So you bought your domain, check, you started your blog, check, you wrote your first one and are ready to publish? check… Noooooo! Stop right there. Do not publish anything on the worldwide web before you have even checked it over for SEO.
Yep SEO – search engine optimisation the otherwise used term for maximising your blogs potential of ranking on Google’s search algorithm where, if done correctly you could be hit with a consistent source of traffic that makes any pay day good.
But why is it so important?
First a bit of background history… Why the need for SEO?
Tracing SEO is not that easy to do however we all know it exists and plays an important part in any business that is online. The birth of SEO happened in the early 1990’s and in it’s relatively short life, it has evolved into a prescriptive way of getting your website to rank over others. Those that do get to page 1 on a google search find a consistent ton of traffic coming their way. Over time, marketers have sought best practice SEO tactics as an integral part of strategy that helps them grow. However, this criteria changes over time and google varies up its algorithm to keep even the most polished marketer on their toes. So, when did this all start?
The advent of the net saw the distribution of information widespread. Whilst in the early days, no one was that wise to the algorithms, in time things began to change and this is exactly how SEO came into being.
As Moz puts it, “It was discovered that by taking some rather simple actions, search engine results could be manipulated, and money could be made from the internet.”
So, if we take it back further to when the idea of Google came into being…
Two kids at Stanford had an idea…Page and Burn set out to create Google. In their research papers they had talked about anatomy of the web and proposed the link structure for googles algorithms that we see today. They talked about ranking in those early days and laid the foundation for what SEO is today. 2005 was the year for SEO, Google united with Yahoo and MSN for the no follow attribute to prevent spammy posts. 2009 saw a shakeup in SEO and google produced the next generation infrastructure which was designed to speed up crawling, expand the index and rank in nearly real time.
The evolution of the algorithm has meant that pages rank in google and increasingly social media as well. Other updates included greater use of local language and, enhancements to geo ranking began to happen. Perhaps the biggest mover was that of an update released in 2015 where non-mobile friendly sites would be downranked. This meant that it was not just keywords and content that mattered but responsive design as well.
On the horizon… There’s a lot of talk about voice search but this has its own complexities and is on the rise. Currently a rising 20% of google searches are currently done by voice and, in time this will only increase.
It’s clear the focus on going local is here to stay. Optimising results in this way is more important as businesses are already engaging in it and it is here to stay. Still it stands to reason that the very core of blog strategy should have a clear and definitive SEO purpose, and this includes time after you have set your website up for SEO and mobilised it for the web. Now you can see why getting your blog strategy right for your SEO is just as important as learning how to write an effective blog article.
So, in what way does blogging help with boosting my websites ranking?
Blogging helps boost your SEO quality by posting on your website as an answer to someone’s question, this is why consistent blogging is important. Blog posts that use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can provide more juice to rank in search engines and therefore enabling you to get more traffic to your site and therefore more customers.
After all, if you are going to blog, you might as well get it right.
So… let’s get to it!
Where to begin with SEO? In this article I am going to cover the 11 Steps to optimising your blog posts for SEO, Part 1 & 2. I have kept these both effective and simple.
Part 1 will cover the following to help you make an excellent start:
- Step 1: Keyword research
- Step 2: Title tag
- Step 3: Headers and body
Part 2 will cover the following:
- Step 4: URL
- Step 5: Meta description
- Step 6: Optimise your image ‘alt’ tags
- Step 7: Vary your topic tags
And Part 3:
- Step 8: Use URL structures that help your visitors
- Step 9: Link internally when possible.
- Step 10: Use Google’s search console
- Step 11: Use topic clusters
To get to Part 2, click on this link ‘the 11 Steps to optimising your blog posts for SEO, Part 2’
So, to begin let’s start with Part 1.
Step 1: Effective Keyword Research
Doing the keyword research part of your website or blog is essential and so underrated. The truth is if you can master the art of finding awesome keywords for your business, you’ll not only benefit from more search engine traffic, but you’ll also know your customers better than your competition. You can find a relevant and varied mix of short and long tail keywords if you do the following.
a) Create a Niche Topic List – Map out all the different topics that your ideal customer searches for on Google onto a word document. You can do this in a number of ways and most people go straight to google keyword planner and get ideas from there.
