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11 Easy-to-Follow Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO

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11 Easy-to-Follow Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO

If you want your blog posts to get search traffic, optimize them for SEO.

But that doesn’t mean shoehorning as many keywords as possible. Keyword stuffing doesn’t work anymore.

How do you optimize your content to be search-friendly? You’ll learn how in this post.

1. Target a topic with search traffic potential

If no one’s searching for your keywords, you often can’t get search traffic. 

So before you do any content optimization, you must first ensure you’re targeting topics people are searching for. 

Here’s how to find these topics:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter one or a few relevant keywords
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Set the tab to Questions
Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Go through the list and pick out those relevant to your site.

2. Align your blog post with search intent

Google wants to serve its users with the most relevant content. It does this by understanding why a searcher is looking for a particular topic. This is known as search intent.

If you want to rank higher on Google, you’ll need to match search intent. 

To identify search intent, you’ll want to analyze the three Cs by looking at the top-ranking pages for your target keyword:

  • Content type – Are they blog posts, product pages, landing pages, or something else?
  • Content format – Are they tutorials, listicles, how-to guides, recipes, free tools, or something else?
  • Content angle – Is there a dominant selling point, like low prices or how easy it is?

For example, let’s say we’re targeting the keyword “how to become a wedding planner”: 

SERP overview for "how to become a wedding planner," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Here are the three C’s:

  • Content type – They’re mostly blog posts.
  • Content format – They’re mostly how-tos.
  • Content angle – There are a few angles here (“according to experts,” “number of steps,” “without any experience”).

So if you want to rank for this topic, it’s likely you’ll have to create a how-to guide (with any of the above angles if you can create something better, or a unique one if you have something different to share).

3. Cover important subtopics searchers want to see

If the top-ranking pages cover similar subtopics, they’re likely important and what searchers expect to see.

We can find these subtopics by looking at the common keywords the top-ranking pages rank for. 

Here’s how to find them:

  1. Enter your keyword (e.g., “how to become a wedding planner”) into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Scroll down to the SERP overview
  3. Select three to five top-ranking articles (make sure they’re similar)
  4. Click Open in and choose Content gap
Open in Content Gap, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Here, you’ll see the keywords these pages are ranking for. Click on the Intersection dropdown and choose the highest two targets (4, 5). Then look through the results to find potential subtopics.

Content Gap report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In this example, searchers want to know:

  • The requirements you need to become a wedding planner.
  • Whether you need a degree to become a wedding planner.
  • If you need a license to be a wedding planner.
  • How long does it take to become a wedding planner.
  • How to become a wedding planner with no experience.

If you’re targeting this topic, they’re likely potential subtopics you should cover.

4. Optimize for featured snippets

Featured snippets are quick answers to search queries displayed at the top of the SERPs. Here’s an example:

Example of a featured snippet

Ranking for a featured snippet is a “shortcut” to the top of the SERPs, and it often has the bonus of driving more traffic to your website

To optimize for featured snippets, search for your target keyword and see if there is a featured snippet. If there’s one, you’ll want to take note of what Google is displaying.

In the above example, Google shows a definition for the query “skyscraper technique.” And this is why we’ve included one in our post:

Skyscraper technique definition

Sometimes, Google displays a list:

Google shows a list for a featured snippet for "google ranking factors"

In that case, you’ll want to format your content as a listicle too (with proper subheadings).

5. Give people a reason to link to your content

Links are an important Google ranking factor. Generally speaking, the more people you can get to link to your content, the higher the likelihood of it performing well.

Backlinks help pages rank higher in Google's search results

How do you get more links to your post? You need to give people a reason to link to your content.

Generally, people link because there’s something unique in your content—either a unique angle or you’ve added unique pieces of information. 

Here are some ideas on how you can make your content unique:

6. Make sure your post is easy to read

Google says it uses user interaction data to assess whether search results are relevant:

How Google ranks results

If your post is difficult to read and your visitors bounce—it may not be great for your SEO. 

So you’ll want to make sure that your content is as easy on the eye as possible:

  • Use descriptive subheadings (H2–H6) for hierarchy
  • Use bullet points to help with skim reading
  • Use images and GIFs (where needed) to break up the text
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs to avoid “walls of text”
  • Use simple words that everyone can understand
  • Write like you speak to make your writing conversational
  • Read your copy out loud (when editing) to smooth the flow

7. Get someone with expertise or experience to create the content

Google aims to reward pages that demonstrate E-E-A-T:

  • Experience – Firsthand or life experience in the topic.
  • Expertise – High level of knowledge or skill in a particular field.
  • Authoritativeness – Reputation, particularly among other experts and influencers in the industry.
  • Trustworthiness – Legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy of the website and its content.

