How to write a search engine optimised blog post

Achieving an appearance on the first page of Google’s organic search results for the term “real estate” is close to impossible; unless of course you own a major national real estate portal or franchise. A check on the Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool shows there were 13 600 000 searches conducted in Australia for the term “real estate” in April 2009. But ranking highly on a generic search term isn’t usually what an agent wants. Rather agents want traffic that comes from search terms related to their suburb or property specialisation.

Step One: Know how your audience is finding you

The first step to generating quality search engine traffic is to know what keyword combinations are being used to find your site. One of the best tools here is Google Analytics, a comprehensive package designed to help web masters understand how their site is performing.

The value of Google Analytics

Analytics breaks traffic into three areas: referring sites, direct traffic and search engines.

The volume of direct traffic is an indicator of how well your offline marketing is working. Sites that generate traffic are called referring sites and the volume of this traffic indicates how successful you’ve been in generating buzz on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs.

Search engines make up the remainder of site traffic. The words contained in a search phrase are called keywords. When a web surfer clicks on a link to your site from the Google search results page Analytics records the keyword/s that created the click.

It’s surprising what can be learned from keywords as a traffic source. Using Analytics, check for any unusual keywords or keyword phrases that are producing traffic to your site. If it’s quality traffic (low bounce rate, high pages per visit, high time on site) then it may be worth crafting more posts using those terms.

Google Adwords’ Keyword Tracker provides a keyword suggestion service that shows related keywords that may also be worth targeting.

Step 2: Optimise your post

Content is king (or queen as the case may be) when it comes to SEO. As Google put it:

“Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”

However there are a number of areas that Google takes into consideration when assessing Page Rank. Here they are in no particular order.

Inbound links

Google looks at both the quality and the quantity of inbound links. Lots of links from a spam site only serve to damage your sites reputation, but inbound links from trusted sites within your community help build page rank. Furthermore, inbound links that include phrases that are found on the target page rank more highly than a link to a page that contains irrelevant anchor text.

Unique, accurate page titles

Have a look in the title bar of your browser above the URL of this post. Note that the title of this page is displayed. WordPress blogging software provides a number of ways for the page title to be generated based on the name of the site and the page heading.

It is important that that your page heading includes terms you’re hoping to rank for so they show up in your page title. Avoid filling the page title tag with keywords for the sake of SEO. They’ll get truncated in the search result display and will be less useful for the searcher. As a result click-through rates may be lower.

Provide a useful “description” meta-tag

The description meta tag contains a sentence or two (about 160 characters) that gives Google a better idea about what your site is all about. Google sometimes use the description meta tag to display snippets in a web search. A well-crafted description tag goes a long way to making a site more user-friendly to a searcher.

URL

There’s some debate about how Google rates the value of the page file name. What is certain is a pretty URL is more informative in a search and more likely to be clicked. If a URL is used as the anchor text for a link, having it include relevant search phrases provides search engines with a better idea about the importance of your site.

Both WordPress and Blogger allows you to create the file name (the last part of the URL) from the post heading. This highlights the importance of creating post headings that contain words and phrases for which you hope to rank in a search result.

Quality content

According to Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide “creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other
factor…” With this in mind write quality content that is on point, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and contains keywords and keyword phrases that a web searcher is likely to use to find your post.

Google loves fresh content and a professionally written, regularly updated blog is one of the best ways to get noticed by their search engine. Don’t be tempted to copy the work of someone else (or even yourself for that matter) as Google tends to punish duplicate content pretty hard. It’s something that spammers do, so don’t go there.

Use headings wisely

There are six heading tags that can be used to define the structure of a page. I’ve used three on this page. Headings give Google an idea about the contents of a page. But don’t overuse headings by using them in place of bold or italicised text.

Bold or italicised text

Bold or italicise some of the keywords and phrases you’re hoping to rank for, but don’t go overboard. Too much formatting makes the page difficult to read.

Optimise images

Make sure the file names and ALT tags describe the image correctly. This helps visually impaired visitors, provides alternate text in case the image can’t be displayed, and provides Google image search with useful meta data.

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About Peter Fletcher

Speaker, trainer, and consultant helping real estate agents sort out their online communication strategy.

@peterfletcher - Google+

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