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SEO – aka the bane of a lot bloggers’ lives. Everyone’s heard of it, but not everyone really understands what it is, or how you should be implementing it. Here are some simple SEO tips to help you gain search traffic.
This is an intermediate blogging tip, for those who already have a blog set up, and are looking to gain traffic.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. I’ll talk about SEO with reference to Google, since it’s the most widely used search engine, and is the one that most bloggers are trying to impress.
A blog that has been well optimised for search engines will appear higher in search results. For example, I must have done something right in my avocado risotto post, because it’s the first result when you search for ‘avocado risotto’ in Google:
If a page appears high up in search results, it’s more likely to be clicked, which means you get more traffic! And more followers, more revenue, etc…
Therefore it’s really important that SEO is at the forefront of your mind when writing blog posts. It’s a way of letting Google know what each blog post is about, and convincing them that your post is relevant to people who are typing in a given search term.
SEO can be quite confusing to new bloggers, but if you break it down into small, easy tasks that can become part of your usual routine, it’s actually really simple – and it’s definitely worth doing! Search engines are my main source of traffic – they bring me significantly more traffic than Pinterest, in fact!
Simple SEO tips
1. Decide on a focus keyword before you start writing
If you’re a food blogger, your focus keyword will be something related to your recipe. Try to think of a keyword that is both relevant, and likely to be typed into a search engine.
For example, the other day I posted a recipe called ‘cheesy lentil burgers‘. The original recipe on Sian’s Plan was named ‘lentil and cheese burgers’, but I changed it round when I decided that I wanted my focus keyword to be ‘lentil burgers’ – that’s the phrase that someone might type into Google, hoping to come across a recipe just like mine. I didn’t choose ‘cheese burgers’ to be my keyword, because I thought that people who type that phrase into Google are more likely to be looking for a beef recipe than a lentil recipe.
Your chosen keyword should appear in several places throughout your blog post, which is why it’s so important to decide on it before you begin writing.
2. Title your blog post with your chosen keyword
If possible, your blog post should be titled with your keyword. You can adapt it a little if required – I went for ‘cheesy lentil burgers’ rather than just ‘lentil burgers’, but don’t name it something entirely unrelated (e.g. ‘one of my dad’s favourite dishes’ isn’t something that people will be typing into Google if they’re hoping to come across a recipe for lentil burgers).
The blog post title should also be the same as, or very similar to, the post’s URL – both should contain your keyword.
3. Include your keyword in your images’ alt text and titles.
We’ve already looked at how to add titles and alt text to images, so I won’t go into too much detail about how to do this – just remember that your keyword should appear here if relevant. Remember, people search Google for images as well as for pages, so it’s just as important to optimise your images themselves.
4. Mention your keyword a few times throughout the post.
Your keyword should be repeated a few times throughout your post. If possible, mention it within the first couple of sentences of your blog post, again near the end, and perhaps once more in the middle. If you tend to write shorter posts, you might want to just stick to using your keyword twice – ideally you should aim for a keyword density of around 2-5% (that means that only 2-5% of the words in your blog post should be your keyword). If you’ve chosen a good keyword phrase, it shouldn’t be difficult to fit it into your writing.
5. If linking to another post, use that post’s keyword as your anchor text.
For example, when I linked to my cheesy lentil burgers recipe above (in point #1), or to my alt text post (in point #3), I made sure the text that actually formed the link was relevant to the post I was linking to. This is much better for SEO than simply saying something like ‘you can see my cheesy lentil burgers recipe here‘, where the word ‘here’ forms the anchor text.
But, the most important tip of all… don’t keyword stuff!
You need to take the above tips with a grain of salt. Remember, you should always be writing for your readers, not just for Google. Keyword stuffing (where you force your keyword into your blog post over and over again, even if it sounds forced) is a surefire way to put people off reading your blog. If it doesn’t make sense to mention your keyword in the very first sentence of your blog post, don’t do it! If an image in your blog post isn’t actually a picture of the completed recipe, don’t name it as if it is!
This explains why I didn’t name my cheesy lentil burgers post simply ‘lentil burgers’ – okay, it was my keyword, but it wouldn’t have made a very exciting post name. It’s much more important to catch people’s eye than to catch Google’s eye. The above tips are merely small things that, if done consistently, will add up to bring you good search traffic – but you’re certainly not going to notice a massive difference if you skip a few of them every now and then. It’s far more important to put out quality blog content than it is to constantly try to please Google.
So, there you have it. Of course, there are a million other tips I could have included in this list, but I thought I’d keep it short and sweet so that newbie bloggers don’t get overwhelmed by the dreaded SEO.
If you’re on self-hosted WordPress, you can use a plugin called ‘WordPress SEO’ (aka Yoast), which is a great help to make sure you use your keyword in all the right places. I’d really recommend you get it if you haven’t already. Perhaps we’ll talk more about the Yoast plugin another time…
MORE BLOGGING TIPS:
How to reduce your bounce rate
How to find out how many times a blog post has been pinned
How to add titles and alt text to images
How to start a blog in 5 minutes
How to make a blogging media kit
How to set up a Facebook page for your blog
When to use ‘nofollow’ links
Should I use ‘CAPTCHA’ on my blog?
10 things to check before hitting ‘publish’
Common sidebar mistakes