How to write SEO blog posts that rank in Google (2022 guide)

Trying to drive more traffic to your website? Learn how to write SEO blog posts that rank on the first page of Google.

Post by
Omid G
How to write SEO blog posts that rank in Google (2022 guide)

In 2019, I was writing an article at my desk when my boss tapped my shoulder and said “come, we need to talk.” I instantly felt my hands go cold, got up, and walked with him into a conference room. When we sat down, he said “our traffic isn’t growing, what’s up I thought you were an SEO expert?”

In a panic, I responded with “SEO takes time. Trust me, we will see results soon.” He said okay, and I went back to my desk.

For the remainder of the day I couldn’t focus, I was scared. I felt like I was doing my best but felt defeated at the same time. On my walk back home, I did what I always do when I’m feeling down — get an ice cream cone from Salt & Straw in Hayes Valley, San Francisco.

That night, while slouched on my couch, I browsed around for a content marketing course. I stared at the checkout page and saw the course was $700 USD. I took a gulp, clicked buy, and prayed this would work out.

Fast forward a year later, I got a promotion for growing my company’s SEO (search engine optimization) traffic from 25k visitors/month to 250k visitors/month — all with blog posts.

SEO traffic growth graph

In this article, I’m going to show you exactly how I did it.

But before I do that, let’s look at what Google actually is. Trust me, you’ll learn something, don't skip this section.

How Google (actually) works

Google is a search engine with the goal to organize all the information in the world. Every day there are hundreds of thousands of blog posts being published to the web. Google needs to figure out what these blog posts are about and rank them accordingly to give the best searching experience to its users.

You can also look at Google as a database of content. Content that goes in the database takes a while for it to eventually surface to its viewers. This is why you hear people say "SEO takes time." Often, it can take 3-6 months before you start seeing your content rank.

If blog posts ranked instantly, Google's search results would be too volatile. And this volatility would not make a good search experience. So Google purposely puts content "on hold" in its database until it is confident that it can provide its searchers with a good experience.

This holding period is often referred to as the "sandbox effect." There's no exact mention of this sandbox existing from Google, but it can be seen with new websites. You can't just create a brand new website, create SEO optimized content on it, and expect it to rank quickly. This is why you need to create content consistently, for months, until you are no longer in this sandbox and your articles start getting crawled and index quickly. Again, this goes back to the whole volatility thing.

Once you're out of the "sandbox," your articles will rank depending on a few ranking factors (which we'll get into). But most importantly, it's about getting the search intent right and making sure your content gives a searcher exactly what they want.

Because, at the end of the day, what Google wants for its users is for them to find the right answers to their questions as soon as possible. This means you need to create content with the goal to end the search journey.

Ending the search journey

Ending the search journey is Google’s subjective way to know if a blog post is either a good one for its users, or a bad one.

Great content is subjective, so Google has to come up with user signals to know what's "good."

For example, if I wanted to know what the best minimalist coffee tables are, the first link I click on should tell me exactly that.

Google search results for best minimalist coffee table

The first article should be so informative that I either click on outbound links in the article, spend a lot of time on the article, or browse around on the website that posted the article to learn more about them.

This tells Google that I found what I was looking for.

However, if I open the first article, and then click back and click on another article, Google gets a signal that the first article did not give me what I was looking for — sending a negative signal to the first ranking article. This then makes Google question if it should prioritize a different article to be in the first spot.

Pogo sticking in SEO

Bouncing between articles is known as “pogo sticking,” and it can seriously hurt an article's ability to out rank other blog posts.

This is why ending the search journey is important. You need to create a blog post so good that it gives a reader everything they need to know about the keyword you are going after.

You want someone to Google something, click on your article, and then stop and create a new action. You don’t want someone to click on your article, then click the back button on their browser and look for a different article.

Okay, but let’s say you understand this and you create a great piece of content that you think does a better job at explaining a topic than any other blog post on the first page of Google. But, you still aren’t on the first page.

What do you do?

You need to understand how to write in a way that makes Google better understand what your content is about.

What is SEO writing?

SEO content writing is the act of writing in a way that search engines can understand what your content is about. Writing for SEO helps you appear in Google, so you can get organic clicks to your website and blog posts.

Besides the pogo sticking thing we talked about earlier, there are clear ranking factors that Google’s robots use in their algorithm to rank pieces of content accordingly.

