SEO or search engine optimization is basically the technique used to tell Google what our website and our articles are about.
Google has little spider bots which crawl your website looking for clues to work out what you’re all about.
By using search engine optimization techniques, you are making the spider bots jobs easier and making it more likely that they understand your website better. Consequently, Google will rank you higher for the search times that you are targeting.
Website SEO or Off-Page SEO
While it is essential to optimize each article for SEO, it’s also necessary to make sure the whole site is optimized and functioning well.
Websites that are fast have a relevant website title, metadata, and lots of content about one specific subject will be ranked higher than those that are slow and cover a vast range of topics in less detail.
It’s also vital that your website is easy to navigate with appropriate categories which sum up what your site is about. These days the recommendation is to have fewer categories and, if needed, use tags to create a more detailed submenu.
You want your website categories to sum your website up in a few words.
If your website loads slowly, many readers will click away from your page very quickly. You should be aiming for a load time of under 4 seconds.
Often things like large image files and excessive use of Plugins can slow down your site. There are, however, some plugins that can help optimize your website for speed
Choosing Keywords for your SEO strategy
This is probably THE most important part of your SEO strategy, selecting the right keywords to target.
It is also a phrase that people actually search for. For example, when people go on holiday, they are very likely to type into Google search ‘things to do in X,’ but they are not expected to type in something like ‘my favourite places in X.’
However, it also needs to be a phrase you can rank for, one where the competition is not excessively high.
There might be tonnes of people searching for ‘things to do in Brisbane,’ but there are also a thousand similar articles, many of them in-depth and many of them written by websites with more authority than you have. You’re not very likely to see any of the traffic.
Can you realistically rank for that? Maybe you could make the keyword a little longer and more specific? For example, it may be ‘things to do in Brisbane in the rain’ or ‘things to do in Brisbane as a family.’
It is challenging to guess which keywords will A) be looked for by a large volume of people and B) will have low competition. That’s where keyword tools come in handy. I’d argue that they are the most critical investment that you will make in your blog.
If you’re looking for more than just monthly search volume information and aren’t afraid of a more comprehensive SEO tool, then I highly recommend using UberSuggest. This is yet another fantastic, free tool from Neil Patel that does all the things.
Applying Your Keyword Research To Content Creation
Once you’ve identified a few good long-tail keywords, then it’s time to start creating content around it. The first step I take is searching Google for the terms I’ve identified.
Analyze everything on the first page of Google:
- Top organic search results
- Paid ads
- Featured snippet, if there is one
Once you’ve analyzed the content that search engines are delivering for your query, you can begin to draft and structure similar content. Your goal is to be more comprehensive than what’s already showing up.
So, if you’ve noticed that topics have been missed, you have more knowledge than what’s showing up, or you have a better spin, then you have a plan for your content and a high starting point for writing your next blog article or long-form content piece for your website. This is writing for your audience based upon what they’re searching for, and it makes all the difference in the world.
Once you’ve settled on a keyword, you need to incorporate it into your article. The aim is to use it frequently without it sounding forced. When a keyword gets used too many times so that it seems unnatural, this is called Keyword stuffing, which Google frowns upon.
You do need to make sure your keyword appears in a few key places;
- First paragraph
- Scattered throughout
- Alt tags of your photos
Start with the keyword within your title. It will preferably be towards the beginning of the title, but the title also needs to sound appealing to the readers, so that they choose yours over the other articles on page 1 of Google search.
You’ll also want to make sure it is in your URL. Your URL will default to your blog post title, which is often too long.
Now you will want to sprinkle your keywords throughout your content. I try to use it at least once in my first paragraph and then wherever it makes sense elsewhere. I also try to use it in at least one H2 and one H3 subtitle.
In addition to your exact keyword, you should use lots of other very similar phrases throughout your content. You may start to rank for these too, but it also sends signals to Google about what your content is.
Finally, make sure you use the keyword and a few variants in at least one or two alt tags of a photo. The alt tags are primarily for describing the image to visually impaired readers, so this should be your priority. Only add the keywords where you can do so naturally!
Encouraging your audience to hang around
When someone lands on your page, Google is assessing how they interact with your content.
If too many people arrive and find your website hard to read or see that the article is not about what they thought it was, they may leave quickly. This sends a message to Google to tell them your article doesn’t address the audience’s needs.
You want the reader to spend as long as possible visiting and clicking around on your site. These actions send positive feedback to Google that both your website and your content are interesting and relevant to your reader.
You can do this in quite a few different ways.
To make your articles a pleasure to read, I suggest you breakdown your content into concise paragraphs. Doing this, as well as using photos, subheadings, charts, tables, bullet points, and infographics can help to engage your reader.
Try to write lots of relevant content and link to it throughout your article, including a few links towards the top of your content to get maximum eyes on it. You may also want to include a ‘read more’ section highlighting similar articles.
Creating links for SEO
Once you’ve created your article, sprinkled it with keywords, and promoted it on social media, it’s time to get linking!
Links to your article are another way of telling Google what your article is about. So take ‘things to do in Brisbane’ as an example.
If someone links to you with the anchor text (the text which gets clicked on) as ‘things to do in Brisbane’ or something very similar to ‘activities in Brisbane,’ it helps convince Google that your article really is about Brisbane activities.
Try to secure some links to your content from other niche websites (such as a Brisbane site) or a high authority travel website.
Often external links like this are secured by contributing to collaboration posts, guest posting for other entrepreneurs, or arranging link swaps directly with other businesses similar to yours.
As well as external links, make sure you add some internal links. Link out to your relevant articles and go back to old articles to link them to the new post.
It’s good to add a few external links to other blogs or websites from yours. This again helps confirm your topic to Google. Make sure these are super relevant, and it can help your SEO attempts as well as aid other businesses.
Finally, if you can, build up your authority on the subject. You can create more articles relating to the first topic which you can interlink on your site. You can also arrange to do guest posts and contribute to collaboration articles to help tell Google that you are an expert on the topic.
But don’t get too hung up on SEO…
SEO is important to help you gain traffic, but it is not the ONLY way to get traffic.
I love having an SEO plugin with wordpress. Helps me figure all these things out.
This is something that I am working on right now so thank you so much for the extra information. This is truly the most important part of a blog post to make it successful.
Great guide for bloggers learning SEO! Using plugins like Yoast and keyword finders like Ubersuggest really makes it easier, I’ve found.
Very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing.
I am still learning different things with blogging. SEO is definitely something I’d like to improve on for my content ❤️
I have never heard that people are recommending tags over categories? Thanks for the info!
As a new blogger, I find myself getting overwhelmed with so much to learn and that includes SEO. I’ve been trying to learn it as I go. Your article has helped explain it in a “new blogger” language.