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  • Writer's pictureBarb

SEO Friendly Blog Writing Tips for Beginners

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Since I've been in digital marketing, I've started to notice a bit of a misconception with the purpose of a blog. A lot of people seem to think that it's a place where angsty teens go to share their thoughts with the universe, but as it turns out, there's a lot more to blogging that that!

If you're running a business, blogging can have a huge impact on your site's SEO rankings. With a little elbow grease, you can connect with your audiences - for free!

Here are some tips on how to write an SEO friendly blog post!

SEO Friendly Blogging for Beginners: A Quick & Dirty Checklist

Warning: There's a lot that goes into writing a well optimized blog post. If you only have 2 minutes, skim this TL; DR version!

SEO Friendly Blog Post Writing Checklist:

  • The title is 55-65 characters or less, including spaces.

  • A defined keyword of focus is used at least 2 times in the blog post - once in the first paragraph

  • A keyword is included in one of the headers

  • Blog post is broken up into smaller subsections with headers, and is easy to skim on mobile device

  • Blog post images were purchased from a reputable source, owned by the company that the blog will be featured on, or used with written permission from the photographer

  • The content is interesting (to people other than the writer)

  • The blog post has been reviewed for grammatical errors and typos

  • It makes sense that this blog post would be included in this blog.

    • For example, a blog post about skiing makes sense on a ski resort blog. A blog post about how to write a blog post would not make sense on a ski resort blog. This seems obvious - but it happens more often than you think!

  • Links are set to open in a new tab

SEO Friendly Blogging Best Practice Focus Areas

How to Choose Keywords

When you properly use keywords, Google will better understand what your blog is about, and users will be able to better find your post in a search query.

Please note, that exact match keywords are no longer as necessary as they have been in the past. Google (and other search engines) are now intuitive enough to display results without the use of an exact keyword match. In fact, they now understand that frequent use of exact match keywords could be a sign of “keyword stuffing”. For example, “hotels in Breckenridge” and “Breckenridge hotels” will display similar results in Google.

Best practices recommend:

  • Identify 1-3 target keywords for each blog

  • Keywords should be used:

    • 1-3 times throughout your blog post

    • In the first paragraph of the blog

    • In an h1 or h2 header

    • In the blog title

    • In the meta description

Keyword Identification

Identifying keywords does require the use of “common sense,” as you should strive to select words that people would actually think to look up in a Google search. Don’t get too fancy; you are trying to think the way that users think.

Keyword identification can be somewhat of a balancing act, as you want to avoid words that are highly competitive (meaning they have a lot of people searching for those words).

Unless the blog you are creating content for has incredibly high domain authority, you probably won’t be able to compete for high volume keywords. For example, it would be hard for a small, local ski rental shop to compete for the search term “skiing”.

Use a keyword planning tool such as Google Adwords or SEMrush to identify the best keywords for your needs.

Long-Tail Keywords

A long-tail keyword is a phrase of usually 3-5 words. In many cases, it’s an indicator that a user is nearing the bottom of the purchasing funnel or looking for something specific.

Long-tail keywords are an important content marketing tool. Since this type of keyword is highly specific, it tends to generate less traffic. However, the traffic generated is more qualified as it targets people looking specifically for that thing, whatever it may be.

It is also common to see long-tail keywords in the form of a how-to, or a question (how to treat altitude sickness) or geo-modified (where to stay in Breckenridge).

Blogs are the perfect place to take advantage of long tail keywords, which are not found as often on “regular” web pages.

Blog Titles

Blog titles should always be optimized for search purposes.

An optimized blog title helps users and search engines identify what is in the blog post. Your blog title should briefly describe what the reader can expect out of the content.

An optimized title should:

  • Contain at least one of your identified keywords (the keyword does not have to be an exact match, but should be similar to your identified keyword).

