If you’re a small business blogger, optimizing your blog posts for search engines might seem like a frustrating and never-ending battle. Google and other search powerhouses frequently change the rules about SEO rankings.

But winning the SEO battle brings serious traffic to your blog. It’s worth it! Let’s make things easier by boiling it down to 4 best practices you can put into action right away.

Best Practice #1: Create Content Constantly

It used to be good enough to set up a business blog, add a few posts, and let it all exist as evergreen content without updating. Back in 2015, a study by blogger.com found that 65% of business blogs hadn’t been updated in more than a year!

Nowadays, Google penalizes sites that don’t keep content fresh. A small business blogger simply has to post frequently to rank in SEO.

How frequently? Research by Hubspot reveals that sites with 16 posts or more per month have 4 times as much traffic as those who posted zero to 4 times. Or, to look at that another way, posting 2 or 3 times a month is almost like posting zero times, in terms of SEO!

Hubspot found that small businesses had to post at least 11 times per month to drive significant traffic to their sites. Make frequency a priority if you want good SEO.

Best Practice #2: Make it Compelling and Relevant

Frequency alone isn’t enough to keep you at the top of the rankings. Your blog posts must be compelling and relevant to your target market. Google - and your readers - will ignore content that isn’t high quality.

There’s debate about what exactly “compelling,” “relevant,” and “high quality” mean for SEO. In general, it means:

It’s directly relevant to the search terms. If the user typed “organic dark chocolate bars” into the search box, your blog post must contain all of those exact words to rank.

It’s brief and well-written. Google is smart enough to recognize blog posts with poor spelling and grammar. It also penalizes wordy posts. Keep it between 300 and 1,200 words.

It’s not stuffed. Resist the urge to stuff as many keywords as possible into your posts, which sacrifices readability. Years ago, Google realized bloggers were doing this and started to penalize sites that resort to “keyword stuffing.”

It’s warm, funny, and upbeat. This is the hard-to-define quality of blog posts that makes them rank higher with humans, thus search engines. It takes people 4 seconds to decide whether your blog post is dull and uninformative. Funny, friendly posts are more likely to be read, shared, and ranked.

Best Practice #3: Resurrect Your Top Posts

Search engines like relevant content so much, they’ll rank you higher if you simply refresh previous top-ranked posts. For this reason, SEO expert Danny Donchev recommends tracking which of your blog posts get the best traffic and resurrecting them.

So if a 2016 post about your top product was wildly popular, bring it back now with an update that talks about your latest best-seller. The key is to add an update that makes your post breaking news again.

Best Practice #4: Use Images Correctly

People like pictures. Google knows it, and the world’s best business bloggers know it.

In fact, a BuzzSumo study found that using 1 graphic per 75 to 100 words yielded 30 to 100 more social shares per blog post. Keep this in mind as you build your blog.

And don’t forget that every image must be tagged correctly with descriptive, Google-friendly alt-text. Some experts believe this will become even more crucial in the coming years, as Google places a high value on assistive technology for vision and hearing-challenged users.

See our blog for more helpful info about SEO and small business blogging.