This is a guide for anyone who needs to write a blog post with SEO best practices in place.
On top of my experience blogging since 2014, I analyze extremely high-ranking blog posts in competitive spaces on Google to identify the most important qualities for each post.
I looked at the number one ranked post for a variety of “how to” searches, and compiled a list to help you learn how to write SEO friendly blog posts without the fluff.
Let’s start with the super simple step-by-step guide on how to write SEO friendly blog posts, and get into the data afterward.
1. Identify your keyword or topic
- Use a tool to find related keywords and topics you should include in your post
I will show you an example of how to simply identify your keyword to go after. Keep in mind topics and semantic SEO is becoming more apparent these days, but keywords still matter.
What are you planning on writing about? You do need a starting point unless you just copy what the competition is doing. You can start broad or narrow. I like to start broad and narrow down using the tool.
So for example the way I found the keyword, “how to write seo friendly blog posts” was go to SEMRush > Keyword Magic Tool.
Then I sort and filter by desired result. In this instance I’m looking to answer a set of questions so I sort by question.But you can just look through the results if you want to find a good keyword.
You will then want to look at the keyword volume, which is the estimated/average amount of monthly traffic SEMRush projects for this keyword.
Keyword volume is almost never right in these tools! Keep this in mind. I’ve seen this number to be inaccurate very regularly when I compare to actual Google Analytics numbers. But it’s a good starting point.
If you are a smaller website and are just starting out you will want to write blog posts for keyword volume that are lower. The higher the KD and the higher the volume, the more difficult it will be to rank for the term.
If you already have 120 posts answering questions about SEO and have a good domain authority then you can go after the higher volume keywords.
In this instance, SEO is one of the more difficult terms to rank for, so I sorted by highest volume and filtered by “blog”.
I’m not so worried about the keyword difficulty being 50, although this could be a consideration. The only reason I’m ignoring it for now is because I plan on claiming topical authority over the questions related to SEO and BLOG. So I plan on writing many many posts inter-linking these topics together in order to achieve that.
Then I highly recommend gathering or collecting a list of your keywords you want to write about. IF you pick a segment of these keywords and write all the possible posts in relation to these ideas, and link them together, Google may give you some topical authority over that set of keywords.
For example, Healthline has 300+ blog posts about Apple’s and their health effects. They have topical authority over any type of Apple search related to health.
List of tools for keyword research:
- Keyword planner
List of ideas for gathering related keywords and/or questions to write about around your post
- Google people also ask
- Google related searches
- Google autosuggest
- Answer the public
2. Analyze the competition
- Read or skim over the top 10 blog posts for that keyword
- How many words do you need to cover the topic?
- What is the intent of the topic/keyword search?
- So when analyzing this keyword for this blog post, the top 2 posts are listicles with tips, and the rest are step-by-step instructions. So I want to hit both.
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3. Do your own research on the keyword and your topic
This is skipped quite often. Many times writers will just start writing based on their opinion. It’s important to do your research first so you can decide on a direction for your blog post.
I won’t say not to use YouTube or random articles to form your research, but be careful not to copy. It’s great to source articles across the web and use those as a basis for your blog post.
Similar to writing a research paper, make sure you can back up your claims. It might not even include a similar article. You might use something on the web as inspiration, or an example of something. In this article, I am looking at some of the highest quality websites on the web and marking notes based on what I see.
This helps you find unique ways to attack the keyword. I often try to make my post unique in some way, while maintaining the intent.
- Jot down notes
- Take screenshots
- Watch videos
- Read forum comments
Sources and credible information
Where is the information coming from? Are you an expert with years of experience? Or are you a researcher who uses a variety of resources to back up your claims?
Citing your information is becoming more and more important. Not only that, but making sure you are citing reliable sources is becoming a skill. And if you are an expert, it could be beneficial to outline your experience and link to a resource that shows this.
An outbound link is when you create a link within the text of your post that will take your reader to a different website page. After doing my research, the top posts on Google almost never link to other sources with similar research. They mostly link to helpful tools, and very seldom at that. Don’t overuse outbound external links. Use many internal links to resources you’ve created. And if you haven’t created it yet, put that on the list for you to get done and link to it.
4. Create a rough outline
Use Header 1, Header 2, and Header 3 and bullet points to create a hierarchy.
What I like to do is look at the list of related keywords you found from the keyword research.
For example, “how to write a blog” may have churned out something like “how to write a blog for beginners” or “how to write a blog example” or “how to write a blog title.
As long as they are helpful, you can use these as ideas for sections of content. And you can use “blog post examples” as one of the header 2s and write about that.
I remember hearing about the 10×10 strategy for writing a book. I think it was to write 10 chapters and then write 10 tips for each of those chapters and you essentially have a 100 page book.
I’m not saying to take that approach for all blog posts but it definitely helps with structuring your content around seo-friendly terms that are related to your topics.
