It’s time for my second blog tips post (finally!). I’m a perfectionist when it comes to these kind of posts, so they take me such a long time to get the finished product ready to hit the publish button.
My first blog tips post looked at the “15 Silly Blog Mistakes You Need To Stop Making.” One comment I received on that post rightly pointed out that the list didn’t include SEO. I had toyed with including SEO, but I thought I’d open that can of worms on a different day… and today is the day!!
I feel like some bloggers are scared by the whole concept of SEO and this is probably because they just don’t know what is.
This is completely fine. You just wanted to share your love and passion for whatever it is you blog about. Now you have to ask questions like what is SEO? Why is important? Why do I need it for my site?
I’m going to shed some light on these for you. This post will deal with some basics of SEO that you can easily implement to help get your blog more visible on search engines.
Before I get into it, I just want to say I’m not claiming to be an SEO expert, but I do know a thing or two about it. So to start…
What Is SEO?
SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization) is a process for making your web pages more visible in organic search engine results.
There are many different components of SEO. Some of these include the words or content you have on your page, how long it takes your page to load or whether your blog is responsive (mobile friendly!).
Why Do You Need SEO?
You need SEO so search engines (like Google, Bing and Yahoo!) can find your blog. Search engines are smart, but they need help figuring out what your blog is about. When they know this they can send the right traffic to your blog.
Search engines are all about people and their number one goal is to return the best result to meet the needs of the user.
If the search engines don’t know what your blog is about, they won’t know what people it should be sending your way. Having the right SEO in place will let them do just that.
Although there are other major sources of traffic (yep, social media is one of them), the majority of traffic on the web is driven by search engines. Wondering why? It’s simple, no matter what your website is, search engines are the main way most Internet users find their way around the Internet.
Where To Start?
So where do you start navigating this mine field of technical blogger stuff? Here are 10 things you can do to make your blog more search engine friendly.
1. Write For People…
Not for search engines! You’ve probably heard a lot about writing your posts around certain keywords. While keywords are important, what’s more important is that you write for people and not just to be found on search engines.
You can (and should!) write your posts around certain sets of keywords (like fashion blogger, beauty blogger, outfit of the day) and write with a certain keyword in mind (blue dress, the ultimate summer style guide). But remember that search engines want to send users to pages and content they actually want to read. If you “stuff” your posts with too many keywords, or try to include your keyword in an unnatural way, it won’t be reader friendly and the search engine robots (search bots) will know.
2. Have Quality Content
THE most important thing on your blog is the quality of your content.
One question I get asked all the time is ‘What is quality content?’ or ‘How do search engines understand the quality of a blog post?’
Quality content is content your readers want! For a fashion blogger it could be a post (with great unique images) that solves a style problem. For a beauty blogger, maybe your reader wants to buy new make up but they don’t know what to get. A good review of a new foundation could help them make up their mind.
When your readers spend time on your page reading and engaging with the content you have created, and when they like, share and/or comment on this content, search engines understand this behaviour and know you are sharing information your readers want.
When you write quality content, those who come to your site will read it and engage with it. This lets the search engines know you created content people want to see. As a result, your post will become more visible in the organic search results. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
*Tip: I can’t stress how important it is to have original content. Search engines place the most value on good quality original content. If you copy content from somewhere else on the web, the search engines will punish you! This leads nicely onto my next tip…
3. Avoid Duplicate Content…
At all costs!!! Copying and pasting content from another website is a big no-no! Not only is it bad practice (especially if you don’t credit the original author!), but you will be penalized by the search engines because it violates their guidelines. This penalty will impact how your site ranks in organic search.
If you want to rank well in organic search, your content has to be unique.
You can take inspiration or get ideas from other websites and blogs, but don’t copy exact posts or chunks of text.
You should also make sure your headings, page titles, keywords, and everything really are unique for every post.
4. Have Page Titles
The second most important thing on your blog post is your page title. This is the text you see when you hover over tabs open in your web browser, and it’s what search engines read to understand what your post is about.
Your page titles should be unique for every page/post and should include your keyword.
Page titles should be less than 70 characters.
Meta descriptions are also something you should have for every post. Meta descriptions are the text that appears under the link to a website on the search results page of a search engine. They describe what the page is about. These descriptions are important for giving the reader information and helping them decide if your website is the one they are looking for.
Meta descriptions should be around 150 characters.
