First off, what is SEO? If you are a new blogger you’ve probably heard this acronym tossed around and wondered “what the heck is that anyway?” but you figured you were supposed to know so you didn’t wan to ask and look silly. Don’t you hate acronyms?
SEO = Search Engine Optimization = Simply this means that your website or webpage has been optimized to be seen by the search engines. Have you ever wondered why some pages show up higher on search engines than others? It’s because the ones that show up higher have been optimized to do so.
So, how do you optimize your website to be SEO-ready?
The first thing to understand is that SEO-optimization happens on two levels.
- Site-level. Meaning that there are certain things you’ll need to do to your website as a whole to make sure it is optimized.
- Page-level. There are things you are going to have to do to every page every time you create a new page (or edit it) to make sure that that page is optimized.
Sound complicated? It’s not as bad as it seems. But, it does take time and work.
If you are on a self-hosted wordpress site (wordpress.org), you can greatly decrease the time and stress involved in SEO by installing Yoast SEO. Granted after you install it you’ll have to learn how to use it (that’s what this guide is for), but it’s worth the time to learn it.
Step 1: Choose Your Keywords wisely – this is where many people fail completely. Rather than really thinking about their keywords they just choose a word from the title, or worse they use the same keyword on every page. Think about what you might be searching for on Google that you would hope would return this article as a result. That’s your keyword. Note: A keyword is rarely ever just one word, it’s usually more like a phrase. Instead of “Coping” think “Coping with _______[insert illness]” or better yet “Coping with ___________[insert illness] at _________[insert time]”. The more specific you can get the better.
Tips for Choosing Keywords:
- Ask yourself what your article is about. Can you describe it in a 5-word phrase? Would you use that 5-word phrase to find that article in Google? If not then you might need to find a different phrase.
- Are the words you just came up with actually in your article? If not, they should be. If they aren’t you either need to re-evaluate the words you’ve chosen or you need to edit your article.
- Do your readers understand the keywords you’ve chosen? I recently had a conversation with my financial planner and I didn’t understand half of what he said. Chances are I wouldn’t understand his blog posts either (I hope he has someone else write them). Make sure your audience understands the word choices you use.
Step 2: Write with your keyword in mind – As you write your article you should always keep your keyword(s) in mind. Make sure to use those keywords within your text. The longer your article the more often you will want to make sure your keywords are repeated. If the article is less than 500 words make sure you use the keywords once, longer than that and you should make sure to repeat the keywords. But, don’t overdo it. Using your keywords too often can look like you are spamming Google and you can get dinged for it.
Step 3: Write a good title that incorporates your keyword(s) – It doesn’t have to have your keywords in the exact same order or tense but you want it close. Google is actually pretty good at figuring out that someone who searches for “Coping with Fibromyalgia” will probably be just as happy to see articles entitled “How to Cope with Fibromyalgia”. Make sure, though, that when someone reads your title they can figure out what the topic of your post will be. I suggest you start with your post then come up with a good title afterwards. Always keep your keywords in mind when choosing your title think about keywords. That’s not to say that it isn’t OK to occasionally have a vague title or something that is just funny, but understand that when you do that you are negatively impacting your SEO score.
Tips for Creating a Good Title
- Try to put your keywords towards the front of your title. Google only shows the first 72 characters of your title, make sure your keywords are on the front.
Step 4: Fill out the Meta Data – Meta Data is all the info on your page that google sees but that your reader doesn’t. This includes your page keywords, your meta description, and your focus keyword. This is also where YOAST really helps. Yoast provides an easy interface for you to provide all this information. It also calculates how good of a job you’ve done on filling everything in in a way that matches creating a good SEO score.
Tips for Meta-Data
- Include your keywords in your page URL. Most of the blog editors allow you to create custom URL names for your posts. Your post URL shouldn’t be yourdomain.com/11/2018. It should be yourdomain.com/Great-Title-Here
Step 5: Use Headings – Headings allow you to change the size of text within your post but they do much more than that, they tell Google what’s important. A heading in your blog post is just like a heading in a term paper. You’ve got first and secondary headings (and many levels below). The first level heading is usually your title. It’s the most important thing. Second level headings are the next most important things. Remember to use your keywords in your second level headings
Step 6: Don’t forget pictures – Don’t forget to include “alt text” on all of your images. Your alt text should clearly describe your images. Your alt text tells Google what the image is and how it relates to your content. While we are on the subject of pictures, don’t forget to use them! Using at least one picture in your post with proper alt text can greatly improve your SEO. You should also add a description to your images. Descriptions tell blind readers what the image is (so if there is text in your image make sure to include it here).
Step 7: Include Links – links are a great way to help you readers connect with other content relevant to yours. Don’t be stingy, help your readers. Links also help you improve your SEO. Within each post make sure to link out to 1 or 2 articles relevant to your topic (preferably with similar keywords). This helps Google connect you with those topics. It also tells Google that you are nice so they are more likely to be nice to you.
Still need help? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to SEO.