How To Blog Using SEO In 2021

This article will help you understand SEO and provide you with strategies that will help your blog posts rank higher on Google!

Table of Contents

Introduction

Blogs succeed or fail by their visibility. If your blog doesn’t stand out from the crowd or even show up online, then you’re not going to find much success. You want people to find, read, and engage with your content, and to get that you’ll need to practice SEO.

In this guide you’ll find sections on the following:

  • Understanding SEO and how Google ranks content
  • Optimizing blog posts using proven SEO practices
  • The ideal length of a blog post according to SEO
  • The benefits of long-form content according to SEO
  • Factors that affect blog post search performance

Between these five detailed parts, you’ll gain an understanding of how SEO applies to blog posts. We’ve covered the dos that help SEO performance and especially the don’ts that leave blog posts unread. If any of this information interests you, you’re in the right place!

Before we can get into the details, you’ll first need to understand what SEO is and why it’s important for blog posts…

Search Engine Optimization is only becoming more important in a time where more people than ever have found the Internet, filling it with millions of words and video hours every day. The events of 2020 pushed many people to expand into the online world and, in doing so, increase your blog’s potential audience.

SEO is in a state of constant change, so let’s look at what you need to do to make a blog rank in 2021.

Understanding SEO, or “How Do I Rank Higher on Google?”

SEO is Search Engine Optimization and, just like how it sounds, it’s all about increasing the visibility of web pages on search engines. When you own a computer or a smartphone, you likely execute a search query every single day. You go to your favorite search engine, whether that’s Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, and you search for what you want using keywords.

What comes back is a SERP, a Search Engine Results Page, which contains the top entries based on those keywords, all decided by a sophisticated algorithm pioneered by the search engine company. SEO aims to get you as high up that SERP as possible, where all the clicks are. That way, more people see your site, click on it, and find your blog.

SEO is all about befriending the bots and algorithms that make these executive decisions, which you can do through a variety of behaviors on-site and its backend.

Most SEO is geared towards Google since they are the most popular search engine by a significant margin. At the lowest estimates, they have 86% of the market share and 92% at the highest, so it’s easy to see why SEO and Google often go together in Internet marketing circles.

So how does SEO work? Using Google as an example, indexing bots collect information on web pages that are submitted onto the search engine. An algorithm then scans the index of pages, auditing them for technical details and ranking factors and using that information to decide on a result order for each search query.

If you don’t know much about ranking factors then don’t worry, you’re going to learn all about them throughout this guide. For now, consider the keywords used and the quality of content on your blog as some of the most important.

Once the algorithm orders all of these pages, they’ll have fallen into a pecking order. If your ranking factors are better than another page then you should appear above them. If your ranking factors are better than most other pages for that query, you should appear near the top. That’s how you rank higher on Google, by turning your site into exactly what the algorithm likes to see.

How To Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO

So, we know what SEO is and why Google is so important, but where do you start to optimize your site? If you’re thinking about starting a blog but haven’t yet, you’re in luck. A lot of the foundational SEO practices start before you even write your blog post.

Plan Your Content with Proper Keyword Research

If you’re reaching for the top, you’re going to need a plan. Don’t wade knee-deep into the world of SEO without having one – that’s a rookie move. In SEO, there’s a world of difference between guesswork and informed estimates. Try to aim for the second one.

So, you have your blog site ready and you have a topic in mind. Bloggers would usually start writing about that topic, and maybe you’ll even do it well, but people that are good at blogging don’t hit the top spots. People who are good at blogging and Internet marketing do.

Keywords are the foundational element of SEO content. By performing keyword research, you can get an idea of which words and phrases are trending in the market your blog is targeting, whether that’s a marketplace of ideas or a literal marketplace. Check out Moz’s beginner tutorial on keyword research, they’re a trusted name in the SEO space that can help you get started.

Find Semantic Keywords for Your Focus Keyword

Not all keywords are made equal, as you may have gathered from the fact you need to research them. No, keywords carry with them different amounts of search volume and competitiveness. Naturally, the higher the search volume, the more competitive that space is. Most SEOs try to find the sweet spot between a large enough audience but without brushing up against unbeatable sites. They call this niche SEO.

Find the keyword in your research dataset that has the lowest competition yet the highest search volume. Congratulations, that’s your focus keyword. A focus keyword is the searched term that’s likely to bring your site up when you rank.

The secondary keywords are called LSIs, or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords. They’re related to the focus keyword through niche, industry, and sometimes even just synonyms of the focus keyword. You can find LSIs very easily by searching Google and finding the suggestions at the bottom of the SERP. That “related searches” section is your new best friend.

