Want to know how to create a blog that ranks higher on Google than the Guardian, Wikipedia, and all the biggest names in your industry?
We’ve put together a handy guide to creating a high-ranking blog using our success for client HandsetExpert as an example.
At the time of writing, our blog post ‘What is a PAC code and how to port a phone number’ is in position zero for ‘PAC code’, a term with a monthly search volume of 18,000.
This means it ranks higher than corresponding pages for huge phone companies such as EE, Three and Vodafone. Not to mention Wikipedia, Ofcom, uSwitch and various national and international news outlets.
And not to mention the 1,000 other keywords it ranked for.
So without further ado, here are our top tips for getting a blog to rank high, and hopefully bringing a flood of new traffic – and new customers – to your site.
Step 1 – Research blog keywords
Put in the legwork by thoroughly researching your blog topic, the sort of terms you want to rank for and how your main competitors have done it.
It’s also well worth looking ahead to important developments in your industry which people will search for.
For HandsetExpert, we discovered last January that new technology dubbed ‘Text to Switch’ launching in July would allow people to switch provider with a text.
Our keyword research would tell us what terms we might rank for – and how difficult it might be.
Using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer you can look up keywords and see how many people are searching for them a month (search volume), and how difficult it would be to rank on the first page for that phrase (keyword difficulty).
Volume is important – if a search term has just a handful of searches a month then the impact it has is likely to be more limited.
However, don’t be frightened off by high numbers of keyword difficulty or search volume. It can be possible to rank for these, it’s just more of a challenge.
We decided to target the search term ‘PAC code’, as well as other big terms like ‘port a phone number’, ‘switch phone network’ and ‘change phone provider’.
The volume was high at 18,000 per month in the UK for the main term alone but we took up the challenge – knowing that if successful it could bring a deluge of traffic to HandsetExpert’s site.
Step 2 – Competitor analysis
Next, we looked at competitors who were at the time ranking in the top few positions for those search terms.
What we could not account for is external features which could have made them rank – their internal link-building, site speed and site architecture, for instance.
However, we could diagnose what was successful about their pages in terms of keyword density, content, layout and a host of other factors.
We noticed, for example, that many other pages divided the information under question headings like ‘How do I port my PAC code?’, so we adopted a similar format which would give clear answers to common questions.
We also followed the sentence structure of the other blogs on page one, which had short, snappy sentences which were easy to digest – and we aimed to cover all the info they had plus more to make us as useful as possible.
Once the research is all ready and you’ve got yourself a solid and realistic plan, it’s time to get writing.
Step 3 – Write your blog
From your research, you’ll have a tonne of relevant keywords to inject into your article.
Write naturally without trying to force too many keywords in, but after you are finished check you have done them justice and the sort of words you were aiming to include feature prominently.
If not you can tweak – as long as you keep it natural.
When choosing your keywords, consider the full spectrum of what people are looking for around that topic.
For example, rather than just targeting ‘PAC code’, we also targeted a range of related keywords, such as ‘port phone’, ‘how to switch phone network’, ‘switch phone provider’, and various equivalent phrases people may be searching for.
You also want to make the blog have real value. A high bounce rate may harm your chance of ranking higher.
So pack it full of useful information that’ll give visitors the information or entertainment they were seeking.
Step 4 – Upload and optimise your blog
Once you’ve written your blog, you’ll need to further optimise it when you upload it to your site.
If you are on WordPress for example, downloading the Yoast plugin for WordPress will analyse how well optimised your blog is and give you easy tips on how to fix it.
Firstly, choose an SEO title – this is the title of your blog which will appear on the SERP (search engine results page), so needs to be eye-catching and entice people to click.
The SEO title should be slightly different to the article title and be optimised for keywords. Yoast will let you know how well optimised your title is.
You should try to get your keyword early on in the title if possible, and you may also want to add your brand name to the end of your title, after a divider.
You’ll then need a great meta description. This is the text below the SEO title which features the keyword, and a secondary keyword if possible:
It needs to explain exactly what the blog is about, possibly enticing people to click with a call to action like ‘Read our comprehensive guide here’.
However it must stay within the ‘pixel limit’ to display in full on search result pages. This is around 158 characters.
Some characters eat up the pixels a little quicker than others but do not fear – Yoast will let you know when you’ve reached the pixel limit.
Next, edit your slug (the words in the URL after your site name) to remove ‘filler words’ like ‘a’ and ‘to’, and get your keyword in there. This should be as short and descriptive as possible.
Finally, add alt text (descriptive text attached to an image which Google can read) to all of your images. If you can include the primary keyword in your alt text without it being shoehorned in, give yourself an extra brownie point.
Once you’re happy and you’ve completed all the optimisation Yoast recommends, you can send your blog live.
Step 5 – Measure your blog
Sending your blog live may seem like the end of the process, but it’s not.
Now begins the task of measuring, monitoring and using your data to get results.
First, request indexing on Google Search Console which will get Google to crawl the page. It could appear in the search results straight away, or could take a few weeks.
Once it’s indexed, remember great results rarely happen overnight. You need to tend to your article carefully, but also give it time to give you the data you need to work with.
After a while, you’ll be able to see what keywords the blog is ranking for using Google Search Console.
Step 6 – Edit your blog. A lot
Use your Analytics and Search Console data to tweak your article.
For example, if the bounce rate is higher than you would like then think about whether there’s any engaging and relevant content that isn’t currently included.
In this instance we included important information that readers were likely to want after reading about PAC codes – the contact numbers for their phone networks so they can retrieve their code:
We also edited the blog on the day of the Text to Switch development to reflect this breaking news.
As we hoped, the day of Text to Switch saw a massive spike in page views for HandsetExpert’s blog:
The blog started ranking on page one for new terms such as ‘what number do I text for my PAC code?’ – in addition to ‘PAC code’ itself.
All the pre-planning paid off – as expected more people searched for these phrases and HandsetExpert’s blog was in pole position to reap the rewards.
How to Create a High-Ranking Blog: A Summary
So there you have it – the UWP guide to creating a high-ranking blog.
To recap, the main points are:
- Research – research your topics, keywords and search volumes.
- Competitor analysis – look at how others have covered the topic well.
- Write – write naturally, but get your keywords in there.
- Upload and optimise – use the Yoast plugin if you are on WordPress.
- Measure – use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to monitor.
- Edit – make sensible edits based on the data from Search Console.
As with many aspects of SEO, there’s no guarantee your blog post is going to end up on top of Google.
However, with careful planning, monitoring and editing, you can give it the best shot possible.
If you’d like to achieve similar results but don’t fancy doing the hard work then give us a call – we’re happy to do the legwork for you!