How To Optimize Your Blog Posts Before And After Hitting ‘Publish’19 min read
Content marketers often focus on creating content like new blog posts, new videos, or new reports. But what about the old articles, the evergreen content, that’s driving new comments, new shares, and traffic every week?
You might be one of the best bloggers in the world, and sure, all that organic traffic to your content is nice, but your posts could be working much harder and performing much better.
Let’s give both old and new content equal power, optimizing them to make them stronger.
Before I knew how to optimize blog posts, I just wrote articles I assumed my audience would read. There wasn’t much keyword research or in-depth content strategy. I looked at what the competition was doing and kept publishing post after post.
When my colleague introduced me to optimization, I started improving my older posts and new content. I read a lot about SEO, Google’s algorithm, and content marketing techniques and used them in my articles.
I saw an increase in website traffic, and these posts continue to attract readers today. Even if you are a news-orientated site, there are opportunities to optimize your content and improve your SEO ranking.
Here’s my approach to optimizing blog posts after I hit ‘publish’.
How to optimize your blog posts, the key takeaways:
- Use keyword in-depth keyword research to find the questions that users want answered.
- Use tools such as Clearscope and Yoast SEO to inform your writing.
- Find your best content and make it even better.
- Don’t just stop there. Make it better than the competition.
- Humans process visual information faster and remember it for longer, so add more visuals.
- Create backlinks by guest blogging and getting involved in your community.
- Promote your posts using tools such as Quuu Promote.
- Repurpose your content into other forms, from videos and infographics to audio.
Before you hit publish
The best time to optimize your blog posts is when you create them. This way, you’ll be more efficient with your time, and you (hopefully) won’t need to return to them in the future to make any drastic changes.
So how exactly do you optimize your blog posts to ensure they’re performing as well as they can?
Before you begin to put any words on paper, you need to know which keywords you want to target and which will result in the best performance on search engines.
You might think you have a good grasp of what your audience wants to read. And maybe you do, but keyword research will ensure you’re targeting the phrases people are searching for, bringing more users to your page.
Thankfully, numerous tools are at your disposal to help identify the keywords you need to include for top-level blog optimization.
One of the most popular keyword research tools is Semrush, which can give you a great overview of how a particular keyword performs. It tells you the monthly search volume and provides you with a list of similar keywords that will be useful for your blog SEO.
When completing your keyword research, you’re looking for long-tail keywords that you can use to your advantage. These can also be called semantic keywords.
These are longer and more specific search terms. Because they’re more specific, they return fewer results and have a higher click-through rate.
Take the image above, for example. If we want to target the phrase “running shoes,” we’ll have a huge amount of competition, making it incredibly difficult to rank well.
If we look at more specific search queries, such as “how often to replace running shoes,” we can see that the search volume is lower, but so is the keyword difficulty.
By targeting these long-tail keywords, you can increase your chances of appearing higher up the SERPs and answer specific questions that users are asking.
Other keyword research tools include:
- AnswerThePublic gives you keyword results based on Google’s auto-suggest features. It’s a great way to find out what users most want to know about a subject.
- Google Keyword Planner is primarily designed for advertisers but can provide you with data such as monthly search volume and related keywords.
- Ahref is similar to Semrush but also allows you to see keywords that your competitors are ranking with and you are not.
- Ubersuggest offers useful metrics and can also give you an idea of keyword difficulty and content ideas.
Writing your blog
Okay, now you’ve got that bit out of the way, it’s time to get down to brass tax and start creating your content. There are several tactics you can employ when writing to ensure that keyword research pays off.
Of course, you must ensure the terms you identified in the previous step are included. But if you include them too much, Google will think you’re keyword stuffing.
This is the act of inserting as many keywords into your copy as possible at the expense of readability. Not only will your blog post be difficult to read, but Google can also identify this tactic. And if Google thinks you’re keyword stuffing, they will penalize your website.
Using keywords in your title tag and subheadings is a good way to improve your user experience and make your page more SEO-friendly. Headers let your users know what they can expect and allow them to navigate your blog easily.
They also allow search engine crawlers to navigate your page easier and improve your SEO ranking. If you’re using your keywords in your subheadings, Google knows they’re important to your content, giving them more importance than keywords in the main text.
It’s also good to use your focus keywords in the introduction of your article. This ensures you grab your readers’ attention within the first few lines and lets them know exactly what they will gain from reading your blog.
It will also help your search engine optimization. Google “reads” your content as well, so including your keyword in the beginning will let the search engine know what to expect.
