One of the best thing about being a blogger, is that you’re mostly self-taught.
Through setting up and running a blog you learn a ton of new skills that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have gained. I know that when I started blogging about six years ago, I was super proud of myself when I figured out how to buy my own domain and set up hosting, when I gained some HTML know-how and when I learned more about social media. I felt like Bill Fuckin Gates.
But being self taught can also obviously put you at a disadvantage, because you’re often missing depth of knowledge on certain topics and there may even be lacking an important skill-set altogether.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the skill that most beginners and new bloggers do not have, or at least don’t know enough about. The reason for this is because when you Google ‘SEO’ to discover more about the subject, the results can seem extremely technical and overwhelming. Words like ‘algorithm’, ‘domain authority’ and ‘link building’ make it seem like it’s a science that you’ll never understand. So you ignore it, keep doing what you’re doing and hope that SEO isn’t important.
Except SEO is kind of important. In fact, it can be extremely important. But before I explain why, I’m going to back up a bit and explain what SEO is for those who don’t know, and those who think they might know but aren’t entirely sure.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of getting more traffic to your website from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo – but mainly Google because it’s the one we all use. If your website it properly optimised for search engines, your blog and your posts will appear high in Google search results for specific search terms. For example: if you write a blog post about the best MAC lipsticks for pale skin, and that post is properly optimised, people will find it when they are searching Google for which MAC lipsticks are best for pale skin.
Why Is SEO Important?
Using SEO techniques will help drive more traffic to your website. Most bloggers these days start off getting traffic to their website through social media. When you write a post and publish it on Facebook or Twitter, your followers on those channels will click on it and read it. The problem is, after you have first published that post and all your followers have seen it, you will find that the traffic to that post will start to decrease because people have no other way of finding it. However, if you use SEO techniques on that post, it will start to rank in Google for its search term and traffic will continue to flow to it.
You can also increase your following significantly through SEO. The constant flow of traffic to your site will introduce new people to your blog, and if they like what they see, they are likely to convert into followers.
Getting traffic to your blog through search engines also improves your Domain Authority (this is a score your website is given which indicated how powerfully it performs on search engines). Domain Authority is important is particularly important if you want to earn money from your blog and work with brands, because its an indicator to many brands of how successful a particular blog is.
So How Do I Get Good At SEO?
If I had the exact answer to that I’d be a gazillionaire sipping mojitos by a pool in Hawaii right now instead of writing this post at 10pm on a Saturday night in my PJs with a cup of tea. SEO is somewhat of a Dark Art. Even the most skilled SEO ninjas that have been working night and day at cracking it for years, still can’t tell you *exactly* what it is that gets your content to the top spot in the Google search results.
However, there are a few things we do kind of know improve your website’s SEO. Those things are:
The technical stuff – how well your website was created, how fast it loads, if it is compatible with mobile, for example.
The relevance – If your content is written and relevant to what people are searching for Google will rank it well. The length of time that people are spending on your site is a good indicator of this.
Authority – Getting links to your website and mentions of your website improves its SEO. Links seem to be particularly important. If Google notices that other, good websites (with high Domain Authorities), are linking to your website, they will assume that your website is important and useful.
This article written by the amazing Barry Adams for State of Digital explains this better than I ever could.
13 Basic SEO Tips For Bloggers
So if you are getting to grips with SEO for the first time, either for your own blog, or for your job or as part of a course you’re studying, here are a few beginners tips which you can start implementing right away.
1. Write Good Content
Good, well-written, quality content is at the heart of SEO. If your content is informative or entertaining and if people are clicking on it and reading it and sharing it with others, it will rank well. If your content just isn’t good quality, then there is absolutely no point in reading the rest of these tips.
2. Have A Good Title
Something that people will want to click on. It must be very clear and indicate exactly what people will find when they click on the post. A great tip is to write your post as the answer to a question, because most people type questions into Google for example. If you write a post called “Jeans That Suit A Curvy Figure”, people are likely to find it when they search “Which jeans suit a curvy figure” because your post exactly matches their query.
3. Be Specific
You want all your blog posts and their titles in particular, to be as specific as possible. For example, if I was to write a blog post simply called ‘marketing tips’, not only is it way too general, but there are also millions and millions of posts out there written about ‘marketing tips’ that are already ranking really well for this term. I wouldn’t stand a chance of making the first page of Google. However, if I was to write a post called “15 Facebook Marketing Tips For Beginners On A Budget” there would be far fewer posts written to match this title and I would therefore be more likely to rank. Also, it would be exactly what people are searching for and my content would perform well.
4. Track Keywords
If you want people to come to your site through search engines, you want to first ensure that people are actually searching for the topic you’re writing about. You can do this by using Google’s Keyword Planner tool. It lets you see how many people are searching for a specific word, phrase or subject. If no one is searching for the topic you want to write about, then you won’t get any traffic to that post through Google.
5. Link To Other Posts On Your Site
As mentioned above, Google will rank your site well if people are spending a lot of time on it. A great way to do this is to link to other posts on your website so visitors can click on these links, read more and spend even more time there.
6. Link To Other Sites
There is some research to suggest that if you include links to other good websites on your blog, Google will rank it well – but only if those links are relevant to the reader and of a good quality. However, when you add a link to another site, go into the settings of your post and ensure that this link opens on another tab. This means your reader isn’t clicking out of your site altogether and this won’t impact your bounce rate (the rate at which users bounce off your site – if this rate is high, this is bad for your SEO).
7. Optimise Your Images
When adding an image to your blog post, always ensure that the title, the caption, ALT text and description are all correctly filled in. This means that when people search Google Images for a particular picture, if your is what they’re looking for, it will appear high up.
8. Get Links To Your Site
As mentioned, links are super important because it’s signalling to Google that other websites think your content is worthy of linking to. Getting links can be difficult. A good way to do this is to Guest Post on other websites and include a link to your own site within that post. I’ve written about Guest Posting here.
9. Turn Mentions Into Links
If other websites are mentioning you, ask them to include a link to your site within their mention. A great way of finding mentions is to use a tool like Mention which will email you every time your blog is mentioned on the web, or set up Google Alerts which will do the same. Find out more about Google Alerts here.
10. Create A Sitemap
Create a navigation page on your website which links to all your previous, posts and categories. This will help Google’s little robots crawl your website and index your posts so that they can be ranked. If you’re on WordPress, there are many plugins to help you create a sitemap. You can read more about sitemaps here.
11. Submit Your Blog To Google
When you create a sitemap, submit it to Google so that it can crawl it and index your pages. You can find out more about how to submit your sitemap here.
12. Update Regularly
Updating your content, rewriting sections, adding images or new text can help improve your SEO. When you make a change to your page, Google bots are alerted and will crawl your page again.
13. Use An SEO Plugin
Using an SEO plugin on your blog can help ensure that your SEO efforts are on track. I recommend Yoast, as it’s extremely user-friendly and seems to be the most accurate. It asks you to enter a title, meta title (a 160 character description of your post) and a keyword and it will use a traffic light to show your if your SEO on that particular post is good, ok or bad
I hope you enjoyed this post and fingers crossed, it gives you a bit more information about how SEO works and how you can improve your efforts. If you have any questions, you can always holla at me.