  • Entice readers to read the content

  • Be relevant to the blog content

  • Be around 55-65 characters including spaces. (If it’s longer than 55 characters, there is a likelihood that your title will get cut when displayed in Google. Remember - spaces DO count as characters!).

    • Please note: You may find research that suggests that 55-65 characters is not the recommendation. Google does change their recommendations from time to time - and sometimes will allow for more characters in a title. To stay on the safe side, we recommend titles with fewer characters when possible, to stay ahead of the curve when Google changes their recommendations again.

Meta Descriptions

A meta description is the short blurb you see below the title and URL when you look something up on Google, Bing or any other search engine. A well-crafted meta description entices readers to seek more information by clicking on the link, which in turn increases click through rates.

Like a title, a meta description should be relevant to the page. However, with a higher character limit of around 155 characters, there are opportunities to be more descriptive.

If you don’t write your own meta descriptions, then a search engine will likely pull in the first 155-165 characters of text it detects on the page. This may not be in your best interest as it may not correctly identify what information is in the post so it’s important to take the extra step.


Blog posts should include a featured image and at least one internal image that relates to, and adds value, to your blog content.

Name your Files

The file name of your image should be descriptive and similar, if not exactly matching, the alt text. Use lowercase letters and hyphens to separate words.

  • Poor image file name example: IMG_2398.png

  • Strong image file name example: child-in-ski-boots.png

Compress All Images

When downloading images from a library or photo tool, compress them. This allows for images to load quickly on a device. Images shouldn’t be bigger than 200kb. Use

Alt Text

Assign all images, including the header and internal, alt text. This helps search crawlers better identify the content inside an image. In addition, it helps to stay in compliance with ADA regulations. We recommend assigning an alt text that accurately and succinctly describes what is going on in the image.

Copyright Infringement

  • Do not use images that you are not licensed to use

  • Copyright infringement penalties are becoming more and more common every day. The law seems to favor the holder of the copyright for the image, regardless of whether or not you are aware the image was copyrighted in the first place. You may be subject to large fines regardless of the intent

  • The best ways to be sure you are using a licensed image is to:

    • Subscribe to a paid image service

    • Hire a photographer to take images for you

    • Use images that you take yourself

  • We strongly discourage the practice of using any image that you are not 100% sure you are licensed to use.

URL Structure

  • Keep URLs at a reasonable length (Google recommends somewhere around 60 characters)

  • Many blog publishing platforms will auto-generate a blog URL for you. In cases where you need to create your own URL, include a modified version of the blog title in the URL.

    • Make sure the post lives underneath the /blog/ subdirectory.

    • Keep keywords and other major verbs & nouns in the titles

    • There is no need to include articles or prepositions in the blog URL.

    • For example, the URL for a blog titled a blog titled: “10 Health Snacks Your Family Will Eat Up” could be shortened to

  • URLs should contain lowercase, not uppercase letters

  • Including a date in the URL can make analytics tracking easier if you are interested in tracking publish dates.

  • Words in the blog title should be separated by hyphens (ex.

Content & Writing Tips

Blog and news content allows website owners to include helpful information, further develop a brand identity, and directly speak to users about the information they might be seeking.

Best practices suggest you follow these rules when writing blog or news content:

  • Length – There is no hard and fast rule as to how long a post should be; the important part is to keep your reader interested and informed. You will find many posts fall somewhere in the 400-600 word range; long enough to be creative and entertaining, yet short enough to accommodate a reader’s attention span. However, recent research suggests that content/posts that contain more than 1500 words perform better in terms of social sharing and engagement.

  • Keyword focus – Be sure to identify a keyword(s) and use your target keyword 2-3 times throughout the post.

  • Anchor text / Linking – This is a great way to build your site’s strength, as well as encourage people to explore the rest of your site.

  • Internal anchor text: Use one of your target keywords to hyperlink to another page on your site that is relevant. For example, you might write a blog post that’s targeting the keyword “hotels in breckenridge” - you would link the keyword “hotels in breckenridge” this page: since it is the page on the site that features all hotel rooms.