Ranking factors for blog posts

Here are the top ranking factors, listed in order of importance:

  1. Getting the search intent right
  2. Having a strong domain authority
  3. Having topical authority in what you’re writing about
  4. Competition level: How many other pages are talking about the same topic
  5. Backlinks: Links from other websites linking to your blog post
  6. Interlinking: How you link to other pages on your website in your blog post
  7. On-page SEO: How you organize and write your blog post
  8. User experience, both in terms of high-quality content and reading experience

We are going to talk about all of these in the sections below. I’ll even give you an example of how I would find a keyword and write an article on it that ranks.

8 steps to writing an SEO-friendly blog post

Here’s how to write SEO optimized blog posts (step-by-step):

  1. Doing proper keyword research
  2. Understanding search intent
  3. Outlining your blog post for SEO success
  4. Writing your blog post
  5. Getting the tech specs right
  6. Interlinking
  7. Publishing and submitting to Google
  8. Getting backlinks

Okay, let’s dive deeper into each one.

1. Doing proper keyword research

The first step to writing any SEO optimized blog post is to do proper keyword research. There are tons of guides on how to do keyword research out there. Here is one that is really good to watch:

But, I’m going to try to break it down as simply as possible.

This will be the longest section of this guide because I’ve found that a proper SEO strategy through keyword research is the most important step to get right. If you can’t find search queries your site has a chance of ranking for, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

You’ll need a keyword research tool to do this part. My favorite tool to use is Ahrefs. It will run you about $100 a month for their cheapest plan. If you want something cheaper you can also use Keysearch, which doesn’t give you as much flexibility as Ahrefs does but it’s a fraction of the price.

What you need to know about keyword research is that Google likes to rank authoritative websites. An authoritative website can be described by what it’s domain authority/rating is (a score from 0-100), if the website talks about variations of the topic you’re trying to rank for, how informative the article is (no high bounce rates with pogo sticking), and how many backlinks are pointing to the article.

For example, WebMD, Mayoclinic, and Healthline are authoritative websites in the health niche. They all have high domain authorities and they talk about all things health.

If I search for “symptoms of a cold,” Mayoclinic shows up first (in the US). Mayoclinic has tons of other articles about colds like, diagnostics and treatments of a cold, how to tell the difference between a cold and allergies, symptoms of a cold, and many more.

Google knows that Mayoclinc is an expert on the topic of “colds” because they talk about it so much — this is topical authority.

If I have a small lifestyle blog, and I have only one blog post that talks about how to get rid of a cold, there’s a good chance it will never see the first page of Google — mainly because my domain authority probably doesn’t compare to other health websites and because I don’t have topical authority of colds (yet).

This information is key to how we approach our keyword research. It looks different for every website because you have to have an understanding of how your website compares to others on the first page of Google.

However, there are ways to do keyword research in a way that can help uncover some low competition keywords to go after first. Let’s go over how to find those.

Open up Ahrefs, and in the Keyword Explorer feature, type in a general subject you want to talk about.

For the rest of this article, as an example, I’m going to stick with the theme of coffee/coffee tables.

Matching terms for "coffee tables" in Ahrefs

Type in your desired keyword and click on “Matching terms” (see the red arrow above).

Now, we are presented with a list of terms related to coffee tables (23,262 keywords to be exact). Depending on the topic you want to write about, KD (keyword difficulty) will vary. As you can see, this topic is somewhat on the lower competition side.

You can now start making note of keywords that stand out to you. But let’s take it a step further.

I mentioned this in my SaaS content marketing guide already, but you can set modifiers to narrow down your keyword results.

Some modifiers I like to use: How, why, what, is, examples, example, tool, tools, sample, samples, best, software, top, guide, template, tutorial, course, courses, inspiration, help.

Ahrefs Matching terms Include filter feature

Copy and paste these modifiers into the “Include” section in Ahrefs. Click apply, and you’ll see the results narrow down based on your modifiers:

Keywords in Ahrefs filtered by modifiers

Now our list of keywords has narrowed down from 23,262 to just 1,734. You can now start making a list of keyword ideas to add to your list.

But let’s narrow it down even more to find really low competition keywords. We will do this by adjusting the KD (keyword difficulty) of the keywords we want to see.

Keyword difficulty filter in Ahrefs

If you’re a fairly new site with a domain rating of under 50 or so, I would recommend adjusting your KD to a max of 30.