If you don’t create your meta description, Google will automatically use a snippet of your introduction. Another reason to get your keyphrase in there!
The elusive featured snippet
You’re a native of the internet, you notice when things change. Have you ever typed a search query into Google, only for the answer to appear right there, without needing to click through to an external site? That’s the featured snippet. They exist to answer the searcher’s question as quickly as possible.
Google does not have any specific outline for achieving this, but creating the best content possible (You’re a digital marketing professional, you already do that, right?) gives you a great chance.
For running shoes, we can see that Asics have the featured snippet all tied up for the search query “how often to replace running shoes.”
If your keyword research finds that your keyphrase doesn’t have a featured snippet, it gives you a great chance to take that spot. Answer that question to the best of your ability with your newfound optimization skills, and your content could be featured.
Help with blog optimization
Thankfully, there are tools that can help you optimize your blog content and offer you SEO tips as you’re writing.
Clearscope is a tool that works with WordPress and Google Docs to ensure you include all the necessary keywords in your article.
All you have to do is input your keyword phrase, and it’ll give you a report that can be used while writing your blog. Clearscope analyzes similar content from competitors to determine what you need to include to rank higher in Google search results.
Here’s what Clearscope does:
- Tells you what words and phrases you should include and how often.
- Links you directly to the current top-ranking content for those phrases.
- Recommends a word count for your blog post.
- Grades your article on keyword use.
It’s a great tool that allows you to keep on top of your optimization as you go.
If Clearscope tells you what to do, Yoast tells you how to do it.
If you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin can provide on-the-go feedback as you create your post. The plugin gives you an SEO and readability analysis, ensuring your on-page SEO is up to scratch, but not at the expense of good writing.
Yoast gives you a bit more help compared to Clearscope, offering tips and advice along the way if your content is lacking.
While Clearscope only looks at your main copy, Yoast analyzes alt text, links, keyphrase distribution, and anchor text.
These are all important ranking factors that Google looks at when analyzing your content. This tool also allows you to add a custom meta description. So you can make sure it’s the right length and features the relevant keyword.
After you’ve hit publish
Now, you’ve got all the tools you need in your arsenal to create brilliantly optimized content that reads well. But what about all the content you posted before you learned the secret knowledge?
In this next section, I’ll go over ways that you can give your old content a new lease of life, make them perform better with search engines, and make them greater for your audience.
Find your best blog posts
Google Analytics is your best friend if you’re a content marketer. You need to learn how to use this tool to get the results you want. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it first looks.
You don’t have to be an expert to use it. All you need to know is how to extract the information you need to optimize your blog posts.
First, you’ll need to check which posts are performing the best. Here are the steps you should follow to find this information in Google Analytics:
Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
Here, you’ll find the top 10 landing pages driving you the most website traffic. Focus on these when you optimize your blog posts for the biggest rewards.
Make your best better
There are several ways to supercharge your old blog posts. The first is to take one article at a time and try the Skyscraper Technique from Brian Dean.
The skyscraper technique involves finding the top-performing content for the keyphrase you are targeting and, in a nutshell, making yours better.
It’s not quite that simple, of course. Once you’ve made content that’s better than the competition, it’s time for a bit of outreach. Find any websites that are linking to the high-ranking blog, and let them know you’ve created something better that’s more valuable to their audience.
Optimize your content and make it longer, giving answers to the most frequently asked questions related to your topic. Use AnswerThePublic to find these – this tool shows you the most asked questions on Google and other search engines for a specific keyword.
There may be a new case study that can bring your article a better point of view. Maybe you can get some quotes from specialists related to the topic you write about.
If there’s no new information or data to improve your content, you now know how to create the best-optimized content possible.
Make them better than the competition
Another strategy that can help you optimize your blog posts is to look at what others are doing and do it better. You can do this using Buzzsumo.
Let’s say you want to know the most shared articles about growth hacking. Head to buzzsumo.com and type the phrase ‘growth hacking’ and click the ‘Search’ button. Now you have the most shared articles on this topic. Open them and read them all.
Try to find a pattern to see why people are sharing them.
Maybe it’s a tutorial. Maybe it’s an interview with the most influential people in that industry. Or maybe it’s one of the biggest blogs like Mashable, SemRush, or Inc that have tremendous web traffic.
Look at them and ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make my article better than these?’
Add more visuals
Visual content is stored in the brain much longer and is processed much quicker by the human brain.
Look at the visual part of your blog. Do you have a featured image? Do you have data-driven visuals that can back up your idea? If you don’t know how many visuals to use in your blog post, you can read this article.
