Content is king, but the path to the throne requires proper planning. If you don’t have effective blog content, you’re wasting valuable marketing resources. Because your blog is a direct connection between your organization and your prospect, you need a sound content strategy … one that begins with the focus keyword.
Defining the Focus Keyword
A focus keyword is a string of three to five words that you predict your prospect will type into the Google search bar – one that the search engine will probably complete. Think of it this way: The keyword is the question, and your blog is the answer.
Once you know your blog topic, spend some time researching different phrases to evaluate which one has the highest interest level among online users in your industry. Try to pick only one focus keyword for each blog.
The first step to finding your focus keyword: human intuition. Use your own creativity to single out what you think may be the perfect focus keyword. Then, use available (and free) resources to test your keyword and see how it compares with others. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are great resources for this.
The Anatomy of an Effective Blog
As a rule of thumb, your blog post should have a minimum of 300 words. Blogs are made up of basic structural elements that you’re likely already familiar with. The key is finding the perfect place for your focus keyword.
- Title: The title should be something eye catching and relevant to the topic. A study by the Media Insight Project showed that 60 percent of Americans report that they had read nothing more than news headlines in the week that they were surveyed. This is a vital place to include your focus keyword, so that your reader knows exactly what they’re going to get.
- Opening Paragraph: They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and this is especially true in blog writing. The opening paragraph is where you are speaking directly to your reader; this is your chance to convince them that they should read the rest of the blog. Like your reader, Google is also paying close attention to this paragraph, making it one of the best spots to insert the focus keyword.
- Body Copy: This is the remainder of your blog content, where you continue to explain your topic in more depth. The focus keyword should appear sprinkled throughout this copy.
- Featured Image and Body Images: Did you know that you can insert copy into your blog’s images? This is called the alt-tag. And although it’s not always visible to your reader (unless they choose not to load the images), it’s always visible to the search engine spiders that scan your content and decide your page rankings. You should always use the focus keyword in this field. Thankfully, most blogging platforms show you where to type the alt-tag copy when you upload images.
- Links: Effective blogs include useful links within relevant content. In turn, this makes your content more credible to search engines. Putting the focus keyword in or around the links is a best practice.
- Meta Data: Make sure to update your post’s meta data with the focus keyword. This includes the SEO title (which typically defaults to the blog title if it’s not changed manually), meta description (the preview copy that Google will show in their search results) and the slug (the link that will be used to access the post). Blogging platforms such as WordPress typically have SEO plug-ins available — such as Yoast SEO— to facilitate this process.
These simple guidelines will help increase the reach of your content and maximize return on investment. The search engine algorithms may still be a mystery, but you have complete control over what they should be looking at: the most relevant, effective and descriptive focus keyword possible.
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