By Erin R. Hoffer, MA, Central West Coast Chapter
Are you writing blog content on a regular basis? How can you make sure that your blog is read and working for you?
Braden Becker, senior SEO strategist for HubSpot, provided several tips on creating blog content designed to appear in Google search results. He gave his presentation, “Blog SEO: How to Get Your Owned Media Found” on Tuesday, Aug. 6th at the Florida Public Relations Association’s 81st Annual Conference in Tampa.
My, How Times Have Changed
Becker provided insight into how blogs have changed over the years. From 1998 to 2003, standard operation called for writing content with key search words repeatedly placed throughout the content. Back then, Google pulled results based on those key words alone. The issue? Key words could be nestled in any content, credible or not.
In more recent years, Google got smarter. The search giant now pulls up sites using a complicated algorithm that includes: using key words in content, on-page SEO tactics, scaling content volume, off-page SEO content and growing blog traffic.
Be More Searchable with Key Words that Matter
While Google’s algorithm may have become more advanced over the years, the Google still relies on key words to assist with search results. Finding the right key words matters.
So, how do you to this? Becker suggested starting with a broad idea for a blog topic, such as “Vegetarian Thanksgiving,” and then conducting a key word search for that phrase (using software like SEMRush or Href) to further define the blog content and points that should be made.
Selecting the most popular key words (taking into consideration the amount of people searching using those phrases) will help guide the overall message and make your blog more likely to appear on a Google search.
Consider On-Page SEO Tactics
A typical blog page includes the following seven elements:
- Blog Title (Consider adding a key word here.)
- Featured image (Pay attention to the image name and ensure the size is small to lower load speed.)
- Subsections (Use subheads that also incorporate key words.)
- Image Alt Text (Be sure to use the proper alt text for your images because Google can’t “see” the image, but it will know what it is based on the alt text.)
- Add “fresh” data (Keep it new. Google ranks new content.)
- Publish Date (Google pays attention to when blogs were posted and will show the newest one first.)
- URL Path (Make a friendly URL.)
- Incorporating these tips when building a blog post page will go a long way in assisting with Google search results.
Set Yourself as an Expert by Scaling Your Content Volume
Pay attention to how your blog is structured on your website. Becker said HubSpot is starting to recommend using “pillar pages” to first draw people to a topic. These pages are filled with basic, broad and general information about a specific topic. Branching off from pillar pages are blog posts that drill down details.
For example, a pillar page could be built on email marketing and the benefits of email marketing. The page content could be very broad in nature with overall stats on successes of email marketing and testimonies directly from marketers using email marketing campaigns.
However, blogs should be linked to the page for further reading. Blogs could be about sending emails during a specific time of day, how to select content for email marketing, measuring email marketing and more.
Within the content of each blog, there should be a hyperlink back to the main pillar page about email marketing so that the campaign is fully linked together.
Ultimately, the goal is to let Google know that you are an expert on this topic with plenty of content so that users can learn more. Creating pillar pages with linked topic-related blogs will position you as an expert and will increase your chances of being found after a search.
Becker said HubSpot is recommending to build a pillar page with a minimum of five blogs.
Build Trust with Off-Page SEO Tactics
Becker said it is key to link to outside experts within your content. “The more links you have, the more trust you have,” he said.
In addition, see if others will link to your content. “Backlinks are the No. 1 ranking factor in the eyes of Google.”
Make sure that you are linking relevant content and relevant, credible sources to your blogs. These links will go a long way in your SEO efforts, Becker said.
Growing Your Blog Traffic in Time
When a blog is first posted to a website, it may not appear in searches instantly. In fact, HubSpot is recognizing that there is nearly a six-month delay before it sees major performance in its blog posts.
That lead time, Becker said, means that topics and content needs to be maintained to ensure relevancy. He recommends re-optimizing old or “historical” content for SEO.
Choose your oldest content, look to see which blogs are performing the best, and then revisit and ensure the latest information is provided and the content is still valid.
Google is the world’s largest search engine and your blog can rank high on the search bar with a little SEO strategy. Becker’s presentation highlighted the importance of finding and using relevant key words, incorporating on-page SEO tactics, building trust with off-page SEO tactics, updating historical content and creating a website structure that sets you as an expert.
To contact Becker, reach him on Twitter at @BradenBecker.