When it comes to investing your marketing dollars…SEO is like a great bank account with a high-interest rate. Even though it’s not an immediate payoff, when done right, you can be confident that what you put into SEO will see dividends in the long-run. At Room 214, we’re big believers in having a solid SEO strategy as the foundation of any marketing program.
Keyword research, including competitive keyword research, is the cornerstone of any good SEO strategy. However, once your website pages have been optimized and the SEO agency or consultants are gone…how can you be sure your ongoing content consistently makes the most of your keywords and aligns with your strategy?
In this post, we provide some very specific tools and tactics content planners and creators can take when creating new content.
Generating Keywords, Questions & Optimizing for Quick Answers
It’s important to take SEO into consideration during the editorial planning process. Of course, SEO is only one consideration of many, we just want to make sure it has a voice.
Alternatively, you can let the keyword research take the driver’s seat in content direction if the team is having a hard time coming up with ideas. Work through the search data provided by these tools until you find a term or combination of terms that makes sense for your brand to provide perspective on.
Once the topic and a few high-level keywords have been determined for a post, use those tools (mainly Answer the Public) to develop a list of question-based keywords. Including a “Question and Answer” section or format to a blog post is one of the best, most systematic ways to include more long-tail keyword optimization in your post.
For example, if the post is about “sales forecasting”, you might generate a list of questions from Answer the Public that looks like this:
- what are sales forecasting methods
- what are sales forecasting techniques
- why are sales forecasts important
- how to calculate sales forecast
- how to improve sales forecasting
- how to do sales forecasting for a new business
- how important is sales forecasting
- what is quantitative sales forecasting
- what is qualitative sales forecasting
Run that list through Keyword Planner to get an idea of search volume and select however many you think make sense to include in the blog post. Try to include the question as a header and then answer the question concisely in one sentence immediately after the header. You can go into more depth and nuance after the succinct answer as needed. The reason we recommend this format is to get better placement in Google ‘Quick Answer’ boxes.
Optimizing Your Blog Post
Title of the Post (not the <title> element): The title of the blog post should include the primary keyword. Of course, your first objective should be to write a captivating headline that draws attention and clicks.
Copy: Keywords should be woven into the body copy of the blog post as naturally as possible. There is no magic number of times a keyword should be included in the post. Strive to include the primary keyword in the first paragraph. After that, the main focus should be keeping the copy as natural as possible (while obviously using the keywords where appropriate).
Images: There are two ways images can affect SEO. The first is the filename of the image and the second is the alt text. For both instances, you should try to include keywords but ONLY if the keyword is, in fact, related to the image.
Crosslinking: Crosslinking is the practice of linking from your blog post back to useful and relevant materials on the main website. Creating these “internal links” are a useful SEO tool. While they are not as valuable as external links – those from other websites, they still help Google understand and index content. Don’t go overboard here, but if you’re speaking to a service or project in your blog post, link back to the service page or case study on the website.
URL: The URL should mirror the title of the blog post with any “stop words” (examples: and, the, is, at) removed. That means your main keyword should be in the URL. The proper format for any URL is to-have-hyphens-between-words.
Page <Title>: While the previous section referred to the title that is displayed at the top of the blog post, there is also the <title> tag to consider. The <title> tag affects the title that is displayed in search engine results and at the top of the browser tab in which the blog post is located. Page titles are limited to approximately 65 characters. You should be able to use the regular blog post title as the <title> as long as it is under the character limit. If it’s not, you’ll want to finesse it to fit. The <title> tag is an important ranking factor, so don’t cut the keyword out when trimming length. Your CMS may append branding to the end of all titles (i.e. “Example Blog Post | Room 214”) – keep this in mind as it will count towards the character limit.
Pro-tip: While we advise a 65 character limit, the truth is that Google measures the pixel width of your title to determine if it fits or will appear cut off. The average title gets cut off around 65 characters, but it depends on what characters you use (An uppercase “I” takes up a lot less horizontal space than an uppercase “M”.) You can use this simple tool to see if your title will fit.
Meta Description: Like the <title> tag, the meta description doesn’t actually show up within the blog post. The meta description is the ~155 characters of text that appear below the <title> in the search results. The meta description should be written to draw the potential reader in by describing the content of the blog post. Keep this text under 155 characters.
Keyword Planning Tools
Google Keyword Planner: Requires a Google Ads login. This tool will allow you to see how many people are searching for any given keyword on a monthly basis. It also allows you to focus in on certain regions (countries, cities, DMA’s). Finally, it can help you find related keywords that may actually have a higher search volume than the word or phrase you entered originally.
Navigate to “Historical Metrics” to see search volume.
Answer the Public: Enter a keyword and get a list of related searches. The most useful functionality is looking at the related questions, broken out by How/Why/What/When, etc. It often throws you into a data visualization first, but it’s much easier to use the “Data” view.
Ubersuggest: Use to generate keyword ideas based. Functionality is pretty similar to Keyword Planner.
Moz Title Tag Checker: See if your page title will appear as intended or if it will appear cut off in the search results.
Measuring Results in Google Analytics
How do we know if a blog post is successful in organic search? Head to Google Analytics and navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and then select “Organic Search” from the list. From there, change the Dimension from “Keyword” to “Landing Page”. Now you’re looking at how many people landed on each URL from organic search. Use the search box to narrow this down to /blog/ URLs only, or enter the URL path for a specific blog post that you’re investigating. Note that Google Analytics does not provide keyword data (technically they do, but they block out 99% of it). To get keyword data, you’ll need to head to Google Search Console (free) or a paid tool like BrightEdge or AHREFS.
Google Search Console: Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) provides keyword-level data for each page on the site. Navigate to Performance > Search Results and you will see a list of the top keywords sending traffic to the site. If you want to know what keywords are sending traffic to a certain blog post, create a new “Page” filter at the top of the screen. Just drop in the URL path there, and the results will filter to just keywords sending traffic to that page.