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SEO concept on white plate with fork and knife

1. Keyword research

Take the time to find the best focus keyword for your post. Make sure it’s specific to your topic, and consider going for a lower competition keyword.

Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush are both great for this. Here’s how you can use Keyword Planner to its fullest.

2. Use long-tail keywords

Everyone knows that an article should include a focus keyword.

But not enough sites are using long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are––you guessed it––long keywords that get super specific. They’re often easier to rank for, and they bring you targeted traffic.

Here’s an example from HubSpot:

Having trouble finding the right long-tail keywords? Try using Google’s “searches related to” section.

3. Create the perfect h1 tag

In most cases, your title (or h1) tag is going to be the first thing someone sees when they start reading your blog post.

For blog posts, the h1 is the title of your blog post.

The right h1 tag can make one heck of a difference.

Don’t believe me? When I changed the h1 of one of my articles, I got 85% more organic traffic in just 3 days.

Now I know what you’re thinking. If the h1 tag is just the title of the post, then isn’t writing the actual title more important?

That’s a pretty common thought. But focusing on the h1 tag is actually more important.

That’s because your h1 tag will help search engines identify and index your content better, which will help human users find your content easily.

Your h1 tag should have the following:

  • Include a long-tail keyword
  • Be short (20-70 characters)
  • Give the user a clear idea of what the article is about

Here’s an example:

If you want to make the best h1 for your content, here’s an article on how to do that.

4. Use helpful subheadings

Before I go any further, I need to say something.

Do not go keyword crazy with your subheadings!

If search engines see your focus keyword plastered in every spot available, they’ll classify it as keyword stuffing.

Instead, your subheadings should help readers navigate the content.

Use subheadings to break up your article into easy-to-understand chunks.

Look at this article from Convince and Convert:

That’s the h1. Now let’s look at the subheadings (usually h2 or h3):

See how these break up the article? You can get a good idea of the entire article just by reading the subheadings. (But you don’t get the whole picture.)

Brian Dean recommends including benefits in your subheadings. Here’s an example from Copyblogger:

To sum it up, make subheadings that help users move through the content, and make sure some subheadings include benefits.

5. Implement schema markup

Schema markup is a type of code that helps search engines analyze your content.

Specifically, it breaks down each part of your content and tells search engines what those parts mean.

For example, if you use schema markup on your title, search engines will know that’s your title.

There’s even a free tool you can use to easily add markup to your article.

First, go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Since we’re marking up articles, choose the Articles option.

Copy and paste the URL of your blog post. (You can also use HTML instead.)

Click “Start Tagging.”

On the next page, you’ll see two panes like this:

The left pane is your article, and the right pane is the markup tool.

To mark something up, highlight it in the left pane and select the correct type of markup from the tool tip.

Once you’re done marking everything up, click “Create HTML” in the upper-right corner. Copy and paste this HTML and replace your original post source code with this.

NB: By default, this tool gives you microdata. If you want to use JSON-LD (which I recommend), click on the box that says “microdata” at the top of the right pane and choose the JSON-LD option.

6. Share your content with influencers to get backlinks

This is an awesome strategy that I’ve written about before.

If you can grab the attention of influencers, you’ll likely get a nice backlink from them, which will, in turn, drive a ton more traffic to your site.

The most important part is getting your pitch right. You can’t be too pushy, but you want to get your foot in the door.

Here’s a template you can use for this:

Source: Quicksprout.com

The goal is to get backlinks, whether that’s a share on social media networks or a link in a blog post.

But don’t come right out and ask for a backlink. If the influencer likes your content, he or she will give you the backlink you want.

7. Optimize your URL

Shorter and cleaner URLs provide a better user experience and help search engines too.

This is the kind of URL I’m talking about:

Compare that to this messier URL:

You also want to make sure your URL contains your keyword (focus or long-tail). Here are some other tips for URL structure.

8. Include outbound links

One of the simplest ways of enhancing your post’s SEO: outbound links.

Brian Dean recommends 2-4 outbound links for every 1,000 words:

If your topic is super in-depth, you can use even more links, but do so wisely. Don’t go crazy and include a link in every paragraph.

9. Include internal links

Internal links are just as important as outbound links. You might be surprised to hear it’s one of the most overlooked parts of on-page SEO.

Again, don’t overdo it. You should link to your own site much less than you link to other sites.

Aim for about 2-4 internal links in every post.

10. Use LSI keywords

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a fancy term, but it just refers to keywords that are similar to your focus keyword.

For example, if your focus keyword is “car stereo system,” some LSI keywords would be “car stereo speakers” and “best car audio speakers.”

Remember in point #1 when I mentioned Google’s “searches related to” section? Those keywords are often both long-tail and LSI.

But there’s an even easier way to find these: LSIGraph.com.

Enter your focus keyword, solve the Captcha, and you’ll see a list of LSI keywords:

11. Get the title tag right

Title tags are incredibly important. Why? They’re often the first thing someone will see if they find you on a search engine.

A title tag is simply the title of each result in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Even though this picture labels title tags as page titles, title tags will often be different from your actual page or blog post title.

You need to make sure your title tag describes a benefit and contain your focus keyword. Consult my article on this topic for more information.

12. Create an SEO-friendly meta description

Together with the title tag, the meta description helps your page stand out in the SERPs.

An optimized meta description should:

  • Be short, about 135-160 characters
  • Include the focus keyword
  • Be clear and descriptive
  • Stay truthful and convince the reader to check out the page

Here’s a fantastic meta description courtesy of HubSpot:

This tells you what the article is about in plain language. That’s exactly what your meta description should do.

13. Make it mobile friendly

Making a blog post mobile friendly isn’t just about using responsive design. That’s a good start, but it isn’t enough.

You also have to think about how your article itself will display on mobile.

First, make sure your content uses short sentences and paragraphs. (Aim for paragraphs of no more than 3-4 sentences.)

This will give your article the best readability on mobile:

Next, use media and white space to break up the article.

And don’t forget your h2 (or h3) subheadings.

Here’s a full list of what you can to make your content mobile-friendly.

14. Analyze your site speed

That means your site speed has to be pretty darn fast. If it’s not, you could lose some serious traffic.

Simplifying your design, reducing server response time, and enabling compression are all good methods of increasing your site speed. Here are 10 methods to get you started.

Once you’ve done the work, test your site speed. Here’s a speed test you can use for your desktop site, and here’s one for mobile.

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