How to write a blog post with killer SEO rankings

We don’t need to tell you twice that the main aim of marketing is to land more eyes on your products or services. Banking some extra dollars helps as well.

One of the key ways to be seen across the online landscape is to have a significant web presence – and that all starts with an attractive, well-functioning site. Beyond that, initiating quality, results-driven organic search engine optimisation will land you more exposure than you’ve ever received before.

While SEO agencies like us can help you fire up these tactics, employing some good practice on your part will support positive outcomes in the long run. One of these essentials is knowing exactly how to take advantage of blogging and learning how to write an article that Google can’t resist.

In this post, we nut out 15 ways to ensure your blog posts rank higher in search engine results.

How to write an article with SEO in mind

Before we dive into all of this, remember the main aim is to provide value to your audience. If you go into writing a blog post with zero focus on educating, nurturing and informing your reader, you won’t get very far. Those that only take a sales-orientated or technical mindset for content marketing are the ones that don’t see tangible results; remember to balance out your intentions.

Okay, with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get straight into it.

2. Don’t be afraid to write long content

You’ll commonly hear excuses like “People won’t read content that long” or “I don’t have the time”. The truth is, both of these are valid reasons why not to write long-form content. However, all SEO myths aside, content success does revolve around spending enough time and energy on creating sufficiently lengthy articles. Beyond this, they need to provide a valuable experience for your audience – juggling these two elements is where the real challenge is. As you sit down to write, you need to cover off three must-dos:

  1. Be long enough for Google to pay attention to what you have to say (it values longer-form content over shorter);
  2. Be digestible enough that readers will even want to give you the time of day;
  3. Provide enough value and quality in what you’re writing.

Ultimately, these three steps are what turn people away from writing blogs in the first place. It’s a tricky game to master; but once you get there, you won’t go back.

So that being said, the primary tip we can give here is to focus on quality, not quantity. Quality meaning value, substance and educational support to those reading your content; quality referring to the number of blog posts you churn out a week. If your current tactics are to pump our several short articles a week, ditch that technique to the curb.

Instead, spend some time developing a 2000-word piece that over a week, and post it on the most beneficial day to your brand (use your analytics here). This will also give you plenty of time to research the topic you’re exploring and focus on overall quality.

What’s the minimum words you can get away with, you ask? It’s not uncommon for us to push 1500-word articles where we can – this word count gives you the coverage you need on the topic, all the while still adhering to any SEO techniques you need to employ. And that’s at a bare minimum.

2. Follow the ultimate structure for writing a blog post

Heard of Neil Patel? Yep, we’ve always got a keen eye on him – and for a good reason.

You’ll notice he has a refined science to how he writes an article. He’s also developed a convenient infographic to help you understand what this kind of structure should look like.

Source

Neil has developed this approach over a decade, testing user behaviour, SEO rankings and results along the way. And it works exceptionally well. In a nutshell, you’ll need to follow these standpoints for creating a similar outline to your blog writing:

  • Develop a catchy headline that turns heads: Remember this should appeal to search engine results, so use all the tools you can (we like Ahrefs and Answer The Public) to see how you can maximise these results.

CAPTION: Use a tool like Answer The Public to find trending long-tail search terms that can act as headlines.

  • Use as many eye-catching visuals as you can: Including screenshots that show your main points work well here, as do infographic (see what we did above?).
  • Write a killer, but concise, introduction: Don’t waffle – with bounce rates being a pain point for a lot of website owners, you’ll need to employ the elevator approach here.
  • Use a lead in your main points: If you’re a journalist or writer, you’ll know what this means. If you’re not, think of this as an overview your readers can use as an outline of the rest of the article.
  • Use the body of your article to cover all of your points, one by one: Cover them in detail and include elements like images and links to reinforce your messaging.
  • Include a short conclusion with a call to action at the end of your piece. Don’t get all academic here; keep it brief and straight to the point.
  • Ask your readers questions or invite engagement: This might mean asking for their opinion, comments or feedback.
  • Use formatting to make your piece skimmable: Remember that a majority of readers are time-poor and won’t read your article in its entirety, so give them visual guides to help them skim. This will ensure they still digest all of your most essential information while keeping bounce rates on the lower side. Think plenty of subheadings, dot points, structuring and clear paragraphing.

Research your topic and keywords

Learning how to write a blog in the modern era means also developing some good SEO hygiene while you’re at it. However, gone are the days where keywords were the sole focus of any content. These days, moving beyond this focus means you’ll adopt a more quality-orientated approach, rather than spamming technical elements that lower the value of your piece.

If we revert to Neil, you’ll notice he does include researched keywords, but what balances out his posts is that he still addresses a specific question through value-driven material. Every single bit of content he creates teaches readers how to solve their individual problems, or answers their burning questions – and that’s the overall aim.

