Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
As an SEO company, one of the most frequent questions we get from our clients is how they should be managing and writing their blog. While there is some variation to what does and does not work for different forms of content, there are certain best practices that can help enhance your blog from both an SEO and user perspective. If you aren’t already, put these tips into practice for a blog that’s as helpful as it is successful.
- Unique, Quality Content.For a while now, we’ve heard over and over that content is king. However, you can’t crank out unoriginal, boring content and expect significant user engagement. What’s more, search engines value high quality content and give well-constructed pieces much greater consideration in their rankings than they do poor bulk content. Avoid copying and pasting other content that you find on the internet unless you are quoting a publication. Always try and add your own spin to whatever you’re writing about, especially if it’s a popular topic, and foster strong content writing habits that will make regular production of blog posts a more natural process.
- Be Engaging.If you write engaging content, your readers will want to keep coming back. Not only will they want to come back, but they’ll also be more willing to share what you write with their friends. A big part of creating engaging content is providing users with information that’s actionable, specific, and offers utility. This is why content like listicles, checklists, and infographics are so successful; they’re easy for users to quickly absorb and apply, which then makes them more likely to share the content with others.
- Social Tools.Incorporating social sharing tools into your blog posts gives your readers an easy option to share content on their social media accounts. This is also important because search engines analyze social signals to determine which companies or websites people like and share as a means of determining the legitimacy of sites. These signals are incorporated into search engine algorithms, so having social sharing tools built into your posts is a must. You can add social sharing sidebars to your content through websites such as com and sharethis.com.
- Length of Posts.Even though search engines are looking for content with substance, they do give consideration to the word count of a post. Length isn’t always a true gauge of the quality of a post, but it doesn’t hurt to shoot for somewhere between 250-600 words. Quality content will fair far better than fluff pieces with little depth, but high quality long form content does tend to do better. In short, there isn’t an ideal length for blog posts, because it depends on what you’re writing. Instead of paying attention to length, try and treat each piece of content as an individual resource, and accomplish the end goal of that post in whatever length works the best.
- I always recommend allowing comments, because you want to stay connected to your readers. You also get an SEO benefit from the comment content being added to the page, because search engines like it when pages are updated and added to often. If you choose to allow comments, make sure you moderate often and have a comment spam solution in place.
- Spelling and Grammar.Search engines pay close attention to spelling and grammar, as well as informed users. There are several low quality websites that outsource their writing needs to content shops that churn out low quality content littered with improper spelling and grammar. Sniffing out and devaluing that low quality content was and is one of the primary objectives for the Google Panda Updates. Moreover, a polished and knowledgeable website should be as free of such errors as possible in order to be considered an authority.
- Linking Strategies.When writing your posts, don’t forget to look for opportunities to link to other content within your website-even better if you have the opportunity to link back to that content with a keyword phrase you’re trying to rank for on the linked page. It’s also encouraged to link outside of your website if there’s an authoritative source on the topic of your post. Obviously, you won’t receive as much of a benefit as you would if you were linking to your own website, but the post could earn some trust points with engines. As a rule of thumb, try and limit yourself to 1-2 links per 200 words.
- After you have written your blog post, title, description, and keywords, you also generally have the option to set tags. Tags can be used for categorization by the search engines, but probably don’t hold much weight. Content will be the ultimate guide for their algorithms. When you do tag, try and keep the tags limited to ideas, concepts, locations, events, and product names. It’s also important to avoid overusing tags. 10 tags should be plenty to categorize a blog post, but aim for 4 or less.