Do the three letters S.E.O. baffle you? If so, then this post from Sally will help you get your head around it and give you some great tips for making sure your blog is easily found.
When we set up blogs, it’s because we have something to say. But more than that, I think it’s because we want to be heard. “Listen to me,” we shout into cyberspace, “My opinions are worth your time.”
Some bloggers spend a lot of energy shouting about their blogs on Twitter, and in blogging forums. That’s great – but you’re shouting at other bloggers most of the time. If you want to be heard (and read) by people who don’t write blogs (and realistically, that’s at least 99 percent of the world) then you need to understand SEO.
Search Engine Optimisation means creating and organising your content in a way that makes it easy for people to find using search engines. Yep. This means admitting to yourself that you’re prepared to get a bit geeky in search of a larger audience. (“Oh, I’m just doing it for the creative outlet,” you say. “Really? I’m doing it for shallow fame and the validation of strangers,” I reply.)
Let ’s Begin at the Beginning
Imagine your perfect visitor landing on your latest post, after finding you through Google. What was he or she looking for?
If you write a recipe post about a thrifty chicken casserole, then you might hope that Google user typed “chicken casserole recipe” into the search box, or “thrifty recipes”.
These words and phrases are what is known as “keywords”.
All blogs have keywords. They can be global keywords that describe your whole blog (“vegetarian food blog” or “home baking blog”) or post-specific keywords (“recipe for cherry brandy”).
The thing worth knowing about keywords is that some are searched for more than others. If your blog uses a keyword that is frequently searched for, you’ll attract more traffic.
How do you know which keywords are most frequently searched for?
Part of it is common sense. More people will search for “chicken recipes” than “poultry recipes”. You can also use Google’s keyword research tool to check how often a keyword is searched for locally, or globally.
Once you know which keyword is best for your post, you need to ensure your post uses it in places where search engines will see it. Broadly speaking, this means using a keyword in your post title (ideally at the start of the title), then repeating it in the first and last sentence of a post, and roughly every 100 words in between. If you have the option to define an alt-tag on the post image, use the keyword here, too.
Use your global keywords in your blog’s main description, and regularly within posts. The categories on your blog are also a great place to put keywords, since they will be incorporated into a post’s permalink (or web address). Don’t ever leave your blog on the default setting that creates posts with addresses like www.myblog.com/post=134 when you can change this to be more like www.myblog.com/recipes/chicken/hunters-chicken.htm
We don’t advocate using keywords to trick readers, or misrepresent your content (so don’t start labelling all your images with “Britney Naked”). Don’t use keywords to the detriment of a good, readable post – SEO should enhance your content, not dictate it. Besides, over-using keywords is known as “keyword stuffing” and Google may penalise sites that it suspects are doing this. Geek fact = the optimal keyword density is 5%.
Link-building for SEO
Let’s assume we are creating content that we want to optimise for the phrase “valentine’s day recipes”. We’ve identified that this is a good keyword phrase, and we’ve optimised the image and text, as described above. What next?
We can boost the SEO value of the post by linking to it from elsewhere on the blog, on blogging forums and websites. But don’t make the mistake of writing something like “click here for Valentine’s Day recipes” (making here the link). Instead, write “click here for Valentine’s Day Recipes” (making your keyword phrase into the link).
Within your blog you can create “link clusters” which will boost SEO performance. This just means that every time you write Valentine’s Day recipes, you should link back to that great post you wrote Valentine’s Day recipes, using anchor text that incorporates the keyword phrase.
Isn’t this just a lot of hard work?
When you read this kind of post, you might think to yourself, “It’s a bit like hard work, isn’t it? I get loads of traffic from Stumble Upon and Twitter.”
Sure, but those people are just browsing for content. That’s great and all, but how much cooler to have visitors who are actively LOOKING for the stuff you’re writing about? And how great would it be to get new readers for just a minute or two of extra time spent composing your blog post?
I don’t search-optimise every blog post I write. Just those that I think will be useful to a wider audience, and might help me get new readers. And for those posts, I would say this very basic SEO stuff takes no more than a minute or two, but will result in additional traffic on the blog for weeks and months to come.