Structuring & Optimising a Successful Blog Post

Blogging has become an integral part of business and it’s not only a great to promote yourself as an expert in your field but a way to showcase your experience, news, reviews or products by providing authoritative, informative and consistent content that will engage with a large audience who share the same passion and interests within your niche.

This article will provide information on blog structure, engagement factors and optimisation elements such as Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and H1 tags, structural layout techniques such as image positioning and image Alt Tags, Call to Actions that can be used for successful content creation, in addition to user engaging content that will add further SEO value resulting to better traffic and rankings in long term.

How to Write Catchy Blog Titles & Headlines?

Writing content headline titles are crucial as they could be considered search engine queries that are performed by humans, meaning that your titles need to be as natural as possible.

Use Google to Generate Engaging Blog Titles & Headlines

Google Related Searches – When a user starts typing in Google a term or phrase, Google uses a formula that gathers information about the topic based on high search volumes. This method results to auto generating search suggestions that appear under our terms we have typed in the search bar.

Google Search Title suggestions - search and engage
It’s crucial to focus on search generated results as not only this could turn out to be a powerful way of structuring a title by using the information provided, but is also as a useful tool for helping us understand our audience and what they search for.

Google Search Result Suggestions – While a search result has been generated based on our queries, Google will automatically suggest alternative terms based on the most popular searches in that topic. This could be a gold mine for finding great topics that your consumers actually care about.

Searches related to your terms

Google Data Snippets – This is data usually displayed for high searched volume terms and phrases but can be helpful when it comes to additional topic creation as the displayed results focus on popularity. For example we searched for “things to do in London” we could use 4-5 popular point of interests from Google’s data snippet results to create additional headlines and topics.

Things to do in - search and engage

Long-Tail Keyword-Rich Title – Once the information is gathered based on relevant terms, we don’t necessarily want to use the exact data Google has generated but transform this data to identify what the best possible title people will be searching for in order to bring them to the site. The use of long-tail keywords may be more efficient to use since website visitors searching long-tail terms will often be more effective in a title.

Blog Title & Headline Techniques to Avoid

A large number of content titles are bad and duplicated, this happens because bloggers usually treat headlines like personal summaries of blog posts, rather than motivating calls to action.

By writing them last, it is difficult to avoid the temptation of summarizing our post in a few words. At the time the end result might make sense, but ultimately it will not lead to a headline of great success.

Bloggers also tend to write titles with a keyword strategy in mind that may not appear natural enough or attract clicks. Creativity is also not always a good idea when it comes to post titles, as many writers try to appear over-creative sometimes thinking they can top the competition this way with misleading titles.

How Long Should the Blog Post Content Length Be?

Our data-driven approach to search optimisation has helped us analyse search engine signals which look specifically at content length.

  • Search engines understands well written & useful content therefore the quality vs quantity much achieve an equilibrium.
  • In-depth length of an informative audience focused blog post is one factor that should be taken into consideration. 700-1500 word articles is proven to be an ideal choice for targeting long tail keywords and offering more relevance and educative information in your posts.
  • In addition to text content, it’s essential to include visually engaging elements such as high quality images, or videos. By nature humans tend to be attracted to visual elements, an example can be found below and additional information on eye tracking studies can be found here.

Creating a Clear & Effective Blog Post Structure

Engage in with users in the opening paragraph. The title is the most important element but the a post’s introduction is the second key element of an effective blog post, as it justifies what the post is about, why your visitors should read it and what will they gain from it. Case studies have shown that an average user will read 3-4 sentences before deciding if he will continue reading the whole post.

Keyword research is considered an essential part of on page SEO. You still need to target keywords to get high rankings in the Google search results. We recommend targeting long tail keywords in blog posts as they are less competitive and are easy to rank not to mention users usually search in a long tail form when it comes to finding informative articles. Keyword stuffing doesn’t work anymore and should be avoided.

Interlinking is a good idea to link back to old posts. Internal links have always played a crucial part in search engine optimisation, through this practice users will find relevant old posts, and search engines will re-crawl the old blog posts.

Blog Post Heading Structure Semantics

The heading structure is one of the more important elements within content based on-page SEO. It defines the theme of the page and the parts of the content which are important to the visitor, it also allows us to tell the search engine that the semantic relevance two or more pieces of the content are interconnected.

Every blog has its own layout and the structure with which it has been built. HTML heading tags are numbered from H1 to H6. The higher the tag number, lesser the font size.

To ensure the correct, clean and beneficial principles are implemented within each individual posts we recommend following this structure:

Heading 1 <h1>: The most important heading, similar to a newspaper headline and incorporate the target keyword. This will only occur once within the page.

Heading 2 <h2>: Subheadings should always use a <h2> tag, this is not as important as H1 but allows the search engine to interpret the structure of the content being displayed.

Heading 3 <h3>: A sub-sub heading; should be used to define additional content relevant to the sub heading, this can be to break up content further.

When creating heading structures to break up content into sections, we need to ensure the keywords are consistent between the headings and the other parts of the blog post. Try to avoid the overuse of target keywords, search engines can determine the relevance between multiple web entities, therefore where possible try and use further semantic links such as synonyms or related contextual terminologies.

