When you write a blog post, think of your readers. Write for humans first. Write for search engine optimization (SEO) second. We all want our website to rank first in an online search, but you won’t last long at the top of the heap if your content is of low quality. Here are some techniques you can use to help improve the quality of your writing and your SEO ranking.
Choose a Good Focus Keyword
The focus keyword or keyphrase is the search term you want a page or post to rank for most. When people search for that phrase, they should find you. You might wish to check your keyword first to make sure you’re not using it for another post. You don’t want to have blog posts on your website competing for SEO.
Try to use the exact keyphrase a few times with the text. The longer the text, the more times you should use the keyword. Likewise, it would be best if you used the keywords in a sub-heading too. Outside of the text itself, it would help if you placed the keywords in the:
- Title of the blog post
- URL slug (http://www.mywebsite.com/great-blog-post)
- Meta description (An HTML element that is a summary of the blog post.)
- Alt-text on the featured image
Internal links: These are links to your other blog posts, blog categories or tags, or website pages. Consider it like cross-referencing. Some website plugins automatically add text at the bottom of each post that links to other posts (usually a specific category) to create automatic internal links. They work well and save time. However, some SEO analyzers don’t recognize these as internal links even though search engines do.
External links: It’s always nice to link to another website but only if it can help your readers. If you quote a famous person, link back to the source. If you refer to resources, such as a government website, dictionaries, or a scientific journal, link to those sites. If you mention a product, link to a place where your readers can see what you are writing about, even if it’s not the exact item.
Write Enough Text
Search engines need at least 300 words to make it register easily. If you do a media interview, you can’t include the entire text in your blog post (copyright issues). But you can talk about your experience with the journalist, provide a summary of points, and refer back to the article. Sometimes it is challenging to get to the 300-word mark, especially if you’re doing a list-type blog post.
SEO is essential, but it is more important to write for the reader. No one wants to read your keywords in every sentence, nor do they want you to blather on about irrelevant details to get to the 300-word mark.
Several factors influence readability. Most SEO website plugins have a preference. They like prose, which is a natural form of speech with grammatical structure. Not all blog posts lend themselves to this style. On the other hand, humans love lists – bulleted lists, numbered lists, lists with checkboxes – we love them! If you have a kick-ass list-type post, it probably won’t meet the “readability” quality on your SEO plugin. It doesn’t matter. Write for people first, SEO second.
Sub-headings and Paragraph Length
Readers like to see where the next idea begins. Use sub-headings for this. Proper heading tags are also essential for people who use screen-readers to help them navigate websites. Check your website theme or ask your web designer which heading tags you should use within your blog’s text. Within the blog text itself, people often use Heading 3 for the headings and then Heading 4 for the sub-headings.
The paragraphs shouldn’t be too long either. Aim for 100-200 words. If you change ideas, move to a new paragraph or a new heading. Readers like a bit of white space. Think of it like organizing your closet, and don’t cram too many words in there.
Add Formatting to Help
Use formatting tools to grab readers’ attention and help them read your blog post. Formatting tools include:
- Bold: Use for intense emphasis or at the beginning of bulleted or numbered lists to get readers’ attention.
- Italics: Use for emphasizing specific words or phrases.
- Bold & Italics: Use sparingly – only when you really want to get a reader’s attention.
- Underlines: Do not use underlines at all. They are reserved for hyperlinks only.
- All Caps: Do not use all caps within the text. YOU DON’T WANT TO SHOUT AT YOUR READERS.
Active vs. Passive Voice
SEO analyzers – and most people – prefer the active voice instead of the passive voice. In the active voice, the subject acts on an object. In the passive voice, the object is acted upon by the subject.
- Passive Voice: The closet can be organized in several ways. With the hangers placed backward, you will know what you have worn.
- Active Voice: You can organize the closet in several ways. Place the hangers backward to know which clothes you do not regularly wear.
Transition words make your text much more readable. Because these words give direction to your readers, it helps them understand the relationship between sentences. Also, they connect ideas.
- No Transition Words: You can organize the closet in several ways. Place the hangers backward to know which clothes you do not regularly wear.
- Transition Words: You can organize the closet in several ways. Firstly, place the hangers backward on the closet rod. Then, every time you wear something, turn the hanger around. As a result, you will know which clothes you do not regularly wear.
Including transition words in your writing is not always easy because we don’t speak (at least consciously) using transition words. Your writing style will improve over time, and there are websites that can help. If you are writing a list-type post, transition words don’t necessarily apply.
People enjoy reading sentences of various lengths. They appreciate rhythm and cadence. Intersperse longer and shorter sentences because readers feel like they are interacting with a real person.
- Run-On Sentence: Placing the hangers backward to know which clothes you do not regularly wear is one way to organize your closet.
- Varying Sentence Length: Place the hangers backward on the closet rod. Then, every time you wear something, turn the hanger around. As a result, you will know which clothes you do not regularly wear.
Please don’t add a myriad, bazillion, loads, heaps, multitudes, or an abundance of adjectives when one will do.
There may be occasions where you want to make a specific point using the same word at the beginning of each sentence, but generally, do not start consecutive sentences with the same word. In list-type posts, reword the introduction to your list or make two shorter lists.
Items to put in your carry-on bag include:
- your medication
- your passport
- your wallet
Items to put in your carry-on bag include your:
To summarize, I hope you have enjoyed this test post and learned a little about the importance of readability, keywords, and SEO. Although readability is essential, don’t force yourself to use a style that just isn’t you. In the end, you may distance readers (and potential clients) who love you for your unique style and brand.
In early January, I decided to remove all of the social media apps from my phone. Then, one by one, add them back as I used them. So far, the only ones I have restored are Twitter because it’s my primary source for local news, Slack is how my Toastmasters group communicates, and Discord for the Home Work Podcast group. Counter to what most productivity experts advise, I turned on my notifications (badges only). Now, I can easily see when I need to deal with something rather than opening the app and getting sucked down the internet rabbit hole.
I spent $12 on a board (and a few more dollars on shelf pegs) so I could add another shelf to my pantry cupboard. I had been using expandable shelves, but the cans were too heavy. I got to use my circular saw to cut the board to the right length. I even had enough to add shelves to three more cupboards. Spending less than $20 to increase my cupboard space by about 30% is one heck of a cheap kitchen renovation!
During the pandemic, I’ve watched people indulge in their hobbies or take up new hobbies. I currently do not have a hobby. Reading is okay, but sometimes it takes longer to find a new book than it does reading it. Puzzles are fun – until they become frustrating. I’m not a knitter or textiles person, and I don’t seem to have the talent (or patience) to paint. Over the next few months, I’ll look for something fun to do. If you have a hobby you enjoy, feel free to share your experience with me.