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What Are 10 Ways To Make A Blog More Search-Friendly?

Profile photo of Ann Mills Submitted by Ann Mills April 5, 2016

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It’s no wonder almost everyone seems to be blogging these days.

WordPress.com estimates that there are 56 million new blog posts and almost 47 million new comments on those posts hosted on its network every month. The numbers would be larger if they included blogs outside the WordPress.com network. Even more staggering – these blogs are reaching 409 million people every month.

As if writing compelling blog content wasn’t difficult enough, the sheer number of blogs being written have created a monumental challenge – writing a blog people can actually find. In the midst of 56 million other blogs posted each month, businesses are struggling to position their blog so it can reach more people. Luckily, there are a few search marketing tips that can help.

Here are 10 ways to make a blog more search-friendly:

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1. Create a blog title that “speaks” to your audience

Bloggers know to craft blog titles which incorporate keywords used in the content. However, voice search is starting to change the rules of search engine optimization (SEO) and may impact the way blog titles are written. A recent Google blog reported, “…mobile voice searches more than doubled in the past year,” and when people use voice search, they typically ask questions as if they are having a conversation. So, keywords are still important in a blog title, but the title should also be conducive to how someone might ask a question and use key prompts such as what, when, where, why and who.

2. Ask a question in the blog title

In the title, if you can capture a question your audience is asking, natural next steps for them are to want the answer to that question and read the blog. For this reason, blog titles with questions get a higher click-through rate than titles without questions. This format also gives the blog practical utility; in other words, it fills an information void for the reader and becomes a must-read blog, not just a nice to read one.

Art supplies for school.

3. Put a number in your blog title

People are more inclined to click on a blog title with a number. Why? Hubspot suggests three reasons:

  • Readers perceive the content to be more actionable because it has a list of steps, actions, lessons, or tips.
  • The blog is more easily scanned, and readers know they can jump in and read just part of the piece.
  • Numbers in the title also give the reader a clue as to the length of the blog.

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4. Keep the blog title length within guidelines

Although it may be tempting to write whatever title suits the blog, ultimately a lengthy title will be truncated in the Google search snippet. When the title is too long, Google algorithms will cut off some of the text and put ellipses, the three dots at the end. Write a short, punchy title that includes your keyword(s), and when possible, leave room for the business name which WordPress will add in for you. Edit your title in your content management system and use a handy tool to help, such as the one offered by Moz. I have amended the title tag for this blog, for example, to show:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

Left unedited, it would appear:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly? | R…

5. Segment the blog using subheads

Segmenting a blog is essential. It is visually easier to read a blog that is broken into smaller, more consumable pieces. Most people are short on time, so they scan a blog and read the subheads first to see if anything piques their interest. They provide different points that may entice the reader to jump in partway through the blog.

Subheads are also key elements of the blog hierarchy and are searchable. They provide another opportunity to use keywords. So, well-written subheads allow readers and search engines more chances to find essential aspects of your content.

6. Use tags to give the blog content hierarchy

Some content in a blog is more important than others. The blog title is more important than the subhead titles; the subhead titles are more important than the paragraph text below them. Hierarchy is a slightly technical aspect of blogging, but both essential to understand and easily accomplished! Tag the blog title as Heading 1 or H1 if your platform does not automatically do so, and tag subhead titles Heading 2 or H2 in the content management system to denote their importance in the blog. You can find the Heading 1, Heading 2 tags in the Paragraph drop-down menu in WordPress.

7. Add alternative text to your images

Images are an excellent way to break up longform content like a blog. They can also help make the blog search-friendly and optimize SEO. Content management systems have an image field labeled “alt text,” which stands for alternative text, and it allows you to write a few words that describe the image. Alt text is shown if someone viewing the blog utilizes a device which cannot show the image. It is also picked up in search and provides another opportunity to use relevant keywords that bring people back to your blog.

tag

8. Label a blog with carefully considered categories and tags

Blogs should be assigned relevant categories and tags. Both are organizing systems, or taxonomies, which allow the reader to search for blogs by topic. My favorite explanation of the difference is by Morten Rand-Hendriksen. He describes categories as the broad system that allows the grouping of similar types of content, and there can be hierarchical relationships between categories. Tags, on the other hand, have no relationship to other tags but rather can help identify content areas covered in the blog. An example he uses is a person’s closet. Jackets, pants and skirts are the equivalent of categories. You probably group your clothes in this way in the closet. Information such as dry clean only, 100% cotton, or made in the USA would be tags. People wouldn’t organize their closet by the tags, but tags represent useful information nevertheless.