After clicking “Apply,” we now have a list of keyword ideas based on our modifiers and desired keyword competition.

Keywords in Ahrefs filtered with modifers and KD

Now we’ve narrowed down our list to just 74 keywords.

We can add some of these to our list of keyword ideas.

One thing to note, you’ll notice that most of these keywords have a lot of commercial intent — especially because we used the “best” modifier. Commercial intent keywords are good, it’s where the money’s at. But we want to make sure that we have topical authority around things we talk about.

If we want to be an authority in the coffee/coffee table niche, we can’t just have a bunch of “best” type list posts. We also need some informational blog posts as well. This is where the other modifiers like “how,” “what,” “why,” and “is” come into play.

Ideally, you want to have something like 70% informational posts and 30% commercial posts on your blog. But for the sake of this tutorial, we’ll keep it 50/50 and select two keywords to begin making content for. These two keywords I’m going to choose are:

  • How tall are coffee tables
  • Best coffee tables for small spaces

And just like that, we’ve found some good low competition keywords we have a shot at ranking for on the first page.

But, this keyword research strategy may not work for every industry. The main keyword I chose, “coffee tables,” is lower in competition than say a blog that wants to talk about tech and software.

In the tech and software space, even with this strategy, you might find that most of the keywords have really high KD’s — even after all the narrowing down.

So, what do you do?

You take a more creative approach to keyword research.

I’m going to show you two different ways to help uncover some gems.

Go back to Ahrefs and this time go to Site Explorer and type in facebook.com, medium.com, and/or quora.com (one at a time).

There are millions of websites that have been mentioned on these platforms. And many of these websites mentioned on these large content websites already did their due diligence when it comes to keyword research. We can find some low authority sites that are ranking well for different topics and copy them.

Finding low DR websites with Referring domains

The screenshot above shows a lot, but what I did was type in medium.com, selected “Referring domains” (on the left panel), typed in a word related to our niche (in this case coffee), and then filtered by highest trafficked first.

Now, we can see all the websites that talk about coffee and how much traffic they are getting.

Find a website that has a relatively low DR (domain rating), but also has a decent amount of traffic. A low DR can be anything under 40 (the lower the better). 

In the screenshot above, I can see thecoffeemaven.com has a DR of 26 (pretty low), but has 157.6K visitors/month (pretty high).

Go back to Site Explorer and search for the website you found. Then, click on “Top pages” on the left panel (you’ll have to scroll down).

Top pages for website in Ahrefs

Now we can see a list of keywords and pages this low DR website is ranking for. Find some relevant keywords for your target audience and add them to your list of keyword ideas.

You may not find good keyword ideas based on the first site you find using this strategy, so you’ll need to rinse and repeat — checking out other websites like Quora or Facebook, typing in different words to find new websites, and bouncing between different websites from those results.

Okay, one more strategy for keyword research.

Go back to Site Explorer and again type in a big content website. This time, pick only websites that have a lot of UGC (user generated content). User generated content tends to rank lower than thoughtful blog posts from an actual blog site. If we can find what keywords these UGC sites rank for on the first page of Google, chances are we can write a better blog post that outranks them.

Finding UGC keywords in Ahrefs

In this case, I typed in quora.com as our site to do an analysis on, then I clicked on “Organic keywords” on the left panel, and finally set a filter to only show pages that rank with the keyword coffee in them.

You can also go as far as filtering by which keywords that have the most volume, but I didn’t do that in the screenshot above.

Now we can see a list of more keyword ideas. Of course, some of these keywords may not make sense for our website about coffee, but some will. For example, “can mormons drink decaf coffee” could be a good one, while “i like my coffee how i like my men” is probably not (lol).

Okay, that’s it.

There’s no right way to do keyword research, you can get super creative with it and that’s why I like using Ahrefs (because they give you a lot of options).

For the rest of this article, I’m going to stick with the two keywords I mentioned earlier:

  • How tall are coffee tables
  • Best coffee tables for small spaces

One other strategy I didn't get too much into is to identify and go after People Also Search For keywords. I have a guide on this if you want to check out.

Now, let’s get to writing about these topics.

2. Understanding search intent

Search intent is a crucial part you need to get right. Get this wrong, and your blog post will never see the first page of Google.

If you search for guides about search intent, like this one, they will tell you a bunch of information about transactional, commercial, information, etc. type of blog posts.

