SEOwning your blog posts
We share tips to ensure your content is easily found by search engines like Google
By Stephen Fiedler Posted on 19 November 2015
Marketers often declare “Content is king”, but what do they mean by that? Content is everywhere – it’s in our books, on TV, and online; it’s what occupies our attention and directs our interests. When we have a question, content determines the answer.
Content might be “king”, but the fact of the matter is that there’s just too much of it out there. Simply “Google” one keyword and you’ll find millions of page results – that’s a lifetime of reading. Anyone, and everyone, with a web presence can create content, yet everyone wants to be at the top of the search results. Good SEO (search engine optimization) is about making it easier and quicker for people to find answers in the form of content; your job is to anticipate what questions they’ll ask to get there.
This article first appeared on SciTech Connect – our blog for science and technology book authors, resources and news.
Context marketing vs. content marketing
Those with high search engine rankings get there not only because their content is good, but also because they have framed their content in the right context. Search engines have developed their algorithms to detect more than just meta tags. Keywords, topics, and subjects require meaning for a successful online search query; the writer must provide the right context to their content in addition to basic writing techniques like keyword choice and content layout. Featured further down in the article is a list of suggested context marketing techniques.
Human interaction and usability
While the exact intricacies of Google crawler and SEO rankings is a mystery to all of us, one thing is clear: Google’s search algorithm is getting better at understanding what we, as humans, are looking for in our online searches.
With the Hummingbird release, Google made an active choice to leave metadata and tags in the dust. Rather than focusing solely on specific keywords, they began looking for the context behind the words and content. Time to throw out “keyword stuffing,” a popular SEO method used five years ago – otherwise known as throwing a ton of keywords in blog posts with the hope of attracting as many people as possible.
What drives SEO now? Tips on properly structuring your blog post
Catering to their users' needs, Google set in motion a smarter, “precise and fast” search engine that approaches searches from the intended user’s meaning. When writing your blog posts and developing content, keep in mind the significance of what you say and how it relates to a Googler’s query. Actionable words, including the big “editorial Ws” (who, what, when, where, and the most important of all, why) are good places to start.
Take for example, the following use of this tactic in a recent blog post: “Colin Walls attends the annual Embedded World Conference in Nuremberg, Germany, February 24th-26th to present a session on ‘How to Measure RTOS Performance Self-testing in Embedded Systems'."
This opener tactfully uses the “editorial Ws” to capture audiences searching for information on a variety of topics that relate to Embedded Systems.
From there, frame your blog post content within larger topics that are either relevant to your communities or trending in popularity.
A good metaphor for this writing technique is the game show Jeopardy: Alex Trebek first reads a bit of content as an answer. The contestant’s job is to quickly, and accurately, read back the relationship to the answer in the form of a question.
In-article optimization: Readability and structure enhances article context
Regardless of the topic, a writer’s goal should always be to provide value and quality. Many fall short in this area, not fully understanding how to create a solid structure that allows for natural progression and readability in posts. Writing should flow naturally from one thought into another, and the structure of blog posts should take on natural characteristics.
- Title and header – These are the “hooks” that draw the user in, providing valuable keywords that relate to the topic, but don't give everything away. Keep these short to ensure that the viewer is intrigued. Six to 12 words (not including stop words) per title is an ideal target.
- Body section and table of contents – Think of a blog post or article as a mini-book, with compartmentalized, sectioned-out thoughts, ideas, and paragraphs. Use headings and bolded sections that act as a table of contents for readers, directing them to the juicy bits of information within your article. Web crawlers know this, and will weight pages with sectional hierarchies (especially those using keywords) for improved search rankings.
- Keywords and description tags – Search engines no longer index metadata and keyword tags, so there’s no need to worry about keyword or metadata “stuffing”. Three to five relevant keywords is sufficient for a blog post, along with one key description tag that describes the whole article. This helps to better index articles on a website, which makes web crawlers more likely to find them.
- Images – Humans are visually focused by nature, and the Internet caters to websites with rich imagery and eye-catching photos. Social media is even more image-centric. If a picture is worth a thousand words, and the average user chooses to read or not read an article within three seconds, using something that will grab the reader's attention is a must. Include images from your books or from the web. Writers can even do a quick Google search for common license images that are free and OK to use for blog postings.
Less is more…especially when linking
The traditional school of thought regarding linking and crosslinking is simple; more inbound and outbound links mean more connections, more potential for traffic, and ultimately, better search rankings and results. But not all links are created equal, and with Google now focusing on context and speed, sometimes limiting links to only relevant, specific links is the best way to go.
After all, it’s about keeping readers on the page unless the link is intended to send them to more information about a book, website, or social presence. Make it simple by highlighting the important links that fulfill one of three objectives:
- They provide more information about the author, their work, and their publications
- They link to online areas where the author has a community presence (blog, website, and social media profiles)
- They link to organizations, institutions, or partnerships that add value to the audience
Search engines have shifted away from link-rich websites, and are again placing weight and value on websites that are easier to navigate, and those that quickly deliver the content users want. Some sites are even downgraded due to “death by a thousand links”.