Module 3: How To Write SEO Ranking Blog Posts |Optimizing Posts For Keywords.

Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) is the steps you take so that your content can rank high on a search engine result page(SERP). The success of your blog is dependent heavily on your SEO strategy.

Why is SEO so important?

Before understanding the importance of SEO, we should first know what is an SEO?

So, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It means optimising your articles or content in such a way that they appear in the searches of search engines. For example if you want to rank your article in search engine for " make money online by blogging", your content should be focused on it and search engines must know the content is for "make money online by blogging". There is a lot to learn about how to rank your articles for certain keywords in search engines which we will cover in coming section.

But, as far as importance of SEO is concerned, if a website or blog does not have visitors, no matter how great your content is, it can't be monetised and you will probably stop working on it after a few trials. So, good SEO is as important as producing outstanding content. Simply, we can't thrive without it.

There are three parties to how information on your blog, or just about any website, gets to its intended readers: the audience, search engines, and blogs.

1. Audience

Websites and over 500 million blogs exist for the audience. There are more than 9 billion searches on the internet daily, and search engines must ensure that each search is met with as much correct information arranged page by page. But how is this information gotten and fed to the audience?

Through search engines!

2. Search Engine

A search engine is an online algorithm powerful enough to seek the information sought by an audience from the millions of blogs on the internet and present this information in blogs arranged in order of importance based on specific criteria.

For every search query, there is usually hundreds of blogs with information related to it. The search engine's job is to present these blogs in batches. Each batch is called a page. Each page features several blogs arranged in descending order of importance, with the most essential blogs at the top.

For example, look at the below image, when I search for " Internet Marketing" in Google, there are 6290 million competing blogs/websites ranked in order of importance in Google.

Each page is called a SERP (search engine report page). Search engines achieve this feat in a fraction of a second! For every search query, search engines would deliver tens of SERPs. 

Note that blogs are not the only things that appear on a SERP, especially the first SERP. Other SERP features include:

  • Video Carousels
  • Featured Snippets
  • People Also Ask Boxes

But how do search engines access all the blogs that may have the information a user requires?

Search engines work through programs called web crawlers. These web crawlers' job is to access and assess every blog or website with information on what a client wants based on the keyword used in the search query.

Google is the most popular and used search engine in the world. It is so popular than over 93% of daily searches are done on Google alone globally. 

2. Blogs

This includes your site and the millions other that provide the information internet users need. But it is a competition.

The goal of every blog post written is for it to appear on the first page of Google’s SERP, And there is a reason for this. More than 73% of clicks go to the first SERP of Google. But it gets even more wild! More than 60% of the 73% goes to the first five blogs of a SERP.

So, the higher you rank in the SERP, the chances of getting more visitors is increased. 

This brings us back to SEO. 

Your goal for every post you write is to meet Google’s required standard to increase these posts' chances of being among the top 5 pages on a SERP.

3 Aspects of SEO

1. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to all the elements within your blog, which must be optimized to feature on the first page of Google’s SERP. These elements include; 

  • Keywords
  • Content Structure
  • Meta Tags
  • URL Structure
  • Internal linking
  • Image optimization

1. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO includes external elements outside of your blog, which must be worked on to increase the chances of your blog ranking high. These include;

  • Backlinks
  • Social Media
  • Guest blogging

3. Technical SEO

This has to do more with optimizing your entire blog than individual posts. Some elements of technical SEO include:

  • Website Speed 
  • Mobile Responsiveness 
  • Canonization
  • XML SiteMaps
  • Website security

Some most useful plugins for SEO

There are a few plugins, software, and services you should sign-up for as soon as you launch your blog. These would help you greatly in the SEO campaign of your blog.

Yoast SEO Plugin

This has been mentioned several times. Ensure you have Yoast SEO downloaded and activated on your WordPress. Yoast SEO comes in handy in optimizing key parts of your blog posts quickly without HTML code. With Yoast SEO, you can optimize your blog post's meta description, title, and other critical areas before you hit “PUBLISH” on WordPress.

