking for and maintain those rankings, your posts from Google will receive consistent, targeted traffic.
Many other traffic sources tend to lead to an initial increase in traffic, which is quickly followed by a sharp decrease.
How do I write blog posts for SEO
It's important to understand that you can't just create an old blog post and expect your post to attract thousands of visits from Google. That's not how it works. For the best chance of ranking, you need to do your research and create your blog posts for SEO.
Here's how to do it in five steps
- Find a keyword
- Check the search intent
- Choose a winning format and angle
- Create a data-driven outline
- Write the post
1. Find a keyword
Every blog post you write should be optimized for a main keyword, and that keyword should be something people are actually looking for month after month. After all, it is impossible to get searches on a blog post on a topic no one is looking for.
How do you find keywords? Use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer.
Enter a few general words or phrases related to the topic of your blog, then check those out Phrase match Keyword Ideas Report.
For example, if you have a food blog, you could use keywords like "seeds";
The Keywords Explorer finds over 14 million keywords that contain one or more of these phrases. However, it doesn't make sense to blog posts about everyone. You need to search the list for topics that make sense to you.
For example, it would make perfect sense for a food blogger to write a post about "Chicken Tikka Masala", but not about "Chickenpox".
If your blog is fairly new, you may want to set keyword difficulty (KD) filter on something low to focus on ideas with low difficulty.
Recommended literature: How to Find Competitive Keywords for SEO
2. Check the search intent
Ranking high on Google is the secret to getting consistent search traffic for your blog posts. However, if people aren't actually looking for blog posts when they search for your keyword, your chances of ranking are slim.
This is why it is important to understand whether most searchers are looking for a blog post or something else. This is known as the search intent rating.
To do this, enter your keyword in Google and look at the search results. Since Google only aims to deliver relevant results to searchers, search results are a great way to determine search intent.
Take a keyword like "Pasta Maker" for example.
You might assume there is no point blogging about it as people are undoubtedly looking for pasta makers. However, if you look at the search results, most of them are blog posts that rate the best pasta makers.
Recommended literature: Beginner's Guide to Search Intentions
3. Select a winning format and angle
Even if searchers are looking for blog posts, you can't just write an old post and get in pole position as searchers are often looking for something specific. You need to figure out what it is in order to develop a profitable format and angle for your contribution.
Choosing a winning format
Most blog posts are in one of the following formats:
- Step-by-step instructions
- Opinion piece
How do you know which format seekers are being searched for? Look for the dominant format in the search results.
For example, most of the results for "Dinner Ideas" lists are:
Most of the results for "Grilled Ribs" are instructions:
Are things always that simple and obvious? Of course not. Sometimes there is an even mix of multiple content formats in the results, as is the case with "beef ribs".
In these cases you have a few options:
- Join in what the top page is doing
- Look for something in common between the top 2-3
- Make your best guesses
Choose a winning angle
Angle is more difficult to quantify than format, but it is effectively the main selling point for your content.
How do you find out a winning angle?
You guessed it: take a look at the SERPs.
For example, people looking for "flank steak" clearly want a recipe that contains a marinade. If you want to make a ranking, it is probably worth giving people what they want instead of just telling them to season with salt and pepper and toss in a pan.
Here are some commonly used content angles to look for in search results:
Personal experience → 21 The Best Online Marketing Tools We Use At Ahrefs
best → 6 best marketing podcasts
Expert comment → 33 tips for interference suppression by experts
For beginners → 17 blogging tips for beginners
Specific result → 12 Fast SEO Tips to Increase Organic Traffic
Tried and tested → 26 best free Chrome extensions for SEOs (tried & Checked)
Freshness → Content Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide for 2021
Of course, there are a lot of SERPs where you don't see a dominant content angle. In this case, your best guess is.
4. Create a data-driven outline
Once you have an idea of what to include in your blog posts, it will be much easier for you to write this. While you can create a blueprint based on gut instinct, it's always better to take a data-driven approach to understanding what search engine users are actually looking for.
Let's look at a few ways to do this.
Look for general sub-headings
Sub-headings often correspond to sub-topics. If your keyword is showing common subheadings in multiple top ranking posts, this is likely something searchers want to know.
For example, three of the top pages for "Flank Steak" have a "What is Flank Steak?" Subheading.
It would probably make sense to include a similar section in a post targeting this keyword.
If you want to speed up the display of sub-headings, you can use the free on-page SEO Report in Ahrefs SEO Toolbar to display all sub-headings in a post.
Look for general keywords
Most of the pages that rank on the first page of Google for a keyword are also in the top 10 for hundreds of other keywords. Some of these keywords represent subtopics that you may want to include in your blog post.
How do you find these keywords?
Just hook up a couple of high level pages to Ahrefs' Content Gap Tool and set the mode to Urland leave the field below blank.
