Search Engine Optimisation sounds geeky and complicated, so we don’t blame you if you’re sticking your fingers in your ears and singing LA LA LA about now.
But don’t panic.
SEO might sound geeky but it’s really just about writing posts that are more likely to appear on the first page of Google when someone is looking for content that matches what you’ve written. SEO is a good thing because it means you get more readers, and people searching for stuff are more likely to find it – result!
It’s possible to get into deep technical SEO techniques but for most bloggers, knowing just the basics will make a big difference to your blog.
Here are our top tips for boosting your site’s visibility in search engines.
The basics – what’s SEO and what are keywords?
Search Engine Optimisation just means writing content so that people using search engines (like Google) to find content like yours are more likely to find it.
On-Page SEO basically means things you can do to YOUR site to improve its rankings in search engines. There’s also off-page SEO which is about building links on other websites pointing to your blog, which will also increase your site’s rankings in search engines.
Keywords are the words that someone types into a search engine when looking for something. So if you write a recipe, think about what someone who will want to read your recipe might search for: “quick pizza recipe” or “gluten-free pizza”? Those words are your KEYWORDS, and using them at specific points in your blog post will help boost your SEO.
You can target very broad keywords (“pizza recipe”) or more specific keywords (“Gluten free pepperoni pizza recipe”) – you’ll find it’s easier to rank highly in Google when you use specific keywords but of course, the volume of people searching for those terms will be lower.
Where to use keywords
So, where do you use those keywords?
Well, obviously, it’s important to use keywords in the title of your post – the earlier in the title, the better. With most blog platforms, you can have a different permalink and blog title, which means you can have a witty, slightly off-the-wall title and save your SEO keywords just to use in the permalink.
You can also use keywords in your post. Ideally (and only if it feels natural) use the keywords in your first and last paragraph, and sprinkled throughout the rest of your post.
Most blog platforms allow you to add images and give the image an alt-tag – if appropriate, use your keywords in this tag.
Don’t go overboard – using your keyword too often is annoying for readers and doesn’t help your cause – Google considers this to be ‘keyword stuffing’ and may rank your site lower as a result.
Other ways to boost SEO
- Consider using an SEO plug-in (on WordPress) such as Yoast or All-in-One SEO – these make it easy to write SEO-friendly post summaries and titles
- Don’t be afraid to link out to other sites. Linking to what Google calls ‘trusted authority’ sites like the BBC, or Wikipedia, or About.com shows Google we’re not being greedy and trying to keep things to ourselves, and is the kind of thing that sites trying to sell things almost never do.
- Create a Google sitemap for your site. There’s a WordPress plug-in that will do this for you. If you aren’t using WordPress, you need to manually create (and update) a Sitemap. This is a page that indexes all your site content in a form Google finds it easy to read.
THREE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR SEO RIGHT NOW
- Put great keywords in your social media profile links – Twitter, Facebook, Google+ – such as “UK food blogger” or “vegetarian recipes”
- Use Google’s Authorship feature to claim your content (it raises your profile and also reduces the odds of you being penalised if someone duplicates your content)
- Increase the number of ‘social signals’ pointing to your site – invite people to Tweet your posts, share to Google+, add to Facebook and Pinterest. Add a plug-in like Shareaholic to make this easier for people to do.
Do you worry about SEO and Google rankings? Do you do anything different or in addition to the above?