SEO basics for your blog — tips from a beginner
Firstly I want to make it clear that these SEO basics are from an SEO dummy — me! I am NOT an SEO expert. I do run my own website, I built it from scratch and right now I manage my own SEO on my blog. It’s still a work in progress.
I’m definitely not claiming I know everything about SEO, but I know from my own experience, sometimes hearing a few straight forward tips from someone on your own level can be a helpful place to start. Think of my efforts today as SEO basics for dummies, from a dummy!SEO basics for dummies, from a dummy! Click To Tweet
Over the last few months, I have learnt so much about how to improve (not master) SEO, readability and which components are important to include in a great blog post. I want to share what I’ve learnt to help you write better articles.
I’ve been blogging for several years and I currently have around 70 articles on my website. I upgraded my website to a WordPress site a few month ago. Until now, I have never invested in SEO optimisation so I am now on a mission to update every blog post, dating back several years. I have been blown away by how many little tweaks are needed to optimise my posts so that they can be more easily found by search engines.
In the interest of full disclosure, these tips are not going to be the be all and end all in winning the SEO game. There is so much more to SEO than just these tips. But these 9 tips are the main things I’ve learnt about how you can write better articles and increase your reach.
What is SEO?
What exactly is SEO? It stands for Search Engine Optimisation. There are a number of different search engines (here’s a list of the Top 10 search engines in the world) but the main one you probably know about already and no doubt you have used many times is Google.
When you are looking for information about a particular topic, you type in a Focus Keyword or phrase and Google will go to work crawling the web to find the best matches for your search query. The search results you see are a result of how well Google ranked the content it found for the keyword or phrase it was searching for. The challenge is to have your content ranking on the first page of Google for the keyword you have selected. The likelihood of being found in a Google search, if you’re not ranking on the first page, is very low.Chances of being found in a Google search, if you're not ranking on the first page, are very low. Click To Tweet
Here are 9 things I’ve learnt to help Google find your blog articles:
1. Install Yoast
If you run a WordPress site, I recommend you install Yoast as soon as possible. Yoast is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress. Once you have it installed, simply follow the guidelines.
2. Choose a keyword
Choose a focus keyword or keywords which represent the topic you want your article to rank for. The keyword should sum up your article in a single word or short phrase. Not sure what keywords to use? You can use a tool like Google Adwords keyword planner. You want to look for keywords with a decent amount of monthly searches but with low competition, otherwise you’ll be competing against many other sites.
3. Minimum length of article
Your blog article should contain at least 300 words and ideally between 500 to 1000 words. Some of my research even suggests a minimum of 1000 words. You need to have enough content for search engines to be able to crawl the post and find what it’s looking for.
It will hard for Google to find what your article is about if there is not enough content and relevant words for it to find. So invest time into your writing and ensure you are producing great quality posts with plenty of relevant content.
4. Blog title
Choose a title for your article which also includes the focus keyword. If possible, include the keyword towards the start of the heading to help Google find it more easily. Remember it’s also important to grab the attention of your reader so they want to click to read more. Not only do you want more people reading your article but the more traffic you have, the more Google will see your article as having some authority. Basically, the more traffic you generate, the more you are likely to get.
Use subheadings throughout your post to break up the article into scannable blocks. Both Google and your readers will like it. Headings help Google grasp the main topics of a long post. Many readers will read the first paragraph or two and then scan the subsequent subheadings to see if the rest of the article is relevant to them. Great subheadings can draw them back in and keep their interest level high.
6. Content structure
The majority of your sentences should be under 20 words in length. Especially if you’re including big words or scientific jargon, a huge number of long sentences makes it harder to read. Short sentences make a point. Really they do!
Write in the second person, as if you are talking to your reader one on one. The way to do this is to use pronouns such as you, your and yours where possible.
7. Use great images
Include images in your posts which relate to your topic. Images are important to entice readers to your blog. Posts with images attract more attention on social media than those without. You mustn’t use just any image you find on the internet though. If you have the budget to do so, create your own photo library using a local photographer.
If you source images from the internet, you’ll need to pay for a licence to use stock images from sites like Shutterstock or you can grab my free printable which has 58 websites where you can source free stock imagery under a Creative Commons CCO licence.
8. Optimise your images
The images you include should reflect the topic of your post. The file name of the image is important. Use the keyword in the file name of the image and be sure to include details in the Alt Text field. Make sure your Alt Text includes the SEO keyword and relates to or describes the image.
Optimising your images is also important. Make sure your images aren’t too big or your site will be slow to load. I use WP Smush, a wordpress plugin which automatically compresses and optimises images uploaded to my site.
9. Help readers share
Give your readers something to share. By this I mean include social share icons in your post such as the ones I have below from AccessPress Social Share. You can also install a plugin to include a one click option to tweet notable quotes highlighted in your post, such as the quotes above (I use Better Click To Tweet).
Include an image or images specially optimised for Pinterest. Pinterest images should be more vertical than horizontal. According to Pinterest, the best ratio is 2:3 to 1:3.5 with a minimum width of 600px. That means dimensions of 600 x 900 to 600×2100.
There is a great deal to SEO than just these tips but as a fairly new beginner in the serious land of blogging, these SEO basics have been the biggest help for me in improving my blog posts. I hope they help you too.