So what exactly is SEO and why is it so important to the success of your blog? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s how your blog will rank in Google and other search engine searches. We all would love to rank on page one of Google, and it’s completely possible, if you put in the time and effort required. I know it can be a little intimidating at first, so this post will show you how to jump in and get starting with implementing excellent SEO strategies on your blog posts.
Most people utilize Google on a daily basis to find things online that they are looking for. When you need information, what is the first thing you do? Google it! Think of your own habits for a second; what type of key words to you typically type into Google? Do you typically look past page one in the search results? Do you ever look at the “Image” tab of the search results or just stick to the “All” tab which displays all of the top rated website links? Your own habits likely aren’t that different from your readers habits, so always think about how you approach things and what you are most likely to do when it comes to certain common tasks. We’re all human and have lots of similarities!
So when it comes to SEO it’s a mix of an art and a science. No one fully knows the exact algorithms that Google has in place, but if you follow these awesome SEO tips your blog will have a much higher chance of ranking in the search engines and being found by new readers.
Use Keywords In Your Blog Post Title
The title of your blog post is super important! Before you even start writing, I suggest you figure out exactly what your blog post will be about and what keywords directly relate to the post. In other words, if someone was searching on Google, what keywords would THEY likely type in to ultimately find your post? As shown below, the title is the first part of the Google search results.
Update Your Permalink URL Structure
Your permalink (sometimes referred to as a “slug”) is the URL for each specific page of your blog, and is shown directly under the title in the Google search results. On WordPress, the permalink is shown directly underneath your title as well when you write your blog post. Make sure that your permalink structure is set up in your settings to show your custom blog title in the URL as this will help with your SEO and rankings. In WordPress, go to Settings > Permalinks and select the “Post Name” option.
Below is how my title and permalink structure is set up for this blog post:
Put Keywords In Your Meta Descriptions
The meta description is the first 150-160 characters of your blog post, and is the little preview that is shown on the Google results. This little preview must contain a keyword of what your blog post is about, as many people skim through this on the Google search results page before deciding what links to click on. Make sure the first sentence or two of your post grabs the viewer’s attention!
Long-Tail Keywords Verses Single Keywords
Have you heard of “long-tail” keywords before? Using long-tail keywords will help your blog post rank higher for a specific topic. For example if someone just searched for “recipes” in Google, there are millions of recipes online and the likelihood of your blog ranking on page one would be slim because there is so much competition. However, if they search for “gluten free dessert recipes” it is much more specific with much less competition for that particular keyword phrase. Long-tail keywords are typically 3 to 5 words and are very specific, so think of the specific phrase that relates to your blog post and use it a few times throughout the post.
Below is how the search results appear within Google:
Photo File Names and ALT Text Descriptions
Everyone loves to look at pretty images, so be sure to include a photo (or more) in your blog post. Before you upload your photo to your post, change the file name to include your keywords. So instead of your photo file being named “IMG_95450.jpg” change it to “SEO Basic Tips For Bloggers.jpg” (or whatever your blog post is about). Remember that Google cannot “see” your photos; it only sees the ALT Text that relates to your photo so that text must include the appropriate keywords. Plus, your photos may show up in the “Images” section of the Google search results and it will still link viewers back to your blog post if they click on it. When uploading your photos, make sure to fill in the ALT Text description of that photo as well, as shown below.
Content Is King – But Sound Natural
Remember that Google wants to deliver relevant content when a viewer searches for a particular keyword or phrase. The content in your blog post should be useful to the reader and sound natural. Remember, content first, SEO second. While it’s important to include the keywords within your blog post, you want to do so in a natural way. A good rule of thumb is to include the keyword three times for every 1000 words or so. This makes sure your post reads naturally and doesn’t come off as spammy or annoying to your readers.
Have A Mobile Responsive Blog Theme
I’m sure it’s not a surprise to you that more than half of people look online with their smart phone or tablet. Since these devices are capable of searching the internet and providing us with an easy to use interface from anywhere, more and more people are not using their desktop or laptop computers for browsing the internet. Your website or blog must be mobile responsive, I can’t stress this enough. Mobile responsive sites rank higher in the Google searches and provide a better viewing experience since they are much easier for the reader to read and navigate. If your site is not mobile responsive, your bounce rate will likely be higher because when a reader ends up on your page, they will likely leave since the page has not been formatted to view on their mobile device. My favorite mobile responsive WordPress theme providers are Restored 316 Designs, Studio Press, and Angie Makes. (I also list a few others on my blogging resources page.)
Submit Your Site To Google
Let Google know that you exist by simply submitting your website URL to Google. This won’t magically make your website appear in the search results, but they can’t find you if they don’t know you exist. Plus, it only takes two seconds so it’s definitely worth it.
Remember that these SEO tips are just the basics for getting your blog to rank in a Google search, but if you make an effort to apply these tips to every blog post you write, you will eventually start ranking for particular keywords. It takes time to rank in Google since there is so much competition, so don’t get discouraged in the beginning. It’s a marathon, not a sprint when it comes to SEO and blogging in general. Provide useful content to your readers, and your blog will grow organically over time.