Try to get as many of these keywords into your content without forcing them. Having more of these keywords allows your content to be perceived as complete and satisfying the search intentions of web surfers. Search engines are sophisticated. They look at pages with user intent in mind and are capable of identifying botted or stuffed pages, so you can be penalized by forcing too many keywords.

Write an Effective Blog Post Title

The title of your blog post also determines how well your site ranks based on its included keywords and industry coverage. It’s also important for the human element of SEO too, which is to simply make a page with a heading that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to click. A good title brings with it a stronger click-through rate (CTR) that helps online visibility.

A good blog title should be relevant to the search query that you’re targeting. Other keywords that are industry-related would also be appreciated in longer titles. Your focus keyword should definitely feature in your title too since it’s the main topic that your content is covering. Bonus points for catchy and memorable titles too, don’t be afraid to have some fun with what you name posts once you’ve made sure they’re technically sound.

Find the keyword in your research dataset that has the lowest competition yet the highest search volume. Congratulations, that’s your focus keyword. A focus keyword is the searched term that’s likely to bring your site up when you rank.

If you know anything about marketing, you’ll know that there are a few tried and true ways of finding the best blog post title for the content you have in mind. The use of emotional marketing value is a classic, where you use emotive power words to trigger a response in your audience. This can get you clicks and shares by resonating with the reader.

Make Internal Linking a Habit

We’re done with keywords, for now, let’s turn our attention to the structure of your site. Links are how we navigate websites once we’re in them and so your blog is going to have a link structure.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’ve got a blog site already that has some content built into it. If that’s the case, you’ll want to look at internal linking. This is where you develop content on your site and, when it’s relevant and appropriate, you publish a new blog post that links away to an older blog post on the same site. It not only gets you more traffic and engagement from the same audience, but it’s also courteous and helpful if done right.

When done wrong, it can look transparent and confusing. You shouldn’t try to force an internal link. If you’re covering a lot of information in the same industry, you’re going to have moments where older blog posts become relevant.

Establish these links wherever possible so that your site has a robust link structure that ferries new users deeper into your site. A common mistake is to only link back to old posts. You should also go to the old post and, if relevant, link forward to the newer post too. This strengthens both pages.

Add Image and Videos to Your Blog Posts

Nobody likes a wall of text. No matter how great your blog writing may be, users online are infamous for their short attention spans. Visual mediums are a great way of breaking up your blog post content and capturing the attention of your readers. Engagement is great for a site’s ranking in the eyes of the algorithm.

Break up paragraphs with images that are relevant to the topics being discussed. Be wary of image copyrights as this can land you in legal trouble if you pick the wrong person’s intellectual property. Instead, look to royalty-free image sites or graphics creation websites like Canva.

The images and videos also need to be properly implemented into your site. Maybe an embedded video isn’t ideal, in which case you can convert them to other visual media like a slideshow instead. If you need to put your own videos up on the site, you should avoid uploading them directly to the site. This will interfere with load times, which interferes with ranking, so instead upload the video to YouTube and then embed it. YouTube is also the second-largest search engine so you can also get some exposure there if the videos are useful, of high quality, and named well.

Add a Meta Description to Your Blog Posts

You’ve seen meta descriptions before, even if you don’t know what they are. These are short descriptions of the article and what it intends to achieve, which are then turned into an HTML meta tag. These synopses are scanned by search engine bots and may help your site ranking.

We say “may” there because it’s a topic of debate amongst SEO experts. The algorithms and bots that dictate SEO’s best practices are updated frequently and so some argue that it has become irrelevant in the last few years.

The way we see it, you add more content to your site by having a meta description and lose nothing by trying it. We’d also recommend you get meta descriptions on your site because they’ll show up on SERPs and hook people into the premise of your posts. Similarly, when your blog posts are shared on social media, it’ll be the meta description that appears on people’s timelines.

The best meta descriptions have your focus keyword(s) in there at least once and they stick under the readable limit of 155 characters. That’s characters, not words, so you need to come up with a snappy one or two-sentence brief for your post.

Use Categories and Tags to Organize Content

The content on web pages is arranged via categories and tags. We’ve already covered the HTML meta tag above but there are others that you need to manage on your page for optimal ranking potential. These aren’t just for your convenience, after all, they also help the bots and page crawlers make sense of your site and the contents on its web pages.

Categories divide content into different topics that your blog site may cover while tags are how those topics are attributed to an original page. If you’re a new webmaster who doesn’t have much experience wrangling categories and tags together, there are plenty of guides online.