I did that with this post. I wrote down each step, and then I listed out different tips for each step and then went back and expanded on each.
Tools for creating outlines
- Surfer SEO
- Page Optmyzer Pro
These tools use the top Google results to pull topics or words that are often used in the top results for that given keyword. This can help you identify what Google is already ranking and what they like to hear about.
If you write a post about “what color ties go with blue shirts”, all the top posts have a section for pink ties. Whether that’s a negative or positive section is up to you. But you should have it nonetheless.
6. Start writing
- Be specific. Be extremely specific. Don’t write vague opinion pieces or fluffy sentences that fill space. Say something.
- 2-3 sentences per paragraph. This is not a hard rule but try to stick to this so the text is easy to skim.
- Use internal links to related content within your website that will help the reader
- Use external links to cite sources or to provide the reader with more information
- Don’t use the top 10 results for the query
- Use bullet lists and numbered lists as often as possible
- Use images and screenshots
- Break up text with tips, stats, quotes, and call-to-action boxes
- Try to optimize for a snippet if possible.
7. Title, URL, and Meta Description
The page title will definitely play a factor in your click-through rate, and even though Google will likely alter the page title in the search results, you want to make it as clickable as possible. Check out our posts on page titles SEO & Meta Description post.
21 Tips For How To Write SEO Friendly Blog Posts Based On Research
I did my own research study into the top two ranking blog posts for informational queries across a variety of industries. I analyzed many terms such as, “how to write a book” and “how to ask for a raise” and many “how-to” type searches.
I marked up each article with attributes I noticed and then analyzed the most consistent markers across all the searches and was left with some interesting tips.
While there are many factors contributing to the success of top ranking blog posts, such as links, authority, trust, and many more off-page factors, we are focusing on the on-page elements that remain consistent throughout many industries. What factors contribute to their success, and which factors are apparent on each one of these blog posts.
- High amount of internal links
- Links open to new tabs
- Specific anchor text
- Few external links unless linking to an affiliate offer
- Limit stock images
- Screenshots are used regularly when applicable
- Bullet points and numbered lists used regularly and almost seem mandatory based on my research.
- FAQ at the bottom of the post and marked up as FAQ schema – medium use
- Short paragraphs, 3-5 sentences maximum.
- Breaking up content with color/sections/highlights that show a tip, quote, example, click to tweet, or a bold point. Used consistently in top two results.
- Breadcrumbs are not as relevant as I previously thought and used slightly less often than anticipated.
- Long form content ranks almost always (5k words+ for 20k+ search volume)
- Table of contents with jump links – not mandatory but used often.
- Video embedded often used – Almost always an original video made by the creator of the blog
- Infographics used often – This might have something to do with link builders offering high-quality infographics to high ranking articles as well.
- Exact match keyword in the H1 – very often
- Last updated date – This is now considered best practice based on my research.
- Call-to-action on every post – these break up the text as well so does not surprise me.
- Branded images being used throughout the posts
- Comments are 50/50
- Social share buttons are used at an extremely high clip
- Sans-serif font
- Header 1, Header 2 and seldom Header 3. I’m seeing bold taking the place of header 3 or bullet lists, number lists
Frequently Asked Questions
Are blogs important for SEO?
Absolutely. Google Search needs to view your website as an authority in order to trust it. You have to display your expertise with content whether you are a local business or an affiliate marketer or eCommerce store.
You can then use blog posts as a way to direct your customers to your most profitable pages. OR your blog posts can act as a profitable page. Either way, having a blog is a must for SEO.
Is blogspot good for SEO?
Blogspot is not good for SEO. You want to own your content, and the best way to do that is to put out your content on a platform like WordPress where you have total control over the ownership.
Also Blogspot is lacking certain plugins and tools that can enhance your SEO and increase your chance of visibility online.
How often should you blog for SEO?
You should blog as often as possible. That could mean every day or that could mean once a week. It depends on how much content you have available to write about in your niche. This is why doing research into keywords and topical authority is mandatory for developing a content calendar.
How long should blogs be for SEO?
Your blogs should be as long as it takes to fully satisfy the query. One great way to identify an estimate on the length is to analyze the top ten competitors on Google and average the length of those posts. This is a great way to determine the length of post requirements for SEO.
How to increase SEO for blog?
SEO is an umbrella term for a variety of strategies that might increase your chances of ranking higher in the search engine result pages. Some potential ways to increase SEO for a blog is:
1. Publish more content. Text, image, or video.
2. Fix technical issues with the website and make it as user-friendly as possible.
3. Add internal links strategically.
4. Optimize poor-performing content with more, different, and better content.
5. Optimize poor-performing pages for specific keywords.
6. Establish more E-A-T. Expertise, Authority, and Trust.
7. Implement a link-building strategy.