Having engaging, optimised articles on your blog brings so many benefits: positioning yourself as an authority in your area, building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website as a result of an increase in organic positioning are just a few examples.
However, with so much content online, it can be extremely hard to cut through the noise. If you want your articles to reach your target market, then read on, and discover exactly how you can write amazing SEO blog articles that not only engage your readers, but drive traffic to your site.
1. Know your audience
When writing blog articles for SEO, it’s important to bear in mind that it won’t perform well unless it contains information that your target market actually want to read.
We tend to fall victim to the ‘false consensus effect’, which is where we just assume that everyone thinks the same way we do. That tends to lead us to writing stuff that alienates people, as opposed to engaging them.
When creating your blog strategy, you should ensure that you have a variety of articles that target your brand’s various personas. Don’t start writing a blog post until you have a clear reader in mind, which you can define by asking yourself the following three questions:
- Who am I writing for? Not just the demographic, but the person’s role, expertise and commitment level. How much do they know about your company? You can use our free customer persona template to define your audience.
- Why am I writing it? Are you trying to educate people on a certain topic, position yourself as a thought leader, or increase leads?
- What will my reader get out of it? What are they going to take away from this post? Is it supposed to be entertaining, informative or inspirational? Why is your reader going to read this blog rather than any other piece of online content? If you’re in need of some topic inspiration for your SEO blog articles, find out more about how to come up with relevant content ideas; and discover which mistakes to avoid.
To really engage your audience, you need to understand what their needs and concerns are, so you can write an article that delivers something they will find valuable.
When writing your blog, avoid using complicated jargon. Instead, use words that are familiar to users. Using natural, conversational language makes it easier for people to read your blog, and you’re more likely to make a connection with your audience if you sound human – so don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your writing. Just make sure it follows the same tone of voice as the rest of your communications, in order to avoid any confusion.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing a blog post is over-complicating the language used. Plain language increases comprehension and helps to avoid confusion or misunderstandings, so you should be using it every time you write.
2. Make your title enticing
When readers find your post on Google’s organic search results, they’ll decide whether to click through and read it, based on your title.
While it’s crucial you include your most important keyword in the title, you also want to make sure it sounds enticing and engaging, so that people can’t help but click through and read it.
Google cuts off title tags that are over 65 characters, so if you’re writing blogs for SEO, try to keep your titles between 55-65 characters.
Whatever you do, avoid clickbait headlines. No-one likes misleading titles, least of all search engines. If readers click onto your page and see that the content is irrelevant, they’ll bounce back – and that will have a detrimental effect on your organic keyword rankings.
When it comes to crafting a title, use words like “how” and “why”, to show readers your post can teach them something. If you’re writing a list article, then include five or ten points – that makes the heading sound much snappier than the likes of four or seven.
The heading can be the hardest thing to write, so start with a working title, and write several options, before deciding on which one is the strongest once you’ve finished writing the article – ensuring there is a keyword in the title, and it reflects the content you’ve written.
3. Format your content in a way users can’t ignore
When writing blog articles for SEO, once you’ve grabbed your reader’s attention with your headline, you need to write a strong introduction to make them read on.
The approach you take will depend on your subject matter, but here are some techniques you can try:
- Ask a question that gets people thinking
- Create suspense by drip-feeding them information that will keep them reading
- Tell them what valuable information you’ll give them
- Share an emotional story – people love stories about other people
- Share a quote – this can be a clever way of summarising what you have to say and making an emotional connection
- Highlight a surprising statistic people will want to know more about
We all know that formatting is essential to making digital content easy to consume, but did you know you can totally manipulate a user’s entire experience with it? That includes time spent on page, comprehension, and user satisfaction.
There are four different ways people tend to read online – we call them reading patterns. The F-pattern is well-known as being the default pattern users fall into when there’s a wall of text. They focus quite heavily on the top and the left side of the page, sometimes re-reading this information again and again, while totally ignoring everything else.
But that’s not really what we want. We know that online readers are inherently scanners, wanting to take in as much information as they can in the least amount of time, and they just can’t do this when content isn’t formatted. Luckily, it’s easy to change.
As soon as you start to add key formatting to your blog post, like hyperlinks, sub-headings, or bolded keywords, users will start to quickly pull out specific pieces of information that are important to them. This is called the spotted pattern.
For extra long blog posts with several sub-headings, users may choose to quickly scan and choose the sections they particularly want to read. This is called the layer cake pattern.
Large blocks of text can instantly turn readers away, so when you’re writing a blog post, aim to write short paragraphs, with no more than three sentences at a time – no matter whether it’s an SEO blog article or guest post. Occasionally, you can write more if it makes sense to link all the information in a single paragraph, but you shouldn’t usually need to.
Use H2s and H3s to break up the text on the page and summarise what each section is about, and keep your sentences short. Rambling long sentences that don’t get to the point are a turn-off. A good rule of thumb is to keep sentences to no more than about 25 words. Any more and you’ll make it hard for readers to follow what you are saying.
4. SEO optimisation is key
While you need to ensure content is engaging to the reader, if you don’t optimise it for SEO, then it won’t ever be found organically.
Stuffing lots of keywords into your copy will only get you noticed by search engines for all the wrong reasons. They will see it as an attempt to dupe them into showing your content. The number one rule is to write naturally and not to force keywords into your content.
As a general rule, 1% of your copy should be taken up with keywords. So, if you’re writing a 1,000-word article, then your body copy should contain approximately 10 keywords.
However, it’s not just the body copy where you can naturally incorporate keywords. Don’t forget to add them into your title tag, H1s, H2s, image description and alt text. When you internally link through to your new blog, incorporate a keyword in the anchor text.
We touched on this point above, but it’s important to stress because so many people forget about images.
Images are great to break up the copy and help bring a post to life. Make sure you compress your image before uploading it, so you don’t slow down page speed.
Remember to optimise the image title and alt text. All too often, I’ll see an image on a website, and notice the title is “blog-post-image-1”. That’s not what you want. If you’re writing an article about how the fashion industry is breaking the rules of social media marketing, and you include an image of a phone open on Instagram, make the image title “social media marketing”. Not only does it describe what the image shows, it incorporates one of the main keywords that post is targeting.
When you’re writing a blog post, you want to encourage a journey amongst your readers. Do you have any useful blog posts you could point them to, where they can find out more information about a certain topic?
You may also be able to link through to specific product or service pages if relevant, too.
For all relevant blog articles that you’ve linked through to, include a link back to your new blog (using keyword-rich anchor text, as mentioned before).
5. Consider what you want the user to do next
The ending of a blog should never be an actual ending. The last thing you want is for people to finish reading your blog and then drop off your site completely – especially considering if a reader has reached the end of your post, then they must have liked it!
You’ve already added in links to other relevant blog articles throughout your article, but signpost a link back to the contact us page, or offer them to sign up to your newsletter, or download a PDF.
You might also want to build a deeper connection by inviting them to leave a comment or share your post on social media.
Just make sure that every single blog you write ends on a strong call to action, that leads readers to the next step you want them to take.
Once you’ve created your content strategy and written a few blog articles, the SEO template should be easy to recreate again and again.