Put simply: Google rewards content that displays evidence of expertise or experience.

Sidenote.

This is especially important if you’re writing about medical, financial, or legal topics. Google calls these Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics and requires you to have formal expertise.

For example, most of our blog content is created by our marketing team: a team built from SEOs and marketers with years of experience. For example, my colleague, Chris Haines, has 10 years of experience working in an SEO agency.

Even then, when we’re covering topics where we do not have firsthand experience, we’ll reach out to experts. For example, we interviewed several SEO experts like Marie Haynes to create an article about Google penalties—a topic that she is well known to specialize in.

You’ll want to do the same for your content too.

It can be simple things like actually using the products you’re reviewing. Or going through a particular process or procedure—like actually experiencing intermittent fasting if you’re writing about it. 

Otherwise, if you do not have expertise or experience, hire someone who has it to create or review your content. 

8. Add internal links to relevant resources

Internal links are important for three main reasons:

  1. They help Google discover new pages.
  2. They help Google understand what your page is about via anchor text: the clickable words in the link.
  3. They pass PageRank, which is an important Google ranking factor.

So not only do you want to add internal links to other relevant pages on your site, but you’ll also want to add them to your newly published posts too.

The easiest way to find relevant pages to internally link to is to perform a site search. For example, if I want to add internal links to my post on the Skyscraper Technique, this is what I’ll search:

Doing a site search for the Ahrefs Blog

Besides the first result (the actual post), the rest are potential targets I can add links from.

This method is mostly manual, so a quicker way to do this is to sign up for Ahrefs Webmaster Tools and run a crawl of your site with Site Audit. Once that’s done, head to the Link opportunities report. 

The report will suggest potential internal links you can add.

Link opportunities report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

According to SparkToro, Google Images is the world’s second-largest search engine. Your images can rank and send traffic your way too.

Here’s how to optimize them:

  • Compress your images – This makes file sizes smaller and helps your page speed. You can use a tool like ShortPixel to do this.
  • Use descriptive filenamesGoogle says that filenames give it clues about the image’s subject matter. Be descriptive and succinct and use dashes between words.
  • Use descriptive alt text – Google also uses this to understand the subject matter of an image. Again, be descriptive and concise. Don’t stuff keywords.

10. Write a compelling title tag

After searching for a keyword in Google, the first thing a user will see is the title tags.

Search results for marketing tips

A good title tag can be the critical difference between a searcher choosing you or the others.

Here’s how you can write one that’s click-worthy:

  • Keep them short – Google often truncates title tags above 70 characters.
  • Match search intent – You’ve done that in step #2, so make sure your titles reflect that.
  • Include the keywordGoogle uses the title to understand what a page is about, so try to include your target keyword.
  • Include the year – Do this if your target topic demands fresh results.
  • Use power words – These words elicit emotion (e.g., awe-inspiring, captivating, etc.). Don’t go overboard—one or two is fine. Use this list to find ones that match your content.
  • Don’t clickbait – #4 won’t shock your readers. Clickbait title tags may work in the short term but will damage your brand in the long term. Treat your readers as smart people and offer them descriptive and truthful titles. 

11. Set an SEO-friendly URL

Google’s recommendation is to use words that are relevant to your content. The easiest way, typically, is to use your target keyword as your slug. 

So for a post targeting the keyword “diy seo,” the slug will simply be:

A good slug for the keyword "diy seo"

Keep learning

Check out these resources to learn more about SEO:

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter



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Google To Upgrade All Retailers To New Merchant Center By September

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Google To Upgrade All Retailers To New Merchant Center By September

Google has announced plans to transition all retailers to its updated Merchant Center platform by September.

This move will affect e-commerce businesses globally and comes ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The Merchant Center is a tool for online retailers to manage how their products appear across Google’s shopping services.

Key Changes & Features

The new Merchant Center includes several significant updates.

Product Studio

An AI-powered tool for content creation. Google reports that 80% of current users view it as improving efficiency.