But let’s not overcomplicate things.

Similar to our keyword research tactics, all we are doing is being observant about what Google likes to rank. That’s all SEO really is — observing what Google shows on the first page for a given keyword and trying to emulate that, while writing a better piece of content in the process.

Let’s say we decide to write an SEO blog post going after the keyword “best coffee tables for small spaces.”

The first step is to open a private, or incognito, window in our browser and simply Google the keyword. We want to do this in a private/incognito window so Google doesn’t show us tailored results based on our previous search history and behavior — we want the cleanest results there are.

Google results for "best coffee tables for small spaces"

Notice how all of the top results are blog posts showing a list of the best coffee tables for small spaces. This means, if we want to compete, we have to create a list post.

Google has deemed that when people search for “best coffee tables for small spaces” what they really want is a list of coffee tables.

They don’t want information on how to create the best coffee table for small spaces.

If we create a blog post going after the keyword “best coffee tables for small spaces,” but write an article titled “How to create the best coffee table for a small spaces,” it will have a hard time ranking on the first page for this keyword. No matter how strong our domain authority is, how many backlinks we have pointing to the article, or how thorough and amazing the content is inside of the blog post, it will never rank strongly for the keyword we are going after.

This is why search intent is so important.

Again, we determine how to approach the article simply by observing what Google likes to show in the top results — don’t try to outsmart Google.

So, for this keyword, we should create a blog post titled something like:

  • 50 best coffee tables for small spaces that defy beauty

Notice how the exact keyword we are targeting, “best coffee tables for small spaces,” is in the title. Also notice how the title tries to get people to click on it by saying something like “... that defy beauty.” We want to have a high CTR (click through rate) to make people click on our article over other ones.

Without getting someone to want to click on your blog post, you’ll never get anyone reading it. CTR is important. Just look at how all these big YouTubers have crazy thumbnails and titles — they do it for a reason. There has to be an element of click-bait. But of course, don’t mislead people or else they’ll pogo stick and it will hurt your rankings.

However, what we also notice in the first ranking article is that there’s a date, 2022. This could mean that people like to click on articles with dates in them. So, we could also have a title like:

  • 50 best coffee tables for small spaces (2022 buyers guide)

I would come up with at least 10 different titles and use a headline analyzer tool to help pick the best title, or ask around coworkers and friends which title they are more likely to click on.

Also, notice that each title I recommended for this blog post is under 60 characters. Any blog post titles over 60 characters will get cut off in Google’s search results. Keep this in mind.

Okay, we’re getting somewhere.

We found a good, low competition keyword. We figured out that the intent should be a list style post (not a how to guide). And, we came up with a title.

Now, let’s write for SEO.

3. Outlining your blog post for SEO success

A proper outline will help you make SEO writing a breeze. The more thorough an outline, the easier it will be to write. On the same token, the more thorough an outline, the more likely you are to get a good piece of content if you’re outsourcing your writing to freelance writers or an SEO content writing service.

Creating your outline is basically having all of your headings in place so you can make sure you cover the right information Google wants.

Let’s look at how we are going to write our blog post 50 best coffee tables for small spaces (2022 buyers guide).

Open up a word document, or an editor inside a content optimization platform.

For list posts, I found that this general template does well:

  • [H1] Main title tag
  • [H2] Something/question about the topic
  • [H2] Variation of the main title
  • [H3] List item
  • [H3] List item
  • [H3] List item
  • etc.
  • [H2] Conclusion

How I came up with this SEO blog writing template for list posts came from observing how top ranking articles were formatted and through trial-and-error trying to rank list posts myself.

Same thinking applies for “how to” guides — observe how top ranking articles structure their headlines and follow a similar pattern.

Structuring list posts like this can also help you show up in featured snippets. Here as an example of an article I outlined for Webflow, that was later written by a freelance writer:

Featured snippet for blog post

The initial H2 heading opens up your list (of H3 subheadings) and the concluding H2 heading after that closes the list.

If you open this article, you’ll see how I have an H2 that’s a question, “What is web design?”

Then the H2 before the list is literally the exact same as the main H1 title, although you can also make it a variation of the H1. Then, at the very end, there’s another H2 concluding paragraph that closes the H3 list and finishes the blog post.

You can also have multiple H2’s before and after you have your H2/H3 list to give your blog post more depth and useful information for readers.

In the case of the article above, I just had one H2 on what is web design before I started the list.

