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 web search engine’s unpaid results — often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” 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, and these visitors can be converted into customers. (08/21/2016)
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 (click to tweet).
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.
Let’s be honest, when was the last time you went past page 2 of your search results?
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SEO can be very intimidating and I am not claiming to be an expert. But, there are simple things you can do that will make a difference in how you rank for certain keywords. I see a lot of bloggers missing these opportunities, especially in the beginning.
Before we jump in, I’ve created a FREE checklist to accompany this post.
The key to blog SEO is to 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?
THOSE should be your keywords.
When you realize you are out of treats for your dog, and it’s time to try a new brand, you likely aren’t searching ‘delicious tasting real meat flavor dog biscuits’. You are probably typing something in like ‘best dog treats’. Yet as a bloggers, we tend to optimize for the latter.
Write the the language your reader is using. (click to tweet)
Don’t get creative with your post titles — use keywords and search terms for Blog SEO.
Post titles are worth more when it come to SEO, so rather than using something like “Are your readers bouncin’?” for my post about Improve Blog Bounce Rates, I went with very specific keywords. I knew my ideal reader of that post might be googling something like “how to improve blog bounce rate” or “improve blog bounce rate” so those are the words I used in the title. Save the cheekiness for within the post itself.
I usually also come up with a few variations of a title, and then pick the one I think is closest to the phrase someone would google to find that answer. So for this bounce rate example, other options could have been:
- Why are people leaving my blog
- Understanding Blog Bounce Rate
- What is a blog bounce rate
Remember that the URL Matters too!
If you have permalinks that include your post title (which you should!) right below your post title you should see the URL preview. This is your chance to edit it! Make sure the right keywords are there. So if your post is titled “How to Improve Blog Bounce Rate” you may just want to target the exact keywords in the title like /improve-blog-bounce-rate/
If the text in the post title are just numbers, watch my how to use WordPress video to learn how to change the format of your permalinks.
Use Bold and Sub Headings with your keywords for Blog SEO.
See what I did there? I tried to get the words ‘blog SEO’ in my headline. That’s going to send the juices to Google and tell them how important it is in my post. Which means I may rank a little better as a result of it! 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.
Name your images with keywords.
Don’t just upload your file as IMG4938 or however you camera captured it. Rename the file to include your keywords! I don’t know about you, but I use Google image search quite a bit.
Install the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
I did a quick video tutorial of how to install, and use, this free plugin. I highly recommend it because it will get you in the habit of having good blog SEO habits!
Leverage Blog SEO Keyword Tools.
Before I dive in: I saved this one for last, because while it is a GREAT tool to use, I think it can be overwhelming for beginners. If you are brand new to blogging, I would start with the tips I listed above and not worry about targeting specific phrases yet. Sometimes this can take you down a very confusing rabbit hole.
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:
I typically use option two and search various phrases to see which one has the highest number of searches, but perhaps doesn’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.
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.