How to optimize blog posts for SEO

By Lucy Barfoot | Behaviour & Marketing Psychology

Jan 06
How to optimize blog posts for SEO

Should you tweak your old blogs for SEO?

Why does tweaking your blogs for SEO matter?

I have a prediction: 

You’ve got a blog. You either very rarely or never tweak your blog content. 

All of your scheduled blog content time is focussed on creating new content for your blog.

It’s rare for you to read over your past posts, let alone edit them. You don’t even realise that a link you shared isn’t working. That a reference to something cool is out of date, that a reference to the economic climate is no longer true… 

Well I’m here to encourage you to start systematically optimising your blog posts. 

But I can hear your question from here - 

Shouting ‘Why should I optimise my blog posts?’from the rooftops

Why should I optimise my blog posts for SEO?

Google absolutely loves it when you update a piece of content. By tweaking your blog posts, you're being active. You’re keeping the content alive. Google notices, and rewards you for it by sending more search hits your way. 

They call it the ‘Fresh Factor’ and it’s illustrated pretty nicely in this illustration from Moz:

So my number one reason to optimise your blog posts for SEO is that it satisfies Google’s need for fresh content. Demonstrating that your content is fresh

Tweaking blogs also makes them more accurate and useful. You’re cleaning it up, leading to your time on page being longer because people may be kept engaged for a longer time period. They may go on to read more of your blogs. They may sign up for something because your content is just so damn hot and you’re showing yourself as a trusted voice.

In a nutshell, keeping an eye on the performance of your blogs and tweaking them should be a priority for content creators. Having SEO optimised content on your website is a powerful thing. 

Thumbs up for SEO optimised content

Benefits of improving your content marketing by optimising your content for SEO

There’s something to be said for having a bit of an audit. I liken it to ‘Spring cleaning’. It’s hard to get started, you put it off and off, but when it’s done, it’s a satisfying relief, and the clean feeling of having invested your time into something with a bit payoff (clean house! Fresh blog!) feels so damn good. 

By having a blog audit and optimising your posts, some secondary benefits are that you feel more inclined to share your old blog posts... 

On socials: 

I love using Smarterqueue to schedule ‘evergreen content’ like our Ninja blog posts. I wanted to jazz up our ‘blog-sharing images’, to use on the socials, so I did. I also switched up the copy we use alongside the link to the blog post. The benefits being that our social presence has some content which feels new and exciting, and we’re encouraging more people to consume our content. By doing this I also found that we were sharing a couple of posts which were out of date, and swiftly removed them from being posted to socials again. 

In your welcome campaign:

The campaign you use to onboarding your signups is a great place to share some of your best content, pieces which help your leads to get a feel for who you are and the knowledge you have in your industry. 

If you’re not sure what a welcome campaign is, take a little read of this blog post of mine: What Should Every Welcome or Indoctrination Email Series Contain? 

During sales campaigns: I sometimes like including a link back to a piece of content. It builds trust and allows your audience to educate themselves,(plus that content could include CTA’s which drive sales / more engagement. It’s win win!) 

 In Your Newsletter: This is a fabulous place to encourage content consumption. Rounding up and sharing old blog posts in your newsletter is a no-brainer. We find that using the line ‘Did you miss this…’ works well here.

Spring Cleaning

Book in some time for your blog spring cleaning time today. I’ll walk you through how to do it, but you’ve got to set aside the time. 

How to increase blog traffic by optimising your blog posts

I’ve put together a SEO list for you. Following my steps will help you to continually driving traffic to your blog. Yes, it may feel like a bit of a slog. A blog slog. But it’s going to make a real difference to your site traffic. 

Blog optimisation checklist

I've made this list into a handy little .PDF for you, so do read on to get the detail on how to do each task, and grab your simple checklist to work through when you're optimising.  

If you’re a business owner and you need just one more nudge of encouragement, you’ll love this next line… 

Following my steps will help you to get the biggest return on investment possible on your content. 

Let’s begin. ROI awaits. 

