How to Optimise a Blog Post in 5 Steps

To this day, Google’s number one ranking factor is backlinks. I would even say that, as far as competitive keywords go, 90% of the battle is building a solid backlink profile and closing the gap between your website and high ranking competitors. But in this article I’m not going to focus on that 90%. Instead we’ll be taking a look at that elusive, final 10% of the formula. Specifically, I’ll be explaining how to use the first page of Google as a blueprint to inform your page level optimisation.

After running an SEO agency in Cardiff for 6 years, we have optimised thousands of blog posts. Here is our step by step process.

Step 1: Viability Checks

There are two key questions you should think about before you begin: ‘Is it way too competitive’? and ‘Is the search intent correct?’.

Let’s start with the competition.

Before you invest any time or money, take an honest look at the competition. If the search results for your KW are dominated by DR 80+ sites and your site is sitting at DR 30, this may not be the most productive use of your time. However, if you have a greater or similar DR to the current ranking sites, then this is a realistic ranking opportunity. (NOTE: Can you see a site with a much lower DR than the rest of the competition, but it still seems to be l ranking well? Great, this is what I like to call the unicorn, which we will discuss later.)

Now, search intent.

Google uses searchers behaviour to inform them on what type of page would best answer a given query. Here Google tracks things like CTR and subsequent Bounce Rate, and rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly), this leads to the first page of Google being filled with ten virtually identical articles. 

So, if you also want to be rewarded by Google then you need to use this established blueprint and fall in line with what is already working for your competition.

E.g. if the serps are filled with product pages or product category pages, then a “how to” guide probably isn’t going to be rewarded. But if the serps are dominated by listicals, then a “top 10 xyz” article will give you the best chance at ranking.


**Note: Google is getting better as serving varied search results but the above still holds true, albeit slightly more nuanced. If the first page is made up of  2 listicles and 8 product pages then both types of pages can rank but product pages have 6 additional spots up for grabs.



Step 2Correlation analysis 

The on-page signals that Google uses to reward certain pages over others  are unique to each serp. This is why, once again, page one is a blueprint. It’s our road map to achieving first page results. Since this is the second time it has come up, I want to really drive it home to you. Remembering this is key, so consider writing the following on your spouse’s forehead:

SEO is like a game of poker—except you can see what cards everyone has. 

Take a look at what Google is rewarding, follow suit and do it better.


With spousal graffiti in mind, let’s get back to on-page signals.

When I say on-page signals, I am referring to:

  • Word count
  • Keyword density and variants 
  • Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords
  • Keyword use in the URL, H1 2 and 3, Meta Title 
  • Schema
  • Use of rich media… etc.

Look at the top 3-5 ranking pages to determine the acceptable range of on-page signals.  For example, you might see that the top 3 pages use the exact keyword 2-4 times. Aim for the lower end of that range if you want to be conservative and the higher end to be more aggressive. Note: do not just blindly follow these ranges, but use the data to make an informed decision of how to optimise the page.

**I almost forgot: The Unicorn. That DR 15 site that has no right to compete with the other sites on page 1, but does. What’s that all about?

Google is using a combination of onsite and offsite to determine the SERPs, right? Well, since this site has inferior offsite then its onsite must be incredibly close to what Big-G is looking for. This Unicorn page is an incredibly useful resource for sculpting your page level optimisations.

Still, work out the acceptable range that’s available to you, but always err on the side of the Unicorn.

Step 3: Create the article

It doesn’t really matter whether you write the article yourself or you hire a writer to produce it for you. However, 99% of the time I prefer to outsource to a professional writer because my hourly rate is significantly higher than many competent writers and let’s face it, they are going to produce something of a much higher quality in half the time. 

But whoever writes it must tick all of the correlation analysis boxes from step 2.



Step 4: Link Gap Analysis


If you have forgotten already, call your spouse into the room to check that little phrase you wrote on their forehead. 

To determine how many links we need to build to this specific article… (your site’s overall backlink profile is covered in step 1) we must look at the backlink profile of the top ranking pages, specifically those in the top 3-5. 


NOTE: Discard any DR 90+ sites (Forbes/NY Times etc.) as they will rank simply because of their ridiculous authority. Do the same for any citations/directory listings, as they serve a different search intent and thus, are not your direct competition.


Check the 3-5 pages in Ahrefs, Majestic or whatever you like to use and take an average number of Referring Domains (not counting “no follow”, citations or spam). Add 1 or 2 for luck and there you have it! You now possess the number of links you need to build in order to rank for this keyword. 



Step 5: Close the Gap

Now it’s time to get to work and build the links… but I fancy sleeping at some point tonight so I will cover that epic in another post.

 Congratulations! By applying these 5 steps to your blog post, you’re on your way to ranking on the first page of Google. 

But the work doesn’t stop here. You have now just created your first of many posts on this topic. 

My advice is to grow this body of literature to demonstrate your authority in the subject and to reap the benefits of internal linking and supporting content. 


And remember…


When in doubt, check your spouses forehead.