Other SEO plugins exist; if you love to experiment, you can try them one after the other. Some you should consider include:

  • The SEO Framework
  • SEO Press
  • Rank Math
  • NitroPack
  • All-in-One SEO Pack

Google Search Console:

With Google search console, you are equipped with the foremost analytic tool for your blog. With it, you can monitor your site’s performance and fix errors based on recommendations. Google search console is free and rivals some of the best SEO tools.

Sign up for the Google search console with your Gmail account. Input your website url in the right place, input other information asked, and verify your account. 

Google Analytics:

Set up your website's Google Analytics before publishing posts. Google Analytics is the utmost tool for tracking “traffic” to your website.

Fortunately, you can install the new Google Analytics version GA4 on your WordPress as a plugin. In your WordPress dashboard's Plug-in section, click “add new” and search for HT Easy GA4 (Google Analytics 4 ). Install and activate the Plugin.

Create and Submit Sitemap:

A sitemap is what the name denotes: a map of your site. A site map makes it faster for web crawlers to access the information on your site since they know exactly where to find them.

According to Google, not all sites require a sitemap. But new blogs are expected to submit a site map. You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to create a sitemap and submit it automatically.

Yoast SEO plugin is a great addition to any website to optimise it for better search exposure. 

In this module 3, we will cover everything that has to do with keywords, and in the next section cover the other elements.

Keywords

Keywords are words and phrases the audience uses in search queries when they need information about a specific topic. 

There are several types of keywords, but the most important ones you should be aware of include:

Short-tail keywords:

These are generic keywords and are often used without context. They are, however, very competitive. The terms football, Indian Cuisine, Laptop, Phones, etc., have deep contexts, and as such, websites pay search engines more money to be able to rank based on these keywords.

For example, if I type in just “shoes,” the first websites that would come up would be ads from e-commerce sites that have paid Google to rank high for the keyword.

Long-tail keywords:

These are phrases. The search intent of clients is more apparent in long-tail keywords. An example is “Indian Restaurants in New York.” Google knows exactly what the clients want, and so do you.

Long-tail keywords are not competitive, as their search volume is less. But they give higher conversion. A blog post on “top Indian restaurants in New York” would get much more traffic from search queries that use the keyword in comparison to keyword" Indian restaurants".

LSI keywords:

Latent semantic Index keywords are not keywords in themselves. They are formed by adding words to a short-tail keyword to give it context. An example is “Top Indian Cuisine” I added the word “top” to give context to the keyword “Indian Cuisine” so I can rank high for the short tail keyword “Indian Cuisisne.”

Keywords are a big deal when it comes to On-page SEO. Optimizing your posts for keywords means researching the terms your audience uses in search queries and creating your blog post to match these terms.

The more your posts reflect the terms your audience uses, the higher the chances of Google ranking your post high on its SERP.

How To Research Keywords For A Blog Post

The first step to writing a top-ranking blog post is to look for keywords. Armed with keywords for a blog post, you can then optimize several parts of the blog post with these keywords.

Understand Your Audience Search Intent.

Researching many keywords and inserting them all over your blog post will do you no good. Understanding your audience's search intent should determine how you use keywords.

A user's search intent is simply the purpose of a search query. 2 users can input "indian cuisine" but with different intentions.

One might be looking for an Indian restaurant to have dinner. The other might be interested in learning how to cook Indian dishes or needing information for a research paper.

Your goal, therefore, is to research the most common reason why users use “Indian cuisine” in their search query and create content accordingly while cleverly inputting the keywords on key areas of your blog post. 

There are four types of search intent, which include:

  • Informational
  • Navigational (wanting access to a specific website)
  • Transactional (wanting to buy right now)
  • Commercial (researching before buying)

In essence, keyword research is centered on you knowing your target audience. What are they like, what do they do, how do they search for information online, and most importantly, what is their intention when they search the internet for information related to your niche?

