Welcome back to the second installment of The Bloggers Guide to SEO! Last week we went super simple, explaining what SEO really is, and why you need to care about it. This week I want to explore 8 things you can add into your posts which will help in boosting your SEO – and how many people come across your blog from using google. This post is going to end up being a bit of a beast, so grab a cuppa and get comfortable – promise there will be something good in it for you if you make it to the end!
8 Ways to Boost Your SEO
1. Reader Friendly Content Rich Writing
The first one is an obvious one – good content. Google is looking for sites which are ‘sticky’, where people tend to stay on the site and have a browse rather than clicking straight back to google. And the best way to become sticky? Have good content. It’s always hard to define exactly what ‘good content’ is, as you want your writing to be unique!
However, luckily there are some tangible things you can do:
- Paragraphs – Make your posts as easy to read as possible, keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Most people skim read – keep it simple.
- Bullet points and numbered lists – in the same vein, breaking things into lists (like this one!) makes it easier to read. This also changes your HTML code to indicate a list – something which google bots can easily see when scanning your site.
- Grammar and Spelling – Make sure your grammar and spelling is up to scratch! It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a large amount of errors will be notice. I’ve started using Grammarly which I mention in my 5 tools to improve your writing post – this has really helped with my posts!
- Make sure your posts are over 300 words – As a guideline, the ideal SEO posts are between 300-1500 words. Don’t make them too short.
- Use simple words instead of complex words – if you can use a simple word instead of a multi syllable word then use it. We get taught in school to try and use big words, but in reality – simple one syllable words are the way to go.
2. Use Keywords Strategically
Right keywords! This is a tricky one but one which helps your SEO tremendously. Back in old SEO, it was important to stuff as many keywords into your post as possible – however, with new google updates this really isn’t the case. Keywords should be used, but they need to inserted into the post in a native fashion. That means, just write the post like you would read it, rather than adding odd ‘key words’ at every opportunity. There are several recommendations for keywords:
- The key word or phrase should be used in:
- Alt Tags
- Meta description
- H2 (though this isn’t as highly favoured)
- So when you begin your post, pick one key word or phrase and use the same one across the post. For example, the key word for this post is ‘Bloggers Guide to SEO’, you can see that up there in title, in the URL, a couple of times in the copy, on the alt tags of any pictures and in my meta description.
- The title on wordpress is set at the top of the screen, with the URL below it – you can update this URL by clicking the edit button if needed. This is especially important if you change your title and key word – your URL won’t automatically update.
3. Sub headings + Titles
If you are familiar with HTML then you will be familiar with subheadings. These are used to make your writing bigger – and although it is tempting to just increase your font size in various areas of your post, it is important to use heading tags. These can be found in wordpress under the paragraph drop down.
By inserting areas of text with a heading tag (most notable the H2 heading), you are highlighting that text as important – so it should include a keyword or phrase. When you create a H2 heading for example, the code of your post will change and add a <h2> tag surrounding that text. When google comes to analyse your website, any text found within these tags is deemed more important.
Titles are similar to your H2 headings except they are surrounded by a <title> tag. Titles are so important as this is what is going to show on google to draw searchers in. Make sure they are inviting, informative and clear. Elle&Company wrote an awesome post on how to create good titles (plus a whole heap of other amazing articles!).
4. Meta Description
The meta description is what appears on google underneath your title. You can see it under ‘Jasmin Charlotte’ in the black text on the image above. You should set a meta description for each of your blog posts including your key word or phrase. This should follow a similar pattern to your title in order to entice readers in from google. If you are using blogger there is a tutorial to add a meta description here. If you are using wordpress then I wholly recommend the WP SEO plug in which I will cover in full in a future post.
Links, links, links. This is going to be a big section and is key in SEO. I’m going to tackle each link type separately:
- Inbound Links (also known as backlinks):
These refer to links which are from other websites which link to your site. This is a key factor in SEO. Seriously, it used to be the main factor but there have been a few tweaks. You want the links to your sites to be from reputable sites, i.e. you can’t set up a random website and put a whole heap of links back to your site just to increase your SEO (this is what dodgy SEO companies do!). Obviously this isn’t something you can magic up, but the best ways to increase these links are guest posting, link swaps or just creating content which is shared and linked to naturally from other sites. Remember, when you write a share the love post, not only are you making the blogger happy – you’re making google happy too! (A Branch of Holly recently wrote an awesome posts about this too!)
- Outbound Links:
These refer to links from your website to other sites. It’s good practice to include links outside of your site to other sites – they are seen as a natural part of a web page by google. But, remember every time you link to a site, you are giving them an endorsement as seen by google. Make sure you understand follow and nofollow links and use these wisely (if you are unsure about these, then check back here soon!).
- Internal Links:
These refer to links from your blog to old blog posts also on your site. This is one of the easiest and best things you can do to increase your SEO. Regularly link back and refer to old blog posts which are relevant to what you are writing – plus it will increase views to your archived posts as well.
6. Images and alt tags
All posts should have an image in them. This is not mandatory but it does link back to point number 1 – having an image makes a post more reader friendly. Now, let’s remember, google does not have eyes. Therefore, when it sees an image, all it sees is the code for that image. So we need to make sure this code is as descriptive as possible.
This is done in two ways:
- Ensure the image file is named something descriptive (not just IMG_99).
- Add an alt tag, you see when you hover over the image above, it comes up with a description? That is the alt tag and it tells google what the image is showing (along with helping accessibility on your site). The alt tag should be descriptive of the image and contain your key word. You can set alt tags on wordpress by hovering over the image, and clicking the pencil tool, it will then show a box like the below where you can write in the Alternative Text.
7. Social media
Active usage of social media is key, not only to drive traffic for your blog but for your SEO as well. You should ensure that your social media is linked to your blog (you can do that through a tool like nibbler) and be regularly posting links from those social media to your posts. Ideally, at least 2 links to your blog post on each social media platform (you can read my bloggers guide to twitter for more tips!).
Social media is also a real essential for domain authority (which is similar to SEO and I’m planning a post on it soon!). It also acts as it’s own mini search engine for when people are searching for hashtags and people to follow – utilising social media is key for your blog strength.
Your blog should be organised into broad sections which are known as categories. Each post should be linked to the appropriate category, this helps classify the post and makes your blog easier to navigate (for example this is a technology post, and if you click the little technology category menu button at the top, then you will go to all my other posts on technology). Make sure each post is sorted into a relevant category.
Tags are used to further sub categorise the post. Tags don’t have much influence in SEO, but are useful for navigation on your site. Just make sure you do not use too many, 3 or 4 description key word tags are enough.
Now, if you managed to get through that whole post, then CONGRATULATIONS! I have a little prize for you, I have created a checklist from all these 8 things for you to use with each blog post. If you manage to tick off all the thing for each of the posts you write, then you know that your post is search engine optimized!
Make sure you check in next week for the next installment of the SEO series! Follow along on bloglovin for all updates!
P.S. Although I consider myself pretty SEO savvy, I do not work in SEO and as we all know, there is always someone smarter than you! Therefore, if you have read this post (and I know a lot of you are super SEO geniuses) and you’ve read something which you think is COMPLETELY WRONG. Then please leave me a comment or send me an email – I want to make sure I share the most up to date and correct info possible.
P.P.S I’m currently taking bookings for people to advertise here on Jasmin Charlotte in July! Check out all the details here.