[This is part 4 of a series of 5 articles on how to start a blog. To view the main post, with links to all of the relevant content, read my post on Steps To Start A Blog.]
I’ve tried to give you some tips throughout these posts on the little things you can do to enhance your position in the search rankings. While these things will all help, you’ll never rank if you don’t create a quality post. Google has made numerous changes to their search engine algorithm over the past few years to focus more on writing quality or content, and there have been numerous blogs that have seen their rankings plummet where quality wasn’t their biggest priority. Before you write your first blog post, give some thought to how the article will be laid out.
Determine What You Want to Write About
First things first, before you write your first blog post, you need to determine what you want to write about. Spend about 5 minutes creating a simple list that outlines all of the different topics that you’d like to write about. Don’t worry about titles, you are simply trying to brainstorm topics at this point.
Next you need to do some “keyword” analysis. So what’s a “keyword”? Your keyword will become the main point of your first blog post and every subsequent post you create, this is what people will search for in Google (or any of the other search engines) when they are looking to find something. Each of the topics you brainstormed above should have a keyword associated with that topic. A keyword doesn’t have to be a single word, in fact the longer the keyword the easier it is to rank for. If you are creating a post about selecting a career while in high-school do you think you have more luck ranking for “career planning” or “career planning for a high-school student”? Granted, there are probably many more people doing an internet search for “career planning”, but what good does that do you if nobody can find your blog post. Focus on these “long-tail keywords” and you’ll have a much better chance of your post being read.
To further enhance your visibility in the search engines, you want to optimize your blog post as much as possible. This all comes back to the “keyword” you selected for your post, and using that “keyword” strategically within your post. Use the following tips to optimize your blog as much as possible:
Title & URL
Be sure the title of your post includes your keyword. If you remember back to our Permalink discussion in the previous section on Configuring your Blog, you’ve hopefully set up the Post Name option for your Permalink. If you did this, the URL qualifier (or Slug) will default to the Title of your blog with words separated by hyphens. You’ll also have the option to change the name of your slug after you’ve entered the Title. In any case, be sure your keyword is found in both the Title and URL.
I’ll spare you from all of the technical details here, but I do want to touch on headings for a quick minute. WordPress supports the use of headings in your blog content, and search engines love headings. Now don’t go crazy with this, but by using headings it not only sets up your blog content for easy readability, it also gives the search engines something to focus on. Ideally, any heading within your blog content should be of type Heading 2 or Heading 3 if you want it noticed by the search engines.
There’s a term called “keyword density” which is a measure of how often your “key word” is used within all of your post content. There’s quite a bit of debate over what is the right percentage, and I’m not really sure there is a correct answer. My personal opinion is it should be anywhere between 2% – 5% of the overall post content. Just be sure that your keyword isn’t forced into your content, and that the post is written naturally. Use they key-word too much, and Google may punish you for “stuffing keywords” , don’t use it enough and Google won’t understand what you post is focusing on.
I like to include my keyword in the first paragraph and as close to the beginning of the post as possible. I also like to finish the post by restating the keyword in the last paragraph. Sprinkle in your keyword naturally between these and you’ll be fine. One last tip, I like to “bold” the first and last instance of the keyword, just to give it a little more emphasis.
You can measure your keyword density with any number of free tools available on the Internet, all just a short Google search away.
Once you have everything written, go ahead and push that Publish button. You’re post is now live on the Internet. Don’t worry if you find a mistake in your content or you decide you want to add some additional text. You can make unlimited changes and simply publish your post again after each series of edits.