Blog SEO Optimisation Checklist

1. Take a screenshot of the blog post as it stands

I recommend using Fireshot - it’s a handy little Chrome extension which can be used to screenshot whole website pages. This is to help you document the process.

2. Create a document of the original blog content

You'll use this to make your edits

3. Track the current metrics of the blog post

Use Google Analytics to track all time page views, bounce, goals and average session length. 

4. Read the post - ask yourself: ‘What is the purpose of this article? What is the reader getting? Is the main problem(s) solved’

Try to put your impartial hat on and really see if you can clearly answer those questions. If you’re not sure, you’ve got some editing to do! 

5. Is it easy to scan read?

Where are the paragraphs too chunky? Breaking up text makes the content visually easy to scan read. 

6. Search for the main keyword in Google. Ideally take a look at 1st & 2nd page on Google to see what's performing well, and what the searchers/readers are seeing.

What content are you up against? Is your post the best on the internet today? What is going to make it the best? What content are other people writing on the specific topic? What could you take from that? Ie. Noticing that people are not using case studies > you use one! People rarely include statistics or infographics > you include them.

7. Use of keywords. Are you including a top 3 of keyword phrases in your post? Is it clear what the main keyword is? Research and add them

If you're using the keyword 'lasagne', does the post use longer-tail relevant keyword phrases like 'how to make a lasagne' or 'lasagne recipes' too? (I’m hungry, can you tell?) Mangools is a great tool to see relevant keyword phrases for your main keyword so you know the best performing ones to use.

You need to make sure that there is is search volume for your blog topic. Be prepared to change your keyword. We recently did this with one of our blogs - we had to switch our keyword from ‘lead nurture’ to ‘lead engagement’ because it had a lot more search volume, and Mangools showed us that it was an easier keyword to rank for. 

Beware of overuse - are you overusing the keyword/keyword phrases, or are you naturally using the keyword? Google knows everything so watch out, keyword stuffing will not work in your favour. Here’s an article which talks more about the dangers of keyword stuffing. 

8. Research and add related keywords

Making sure related keywords are included throughout your blog means you can rank for both (and less repetitive too!) ie. if you are using the keyword 'ecommerce', 'online shop' is a related keyword which should perform well too. We like to use Mangools for this.

9. Add those related keywords to a SERP watcher

Add related keywords to your SERP (search engine results pages) watcher to see how you're ranking for them.

10. Header image optimisation

check on the size, style and branding of your header image. Make any edits necessary. Switch up the art work if you feel it’s time for a refresh. 

11. Check that the title (name of the blog post’s page) is SEO friendly. and that the blog posts’ title is too

12. Ask yourself - is it really clear? Is it something which is enticing to read?

13. Is the URL the best it can be? Consider changing using 301 redirect

If the blog post is using the auto URL post string, I recommend that you cut out any unnecessary words from it. Ideally the post URL will be just using the keyword / keyword phrase, not the whole long post title. Your aim here is to keep the post URL really relevant. 

If your blog post is already live, 301 redirects can be used to change post name, to prevent the previous URL from breaking. I recommend reading up on this in a bit more detail before actioning. Take a look at this blog post from Hubspot: What is a 301 Redirect, and When Should You Use One? 

14. Are you using subheadings within the copy?

Important! sometimes blogs can rank really well from just the subheadings. (Ninja tip - be sure to format the text as a preformatted heading - ie. select ‘H1 / H2’ from the formatting options, rather than just making the text size bigger. This enables Google to see what your actual subheadings are.)

Get your keywords /related keywords into the subtitles. Use them in different types of sentences so Google thinks you're really covering the topic in a multi faceted way and knows your SEO optimised content is hot stuff. 

15. Optimise the introduction structure

The first sentence is an important place to try to place the keyword/keyword phrase - if possible and feeling natural to do so. Your intro should have empathy, should disarm, add credibility, and identify the problem your post solves.

16. Meta descriptions optimised

Meta descriptions are the bit of text you have control over, the sneak peak into the content of your post which people will see when you come up in a search. These are auto-generated, but you can edit them, and you should. They should entice people to read the content. See these lasagne (yum)   examples… which is most enticing?

