SEO Guide: A Bloggers Guide on How To Do SEO
You’re blogging and posting but still, your organic traffic isn’t quite performing the way you had imagined. You’ve poured your heart and sweat into creating them. Late nights, early mornings… you name it. And yet, the blog posts you are super proud of aren’t appearing on the top of the search engine result page. What’s going on?
SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) is a method of using words to work with search engine algorithms. While all search engines have different algorithms powering the way it works, all search engines basically crawl content (words, words-behind-images) and to then match it to a user’s search. So if a piece of content does not match the keyword used in a search, then that piece of content won’t be served as a possible match.
Over the years search engines have refined and honed their algorithms to ultimately achieve one thing: a better user experience. In the past, it was easy to “stuff” blog posts with keywords that may match a user’s search but not any more. Search engine algorithms have become more intelligent in “reading” content beyond singular words or exact phrases. Today it can actually “read” phrases that most likely matches the keyword searched.
So now that we’ve covered the basics of SEO, how does one actually do SEO when blogging?
A great way to start doing SEO is to begin methodically. Starting organised can help establish positive habits when planning your blog content. You’ll save time by doing all the initial research up front, and then can simply focus on writing the blog post when it is time to craft that baby.
Here’s where having a SEO checklist comes handy.
Content Planning & Research
Instead of simply writing down topics and ideas for upcoming blog content, start adding in this extra step: Keyword Research.
Keyword research is one of the most important things you can do for your blog as these gems will help you with your search engine rankings. While there are many keyword research tools out there most of them require a monthly payment of some sort.
If you’re running on a tight budget an alternative would be to use the keyword tool on Google Adwords. Setting up a Google Adwords account is free and even though you have to go through the motion as if you are planning to set up a paid search campaign… you don’t have to actually spend any money to use the keyword tool.
Formatting Your Content
This step can always come after you have written your SEO friendly blog post. It really depends on what you find works best for you.
Personally, I do this together when I write but I still make sure I go over the final piece just in case I miss anything out.
So what is this formatting about? How and why does it even matter if you bold or use different headings?
Well, think of formatting in the context of speech. When speaking, we may use pauses, volume or even extra-enunciation when we need to emphasize a point. Headings are sort of like that. It is the way search engines are able to determine the hierarchy of content as they crawl it.
If your blog is powered by WordPress, then you would have seen a drop down like this in the area you type your content:
Heading 1 or H1 would typically be used for the title of your page or blog post. For following content, break it up into sections using the Heading 2 or H2. Then if you have another section within a H2, used Heading 3 or H3 to section it off.
Writing Your Blog Content
Once you have your topic and keywords to use, the next step is write your blog post! This is the fun part but can be a little daunting if you’re just starting out with this SEO checklist process.
When “doing” SEO for my blog (or my client’s) I like approaching it rather methodically. You don’t have to do it this way of course. I just found that it’s one way that has helped me work more efficiently.
I start writing a blog post as I normally would because I don’t like getting distracted with the keywords I will need to use. I’ve also find that I work better by:
- Having a read of the keywords in my SEO spreadsheet I will need to use before I start blogging
- Start writing my blog post
- Check-in with my spreadsheet between breaks of my blog post to scan keywords that I can include naturally. By naturally, I mean that the keywords I will use makes sense, reads smoothly and contributes towards the topic of my blog post.
There are different perspectives when it comes to how long a blog post should be. Some recommend over a 1000 words but there are some that say as long as your post is hitting ~300 words that is suffices.
Definitely there are a lot of benefits in writing a post with ~800 words – if you can and if it is necessary to for the purpose/ topic of the blog post. As long as the words on the post is proving to be useful and beneficial, I think there is a danger in becoming too waffley. The end goal ultimately is to be helpful to your audience – sometimes this requires a bit more explaning with examples but sometimes it may not. And in those instances it would be wiser to keep it short, simple and punchy!
This is something I think bloggers already do well. Internal linking – linking your posts to one another – is a method for search engine to understand what content is related to each other and the value of these content.
The more internal links between posts or pages = the more value.
Think of it like Amazon’s ‘You May Also Be Interested In’ content pusher. If I’m searching for a book on yoga, Amazon will automatically push me other related content such as yoga DVD, yoga mats, yoga props and so on.
This is essentially what you want to do for you own blog too!
There are many WordPress plugins that helps you do this. Simply do a search in the plugin library and choose one that has the best reviews and most installs. Beyond the plugin, your content planning will help you do this systematically as well.
Once you have listed the topic(s) of your blog post you will be writing, make a list of all other posts you’ve already written on the side. Then once you have finished writing the post, revisit that list and start looking for parts of your content you can link them to.
What if you’re just starting out and don’t have that many blog posts to link them too yet? That’s okay but be sure to revisit these posts in the future when you start writing about related topics.
ALT Tags for Images
This is a step that maaaaany bloggers skip and it shouldn’t be! Search engines don’t crawl the image itself but really, the words behind the images. This refers to the image filenames and the ALT tags are the text describing the image. Using ALT tags are not just good SEO practices but also good to support Web Accessibility standards. Blind or visually impaired readers use screen-readers to navigate the web and the ALT tags allows them to understand what the image is about.
So how do you write ALT tags? Use simple and concise language to describe your image! Ideally your focus keyword should be in the image, if not keywords that are relevant to your content itself. For example, imagine you have an image of a cat…
Not so good (no ALT tags are used) :
<img src="cat.jpg" alt=""/>
Better (ALT tags are used but it isn’t as descriptive as it can be) :
<img src="cat.jpg" alt="cat"/>
Best (The ALT tag describe the image!) :
<img src="cat.jpg" alt="Burmese cat lounging in the sun">
To be avoided (Never ever keyword stuff!) :
<img src="cat.jpg" alt="cat kitten playing lougning burmese cat"/
Hey there, I'm Michelle.
I created Hustle/Flow to help heart-centred individuals pursue their passion fearlessly and healthily. I teach bloggers, entrepreneurs and small business owners how to make their online hustle work, and how to keep the flow.