So, here we are, with the second part of our business blogging series. In the first part of business blog, we talked about how to give your blog a human voice, how to plan your blog, its topics, and content, and finally the various ways in which to promote the same. I hope you found it useful.
In this part, we will be talking about ways in which to optimize your blog in order to attract the search engines. We will focus specifically on the usage of keywords and meta descriptions that should be used in the content, the kind of images and videos that should be used, and also the various other ways in which you can optimize your corporate blog.
That’s a lot on our plate! So, without much ado, let’s get started with that very important issue of search engine optimization.
Keywords and Meta Descriptions
Let us start with discussing the definitions of keywords and meta descriptions.
A keyword is generally a single word or a conglomerate of words or a phrase, which is a subject matter of importance or significance. When you want to look up a certain topic of your interest, the word or words you type into the search area of your search engine form your keyword or keywords.
Once you type that in, the search engine throws up a long list (of thousands and thousands of links, spanning pages) which are in some way or other relevant to your search topic.
Now, when you look at the links (in blue, usually) that the engine places on your page, you will see content, about two lines long, right underneath the links. This content explains, in gist, what the link above contains. This is the meta description. It ideally contains within it the keyword or keywords, marked in bold.
For a blog post that does well on search engines, it is crucial that you pay special attention to optimizing the search process with focus on your keywords and meta descriptions.
Let’s move on to Keywords.
Frequency of Keywords
First, let’s talk about how many times you should use a keyword in your blog post.
While the jury is still out on the perfect frequency, one thing is for certain – Never resort to keyword stuffing in your blogs. Back in the day, optimization your post for keywords used to mean incorporating many keywords in your content. This is rooted in an old-school understanding of the search engine optimization process.
And then Google unleashed Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird and the search world changed. Once that happened, SEO content writing changed forever. Today, when search engines and even searchers find content stuffed with keywords, they think of various kinds of red flags and their trust in your content is hurt at the word go. It not only harms your credibility, but Google now automatically demotes your link down in the feed, as soon as keyword stuffing (which is using as many of these as you can with the only aim to gain in rank in searches) is detected. So, make sure you avoid that.
A general rule of thumb is to incorporate keywords about one or two times in the body of the post. In short, the keywords should appear in your post in a reader-friendly and an unpretentious way. Not only will you avoid the dreaded stuffing game so detested by the search engines, you will also be able to concentrate on the focus of your post.
Placement of Keywords
So, where else should you place your keywords apart from the body of the content.
Opening and Introduction
The first place to start with is quite naturally the headline. This will be the first step in a search engine’s and also, your reader’s efforts in trying to determine how relevant your blog content is. So, it is very important to include a keyword here.
Now, trying to place the keyword or keywords in your headline and still keeping it short, compelling, and interesting sometimes proves to be quite difficult. But it never hurts to try.
The first 65 characters of your post are crucial as the rest is truncated by Google on the SERPs (search engine results pages). Actually, this measurement is done not by character count, but by pixel width.
Earlier this used to be about 500 pixels. Now this has been increased to 600, which roughly means about 65 characters. So, it will always help to have a keyword somewhere within this space.
With the eyeballs on the first part or top fold priority content of your blog always at a premium, make use of the reader’s first curiosity or interest in your content and place your keyword there. This will egg him or her on to read more.
URL and meta description
Two more places where you can place your keyword or keywords are the URL and the meta description. This will give the reader a specific idea about what the link is all about.
Search engines like Google look at your URL to try to find out about the content of your post. It is one of the preliminary elements engines crawl through on any page. It is believed that each blog post dwells in its own unique and specific URL. So, utilize that opportunity to optimize it for your own needs, that is attract readers, drive more traffic. Make certain, therefore, to include one or two your keywords in the URL.
Along with the URL, the meta description is another of your first, short, and crucial sales pitches to the world of your readers. So, make it count as well. It will always be helpful and naturally, will always be appreciated.
As far as keywords are concerned, remember the best is to keep them narrow in their focus. Which means, that use keywords that will be relevant only to specific readers, who will be your ideal targets. The way to go about doing this is to opt for long-tail keywords. Let me explain this with an example:
Say, you are writing about smartphones, the designs of which have been produced specifically with seniors in mind. So, while deciding on keywords, you might want to use ‘best smart phones for seniors’, rather than just ‘best smartphones’. This is because you are not looking for someone who is looking for a smartphone for his or her child, but a buyer who might be looking for a smartphone for his or her grandmother.
