We’ve talked about optimizing individual blogs to get them to rank on page 1, but we haven’t talked much about your blog’s homepage. Whether you’re an independent writer working on your personal blog’s SEO or building a blog site for a business, you need to understand the ins and outs of SEO for bloggers.
The better you can picture your blog site in its ideal state, the better you can formulate goals to help you bring that image into reality.
As inbound marketing experts, we know that good SEO begins with a good blog. Blogging frequently and consistently is one of the most powerful things you can do to rank your website on Google's highly-coveted page 1 for your most relevant keywords.
However, it's easy to forget about optimizing your blog homepage and just think of it as a functional, catch-all page. Your blog homepage dynamically updates with fresh content regularly, which many feel is an excuse just to leave it alone.
To drive your efforts forward, however, you should constantly be thinking about improving not just your blogs but the page where they live. The following tips bring SEO for bloggers into the spotlight to help you ramp up your personal blog’s SEO and get more of your content ranking in Google’s search results.
Top 6 Blog Homepage SEO Tips
Google crawls your site looking for key components that help it determine where your page will rank and how well it can answer a user’s search query. The following tips will ensure your blog site is in the best shape possible for Google’s crawlers.
1. Pick a Focus Keyword
The first step to having a successfully-ranked blog homepage is setting a target keyword. Once you find the top keywords that are best for your company blog to target, you can narrow them down into choices for your blog homepage and blog categories.
HubSpot’s blog is an excellent example that we love to reference. HubSpot ranks for the first search two results for the search term “marketing blog,” and its blog homepage ranks first. HubSpot also has a separate sales blog ranked 2 and 3 for “sales blog.”
Through tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz, you can identify the keywords people use to find the content you’re offering. Using our Human blog as an example, here are some keyword options we could choose from for our blog SEO efforts:
- eCommerce Marketing Blog — 10 monthly searches, 60 difficulty
- eCommerce Marketing Tips — 30 monthly searches, 65 difficulty
- B2B Marketing Blog — 50 monthly searches, 48 difficulty
- Inbound Marketing Blog — 70 monthly searches, 86 difficulty
- Content Marketing Blog — 170 monthly searches, 76 difficulty
- Email Marketing Blog — 170 monthly searches, 84 difficulty
- Content Marketing Tips — 210 monthly searches, 91 difficulty
- Digital Marketing Blog — 260 monthly searches, 77 difficulty
- Marketing Blog — 560 monthly searches, 96 difficulty
- Email Marketing Tips — 590 monthly searches, 95 difficulty
- SEO Tips — 1,900 monthly searches, 84 difficulty
- SEO Blog — 9,900 monthly searches, 95 difficulty
The keyword difficulties have been color-coded to distinguish between the keywords that are easier to rank for (green) and those that are more difficult (red).
Perform Keyword Research for Your Blog Homepage
Human’s blog homepage is already ranking for "inbound marketing blog". So it makes sense for us to continue building up our rank for this key term and make that the focus keyword for our blog homepage.
However, the keyword "digital marketing blog" is easier to rank for with more than three times the search volume. It would require a more intensive re-optimization effort to adjust from "inbound marketing blog" to "digital marketing blog" because our blog domain indicates that we’re deeply invested in being an authority for inbound marketing.
Remember when we were talking about envisioning that ideal scenario for your blog? Our perfect-world scenario is to be known as the #1 inbound marketing information destination, so focusing our blog homepage efforts on the keyword "inbound marketing blog" is a good fit for our business.
Select Your Blog Categories
Let's talk about blog categories. To capture more qualified search traffic, it would benefit us to split our blog into a few main categories. Creating unique blog categories allows people to search for specific topics and find us more easily; plus, they are more likely to find what we have to say relevant and valuable.
As an agency, some of our biggest vertical marketing focuses are eCommerce and B2B businesses. While it won't be as difficult for us to rank for "B2B marketing blog" right now, we don’t want to silo ourselves in the B2B space since we serve other types of businesses as well. For that reason, we could structure our blog categories around the following topics: eCommerce Marketing Blog, Content Marketing Blog, Email Marketing Blog and SEO Blog.
While ranking for "SEO blog" will be incredibly difficult to rank for, creating content around that topic will work to further enforce our domain's credibility in Google's eyes as an inbound marketing powerhouse. After all, Google's latent semantic indexing (LSI) allows it to be able to discern if we actually know what we're talking about. If Google relates "inbound marketing" with "SEO" because the big players are writing about both topics, and if Google sees us producing content on both topics, then it'll see us as a more credible source alongside the others.
Let’s pull HubSpot as an example again. HubSpot’s blog homepage ranks specifically for “HubSpot Blog” and has Google Sitelinks in the search results for some of its key blog categories. Its main blog categories are "Marketing," “Sales,” “Service,” and “Website.”
2. Use a relevant H1 tag and URL
Now that we’ve chosen the top blog categories, we’ll need to think of H1 tags for the main blog homepage and each blog category page. We could either be straightforward, using the H1s “Inbound Marketing Blog,” “Content Marketing Blog,” “eCommerce Blog,” etc. Or, we could go with a more creative H1, using some variation of our chosen keywords.
3. Use a block of static text on each blog homepage
It can help to have a block of text that introduces the reader to the blog and its purpose, especially if there's not much else on your blog homepage.
Only use static content in your blog homepage that would be helpful to the user and avoid having this block appear globally on all blog pages. Google always favors good content over fluff and keyword-stuffing. Here’s an example from Moz.
4. Limit the use of extraneous links
Your blog site will update dynamically with a feed of your latest blog posts and their intro copy, which means there will already be a lot of links on the page. It won’t be necessary to have a global blog sidebar that links to all topics. HubSpot handles interlinking to blog topics by allowing for an “explore option” at the bottom of their blog site. They don’t flood every page with topic links.
5. Write blog articles related to your blog's focus keyword
You may already be doing a great job writing about topics semantically related to the blog SEO keyword focus. But just picking the keywords for the blog homepage and writing about related topics may not be enough to rank for your target keywords. It’s necessary to actively find blogging opportunities for each of your categories.
For our blog category on Inbound Marketing, we could easily write on topics such as “The 50 Best Inbound Marketing Blogs to Read” or “40 Essential Content Marketing Tips.” However, if we decide to write articles like this, it’s good practice to create a numbered list that exceeds the top-ranking article on the same topic. For example, if “30 Best Inbound Marketing Blogs” is ranked on page 1, we need to write “50 Best Inbound Marketing Blogs”. This is called the skyscraper technique.
6. Get backlinks to your blog
Once we write the “50 Best Inbound Marketing Blogs” article, we’ll want to get backlinks to it. Naturally, by writing informative and helpful content that readers find valuable, you’ll obtain organic backlinks over time. But this can take a while, and it’s not a guarantee.
One strategy to obtain backlinks is through outreach. We could contact the 50 blogs we featured, ask them to share our article on social media or link back to it somehow. There is less value in a backlink if both domains link to each other, but it’s still better than no backlinks.
Another tactic to get backlinks is to find the list of articles that already exists (i.e. the aforementioned “30 Best Inbound Marketing Blogs” that we’re competing against) and ask them to include our blog in their list.
If you want to work with an agency that understands SEO...