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A Guide to Applying SEO to Blog Posts

According to Google, “SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content.” Therefore, SEO should no longer be foundational to your blog content — you should apply SEO to topics written for humans.

If you want your business blog content to be more likely to be found through search, the following search engine optimization conventions and best practices will help you.

Google has gotten pickier about what content it even indexes. If your content isn’t indexed, it has no chance of getting found by people who search the web. Here’s how to check whether a page is indexed:

Google Index Check

Giving Google more of what it wants can also help with indexing.

While several references below are specific to WordPress, you can use this SEO blog post guide as a basis for new or refreshed content on any blogging platform you use.

The Blog Post Framework

We recommend you think through each of the following areas before writing the first word of a new blog post. You may find it easier to wait on certain items until you have started writing the content itself.

Goal(s)

Why are we writing this blog post? e.g., lead generation, partner enablement, customer education (it may be a combination of these).

Audience

Who are we writing this for? e.g. CIOs, business owners, HR managers, or local consumers.

What content within the post will be helpful to our audience?

Will we be answering questions that we know our audience members have been asking?

Candidate Focus Keywords

Certain types of business blog content, such as news items, may not lend themselves to keyword optimization.

But keywords should not be ignored if your goal is to have the post found through organic search.

It’s helpful to use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to note the monthly searches in your target geographic area and the keyword difficulty for your focus keyword.

  • Candidate focus keyword 1 (monthly searches & keyword difficulty)
  • Candidate focus keyword 2 (monthly searches & keyword difficulty)

Semantically Related Keywords (a.k.a. Google Entities)

A blog post should be written for people and search engine bots — in that order. An entity analysis will help determine which semantically related keywords should be incorporated into the post. Check out an app called On-Page.ai.

Target Word Count

A blog post should be a minimum of 300 words. Ideally, it should be at least the average number of words in the first ten search engine results for the keyword you are trying to rank for.

Candidate Post Titles

Brian Halligan, the co-founder of HubSpot, once said he spent as much time thinking about his blog post title as he did writing the post itself.

Pondering Blog Content

Your title should be brief, catchy, and contain your keyword. Start with two or more candidate titles.

  • Candidate title #1
  • Candidate title #2

SEO Title

This off-page element can be different from your WordPress post title. The SEO title is what is generally displayed in the search engine results.

Include your keyword. Include your brand at the end of the SEO title, or Google will likely add your brand for you.

Meta Description

The Meta Description should be a maximum of 156 characters. Be sure to include your focus keyword. A compelling Meta Description can get more clicks from the search engine results.

Excerpt

Some WordPress themes use the excerpt text on the Category Archive pages. Excerpt text also appears in the default WordPress RSS feed. The excerpt can be the same as the Meta Description, but it does not have to be.

Slug

The slug is the part of the URL after ‘.com’, ‘.net’, etc.

Keep your slug short. Include a variant of the focus keyword. Avoid using stop words like “the,” “a,” and “of.”

/category/word1-word2/

Links from this post to internal pages

Include at least one link to another page or post on your website.

Links from this post to external pages

Include two or more links to pages on other websites.

A best practice is to open external links in a new tab. In the WordPress block editor, select the Open in new tab option for external links.

Open external link in new tab

Links to this post from internal pages

After publishing the post, add at least one link from other related pages on your website to the article.

Links to this post from external pages (backlinks)

Proactively acquiring backlinks to your post is an involved undertaking. You will likely acquire backlinks organically if you write well-researched and original content.

Images

List the type of image or images that you plan to use — photos, graphics, screenshots, etc.

Google prefers original photographs and graphics. Original photos of places and things provide additional evidence to Google of “content [that] clearly demonstrate[s] first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?”

Make sure to include your focus keyword or a semantically related keyword in each image filename and in the alt text of each image.

Compress your images with a free tool before adding them to your post. Alternatively, use a plugin that compresses new images on the fly.

Structured data

Adding off-page structured data can help Google to understand your topic and other relevant information better.

If you are using WordPress with the Yoast SEO plugin, the plugin will automatically generate structured data for your post.

FAQSchema can give your post a rich snippet in the search engine results.

Blog Post Heading Structure

H1 (Heading 1) should be the default WordPress heading style for post titles and page titles. If it isn’t, contact your WordPress developer.

Make sure to include a variant of your keyword and a semantically related keyword (if possible) in the H1. Only use one H1 per post or page.

Each of your blog post’s main sections should be preceded by an H2 (Heading 2). Include at least one semantically related keyword in each of your H2s.

Use H3s if you have sub-sections within one or more of your post’s main sections.

Measurement

Determine how you will measure the success of this content — new leads, customer signups, quality backlinks to your domain, a more informed partner channel, etc.

Call(s) to Action

What CTA or CTAs will be used? If you attract visitors with this blog post, be sure to include one or more ways to convert visitors into prospects or customers.

A Post’s Visual Elements

Mixing up the appearance of your content can lead to people spending more time reading your content. More dwell time can improve your blog post’s SEO.

Bold Text

Use bold text to draw readers’ eyes to important information.

Bullet points

Bullet points and numbered lists are an element that gives visual variety to your content.

  • Point #1
  • Point #2
  • Point #3

Background shading

You can use background shading to help visually vary your content. Select a background color for your paragraph in the WordPress block editor.

Tables

Using tables is a good way to represent data. The WordPress block editor makes adding tables easy.

VendorMonthly Pricing Starts At
Eloqua$2,000
Pardot$1,250
Marketo$895
HubSpot$45
ActiveCampaign$9

Color and resize text

The WordPress block editor lets you easily color and resize text. When appropriate, mix up the color and size of your text.

General Business Blogging Tips

Find a Unique Angle or Topic

In the company’s helpful content update post, Google asks, “Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?”

In other words, don’t try to create a better version of an article that someone else has already written. Instead, come up with a unique perspective.

Avoid Talking About Yourself

Many new business bloggers will start to promote their products or service halfway through their posts.

It’s better to keep your content informative and useful to the reader and save self-promotion for the end of the post.

Be Cautious With AI-Generated Content

Words generated by an AI can be great for inspiration, but avoid using AI-generated content extensively per Google’s helpful content update.

Here’s an example of some content we asked OpenAI to generate.

AI-generated content example

Keep Your Text Blocks Brief and Simple

Be sure to use:

  • Short sentences
  • Short paragraphs (let your content breathe)
  • Simple words
  • Transition words

Pay Attention to Grammar and Spelling

The free Grammarly browser extension catches most spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The paid version helps with clarity, engagement, and a lot more.

We hope this SEO blog post guide will help you with your content marketing efforts.

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