2021 was yet another crazy year in the digital marketing world. Thanks to the pandemic-fueled eCommerce boom, it seemed like every brand and their brother was online trying to drive traffic. 2022 promises to be another big year for digital marketing, and with 53 percent of web traffic coming from organic traffic, you can bet SEO will play a big role in everyone’s strategies.
If you’re looking to increase traffic in this ultra-competitive digital landscape and improve your SEO rankings, be prepared to get savvier than ever. Here are eight blog best practices to help.
1. Define your content strategy.
Your blog may produce some of the finest quality writing around, but if it’s not aligned with a clearly defined content strategy, your traffic and conversion will suffer.
What makes a blog on-strategy?
- Every article topic is aligned with search trends, your audience’s needs and challenges, and your business goals.
- Your content contains keywords that are high-traffic, reflective of the search intent of your target audience, and not too competitive.
- Your content calendar includes multiple categories of content to ensure you’re covering:
- All your buyer personas
- All your products and services
- All the stages of the customer funnel from brand awareness to post-sale loyalty content
Don’t worry — it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. More importantly, the results are worth it.
Ready to create your strategy? The good news is you can do it all on your own. Read “How to Perform a DIY Content Strategy for Your Blog” and simply follow the steps.
2. Publish more frequently.
As hard as it can be to publish frequently, your web traffic depends significantly on your posting cadence.
In the first part of 2021, when I was still working at my previous company, I learned for myself that consistency pays off when it comes to blog content — and boy, does it pay off. I launched the company blog at the end of 2018 with a biweekly publishing cadence, and by the end of 2021, we had worked our way up to a cadence of two to three articles per week and were projected to reach a total of over 1.5M annual visitors by the end of the year.
Still, quality matters more than frequency. Neil Patel found that posting one more post per week increased traffic at his previous company KISSmetrics by 18.6%. But he cautions us not to publish substandard posts, offering up the example of Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, who found high frequency was the number one reason for unsubscribes.
3. Become a thought leader in your space.
I attribute growing my previous company’s blog from 0 to 125K visitors per month not just to publishing consistency but also to consistency in quality. What does quality mean in 2022? In the crowded post-pandemic digital environment, every article you write should bring value to readers and offer a fresh take.
It’s not enough anymore to publish just “A” content. It’s not even enough to publish “A+” content anymore. It needs to be “A+” as well as offer a unique perspective on your subject, demonstrating your nuanced expertise.
To elevate your content to the level of thought leadership, brainstorm content topics with your subject matter experts and incorporate their perspectives into your briefs. Consider conducting regular surveys to keep the pulse on your industry and publish thoughtful analyses of your results. If your content budget is tight, consider recruiting your own executive team to contribute articles and hire a wordsmith to edit and optimize their content for SEO.
|Pro Tip: Research what’s working for your competitors. Do more of that, and take it to a whole new level. Research what’s not working for your competitors (check out page 10 of the search results, for example) and make sure you’re not doing that.|
4. Don’t forget the basics (on-page SEO).
Sometimes, when you work in-depth in an area, it can be easy to forget your basics. Recently, after helping a brand win a number of Featured Snippets right at the top of Google for major keywords, I was reminded of the importance of the fundamentals —what’s called on-page SEO.
What’s on-page SEO, you ask?
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing elements of web pages, such as title tags, headings, the use of keywords, and internal links, to improve search rankings.
In fact, the Search Engine Journal State of SEO Report 2021 reported that over a third of SEO professionals thought that meta titles, descriptions, and H1s were the most important ranking factor, and over a quarter of SEO professionals intended to spend time “on-page” over the next year. So obviously I’m not alone here!
Here are some ways to make sure your on-page SEO is on-point in 2022:
- Choose your keywords strategically: Make sure your primary keywords are aligned with your content and will attract the right audience. Choose longtail keywords that are both high in traffic and low-to-medium in difficulty. It’s always better to opt for keywords that have lower traffic counts (a monthly traffic count of 250 or less), as long as they have high relevance for your audience, than to go after the higher-difficulty keywords, as tantalizing as their traffic counts may be.
- Integrate your keywords naturally: Use all your keywords naturally, and try to weave them into headers as much as possible without coming across as “keyword-stuffy.” Your primary keyword should appear in your H1, in one of the H2s, and in the first 150 words of your body copy. Secondary keywords should appear in the H2s and H3s as well as in the body copy as much as possible.
- Be proactive about winning Featured Snippets: Land these dream spots at the top of Google by identifying the People Also Ask and other Featured Snippets you hope to win in your content briefs. Make sure your content directly addresses these questions and topics more thoroughly than the website that currently occupies that spot.
- Start off with a competitive audit: For every content piece you write, study the top-ranking content for your primary keyword and come up with a way to one-up your content competitors. For example, if they’re offering “5 best practices,” offer 10. If they’re offering “tips,” offer “the complete guide.”
- Be thoughtful about your metadata: Take your time writing your meta title, meta description, and alt text for images. Conduct tests regularly to ensure your content is as click-worthy as possible.
5. Focus on link building.
Link building is the SEO strategy you know you need but likely haven’t focused on to the degree that you should. Well, not anymore. If you expect to get ahead in 2022, when the content landscape is more competitive than ever before, link building must be part of your SEO strategy.
DA is, after all, one of the top three search ranking factors. At the very least, you should aim for a DA of 40, but if you want to compete with the big boys in your category, you have to have a much higher score.
