19 Things to Help Your Blog Post Rank Higher in Search
There is a hard truth in digital marketing: if your blog article doesn’t make it on the first page of search results for your prospects, they won’t see it.
The issue grows even more acute. The #1 organic result is ten times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in the #10 spot.
How are your blog articles ranking?
Before You Write
1. Do You Remember the Paradox?
You want a human being to read your post. However, before human eyes see a pixel, a computer will scan it. Don’t forsake your real audience for the bots.
2. What is Your Audience’s Search Intent?
Google is paying more attention to what the user is really looking for and delivering results tailored to that understanding. You need to move with nuance rather than trying to trick the system.
3. What Keywords are You Targeting with this Article?
Keyword research is an industry in and of itself. If you want to go deep, download our Complete SEO Guide. Develop your own list of keywords and track how you rank for each one. In the meantime, here’s a streamlined version of the process:
- Type your tentative headline into Google
- Do similar queries show up in the results?
- If they don’t, scroll to the bottom of the page and look through the “Related Searches”
Another quick tool to help is the free website UberSuggest. When you search for a term or phrase on UberSuggest, you can see search volume, pages that rank highly on Google, and other content ideas. Also consider searching your topic on “ Answer the Public.”
4. What Do You Want Your Visitor to Do After Reading Your Article?
Your call to action matters to Google. Are you taking your visitors deeper to better answer their questions? Are there other articles they should read, resources they should download, is it time for a demo, or do they need to hop on a Zoom with a representative?
While You Write
5. Have You Written at Least 1,000 Words On Your Topic?
If you balked at that number, have I got a shock for you. Databox says to write at least 1,500 to be taken seriously. HubSpot recommends 2,100-2,400 words. Yoast agrees at 1,000 – 2,500 words with longer articles about the topics you care most about.
If you can’t write enough rich content on your topic to exceed 1,000 words, you may need to go back to your outline or write a broader article. Search your topic on Google and look at the “Related Searches.” Can you add one or two of those topics to your blog post?
Also, don’t forsake editing. A well-edited piece at 1,200 words is worth more than the same article at 1,900. You want your reader to stay engaged, be challenged, and perhaps even a little entertained.
Google rewards long-form content because it typically answers the users’ questions better.
Tip: Use your core keyword phrase in the first sentence of your article.
6. Can You Frame Your Headers (H2s) in the Form of Question?
Google’s current algorithm favors a simple question-and-answer format. If you ask questions in your headers and then answer them in the text that follows, you will find favor with the bots. Furthermore, listicles still win. If your headline asks a question and the H2s provide answers, you could land your article in the featured snippet slot on results. That’s the first position with a larger type size and more text before the link.
7. Have You Linked Internally to Other Pieces of Related Content?
Google is crawling your site to see if you are a reputable source. By linking to other articles or pages on your site that also address the questions or topics discussed, you increase your reputation. Google doesn’t consider you a reputable source for information about a topic until you have at least three pieces of content on your site. Shoot for at least three internal links but include as many as are relevant.
If you don’t have other pieces of related content on your site, you might want to wait to publish the article. Google will consider the “one-off” as an orphan and your rankings will suffer.
8. Have You Added Outbound Links to Other Reputable Sites?
Where did you find answers when conducting your own research? What current and relevant statistics have you referenced in your article? These websites are worthy of being linked to because Google looks favorably on websites that provide deeper information. You are building a trusted website.
Make sure to program these links to open in a new tab or window so that your visitor will stay on your website longer.
9. Did You Confirm that All Your Outbound Links have Good Anchor Text?
Gone are the days of saying “click here to…” Links to internal and external destinations can show up naturally in line as I have done throughout this article.
10. Have You Broken Your Paragraphs into Shorter Segments?
Google prefers shorter paragraphs — no more than three sentences long. Users can scan your text more easily when shorter.
If your visitors access on mobile, they will have a much richer user experience. The number of mobile users for B2B has risen. 80% of B2B buyers use their mobile devices at some point in the purchase process.