Click Show Keywords to view all of the keywords that one or more of these pages rank for.
Since there is often a lot of keywords and noise here, you should use the intersection filter to find keywords that two or more pages are ranked for.
In this case, many of the keywords are just different ways of searching for our main keyword. However, there are some who assign subtopics such as “What is flank steak?”, “Flank steak marinade” and “How long should flank steak be grilled?”.
Check out the "talk about it too" report
Paste your main keyword into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and check the Also talk about Report to show frequently mentioned keywords on the top ranking pages.
When we do this for "flank steak" we see keywords like:
- roast meat
- Brown sugar
- red wine
- soy sauce
- olive oil
This pretty much tells us what seekers are likely to be looking for, and even gives us some ideas for the type of marinade they're looking for.
5. Write the post
It's finally time to tap your keyboard to write your first draft. The good news is that you don't have to bother with sprinkling keywords or anything like that because you've already created a data-driven outline. Just write and fill in the blanks.
How to optimize your blog posts for SEO
Most of the hard optimization work is already done by aligning your blog post with search intent and taking a data-driven approach to the content itself. However, it is worth doing a few more tweaks to give your post the best possible chance of ranking in Google.
Here is a brief description SEO Checklist that you can follow for every post you publish to put the icing on the cake:
Include your keyword in the title
Most blogging platforms like WordPress package your page title into a H1 Header, which is probably why you should include your keyword in your title SEO 101.
If you've already read one of our posts, you've probably noticed that most of the titles contain the keyword.
Will this improve or improve your ranking?
Definitely not. But every little bit helps.
Note, however, that it doesn't always make sense to include your keyword exactly as it is in your title. Sometimes it's better to use a variant to make it easier to read.
For example, our keyword for this post is "How to get more YouTube subscribers". However, we did not use that exact phrase in our title as it is a list.
Keep your title tag short
Title tags are important as they will show up in search results:
Most blogging platforms like WordPress will set your post title as the title tag. This is usually fine, but if your title is particularly long it might get truncated in search results.
Is that always a bad thing? Not really, but it's often a good idea to nip it in the bud.
You can do this by creating a shorter version of your post title to be used for the title tag.
That's what we did with this post:
Recommended literature: How to make the perfect SEO Title tag
Use an evergreen Url
Have you ever seen a search result like this?
The title says that the post was published in 2021, but the Url says 2017. So what is it?
If we take that Url In Ahrefs' Content Explorer we get our answer: The post was originally published in 2017, but updated in 2021.
Because the author didn't use an evergreen Url When they originally published the post, the updated version looks old as "2017" remains in the Url.
Because of this, it is important to use evergreen URLs that are not out of date. The easiest way to do this is to set your contribution Url Slug on your target keyword. This also has the added benefit of keeping your URLs short and sweet to reduce clipping in the SERPs.
Recommended literature: How to Create SEO Friendly URLs (Step by Step)
Create a compelling meta description
Meta descriptions are often displayed as a descriptive section in the SERP.
By creating a compelling meta description, you can entice more searchers to click your blog post in search results. That leads to more organic traffic.
How do you create a compelling meta description?
Look for similarities between the descriptive snippets of high-level posts.
For example, all of the results for “Steak Tacos” are about the best pieces of steak for the job, with Google even boldly phrasing terms like “flank steak” and “beef”. So these are things that you probably want to mention in your meta description as well.
For "flank steak" all snippets are definitions – so that's what you want to write here.
Recommended literature: How do I write the perfect meta description?
You should optimize your blog post images for accessibility and help them rank in Google Images. This allows you to send more traffic your way.
For example, here is our blog traffic from Google Images for the past 3 months:
How to optimize your images:
- Use descriptive file names. Think cute-puppy.jpg, don't IMG_95742.jpg.
- Add descriptive alt text. To help visually impaired users who use screen readers, describe your images in a few words.
- Compress them. Use a plugin like ShortPixel or EWWW Image Optimizer for that.
Recommended literature: picture SEO: 12 Actionable Tips
Add a table of contents
A table of contents provides links to important subsections of your post and helps visitors find the information they are looking for.
Here is an example from this post:
Ours is custom coded, but free plugins like Easy Table of Contents make it easy to add a table of contents to pretty much any post.
next to the UX A table of contents can also help trigger sitelinks for posts in the SERPs. This can potentially help you get even more organic clicks.
Here is an example from our guide to 301 redirects:
These are sections that are listed in our table of contents:
Recommended literature: What are sitelinks? How to influence them
Add "Linkable Snippets".
Linkable snippets are pieces of information that encourage people to link to your blog posts.
Getting more links is important as these are a well known ranking factor. Google has told us this several times, and we also found a clear correlation between backlinks and organic traffic in our study of over a billion pages.
But how do you know what a "Linkable Snippet" represents for your topic?