The secret to increasing domain authority is acquiring high-quality back links — links from other sites to your own, which signal to Google that you’re an authoritative source on the subject at hand. Just take a look at the number of back links the top-ranking articles have for the primary keyword “content writing” below.
Note that it has an SEO difficulty of 62, which is moderate. But also note that the top ten articles have an average of 410 backlinks and a domain authority of 62. This tells you a couple of things: 1) You’ll need to have a domain authority of about 62 to rank on page 1, and 2) it takes about 410 backlinks to get a domain authority of 62. So if you’re nowhere close to that number, you have no time to waste on starting a backlink strategy.
|Your Homework Assignment: Take a look at the DA on your competitors’ sites that are ranking high on Google. You’ll want to make sure yours is way higher.|
When I launched the C-POP website last summer, my DA was … 1! After all, what else would it be for a brand new site? Still it was a shock to see it. So I started doing some link building myself through guest posts. Within just six months, my DA went from 1 to 7. While 7 isn’t the most impressive number, this increase of 6 points in just 4 months bodes well and underscores the value of this strategy.
Interested in adding link building to your SEO strategy in 2022? We can help. Contact me and I’ll be happy to tell you more about this service.
6. Master the art of linking.
Links are a vital SEO ingredient. When you use them well, you can significantly increase engagement on your site, which signals to Google that your content is valuable to readers. Make sure your blog articles link to several authoritative websites — and skip the no-follow tags, which can actually hurt your SEO rankings.
There’s a lot of debate in the SEO world about how many internal links (links to other blog articles as well as product and service pages) to include in your blog content. Aim for moderation — a sea of hyperlink-blue can give the impression of a spammy site. The longer your article, the more internal links you can afford to add. Just make sure every page you link to is relevant, and include keywords in the anchor text.
7. Make your headlines irresistible.
Fun fact: 8 out of 10 headlines are read, but only 2 out of 10 of them are clicked on. And since the more clicks your article gets, the higher it’s going to rise on SERP pages, it pays to get your clicks as high as possible. That’s why in 2022 you should pay closer attention than ever to your article titles. How much attention? Neil Patel thinks you should spend 40 percent of your writing time on your headlines.
While your headlines don’t have to be clickbait-y, they do need to be click-worthy. Blogging Wizard offers some suggestions:
- Opt for negative headlines: Leave out positive words like “Best” or “Amazing.” For example, instead of “5 Amazing Ways to Increase Your SEO Rankings,” take a negative spin: “The 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes to Avoid.”
- Try a question headline: Stand out with an irresistible question that readers have to answer. For example: “Which of These 5 SEO Mistakes Are You Guilty Of?”
- Incorporate parentheses or brackets: These can be used to make headlines stand out from the clutter, emphasize part of the headline, add credibility by including specific data, and add an oh-so-clickable extra. Examples: “8 Best Blog Practices to Try in 2022 (#5 Increased Our Traffic Big Time)” and “8 Best Blog Practices to Try in 2022 (Free Checklist Included).”
- Use specific numbers: Numbers are a surefire way to build credibility and avoid being generic. For example, what would you rather read: “Blog Practices for Growing Your Traffic” or “8 Blog Practices That Grew Our Traffic by 115% in 6 Months”?
A few more tips:
- Write 30 headlines for every article: Did you know that Maria Forleo writes at least 30 headlines for every piece of content before deciding on The One? No wonder why she’s created a digital empire.
- Lean on your top-performing headline formulas: Study your highest traffic-driving articles, make note of their headlines, and repurpose them for new content.
- Test your headlines: Conduct regular tests and see which ones result in the highest rankings and most clicks.
Meta Titles Versus Article Headlines
What’s a meta title and how is it different from your article headline? A meta title, also known as a title tag, is the HTML code that determines the title for your page when it turns up in search results or on social media. Like this:
Having a clickable title tag is one of the most important SEO ranking factors, vital for attracting the right users to your article and helping Google understand what your content is about. It should be more keyword-rich than the headline displayed on your website.
Here are some additional tips for writing a winning meta title:
- Make it 60 characters (or 600 pixels) or less. Google SERPs usually display the first 50 to 60 characters or 600 pixels of a title tag. Make sure to a colon or vertical slash ( | ) rather than a hyphen so you can maximize that space.
- Include your primary keyword ideally at the beginning or close to the beginning of your title.
- Make it actionable. Use words like “How to,” “Step-by Step Guide,” and “Expert Tips,” etc. so the reader expects information they can use.
Just because it’s a meta title doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enticing to readers — in fact, all the more reason to make it as irresistible as your H1s.
|Content Spotlight: Make sure your blog content hits out of the park every time with our SEO Content Writing Checklist.|
8. Refresh Your Old Content
It’s easy to get so focused on publishing new content that you forget about your older, long-ranking articles — but as these are likely to be your top drivers of traffic, it pays to keep them fresh and optimized, especially as more and more SEO newbs enter the blogosphere.
Chances are, as the years have gone by and you’ve become a savvier blogger, your blog content has gotten better over time, leaving a wake of under-optimized content behind, which is likely riddled with old data and any number of SEO no-no’s. Why not protect your investment and make it as effective as possible with regular content refreshes?
Check out my step-by-step guide on content optimization, which will help you through the process.
Blog Best Practices for the 2022 Content Landscape
As the pandemic-era digital boom continues into 2022 and beyond, more and more brands are getting wise about SEO, but the good news is, they’re not all as committed to results and dedicated to quality as you are. Following the blog best practices above will be sure to help you get better results with your blog this year.
As always, we’re here if you need any help with your content marketing this year. Contact us to learn more about working with us.