To get some H2 ideas, you can look at the “People also ask” section in Google when searching your keyword, or you can just look at what other top ranking blog posts have.

In the case above, we could have also had H2’s before our list that addressed these questions:

People also ask section in Google

I hope you’re getting the idea.

You can also use a tool like Growthbar to help you create these H2 ideas. Let’s look at what this would look like for our blog post 50 best coffee tables for small businesses (2022 buyers guide).

In Growthbar, I can type in any keyword and it will generate a content report for me. Here, I just typed in “best coffee tables for small spaces” and I’m presented with this:

Growthbar content generator

As you can see, these tools are just guides, and not meant to always be followed to a T. Growthbar is suggesting my main H1 title to be “How to choose the best coffee tables for small spaces.” But we know this is not the correct search intent, so we are going to stick with our original title and approach.

But, we can click on the “Drag-and-Drop” feature to see what headings it recommends for this keyword.

Drag-and-Drop content editor in Growthbar

Here, we can see competing articles for this keyword, and drag-and-drop these headlines into our content outline if we’d like.

We can do this for free by manually looking at each blog post that ranks for this keyword, Growthbar just makes it a bit faster.

Okay, here’s what our outline could look like if we go after the keyword best coffee tables for small spaces:

  • [H1] 50 best coffee tables for small spaces (2022 buyers guide)
  • [Meta description]: A 155 character description of our article, with the main keyword somewhere inside.
  • [Lede] Our hook at the beginning of the article to get people reading
  • [H2] Can I put a coffee table in a small living room?
  • [H2] Is a round coffee table better for small spaces?
  • [H2] The best coffee tables for small spaces that defy beauty
  • [H3] 1. Example coffee table
  • [H3] 2. Example coffee table
  • [H3] 3. Example coffee table
  • [H3] 4. Example coffee table
  • Etc.
  • [H2] Our top picks

Looks pretty good if you ask me.

You’ll notice I added a “meta description” and “lede” section as well. The meta description is just a 155 character description of the article and the lede is a hook section. I add these when creating outlines for writers to give them direction.

Cool, now we have our outline, let’s fill it out to get a completed blog post.

4. Writing your blog post

Once you have your outline, it’s time to get writing. But to get the most out of your blog post, you want to make sure your blog post is keyword-rich.

When I say “keyword-rich,” I don’t mean keyword stuffing and spamming your article with your main keyword. What I do mean is making sure your blog post includes your target keyword a few times in the article and also variations of the target keyword. 

Use keywords to fuel your blog post content strategy.

You can use a free tool like LSIGraph to help find related keywords to your target keyword:

LSIGraph

As you can see, we probably want to mention things like “ottoman coffee tables,” “best end tables,” and “small rectangular coffee tables” in our article. This can help drive more direction in what we should be covering inside of this article.

What generally happens when publishing an article around a specific keyword is that we’ll also end up ranking for a bunch of different keywords as well. This is why you can have a target keyword with a search volume of 500 searches/month, but once the article ranks it actually gets 700 visitors/month. We rank for our target keyword and for other keywords that pop up in our article.

My favorite tool of all time, that tells you what other keywords to have in your article, is Clearscope.

I used to use the free approach with LSIGraph but it was time consuming. A tool like Clearscope does all the heavy lifting. It scans the top ranking articles for a given keyword and tells you what keywords all of the top results have in common. Then it tells you to include those keywords in your article as well.

Clearscope is quite expensive, so there are alternatives like Growthbar or Surfer SEO (the best alternative to Clearscope IMO) that you can use instead. I created a list of all the content optimization platforms that do this if you want to check it out.

In Clearscope, I can type in my main keyword, "best coffee tables for small spaces” and I’m presented with this:

Clearscope's competitor report

Now we have a list of all the top ranking articles, their content grade (a score created by Clearscope), word count, and readability grade.

Now we can go to the Clearscope editor to get writing:

Clearscope's content editor

I already pasted in my outline shown earlier. Now I can share this draft with a writer, or I can get writing myself.

You’ll notice the right panel gives us all the keywords we should mention (and how many times). Each time we mention a keyword the tool recommends, it will be highlighted in yellow in our editor.

On the left panel, we can see our content grade that will go up as we write more words and include recommended keywords. We can also see a recommended word count. However, this word count is a lot less than the top two ranking articles, so we’ll try to write more — something like 3,500 words.

