I’ve been blogging for a few years – since 2001 to be exact. Over the course of the past 13 years, I’ve used a few different platforms and have learned a lot along this journey of becoming a blogger and better writer. Granted, personal blogging is a lot different than blogging with a goal of creating new marketing leads. But writing for an audience is still writing for an audience, and the fact is, back when I started blogging, businesses weren’t even there yet. Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way – especially when I have posts I look to optimize – are lessons every blogger or business that’s blogging should incorporate.
In light of my “practice what you preach” attitude, I thought about the lessons that are tough to learn and the habits that are hard to break.
1. You’re using your voice
Your voice isn’t SEO friendly. People don’t optimize their conversations for keywords, so if you’re writing a conversational blog post, it’s likely not going to be SEO friendly. Be cautious when writing in a conversational tone, especially if you want your blog to be educational. It’s a precarious balance when using your “natural voice” and trying to be SEO friendly and educational – once you find the balance of authenticity and education, your blog is an amazing platform to share your knowledge and can be optimized easily.
2. Shorter isn’t always sweeter
There’s a difference between giving advice and writing an educational blog post. When I write a blog post that I want to be educational it’s generally around 400 – 600 words. Anything shorter than that isn’t going to generate the same type of SEO results. That being said, I have read some blogs that are great at giving advice in shorter bouts. I can’t speak to their SEO results, but they do have the benefit of being enjoyable to read. Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with your blogs and let that determine the length of your posts, but know that search engines generally prefer posts that hit the sweet spot of 400-600 words at a minimum.
3. You’re not using long-tail keywords
There are dozens of reasons why you should use long-tailed key words – ideally structured as questions – for your blog post titles. People aren’t searching one or two words anymore, they’re using Google or whatever search engine they choose to use (remember Lycos or AskJeeves?) to ask questions. Be specific. Use short and long tail keywords. For instance, with my personal blog where I write about healthy living and running, instead of just using “half marathon training” as keyword, I might use “How to train for your first half marathon” if I’m trying to optimize my post about a half marathon training plan. Why? Because that is one of the questions my readers are asking, or put differently, that is the one of the questions I want my readers to be asking when they find my blog.
In short, think about your title as the question, and the blog post as the answer. If your blog isn’t answering the question in a substantive way, then it’s not adding value to your users’ experience and it’s not helping your SEO results.
What have you found to be impactful from an SEO standpoint? I’d love it if you would share your experiences (successes and failures) in the comments!
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