Updated: Nov 14
Learn the on-page elements that boost SEO for blog posts. From title tags and internal links, to alt text and author bios, discover simple ways to optimize your blog posts for higher visibility in organic search.
Although it’s popular to say the best way to help your blog post rank is to just ‘write for humans, not SEO’, that’s patently not the full story.
Google and other search engines need clues to understand and rank your content. And that includes elements that no human is actively hunting out.
When was the last time you looked at the structure of a URL and thought ‘Ooooo, that article looks right for me’?
I’ll hazard a guess it’s never.
And yet Google does.
So it is a little disingenuous of the search giants to suggest that you don’t need to think about them when writing your blog posts.
You invest a lot of time and energy in creating content - you need to give it a fighting case of ranking.
Luckily, there are a dozen ways you can improve your blog posts for SEO, and I’ve explained them below. They include
Factors that directly help search engines understand your blog post
Factors that boost SEO by improving user experience.
If you’re a content writer, you should use these elements routinely in your work for clients. If you’re a marketer, you should audit your blog to check each of these elements is present.
In this article
14 on-page elements to search optimize your blog posts
Five more ways to boost blog post SEO
14 on-page elements for better blog post SEO
1. Page title/Title tag
This is the title of the page that you see in search engine results pages (SERPs). It is one of the most important SEO elements. It needs to be relevant to your blog post content, include your target keyword, and be under 60 characters long if you want it to display in full.
It helps search engines understand what your blog post is about and it attracts readers by providing a snapshot of what to expect. An accurate and engaging page title/title tag can increase click-through rates and attract readers who’ll stick around and read the post, which reduces your bounce rate (another element in SEO).
2. Meta description
The meta description is the slightly longer piece of text that comes below the page title in the SERPs. It can be up to 160 characters long, though search engines may ignore it, cut it, or replace it with their own!
It provides readers with more context about what to expect from your blog post and helps them decide if it is right for them. Like the page title, it can increase click-through rates and reduce bounce rates. This contributes to the overall SEO performance of your blog post.
3. URL structure
Search engines aren’t humans. They don’t think like us. They need structure and order to understand your blog post content. Your URL structure can help them. Search engines often use the URL to determine the relevance of your blog post page to a search query.
Not sure what URL means in the context of SEO? The URL is the web address for your blog post. It should be clear, and concise, and include the primary keyword/s you are targeting.
Here's a breakdown:
Domain - Your website's address - like www.writeontyne.com
Section - The part of the site the blog post sits in - like /articles
Page name - Describing the content of the page - like /SEO-for-blog-posts
Put it all together and - using this blog post as an example - you have a structured URL that helps search engines understand the page contents and where it sits within your site.
4. Breadcrumb trail
OK, this isn’t one of the blog post SEO biggies - but I’m going down the page in order - so the next thing you might see on a search-optimized blog post is a breadcrumb trail.
A breadcrumb trail shows the reader where they are on your site. It shows the user's path to the current page and contains links they can use to click back to where they were.
The reason this helps blog post SEO is that it aids navigation and improves the user experience. This means it may reduce bounce rate, as people can move around your site and content more easily. Plus each link in the breadcrumb trail is an internal link (keep reading for more about those) which is very important in blog post optimization.
Read my article on how to format webpage copy and check out the F-pattern of how people scan web content. Plus how to use headers, white space, and bullets lists to help readers navigate your content.
5. Content jump links
Next, you might find a content list with jump links. These are typically found at the beginning of long-form articles or in a sidebar. This is a navigational tool to provide users with quick access to specific sections of the content. Each item in the list links to a corresponding section further down the page.
Like the breadcrumb trail, they’re useful for on-page SEO because they improve the user experience and engagement by getting them to the stuff that interests them the most. If you’ve got a 4,000-word blog post, people can quickly lose interest in scrolling to find the info they need. If you have the ability, it's also helpful to add 'Back to top' links.
