Do these 3 things *before* optimizing your (health) blog posts
If you’re trying to attract clients by being the top recommended site when people are literally searching for solutions to the problems you solve, this is for you. Many people are working to rank #1 in Google for their perfect keywords. They’re investing time and money to create the perfectly optimized blog post so Google and other search engines can pick it up and bump it to the top. I mean, who wouldn’t want to show up as the most recommended site when people are searching for what you offer?
It’s great to rank for keywords. Seeing your posts draw a new, fresh crowd of people who are literally looking for what you offer every single day is a big win. Not only do you get “free” traffic (after you put in the effort to rank, of course), but you also can start easing up on other promotional strategies to get traffic, like paid ads or social media. It truly is a long-term gain.
To get there, you need to know that perfectly optimized blog posts are one part of the puzzle of getting found. So, before you invest a ton into keyword-optimized posts, there are three things you need to do first.
1 – Publish an excellent article that’s going to have a shot at ranking
If you’ve used a search engine like Google to find information on the internet, you’ll see the kind of great content that tops the list of results. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill <1,000-word articles written four years ago. They’re excellent. So, if you want to compete with them (and you absolutely can!), you must be competitive.
No, you don’t have to research and write something amazing every week! There are four places to get blog content. Besides writing it yourself, you can also invite guests to post, use pre-written done-for-you content, or hire a writer. Whatever you use, be sure that the article is excellent.
Because of the quality required to rank in search engines nowadays, I recommend investing the time and effort into doing this periodically, not every single week. (Unless you have a content strategy and a team to make it happen). Once per month is completely reasonable.
No matter where you get your content, be sure it’s well-researched, high-quality, >1,800-words, and unique. (So, if you’re using done-for-you content, be sure to customize it so it’s your voice and your branding with your examples and links.)
When you start with something excellent as your foundation, you can definitely have a fighting chance to start ranking it in search engines.
2 – Find a great keyword
There really is both art and science to choosing a great keyword to try to rank for. It would be amazing if you could rank for keywords like women’s health or weight loss, but one and two-word keywords like those are pretty impossible to rank for now because so many huge and authoritative sites have those cornered. That means those keywords may not be worth the effort. While they may get hundreds of thousands of searches per month, no matter how good your article is, you’ll probably never get to page 1 let alone the top of page 1.
But, don’t worry! There are still a ton of great options out there waiting to be found and used.
This is why it’s super-important to do keyword research before spending effort optimizing a post. Ideally, you’d want a keyword that is relevant to your article topic, several words long, gets hundreds if not thousands of searches per month, and has a good search intent.
Overall, when doing keyword research you want a balance between keywords that get a lot of searches (and therefore can drive a lot of traffic to your site) and keywords that aren’t too difficult to rank for.
- Foods to eat for healthy skin gets 210 monthly searches and is very easy to rank for
- Foods that are good for your skin gets 2400 monthly searches but is very hard to rank for
Imagine the advantage you have knowing this before you optimize your post!
To choose between these two, you need to know if you have a shot at a very hard post or not. Basically, if you have a very highly authoritative website in the eyes of search engines (see #3 below), then by all means, try for the harder one and see what happens. If not, then go for the very easy keyword. This is especially true if the keyword sees at least a few hundred searches each month. Basically, it’s better to get some of 210, rather than none of 2400.
Another thing to consider in a great keyword is search intent. According to Yoast, there are four types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. Informational keywords are those where people are just searching for answers. If you are trying to rank content where your call-to-action (CTA) is a great free educational opt-in offer, then informational keywords may be ok.
PRO TIP: Every blog post should have at least one call-to-action and if that CTA is a free opt-in offer, be sure it promotes your paid offers.
Navigational keywords are ones where they type the URL into the search bar to get to the exact site they’re looking for. So, for me, that would be trying to rank for leesaklich.com. You’re likely going to naturally rank for those keywords for your brand, site, and name anyway, so it’s not too critical to make an effort to rank for these.
If you are running a business, you probably want to focus more on keywords that are transactional and commercial. These are ones where someone is looking to buy something. A transactional keyword is one where a person is ready to buy something right there. A commercial keyword is one where a person is still in the research phase of looking for information because they want to purchase something soon, but not right now.
For example (off the top of my head):
- How to get enough vitamin D is informational
- VitaminD.com is navigational
- Vitamin D supplement overnight delivery is transactional
- Best vitamin D supplement is commercial
There are several keyword methods and software programs you can use to do your keyword research, so go ahead and find a great keyword that is worth spending the time or money optimizing your amazing post for.
*Not sure how to document your content marketing goals and strategically plan your health content to get more readers, subscribers, customers, clients, and/or patients? Let's chat about working together 1:1 with Content Calendar Coaching.
3 – Optimize your website
There is so much hype around optimizing posts that we can’t forget that that’s just half of the story. Content is king and amazing content that gets found by your ideal clients is a huge boost for your practice. (Huge!) Did you know that all of your content can get a search engine boost if your website is optimized and runs well?
There are a bunch of things that search engines like Google look for in a site at the same time they’re looking at the content. For example, mobile-friendliness, speed, broken links/404 pages, backlinks to the site, etc. are all website factors that can be optimized so all of your content has a better chance of ranking.
It’s definitely a good idea to do a website audit if you want to start optimizing posts to rank in search engines. You can do some of these on your own (I put together a health blogging checklist to get you started). You can also get a technical website audit done that goes into more depth and needs special software.
Do you need a flawlessly running website with zero errors to start ranking in search engines? Of course not! But, having a well-running website is key so that your amazing content that’s optimized for a great keyword has a better chance of ranking high. So, find out if your site needs some help and then work on that at the same time as you’re working on keyword optimizing your amazing content.
*Not sure if your website and blog are performing optimally? Get a blog audit and strategic report to see your opportunities to increase your blog's engagement, subscribers, and content marketing strategies? Check out the VIP Health Blog Optimization Plan here.
Before you dive into optimizing your content for keywords, do these three things:
- 1 – Publish an excellent article that’s going to have a shot at ranking
- 2 – Find a great keyword
- 3 – Optimize your website
Remember, none of these has to be perfect or done every week. As you invest the time and effort to starting to rank in search engines (and stop paying so much for advertising and social media) all of these work synergistically. Improve the quality of your content, do keyword research, and optimize your site along with your content to really boost your chances.
Signing off and toasting: To strategically putting things in place so you can get found online when your ideal clients are literally looking for your products and services.
Over to you
What do you think? Have you been working on these along with your keyword research? Did you have them in place already? Do you need help improving any of these for your health blog?
I’d love to know (in the comments below)!
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I'm Leesa Klich, MSc., R.H.N.
Health writer – Blogging expert – Research nerd.
I help health and wellness professionals build their authority with scientific health content. They want to stand out in the crowded, often unqualified, market of entrepreneurs. I help them establish trust with their audiences, add credibility to their services, and save them a ton of time so they don’t have to do the research or writing themselves. To work with me, click here.