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How to Optimize Blog Posts: SEO Tips for Great AIO Content
Julia McCoyFriday, 24th Feb 2023
Julia McCoy5 min read · Jan 11 2022
There are currently over 600 million live blogs. On WordPress alone, bloggers hit publish on 70 million new posts. The bulk of this content never gets read, which is the reason why 33 percent of bloggers don’t earn any money at all from their blogging.
In fact, by some estimates, only 5 percent of bloggers earn enough to live off their blogging passion. The bulk of the other 95 percent abandons their blogs in frustration only 18 months after publishing their first post.
The reasons why blogs fail are many and varied.
But the majority of failures come down to a poor or non-existent strategy around blog post optimization for SEO and poor content quality.
With AI writers cutting both the time and money it takes to produce content, you can now publish more blog posts than ever before. But you may yet fail if you don’t optimize your AI-generated articles for SEO.
Not sure what blog post optimization for SEO is? This article gives you the low-down. Human or AI-written, do not publish another blog post before you read this, and learn the proper blog strategy for a great blog post.
Note: This article covers the second step in the AIO process for perfecting AI-generated content that we developed here at Content at Scale. It is the second of the five articles on my unique C-R-A-F-T framework that defines the AIO process. This one touches R, aka Review, edit, optimize.
Want to learn every step involved in our C.R.A.F.T. framework? You’re in the right place. To learn more about AIO and C.R.A.F.T, read our individual guides:
- C – a full guide on cutting the fluff
- R – a full guide on optimizing your content for SEO
- A – a full guide on adding blog images and visuals
- F – a full guide on how to fact-check
- T – a full guide on how to trust-build in your content
Free Resources to Train Your Writers into AIO
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We put together a full guide for AIO’s – an AIO writer’s worksprint, a job template to hire and find yours, links to our best tutorials and training, and more.
Want this awesome resource? It’s called the AIO Writer’s Worksprint. Download now for free.
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Additionally, after months of putting AIO and C.R.A.F.T. into action (over 40M words are produced each month by our users at Content at Scale, and our Done-for-You client side is another 500,000 words/month! Talk about AIO at scale 🤯 ) – we put together a step-by-step AIO C.R.A.F.T. tutorial.
Ideal for you, your writers, and any content creator ready to adapt to the CRAFT methodology and the AIO way.
New to the idea of AIO and CRAFT? Read this to understand the innovation behind AIO.
Want a written guide that has all the CRAFT steps from the YouTube video? Your wish is our content command. Step-by-step AIO writing tutorial, blog version.
What is AI Content Optimization?
AI content optimization is the process of fine-tuning content produced with the help of AI tools so that it meets its desired goals.
For blog content, optimization goals may range from ranking high on Google for your target keywords, increasing your social media shares, or generating more leads for your business.
A blog post can also be optimized to achieve multiple goals. The three most common content optimization goals are:
This blog post, for example, is optimized for SEO (reach) as well as for conversion, as you will see with its product-led content focus. A third, less urgent goal is to increase social media shares (engagement).
These goals require different approaches. But, again as you will see, the three goals are not impossible to achieve together.
Ultimately, the choice of which goals to prioritize with your content optimization efforts will depend on your overall content strategy. It’s more practical, however, to have one primary goal and one or two secondary ones
What is AIO?
AIO is the term we’ve defined here at Content at Scale to reflect the new way to generate content:
- Artificial Intelligence is your baseline writer (replacing the human writer using a blank draft)
- The human writer is now an optimizer of the AI baseline content
Our clients are seeing a 5-25x reduction in associated content creation costs (which is mind-boggling!), and on average, a time savings of 5-10x.
See our AIO model in action:
In some cases, AIO content can even read better than a human!
Take this example, where we put Content at Scale to the test against an average writer that applied in our inbox:
Why is It Important to Optimize AI Content When Performing Blog Post Optimization for SEO?
Content created without a goal in mind or an idea of where readers will come from is a waste. You are setting yourself up for frustration and failure if you don’t optimize your AIO blog posts for SEO or any desired goal for that matter.
Optimizing your AI-generated blog post title and blog’s content gives them a more natural tone and makes them more scannable, which produces a better reading experience. After all, content performs best when it’s consumed in full.
Besides humanizing the content, on-page SEO optimization guarantees your AI content is targeting the right audiences, which ensures higher rankings on search engines and more social shares. All this combines to give your content and your brand greater visibility online.
Whatever your AI content optimization goals, you want to make sure the content is discoverable. That it will find readers. And the most sustainable form of traffic is organic, which is traffic coming from search engines like Google.
So it makes sense that every piece of content you publish is optimized around a specific, main keyword.
The big benefit of automating content production with AI writing tools like Content At Scale is it ensures that your content comes out already optimized to some degree as the tool requires a target keyword to build the content around.
