Writing an SEO optimized blog post is not easy. Some might even say that it is not everyone who can do it. I think they are wrong. I believe that with practice and the right technique, anyone can become somewhat good at writing content.
Yet, nowadays, simply writing your posts is not enough. If you want them to rank well and attract readers, you need to take the extra step. You need to make sure that your content reaches the target group for whom it was intended. This can be achieved by writing an SEO optimized blog post. In other words, you will write your blog posts in a way that will please Google.
I have been writing blog posts for a while now. In the beginning, it was taking me days to write a blog post. Now, it’s only a few hours. That’s because I developed a process that really helps me structuring my work. Moreover, when I follow this process, I know that it will have all the necessary elements to rank well.
In this week blog post, I wanted to share my process with you. Hopefully, it can be as helpful for you as it was for me. So, here it is, 12 steps to write an SEO optimized blog post.
1. Choose a topic
First things first, you’ll want to choose a topic. This topic should be aligned with your content strategy. Of course, it should also be interesting for your target group.
You can start by researching popular trends and articles that are related to your content strategy. That can be done on Google by searching for different relevant keywords. Look at what ranks in the first positions. Make a list of potential topics, and then pick one. Remember to keep your list for future ideas.
2. Do a thorough research
Once you have picked your topic, you’ll want to make sure you know everything there is to know about the topic. Use Medium, Google and Wikipedia. Remember to always keep a list of the most useful pieces of content you find. They will be helpful in step 6.
3. Create an outline
Now that you are mastering the topic, you can think about the structure of your article. Do you want to write a list-based article? A how-to guide? There are many options. But, keep in mind that Google prefers more traditionally structured blog posts. In other words, posts with headings and subheadings are better for SEO.
It’s now time to open a new document and create your outline. You do that by writing headings and sub-headings. Also, insert your main points and ideas.
4. Set a focus keyword and write 3 titles
Now, you’ll want to decide on a focus keyword. Your focus keyword “is the search term that you want your page to rank for most”. It is usually a couple of words long. You want to identify it before you write the actual post, since it needs to be included many times in your text. Write some keywords on Ubersuggest and see which one works well. Yet, try to avoid those with too much competition. Once you have decided on the focus keyword, write 3 potential titles that are including the keyword.
5. Time to write
I always prefer to start by writing my introduction. Then, I fill in the outline. I end with the conclusion and the call-to-action(CTA). Your CTA will often be to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter. It could also be to encourage readers to follow you on social media or to liking or commenting on your post. Always remember to include a CTA at the very end of your blog post. Normally, you’ll want to write blog posts of around 1200 words.
6. Add 5 to 10 links
To show Google that your article is trustworthy and well-researched, you’ll want to include outbound links. That’s why it is important to keep a list of the best sources when you do your research. Now, go back to your post, and include links to articles from other websites where it makes sense. You’ll want to have around 5 outbound links.
You’ll also want to include inbound links in your article. Inbound links are redirecting readers to the other posts in your blog. You’ll want all your articles to be inter-related, a bit like a web. Having inbound links will encourage readers to stay on your site as long as possible. That will positively impact your website’s average duration session time. Google ranking system always takes the average session duration into consideration when ranking websites. Aim to include around 5 inbound links.
Once you have included the links, it is time to take a step back and sleep on it. I don’t know about you, but when I read the same text too many times, I simply can’t see my mistakes anymore. It becomes a big blur. So, at this point in time, I always like to take some time off the article. Then, I’ll come back to it and re-edit. This time, I’ll try to review the flow of the post. I’ll make sure to use a storytelling style and add personality to my post. This shouldn’t take more than an hour. You don’t want to re-write, but simply to enhance it. Pay particular attention to repetitive words.
8. Revise with Hemmingway
Your blog post is almost ready now. The next step is to use one of my favorite tools: Hemmingway. First, you’ll want to copy-paste your entire blog post into the app. Then, the editor will give you a grade from 1 to 10 (where 1 is the best). I usually try to have a grade between 4 and 5. The editor will also highlight sentences that should be improved. The most important is to take a look at the sentences marked with red. Those are the sentences that are WAY too long. Try to cut them and avoid having any red markings. Look at all the recommendations one by one, and then copy-paste your post back to your document.
9. Use Grammarly for spelling mistakes
After using Hemmingway, you’ll want to run your blog post through Grammarly. Grammarly is an online grammar checker, and you can never be too careful when looking for spelling mistakes.
10. Add visual elements
Once you are sure that your post is mistake free, you can start looking into the appearance of your blog post. You can start by designing your cover image. Then, you can think about other visual elements that you can include in your post to make it more appealing. I would recommend having one visual element per section. Visual elements can be pictures, videos, GIFs, quotes, click-to-tweets, etc.
11. Send it to someone for feedback
You are done with the final draft! But, don’t forget to send it to a friend or a college for feedback. It’s always nice to have someone else read it before you post it. That way, you can make sure that your blog post is coherent, helpful and interesting. Re-edit after feedback if necessary, of course.
12. Choose your final title and write an excerpt!
The last step would be to choose your final title between your 3 choices. Also, don’t forget to write an excerpt. An excerpt is a small description of the post that will encourage people to read it. Both your title and the excerpt should contain your focus keyword (see step 6).
Once that’s done, you are ready to upload it online.
So, that’s how you write an SEO optimized blog post! Of course, once you post it, there are other things you should do, like setting your focus keyword with Yoast (if you use WordPress). You also need to share a link to your article on your social media platforms. You can read about that in my other blog post: How to upload SEO optimized blog posts.
Also, I created a printable checklist with the most common things that people forget when writing blog posts. You can download it below.
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