Search engine optimisation basics
You’ve read a lot about it over the years, but what exactly is this SEO thing all about?
And as a blogger, why do you need to worry about it?
SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation’. It is the practice of improving the way a website is built so that search engines can find it more often.
A crude example of SEO:
- Search engines send out ‘spiders’ to ‘crawl’ the internet
- Each time a spider picks up a piece of content it ‘indexes’ it and adds it to the search engine
- Each link shown when you search for a term is called a ‘search engine result page’ (SERP)
- The more content you add, the more search engines will index your site
- The more relevant to the search query that your content is, the more it will be displayed
By being found and clicked on more, the more traffic your blog receives. Simples!
It’s worth mentioning here that we are talking about natural search results (also called ‘organic’). These are the links displayed in the middle of the search results, rather than the sponsored adverts you might see highlighted at the top or side. That’s called PPC or pay per click advertising.
So how do I optimise my blog for SEO
SEO works on a number of factors. In truth, we’ll never truly know the secret.
The way in which the site is constructed, the actual words on your page, and the way other sites link to your blog are all indicators.
But we need to remember that search engine optimisation isn’t only for the benefit of the likes of Google. It’s all about making a site better for the users too. So don’t just cram your posts with keywords – Google ignores ‘keyword stuffing’ these days anyway.
Yes, there is a technical aspect that needs to be covered off, but a clear focus should also be kept on ensuring it also makes sense to your readers.
So to give yourself the best chances at writing well optimised blog posts, here’s a quick checklist of the main factors:
- Pick keywords – Every post you write should target a keyword or keyword phrase that is most relevant to the content
- Optimise the post title – Succinct but descriptive SEO-friendly titles include the main keyword / phrase, keep it under 55 characters, and call it something interesting or useful e.g. “how-to…”
- Optimise your URL – Always include the keyword and keep between 50-80 characters
- Organise the body copy – Make it easy to read for users and also search engines; 1) Break into shorter paragraphs, 2) use bullets, number lists, bold text, italics etc, 3) Include H2 and H3 titles, 4) Include links – both internal and external, 5) include your target keyword but don’t stuff, 6) include calls to action.
- Include a meta description – This is the text displayed under the link on a SERP. Always include your target keyword here too.
- Include a featured image – And other images throughout too.
- Include categories and tags – Keep it relevant to the content topic.