Example of Optimised Heading Structure:

http://blog.airbnb.com/understanding-your-hosting-activity/Headings example
Target Keyword: Hosting Activity

<h1>Understanding Your Hosting Activity</h1> Target keyword used in the H1, sets the expectations for the post.

How to Optimize Images for Better Search Engine Rankings

Images are a great way of making a blog post look and feel more appealing, unfortunately search engines are not able to interpret an image the same way as human visitors. Within the blog we are able to use a number of methods to demonstrate the contents of each image to the web crawlers and further increase the relevancy.

Image ALT Tags

Image alt text was created for the sole purpose of allowing search engine crawlers to interpret the data contained within the image. We are able to specify the exact contents of an image to search engines using the following attribute:

<img src=”http://www.example.com/images/most-popular-london-bars.png” alt=”Most Popular London Bars” />

It is important that an ALT tag depicts the content represented within the image and to avoid seeming “spammy” the use of keywords should be avoided unless it is applicable.

Image Name Structure

The file naming structure is another weaker signal taken into consideration when search engines are crawling the page, the file name can help the search engine add more relevance to the image which in term would improve the overall relevancy factor.
The image naming is actually as simple as naming the file name to something which is specific to the image instead of a generic DS00117.jpg, this is normally done within the CMS however certain CMS systems such as WordPress incorporate editable functions subsequent to uploading.

Example:

Generic Image File Name: <img src=”http://www.example.com/images/123456789.jpg” />

Specific Image File Name: <img src=”http://www.example.com/images/man-driving-car.jpg” />

We recommend using a general rule, where if you are unable to distinguish the theme of the image without seeing the image content then it is likely that the search engine will also have the same issue.

Structural Meta Data Information

Meta information also known as Meta Data have a great importance within search and are used to describe digital content on a URL.
The most important Meta Data elements include Title Tags which define the main title of a URL and Meta Descriptions that define a small description of the page. Both Title Tags and Meta Descriptions are displayed in search engine results and are used to attract users to visit your site.

Title Tags (or Page Titles)

The title tag is the most important tag on the page. It helps inform both search engines and the searchers what the page is about from within the search results. It is displayed within the search snippet as the blue hyperlink you often seen to click through into the designated website, optimisation of this tag is a critical component within every page.

How long should the Title Tag be?

Google will display the first 50-60 characters of your title tag, or as many characters fit within a 512-pixel display. We highly recommend structuring a Title Tag within 55 characters as more characters would result to your titles not being displayed properly.

Example:

Title Tag example - Things to do in London

What makes a good title tag?

  • Length: Anywhere up to 60 characters (including spaces), although if left too short this may have an adverse effect.
  • Targeted: Know your audience, write the title tag to be magnetic headline and entice the searcher to click through on the result.
  • Keyword Usage: Only mention the target keyword once, avoid stuffing the page title with multiple target keywords which have the same meaning.
  • Unique: Each page should consist of a completely unique title tag; should two pages contain a similar subject matter, then a new distinctive title tag should be incorporated.

Meta Descriptions

The Meta description is no longer used as a ranking factor within Googles’ search algorithm, however it does provide relevance to the page as a whole and is used within the search snippet as a search description of the chosen page.

The paragraph you often see within search results is normally chosen using the Meta description tag found within the head of each page, this can often be customised within the CMS to be a unique depiction of the page.
Creating a well written custom Meta Description for each blog article created, providing the searcher with a compelling reason to click through, showing how your page delivers exactly what they are looking for.

How long should the meta description be?

We recommend that Meta descriptions should not exceed 160 characters. Anything above this mark would put the Meta description at risk of not showing properly in search results and this would have a negative click-through rate.

Example:

Meta description exceeding the max allowed length

What makes a good Meta description?

  • Length: Between 150 and 160 characters (including spaces)
  • Accuracy: Accurately describes the contents within the page and provides the corresponding reasons to why people should visit.
  • Call to Action: Clear and concise call to action, this will entice the searcher to click through e.g. Learn more with On Stride.

When a Title Tag or a Meta Description is implemented but exceeds the maximum character limit, the search snippet can be truncated with an ellipsis (…), the means that the full message is not passed across to the visitor and the information which increases click-through may never be shown.

URL Structure Importance

It is important to consider how a URL will look when displayed in search results. Search engines have the ability to understand any form of URL structure but it’s crucial to also optimise URLs for users engines as recent algorithmic changes can leverage advanced user and usage data signals to determine what people are engaging with and what not.

What makes a good URL?

  • Keep your URLs short, easy to remember, and describe the content of the page clearly. URLs are very important when it comes to encouraging click through and visits.
  • Only include words and when structuring your URLs. Do not use additional parameters, or dynamic URLs. A dynamic URL includes characters such as: ?, or =.These type of URLs are not appealing or user friendly.
  • Avoid using numeric characters in URLs. A bad example of a URL structure is: /en/node/105. By clicking on the URL will drive a user to an informative piece of content that is impossible to understand just by reading the URL.

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