I suggest doing things differently, start with your ideal client and think in terms of what they might want. You most likely should be able to think of 5 niches of the top of your head that work. Then take your ideal client and think of their struggles and problems they may have. This will expand your thinking around niche topics that may be of interest.
Another useful channel and a great way of finding out where your audience hang out are in forums. Forums are like having live focus groups at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Use these strings in Google:
- “keyword forum”
- “keyword” + “forums”
- “keyword” + “forum”
- “keyword” + “Board”
Once you find a forum, note that the forum is divided into sections, each of these sections is often a Niche Topic. Also check out the threads that your ideal clients belong to, this gives you an idea of deeper niches.
Wikipedia is a super valuable goldmine when it comes to niche research, it’s a platform that has thousands of hand curated topics all listed in categories. Head on over to Wikipedia and type in a broad search term. Then look at the contents section of the page and then drill further to find sections of the page, these often herald killer niche topics that would not have been found otherwise.
Chances are that your target audience hangs out on Reddit, you can find a full list of niche topics by typing in a broad topic that is of interest to your audience and related to what you sell. Then, choose a subreddit where your audience is likely hang out in and then spot the threads which have lots of comments and add this to your ever-expanding list of topics.
b) Split your niche topics into Single word phrases (Broad Phrase), 2-3 Word phrases (Body Phrase) and 4 Word Keywords (Long Tail).
Single word phrases – These are usually single-word keywords with insane amounts of search volume and competition. These are broad terms that you may use for categories on your website.
2-3 Word Phrases (Body Phrase) – These tend to get decent search volume (>2000 searches/month) but are more specific than Single word phrases. They have less competition however can still be competitive.
4-word keywords – These are usually very specific phrases, even though they do get a lot of search volume, they have significantly less competition. You may consider using these to attract traffic within posts and blog descriptions.
Now you have your niche topics, you can start looking at how to turn niche topics into keywords using the google keyword planner. I will take a more detailed look at the Google Keyword Planner in future posts but for the time being if you add in your niche topics into the planner you will see the results in terms of search volume. You can then more clearly define the keywords you will use around a given set niche topic that you already identified.
So many blogs make the mistake of unknowingly going for the short tail keywords. Optimising your blog is NOT about adding in as many keywords as you can add. This is not great practice as search engines recognise this word stuffing and can downrank your site. Keywords should be used in a natural and organic way. The reason longtail keywords should be your focus is that there is less competition for such key terms
Step 2: Title Tag
Make your headline and title of your blog relevant to the long keyword you are targeting. This will be the first thing readers see when determining the relevancy of your blogpost.
- Make the keyword come in the first 60 characters of your title, this is where Google cuts off titles on search engine results. Google measures by pixel width.
- If you have a long title tag, it’s a good idea to get your keyword at the beginning as it might get cut off in SERP’s towards the end.
Focus on one or two long tail keywords for each post. Optimising for one or two keywords will actually increase the quality ranking you need in the search engines algorithm. Add these keywords in specific parts of your post. There are four places where you should include your keywords: title tag, headers and body, URL and meta description. This way you remain consistent throughout your blog post.
Step 3: Headers & Body
Now that you have a definitive list of keywords, you now have to ensure that the header and the body of your blog post are covered.
Mention your keyword in an organic and natural way throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, do not overstuff your language with specific keywords otherwise you run the risk of google penalising you for keyword stuffing. Keywords should be a guide only, but this should not be our primary focus for writing your blogpost, it is essential to ensure that you arrive at your post in an organic way. Your focus should always be to deliver value to your audience and focus on helping and answering a question or specific issue your customer may face and these can absolutely be aligned with the niche topics you discovered and relatable to a product you sell.
Ultimately, it’s the aim to get those keywords absolutely working for you to drive targeted specific traffic to your site so that you have a high converting page that delivers results to your bottom line. In Part 2, we go deeper still and discover more steps to optimising your blog post. In this, we cover:
- Step 4: Optimising your blog post URL.
- Step 5: Getting those meta descriptions right.
- Step 6: Optimising your image ‘alt’ tags.
- Step 7: Varying your topic tags.
I’ll post this, this next week Thursday, in the meantime if you have any questions or want to know more, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d be thrilled to hear from you.