Make Your Blog Posts Comprehensive

In trying to make your blog post useful to the algorithm, don’t forget to make it useful for your readership too. We shouldn’t need to lay the human case out for you, if you’re writing a blog post on a topic you want it to be accurate and all-encompassing on the subject at hand.

From an SEO perspective, search engines have started to prioritize informational material. Google’s last few updates have focused on the authoritativeness of a site and its content, especially when it’s informational. You can see a history of Google’s search engine updates here.

So, more detail is always great and it offers more opportunities to get those LSI keywords into your text. If the text demands, you should break it up into subheadings and ensure that LSI keywords are in those too.

You should also remember to optimize old blog posts. Once you hit publish, the SEO doesn’t end there. Promote your blog in its entirety on social media, including older content if it becomes relevant again or you have a day set up where you post throwback content for new fans.

Make Your Articles Easier to Read

Once you’ve considered all of the above information, you need to ensure your post is easy to read for human beings. You won’t find success by appeasing the Google algorithm alone, you need people on your side if you want to have success.

Remember that many people read through smartphones, so ensure your site is presentable on both monitor and touchscreen formats. Even then, it’s a chore to get people to engage with written content online.

You can improve readability by doing the following:

  • Write in shorter, snappier, marketing-friendly sentences.
  • Create shorter paragraphs and avoid so-called walls of text.
  • Use subheadings to break the text up into digestible segments.
  • Add videos and images to break up the text.
  • Add tables or other diagrams if helpful to your text.
  • Use numbered or bullet points, just like this one!

Free tools are also available that can help with this. Grammarly is one of the most popular ones that let you check not just spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but also the readability and other nuanced qualities of your writing.

 

How Long Should A Blog Post Be?

It’s time to start thinking about how long your blog posts are going to be. Maybe you already have a standard setup, in which case check out what we have to say and adjust accordingly.

If you’re looking for an exact recommendation, you’ll be disappointed. Everybody finds their own solutions in SEO, so the experts may not report the same figures. That said, let’s take a look at some advice for post length in 2021.

Remember that a good attitude to have is that the longer the content, the easier it should be to share.

How Many Words Should It Have?

While the maximum word count differs, there seems to be consensus about the minimum. If you want any improvement in your SEO profile, your posts should be over 1,000 words. Now, any given post should be as long as it requires. Nothing grates people more than artificially extended content, so a 300-word blog post should stay a 300-word blog post if there’s nothing else to say. Not every page needs to have over 1,000 words.

Most people are looking for more, however, so 1,000+ words of in-depth, helpful post content are best. If you’re really trying for SEO success, we’d advise your minimum sit at 1,600 words. This keeps read time under five or six minutes and so most people can read that with no problem at all.

How to Write a Long-Form Blog Post

You know how to write posts but, if you usually write short ones, then you might need some primers on making longer content more engaging.

First, there’s going to be an increased time cost associated with each post. Writing 1,000 words could take one hour or four hours depending on the nature of the post. If you need to do your homework, you’ll need to give yourself more time. You can increase your writing speed for these longer posts by doing the following four things:

  1. Do any research before you start writing.
  2. Remove all distractions before you start writing, especially your smartphone.
  3. Use an outline or template to guide you.
  4. Draft posts in word processors like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, not right onto WordPress.

As for the actual content, keep these four things in mind:

  1. Ensure it’s easy to read.
  2. Offer unique and useful content.
  3. Write accurately and with authority on the subject.
  4. Promote the post once it’s completed and published.

What Are The Benefits of Long-Form Blog Posts?

We’ve included a lot of information about long blog posts but why should you write them in the first place? There are a few reasons.

First and most obviously, more content means more value in the post. You can include more information, details, stories, humor, whatever it is that your blog focuses on. Assuming it’s readable, users who make it to the end will have gained more than they would from short-form content.


In the eyes of the algorithm and your fellow man, longer posts also help your blog to appear authoritative. You can’t discuss a topic for too long without knowing about it, so a longer post demonstrates authority and accuracy. Readers like authoritative information they can trust while the algorithms will help you rank higher because of it.

From the SEO perspective, there are three important advantages that long-form content has over short-form content.

Increases Time Spent on Page

The longer it takes to read content, assuming a user reads it all, the longer those users stay on your page and website. Not only are they more likely to check out your other pages if they stay on your website for longer, but the pages that do capture user’s attention will be noticed and promoted by the search engine algorithms.