Providing jump links can reduce bounce rate. Plus they act as internal links, which are key to SEO. Don’t worry. We’ll get to those…
6. Published/updated date
Including a date when your blog post was published or last updated helps with SEO. This is because search engines often prioritize content that is fresh and up-to-date. Search engines crawl sites for new content, so publishing regularly can encourage them to crawl your site more frequently and index your new blog posts faster.
Including a date also helps people decide whether the content is right for them. If people see your blog post is five years old, for example, they might give it a miss. But show that it was updated this year and they're more likely to stay.
7. Header tags - (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
Header tags are basically your headline and subheadings. They break your blog post into logical chunks and make it easier to read. But they also signal to search engines what your content is about. So it’s important to use them strategically.
H1 is your main page title. You only use H1 once. And it better be a doozy. Include the keyword you’re targeting to signal to search engines what the blog post is about. And make it attention-grabbing and engaging to capture the reader’s attention. Make sure it’s accurate and relevant though. If you lure people to your page under false pretenses, they’ll soon bounce off again.
H2, H3, etc are the next headings in the hierarchy. You can have multiple H2s, H3s and beyond. Again, include keywords to help search engines understand the main topics of your content and improve the page's relevance to specific queries.
But make them meaningful to the reader too, so they can scan your content and find what they want.
Interested in using keywords more strategically?
8. Keyword use and placement
You’d have to live under a rock to not know the importance of using keywords in your blog posts to help SEO. But how do you use them? As I mentioned above, they should be included in your header tags. But where else?
Try to use your keyword/s in the following places:
Page title/title tag
Throughout your content
Image alt text
Be careful to use the keyword/s naturally. If you overload your blog post with keywords you could get penalized for ‘keyword stuffing’. Plus it delivers a horrible user experience, which will negatively impact your SEO.
9. Images and alt tags
In long-form blog posts especially, images can provide a better user experience. They break up the text and give the reader a change of pace. This rest can revive their interest in reading on.
This reduces bounce rate and increases dwell time, which search engines can use to determine whether your content is worth reading - and ranking. (Remember to compress image files as this helps your page load faster, which is also a tick in the SEO box).
Be sure to include alt tags. Alt tags describe the content of the image so that screen readers can describe them to people with visual impairments. It’s just the right thing to do.
It’s also a good way to decide if your images are actually adding any value to the reader experience. If your alt tag says something like ‘Stock photo of man on office chair’, your pictures could probably work harder for you!
Alt tags can also include your target keywords, which makes them a win for accessibility and for SEO.
10. Internal links
Internal links are an amazing blog post SEO hack. They are when you link from one piece of content on your site to another. They’re my personal passion. I make it my mission to create as many natural internal links between client’s content.
Search engines look at internal links to understand the structure of your content. They can help you build topical authority by signposting to search engines that you have a wealth of content on a particular topic. This can help lower domain authority sites outrank those with higher DA.
Internal links also help readers discover relevant related content on your site, which increases dwell time and reduces bounce rate, both of which boost blog post SEO.
But, perhaps most importantly for SEO, they distribute authority - or 'link juice' - throughout your site. Basically linking to other internal content gives it a vote of confidence that search engines love.
Make sure the link text is relevant to the content you’re linking to, to encourage click-through rate and make it easier for search engines to understand. For example, linking to another of my articles, instead of just saying click here for more, I’d say learn 15+ pro copywriting tips ;-)
Learn how to slay in the SERPs by establishing topical authority using content clusters. Check out my Complete Beginners' Guide to Building Topical Authority.
Want to create strategic content clusters? That's my thing. Get in touch!
11. External links
External links are when you link out to another website. They’re great for building the credibility of your content. But only when you link to credible, up-to-date sources, obviously!
External links can signal the authority and quality of your content, enhancing trust from your reader and signaling to search engines that you’ve created authoritative content.
Don’t include too many external links though. You don’t want to distract and divert your hard-won readers to other websites.