Key Factors to Review Before Optimizing AI Content for SEO
AI tools do a pretty good job of optimizing content for SEO. But what’s also true is that you know your target audience better than any tool. You, therefore, must retain some oversight on how well your AI content is optimized before you publish it.
Note that under our CRAFT framework for perfecting AI content, your blog post should already be concise and read naturally when you sit down to optimize it. That is accomplished in the first step of the framework, which is cutting fluff.
Before you start optimizing your freshly minted blog article, there are three things you must review. If you overlook these three factors, the optimization itself not may achieve your desired results.
Primary Keyword Choice
Your target keyword is your article’s main topic. For this blog post, the broad topic/keyword is “how to optimize blog posts.” You should take a minute to familiarize yourself with the primary keyword and those semantically related to it so they stay top-of-mind as you optimize the article.
Having a list of semantic keywords ensures you don’t overuse the primary keyword, remembering that doing so is against Google’s guidelines. Again, it improves the reading experience as the content will have a more natural tone.
This article talks specifically about optimizing AI content. But by this stage of the CRAFT framework, the article is already cleaned of all traces of AI, so the steps you take to optimize it are no different than those for articles written from scratch by a human.
Analyze Search Intent
Search intent is what a searcher has in mind when they type their query in a search engine. It is their main goal or what they hope to learn with their Google search.
The easiest way to discover the intent behind a search is by conducting the search yourself and then analyzing the pages Google ranks for the search term.
Search intent is now the primary criterion Google uses to categorize and rank web pages. For that reason, your conclusion on search intent is wrong if it disagrees with Google’s, which it must be said, is usually pretty accurate.
So for our target keyword, we will type “how to optimize blog posts for SEO” in the search bar:
By scanning the SERP for this keyword I can gain quite a few pointers on how I should optimize my post. The first is what type of content Google feels is what searchers are looking for. In this case, they are blog posts. But that’s not all that the SERP tells me:
Content Format and Angle
A crucial feature of any SERP is what Google shows right at the top, besides search ads that you will not see for many informational queries. For this keyword what searchers will see right at the top is a featured snippet.
Every time Google shows you a featured snippet, your blog optimization tasks become clearer. That’s because a featured snippet is the clearest sign of what content format and angle Google feels adequately addresses the query.
We will talk about optimizing for featured snippets a little later. But for our query, we can tell that we have the best chances for ranking and traffic if we structure our post as a step-by-step or how-to guide.
The content angle can be anything that sets your post apart from what else is ranking on that first page. It’s your unique perspective or opinions – how you say what you say.
Make a point to click the top few ranking pages to get an idea of the tone they use and the angle they take. Take note of the subheads the ranking pages have in common.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. Stick to what you see is working, but don’t plagiarize other people’s work.
Now you are ready to optimize your blog post.
How to Optimize a Blog Post for SEO, Step by Step
Here are the steps and tips you should follow to optimize your blog post for the best search performance.
1. Include Your Keyword in the SEO Title
Search engines use different tags or elements on a webpage to learn what it is about. These are the elements you should optimize to boost the chances that your content will appear for searches that are relevant to your business.
Probably the most important feature on a webpage in terms of SEO is the title. Also known as the SEO title or meta title, this is the hyperlinked headline you click through from the SERP.
The SEO title summarizes what your page is about and serves two important purposes.
First, it tells Google the searches you want the page to show for. So the SEO title must include your target keyword.
Secondly, you use the title to encourage searchers to choose your page over those ranking around it, in which case the language and format you use to craft it is critical.
An SEO title best practice is to mention your target keyword at the beginning of the title. But that does not always produce the most natural-reading title, remembering that the title still should encourage clicks.
Staying with the SEO title:
2. Keep Your SEO Title Short
Your SEO title must be the right length, which is generally agreed to be 50-60 characters. We say that because Google enforces a width rather than a length limit, meaning the actual measure is in pixels.
As you can see in the image above, Google will only display the first 50-60 characters of the meta title, cutting out the rest. That does not hurt your chances of ranking per se, but it will make the title less enticing for searchers.
While you want to keep the title tag short to avoid it getting truncated, you don’t want it to be too short. That wastes valuable real estate that you should be using to the best effect for the sake of a higher click-through rate (CTR).
Speaking of CTR, descriptive titles that incorporate numbers and power words perform best. So do those that tease and those that add a touch of intrigue.
Whatever headline formula you use for your title, your goal should be to make it stand out so that searchers want to click it. Again, look at the ranking pages for what is generally working in your niche.
If you have a catchy title that you really wanted to use but is too long for the SEO title, you can use it as the page title or H1 heading.
