Ever tried surfing on a board without any wax? What about without a legrope? Or sans fins?
It’s doable, don’t get me wrong, but I’m sure you can picture what surfing without these key components looks like.
Kooky. Unpredictable. Fun at first… but ultimately futile.
The same can be said for running a growing surf brand and not utilising the right tools to reach more people and spread the good word about what you’re doing.
You might be able to generate a little bit of momentum, but it’ll be haphazard and it won’t last.
An effective, sustainable (and free) way to boost your online presence is by regularly producing content in the form of articles for your website.
In this article, I’ll show you the factors that every successful blog post in the history of blog posts has in common, and even give you an insight into how SEO-optimised blog articles helped one of my clients.
PS if you haven’t ready my 15 practical blogging tips for surf brand owners post, check it out! It’s a great warm up for this article.
How to make every blog article rank high on Google
Optimise for keywords
Keyword research is a fundamental part of search engine optimisation. This process involves identifying popular words and phrases that people enter into search engines, such as Google. Here’s how you do it:
- Identify your niche: Be clear on what your blog post is about. Understanding your niche will help you find relevant keywords.
- Use keyword research tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush and Surfer SEO (personal fav) provide data on the popularity, competition and relevance of potential keywords. These tools can help identify what your target audience is searching for.
- Study your competition: Look at the keywords your competitors use. Tools like Surfer SEO and SEMrush provide insights into your competitors’ keyword strategy.
- Consider long-tail keywords: These are specific phrases of three or more words. They’re less competitive and often have a higher conversion rate.
Choosing your keywords
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential keywords, you need to decide which ones to use. Keep these tips in mind:
- Relevance: Choose keywords directly related to the topic of your blog post.
- Search volume: Use keywords that people are actively searching for. Remember, they don’t necessarily have to be high-volume keywords, but there should at least be some data on their performance.
- Competition: If you’re a small to medium-sized business, you’ll have a better chance of ranking for long-tail keywords with lower competition.
Implementing keywords into your blog
After selecting your keywords, it’s time to strategically incorporate them into your blog post. Here’s how:
- Title tag: Include your primary keyword in your blog post’s title. It should be natural and reader-friendly.
- Headers and sub-headers (H1, H2, H3 tags): Incorporate keywords in these tags. They not only make your content more readable but also signal the content’s relevance to search engines.
- First paragraph: Use your main keyword in the first 100-150 words of your blog post. This helps Google understand the topic of your content.
- Body content: Sprinkle secondary keywords throughout the rest of your blog post. Don’t overdo it though! Keyword stuffing can harm your SEO.
- Meta description: Include your primary and secondary keywords in the meta description. This snippet of text appears under your link in search results and can influence click-through rates.
- Image alt text: Search engines can’t ‘see’ images but they can read the alt text. Use your keywords in the image alt text.
Remember, while keywords are crucial, your first priority should be to provide valuable and engaging content to your readers. Over-optimisation can lead to penalties, so always keep your content natural and reader-focused.
Write high-quality, in-depth articles
Quality and depth are crucial aspects of writing blog posts that rank high on Google.
When it comes to blog articles, longer is usually better. And comprehensive, in-depth articles tend to perform well on search engines.
In saying that, it’s important to strike a balance.
Your articles should be sufficiently detailed to cover the topic thoroughly, but they should not be so long that they become overwhelming or boring for your readers.
Writing detailed articles allows you to cover all aspects of your chosen topic, providing valuable information to your readers and establishing your brand as an authority in your field.
This approach not only benefits your audience but also signals to search engines like Google that your content is valuable and informative, which can help improve your search rankings.
In most cases, articles of around 2,000 words are a great starting point to aim for. However, the key is to ensure that the length of your article matches the depth and complexity of your topic.
Here’s where you can learn more about the ideal length of a blog post.
Keep in mind that there’s no point in writing a long article just for the sake of it. Every word should add value to your readers.
Following on from that, you should know that creating in-depth content isn’t just about length. Clarity of language is also crucial to improving readability.
Avoid using jargon or complex language that could confuse your audience, especially if you’re writing for a beginner surf crowd or someone new to the sport. Instead, aim to explain your product, service or accommodation in simple, clear terms.
Remember, the goal is to make your content accessible and engaging for as wide an audience as possible.