12. Author bio
This one is often overlooked but it is very important. Google’s E-E-A-T standards prioritize content that demonstrates Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Your author bio is one way to assert this - assuming you have all those things!
Include information about who the author is, why they’re qualified to write on the topic, and what experience they have. A well-crafted author bio establishes the author's expertise in the field, especially if you include links to information that solidifies their credentials - such as their website, LinkedIn profile, authored papers, etc.
This is especially important for YMYL content. YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. It’s content where Google considers readers to be at risk from inexpert information. Peer review can be another great way to demonstrate E-E-A-T here - showing your content hasn't just been written by an expert, but reviewed by a whole panel of them!
Puzzled by E-E-A-T, Y-M-Y-L and other acronyms? Discover the meaning of 40+ content marketing acronyms here
13. Next steps
You know that content is about 'telling' and not 'selling'. But that doesn't mean you can't include a call to action at the end of your blog post. But it needs to be appropriate to the customer’s stage in their journey.
If someone is reading a top-of-funnel blog post, they're probably just looking for information or entertainment. They're not product-aware. So hitting them between the eyes with a 'Buy now' type call-to-action just won't work.
However, you can write a call-to-action that guides people to a natural next step. For example, inviting them to sign up for your newsletter or read related posts.
14. Related posts
Related posts are a neutral next step for readers. They don't prompt the reader to buy anything. They simply surface more blog posts that might be useful to the reader. This keeps them on your site longer and continues to build their relationship with your content.
And what else are related posts? Top marks if you said internal links!
Providing next steps reduces the likelihood of readers leaving your site straight away after finishing a post. This can improve session duration, which contributes to SEO.
Five more ways to boost blog post SEO
If you manage to include the 12 on-page SEO elements in your blog posts, you will give them a better chance of ranking. This is because the search engines will have a better idea of what your blog posts are about - as well as clues to your authority on the topic and engagement with the content.
However, it doesn’t stop there. There are lots of other ways to increase the quality of your content and the visibility of your blog posts in organic search. Here are some other best practices and considerations for search optimizing your blog posts and articles.
1. Content quality
Make sure you’re creating high-quality blog posts. It isn’t enough to just churn out any old nonsense. Set a high bar for your blog and aim to produce something as good as - or preferably better - than the competition. Longer, well-researched posts tend to perform better in the SERPs. Find out more about the best word count for blog posts.
2. Search intent
Write content that matches your user's search intent. That means actually answering the questions people have Googled. If you don't answer their questions, they'll bounce off pretty quick and undermine your SEO efforts.
You’ll have noticed that reducing bounce rate and increasing dwell time are mentioned a lot here. In SEO terms, you want people to stay on your site as long as possible, as that suggests to search engines that your content is worth lingering over.
However, badly formatted blog posts can cause readers to bounce off in frustration. Read my article on web page formatting for hacks to improve online readability.
Also, make your blog page mobile-responsive. Google and other search engines prioritize mobile-optimized sites in their rankings.
Backlinks are when another website links to your content. They’re something you need to earn - and they're hard to come by. The vast majority of online content has zero backlinks!
But, by golly, if you can get them, they're gold dust. Because when a website links to yours, the search engines assume you must be worth linking to. It’s an external endorsement of the quality of your content.
And if the link is from a website that has a higher domain authority than yours, that’s the Holy Grail, because a little bit of their authority rubs off on you.
Not sure what domain authority is? Check out DA in my guide to marketing acronyms.
5. Social sharing buttons
Make it easy for readers to share your content on social media platforms. This isn't strictly on-page SEO, it's actually classed as off-page SEO. By promoting your content, you amplify its reach, visibility, and (hopefully) traffic. This signals to search engines that your content is getting traction and worth ranking more highly.
Blog post SEO more complicated than you thought? Can't face the faff of auditing or optimizing your blog? I can help. Get in touch for my search engine optimization services.
About the author
Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9-to-5 and started Write on Tyne.
Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier.
We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.