3. Craft a Compelling Meta Description
Another important feature of your page’s SERP listing is the meta description. Like the SEO title, the meta description sums up what the article is about. But instead of 50-60 characters to work with, it gives you 150-160 characters.
Use the meta description to tell Google you know what searchers are looking for. To do this, you need to match search intent and include your target keywords.
Again, you want to optimize the meta description for more clicks. So it needs to be sufficiently descriptive. And while you want your description to jump off the page, so to speak, avoid over-promising as people will click back to the SERPs if the actual content falls short of expectations raised by the metadata.
That said, Google does not always show your meta description. It may choose a section or sections of your page text that it feels describes the page more helpfully for searchers.
The Content at Scale AI generates nearly-ready-to-publish articles, complete with the metadata. If those don’t quite hit the spot for you, the app includes an option to update it or write your own. Here is where to find the meta title and description:
4. Use an Evergreen URL
A URL (universal resource locator) is a web page’s address on the internet. The URL is what connects or links a webpage with other pages on or outside your website, and is another key element of your SERP listing that searchers will actually see.
The page URL is typically prefixed with your website address up to the domain suffix. The suffix, or what comes after “.com” or “.org”, is the part you have to fill out in WordPress or the CMS you use. It is known as the slug.
An evergreen URL is one that will still make sense after other elements of the page, like the SEO title, have been updated, for example, to target a different keyword. It does not use the whole SEO title as the slug.
The best way to go is to use your target keyword as the slug. Preferably, the keyword must be short, so you may have to use the head keyword instead of your preferred longer, more focused keyword.
Know that once you have published the page, the slug cannot be changed. That’s why it’s also called the permalink.
Some content management systems will have the publishing date as the default slug. Because, as we have said, the page may be updated in the future to address content decay, using a date for the slug does not produce an evergreen URL. Use your primary keyword instead.
The Content at Scale AI writer uses your target keyword as the default slug. So that part of the on-page optimization process is already taken care of. However, you can change or edit it as desired as shown below:
With the metadata optimized, you’re ready to tackle the page content.
5. Review Formatting
Before I review keyword placement within the article, I like to reformat the article to break up the text and make it easier to read. That also surfaces optimization opportunities that may not be immediately apparent.
For example, adding a subhead adds more white space that lessens strain on the eyes. At the same time, it opens the scope to optimize for a secondary keyword.
If your images are already selected and ready to be added, you can insert them as part of the formatting process. They add visual appeal that makes your article more engaging for readers.
Generally, though, you want to break up long sentences and paragraphs and add bullets and numbered lists where appropriate.
Maintain a logical structure with your H2s, H3, and H4s. Note, though, your article can only have one H1 heading, which with some CMSs is also your page title.
While adding a table of contents can be done as part of formatting, I prefer to do it at the end as I may decide to add more content and headers.
6. Use the Target Keyword Sensibly
Adding your target keyword too many times will not help your ranking chances. It may hurt them.
Instead of keyword stuffing, optimize the essential elements which are the subheadings and introduction, and liberally in the body text and in the concluding paragraph.
If you feel you have used the primary keyword one too many times, look for parts of the text where it would read naturally if you used the long tail or semantically related version instead.
For example, instead of ‘blog post optimization’, you may say “blog content optimization.” In many ways, using semantic keywords also makes the content more comprehensive.
7. Optimize Images
Those pages you added during formatting have an important on-page SEO optimization job to do. Where you optimize them well, they are an important traffic source.
Google has a separate search engine for images that you can leverage for more traffic. Since it can’t read what’s on the image, the Google bot will use the image file name and alt text to learn what the image is about.
Make sure the image filename describes the page, but don’t make it too long. Cut out the obvious and only include the important information.
- Too long – This picture shows a man wearing a cowboy hat driving cattle into a pen
- Concise – Cowboy driving cattle into a pen
The Content at Scale app uses your primary keyword as the default alt text. But again, you can change it if you want it to be more descriptive of the image.
First, click the image upload icon to prompt the pop-up box with the upload button.
After uploading the image, another pop-up box will appear where you can add a caption, alternative text, and link.
Add the URL of the page you want to direct readers to when they click the image itself. Of course, you don’t want to put any random URL here — the content must be related to what the image alt text and file name describes.
Before you leave that page, you want to set the link target. This ensures that the link opens in a new tab when a reader clicks on the image, which helps to keep them on the page.
If this is not an original image or a screenshot you took yourself, use the link to attribute the owner of the image. The link must point to the page you sourced the image.
Proper image optimization also entails compressing your images so they load faster. Large and heavy images that load slowly hurt the user experience and, crucially, page speed, which Google has said is a ranking factor.
8. Show Your Product in Action
Where possible, always show your product in action. This article you are reading is a good example of that – product-led marketing. All the screenshots are meant to show you how to get the best out of our tool.