Here's a simple method:
- Paste the high ranking page for your keyword into Ahrefs' Site Explorer
- Go to anchor report
- Look for common reasons in the anchors
If we do this for one of the top posts for "SEO Techniques, ”we see a lot of people connecting based on statistics.
We can probably get more people to link to our post on the topic by adding similar statistics.
If we do this for one of the top posts over SEO When writing texts, we see a lot of people who connect because of two unique concepts:
If we wanted to get more backlinks to our post over SEO Copywriting, we should probably include a few of our own unique ideas in the post.
Add schema markup
Schema markup is code that helps search engines better understand your content and present it in search results.
On blog posts, schema markup is mainly used to extract large snippets like the following:
Rich snippets can increase clicks and drive more organic traffic to your blog posts.
So how do you know if you should add schema markup to your post?
Here is a quick cheat sheet:
Recommended literature: Rich Snippets: What Are They And How Do You Get Them?
Add internal links
Internal links are links from one page or post on the same domain to another. They are important because they increase the "authority" of pages and help Google understand what a page is about.
For this reason, it makes sense to add relevant internal links to every blog post you post.
You can find relevant options on Google. Just search for:
site: yourwebsite.com "main keyword for your post"
For example, if your blog post is about flank steak, look for:
Page: yourwebsite.com "Flankensteak"
This will return the pages on your website that have the target keyword of your post:
It's then simply a matter of linking those words and phrases to your new blog post if necessary.
You can also find free internal linking options using the Site Audit in Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. Just go to the Link possibilities Report and add your landing page:
Recommended literature: Internal links for SEO: A workable guide
How to improve and maintain the ranking of blog posts
Blog SEO is not a one-time thing. You can't just write, tweak, and view a post for a day. Getting your blog posts high on Google and maintaining those rankings over time is an ongoing process.
Let's take a look at some tactics you can use to improve and maintain the ranking of blog posts.
Update your posts regularly
If you've been following the Ahrefs blog for a while, you'll know that we update and republish our blog posts almost as often as we write new ones.
According to Content Explorer, we've republished around a quarter of our posts.
The reason for this is that rankings rarely last forever. Our posts often get stale and out of date over time, resulting in a drop in rankings and organic traffic.
This is exactly what happened to our post on the top Google searches:
How did we solve this problem?
By updating and republishing the post.
You can tell when we did this as there is a large spike in traffic in the graph:
We also frequently rewrite and republish posts if we've misjudged search intent.
For example, we published an on-page SEO Study in 2016, but it never got a particularly high ranking or saw a lot of organic traffic because searchers didn't want a study. That is why we rewritten the article as a guide in 2018 and published it again under the same Url.
This has resulted in a huge and steady increase in organic traffic.
Recommended literature: Republishing content: How to update old blog posts for SEO
Optimize for featured snippets
Selected snippets are brief pieces of information that appear at the top of some search results. They're usually retrieved from one of the top 10 pages and are meant to give a concise answer to the searcher's question.
By optimizing your blog post for the featured snippet, you can sometimes shorten the path to the top position.
Here's the easiest way to find selected snippet opportunities for your posts:
- Connect your blog to Ahrefs' Site Explorer
- Go to Organic keywords report
- Filter on keywords with selected snippets that you don't rank for
Then it's just a matter of adding or reformatting the information required for the snippet of your blog post.
Recommended literature: Optimize for Google's recommended snippets
Create content hubs
Content hubs are linked collections of blog posts on a specific topic.
They consist of these three parts:
- A "hub" mail on a broad subject.
- Sub-contributions over parts of the broad subject.
- Internal lInks to and from the hub page to sub-submissions.
Lots SEO Professionals believe that creating a content hub from blog posts improves the ranking for all posts in the hub. There are a few reasons for this, but the main theory is that Google sees your website as an authoritative source of information on a topic.
If you want to create a content hub, you can either create one from scratch or create one from blog posts you've already written on a similar topic.
Recommended literature: Content hubs for SEO: How to get more traffic and links
Build more links
Since there is a clear correlation between backlinks and rankings, you will likely struggle to outperform posts with significantly better quality links than yours.
How do you know how many links competing pages have?
Check the SERP Overview for your target keyword in the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer:
You can then delve deeper into their link profiles to check the quality of their links and get a better feel for real ranking difficulties.
Recommended literature: Keyword Difficulty: How to Determine Your Chances of Ranking in Google
Blog SEO is all about consistency. You need to write, tweak, and update blog posts that are consistently aligned. It takes time and rankings don't appear overnight, but it's pretty much the only way to drive consistent search traffic to your blog
Also, if your blog is new and you have no authority, it may be worth starting with low-competition keywords that are easier to rank for.
Learn more about how to start and grow your blog 100K monthly visitors and more in our free blogging for business course.
Any questions? Ping me on Twitter.