So, how exactly do you come up with a topic that readers can relate to or feel interested in?

The first thing you need to do before you even think about putting your fingers to the keyboard is to figure out what question you’re answering from the get-go. This needs to be a question that your target audience commonly asks – not something that goes unheard of a majority of the time. Think carefully about whether you have a unique point of view on something or insights from the trenches. Can you offer a case study of success stories that your audience could reap the benefits of, or is there something you can bring to the table that they must know?

CAPTION: Google’s ‘People also ask’ feature is super helpful for understanding what the most commonly asked questions are for a certain topic.

This is where you’ll need to spend time researching. And we don’t mean a few minutes here and there before you start writing, but time sifting through the deep stuff to get the substance you need to make a brilliant piece of content. Start by:

  • Looking for competition on your topic; what other sites are writing about similar themes or questions, and how are they approaching it?
  • Recognise that you should offer something additional to an existing conversation. Don’t expect your audience to be interested in a rehashed piece of content; go beyond this by offering something your competitor didn’t – be it graphics, screenshots, handy links or an additional perspective.

Tip: Use a platform like SEMRush or Ahrefs to determine topics of interest that are pulling good SEO traction and social shares. Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is particularly helpful for this.

CAPTION: Use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer to identify influential topics.

3. Don’t forget about on-page SEO

While SEO shouldn’t be your sole focus, it’s still essential to keep it well at the front of your mind. It’s an integral part of remaining visible online, after all. This is essentially a whole other ballpark and topic for a standalone post, but we recommend engaging an SEO agency – like us – to solidify this process. In the end, tactics from your expert will translate into the content you (or they) are producing, so it needs to remain streamlined.

4. Pack your post full of images and visuals

Not everyone wants to read a big slab of text, and even this article could do with a whole lot more visuals. We live in an age where multimedia is paramount, so think carefully about all the ways you can make your article more attractive. Use:

  • Screenshots
  • Photography
  • Illustrations
  • Screenshots
  • Infographics
  • Banners
  • Embedded video content.

Remember you can also include content from other sources, so long as you pay them some attribution (you’re welcome, Neil).

5. Identify your competitors then make your goal to beat them

On any topic, you can bet there’s someone out there talking about it. In reality, you’ll never be the only one out there covering something, but you can be unique with your perspective. If there’s a lot of people providing commentary, this shouldn’t stop you from doing the same; in fact, it should motivate you – it’s a topic worth touching on if there’s so much interest.

An excellent way to tackle this is to assess your competitors content at a base level. Look at what they’ve done and then plan out how you can do it better. Dig further into the topic than they did, cover more sources, refute their points – be a better resource.

6. Optimise your site

There’s no point spending all the time in the world on amazing content if you don’t have an effective platform to showcase it on. Optimise your website to be mobile-friendly full of high-quality SEO. Ensure site speed and layout is at the very best they can be, and monitor these elements regularly.

Keeping all of those in good working order will ensure your SEO rankings are given the best shot at climbing.

7. Links, links, links

It’s important to have lots of links crossing over to other areas of your website, especially any target pages. In this blog, you’ll notice we’ve popped in a few to other relevant content or pages that strike relevancy. Don’t rely on plugins to do all of this internal linking for you – they’re dynamic, so they won’t be indexed as permanent ones.

Why do this? Mostly, internal linking does two things:

  1. It encourages people to stay on your website for longer by filtering them through to more exciting and relevant content;
  2. It shows Google how to find your content more smoothly and efficiently. For new material, this is especially important.

Tip: Don’t overdo it, though. No one likes content full of spammy links.

8. Create links through outreach

Okay, this one is a biggie. A huge amount of your rankings comes from the links that are pointing to your content. This is in terms of the actual content and the domain that’s pointing to it as a whole. You’ll want to build as many of these ‘healthy’ links as you can.

A good strategy for this is to create one big, meaty pillar post (like this one) with a lot of value packed into it. Then, pitch to other websites for guest posts on related topics and point back to your pillar post with relevant, embedded (in-text) links.

While not all guest posts are followed, Google favours a broader presence for your audience profile, and more mentions of your brand mean more value.

Take a breather: it’s almost time for part two

Deep breaths. That was a lot to take in. So much so that we still have plenty more to cover off, but we feel breaking it up into a second post will give you the space you need to start ticking off these first steps.

Use this as a checklist and a Bible. Follow each to a tee, and don’t be afraid to reassess where things may not go to plan. Define, refine and analyse the results. Then grab a cup of coffee and get ready to plunge into part two of this guide.

>> Stay tuned for part two of ‘How to write a blog post with killer rankings’ <<

Like this post? Spread the word by sharing with your friends, family and colleagues – or let us know how this guide helped you redefine your content efforts.

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