This feature allows retailers to generate tailored product assets, animate still images, and modify existing product images to match brand aesthetics.

It also simplifies tasks like background removal and image resolution enhancement.

Centralized Analytics

A new tab consolidating various business insights, including pricing data and competitive analysis tools.

Retailers can access pricing recommendations, competitive visibility reports, and retail-specific search trends, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and capitalize on popular product categories.

Redesigned Navigation

Google claims the new interface is more intuitive and cites increased setup success rates for new merchants.

The platform now offers simplified website verification processes and can pre-populate product information during setup.

Initial User Response

According to Google, early adopters have shown increased engagement with the platform.

The company reports a 25% increase in omnichannel merchants adding product offers in the new system. However, these figures have yet to be independently verified.

Jeff Harrell, Google’s Senior Director of Merchant Shopping, states in an announcement:

“We’ve seen a significant increase in retention and engagement among existing online merchants who have moved to the new Merchant Center.”

Potential Challenges and Support

While Google emphasizes the upgrade’s benefits, some retailers, particularly those comfortable with the current version, may face challenges adapting to the new system.

The upgrade’s mandatory nature could raise concerns among users who prefer the existing interface or have integrated workflows based on the current system.

To address these concerns, Google has stated that it will provide resources and support to help with the transition. This includes tutorial videos, detailed documentation, and access to customer support teams for troubleshooting.

Industry Context

This update comes as e-commerce platforms evolve, with major players like Amazon and Shopify enhancing their seller tools. Google’s move is part of broader efforts to maintain competitiveness in the e-commerce services sector.

The upgrade could impact consumers by improving product listings and providing more accurate information across Google’s shopping services.

For the e-commerce industry as a whole, it signals a continued push towards AI-driven tools and data-centric decision-making.

Transition Timeline

Google states that retailers will be automatically upgraded by September if they still need to transition.

The company advises users to familiarize themselves with the new features before the busy holiday shopping period.


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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Meta AI Introduces AI-Generated Photos to All Platforms

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Meta AI Adds AI-Generated Images to Social and Messaging Platforms and Expands Availability to More Languages and Countries

Meta just released multiple updates to Meta AI which brings advanced image generation and editing capabilities directly to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp feeds, plus availability in more countries and languages.

New Meta AI Creative Tools

Meta AI is bringing AI generated and AI Edited photography that can be generated at the moment a user is making a post or sending a message with a new tool called Imagine Me.

Imagine Me is a prompt that can be used to transform an uploaded image that can be shared. This new feature is first rolling out as a beta in the United States.

Meta explains:

“Imagine yourself creates images based on a photo of you and a prompt like ‘Imagine me surfing’ or ‘Imagine me on a beach vacation’ using our new state-of-the-art personalization model. Simply type “Imagine me” in your Meta AI chat to get started, and then you can add a prompt like “Imagine me as royalty” or “Imagine me in a surrealist painting.” From there, you can share the images with friends and family, giving you the perfect response or funny sidebar to entertain your group chat.”

New Editing Features

Meta products like Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram now have advanced editing capabilities that allow users to add or remove objects from images, to change them in virtually any manner, such as their example of turning a cat in an image into a dog. A new Edit With AI button is forthcoming in a month that will unlock even more AI editing power.

Adding AI generated images to Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp within feed, posts, stories, comments and messages is rolling out this week in English and coming later to other languages.

Screenshot of a Facebook user adding an AI generated image into their post

Meta AI In More Countries And Languages

Meta AI is now available in seven additional countries, bringing the total countries to to 22. It is also available in seven more languages.

List of Seven Additional Countries:

  1. Argentina
  2. Cameroon
  3. Chile
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador
  6. Mexico
  7. Peru

Meta AI is now also available in the following seven additional languages:

  1. French
  2. German
  3. Hindi
  4. Hindi-Romanized Script
  5. Italian
  6. Portuguese
  7. Spanish

Advanced Math And Coding

Meta AI is making their most advanced model, Llama 405B, available for users to take advantage of its advanced reasoning abilities that can answer complex answers and excells at math and coding.

Meta AI writes:

“You can get help on your math homework with step-by-step explanations and feedback, write code faster with debugging support and optimization suggestions, and master complex technical and scientific concepts with expert instruction.”

Read the official announcement:

Meta AI Is Now Multilingual, More Creative and Smarter

Featured Image by Shutterstock/QubixStudio

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System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO

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Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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