When it comes to content marketing, there is no question that search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital tactic for teams.
Our friends at Semrush found that SEO was the mostefficient content marketing tactic in 2020 (according to 75% of marketers surveyed), followed by updating or repurposing existing content (61%).
However, the trouble is that Semrush also found that 44% of content marketing professionals are challenged with improving their content’s SEO performance.
To unlock the full potential of your content performance, let’s explore the ideal blog content structure for SEO. If you’re just getting started with SEO, check out our SEO basics for content marketing first to learn about the importance of keywords, headlines, backlinks, and meta descriptions.
A quick disclaimer on SEO and content marketing: SEO should never be the focus of your content creation. Instead, SEO practices provide an invaluable way to understand your ideal community members, how they search for and consume content, and how to package your resources to fulfill these audience expectations and get in front of your readers.
Your content should always involve some original idea tied to a topic of importance for your audience. This means your team must define its content keyword priorities before you can effectively create content for your community. The Yoast team has an excellent guide that can walk you through how to define your team’s SEO keyword priorities.
There are a lot of factors that impact how well your content performs from an SEO standpoint. For most day-to-day content marketing needs, though, there are just a few key areas you will want to familiarize yourself with.
These core content structure elements affect how well your content will rank in search engine results. These are also crucial elements to help improve the content experience for your audience.
By creating content that addresses these SEO content structure elements, more people can access your content, explore the additional links and resources you provide within the content, and ultimately share that content on social media.
Links to high-domain, valuable content within your content will help boost your content SEO. The idea is that including links to third-party resources signals that you’ve done your research, and your readers should visit these resources for more details.
However, your community needs more descriptive links than “read here” or “learn more” to understand what value they will gain from the other content you link to within your post.
Provide a clear explanation of where your link will take the reader, ideally including a priority keyword for that audience. These information-rich links can include “learn more about the challenges marketers face with SEO,” “read about our newest sustainability initiative to reduce water waste,” or “check out these top tips for creating high-value blog content.”
Watch this short video from Melissa Eggleston, a user experience instructor at Birdcall UX, and past #ContentChat guest on how to create accessible content, to learn more best practices for links on websites.
How long should content be to benefit SEO? HubSpot data suggests the ideal blog post length is 2,100-2,400 words, but that will depend on the type of post and its purpose (how to, what is, etc.). Yoast recommends your content be at least 300 words, but you should strive for at least 1,000 words for a better chance at ranking.
Your content length is important because longer posts can fully explore a topic and address the variety of questions that your readers may have. Search engines will also find longer pieces of content to be more valuable, especially if they are well-structured and include a few well-placed and relevant keywords.
Content tags are not as directly influential in the SEO ranking of a piece of content as some of the other elements (like headings and subheads) are. That said, your blog post tags do play a role in helping search engines understand your overarching site structure and the type of topics you regularly explore.
Much like your keywords, your team should determine its content tag strategy. Keep in mind that it is better to have just a few main recurring tags for your content instead of including every possibly relevant keyword tag.
Have you ever clicked on a blog post to find that it is just one long, uniform block of text? This type of content forces readers to start from the beginning and read through the end—if they even last that long—without any indication of what topics the post covers along the way.
Headings and subheads (or header tags) are an essential way for search engines to “read” your content and help readers skim for the most relevant sections to their needs. Tag your main headline or title for the content as ‘H1’, and ensure it is the only part of your content labeled as such.
Organize the rest of your content using ‘H2’ and ‘H3’ subheads, to create a hierarchy of information. Think like a journalist and include your most important details and keywords toward the start of your article, and delve into more granular details as the piece continues.
There are a few SEO considerations for images in your content. Mainly, you want to focus on how images affect your page load time and set up these images for accessibility.
Unoptimized images, including GIFs, can slow down your web page load times. With this in mind, it is best to upload the smallest acceptable file size that does not detract from the reader experience. For all web pages, upload images that are screen resolution (72 PPI), and use a JPEG file format when possible.
Alternative text is required for all images, especially if you want to model best practices of web accessibility. For example, the alt text should describe your image so that people can understand what the image depicts if it does not load properly or if they use a tool to read web content (which is common for people who experience visual impairment).
Google explains more about how to optimize your images for SEO in this guide.
The only way to stay in front of your audience is to consistently provide high-quality content structured for SEO optimization to ensure it will appear high in your audiences’ search results.
Regularly revisit your team’s keyword priorities to ensure they reflect how your community searches for and consumes content. Look at content KPIs like click-throughs, time spent on a page, and social shares to understand whether your content resonates with your audience.
The best way to start optimizing your team’s SEO strategy is to audit and refresh your existing blog content and retire any blog posts that are no longer valuable for your audience.
Are you looking for answers to more of your SEO questions? Let us know in the comments, and we’re happy to help!