Organic search traffic is the most powerful growth driver for blogs. SEO can provide recurring traffic without incurring any direct costs.
How can you ensure that your articles are SEO-friendly. These are 8 easy steps to increase your chances of being ranked high in the SERPs.
I have mentioned some software tools that can be used to help here and offered free alternatives when possible.
Eight steps to creating an SEO-friendly Article
These are our 8 steps. Continue scrolling to see the details.
- Keyword research can help you identify your target keywords
- Use a content optimization tool to plan and write
- For a high organic CTR, write a compelling title
- Find out how to win this featured snippet
- Optimize your internal linking
- Editor for readability, correctness and conciseness
- Optimize your images
- Keep your content updated as often as possible
1. Keyword research can help you identify your target keywords
Keyword research is a must if you want to increase organic search traffic. To optimize for Google searches, you need to find out what people are looking for.
These are the three main things you need to pay attention to in this step.
This is the average monthly search volume for a keyword. This will allow you to determine your potential for ranking #1. Is it worth it?
Are you seeing a trend that is increasing or decreasing in popularity? Is the trend seasonal? Here’s an example:
What is the difficulty of ranking for this keyword? It may not be possible to rank for highly-competitive keywords if you are on a site that is newer and has few backlinks.
You might instead try to find simpler alternatives. Take the above example and instead of ranking for “pumpkin recipes”, we might rank for something niche like “pumpkin protein balls”.
It still receives 1,800 searches per month, and there is a growing trend. However, we are much more likely to rank on the first page.
Learn more: How to use keyword difficulty technology
If a keyword is not relevant to your business, it’s pointless trying to rank for it. It’s not enough to rank for keywords that are high volume and low difficulty. You must be able sell your product or services to these readers. This content is supposed to have a return on investment.
While it’s fine to search for informational queries with low intent, you should have a strategy to convert those visitors. They might be the right target market but are not looking to purchase. You could attempt to convert them by offering a micro-conversion, such as an email signup.
Keyword research tools
KWFinder is a great tool for anyone with a limited budget. This is the tool that I used to display the above search trends examples. This tool is part of the Mangools toolset, which includes a rank tracker and reporting tool as well as a backlink monitor. It is a more affordable alternative to Ahrefs, with monthly fees starting at $30.
Here are some tools that you can use to get started even if you don’t have the budget.
- Google autocomplete
- Google Search Console (if your traffic is already established)
- Google Trends
These free tools won’t give you accurate keyword volumes, trends or difficulty, but they’re a lot better than nothing if your content budget is tight.
Find out more about the best ways to search keywords for SEO.
2. Use a content optimization tool to plan and write
Let’s start with a definition.
An SEO tool that analyzes pages at the top of the search engine results page and provides data about what’s working in the SERP is called a content optimization tool.
It’s not necessary to use these tools to rank. However, it can help speed up the process and make it a lot simpler. Even if you are not an SEO expert. If you’re having a hard time coming up with blog topics, I suggest you check out Article Market – buy pre-written articles on any keyword or topic.
Here are some steps I will demonstrate using Frase. You can also see other similar tools here.
Frase will first ask you to create a new file and to enter your target keyword.
Determine the best length/word count
Different searches will require different levels and types of content detail. Some, such as “How old is the Queen?” require more detail. Some, like “How old is the Queen?” can be answered with a short paragraph. Some questions, such as “How to cook pumpkin”, will require a longer post with detailed instructions.
You can see the current ranking of your content to determine how long it should be. While you can manually check, content optimization tools (including Frase), will do it automatically.
You can remove outliers from your analysis if you think there are too many posts (e.g., a very long or short post).
Plan your structure & outline
We will once again start with the top-ranking results to outline our content structure.
The SERP Explorer allows you to see which subheadings and headings your competitors use in their content. You can either look here for inspiration or click on any one of the headings to save it as an outline.
This stage is where I would be asking questions such as:
- What number of pumpkin recipes should I include in my recipe? 5? 10? 25?
- What level of detail is needed for each recipe?
- Do I need to categorize recipes? E.g. healthy pumpkin recipes, quick pumpkin recipes etc.
- Do you need any additional information before or after the list? (Example: H2 for “ingredients required for pumpkin recipes”
You should be able combine your expertise in the topic and current SERPs to create a solid plan for your next blog post.
What keywords should you include?
These recommendations will be generated by all content optimization tools based on current SERP. These tools will show you the keywords you should include and give you a frequency recommendation. You can then tick them off as needed. It looks like this in Frase, with the keywords on the right sidebar.
You can, and should, override their recommendations by using common sense when necessary.
Don’t compromise quality and readability if the tool tells you to add something that doesn’t make sense. Although this software category is extremely useful, there are sometimes exceptions.
What questions are you going to answer?
Consider whether there are any questions that you don’t know the answer to. These could be included as subheadings or added to your article with an FAQ section.
