And just like that another wonderful weekend has come to a close! I’ve had this drafted up for weeks and finally found the time to get it finished. I’ll be back tomorrow to share our sunny, snuggly weekend! Preview: Adeline got to play in a pool for the first time! Melt my heart!
SEO is an acronym that tends to scare people. I promise you though, that once you understand it and use it to your advantage, you will succeed much, much faster than if you ignore it.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting your website to rank in a search engine. You can write all the best content on the world, but if no one can find it, then what’s the point? SEO deals with organic search. So when a person searches for something in google, and they find your blog in the search results, that is an organic visitor. Organic search can bring very valuable traffic your way, and if you’re looking to grow your traffic over time, you should really be paying attention to your SEO efforts.
Here are 13 quick and easy SEO tips bloggers should live and breathe. Without going into too much detail, these are all things the average web user should be able to achieve, or at least ask someone to do for you.
- Improve site speed/load time – A website that loads quickly will always outrank a website that loads slowly. Site load time can also be crucial when it comes to keeping visitors on your site, and converting those users to either returning readers or customers. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, you can bet your readers will get frustrated and move on before it ever loads completely. You can easily check your speed HERE for free.
- Save images for web – If your blog contains photos, you should pay special attention to the file sizes of those photos. Excessive file sizes can cause your site to load slowly, see #1. You can read more about sizing your images appropriately in this post.
- Smart file names + alt text – Google and other search engines cannot read an image. They can only read the file name, and the alt text of the image. If you’ve been uploading images to your site with file names that look like this, dsc_9999.jpg as opposed to this, blogging-tips-for-beginngers.jpg, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Go back and rename those files! And once you’ve uploaded your image, be sure and add alternate text describing what the image is, keeping desired keywords in mind.
- Be strategic with your title tags – The title tag is one of the most important elements that search engines read. It is what shows in the tab at the top of your browser window and is what will be displayed in a search result. This is an excellent place to be strategic with the keywords you hope to dominate. You can use pipe sympbols to separate phrases, but keep your title tags under 55 total characters. Be especially mindful of the title tag for your blog’s homepage. In my case, mine is Running Blog | Healthy Living Blog | Health and Fitness Blog because those are phrases I’m hoping to rank for when someone is searching in Google. If your main title tag is simply, “Home”, you are literally telling search engines absolutely NOTHING about your site. To Google, your site is the same as every other website on the internet who’s main title tag is “home”. You should also make sure each individual post’s title tag is correct.
- Adjust your permalink structure – This just means making your URL structures clean and simple. Preferably, it will be yourblogname.com/post-title. Wham bam thank ya ma’am. NOT yourblogname.com/2016/05/blogging/post-title. The shorter and to the point, the better. In WP, this can be changed in Settings –> Permalinks.
- Make sure H1’s are being used – Along with title tags, search engines will read your content sort of like an old school outline. H1’s, H2’s, H3’s, H4’s etc are used to help denote content in order of importance. H1’s can be thought of as the overall thought of what the content on the page is about. It is one of the first things a search engine will read and give credit for. Ideally you will only have one H1 on a page, and in most cases it will probably be your post title. To check, you can right click, inspect element, and see if you see anything tagged with <h1>content here</h1>. Inside your post, it can be helpful to then use H2’s or H3’s to segment out your content.
- Take advantage of free SEO plugins – I love the Yoast SEO plugin, but also find the All In One SEO Pack plugin to be helpful. If you’re still a little unsure about this whole SEO thing, I’d start with the All in One. These plugins will allow you to really fine tune a lot of your basic SEO elements.
- Are you mobile friendly or responsive, and does Google agree? – With all of the devices these days, your blog NEEDS to be mobile friendly. Preferably responsive, meaning it scales to fit any screen size. You can see what your blog looks like on multiple devices for free, HERE.
- Link away – Google loves when your site shows helpfulness. Therefore, linking to other pages within your site as well as notable sites within your niche are a great habit to get into. Not only is it an easy way to help further engage your readers, but Google loves seeing you help a sista out, especially if it’s a major site. The fact that you’re willing to send your readers away from your own site to gather even more information, is a win. Don’t get too link happy though, the last thing you want is to look spammy. And while linking to other sites is great, having other sites linking to YOU is where the real magic lies. Once you begin establishing backlinks from other sites, who are basically telling Google “hey, this site is worth checking out,” you will be in a good place. You will establish credibility and Google will see your site as a valuable resource, which in time will rank better.
- Content length and quality – Google loves high quality content. It’s smart enough to know that a 150 word blog post probably does not contain enough relevant and well thought out content to help a user find what they’re looking for. The ideal blog post length, some say, is 1,500 words. You do not have to go by this, of course, and not all good content is 1,500 words long. I have no idea what my average blog post length is, but we do tell clients at work who blog to at the bare minimum, make sure each post is at least 300 words. If it’s truly, truly for rankings though, consider going into a bit more detail in those posts. But, again, quality over quantity, and if you’re simply keyword stuffing a post to make it longer, Google will see right through it.
- Relevancy and trending content – If your blog is part of a niche, you will do well if your content is highly relevant to that niche. You want your content to establish you as the expert. If you’re more of a lifestyle blogger that blogs about topics all over the place, try researching things that are currently trending and being searched for. You can do that here.
- Blogging frequency – One reason blogs tend to rank well is because of the constantly updated content. That’s why we always encourage clients at work to put a blog on their website, because it’s an easy way to freshen up your website, which notifies Google that you are still current and important. The more you update your site, the more often Google will crawl it. If you are serious about ranking well, keep up that blog! If you’re not, and only intend to blog every once in a blue moon, you can bet that your rankings may not be as high. Fresh, updated, and current content is very important to Google.
- Evergreen content – Google also loves content that is popular and long lasting. It’s basically like saying, “hey, a lot of people have read this content, it must be valuable.” Evergreen content is a great way to establish content that will never go out of style, will keep bringing traffic to your site, and will establish a good relationship with Google. Things like recipes, or craft projects could be considered evergreen content because they are topics that are searched for anytime of year, and they continually produce traffic.
I hope this helps some of you out there! SEO is really a fun world once you understand it. If you have any questions, shoot me an email!