SEO Basics for Brands (Part 1): How to Incorporate SEO in your Blog Posts + FREE Printable Checklist
I get it: SEO seems to be the buzzword of the century, but for those who consider themselves to be non-techy types, it all seems like just a bit of hogwash.
Here’s the thing though: It doesn’t matter if you’re an independent blogger, niche brand, or large company spanning the globe – SEO is highly important to what you do and could mean the difference between your business diving or thriving.
If you’ve been finding it hard to fully grasp the hocus-pocus of SEO (or are specifically after a guide that’s small business friendly), then you’re in luck. Today I’m going to break down this topic in the most helpful and actionable way possible, whilst sweetening the deal with a free printable checklist to help you stay on track. After all, SEO is a long-term game ;)
Firstly, what is SEO?
Put simply, SEO refers to Search Engine Optimisation. Perhaps our old friend Wikipedia puts it best, explaining SEO as “the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine”.
As you can see, there are two main components of SEO:
Attracting a larger audience - specifically, the target audience you wish to market your products or services to.
Boosting your website or a particular page’s visibility on Google – i.e. it’s ranking in search engine results (ideally, on the first page, but more desirably, within the top 3 search results).
Ready to smash both of those goals? Let’s get started!
SEO Checklist for Brands: How to Incorporate SEO in Your Blog Posts
Let’s simplify SEO by breaking it down into a checklist of core elements you can tick-off every time you create a blog post. Don’t forget to download your printable version at the end!
1) Install an SEO plugin on your blogging platform (i.e. Yoast for Wordpress). If you use a blogging platform other than Wordpress, just Google what your best options may be – whether free or paid.
2) Think about a topic your audience are interested in. What products or services do you sell? What problems do your target audience want to overcome? How can you help them to live a better life / be a better version of themselves?
3) Perform keyword research to see if your topic is popular on search engines. After all, there’s no point in putting the time and effort into writing about it if no one cares enough about the topic to read it!
Start with a primary keyword (i.e. what your blog post will primarily be about – “women’s sandals”) then find accompanying long-tail keywords to make your content stronger (i.e. “best women’s sandals for wide feet”.) Use keyword research tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, or Google Keyword Planner. Additionally, you can type your topic into Google then look at the “People also ask” box in the search results to get some ideas.
Delve into more in-depth articles about keyword research below:
How To Do Keyword Research for SEO
6 Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide
4) Start writing your content, being sure to naturally include your chosen primary keyword and long-tail keywords a few times throughout your post (aim for 5-10% of the entire word count, so if your blog post is 1,000 words long, you should include your chosen 2-3 keywords 5-10 times throughout).
A word of warning here: too many keywords within your article will raise a red flag with Google, as this is known as “keyword stuffing” purely for SEO purposes (as opposed to genuinely providing great, helpful content to your audience).
5) Ensure your content is broken up into easily scannable headings and sub-headings. Can you break the topic down into helpful sections which address common reader problems / questions? Google LOVES this. Ensure you use the appropriate H2 and H3 formatting in your blog editor to reflect your headings and sub-headings.
6) Keep your paragraphs to no more than a few sentences or lines. You want your content to be broken up into small paragraphs which are easy to scan and aesthetically pleasing on the page due to appropriate use of whitespace.
7) Go one step further and utilise columns, bulleted / numbered lists, or block quotes where possible. It’s all about presenting a really in-depth post in a really easy-to-read way.
8) Link internally (i.e. to other blog posts, landing pages, or product pages from your own website) where possible and natural. Aim for at least 2 internal links, but no more than 4.
9) Link externally to credible sources or high-authority websites where appropriate. These include websites ending with .gov and .org, but can also include well-respected websites. This boosts your own blog post’s credibility.
10) Incorporate high quality, on-brand images throughout your blog post (another great way to break-up slabs of content!) and optimise each image’s ‘alt text’. You’ll want to use this alt text section to type in your chosen 2-3 keywords. If you’re using stock photos, check out sites such as Unsplash and Pexels – they’re my go-to’s for awesome, free stock imagery ;)
11) Edit your blog post’s URL to match the topic / primary keyword – i.e. www.websitename.com/best-womens-sandals-wide-feet
12) Add a meta description to your blog post (you can do this through an installed SEO plugin). Make sure it contains your main keyword (i.e. what you want your blog post to ‘rank’ for in Google), appropriately reflects what your blog post is about, and grabs the reader’s attention.
Here’s an example: “Want a fashionable pair of women’s sandals that have a wider fit? Here’s the best women’s sandals for wide feet you’ll find!” Meta descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters, as Google truncates snippets over this length.
13) Finally, double (if not triple) check your spelling and grammar before your blog post goes live. If a piece of content is rife with errors affecting its readability or credibility, this may prevent it from ever belonging on the first page of search engine results.
Then, all that’s left to do is hit ‘publish’. Nice work!
As promised, here’s your nifty, printable SEO checklist to go over next time you create a blog post for your brand’s site. Follow these steps and you’ll soon notice your blog’s traffic soar, therefore putting your brand in front of more of your ideal customers!
Remember: SEO is a long-term game, so a blog post you publish today might only gain traction 2-3 months later. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t notice the results you want within days or weeks. If you put the effort in for each and every blog post, publish regularly (at least once per week), and follow the SEO checklist every time, then good things will certainly come your way.
Please let me know if you used this SEO checklist for any of your blog posts – I’d love to have a look at them! And better yet, I’d LOVE to hear about the positive results you noticed after stepping-up your blog post’s SEO game :)
Brands and the SEO Mindset Dilemma
As a side note, I've recently noticed a lot of freelance writing gigs advertising the fact that they don't want SEO optimized content. These job ads go a little bit like this:
"This is NOT an SEO writing role. We do not want keyword-stuffed content. We want natural articles our audience will enjoy."
Every time I read this, I find it a bit strange. From my own experience, SEO is an important element in any brand's content strategy, but more importantly, just because an article or blog post is optimized for SEO, shouldn't mean that it is simply keyword-stuffed, poor quality, or something that doesn't resonate with readers.
Trust me, you can have the most brilliantly written article that is still optimized for SEO:
Containing relevant inbound links that point to related content from the same website
Using a natural, core keyword along with accompanying LSI keywords that are integral to the content
Properly utilising elements such as title, URL, and meta descriptions
Using headings that simply address what the following content covers
Breaking up the content into easily readable sections which incorporate sub-headings, dot points, and quotation blocks
Not only are these all elements of great content, but they're also some of the most effective SEO principles you can utilise.
You see, well-written content and SEO principles should go hand-in-hand - one doesn't cancel out the other. The aim is to incorporate both beautifully, leaving the company with a wonderful piece of content that is an asset to their brand.
Need SEO Writing Services? I’d Love to Help!
As you can see from this post, SEO isn’t to be ignored, nor is an SEO-optimised blog post something you can achieve in little time. It takes hard work, persistence, and – depending on the competition - some serious research and writing skills to get your content noticed by the masses.
If you’re running a small business, you understandably won’t have the time or effort to dedicate to creating high-quality, in-depth blog posts that have utilised SEO tools. Thankfully, you don’t have to fret, as this is where I come in to help :)
SEO optimised content isn’t just something I’ve been doing for many years now, but it’s also something I excel in.
If you're a brand wondering how you too can embrace high-quality, SEO infused content, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact form below.
It’s time I worked some SEO magic on your own site!