Here are my thoughts - 

Number 1: tells me it’s easy and delicious, and yes I’m not sure what to cook for dinner, so it’s answering my question

Number 2: straight into the recipe, but looks a bit clunky with the text in brackets and I don’t like the ‘don’t cook it first’ warning. 

Number 3: Short and sweet. 

Number 4: My winner. I know how delicious lasagne is, I want to find a good recipe, and this one is hinting to me that it knows what it’s talking about. I’m enticed into clicking because I kind of trust them already. 

Does your SEO optimising plugin/tool have any suggestions of how your post can be improved?

Our favourite is Yoast, which is considered the #1 plugin for WordPress SEO optimising … and it’s free. I suggest that you take a look at the suggestions your SEO tool gives and action where appropriate.

Add related content links for SEO

Link to both to your own content and external links. Make sure any stats/sources are linked. (but not too many we don't want to direct too much traffic away from site!) Don't just add in your own related content at the end, but include it throughout the post. Make sure what you're linking to is good enough! 

Ask yourself what other future posts of yours could truly help your reader?

This is where we’re getting into some brainstorming now… Think of what the next content the reader would want to consume. The next question they'll have popping into their head. ie. your post might be about 'Why x is really important' . The next could be 'how to x". You want to be there answering the next question. Add any ideas your content plan and write them next. Remember to go back to your original article and link to the next piece in their line of questioning. 

Possibilities of SEO collaboration

What quotes, external links, testimonials or recommendations could you bring in? Ask others for their involvement, it breaks up your content and making more interesting. Bonus - that source will be likely to share your content too

Check images, tags and captions are SEO optimised

All images should all have the blog title within them. Google can sometimes show your post as the top image result. We want this! When adding captions, make them bespoke - and try to truly describe the image as best you can. This is not only good for SEO, but it’s a must for the visually impared and helpful for those with low internet speeds. Even if you’re including a GIF of someone looking frustrated - the caption could be 'Small ecommerce business owner wants to know how to onboard their customers' 

Add in more and better images for SEO

Ask yourself - what's missing? Are their opportunities to add a diagram or infographic in? To add humour with a .GIF? 

Optimise your conclusion

Does the article end well and solve the problem? Your conclusion should tell them what you've just told them! Recap the most important points.

A final review

Sense check time. Re-read your optimised blog. What is the main objective of the article? Is it achieved?

Is the call to action clear and relevant?

Does the CTA fit the content? Is the CTA just at the end? Include it nearer the top of the article too. Check on the wording and the look of the CTA - eg is the button in your branded colours? 

Take a note of what changes were made.

Did you annotate your document? Take an ‘after’ screenshot for your records.

Set a monthly date to track metrics

METRICS ARE SO IMPORTANT! We recommend monthly, but even just quarterly would be great (and way better than nothing!) Keeping an eye on the blog’s performance is (hopefully!) motivating...

While you’re there, set a date or 6 months in the future to open up the blog post again and give it a little freshen - remember that Google loves it when you tweak blog posts. The main thing for this is to add new and relevant content links which are a good fit for your reader to read next.

Phew, that was a long list. I hope you found it useful and I hope you find those steps simple. Grab your free checklist download by clicking the button above and please do get in touch if you’re stuck on any of there points, I’m here to help you optimise! 

Time is short, there’s a million things to do in a small business  

As the old saying goes, work smarter, not harder. Optimising your content for SEO is an amazing way to get the most out of the precious time you spend creating content. There is ROI hidden in your blogs, it just needs a system behind it. 

Did you make that date to have your spring clean?

Ooo this is cool - now I’ve created this checklist of sorts, It’s clear to me that we can be providing blog optimisation for SEO as a service to our new clients - either by giving them support in optimising their own blogs or selling a service where we do it for them. 

That’s something I’m going to go and create! And I’ll be sure to update this blog with a link to that service when it’s up and running. Blog optimisation in action! 

Optimisation fist bump

Go forth and optimise!

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