More Shares on Social Media

Correlating with the usefulness of longer posts, users are more likely to share the posts they find useful. Whether it’s a curious find that’s shared through social media or a share in communities gathered around your niche, people consistently share longer posts over shorter ones. This is especially the case if you’re active on Facebook, where the shares seem to increase exponentially for longer content.

Improves Ranking in Search Engine Results

As we mentioned, longer posts are interpreted as more authoritative. Where algorithms notice that about your page and put you over shorter, less authoritative content, your blog should consistently rank higher in SERPs.

This means that while longer content will benefit the individual page, your blog site as a whole gets an SEO performance boost when longer content is appreciated by your search engine of choice.

Factors That Affect Your Blog Posts’ Search Performance

Ask any SEO expert and they’ll tell you that maintenance of your site is important. There are factors seemingly unrelated to your blog post content that have a big say in how effective your blog is on SERPs. Let’s take a look at some standard SEO maintenance you should run on your website.

Frequent Blog Posts Drive Better Results

The frequency of your blog uploads can dictate how well the blog ranks on SERPs. Think about it, in a search for relevance, why would a Google bot choose a blog that hasn’t uploaded in a month over a blog that uploads every week?

If you’re dedicated to the blog, you should have a schedule that you can stick to. Upload consistently every week or so and you’ll perform better than your competitors who aren’t putting out as much.

A Secure and Accessible Website

The website needs to be accessible and inspire confidence in skittish users visiting it. The single best way to do this is to ensure that the site has an HTTPS certificate. This is much better than HTTP and the algorithms notice. An identical HTTPS-certified site will outperform an HTTP one. You should also have a robots.txt file for Google sites.

If you’re dedicated to the blog, you should have a schedule that you can stick to. Upload consistently every week or so and you’ll perform better than your competitors who aren’t putting out as much.

Page Speed (Including Mobile Page Speed)

Given the short attention span of visitors on the Internet, you want to limit any and all waiting time. Your page speed is the time that it takes your pages to load. Keep them under five seconds at all costs by limiting plugins and other loadable data. We’d aim for a less-than-two-second load time.

Domain Age, URL, and Authority

Not all domains are created equal. Some domains will have a better relationship with Google’s algorithms before your blog even arrives on the scene. For example, a blog built into a website that existed since 2008 and has an untarnished authority rating is going to outcompete you, all else being equal. This is why some high-investment SEOs will buy and use expired domains to build new site projects on top of.

If you’re dedicated to the blog, you should have a schedule that you can stick to. Upload consistently every week or so and you’ll perform better than your competitors who aren’t putting out as much.

Optimized Content

Most of what we’ve discussed about content writing above are examples of how you optimize content for SEO success. Use important keywords with longer, more authoritative content that targets gaps in the niche your blog writes about. You can find a comprehensive guide to SEO copywriting here.

User Experience (RankBrain)

Like martial art, SEO has many different disciplines that can be applied in different situations. If you want people to stay on your website, you’ll need to look into UX. User experience dictates how people feel coming away from your website, via click-through rate, bounce rate, and dwelling time. Google’s RankBrain AI measures these to predict user satisfaction, so educate yourself on how to please it.

If you’re dedicated to the blog, you should have a schedule that you can stick to. Upload consistently every week or so and you’ll perform better than your competitors who aren’t putting out as much.

Social Signals

Social signals are how algorithms judge a page’s performance across social media sites. Google has said they’re not a solid ranking factor but careful SEOs still pay attention to these metrics. Just know going forward that Facebook and Twitter links aren’t the same as links to other, authoritative sites.

Connect social media to your blog and ask your audience to share if they find it interesting and want more readers to find you.

Real Business Information

If there are any businesses tied to your blog, whether that’s a real-life location or an e-commerce domain that you also manage, you can tie these to your blog to increase ranking ability.

Local SEO information on your blog can include your name, address, and phone number if you’re a contractor or advisor. You should also register as a business on Facebook and Google My Business and tie them to the location. Positive reviews on Yelp are also beneficial.

You can even use the Internet to find terms being searched locally, allowing you to target content there.

If you’re dedicated to the blog, you should have a schedule that you can stick to. Upload consistently every week or so and you’ll perform better than your competitors who aren’t putting out as much.

Summary

That brings us to the end of our guide on blog SEO for 2021. We have learned what SEO is, how it’s relevant today, and how you can use it for your blog, including how longer content is best when serving written materials to the online algorithms.

Who knows where these SEO practices will be in 2022 and beyond but for now, these are some of the best practices from successful content from 2020 and 2021. SEO is a never-ending process at the best of times, so keep this guide handy and use it as a checklist when building a new blog or optimizing a pre-existing one.

Posted in SEO