After You Write
11. Does Your Title Contain 60-70 Characters?
Write your title to the point and, if possible, include your keyword phrase. Questions work well as do including numbers in your title.
Extra Credit: Add your company name to the end of your title. For example:
It’s 63 characters including spaces and helps whisper your brand to your reader.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer can help you sharpen your title. Take their suggestions with a grain of salt but make your final decision on what sounds good for your audience. Their program doesn’t know your audience.
Tip: If you use a number in your title, odd numbers work better than even ones.
12. Does Your Meta Description Invite Your Reader In?
The meta description shows up after your title in search results.
You have a maximum of 160 characters to communicate the intent of your article, include your keyword phrase, and entice your potential reader with an intriguing hook. After the article, this is the most important writing you’ll do.
Golden Spiral SEO Specialist Allison Taylor, who was instrumental in formulating this article, likes meta descriptions that ask a question or use a curious statement. For example, our article “ Build a Winning Marketing Content Calendar for Your HealthTech Company” has this 156-character meta description:
Content published regularly & optimized for search turbocharges your lead gen. Find out the 5 Ls of a winning calendar. Most HealthTech companies forget #4.
13. Does Your Featured Image Support Both the Topic and Your Brand’s Visual Identity?
Every article should have a featured image if for no other reason than those with images receive 94% more views than those without. This image is the book cover for your content.
Your featured image should reflect your brand and point to the core of the content for the article. Make sure to use appropriate alt text when adding it to your site. (See #14 below.)
14. Have You Curated Appropriate Images for the Body of Your Article?
Don’t throw in images for the sake of doing so. Stock photography can detract from the quality of your writing. Corey Florindi, Content Strategist at Newfangled, believes that images should “do work.” For example, a screenshot of the user interface of your software can help the reader understand your how-to article on getting the most out of that feature. Charts and graphs of statistics visually express your point and the importance of the trends you’re highlighting.
Use one image for roughly every 400 words. Every image should hold up the standards of your visual identity and have appropriate alt text programmed in.
Tip: The file names for your images should include your core keyword phrase. If the title to your article includes it, as it should, use a truncated title as part of your image title.
For example, the file name for the featured image for this article is:
15. Are You Creating Excellent Alt Text for Your Images?
Every image you include in your article, including the featured image, should have Alt Text assigned to it. Originally a feature for the visually impaired using a screen reader, Alt Text has also become a factor in ranking on Google Images. Alt Text can help your articles in their overall ranking.
Don’t overthink your copy here or get too wordy. Remember the end user. Briefly describe the actual image and include the title of your article (which should include your keyword phrase). For example:
The alt text reads “young woman with backpack searching her phone while walking down a sidewalk past three stylized graphics representing calls to action – The “Bump, Set, Spike” Approach to Great B2B Calls to Action that Convert”
16. Can You Add Any More Keywords without Overdoing It?
Keyword stuffing is a poor practice, but on the other hand, we sometimes miss opportunities to deploy keywords. Have your editor look for phrases that could be slightly altered to use keywords from your overall keyword list.
Before You Publish
17. Have You Optimized Your Permalink?
The permalink, or URL to your article, doesn’t carry much SEO weight, but it can help your user’s experience. Remove any extraneous “stop” words, such as direct/indirect articles, conjunctions, and prepositions, and keep your URL as straightforward as possible. The permalink for this article is:
18. Have You Added Your New Article’s Link to Other Related Blog Posts on Your Site?
In #6, we talked about linking from the new article to other articles on the same topic. You also need to do the reverse now that your article is ready to be published. Go into the backend of your site and add links from the other articles to the new article. This mutual linking helps Google see that the articles are related and that you have authority on the topic.
19. What Do You Do After You Publish Your Article?
Before you promote your post through all of your social channels and email marketing, submit your article to Google Search Console. Once logged in, click URL Inspection and paste your new permalink into the search window at the top of the screen. You’ll be given the option to submit the article to Google. Wait until Google tells you that the article is queued for review before clicking away from the page.
Sure, your article will be crawled eventually, but why not go ahead and get in line?