You might need to create a “READER PERSONA” Once you understand your target audience's search intent, your job is to write to suit their intention.

Use Google Search

The first place to visit when you need keyword ideas is Google Search. Type a particular keyword idea on Google search, and you will get several suggestions even as you begin typing. Take note of these suggestions, as they are most users' top keywords.

There is also a “People Also Ask” section on Google’s SERP. This section lists users' top questions around specific keywords, as seen in the image below.

Use SEO tools

A more reliable way to find the top blogs in our niche is to use a service like Ubersuggest (any SEO tool can be used). With the help of these tools, you can do many things like:

  • Research the top blogs in your niche to see the keywords they most rank for.
  • Research hundreds of keywords with detailed information on each one.

Log into https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/, type in a keyword idea, and select a country. Click Enter. I searched for the short tail keyword “Money,” and I got the following: You can change the location, language and get more refined results. 

Keyword Overview: This gives me the search volume, the SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, and cost per click.

Keyword Ideas: This is the most important section. I get more keywords users use related to money and the statistics for each one. This is invaluable information that will help me in writing SEO-ranking blog posts.

Content Ideas: This is where I get all the top blogs ranking high for the keyword “Money.” I can research these blogs, as they are my competition. This section can help me a lot in writing a better blog post with latest and more relevant information. This section also lists out social shares of the post which can help us know if the post is favourite among people or not. We can derive out content strategy based on all that information. 

Research The Competition

We touched on this briefly above, but it is worth repeating. One of the most critical ways to research keywords is to explore the top blogs within your niche. There are two ways to go about this.

You can research a particular blog post that is ranking to get all the required SEO data and then write a more compelling blog post with more information. 

The second way is to research the entire blog of your competition to get an idea of all the top-performing topics. These topics are what you should also focus on for your blog. Doing this is very important, especially if you are just starting your blog.

Both of these can be achieved by using your SEO tool.

Look for trends

Trends are often clues to what people need information about. Therefore tracking trends can give you a lot of hints on keywords.

Below are a few places to track trends:

Google Trends:

Go to trends.google.com  and type in your niche’s keyword. Take note of the topics that are trending. You can view results based on Interest, country, sub-region, related topics and categories.

Social Media:

Twitter and Instagram all have the “trending” feature. Search for trending topics(keywords) from your accounts, and you will get the exact keywords being used. The goal is to note issues related to your niche. This method is, however, limited.

Industry News

Every niche exists within a specific industry. And most industries often have leading News Blogs that boast the kind of audience you are targeting. By following these News Blogs, you can know what your target audience is interested in. For example if you have interest in writing about Finance, you can visit Yahoo Finance and get an idea of what the audiences are interested to read. 

Visit Question and Answer Platforms

There are platforms where people ask questions, and answers are provided. Some niches have dedicated forums where people ask questions and other forum members provide answers. 

Two platforms you should consider are Quora and Reddit. You can get many long-tail keywords across several niches on these two platforms.

Major service providers and businesses within every industry have dedicated forums where they answer questions from their clients and customers. These platforms are a rich source of long-tail keywords.

Note that in your keyword research, your goal is to compile a list of keywords related to a topic you want to write about. From this list, you would pick a primary keyword that you would focus on while using the rest in the body of your blog post. All three keywords (long-tail, short-tail, and LSI) are expected to be in your blog post.

How to optimize keywords for your blog post

There are three elements within your blog posts in which keywords must be optimized. These include:

  • Title 
  • Headings 
  • Body

Optimizing Keywords in Blog Post Title

The title of your blog post is a significant factor in determining whether or not it will be fed to your target audience. Search engines use your post title to determine whether or not your blog post has the information your audience is searching for.

Hence, the main keyword from your research must feature in your title. Below are ways to optimize your post title for keywords. 