Once we reach the word count, and have a grade of at least an A-, the post is ready. We can then transfer this into our CMS (content management system) and add images where needed.

Boom, we’re pretty much done.

We went after a keyword we knew we could rank for. We found the search intent. We chose a title. We created an outline. And, we wrote a keyword-rich blog post based on our outline.

Now, let’s make sure we get some tech specs right for Google.

5. Getting the tech specs right

This part should be fairly straightforward. We want to make sure we have a few technical things down to improve user experience and give more information to Google.

To improve user experience, you want to make sure that your blog page template is clean and easy to read and navigate. The main thing to get right is responsiveness. Your blog should look great on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Luckily, most website building tools do this automatically, and if you buy a website template chances are it’s already responsive.

Next, when you add images to blog posts, you want to make sure that the file sizes are ideally JPG files under 100kb. You can search for image compression tools in Google and find a tool that does this for you.

Before you upload an image in your CMS, you also want to make sure that the file name is relevant. If I upload a picture of a rectangular coffee table, I want the image file name to be:

  • rectangular-coffee-table.jpg

You want to avoid uploading image files with weird names or strings of numbers and letters. This will help your images show up in Google image results.

Finally, for images, you want to make sure each image has ALT text. ALT text basically tells people who are using page reading devices (mostly used by those who are visually impaired) what an image is about — this improves user experience. So for an image of a rectangular coffee table, I would set the ALT text to “an image of a rectangular coffee table.”

Next, before you publish your blog post, you want to make sure that the URL is clean.

When we publish our article on 50 best coffee tables for small spaces (2022 buyers guide), we want the URL of that blog post to be something like:

  • https://ourwebsite.com/blog/best-coffee-tables-for-small-spaces

Or

  • https://ourwebsite.com/best-coffee-tables-for-small-spaces

We don’t want the URL to include the exact title of our blog post, we just want the main keyword we are going after to be in the URL.

Next, we’ll want to make sure we have article schema on our blog pages. Schema is a JSON markup that helps Google crawlers better understand what your content is about (and who wrote it).

Adding this to your website will depend on what platform (or SEO plugin) you used to create your website. But we basically want to paste in this article schema code snippet into the code of our blog post pages.

You can generate article schema for blog posts using a schema generator tool.

Schema for our blog post will look something like this:

Article schema for a blog post

This code will generally go in the <body> section of your blog post’s code.

Lastly, we want to set canonical tags for our blog posts. Canonical tags essentially tell Google that our blog post is the original version on the web.

This way, if someone completely rips your blog post word-for-word, and publishes it on their website, Google will know that the original post is located on our website — helping Google prioritize our article to rank.

A canonical tag is just one line of code we add to our blog post page’s code, similar to the schema data. For our example article, it would look like this:

Canonical tag

It’s literally just the URL of our blog post with a rel=”canonical” tag.

That’s it for the tech specs. If you’re using a good website platform like Webflow or WordPress, any other tech specs should be covered.

Great, we are now literally 10 steps ahead from most websites that publish blog posts. I think this deserves a round of applause (and an ice cream cone).

6. Interlinking

Now you’re ready to publi… wait.

Before you publish your article for the world to see, make sure you have internal links. Internal links, or interlinking, is when you link out to other pages on your website.

This means that when you publish a new blog post, you want to go back to some of your other blog posts and link out to your new article (with relevant anchor text) where it makes sense.

You always want a page on your website to be linked out to from other pages on your website. In the SEO world, we call pages with no links pointing to them “orphan pages.” But that word seems kind of harsh. I like to call them "lonely pages." We just want to make sure all of our blog posts are being linked out to from other places on our website, so they're not lonely.

So even when writing a new blog post, get in the habit of linking out to other blog posts you’ve already written — this can help Google understand how you have topical authority.

Example of inter-linking blog posts together

For our example post about coffee tables for small spaces, we could link out to other posts on our website related to coffee tables (if we have them). Try to aim to link out to 2-5 other relevant blog posts (or pages) on your website. You also want a healthy amount of external links in your article — which are just links pointing to other resources on different websites.

Okay, now we are ready to publish. Ship it!

7. Publishing and submitting to Google

Once you’ve published your article, and finished your ice cream cone, there are some other steps to complete. These steps won’t make or break your ability to rank, but they can help.