Frase has a tab called “Questions” in the right-vertical navigation. You can also check the People Also Ask section of a Google search or look through Quora & Reddit threads to find common questions.
3. Find out how to win this featured snippet
Before hitting ‘publish,’ it is worth checking the SERP features. Particularly, the featured snippets. What is the best way to win a featured snippet?
A featured snippet is a way to jumpfrog from any position on the first page to #1.
These are the most common featured snippet formats that you will find:
My experience is that lists and paragraphs are the most popular.
It’s best to try to reverse engineer the way things are currently working. Look at the current snippet and figure out what it is.
Here’s a quick example. Here’s a quick example: I have the snippet of ‘best keyword complexity software’.
You’d notice that the page has a simple numbered listing underneath a keyword-rich H2. To steal this snippet, someone should also structure their content in the same way.
4. For a high organic CTR, write a compelling title
For many reasons, organic clickthrough-rates are an important metric. You will get more traffic if you have more people clicking on your result.
Moreover, more people clicking on your search result sends positive signals back to Google. Google discovers that people are searching for your resource. This can result in higher rankings.
How do you create a memorable title? While there are many tips for writing titles, this is the one I use when it comes to meta titles for SEO.
The model provides examples and categories of titles that can be modified to make them more appealing.
Let’s think of some examples. Let’s say our original title was “Our Favorite Pumpkin Recipes of All Time”. Let’s see how each modifier could be applied to test a new title.
Modifier Neue Title Speed Pumpkin Recipes You Can Prep In Under 10 Minutes Volume 50+ Recipes for Every Taste Price 10 Pumpkin Recipes You Can Make For Less Than $10 Freshness Our Favorite Pumpkin Recipes for Fall 2022
Consider whether any of these suggestions are relevant to your content and then try to increase your organic CTR.
5. Add internal links
For a great user experience, internal links are essential. They show search engines which pages have the most importance and are related.
Consider which internal links will you add to your new blog post and which posts might link to it.
This Google search operator is my preferred method for finding opportunities to link internally.
You could search for “site:mywebsite.com Pumpkin” to find relevant posts that could link to your article on new pumpkin recipes.
I aim to add at least 2 or 3 internal links per post. However, don’t force them to do so. Only if your content is relevant. This will make your post more searchable and rank higher.
These are 3 tips to add internal links.
- Be descriptive. The user and the search engine should know where they lead to. Avoid using generic words like “here” or “read more”.
- Internal linking could be used to help the user move down the funnel. Is there a logical next article that someone might be interested in?
- It could have an impact on how important the internal link is. To highlight the importance of certain pages, you might choose to place them in your footer and nav.
6. Correctness, readability, conciseness and clarity should be checked
Good writing is essential for SEO-friendly blog posts. Search engines are responsible for delivering content that is:
- Answers the query of the searcher
- Provides a great user experience
Search engines will continue to rank your page if you provide a great user experience. It takes many things to create a great user experience. Great writing is one of them. This means that your writing should be:
- It is easy to understand and read (even for non-native speakers).
- Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar
- Concise, but thorough & practical
Grammarly is an excellent tool for correctness. Hemingway is a great tool for SEO content writing. It makes sure that your writing is clear and easy to understand. It is free to use, and you don’t even need to log in.
7. Optimize your images
It is unlikely that a great SEO-friendly article will be a huge wall of text. You will likely include visuals in your content.
You can make those images SEO-friendly by doing some things.
These are two quick image optimization tips that can be used in blog posts.
Image compression file sizes
You need to find the right balance between quality & performance. You will notice a significant improvement in your page load speed and page performance if you use a lot of high-quality images.
Smush and other compression plugins can be helpful if you are using WordPress as your CMS. You could also use Compress JPEG, a free tool.
Consider using next-gen image formats
New image formats have been developed in recent years that compress images faster and preserve better quality with smaller file sizes. WebP is the most popular. ShortPixel, an image optimization plugin for WordPress, can help you do this. You can also use the convertor tools by simply typing ‘jpegtowebp’ or whatever format you are converting to.
Note In 2022 there may be some Safari users, and perhaps others, who still use browsers that don’t support WebP. This is something you should consider when selecting the ideal file format.
It doesn’t matter what you do, it will help to be aware of the importance of avoiding large image files and being mindful of this.
8. Keep your content updated as often as possible
Content doesn’t always stay relevant, no matter how annoying it may be. Things change, facts are inaccurate or out of date, search intent and trends change, and content is posted by competitors.
It’s possible that you could reap the benefits of updating outdated content every now and again.
There are many factors that can affect the frequency of content updates. Content in YMYL niches such as financial advice or medical advice will need to be updated frequently. The same applies to news and trends such as coronavirus news.
It is common to have enough time once every six to twelve months. Maybe less. SEO is always about “it depends”.
There are a few ways you can monitor your old content:
- Check Google Analytics & Search Console data
- To see if your rankings are falling, use a SERP tracker
- ClickFlow is a paid content decay tool that could be worth your while if you require additional ClickFlow features.