You should create amazing content that everyone wants to read. It is the first rule of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO refers to online activities that help improve a website’s ranking up the search engine result pages.
It thus means that when it comes to the actual material of your blog, the best thing to do to improve its performance in the search engines is creating interesting posts that people love reading. But what happens if no one is able to find your blog? It is why you should know some SEO tricks.
Here are some of the most effective tips for optimizing your blog for the search engines to ensure that it gets the audience it deserves:
- Keyword Selection
The idea of keywords is one that you will need to be familiar with one important concept before you get started with your SEO efforts. Keywords refer to the phrases and words used by Internet users to search for things in the search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. While some people type long phrases and questions into Google, the majority prefer to abbreviate them to their key components. For instance, “Gyms Austin” or “men’s shoes”.
Getting started with your SEO efforts is all about thinking about how readers will most likely search for blogs such as yours. A handy tool known as Google AdWords Keyword Planner can help you do this. The tool generates keyword ideas and helps you know the number of people who are searching for various terms.
For instance, if you have a blog about travel, entering a generic term such as “travel blog” lists all kinds of related keywords and tells you the rough number of searches conducted for that keyword each month.
From there, you can decide the keywords for which you would prefer your blog to appear in the search results. The keywords are terms that are most relevant to the substance of your blog and have a decent number of searches each month. Keep in mind that shorter keywords are likely to be more competitive. For instance, more sites are likely to be competing for the keyword “travel”, but only a few for niche search times like “travel blog Honduras”.
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If you enter a search term in a search engine, the page of results you see will have clickable blue links as well as a short snippet of text. The name given to the blue links is ‘title tags’ while the short snippets of text below are known as ‘meta descriptions’.
Including some of the chosen keywords in your title tags helps your blog appear for relevant searches, which the role of the meta description is to offer a brief explanation of the page as well as encourage people to click and read more.
It is worth noting that not all blogging platforms will allow you to edit the meta descriptions and title tags, which is why WordPress is the best option if you wish to be capable of editing such components. If you have a WordPress blog, all you have to do is install a plugin known as Yoast SEO, which makes it possible for you to edit the meta descriptions and title tags as well as offering you other advanced SEO options too.
The blogging platform that you choose will most likely use random numbers as the default for the URLs of individual posts, but you should be able to edit them to make them user-friendly. Google does not understand random numbers any more than your readers will, which is why it is so important to use real words depending on the post’s title. Ideally, you should change the default URL structure from www.blogname.com/12345 to www.blogname.com/post-name.
Making Your Blog User-Friendly
User-friendliness, much like the point above, has much to do with organization. Your blog should be properly organized and easy to navigate to help readers find the information that they seek. Having just a handful of menu items means lumping too much information into broad categories and will make it harder for readers to find specific content.
For instance, instead of having just a single “Travel” category, you should consider including a drop-down menu either by location or items like “reviews”, “guides”, or “budget”. It is also important to make it easier for your readers in find you on different social media platforms, contact you, and find out more about you. Ensure that you include these items on your Main Menu, organize them in a sensible way, and link to them internally.
Optimizing Image Alt Text
The images on your blog should at least include an alt text as well as a description much like your pages and posts. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not the ideal place to stuff in additional keywords suggests SEO expert Matt Woodward.” Doing that will not only look spammy to readers that inspect your images but also looks spammy to the search engines too. The alt text should be descriptive of the image and include the keyword if it fits.”
For instance, for a post about “best budget apps”, you can choose to include a picture of one such app. Your alt text may read something such as “Budget Bunny App for Travelers” since this says exactly what the image is all about and includes the keyword too. Avoid using something like “best budget app applications travelers travel budgeting money blog”.
Ideally, you should include images that are relevant to the post’s topic. Crowding a post with images just for aesthetic purposes is neither good for SEO nor is it user-friendly. In addition, you should ensure that all the images you use ate the right type for your blog and of the right file size. Such elements might vary, so you should consider asking a professional for assistance if you are unable to determine what type/size of images to use.
Blog Post Title
“Blog post titles might have some bearing on your blog’s performance in the search results, so you should keep the keywords in mind when creating a clever blog post title capable of intriguing the readers”, according to Tim Soulo of AHrefs.
It was mentioned earlier that some Internet users prefer typing long search terms into Google. Such keywords are referred to as long-tail keywords such as “how to make a cheesecake from scratch” and “women’s running shoes pink”.
Blog post titles are the perfect location for targeting the more specific search terms. The longer keywords, such as the “how to” example can often form titles in themselves. If you go to Google.com and start typing into the search box, most of the suggested terms are likely to be long-tail keywords.
You can try typing “how to” coupled with a term that’s relevant to your blog and check what comes up. Finding the terms is also a great way to generate content ideas likely to be popular since the suggested searches show what people are most commonly searching for.
Categories and Tags
Creating a logical set of tags and categories for your posts makes your blog easier for users to navigate, but it is also good for SEO. Whenever you create a post, place it under the relevant category (for instance, if it is a post about France on your travel blog, it can go under “Europe” or “France”) and then add several tags describing the topic.
Use keywords for these, such as “wine tasting in France”, “Loire Valley”, and so on. Including meta descriptions and title tags for tag and category pages provides further optimization opportunities for your blog for a wider variety of keywords, so the tag and category pages may actually appear on the search results themselves.
A sitemap refers to the roadmap of the layout of your website, which makes it easier for both human users and search engine crawlers that visit your blog. Including the sitemap on your website is a great yet easy way to boost your website a little in terms of SEO and help readers find exactly what they are searching for.
To create a sitemap, this is what you should do:
Create a new page on the blog and name it “(blog name) Sitemap”.
Create an outline of all pages on the blog, preferably in the order of the menu items. For instance, a typical website outline may look like this:
- Our Story
- Travel Articles
- Contact Us
It is worth noting that for the “Travel Articles” item, you should list the subcategories below as they would appear in a drop-down menu. Ensure that you include all pages on the website even those not listed in the Main Menu. You don’t have to include pages that have been set as “noindex”, since you don’t want the search engines to crawl these.
Include internal links to each page i.e. for every page listed in the outline on the sitemap, ensure that you include a link to that page on your website. At the end, all items in the outline should link to different pages on your website.
A link to your sitemap should be included in your website’s footer. This approach ensures that all pages on your website are accessible by just clicking on the sitemap irrespective of where the user is on the website. It also ensures that both the search engines and human users can easily find any page on your website.
Fixing Broken Links, Page Depth, and More
To ensure that users and search engines find your website easy to navigate, it is important to reduce page depth and get rid of any broken links. It is also important to ensure that you don’t miss any elements, such as meta descriptions and title tags.
You can find these elements in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular option is to use a tool known as Screaming Frog. The tool is free up to 500 URLs, which makes it ideal for smaller websites. It just crawls your website just like the search engines do highlighting any potential issues. You can filter by Response Code to find any broken links, examine page depth (how many clicks away the content is from your Home Page), and much more.