Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, can be a little overwhelming but if you have yet to implement some SEO techniques your blog could be missing out.
SEO is the best way to get your blog seen by search engines and when your content is great you want to make sure that relevant searches return your blog in a prime position.
Over the years there have been various SEO techniques, some legit and others a little dodgy, but now there is a whole industry dedicated to SEO for companies trying to get top position on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
But the best thing is, you can totally implement these easy SEO tips to give your blog a bit of a boost in the search engine results.
How does SEO work?
I’m going to talk about the largest search engine in the world, Google. The clever clogs at Google have developed an algorithm that ranks your site and thus dictates where your blog displays on the page when a user does a Google Search. To work this algorithm they send out so-called ‘spiders’ to ‘crawl’ your site which list and index your content. They work out how useful your site is based on a number (over 100 I believe) of ‘indicators’ that include all kinds of things such as traffic, age of the blog, age of posts, how often new content is published, how many backlinks point to the site and more.
The art of SEO is to ensure that when the spiders come to crawl your blog, they find exactly what they need to know that your blog is useful and relevant. Because that is ultimately the aim of Google, they seek to make the internet useful and relevant to their users.
Now the algorithm that Google uses does change, so there is no one constant strategy with SEO. However, bloggers are really well placed for SEO and you will see why below.
SEO FOR BLOGGERS
DOMAIN AND HOSTING
Get your own domain and hosting. This is one of the quickest ways to establish yourself as an authority on your subject and in turn, Google favours websites that are useful and trustworthy.
For both Blognix and my personal blog I use Krystal Hosting. They are UK-based with their servers held in an ex-MOD bunker. Their service is top-notch and you can easily do a 1-click install of WordPress.
CHOOSE THE BEST THEME
Next, make sure you have a responsive theme that is optimised for mobile-use and is easy to navigate. Google places a lot of emphasis on the usability of a site. And as around 50% of web usage is now conducted on smart phones they will rank on how responsive a site is to mobile viewing.
So ensure your theme is mobile-responsive, has clear navigation in top menu bar and/or sidebar. And each tab on the navigation is clearly labelled.
Fix your permalink structure. In WordPress you can fix your permalink structure under Admin -> Settings -> Permalinks.
Switch from the default which only details a post number. Instead pick one of the options that includes the post name.
Link your blog to your Google+ profile. On your About section in Google+ you can add the sites you are a contributor for.
Pop your blog home page on there and if you’re on a non-Blogger blog link back to the profile in your user settings.
CHOOSE THE BEST POST TITLE
Use descriptive titles for each blog post. If you write about a ‘chocolate marshmallow cake’, make sure that is in the title rather than ‘fluffy chocolatey goodness’.
You need to think about what a potential search user would most likely type into a search engine when looking for a post like yours.
Pick a keyword or phrase for that particular post. Try to repeat that keyword/phrase a couple of times throughout the post and make sure it features in the title and url of the post.
Rename all of your images before uploading to the post. This is one of the hottest things you can do SEO-wise as Google is keen on indexing images. Again, describe the image when renaming it. IMG10001 is not going to help index your site.
Once the image is uploaded onto your site be sure to add an ALT Text to the image. This is the alternative text that displays even if the image doesn’t load, it’s helpful for people with eyesight problems and who prefer no images when using the internet, and it’s another useful pointer to the search engines for describing the post.
GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS
Use Google Webmaster Tools (you can find it here) to keep track of the health of your website. It will flag up any issues that would effect your SEO rankings such as your site load time, keywords applied to your site and more.
BROKEN LINKS CHECKER
Keep an eye on broken links, they can harm your rankings. This means any website that you have linked to that has now removed either the page or site you linked to. (This happens a lot when you link to shopping websites!)
There’s debate as to whether these are useful for SEO any more but do fill our the meta description for your post including your key word/phrase. It will return as the little snippet when the blog is listed on Google.
CATEGORIES AND TAGS
Use categories and tags carefully and with intention. This means, keep your categories down to a succinct list of topics that you cover on your blog. Then carefully choose a few tags that help describe the content on that particular post and that are relevant to similar posts.
You should aim for around 5 to 7 tags relevant to the post and one category.
Think about including at least one outbound link (to a relevant source) and one internal link (to a related post or page) in each post you write.
The outbound link will demonstrate to the Search Engines that you are an authority on the subject and the inbound link helps the indexing strength of your blog.
Use different social media networks to promote your post. Bloggers are pretty adept at this. You can automate the process with a tool such as IFTTT to share new posts across your social channels as soon as it is published.
The inbound links not only help with traffic but with SEO as well. Plus, social sharing encourages others to share your posts.
It’s all about the quality content. Ideally your posts should be a minimum of 300 words long and written in plain English. As I’ve mentioned, Google ranks according to how useful and relevant it considers a post to be on a given topic. So less than 300 words wouldn’t necessarily be considered useful.
This isn’t necessarily gospel, there are several posts of mine that continue to rank well on Google despite a lower word count, but the keywords and images are optimised and they are regularly linked to on social networks such as Pinterest by other users. Therefore the traffic level returns a higher ranking.
PLAY THE LONG GAME
SEO is all about playing the long game and slowly building it up over time to generate better results. As long as you’re creating good quality content on a regular basis with a steady flow of traffic you will start to be ranked favourably by the search engines.
If you’re on WordPress there is a fantastic plugin that I recommend you install immediately. It’s called WordPress SEO by Yoast (you can find it here) and it’s super easy to use and will help guide you through optimising your posts. It even analyses each post and offers tips on increasing your SEO score.
If that list seems totally daunting, don’t worry. Like most things, it’s all about habit. If you get into the habit of each of these steps it’ll take you no time at all to optimise each of your blog posts as you create them.