With the keyword ‘best smartphones’, you might get readers who are not appropriate for your product. But the other one, would direct only your target readers to your post. And that would be ideal.
The difference between the two keywords/key phrases is their length, and consequently their focus. With a longer phrase, you will be able to narrow the focus of your keyword down, making it more relevant and specific for your post, and guiding more qualified traffic to your content. These readers hold the potential of converting into buyers, sometimes the ultimate goal of any blog post.
Now, let us move on to Meta Descriptions.
What you should know about writing Meta Descriptions
First, let us discuss how long an ideal meta description should be. The optimal length is considered to be 155 characters. Though Google actually truncates by pixel measurement, 155 characters is a good benchmark for any blog marketer to follow. If the description is any longer, the readers will only find at the end, an ellipsis or the three dots. And this is something you do not want, as this increases the chance of readers bouncing of your blog on to some other. So, try to make the most of those 155 characters and pack in a punch.
So, how do you pack this punch in?
Use language that is action-oriented. Same as copy for call-to-action, this kind of language talks to your reader about exactly what they can expect to find once they click on the link. So, you might think of beginning your meta descriptions with action verbs such as ‘find out’, discover’, ‘learn’, and consequently, follow up with the gist of the specifics of what exactly is inside.
Nature of language
Give your reader a solution and benefit. That is express how you know about a problem of your reader, and how you can help them with a solution, following up with the benefit of that solution – all within that 155 characters! In short, your meta description should be a short sentence or two, that will preview your content and tell your reader clearly why your post will be relevant for their search. Make the best use of your chance to hard sell to them your unique and informative content.
Because your meta description targets users of search engines, you have to make certain, as I mentioned before, that the keyword your reader has typed into the search bar, is actually present in your meta description, where it will appear in bolded letter. Again, I cannot reiterate this enough, this should not translate into keyword stuffing in your meta description. Don’t manipulate your description content to plug in keywords. Write as naturally and organically as possible. If the focus of your post has been met with, then the couple of sentences of preview that go in the meta description, will naturally end up containing your keyword or keywords.
When you write your meta description, keep in mind that your target readers are going to read it and then proceed to click on the link, assuming that all you say in the description will be available to them on the other side of the click.
Nobody likes to reach a web page, following a meta description, only to find that the content does not match the description on the search engine result page. They will be forced to click the back button, bounce off your page, and blacklist your website altogether. So, be careful and do not deceive your readers.
Another important area where you have to be careful about optimizing is the visual aspect of your blog, especially the aids you use in the form of images and videos. Let us now discuss the ideal kind of images and videos to use in your blog to get the maximum traffic to your blog.
Images and Videos
Visual aids help break up black and white chunks of text and make your blog more reader friendly. Images and videos not only help provide relief to the reader’s vision as he or she scans blocks of text, but also help in the reader’s better understanding of the text of your blog.
So, selecting images and videos for your blog post is an essential part of the process. While writing your post, keep thinking about the relevant images and videos you might want to use to make your blog better.
Make sure that your images and videos are relevant to the content you are posting. Merely images and videos and placing them, helter skelter, will not help in any way. In fact, bad choices in visual aids might actually work against your blog post and undo all the good content that you might have written.
When you are at a loss about choosing images, remember that people images always work well, especially of people displaying some emotion or the other on their faces. This is because readers always relate best to such emotionally charged pictures. To make sure that the images work well, try to exhibit through the images the same kind of emotion that you are trying to portray through the blog post content in general.
In fact, the best photos on posts might actually have nothing much to do with the central theme of the blog, and might only refer fully to the emotion that the writeup is trying to express.
As images are naturally able to force us to concentrate our vision towards the bottom, it is always a good idea to include a caption. This not only helps you to hold the attention of your reader longer, it also provides an explanation of the image, and the more you explain, the clearer your content is for your target reader. So, it is always helpful to add captions to your images, whenever you think it is possible.
So these are a few ways in which you can optimize your business blog. There are many other ways too, but that could be another story altogether! Hope you found this useful. If there is anything you would like to add to the story, please share with us in the comments section below.