What if you don’t know what kind of visuals to post and how to create them? No problem. These days you don’t have to be a professional designer to create awesome visuals. You can use online tools like Canva that give you a simple way to start designing graphics for a blog post.
Did you think that your optimizing work was done?
The next step is to create backlinks to your blog posts.
Think about the long-tail articles like the ones Backlinko or Moz are publishing. These articles are well-written but also use a lot of data. Other publications, websites, and blogs use data in the same way. In doing so, these top websites are driving a lot of links.
What if your articles aren’t read by thousands of users and don’t get thousands of subscribers? You should start going out of your comfort zone and creating new content for other blogs.
I didn’t believe in the power of guest blogging until I started doing it, and now that I’m looking at my blog and my company’s blog, I can see an increase in web traffic.
But backlinks are not only for traffic on your website. Backlinks are a good SEO strategy to give your website more power to appear higher on SERPs (search engine results pages).
You don’t have to start chasing links from one blog to another. If you want people to link to your article, give them something more valuable than a link.
If you’re a designer and want people to link to your blog, find the blogs you think your target audience hangs out at. Reach out and offer to create an infographic for them. All you want is a link to your content or an article about your brand.
If you want to know more about this approach, I recommend Gary Vaynerchuk’s book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook‘ (which means ‘Give, Give, Give then Ask’).
Tip: Buzzsumo can also show you how many backlinks you got on your specific article. Just copy the link of your blog post, go to the ‘Backlinks’ feature and paste the link. Here you will see all the unique domains that link to your website and the total number of links pointing to that URL.
Promote your posts
After you optimize your content, reach out to the right people. Talk with influencers, bloggers, and publishers. Be proud of your work and let them know why their community would love it.
You have two options if you want one of these influencers to promote your blog post. The first is to approach that influencer and let them know about your content and then pray they will share it. The second option is to use Quuu Promote.
Quuu Promote accepts submissions for high-quality content and then shares them with a huge network of subscribers, including some big names in marketing, blogging, and social media.
Just create an account, submit your URL, then social media posts to send out. Select the most relevant topic, and share your article with people interested in your niche.
Promoting your social media shares to the relevant target audience is key to the success of your blog posts. SEO specialists might say this is not an optimization strategy per se, but hey… if it works, then why not?
Repurpose your blog posts
Many content marketers believe that if they create one post, share it on social media, and then let the Google magic happen, that will be enough.
But as Jay Baer said, you can create 8 types of content from only one piece of blog content. From one post, you can do a video on YouTube, one on Facebook, a Medium post, a LinkedIn post, a podcast, and other social media posts… the list goes on. It’s pretty amazing.
For example, if you write a “How to” article, you could easily create a video on YouTube and then upload it on Facebook. Or you could design an infographic and publish it on SlideShare or Pinterest with an external link to the blog post in the description. Sharing new types of content can get you new visitors.
Your job as a content creator doesn’t end when you press the enter button. The magic comes when you create other types of content delivered in different formats on specific platforms. After optimizing your blog post the first time, I recommend creating a new type of content so your article can be shared again.
Need more inspiration? Here are 28 ways to repurpose a blog post.
Use internal links
If you’ve been playing the content creation game for a while, you’ve probably created dozens of blogs for your brand, if not hundreds.
You published them, and since then, they’ve sat on your website, consistently bringing traffic. The only problem? They all exist in their own little bubbles. Once your users visit a blog, there are no new paths to keep them on your site.
All of those posts are bursting with knowledge. Knowledge that can enhance new and old content. By using internal links to connect all your blog posts, you offer your reader more while improving your search engine rankings.
Take this very article you’re reading right now. It’s got seven internal links to other Quuu blog posts dotted throughout, and each of those links offers the reader more in-depth knowledge with relevant content.
You have a better chance of reducing your bounce rate by providing links to other pages. Search engines also use your internal links to navigate your website and discover content. If one of your blog posts has many other pages pointing to it, search engines know that this is a high-value page and will rank it better.
Many content marketers believe their job is done if somebody lands on their blog post. But if you have a small business, your job goes further than that. You’ll want to use content to encourage sharing, comments, subscriptions, and conversions.
You now know that you can create the best possible content for your audience and search engines through clever keyword research and SEO tools such as Clearscope and Yoast.
And you also know how to refresh your old content to make it work harder for your brand and audience. Your old content will no longer sit at the back of the shelf, unloved and gathering dust. Thanks to added visuals, internal links, and refreshed words, it will come to the front once more, enticing users and search engines alike.
Now back to you. How do you optimize your blog posts?