We work on a lot of blog posts at The Muses Digital — they are a great way to generate internal and inbound links to your site, raise the profile of your target pages by providing a spotlight for them, and keep users on your site for longer sessions. Optimizing the structure and copy of your blog posts is essential to attain organic visibility and raise your rank on search engines, and ultimately increase organic traffic.
A good blog post should answer a common query or provide a unique insight in a way that’s clear, concise, accessible, and easy to understand and digest for the typical user. But it doesn’t matter how well-written or insightful your content is if it isn’t visible to your target audience.
There are many pathways you can take to work toward how to optimize a blog post that will generate organic traffic to your website — from essential copywriting tips to nuanced technical SEO strategies. Below, review some of the steps we take for our clients to produce optimized blog content that ranks.
The Best Tools for Keyword Research
Whether you’re trying to find out how to write an optimized blog post or how to optimize blog posts you already have on your site, it (still) starts with the right keyword research.
SEO prognosticators might be saying keywords don’t matter anymore — but even if they aren’t as important, keyword research is still the place to start to create content that ranks organically. After all, no one is going to read your post if you don’t put it where people are looking.
Luckily, there are some useful tools to help you find the right keywords to target for your post and decide how to come up with blog content strategy.
Keyword Gap Analysis
Use a keyword gap analysis to find keywords that your competitors rank for but you don’t. List your competitors to find “Missing” keywords — the ones they all rank for but you don’t — and “Opportunities” — keywords that some of your competitors rank for (but not all of them).
This can help you find topics for blog posts that answer queries your competitors have covered but you don’t, exposing potential traffic to your site that you’re currently missing out on.
Keyword Magic Tool for Long-Tail Keywords and Questions
You can round out your keyword research on Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to make sure you haven’t left any potentially rich long-tail keywords on the table. This is a great way to make sure your keyword research isn’t too dialed-in or focused on a specific target while ignoring another similar variation that might not be far off.
Another great use-case for the Keyword Magic Tool is the Questions feature since it can give you a glimpse into the exact questions your blog post should be answering. You can use these questions verbatim in your headers or code them into the page using FAQ schema.
Take Advantage of FAQ Schema
People Also Ask snippets are a great way to raise visibility, even when your page doesn’t organically rank very high — and if it does, you can even rank twice on the same results page.
Keep an eye on the questions in Google’s People Also Ask snippet for the keyword you’re targeting. Do you think you can provide a better answer for those questions than the ones Google is currently serving? If so, that’s a great opportunity for your new blog post.
Be sure to directly answer those questions in your post. You can do this by directly answering them in a Q&A format, through an FAQ section, or simply by coding the question and answer into the page with FAQ schema — just be sure the answer in your schema is taken directly from the content of your post and that it clearly and concisely answers the question.
Providing better answers to common questions than anyone else is one of the keys of how to optimize blog posts for SEO. Add FAQ schema to give your content the best chance of showing up in snippets like People Also Ask (and possibly get you two links on Page One!) as well as rich organic results containing FAQs or Featured Snippets.
Use Keywords in Structured Text and Corresponding Copy
Secondary keywords might not be as important, but you should try to include your primary keyword targets in structured text, like title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and other essential HTML tags for SEO.
Remember to only use one H1 tag on your page that clearly explains what the page is about. Ideally, the H1 tag and the permalink for the page should both contain the primary keyword.
Question-and-answer-style formatting is always helpful — even if you aren’t directly asking questions and then answering them, it can be useful to repeat or paraphrase your headers in your text, using your primary keyword. This presents the text as though it is a question answering that query — exactly what Google is trying to do when people search for it.
Just think “use the phrasing of the question in your answer,” except the question is the header and the answer is the text underneath it.
Spotlight Your Post With Internal Links
Internal links are a great way to raise visibility to your blog post — specifically, the links pointing to that post from other pages on your site.
Your new post should return the favor, of course, by linking to other pages internally where appropriate, but it’s the links pointing to your post (not the ones on that post) that will give it a boost.
This means you should look for a few other posts on your site where you can work in an internal link pointing to your new post. That will also provide the side-benefit of giving you an opportunity to refresh some other content you might not have looked at for a while, so it doesn’t go stale.
Use the keywords for your blog post in the internal links pointing to it on other pages. This is just one small way to send a message to bots crawling your site that you think that page is the best place to find an answer to queries containing that word or phrase.
Though not as valuable as an inbound link from another domain (depending on the domain), these inbound links are small “endorsements” for your post — and every vote counts. You should still look to build inbound links to your post, but the internal links are completely under your control, so it’s an easy win.
Permalink Parent-Child Structure
Once your page has some visibility, you can boost that even further by adding a few “child” pages on subtopics or deeper dives into something mentioned in your post. Use a parent-child URL structure, like /main-blog/child-page/ so search engines know these pages are elaborating on something related to the main post.
These pages are not only another opportunity to work valuable internal links into your main post, but also a great way to target longtail keywords and related questions your post might not completely cover. Read your post and ask yourself, “What’s the next thing I want to know after reading this?” Then, answer that question in a “child” post.
Build Links With Graphics
Creating a robust internal-linking profile is great, but generating quality inbound links from external domains is what will really get your post some organic visibility. One good way to do this is through unique infographics or media.
Even if your post is well-written and full of great insights, many other people might be making similar points or covering similar topics — so why should anyone link to your post specifically?
Creating fun and engaging graphics that help to illustrate your point can set you apart from your competition when it comes to link building. Instead of asking someone for a link, you can offer them a graphic that no one else has in exchange for a credit with a link back to your post.
If your post incorporates videos or interactive graphics, it’s a best practice to create a separate “child” page containing that piece of content and nothing else other than a title and description, so that it can be shared on its own. You can also use this page to link back to the post containing the media.
Write for Your Audience
Other tips aside, always be sure to write in a tone of voice that resonates with your brand. It’s great to work in keywords, questions, and internal links, but if your tone is off, users will notice — and search engines could too.
According to Harvard Business Review, customers who bond with your brand are 50% more valuable than even other highly satisfied customers. Put more simply, branding is more important than visibility (but both still matter).
Technical aspects aside, the quality of your content can be good for SEO on its own. Good, authentic content that effectively answers a query and provides a quality user experience makes for longer sessions on your site and higher click-through rates and conversions.
As we said before, it doesn’t matter what you say if no one hears it. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how many people you reach if they don’t think your brand is authentic. It’s crucial to let the SEO support the content and not the other way around. Always write for your audience.
Include a Call to Action
Finally, the last step in how to optimize a blog post is to challenge your reader to take action in some way, whether it be converting a sale, submitting a form, exploring the topic further, or reading more about your organization.
Always reward the user with a follow-up. They came this far in interacting with your content — so, what’s next?