Just as having a social media presence is now a non-negotiable when it comes to running a business, maintaining an updated blog is also an essential element for any successful marketing strategy. Having a blog on your website not only helps to create brand awareness and prove your expertise but consistently updating your blog with new content will also drive traffic to your website by boosting SEO quality.
It is clear that blogging, like social media, is non-negotiable. However, not all blogs are created equal. While there isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to crafting a successful blog, there are several best practices to follow that will help turn your content writing from good to great (aka one that both your audience and Google will like).
Although you may have a lot to say and topics you feel passionate about, writer’s block can hit at the worst times. Look to the following for ideas and inspiration:
The importance of crafting an engaging blog title cannot be overstated. The title of your blog is the first thing readers will see when looking through your web page or Google search results. Titles are your reader’s first impression of your blog, so they need to be intriguing and they need to tell readers what to expect.
Here are 5 tips for creating a blog title that will peek your audience’s interest:
Besides crafting a title that’s intriguing and informative, you also need to ensure that your title is keyword savvy. Being keyword savvy means including a keyword or phrase in your title while still keeping it interesting (you want to strike a balance of peeking human interest while still optimizing for SEO). By including keywords in your title, you are increasing the chances of your target audience clicking on it, thus creating a high organic click-through rate. Having a high click-through rate is important because it tells the search engine that your content is relevant, and will therefore improve your blog post’s overall rankings. When deciding which key words or phrases to use in your title, ask yourself: “What is my post about?” and, “What will my target audience be searching for?”
If you have trouble brainstorming blog titles, check out a headline generator and analysis tools. There are plenty of them with free options online via CoSchedule and Content Row.
While quality over quantity should always be followed when writing a blog, longer posts not only provide your readers with more information and useful content, they also improve SEO performance.
According to Hubspot, the ideal blog length for SEO is between 2,100-2,400 words. We suggest writing blogs that are at least 1500+ words, although shorter blogs can help in other ways, such as staying consistent with a posting schedule, or providing supplemental content for some of your longer pillar pieces.
Longer content allows you to use keywords appropriately and naturally, which improves readability and increases SEO. Longer blogs provide more content types for search engines to index on, such as headlines, page titles, images, alt tags, and metadata. Longer content allows you to be more comprehensive and to really demonstrate that you’re an expert on the topic. A blog that is more comprehensive tends to correlate with a blog that is more useful, which equals longer time spent on the page. This is called “dwell time,” and Google boosts the ranking of pages with a longer dwell time because it views them as providing value.
As stated above, the first thing to keep in mind when writing a blog should always be quality. You want to ensure that the content you are providing is easy for your readers to digest, provides them with the information they are looking for, and holds their attention. Some of Yoast’s tips for writing a high-quality, high-word-count post include: focusing on writing short and concise paragraphs, sticking to simple language, and avoiding the passive voice.
One of the best ways to ensure that your blog post is engaging for readers is to use section headers. Section headers break up your text into easily digestible parts and help guide the reader through your article. By breaking up your text, section headers also create more whitespace, which will make the post more visually appealing (which in turn will make it easier to read).
Headings should be used to highlight which parts of your post are the most important and to signal to the reader what the following paragraph will be about. The number of section headers will vary depending on your content and length, but we suggest anywhere from 5-7 for a 1,500+ word blog.
When structuring your headers, you’ll have different options such as H1, H2, H3 etc. H1 should only be used once in your blog and should be applied to the title. H2 should be used for the subsections of your blog--according to Yoast, you can think of H2 subheadings like chapters of a book. If you need to go deeper into the content, you can then apply H3 headings to break it up even more. It’s rare to need to use anything beyond H3 headings, as using too many could actually accomplish the opposite of your goal and make the text more confusing.
Another great way to break up your text so that it is more digestible and visually pleasing is to use lists. Lists can be used to highlight important parts of your content that don’t need full paragraphs. There are different styles of lists, but the two most common are bulleted lists and numbered lists.
Internal links connect pages and posts on your own website. Using internal links within your blog posts is a great way to encourage readers to explore other parts of your website, such as other relevant blog posts, service pages, booking pages, etc.
Not only do internal links help direct readers to important parts of your website, but they are also extremely important for SEO success. The goal of a search engine is to find and promote the best pages about a topic on the web. Search engines use hierarchy to determine what pages should be promoted, and they consider pages with more links to be more important. And just as they help readers to easily find relevant information within your website, internal links also help to show search engines the relationship between content on your website.
While including internal links in your blogs can be beneficial for both your readers and search engines alike, be mindful not to overstuff your post with too many internal links. Instead, always think of internal links in the context of providing value. Do you already have a blog post written on a similar topic, or a topic you’re mentioning? This is a great example of where an internal link would provide value. Do you want to direct your reader to book an appointment? Add an internal link to your booking page. There is no magic number for how many internal links each blog should include (again, this will depend on a variety of factors) but we suggest between 3-4 for 1,500+ words.
Unlike internal links, outbound links, or external links, point from your website to an external website. When writing a blog, your goal should be to provide the highest quality, most comprehensive information possible about the topic at hand. This is where outbound links come into play. As Semrush puts it, outbound links “are often used within content to add more content and to link a reader to another source that will add additional and important information to the topic at hand.”
You can think of outbound links in a similar context to having to cite sources in college essays—they add credibility to your content. This is why it’s important to only link to reliable, high quality sources such as .gov, .org, or peer-reviewed articles. You also want to ensure that you are not linking to competitors' websites, such as other counseling centers or private therapists.
For a more engaging read, include both a featured image and images throughout your post. A featured image is the image that is automatically displayed when your post link is shared online and at the top of your post, so choose an enticing photo or graphic. Break up the text of your blog post and keep the reader’s eye moving with an image at least every 500-750 words or so. You can add your keywords to the image name before uploading and to the image tags for even more SEO benefit.
A call-to-action, or CTA, prompts your readers to perform a specific action. So when beginning the writing process, you should ask yourself, “What’s the next step I want my readers to take when they finish reading this blog?” Do you want them to read another post? Sign up for your newsletter? Schedule an appointment? Whatever your answer is, this should be your CTA.
If you follow these best practices, you will not only be crafting blogs that are engaging and easily digestible for your readers, but you’ll be boosting your SEO in the process.
Do you want to increase traffic to your website and convert more leads into clients? Reach out to us today to see how we can help you develop a strategy for creating optimized and purposeful content!