9. Err on the side of simplicity for the blog writing style

By some estimates, the average reading level in the United States is equivalent to that of a 7th or 8th grader, and it’s a statistic worth keeping in mind when writing a blog. In an interesting article that looked at the effect of complex writing on readership, Shane Snow found that simpler blogs get more reach and argued, “…we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible…. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people.”

Some SEO plugins include a reading ease score for exactly this reason. Readability is a ranking factor in search, but it is unclear that simplicity just for simplicity’s sake has distinct advantages, especially if the content really is about a complex topic. Therefore, align the writing complexity to the content and err on the side of simplicity for more widespread reach.

10. Use bullet points in your blog

In 2015, Google confirmed that for the first time in the US, more Google searches were done on mobile devices than computers. The shift means that more content will be consumed on mobile devices as well, and that content includes blogs. Bullet points are an important construct in the new mobile paradigm because they:

  • break content into easily consumable bits
  • can be formatted to highlight keywords or concepts
  • are viewed favorably in search algorithms
  • can be easily scanned by the reader
  • are mobile-friendly
  • visually break up paragraph style longform blogs

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So, in addition to creating well-written content, take the time to learn how to structure your blog in a way that can be more easily picked up in search. As the WordPress.com statistics show, blogging is well worth the effort and a viable way to reach your audience. By following these 10 tips, you will have a more search-friendly blog and one that can stand apart in a very crowded field.


This post was originally published in http://www.resourcefulbusiness.com/10-ways-make-blog-search-friendly/ by Ann Mills

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Profile photo of Ann Mills
Ann Mills is the Founder and Principal of Resourceful Business® (RB), a digital marketing agency based in Summit, NJ that creates digital content, strategy and solutions. RB creates and leverages superior content to help companies connect with people. As the lead content writer for her company, she specializes in blogs, case studies, website copy and social media. Prior to founding Resourceful Business®, Mills was an international equity trading at Morgan Stanley, and a Managing Director in equity trading at both Merrill Lynch and ABN Amro Bank. After Wall Street, she owned and managed a successful retail business, Color Me Mine, in Summit for almost 6 years. She holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago, an MA in Econometrics and a BA in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh. Contact Ann at ann@resourcefulbusiness.com.
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56 Responses to “What Are 10 Ways To Make A Blog More Search-Friendly?” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Robert A Kearse Profile

    Hi Ann:
    RE:Add alternative text to your images

    I plead guilty to failing to do this simple but effective task with most of my images. I’ve got hundreds of images that need to be corrected.

    Including keywords in the alt text is a must.

    Also, adding a paragraph length description in the alt text will help images stand out on Pinterest (and Pinterest can can a great deal of targeted traffic).

    One suggestion I would add is to consistently include more “long tail keywords” in future and PAST blog content.

    Take 15 minutes EVERY DAY to modify existing content with relevant long tail keywords through use of keyword suggestion tools (or Google’s “Searches related to” results shown at the bottom of the search page).

    Thanks, Ann, for a very informative post.
    Robert A Kearse recently posted…

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  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hi Ann,
    Search-friendly blogs can be achieved if the best practices for SEO are followed. Particularly, this should apply to the insertion of keywords that bring about emotional triggers.

    With proper emotional triggers on the titles, content and themes, the blog would be search-friendly.

    Moreover, from the above post, an important theme that resonates in the titles, posts, and links is “simplicity”. A blog would be search-friendly if there is simplicity!

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Keeping the title and openings of a blog post simple and short, for me, is key to making it search-friendly. This is not to take away that fact that quality content will still make a difference when it comes to providing the needed interest that will make the search easier.

    Every blogger must ensure that applying the principle of easy title and simple opening is prioritized when it comes to making a blog searchable.

    Yes, using bullet on posts will help improve their searchability on mobile!

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hey Ann,
    This is an interesting post. Every marketer needs it to create a post or blog that would be search-friendly.

    For any post or content to become searchable, the terms of the Search engines and visitors must be met.

    In other words, writing for the search engine and for the visitor should be paramount in any strategy of the blogger.

    Effective search engine optimization techniques must be followed to ensure position the post in the “place” where readers are easy to access.

    I agree with effective titles, meta description, searchable keywords, appealing design and the use bullet points.

    Best practices for writing should be followed and this easily should resonate with the audience!

  • Profile photo of Justin Temple Profile

    Hello Ann,

    Your post is awesome. I gained wisdom reading it to the end. Thank you for creating these nuggets. My favorite part you mentioned was “segment the blog”. It is important to leave white space and break up your paragraphs.

    Keep up the great content.
    Justin Temple recently posted…How To Build A Network Marketing Business Online From The Comfort of Your Laptop.My Profile

    • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

      Hi Justin,

      It is amazing how many bloggers don’t segment their blogs. The segments give you the perfect opportunity to tag the subheads as H2–so a real missed opportunity if they are not utilized!

