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Best SEO Practices for Blog Traffic and Engagement

February, 2022

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is incredibly important for marketers. When you optimize your web pages — including your blog posts — you're making your website more visible to people who are using search engines (like Google) to find your product or service.But does your blog content really help your business organically rank on search engines?

In this article, you’ll find the answer to this question and more. Get ready for an in-depth exploration into the world of blog SEO, the factors that affect it, and tips to start optimizing your blog site for the search engines.

Millions of bloggers around the world publish fresh content every day.

With so many other companies blogging too, why should you invest time and resources in business blogging? Is the blogging market totally saturated?

Business blogging is no longer a nice-to-have for your company, it is necessary for several reasons.

How important is blogging?

Blogging is important because it provides your potential customers useful information to inform their buying decisions, which helps improve your company’s credibility and thought leadership.

As well, 79% of companies who blog reported a positive ROI in their inbound marketing efforts. Marketers who invest in blogging efforts also see 67% more leads compared to their peers who do not blog.

Now that you have enough reason to start blogging, what can you do to help your posts stand out from all the noise out there? By making your blogs more SEO-friendly and relevant to search engines, you’ll be able to increase your blog visitors and traffic.

Although it's clear blog content does contribute to your SEO, Google's many algorithm updates can make publishing the right kind of blog content tricky if you don’t know where to start. Some blog ranking factors have stood the test of time while others are considered "old-school." Here are a few of the top-ranking factors that can, directly and indirectly, affect blog SEO.

Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, take time to understand what each of these factors does, but don’t try to implement them all at once. They each serve a specific purpose and should be used to meet a specific SEO goal for your blog.

Factors That Affect Blog SEO

  1. Dwell Time

Although dwell time is an indirect ranking factor for Google, it's a critical factor in the user experience — and we know that user experience is king when it comes to SEO. Dwell time is the length of a time a reader spends on a page on your blog site. From the moment a visitor clicks on your site in the SERP, to the moment they exit the page is considered dwell time. This metric indirectly tells search engines like Google how valuable your content is to the reader. It makes sense that the longer they spend on the page, the more relevant it is to them.

However, there’s a reason this metric is an indirect indicator for SEO — it’s completely subjective. The search engine algorithms don’t know your content strategy. Your blog could be focused on short-form content that takes just a minute or two to read. You might also include pertinent information at the beginning of your blog posts to give the best reader experience, which means less time spent on the page. So yes, dwell time can affect SEO, but don’t manipulate your content to change this metric if it doesn’t make sense for your content strategy.

  1. Page Speed

We mentioned earlier that visual elements on your blog can affect page speed, but that isn’t the only thing that can move this needle. Unnecessary code and overuse of plugins can also contribute to a sluggish blog site. Removing junk code can help your pages load faster, thus improving page speed. If you’re not sure how to find and remove junk code, check out HTML-Cleaner. It’s an easy-to-use tool that doesn't require coding knowledge. It simply shows you the unnecessary code and lets you remove it with the click of a button.

I also recommend taking an inventory of your blog site plugins. Decide which ones you need to keep your blog running day-to-day and which ones were installed as a fix for a temporary issue. Plugins that affect the front-end of your site are a threat to page speed, and odds are, you can uninstall more of these plugins than you think to increase your overall site speed.

  1. Mobile Responsiveness

More than half of Google’s search traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. On an individual level, your blog site might follow that same trend. There’s no way around it — optimizing your blog site for mobile is a factor that will affect your SEO metrics. But what exactly does it mean to optimize a website for mobile? The industry rule-of-thumb is to keep things simple. Most pre-made site themes these days are already mobile-friendly, so all you’ll need to do is tweak a CTA button here and enlarge a font size there. Then, keep an eye on how your site is performing on mobile by taking a look at your Google Analytics dashboard and running a mobile site speed test regularly.

  1. Index Date

Search engines aim to provide the most relevant and accurate information available. A factor search engines use when determining what’s relevant and accurate is the date a search engine indexes the content. Indexing means a search engine finds content and adds it to its index. Later, the page can be retrieved and displayed in the SERP when a user searches for keywords related to the indexed page.

You might be wondering: Is the date the content was indexed the same as the date it was published?

The answer: yes and no. If a blog post is published for the first time, it’s likely that say, a Google crawler, will index that post the same day you publish it. But content can be backdated for several legitimate reasons, too, like archiving information or updating a sentence or two.

One way to positively affect this SEO factor is to implement a historical optimization strategy. This strategy works well on blogs that have been established for a few years and have a fair amount of content already. By updating these older posts with new perspectives and data, you’ll be able to significantly impact your blog SEO without creating a lot of net new content. Site crawlers will reindex the page — taking into account the updated content — and give it another opportunity to compete in the SERP. It’s truly a win-win.

  1. Recent Data

Recent data, another indirect ranking factor of SEO, should be included in blog posts. Recent data gives visitors relevant and accurate information which makes for a positive reader experience. When you include a link to a credible site that has original, up-to-date data, you’re telling the search engine that this site is helpful and relevant to your readers (which is a plus for that other site). You’re also telling the search engine that this type of data is in some way related to the content you publish. Over time, your readers will come to appreciate the content which can be confirmed using other metrics like increased time on page or lower bounce rate.

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