Moreover, keeping your content up-to-date is essential for maintaining high Google rankings. Search engines favour content that is fresh and relevant. Therefore, regular updates to your blog articles can help improve your SEO.
This might involve updating stats and facts, adding new information as it becomes available or rewriting sections to improve clarity and readability.
Use technical ranking elements
Deeper technical aspects of your website also play a significant role in achieving higher search engine rankings.
They might be invisible to your visitors but are critical to search engine algorithms.
Here’s an overview of some key technical ranking elements:
- Keyword-rich URLs: URLs are often overlooked as an SEO tool. Having a URL that includes your keywords tells search engines like Google what your page is about and provides a better user experience. A URL like ‘www.yourdomain.com/most-affordable-wetsuits’ is far more informative and appealing than ‘www.yourdomain.com/wetsuits’.
- XML sitemaps: An XML sitemap serves as a roadmap of your website that leads Google to all your important pages. It’s an essential tool, especially for websites with multiple pages (such as online surf shops) as it helps Google discover and index all your content.
- Site speed: A slow-loading website can frustrate users and lead to higher bounce rates. Google has also confirmed that site speed is a ranking factor. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can help you analyse and optimise your site’s loading times.
- Mobile-friendly design: With more users browsing the web on mobile devices, having a responsive, mobile-friendly design is now a crucial SEO factor. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool can help assess your site’s mobile usability.
Link, link, link
Internal, external, and backlinks are essential tools in the world of SEO, each serving a distinct purpose.
Internal links connect your content and give Google an idea of the structure of your website.
They can establish a hierarchy on your site, allowing you to give the most critical pages and posts more link value than other less valuable pages. To use internal links effectively in your blog articles, link relevant keywords in your content to other pages or posts on your site.
This can help guide your readers to more of your content, increasing engagement and time spent on your site.
External links, on the other hand, are hyperlinks that point to any domain other than the domain the link exists on.
They help Google to understand your niche and they help to increase the trust and quality of your site, which plays a vital role in your website’s SEO. When adding external links to your articles, ensure they are relevant to the topic at hand and lead to reputable and authoritative websites.
This not only benefits your SEO but also provides your readers with additional valuable information.
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from one website to a page on another website.
Google and other major search engines consider backlinks as votes for a specific page. Pages with a high number of backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings. To get backlinks, you can reach out to authoritative websites in your industry and ask them to link to your content.
Alternatively, creating unique, engaging content may naturally earn you backlinks from websites that find your content valuable.
Always remember to use relevant anchor text for both internal and external links. The anchor text should give the reader an idea of what they’re about to click on. Avoid using generic text like “click here” as it doesn’t provide any SEO value.
Case Study: Southwest Surf House, Hossegor, France
I reached out to Raff from Southwest Surf House in 2019. During that time, their website was performing well enough but not so well that it could hold its own if other more established competitors in the same space increased their digital marketing efforts (which they eventually did).
We discussed their goals, and I proposed creating a comprehensive content marketing plan that included regular blog articles optimised for SEO. The overarching aim was to sure up their position on page one and use blog articles to answer the most common questions they receive about their acommodation.
After six months of intensive content creation and implementation of technical SEO elements, we saw remarkable improvements. Southwest Surf House’s organic search traffic grew within three months, and their website became one of the top-ranking surf business websites in their region.
This has led to a direct uptick in bookings and a permanent placing on the first page of Google when searching for various relevant keywords, such as ‘surf stay Hossegor’, ‘surf house Hossegor’, ‘surf hostel Hossegor’ and ‘best surf house Hossegor’ to name a few.
I still write content for Raff and Southwest Surf House, and he now has team members filling in the gaps between my own monthly blog posts. This ensures that knocking them off their perch as the leading surf house and surf accommodation provider in Hossegor isn’t easily accomplished.
For anyone who’s ever wondered if blog articles can actually grow your brand and improve your search engine rankings, the answer is a resounding yes.
With the right approach and implementation of technical SEO elements, regular blog articles can help you achieve higher organic search engine rankings as well as build trust with your audience.
More importantly though, they offer an opportunity to create valuable content that educates and informs readers about topics related to your business, showcasing you as a thought leader in the industry.
Whether you’re a surf business or any other type of business, investing in content marketing could be exactly what you need to make yourself heard and rise above the competition.
Get out there and get writing.