SEO seems to intimidate people. I blame the term itself, which sounds boring and technical. It stands for search engine optimization and can ultimately be boiled down to one very easy-to-understand question: What would someone Google?
I personally think it’s essential that every blogger understand and employ the basics of SEO. A blogger that gets smart about SEO is going to enjoy more organic traffic. (Organic traffic is just a fancy term that means blog hits you didn’t pay for–basically when someone Googles a term and lands on your blog.)
SEO covers a wide variety of tricks, best practices, and techniques that will help people find your blog post faster. Below I’m going to review some of the biggest pieces to remember. These are a great start but the key is to begin to think in these terms and always have SEO in the back of your mind–yes, even when developing content.
This will be part one of this series. There’s so much to cover that I’ll break it into sections.
1) The Header and Subheader of Your Site: When the Google bots “crawl” your site, they are looking for clues about its content. Since this is not a thinking and breathing human, it can only go with what it “reads.” The first thing it will take note of is your site’s name. This is why a blog title of “Alison Presley” is optimized for content written by Alison Presley. My previous blog title was Locusts and Wild Honey. Adorable? Yes. SEO-friendly? No–unless I’m selling locusts and wild honey.
Now plenty of site names directly tie back to their product or brand (think PetExpress.com and Drugstore.com) but plenty don’t (think Dooce or Apple). Don’t panic if you established a blog under a name or word that isn’t tied back to you. Good traction is hard to establish with Google so you’re better off keeping it. Any change in the title of your blog could be devastating for your SEO.
2) Your Metadata: This is another nerdy term but metadata is merely that description that appears in a Google search result. Let’s check out the metadata for a little site called Amazon.com.
Amazon, like most companies, is undoubtedly taking its SEO strategy seriously and above you see what must be their most popular keyword terms arranged into somewhat coherent phrases. Find where you can input metadata for your blog and make sure this description includes the top keyword terms for your site.
Note for WordPress Users:
To add metadata to a WordPress blog, you’ll need to install a plugin. Not sure which plugin to use? Mashable did a round-up of the Top 20 SEO Plugins for WordPress. I took their advice and added the All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert.
If you haven’t done much with installing plugins, here’s a quick summary. Just hover over the Plugins tab in the left-hand column of your admin site. A pop-up will appear with the choice of “Add New.” Click on that. Then, type in the search term “all in one seo” and click Search Plugins. A list of results will pop-up. The one you want is the general All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert–and on my screen it’s the fifth option. Once you find it, click Install Plugin. The Plugin will install and then you need to click “Activate.” Once activated, the plugin will prompt you to update your options and hop you over to the right place. This is what will appear on that page:
Pay special attention the Home Title, Home Description, and Home Keywords. This is what Google will read when it comes to your site and this is where to add your primary keywords. For mine, the keywords are about book marketing, book editing, and book writing–as those are the themes of my blog. For yours it might be DIY crafts, knitting, or baking. Just think about your core content and put those words here.
As you can see, Amazon settled on this for their title: Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers…(Note that books isn’t in there! Why? Well, I’d wager that those three terms are the most searched on Amazon.)
And for their description they chose: Online retailer of books, movies, music and games along with electronics, toys, apparel, sports, tools, groceries and general home and garden items. That is some awe-inspiring keyword-stuffed writing! This is exactly the sort of thing you want to do for your site so that the Google crawlers know what it’s about. Also, remember that most search engines only display about 160 characters of copy so don’t ramble on!
After you’re done filling in your keywords, click Update Options and you’re all set.