9. Add Videos
Where possible, also embed videos in the article. From an engagement standpoint, articles with videos are shared more, while in terms of SEO, they attract more backlinks and organic traffic.
And if you are like us and you have a YouTube channel, these embedded videos add a distribution channel for your video content.
Videos are the most engaging content format. So, embedding a few videos related to the topic at hand will help keep readers on the page. For that though, you don’t want to simply link to the video and risk the reader leaving your website for YouTube from where they may never return.
To keep readers on the page, make sure the video opens on the page itself by simply adding the embed code where you want the video to play.
10. Add a Table of Contents
A table of contents gives an overview of the main and subtopics the article covers. If it has jump links, readers will be able to easily navigate to the parts of the article that interest them.
The Content at Scale AI machine automatically generates a table of contents with the draft, but you can add it with a simple click if you have reordered the article or added more content.
To add the table of contents, add a page break where you want to position it and click the icon shown in the image below:
If you have added the right schema markup for the page, a table of contents can also help trigger site links on the post’s SERP appearances, which will boost your chances for more organic clicks. A custom-coded table of contents has more branding value but there are free plugins if you have budget limitations.
11. Encourage Backlinks with Statistics
Backlinks are a major ranking factor without which ranking for competitive keywords is impossible. They are like a vote of confidence in your content by other publishers, which serves as a signal to Google that your content is well-researched and, therefore, trustworthy.
While backlinks do not fall under the ambit of on-page SEO, making sure your page has high-value assets like detailed, data-rich infographics and statistics from original research will help attract them.
Still on links:
12. Link to Internal and External Resources
The tough thing with backlinks is they are hard to build, especially without any outreach. You have no control over who links to your pages, when, and how they do it. But with internal links, you have all the control.
Adding internal links between topically related pages helps Google discover and categorize your newly published pages. For new pages, linking from older pages with more authority allows them to gain some link equity for a much-needed SEO boost.
As well as pointing readers to resources where they can learn more about the topic, internal links also help keep them on the site.
But where you feel an external resource can help readers expand their knowledge on the topic, don’t hesitate to link to a page on another website. It also serves as a signal to search engines that you have researched thoroughly and have put effort into the piece of content.
13. Make It Easy for Readers to Share the Article
If done well, optimizing your blog post for SEO will mean the bulk of your traffic will come from search engines. But it doesn’t hurt to expand your traffic sources, for which social media must be your first option.
People will share your content if you make it easy for them to do so. In fact, you want to add multiple sharing options and make them visible.
Content At Scale takes some of this work off your shoulders by adding click-to-tweet buttons in the content as a default feature. You don’t have to do anything; the links are automatically added by the AI.
Because they are hyperlinked in the text itself, these links make it easy for readers to share your articles with their network. Those same shares can also be used as social proof that encourages even more shares if you show the share count on the page.
14. Optimize for Featured Snippets
A featured snippet is an extract of a ranking page that Google shows above the regular SERP as a quick, direct answer to a searcher’s query. They can be in the form of a paragraph, numbered list, bullet list, table, or video.
Results from a study conducted by Search Engine Watch showed that featured snippets can get as much as 35% of all traffic for a query. That’s a lot of eyeballs that could potentially be trained on your content if you were to snag a featured snippet.
That said, not all keywords will trigger a featured snippet. In fact, some featured snippets may not even result in a click because they show the answer the searcher is looking for right there on the SERP. Here’s an example:
The featured snippet above pretty much has all the information the searcher will be looking for. There’s no point in optimizing for this featured snippet.
The trick is to know the type of queries that trigger a featured snippet that’s likely to result in a click, which is those for which further explanation may be required.
While only pages ranking on the first page are eligible for featured snippets, there’s nothing wrong with optimizing a new page for featured snippets.
Tools like Ahrefs make it easy to find featured snippet opportunities, but you can do it manually by searching your target keywords in Google to see which ones trigger featured snippets.
When optimizing for featured snippets, first look at how the page that currently owns the featured snippet frames its answer. With that insight, craft a better answer, which is one that answers the query directly and is more concise and thorough.
As for the length, paragraph-type featured snippets are usually the same length as a meta description, so keep it within 160 characters long. That’s roughly just under 60 words.
Add Rocket Fuel to Your Content Machine with Content at Scale
Now that you know how to optimize your AI-generated blog posts for SEO, it’s time to crank it up and publish more content. With Content at Scale, you can do it a lot cheaper, faster, and more efficiently. 🚀
By adopting our AIO model in full, you won’t have to send a link to your mom every time you publish a new post. Instead, Google will be sending you free traffic. Lots of it. 🏆
Ready to scale content production with Content at Scale? Get started now.
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