Note: This blog post was originally published on May 14, 2018. It was updated on May 18, 2020 for relevancy.
You can be a great writer, a masterful marketer, and a wizard with conversion paths and still get found online. We’ll be blunt: you won’t see people flock to your blog unless you do these three things.
- Write great content.
- Optimize your content for search engines.
- Share your content in the places where the people who want to read it will find it.
As an inbound marketing agency, Raka helps clients run long-term inbound marketing campaigns. One of the key parts of inbound marketing is to regularly publish original, valuable content. But even if your content is great, it still needs to be optimized for organic search and for social media sharing. In short, you need to make it easy for your content to get found online.
Ideally, number one and two go hand-in-hand, so let’s start there.
Getting found online starts with great SEO
The first step in getting your blog post found online is to pick keywords or phrases for which you want your content to get found. These are the search terms your target audience might search to find you. Seems simple enough, right? Not quite. You’ll definitely want to spend some time on this task. If you’re new to search engine optimization (SEO), check out our “How to Master Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Choose Your Keywords Wisely”.
There are dozens of unique ways to come up with keywords; but if you haven’t conducted keyword research yet, the Google AdWords keyword planner, Keywordtool.io, and Moz Keyword Explorer are a few great places to start.
Let’s take a look at what comes up when you do a typical search on Google. In this case, we searched for adorable kittens and the following came up as the highest ranking post.
So, why did this come up in the number one spot? Let’s take a look!
Descriptive title tags
Title tags are the blue links that display on your search engine results page (SERP). They inform both users and search engines what they can expect to find when they click your link. In this case, the title tag is “32 Impossibly Adorable Kittens – CatTime”. Title tags should be 55 characters or less (including spaces) and you should place your keyword toward the beginning of the title if possible.
Optimized meta descriptions
Meta description tags are the short sentences you’ll see displayed beneath the title on SERPs. In our example above, we’re referring to, “Sometimes you just need to take a break and look at some adorable happy kittens to get through the day.” Description tags can be up to 300 characters.
HTML heading tags placed strategically
Hypertext markup language (HTML) is used to help your browser understand how to display the content of a web page. More simply, it defines the size and font of your titles and subheads—generally referred to as H1, H2, and H3 tags. We recommend you include keywords in your heading tags and use H1 tags for page titles and H2 tags or H3 tags for paragraph headers (subheads).
ALT descriptions added to images
Every image you include in your blog post should include a descriptive, keyword-rich attribute, known as alternative text or an alt tag. The alt description describes images to website users when an image can’t be displayed and helps visually-impaired users understand what images are on a page. They also tell search engines what an image is all about. By including alt tags on your images, you make your content more accessible and contribute to the overall SEO of your post. You’ll also find that your images will start showing up in image search results.
Clean URL structures
Short URLs with targeted keywords and hyphens (rather than underscores or other characters) outperform longer, messier URL structures every time, according to the SEO authorities at Moz. By making your URLs relevant to your page content, you help your readers find your content and make it easier for others to link to your blog through anchored text links. What’s anchored text? Keep reading!
Natural placement of links and anchor text
Don’t go crazy with linking, but do link to pages that can expand on any topics you’re discussing in your post. Anchor text is the actual text of a link, which is usually highlighted in a different color than the body text to show that it’s “clickable.” You’ll want to include both links to your own content as well as links to external sites called “backlinks.” Backlinks represent a vote of confidence from one site to another and are also a way of saying, “Hey, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” It’s a strong move in the SEO world and helps your overall ranking.
Great content answers a question or fulfills a need
Although some people used to think great content writing meant cramming as many keywords as you could into your blog post to get found by search engines, those of us who have been doing it for a while realize that’s not the case. In fact, Google will slap your hand for doing things like that and push you to the end of the SEO line if they catch you.
Compelling, high-quality, shareable content is at the heart of all SEO and content creation goals.
So, what goes into creating great content?
Identify your audience
For every piece of content you create, you’ll first need to identify your audience and determine your content goals. Who are you writing for, what do they want to know, and what do you want them to do?
If you keep these questions in mind as you’re creating content, you can be sure you’ll end up with something that will resonate with at least some of your audience. And remember, always write for humans first. Humans, not search-engine bots, are the ones consuming and sharing your content.
Spend time on your title
It may sound simple, but your page title is the one chance you have to get your readers’ attention. Spend more than a few minutes brainstorming attention-grabbing titles, and think about the kind of titles that attract you. When in doubt, remember: people love lists. (e.g. 7 Ways to Cook a Turkey).
Avoid duplicate content
Be careful about duplicating any content regardless of whether it’s from your own website or from other sources. Google devalues duplicate content in favor of unique, fresh information. With content saturation at an all-time high, uniqueness is key to standing out from the crowd.
Keep it simple
Writing online is different than writing for print. Online readers like to skim. To make your content as easily digestible as possible, be sure to break it up into small paragraphs (no more than three to four sentences each) and use bullet points or lists whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to break the grammar rules Mrs. Snodgrass taught you in the fourth grade. It’ll be OK. You should write in a conversational tone as if you’re speaking to the reader.
Include a call-to-action
Once you’ve been found online, don’t be afraid to tell your visitors exactly what you want them to do. Every post you publish should include a call-to-action somewhere. Prompt readers to download your white paper. Ask them to share the post on social networks. Compel them to sign up for your newsletter. The goal should always be to inspire action, not passivity.
Great content needs to be shared to get read
You’re not done yet! Creating awesome content is only half the battle. Now you have to tell people about it. You need to promote your post on social media.
Love it or hate it, you gotta play the game. In today’s increasingly social web climate, sharing is essential to optimizing your post for maximum exposure.
Getting started with social media advertising
The first step in getting your content out there is to share your post on all of your own social networks. The trickier part is getting your readers to engage with you socially.
First, recruit members of your team to share and otherwise interact with your content to increase its reach. This is especially important on networks like Facebook and LinkedIn who use network data to determine what content to serve to its users.
Then enhance that reach by utilizing the following social marketing strategies:
Make social sharing easy
Encourage social shares by making the process really, really easy. By including social sharing buttons in your blog template, you can ensure that each and every post will be optimized for social interaction. Some popular social buttons include:
Remember, don’t forget to ask your readers to do something. In this case, you want to suggest they Like or Share your post if they enjoyed reading it.
Optimize content for social sharing with Open Graph tags
Some brands find it useful to change up the way their content displays on different social networks. If you’d like to control exactly what content gets displayed when you share a link, you’ll want to use Open Graph tags.
Many social networks (including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) use Open Graph tags to pull and display a range of content types, from images to prices. This post provides an excellent overview of the different types of Open Graph tags.
Engage with your audience
Be sure to engage with your audience via those same social media channels. You started the discussion, so it’s up to you to contribute as it continues to gain traction.
Some brands find it useful to engage their readers in the comment section of their blog by asking them questions. Asking for your readers’ input shows them you value their opinions and you really are writing for them. You might find that when your readers are directly involved in the conversation, they’re more likely to “Like” or “Share” your content.
Track your results
When you blog in a vacuum, there’s a good chance your strategy isn’t stellar. Track your posts to determine which topics or titles resonate most with your audience. By using third-party analytics software like HubSpot, Sprout Social, and Google Analytics, you can determine what works and what doesn’t—allowing you to more accurately curate your content for the next time around.
This is just the tip of the “How to Get Your Blog Post Found Online” iceberg. Download our white paper for a more complete picture, so you can start optimizing your content and get found online today.