Originally posted on https://harnessconsulting.com/inbound-marketing/ideal-blog-outline/
You may have heard that blogging is essential for content marketing success, but did you know that blogging helps to position you as an expert in your field, presents a valuable resource for your site visitors, and creates new opportunities for your site to rank on Google results? So what is the ideal outline of a blog for SEO?
Businesses that blog acquire 126% more leads than those who do not.
Do I really need a blog?
It’s critical to have a blog on your site so that you can help answer your visitors’ questions. Sharing your expertise, assisting the visitors to solve issues that they are encountering, and improving your overall site experience with your blog is what helps to get your rankings on Google up.
Don’t be confused, though. Blogging for SEO requires more than simply stuffing keywords into your posts and waiting for traffic to pour in. Bloggers should focus on writing content about subjects surrounding target keywords so that they can provide a breadth of knowledge on a given topic with the intent to help visitors rather than merely trying to drive traffic to sell more stuff.
Blogging on topics is great for user experience, helps people answer their questions, and will keep people returning to Google (and hopefully your blog) to solve future issues, the reason Google created the ranking algorithm after all.
However, there is a formula that works for creating individual blogs well for SEO. And, yes, it does involve ensuring that your target keywords are included in specific sections in the post to squeeze the most out of each article.
Blogging for SEO
So how can you ensure that people see your posts and that you blog yields traffic? We encourage our clients to use this method:
Use multiple tools such as SEMRush, Keywordtool.io, and Answerthepublic.com to find long-tail keywords that surround your area of expertise and your industry.
Long-tail keywords are phrases that are more specific to your niche. They will usually have a lower number of monthly searches, but also fewer people competing for top results.
Look for words that have high traffic with relatively low competition.
Let’s consider one of HARNESS’s areas of expertise: video marketing.
The search term “video marketing” has 4400 searches per month, which is relatively high.
However, it also has a keyword difficulty (a score between 0-100 rating how difficult it is to rank on the first page for that keyword) score of around 68.58.
That search volume means it’s a popular keyword and one for which we want to rank. On the other hand, it has a high keyword difficulty (KD), so it will likely require many blog posts to hit that front page with this search.
What if we modified that keyword to find a long-tail search on the same topic?
Let’s try this one: video marketing services.
The term “video marketing services” has 480 searches per month with a keyword difficulty score of 41.01. The search volume level is lower compared to “video marketing,” but we can rank for this keyword with only a few blog posts.
Further, even if the 480 people are searching for this term, we want to talk to all of them as they are likely to be qualified traffic to our website. Heck, if only one person is searching for one of our high-value keywords, I want them to hit my site rather than my competition’s page.
We consider these low-competition keywords the low-hanging fruit, so we advise clients to start there. Higher difficulty keywords will have more traffic but require more work. Those are long-term goals, so work on those over time.
Titles – Use Your Keywords
Use your keyword to create a title that makes sense to your reader. Note: you must use the exact phrasing of the keyword in the title; otherwise, the keyword difficulty and volume will be different.
Your title should read naturally and help to start the process of the blog to educate, solve a problem, answer a question, and/or entertain. Creating titles can be one of the most challenging parts of the process.
You want a title that will grab attention and make people want to jump in. However, do not use clickbait titles unless you want to aggravate your readers. While clickbait titles will generate more traffic on the front end, if it’s all flashy title and no substance, you will send your readers to the next site looking for better, more informative content.
There are many title generators out there that can help with ideas. Hubspot offers one, but it tends to be pretty superficial in the ideas it generates. Portents is another option.
Let’s use our example of “video marketing services” in these title generators.
First, let’s plug it into the Hubspot Blog Idea Generator:
- Video Marketing Services: Expectations vs. Reality
- Will Video Marketing Services Ever Rule the World?
- The Next Big Thing in Video Marketing Services
- Video Marketing Services Explained in 140 Characters or Less
- This Week’s Top Stories About Video Marketing Services
Mostly garbage, right? It does, however, illustrate the way we work to include the phrase in the title.
Next, let’s try the Portent title generator:
- The Hunger Games Guide to Video Marketing Services
- 8 Freaky Reasons Video Marketing Services Could Get You Fired
- How Video Marketing Services Aren’t as Bad as You Think
- True Facts About Justin Bieber’s Love of Video Marketing Services
- Where Video Marketing Services are Headed in the Next Five Years
These are also pretty rough, but they are unique at the very least. Number five is not terrible, but will this compel our users to click? That’s the question you have to ask yourself.
Do you need a title generator? No, not at all. You can quickly brainstorm 50 ideas with your keywords. Answer the Public (referenced above) provides some great ways to phrase questions around your keywords.
Some of your phrases will require more creativity than others to arrive at a compelling, natural sounding title, but that’s part of the fun.
A Note on Title Length
Let me make it slightly more complicated
- The perfect blog post title is 60 characters
- Titles with 8 to 12 words are shared more often on Twitter
- Titles with 12 to 14 words are shared and liked most often on Facebook
Keep those additional thoughts in mind as you work on your list of title ideas.
Note: there are many ways to write a blog. The following is just one example format, but it tends to be very successful because it is the same format that many successful public speakers use to present information on a massive scale. It also brings the keyword in at appropriate times for SEO.
Check out our other posts for other templates such as the How To Post, the List-based Post, and Curated Content.
Now onto the layout –
Killer Title (H1 Tag)
- Use your keyword as discussed above
- Beautiful Picture or Graphic
- Ensure that your keyword is in the title of your photo and your alt text in a natural way
- Keep it concise and punchy. Perhaps you can present a common opinion or idea and then disagree or agree with it. Ask a question. Tell them what you are going to say. Anything that will help to excite the reader and warm them up for the main content.
- Important: Be sure to use your keyword in the first sentence of your first body paragraph.
- The main body is where you support your thesis from your intro. Why do you disagree with the argument? What is the answer to the question? What are the top five reasons that dogs can’t drive? Present the meat of your article here.
- Use synonyms of your keyword in these supporting paragraphs. You can reuse your keyword if it reads naturally. Don’t force it.
- Use subheaders to divide up content into easily scannable heading
- Don’t write your conclusion like an essay in high school but do bring it all together for the reader. Summarize what you said in a clear, concise way and present your commentary as needed.
- Invite interaction and engagement by providing a space to comment or create a call to action to take users to the next stage of your sales funnel. You can link to a content offer here as well.
- The meta tag is not part of the post that your users will see, but will be the text that will display on Google search results. This description should be helpful to users in deciding whether or not it solves their query. Include your keyword in the meta info.
Important SEO Areas
These are the areas to ensure you use your keyword to maximize your chances of ranking.*
- Title (H1 tag)
- First Paragraph
- Image Alt Text
- Meta Description
*Remember that your main goal should be to create content that is inherently valuable to readers and then focus on SEO and rankings.
Just creating content based on keywords and stuffing them in as many places as possible can get you penalized by Google. The intent of your content should be to present information with practical value.
Avoid fluff content. Don’t waste your users’ time by presenting superficial garbage. Your blog must be high quality, comprehensively answer questions with relevant info, and it must be easy to read across devices.
So is blogging for SEO easy? Yes, once you get the hang of it, but it takes some planning and practice just like most things worth doing. This type of formatting becomes second nature after you write a few posts.
Does this seem like too much trouble?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. HARNESS is an inbound marketing agency that specializes in creating content for each stage of your unique sales funnel. We can help to get you in front of your target customers, taking them from a new visitor to brand evangelist.