If you’ve started posting content to your blog or website, you want to make sure it has the best possible chance of being seen. And in a nutshell, that’s what Search Engine Optimisation is all about. Ensuring that when people look for stuff that you’ve written about, your content stands a fighting chance at being found.
The very best way to get people looking at your work, is to make sure it’s super high quality in the first place. You need to be writing with a distinctive voice, and adding value to the lives of your readers by entertaining or educating them. Preferably both!
On the assumption that you’re already producing great quality articles and blog posts though, there are some additional steps you should take to make sure the odds are stacked in your favour:
Do some work up-front to figure out what search terms you want to be ranked for
It’s worth taking some time to figure out what people are already looking for so that you can tailor your content to meet their needs. This isn’t about jamming your site full of keywords and metadata though. Google and the other search engines are wise to this kind of stuff. What we’re trying to do here is just figure out how best to tailor content so it covers all the right bases. If you know the search terms you’re looking to work with, then you can include them in your title, in the permalink, on the images and sensibly within the article text.
Carry out your search term research with Google Adwords to identify what people are searching for right now and how best you can incorporate those terms into your content.
Choose an SEO optimised theme
The theme you choose for your blog can have an impact on how easily search engines are able to index your site. As a rule of thumb, the more complex it is, the more difficult it will be to index. Wherever possible you should try to keep your site nice and simple. Focus creating awesome content rather than an unnecessarily flashy user experience.
Make sure your images are named sensibly and have alt text descriptions
If you’re using images within your blog posts, make sure you take the time to give them an actual name. If you’ve downloaded them from a repository somewhere, or created the image yourself – often you’ll end up with a name like img87667.jpg. If you happen to get any visually impaired visitors to your site who are using a screen reader, that image name isn’t going to tell them much. And the search engines will penalise you as a result. When using images it’s best to give them a descriptive name and some alt text, so that if the image isn’t displayed for some reason, your visitors will at least get a description of what they would normally see.
Use a permalink instead of the blog generated URL
When you write your article, chances are the platform on which you wrote it will generate a URL automatically. Probably it will look something like http://yourwebsite.com/page-id?123, which will do the job. But even better would be to change the URL to a descriptive permalink. For this article for example, I might use http://mywebsite/quick-seo-wins – which is much more memorable I’m sure you’ll agree. It’s also much more search engine friendly.
Highlight key words or sections with bold or h3 tags
Take some time when writing your articles to make them easy to scan and easy for people to see where the key content is. For something long form, try to add some section headers with h3 tags and descriptive names. For shorter list type posts, use strong or bold text to make your content stand out.
Link your pages to each other
Make it easy for your visitors to find your old content by linking to it within your articles. Providing people with an easy way of getting to related content means they’ll spend longer on your site, which is obviously helpful for driving sales. It has the added bonus of making sure search engines find all the content that may not otherwise get indexed. You need to keep resurfacing old content to make sure Google and the other search engines can find it. You could republish it, but even easier is just providing some links to it from your newer articles.
Comment on authoritative blogs for backlinks
Try to take some time out every so often to find and comment on relevant content from other authors within your field. Every time you leave a comment (that gets published) you also get a link back (a backlink) to your site. It’s a great way of building your own authority (the search engines calculation as to how important your content is within the field) while at the same time adding value to your web community by making friends with other influencers.
Create a sitemap so search engines can index your site more easily
From a purely technical perspective, adding a sitemap to your site just means that you’re telling search engines about ALL of the pages of your site, including ones that they wouldn’t necessarily find otherwise. It’s just a way of making sure that the search engine doesn’t miss anything. By creating and adding a sitemap to your blog or website, you’re covering all of your bases. And it’s not difficult to do. If you’re using WordPress you can just add a sitemap plugin.
Install an SEO plugin on your blog
And while we’re on the subject of plugins, you can streamline the entire SEO process by adding an SEO plugin to your site. Yoast is a good one, but there’s plenty of others if you want to explore.
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