  • External anchor text: In some cases, it might be necessary to link to another page on another website. In fact, it’s encouraged to link out to reputable sources. We recommend external links should open in a new tab/page.

  • For more information: How to Use Anchor Text to Improve SEO

  • Formatting – Blogs should be easy to read.

    • Paragraphs should be no longer than 5 lines long when viewed from a desktop device. This will also serve to accommodate users who may be consuming content on a mobile device.

    • For more information: The Key to Effective Blogging: Keep it Snackable

  • Duplicate Content – Duplicate content should be avoided.

    • Duplicate content is not always the same as plagiarism. Using the same content on multiple pages on your own site is also considered duplicate content, even if you wrote the content yourself.

    • Make sure not to copy and paste content from any other site, even your own. Duplicate content can trigger a penalty from search engines.

    • For more information: How to Find Duplicate Content on Your Website

  • Remember How to Write – Just like any other good story, your story needs a beginning, middle and an end. Write with purpose and use a “voice” that is appropriate to your blog.

  • Not Everyone Knows What You Mean –When you write, make sure to avoid internal lingo and instead use terms everyone knows. Make sure to directly refer to your company (if writing a company blog or newsfeed) a few times as well instead of saying “we.” This serves as a branding measure as well as a signal to Google that the content belongs to your company.

  • Call to Action (CTA) – A call to action is a clear “next step” for the reader to follow. Ideally, each blog should have two CTAs present in each post. One call to action should be located at the end of the post, and one should be in a sidebar as a widget. These calls to action can direct the user to call now, subscribe now, buy now, etc.

  • Categories – While the exact number of blog categories will vary from blog to blog, the general rule of thumb is that a blog should have approximately 5-8 categories. Categories help readers find additional information based on the content they are interested in reading.

    • All posts should be properly organized in the most appropriate category.

    • Each post should only be categorized once.

    • No post should be left uncategorized.

  • Blog Relevancy – The content in your blog should be closely related to your areas of expertise and your identified keywords. If you are a paint company, you shouldn’t be blogging about food.

  • Personas

    • Personas are a representation of your target audience. Blog content should be written with your target audience in mind. You should always know who you want reading your content before you write it.

    • The development of ‘Content Marketing Personas’ can help you determine who your target audience is.

    • Research suggests that creating content that is highly targeted to a few targeted personas is much more effective than creating generalized content targeting a broader audience.

    • For more information: 6 Tips for Conducting Persona Development Research

  • Promote Your Posts

    • If no one knows your content exists, no one will see it.

    • Be sure to promote your posts via social media, newsletter, email blast, etc.

    • Higher level content marketing pieces such as infographics, quizzes, white papers, etc. will perform better with a small ad spend on social media or a content amplification system such as Outbrain.

  • Types of Blogs – You should have a variety of content

    • Types of blog content include:

      • How to’s

      • Listicles

      • Checklists/Cheat Sheets

      • Guest Blog Posts

      • Infographics

      • Quizzes

      • Interviews

      • Case Studies

      • Industry Updates

      • Human Story Content

      • And much more

  • Posting Frequency – Post frequently and with purpose

    • Blogs should show signs of being fresh, relevant, and frequently update. While the ideal posting velocity is different for each industry, blogging is most effective when it is done with frequency, purpose, and the topics are timely.

    • Best practice recommends a posting velocity of approximately one post per week.

    • It is also recommended that you post your content at around the same time each week. This will encourage readers to return when they know that new content will be available.

  • Social Sharing Icons

    • All posts should have social sharing icons located in the blog space. This can be in the form of a sharing widget or button.

    • These social sharing buttons can be easily added as a plugin on the backend of your blog platform.

    • Social sharing icons should direct users to share your content on a user’s social media channel. It should not simply be a link to your social media channels.

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