5. Use Image Alt Tags
Are you using alt tags (alternative text) to optimize your images? Remember, search engines are machines – machines that can’t see your pictures. When search engines crawl your site they don’t know what is happening in your images. You have to tell them what they are. This is where alt tags come in. Every image on your site should have an alt tag describing what the image is. This will help to get your images picked up in the image section of search engines too (for example, Google images).
When using these alt tags make sure they are clear, concise and relevant to the picture. You also need to make sure you don’t use the same alt tag over and over.
6. Have A Responsive Website
If your blog doesn’t have a responsive design, it’s definitely suffering in search results. On April 21st this year, Google rolled out an update to its algorithm (many dubbed it mobilegeddon) penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly.
Your blog is responsive/mobile friendly if it resizes to fit smaller screens.
Mobile friendly sites also load quickly on mobile devices, have bigger text and are easy to navigate on smaller screens. If your blog design isn’t responsive, the opposite will happen. Your blog will take longer to load, the text will be too small and your blog won’t fit the screen of your phone or tablet.
Remember, Google wants to give its users the best experience possible.
If your blogs design only suits a desktop or laptop, then it’s not giving the best experience now is it? As more and more people are using search engines on their phones or tablets (especially when they’re out and about), it was only a matter of time before this happened.
Moral of the story? If your blog isn’t mobile friendly, you need to sort it out… ASAP!
Find out more about mobilegeddon in this post I wrote.
7. Website Speed
Let’s face it, we’ve all tried to get on a website that has taken what feels like an age too to load. Did you stick around to read it? Chances are you probably hit the back button. Time is precious in today’s world, and if your site takes too long to load, people are not going to wait to read it.
Like I already said, search engines are all about giving the user the best experience.
If users are clicking off your site after a few seconds, this will send a signal that your blog isn’t offering a good experience.
You’ll also have a pretty high bounce rate!
So how does this impact SEO? If search engines see users are leaving your site after a few seconds, they will stop returning your blog high in the search results.
Wondering how fast your website speed is? You can check with this free tool.
What’s slowing down your blog?
Huge images are the main culprit on fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogs. These blogs tend to have a lot of images and if the images are too big, it’s gonna take them longer to load. You can avoid this by making sure you resize your images (make them smaller) before uploading them to your blog.
If you have a WordPress site and you have a lot of unused plugins installed on your site, this will also slow down your blog. You need to delete any plugins you aren’t using. Not only are taking your site longer to load, unused plugins can also leave your site open to other vulnerabilities. If they aren’t active, DELETE!
8. H1, H2, H3… Headers!
If you don’t use headings on your blog, you might want to change that. Especially if you write long posts (like this one!).
When you use headings in your posts you automatically make it easier for search engines to grasp what your post is about.
Like I already said, search engines are machines. When the search spiders come crawling your site, why not make it as easy as possible for them by clearly labeling your post?
Using headings will also make it easier for your readers to read your post. Basically, using headers makes everyone’s life easier.
Going back to my first tip, you need to make sure you write for people. If you’re going to use different headers, make sure they fit with your content. If you usually write a short paragraph of text in your posts, trying to squeeze in headers may not work for you.
9. Get Linking
Many bloggers forget (or don’t even think) to link their blog posts to each other. This is a huge mistake! Not only will linking your blogpost to one another increase your page views and make it easy for your readers to find your earlier posts, it will also help you rank in organic search.
Linking your previous posts in your new content helps the search bots discover which posts are related to each other. If you use the right anchor text (the text you use to link your past posts), you can also use these links to tell the search bots what the post is about too.
My gluten, diary and sugar free blueberry muffins post is a good example of how to interlink posts (see what I did there?!).
10. Share, Share, Share
While the topic of whether sharing your posts on social media impacts your blogs SEO is still a gray area, it can’t hurt.
If you share good content on relevant networks, you are giving it a better chance of being discovered by people and/or influencers who might see your content as being relevant enough to link to on their blog.
Links (internal links and links from other sites) are essential when it comes to SEO. So even if sharing your posts on social media doesn’t have an impact on SEO, you never know who might clap their eyes on it.
One last quick point.
How frequently you share new posts is also important for SEO.
When you regularly create new content, the search engines will crawl your website more often, because it knows it is constantly updated with something new. So try to be more consistent and frequent with your posts. This doesn’t mean you have to post everyday, but you should aim to post at least once or twice a week.
That’s it for my basic SEO tips. I hope you found it helpful,
p.s. If you use WordPress there is a really handy SEO plugin called Yoast you can download! It makes SEO super easy.