  • Profile photo of Chery Profile

    Hello Ann,

    What a great post, I loved all 10 of your tips to to help make our blogs more search-friendly.

    Most of the time I read posts about SEO and think Yikes that is impossible to do! But the way you have explained it here just seems so simple.

    Perhaps it is the word SEO that throws me off!!

    Great Share
    Thank YOU
    Chery :))
    Chery recently posted…Get Your 30 Day Social Media BlueprintMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

      Hi Chery,

      SEO can seem a bit daunting. There are some very straightforward Google whitepapers also on basic SEO which are worth reading and very doable even for someone without an SEO background.

  • Profile photo of Renee Groskreutz Profile

    This is a great post. I think that tags are something that really trick new bloggers up. Your explanation is spot on. Good stuff here for sure.

    -Renee’
    @iteachblogging

  • Profile photo of Sherman Smith Profile

    Hey Anne,

    The one tip that stuck out for me was #9 Err on the side of simplicity for the blog writing style!

    I’ve read many blogs, and the ones that are the least engaging are the really complex ones that use a lot of jargon that I’m not familiar with.

    And if it’s a long post that’s even worst.

    I like simple to read blog posts that I can relate to. When you have less jargon and long complex vocabulary words that isn’t used in everyday conversation then more than likely you’ll turn away a lot of people from your blog.

    You definitely want to keep your writing simple and conversation that your audience can relate to. Especially for the fact you mention that average U.S . adult reads at a middle school age level.

    Another good point is the segment the blog.

    Yes we live in a microwave society where we’re always on the go and it helps to have a segmented blog.

    Although I promote reading every last word of a blog, but sometimes I even tend to bend this rule and scan.

    It gives your reader the chance to go directly to a point that they can focus on as their scanning your post.

    Thanks for sharing Ann! Have a great rest of the week!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Diversify Your Shares With The Social Warfare WordPress PluginMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

      Hi Sherman,

      There are some really interesting statistics available on optimal blog length, and it is much longer than you may suspect! By some studies, it is about 1600 words, so another reason why it is so important to segment a blog.

  • Profile photo of Husni Ahamed Profile

    Hey Anne,

    Awesome post. I totally agree with that “Put a number in your blog title” it’s really great I felt the power of it. Keep it up with your great work.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hello Ann,

    This is a very good post. These 10 ways you mentioned can indeed make a blog more search engine friendly.

    One of the simplest SEO tips is adding alternative texts to images. Most people still don’t do it even though it’s pretty simple and easy to do.

    Perhaps it’s because we think it’s not significant enough to help with ranking? But apart from SEO purpose though, it still helps those who can’t see the images, as you pointed out.

    Regarding your 10th point, I didn’t think using bullet points would help with SEO, but your explanation makes sense, they are indeed important construct in the new mobile paradigm because of the reasons you provided.

    Thanks for writing this.

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    Hello Ann,

    This is a very helpful post, I have to say.

    I have to also confess I didn’t know some of these 10 ways to make a blog more search friendly.

    I am a bit confused about the point of creating a blog title that “speaks” to your audience.

    Can you explain this a bit more with examples, if you don’t mind?

    Thanks.

  • Profile photo of Janis Searcey-Griffin Profile

    Ann,

    All the great comments and appreciation for your excellent post have already been expressed here by the readers. So my final thoughts are for the readers to check out the Headline Analyzer. It is awesome. I typed in 6 or 7 different headlines, never getting a score higher than 76, but left feeling good about the challenge that it presented to create headlines with common and uncommon words, emotional words and power words.

    This free tool will be incorporated into my blog writing. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Profile photo of Lynn Profile

    Hi Ann,

    You are right with these 10 ways you mentioned in this post.

    I like how you explained each of them and even gave links for more information.

    I clicked on the Hubspot link and was surprised how powerful blog titles with numbers are. The 11 title tests that Sarah Goliger included in the post were really revealing.

    I also didn’t know more Google searches are now done on mobile devices than computers. We all knew that would happen but thought it was still a while to come.

    I learned a lot from this post, Ann. Thank you!

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    Hello Ann,

    Thanks for writing this.

    The 10 tips are really good but are they not just common sense for writing good blog posts rather than SEO?

    Sure these would help make blog posts search engine friendly but do you think these are enough to get good rankings with the search engines?

    Or a lot more needs to be done like getting quality backlinks?

    • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

      Hello Black,

      Yes, they really do help with rankings, and we have seen it firsthand in many of the blogs we write for clients.