Use a Unique Title: 

All your posts must have a unique title, meaning you can’t use the same title for multiple posts. Using the same title for more than one blog post on your blog means competing against yourself for the attention of web crawlers for the same keyword, it is also a red flag for your SEO efforts. So, have a unique title for all your posts. 

Use One Keyword in your title:

Use the primary keyword of your blog post in your title. Do not stuff your title with multiple keywords to deceive web crawlers. Antics like these can get you penalized by Google. So, if the main keyword of a post is "Indian Cuisine," do not include "Indian Dishes" and "Indian food" in your title.

Use Numbers in your topic:

Using numbers in your post title dramatically increases the chances of such a post with higher CTR (Click Through Rate). So, instead of “Top Indian Cuisine in California,” use ‘Top 10 Indian Cuisine in California.” Also increased CTR may help you rank higher in SERP.

Limit your post title to a maximum of 50 to 60 characters: 

The shorter your title, the better. Both search engines and browsers only show the first few words of your title,

Image below shows the top 4 organic blogs I googled from “What is LSI.” The blue highlighted text for each blog is the title, and the number of characters among them is 23. As an audience, I fully know what each blog post is all about based on the individual titles. 

However, notice the below image; It has longer title, and Google has simply cut off the excess characters. So, if your title text is bigger than this, you put the keyword in the start of your title. 

Do not include brand name: 

As much as possible, do not include your brand’s name in your title. Search engines want to give users objective information. Including your brand name in your titles will translate to being more concerned with promoting your brand than sharing information.
A clever way to promote your brand organically is by writing reviews. If you own a restaurant that sells Indian cuisine, simply write a review of the top Indian restaurants in your city and add yours to the list.

Optimizing Keywords in Headings

The headings of your blog posts are the most crucial element for structuring your content. However, apart from structure, they are an essential part of your post that search engines use to understand the several sections of your content, so they must be optimized with appropriate keywords.

To optimize keywords in your headings, do the following:

Include Keywords in your headings:

Each header should have a unique keyword for the section you cover.

Use Long-tail keywords:

Long-tail keywords are keywords made up of multiple words. They are less competitive than short keywords and reveal your audience's full search intent.

A keyword can be “Indian Cuisine”, but a long-tail keyword can be “Restaurant that serves Indian Cuisine in New York” it is a long-tail keyword an audience can use.

Headings should be meaningful

Each heading should correlate with the information passed in its section. Headings are for more than vanity structure or a means to pack your content with keywords (which will only hurt your chances of ranking, as Google is against keyword stuffing). Use your headings because they are essential.

Optimizing Keywords in Body

Remember all the keywords you research before you begin writing? You get to use them in your content. The goal is to use keywords that are all related and coherent with the information you intend to share in your blog. The measure of the number of keywords in a post is called “keyword density.”

Two metrics will be measured for the number of keywords in a post.

  • The number of times the main keyword is used.
  • The number of times other types of keywords are used(LSI and long-tail keyword)

One of the significant questions often asked is, “how many keywords and its variations should be in a blog?” The answer to this is varied. Even Google does not give a direct answer,

However, a consensus on the number of main keywords is 10-20 per every one thousand words. So, you should use the primary keywords 10-20 times for every 1,000 words. 

The best practices to follow are:

  • Always write quality content: Your focus should always be to create quality content first and foremost. Every sentence should be valuable and avoid unnecessary use of words. 
  • Write for your target audience: Understand your audience, and be intimate with their needs. Your goal is to be the most accurate source of information for them.
  • Mind your grammar: Avoid grammatical errors in your posts. Ensure you do thorough editing and proofreading of your articles before posting them.
  • Avoid Plagiarism: You can always copy ideas and lift important information from sources, but never plagiarize another blog’s content.
  • Stay true to your brand voice: Staying true to your voice is crucial for forging a relationship with your audience. The more your audience reads your blog post, the more they come to understand how you sound when you write. After a while, they can pick out your articles, among others. This helps position you as one of the authorities in your niche.