After publishing your article, you’ll want to make sure other articles on your website are linking out to your new one. This is why getting in the habit of interlinking is important.

An easy way to find relevant blog posts on your website, to go back to and link to your new one, is to do a “secret” search in Google. Go to Google and type in:

  • Site:[your website or blog].com “[keyword of new article]”

Replace the brackets with your information. Here is what it looks like for the blog you’re currently reading:

Site search in Google

In the screenshot above, we can see all the blog posts on my blog that mention the word “seo.”

(This is of course assuming I just published an article about SEO (like this one!) and want to link out to it from other blog posts. Which I will do after I publish this article.)

Now, we can go back into our CMS and find these blog posts to make sure they link out to our new post. Now, our new post isn’t lonely and has some links pointing to it.

Next, we want to make sure our new blog post is in our website’s sitemap. Again this all depends on the website platform you’re using. Some platforms automatically add new pages to your sitemap, while others are more manual and require you to do it.

Your XML sitemap is a guide for Google to know what pages you believe are the most important pages on your website. It generally lives on https://yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml.

Once the page is in your sitemap, head over to Google Search Console and resubmit your sitemap to give an update to Google.

Submitting sitemap in Google Search Console

Now, Google knows your new article is important.

One last step, request Google to index your new blog post. Google will do this anyways after some time, but we can help speed up the process by manually “forcing” it.

In Google Search Console, go to “URL inspection” and type in the URL of your new blog post. Then, click on TEST LIVE URL to make sure it’s responsive and readable by Google. Once you do that, click on REQUEST INDEXING.

Request indexing in Google Search Console

And there you go, you’re done.

Now we’ve done everything in our power to help this article rank on the first page of Google. At this point you can leave this blog post alone and begin working on a new one to repeat the cycle.

After about 3 months, you can monitor where your blog post stands in search results. If you’re ranking #1, great!

If you’re ranking on the lower half of the first page, or even on the second or third page, it could mean that you went after a competitive keyword.

Competitive keywords will need backlinks, aka links from other websites, to help drive them higher in search results.

8. Getting backlinks

A backlink is a link from another website that points to yours. It’s one of the strongest ranking signals for Google. Google is like a robot, it won’t always know how good your content is. But if other websites are linking to your blog post, Google can then make the assumption that there’s something good about your blog post. If other websites are linking to it, it has to be good to some extent.

Backlinks can be difficult to get. It’s not always in your control, which is why we first focus on what we can control (with everything mentioned above).

There are lots of ways you can get backlinks, but I’m not going to mention all of them in this article or else it will be longer than it already is.

Here is one of my favorite videos for getting ideas for how to get backlinks:

You can also leverage guest postings — publishing articles on other websites — to get backlinks. Write an article for someone and in that article, link out to your own article(s). Here is my favorite guide on guest blogging if you decide to go this route.

Once you have a top ranking article, it’s almost inevitable that it will eventually get some passive backlinks. As writers are researching topics for other articles they’re writing about, they may do a Google search for a keyword you rank #1 for and reference your article in their research.

But this generally happens if you have really good statistic-style posts or you rank in the top three spots for highly competitive keywords.

It’s kind of like how the rich get richer, I guess.

Otherwise, stick to strategies from the video above. Or, just stick to going after low competition keywords first that don’t need a lot of backlinks to rank for.

Cool, we’re done!

Conclusion

Learning how to write SEO blog posts is both a science and an art.

There’s an art to identifying the right keywords to go after and writing a blog post that is engaging, entertaining, and informative.

But there’s an element of science when it comes to ranking factors and structuring blog posts in a way that makes it easy for Google to understand and rank.

Of course, not every blog post you write will rank in the number one spot of Google. But, it’s always good to aim for number one.

If every blog post published on the web ranked high in the SERP (search engine results pages), Google’s search results would be too volatile.

And, you actually don’t want SEO blog writing to be an easy process. If it were easy, a competitor would easily replicate what you do and outrank you as soon as you started to rank. So while SEO blogging is simple, it’s not always easy. And that’s a good thing.

Writing the best blog post for a given keyword will help you stand out from others. And building backlinks to your articles will make you stand out even more. The things that can be easily manipulated are weighed less to Google than the things that are hard to replicate.

Hopefully this article gives you some SEO tips and a framework for ranking blog posts on the first page, and ideally in the number one spot.

Now enough reading, go write something the world deserves to see.

Bloggers unite!

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