      Also, people overlook the importance of H2 subheads with keywords, which in a sense give you many more opportunities to get a topic picked up in search.

  • Profile photo of Dennis Stover Profile

    Thanks for this post, Ann. I think it’s very well written and I like the simplicity of your writing.

    But with Google changing its algorithms all the time, will these 10 techniques continue working over time?

    I know they are not manipulative and can help a blog’s posts look better but with constant changes Google makes, nothing works long term.

    Also, what if everyone uses these 10 ways? Won’t Google now make changes to prevent these from working?

  • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

    Hi Dennis,

    Techniques such as structuring the blog hierarchy with H1, H2 tags, section segmentation, categories and tags in WordPress or using alt tags for images assist search, so are helpful to the algorithms.

    I don’t think Google would want to prevent these from working, but rather will continue to encourage them. The point on voice search actually came from a webinar I attended which had someone from Google. I do agree best practice is always in flux, and it is critical for bloggers to read and maintain an understanding of what does work.

    It’s also important to remember that readers skim blogs all the time. So without some structure in the blog, they will not have different points in the blog where they many choose to jump in, so to speak, and thanks for commenting.

  • Profile photo of Daniel Chen Profile

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for this post. I found it really revealing, though some of the ways are obvious.

    I like how you have shown that despite the 56 million new blog posts and 47 million new comments on those posts every month, there’s still hope to get good results from search engines.

  • Profile photo of Jerry Chong Profile

    Hi there Ann,

    I love the simplicity of this post.

    The 10 ways you explained here are not hard to do at all. Thanks for writing about this.

    I am impressed with your post and have gone ahead to join your newsletter.

    I got this after successfully signing up:

    Thank you! RB is so glad to have you on-board!

    I look forward to enjoying more quality content from you.

  • Profile photo of Dave Profile

    Hi Ann,

    I like these 10 ways you talk about to make a blog more search engine friendly but I noticed you didn’t mention linking between posts within the same blog.

    Doesn’t that also help with making a blog more search engine friendly when you link to other relevant posts within posts?

    You also didn’t say anything about link building. Isn’t that also necessary to get search engine traffic?

    Or am I missing something?

  • Profile photo of Eleanore Dewitt Profile

    Hello Ann,

    The best for me is #9, Err on the side of simplicity for the blog writing style.

    It kills me with boredom when am reading some blogs because the author tries to make their writing too complicated.

    Who are you trying to impress, right? If a 7th or 8th grader can’t understand your post, it’s not simple enough.

    Shane Snow is right, simpler blogs definitely get more reach.

    Thanks for these 10 tips.

  • Profile photo of admin Profile

    [Kingged.com has awarded Ann Mills a $20 cash-back rebate, to say THANKS, for not only syndicating this very helpful post but also actively participating in it by responding to all the comments.]

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    These cash-back rebates are only for products/services purchased from Kingged marketplace. If you want to use your due cash rebates for products/services not yet listed in our marketplace, please inform the owners to list the products/services in the marketplace, so you can order them here to get some or all your cash back.

    Thanks a lot, for a very valuable PARTICIPATION on Kingged.com!

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  • Profile photo of Joseph Profile

    Hi Ann,

    I like this post a lot. I agree with you that these ways can make a blog more search friendly.

    But am confused a bit about the #6 point you made.

    I thought you meant using tags in WordPress which “provide a useful way to group related posts together and to quickly tell readers what a post is about”.

    But you seem to refer to headings.

    Can you please clarify that a bit?

    • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

      Hi Joseph,

      Yes! In point #6, I am talking about H1 and H2 tags, which do refer to the headings. If you highlight one of your blog headings in the WordPress content management system, look under the field that shows a dropdown menu with “Paragraph, Heading 1, Heading 2…” For your blog subheadings, choose Heading 2 to give the subheading more weight in search. The blog title automatically defaults to Heading 1.

      Ann

  • Profile photo of Gavin McDonald Profile

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for writing this post to help those grappling with SEO.

    But is there any reason why you didn’t mention link building at all, considering it’s still the most important way to ranked in the search engines?

  • Profile photo of Sandra Leigh Profile

    I love all the ways you talked about but not so sure how the #3 helps to make a blog more search friendly.

  • Profile photo of Ann Mills Profile

    Hi Sandra, and thanks for your comment!

    By search-friendly, I mean capable of attaining more reach. Numbers in the blog title are really important if it works with the overall content of the blog. Sometimes it doesn’t, of course.

    The Hubspot A/B testing study that we reference shows that readers perceive a number in the blog title as suggesting actionable steps, and they like the prospect of knowing what to do if they read on, so there are more click-throughs to blogs with a number in the title.

    Ann

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