SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. According to Wikipedia:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. (8/31/2013)
In simple English? This just means you want your site to be on the first page of Google search results so you outrank your competitors. If you are a vegan food blogger, you want someone to find your blog when searching “vegan recipes”, which may be hard to do if your on page 437 of the search results.
I don’t think I can do SEO justice by covering it in just one post, so expect a series of posts on the topic.
Part 1: Don’t get creative with your post titles — use keywords and search terms.
Post titles are worth more when it come to SEO, so rather than using something like “Featured Tool Friday: IFTTT”, use a more specific title that people may actually be searching for, like “Featured Tool Friday: Social Media Automation” or more simply put, “Social Media Automation“.
Remember that the URL Matters too!!
In this case, after using the Keyword Planner, I was torn between “Automating Social Media” and “Social Media Automation”, so I used one for the title, and the other for the URL.
Select keywords, titles, and phrases based on how people search.
Using the example above, if I had just titled it “Featured Post Friday: IFTTT”, that doesn’t really tell Google anything. Yes, it would still pick up on the keywords and phrases within my post, but since they aren’t in the title, I would probably rank high on IFTTT and on people searching for Featured Post Friday, but not so much on the problem my post was actually intended to solve.
Think like your searcher.
What will people learn from your post? What question or problem are they trying to answer or solve? What will they type into Google to get that answer?
Utilize Sub Headings.
Google appears to put a greater importance on words that appear between the <h2> and </h2> tags than between <h3> tags and lower. Words that appear between <h1> and </h1> are the most important of all. Use these sparingly (i.e., don’t make your whole post in h1 or Google will penalize you for it) but when used with the right keywords, you should notice an increase in traffic.
Utilize SEO Keyword Tools.
The previous go-to, Adwords Keywords Tool, has been replaced with Keyword Planner which now means you need to create a (free) Google Adwords Account. Once you do that, you’ll see “Keyword Planner” under “Tools and Analytics”.
I won’t go into too much detail, as you can see here how to use Google’s Keyword Planner, but you’ll see they give you three options:
Since I had an idea of the keywords I was working with, I used option two and just started searching various phrases to see which one had the highest number of searches, but perhaps didn’t have the highest competition. I’m going to repeat that, because it was important: try to find keywords that are specific to what your post is about and that have a high number of monthly searches but don’t have a large amount of competition.
This isn’t always easy when you are trying to SEO posts on vegan recipes, but, vegan recipes that taste like chicken may have an audience but not as many competitors.
Between us, I even use the keyword tool to find things people are searching for to come up with post ideas!
If you want to learn more about keywords and search engine rankings, here is a document that Google created on the subject.
Do you currently have any SEO techniques for using or selecting key words? What else about SEO would you like to learn more about?