Blogs are a critical part of most sites. They are the place you can create the longform content that is great for driving high-quality organic traffic. They can also be huge drivers of brand affinity, and allow you to develop your brand’s voice. Still, just because you create great content, doesn't mean that it will rank. Your blog needs to be set up for SEO success in order to allow your content to shine. Here are the most important factors to take into account when creating a blog.

 

URL Structure

Keep URLs short, use relevant keywords, and avoid unnecessary parameters and underscores. Use hyphens (-) to separate keywords. Consider breaking content up into categories and creating a separate folder for each category, reflected in URL. 

Style and Design

Your blog should be responsive, but beyond that, its style and design have little to no impact on SEO. Due to mobile-first indexing, all content needs to be visible on the responsive version of the website to be properly crawled and indexed. 

Ensure that the blog is user-friendly, readable, easily navigated, and aesthetically pleasing. Design and usability can affect bounce rates which in turn affect rankings. 

On-Page Optimizations

Ensure the blog has a functionality (or a plug-in like Yoast – see below) that enables the publisher to include a title tag and meta description. There should be only one H1 on all pages, ensure an H1 is not hard coded within the blog template. 

The title tag and H1 should be the name of the post. The meta description should be a brief description of the post with a call to action. 

Title Tag Length: 50-60 characters or a total of 512 pixels 

Meta Description Length: 160 characters

Schema Markup

Schema Markup or Structured Data provides Google with additional information that can help improve the quality of your listing on the SERP. Some studies have shown that having a higher-quality listing improves organic click through rates. Conductor recommends the following markup for blogs:

  • Website: This markup can generate a sitelink search box feature on brand-related search results. 
  • Breadcrumbs: Generates breadcrumb-rich snippets on SERPs.
    • More schema properties here
  • Site Navigation: Helps search engines better understand the structure of your site and generate organic SERP sitelinks.
    Articles: Enhances the way blog posts appear on SERPs and allows entry into a top stories carousel or other rich result features. 
  • Video: Google can display video rich snippets in search engine results for embedded or hosted videos. 
  • Blog Post Schema
    • articleBody - The actual body of the article. 
    • Author - The author of this content or rating.
    • datePublished - Date of first broadcast/publication.
    • dateModified - The date on which the CreativeWork was most recently modified or when the item's entry was modified within a DataFeed.
    • Publisher - The publisher of the creative work.
    • Description - A description of the item.

Rel=Prev, Rel=Next

Rel=Prev, Rel=Next will show the relationship between two pages and help consolidate link equity. This will prevent indexation bandwidth issues, while directing the user to the correct page and improving user experience. The code below should appear on page 2 of the blog’s paginated pages. 

Example URLS: 

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/blog/page/2/"/>

<link rel="prev" href="https://www.example.com/blog/" />

<link rel="next" href=" https://www.example.com/blog/page/3/" />

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when implementing rel=next, rel=prev: 

  • All links should point to 200 code pages 
  • Only the first page should contain a canonical tag and a rel=next tag
  • The last page should not contain a rel=next tag since this will point to a 404 page 
  • This is not a directive, this is only a suggestion to Google 

Breadcrumbs

There are many benefits to having breadcrumbs on a blog. They can point keywords to certain pages, while helping search engines see how one page relates to another on your website. They also reinforce and improve your website’s internal linking structure.

Combining breadcrumbs with contextual links to other related pages will result in larger gains when off-site SEO is applied. This can be used with schema markup to help give context about a page. This allows Google and other advanced search engines to understand that their robots are looking at a breadcrumb, which in turn allows for additional functionality, like the display of breadcrumbs in SERPs.

Target Keywords 

Build content around keyword research. Identify a main topic that centers on a main keyword, then create a list of relevant terms and semantic keywords — all before you start to write.

  • Primary: The central keyword you would like this page to rank for, typically with search volume and page relevancy
    • This should be in the title tag or blog post name 
  • Secondary: A keyword that complements the primary keyword (and which may even include another modifier).
    • This should be included as a sub-heading or somewhere in the body of the copy
  • Tertiary: Not always necessary (or available), tertiary keywords are part of a long-tail strategy that targets specific, lower-volume niche keywords.
    • These should be sprinkled throughout the body of the copy 

Keyword Use Within Content 

Incorporate target keywords commonly searched in Google, and relevant semantic variations, where relevant (Audience Intent Explorer can help with this). Be sure to keep your content engaging, and avoid keyword stuffing and duplicate content.

Links Within Content 

Implement a consistent number across your blog, and create helpful link titles that point users to and from the body content of other pages. Avoid footer links if they do not add value. Try to include 2-3 links per 800 words, this should look natural in the content. 

Images/Slideshows

From an SEO perspective, images and slideshows only serve value in the image alt text. Choose high-quality images that do not slow page speed. All images/slideshows within blogs should be accompanied by an adequate amount of quality content.

When choosing a slider plug-in, ensure that it has options for optimizing for SEO ie. alt text. Also ensure that all images have a keyword-friendly file name when uploaded. 

Content Length

Optimal content length depends on many things. Longer is often seen as better, as it can capture a larger cluster of keywords, but the most important thing is that  the content is valuable to users and provides enough information to satisfy their intent. Prior to writing, analyze the content length of the highest-ranking results for particular keywords you might be targeting. 

Social Linking

Consider including options for social sharing, icons, and shareable URL features. Still, if they don’t serve a value to your website or business or will not be used, avoid cluttering the pages with additional outbound links. 

Flash /Java Script / PDFs 

Avoid when possible. While some search engines have begun to index javascript and PDFs well, it may serve you well to use content types that you know with complete certainty Google will index correctly.

SEO Best Practices for Blogs Give Your Blog an Organic Edge

Once you have created a blog created with the following previous best practices, you are prepared to publish. Not all content will rank, but designing your site as vehicle for organic traffic is key to any future gains in search rankings. Once your blog is ready to launch, read our article about creating engaging content in order to take your content to the next level.