As dietitians, it’s important to provide credible information to our clients. One of the best ways to do this is through a regularly updated blog on your website. Having a blog allows you to share valuable information while building trust and credibility with potential clients.
But what do you do when you put a huge amount of effort into creating a post only for no one to read it?
That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
Search engines try to provide the user with the most relevant answer to their search query. They do this by “crawling” through websites for relevant information, then ranking them against other websites. The search engine determines which website has the “best answer” and ranks these sites higher in the search results.
So, to get eyes on the content you worked so hard to create, you need an SEO strategy. Today, I’ll share some of the dos and don’ts of SEO, plus share some basic SEO principles so that you can write a blog post that will get noticed by search engines.
Let’s dive in!
Do: Use long-tail keywords
In SEO-lingo, keywords are the words and phrases that people enter into search engines. Long-tail keywords are words or phrases that are more specific than general keywords.
While long-tail keywords get less search traffic, they usually have lower competition (in other words, fewer people are publishing content related to that keyword). This gives you a better chance at ranking higher for the specific topic.
For example, the keyword “FODMAPs” is very general. It has a high search volume, meaning that many people use it as a search query. However, it also has high levels of competition from other websites that have already written about FODMAPs.
This makes it extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to rank high in the search results for the term “FODMAPs”. In contrast, the long-tail keyword “low FODMAP vegan diet” has lower competition, making it more likely that you’ll rank for it with search engines.
In addition to choosing an achievable keyword, it’s also important to be mindful of the search intent behind the keyword. For example, is the searcher looking for information, or are they looking to buy something? By understanding the search intent, you can better tailor your blog post to meet that intent.
To get a feel for search intent, type your potential keyword into a search engine and see what kind of results appear. If the results are predominantly links to purchase something, the keyword may not work well as a blog post.
Wondering how to find out which keywords have a chance at ranking? Try installing Keywords Everywhere, a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox that enables you to see search volume, competition, and trend data for different keywords.
Don’t: Keyword stuff
While it’s important to have a keyword strategy in place, simply adding the keyword as often as possible in the piece of content can work against you. Google has frequent algorithm updates which will pick up on “keyword stuffing”, which is the act of inserting a keyword as often as possible without regard for the flow of content.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines suggest “focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.” In other words, include the keywords where they made sense (like in the opening paragraph and subheadings) without feeling like you need to overuse them.
Do: Use descriptive subheadings
We live in a fast-moving society, and people are in a hurry to get information. By using descriptive subheadings (also known as H2 and H3 tags) that include your target keyword, you’ll make your blog post more skimmable and user-friendly. You’ll also signal to search engines that your post contains the information that people are searching for.
Don’t: Write long paragraphs
In addition to using descriptive H2 and H3 headings, it’s important to break up the text using short paragraphs. This makes it easier for people to read the article. If possible, try to ensure paragraphs are no longer than three lines.
Another effective method of breaking up long portions of text is to break them down into bullet points or numbered lists. This allows you to convey chunks of related information in an easy-to-understand and accessible way.
Do: Write for humans
While it’s tempting to start out by writing exclusively for search engines, it’s important to keep the end goal of the content in mind – to connect with and educate potential clients.
If a piece of content sounds like it was written solely for a search engine, it’s unlikely to rank. Plus, your readers will likely lose interest and lose trust in your brand.
Instead, keep your ideal client’s problems and pain points top-of-mind when you’re planning a piece of content. Does the blog post you’re producing answer their burning questions? If so, you’re well on your way to creating an engaging and useful piece of content.
Don’t: Use industry jargon your ideal client won’t understand
One of the most challenging parts of creating content is ensuring that the content is accurate without being overwhelming.
When writing a piece of content, try to use simple terms that most people should understand. For example, instead of the word “consume”, use the word “eat.” It may not seem like a big deal to you, but ensuring that a blog post is easy to understand goes a long way in building trust with your potential clients.
Do: Be sure to thoroughly answer a question in your post
According to research performed by Semrush, an all-in-one tool suite for improving online visibility and discovering marketing insights, the ideal length for blog posts will vary depending on the purpose of the post.
For a simple informational blog post, Semrush recommends 1000-1500 words. For guides and how-tos, they recommend 1500-2500 words. Finally, for pillar pages, which are longer-form content that works better for in-depth guides and foundational content, they recommend 3000 or more words.
What does this mean?
Well, it doesn’t mean that you can’t publish a 500-word article and still do well in the search rankings. But it’s important to ensure that your blog post thoroughly addresses a topic and answers any questions that the reader may have based on the keywords you’ve decided to target.
Don’t: Post low-quality articles just for the sake of posting
While posting frequently is a factor in determining your search rankings, it shouldn’t be an excuse to post low-quality articles just for the sake of posting. This became even more important following Google’s “helpful content update” in late 2022.
The update “aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”
In other words? If you use a keyword frequently but don’t give the reader the kind of information they expect to find when they search that keyword, your content won’t rank as well.
When it comes to scheduling content, try to find a schedule that works for you. If that’s once per month, great! If you can manage twice a month, that’s even better! But at the end of the day, you’re better off posting one high-quality article per month than two only-ok articles per month.
As dietitians, you have valuable information about health and nutrition to share with the world. By using basic SEO principles and an SEO strategy, you can give your content a better chance of being seen by your potential clients.
Now that you understand the dos and don’ts of SEO and understand basic SEO principles, you’re ready to start blogging!
Interested in learning more about SEO? Check out my guide, “SEO Blogging Basics for Health and Wellness Professionals” (free with code AMBITIOUS) and visit my website to learn more about my SEO services.