Hey everyone! We have our first guest post here at Blogging Butterfly about SEO for bloggers. I know this is a big topic that many of you find confusing to wrap your head around at first, but getting started is really simple.
Today’s post is from Brad Shorr, the Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an SEO agency serving small and midsized business. He breaks down the basics of SEO for you, so get ready to take some notes.
Thanks Brad for your awesome post!
SEO Basics for Bloggers
Bloggers need organic search engine traffic to build their audience, and attract prospects and customers. Basic SEO techniques are fundamental to effective business blogging — and the nice thing is, most of them cost nothing except time.
Here are important SEO items to cover.
- Make sure your blog design is mobile-friendly. Most CMS platforms have responsive templates that adjust display for mobile and desktop screens. Google places great emphasis on mobile-friendly design in its organic results. Find out how mobile-friendly your blog is here.
- Make sure your pages load quickly. Page loading speed is an important ranking factor. Just as important, slow page loading drives readers away! Site speed is a tricky issue — it can result from clumsy image storage, hosting glitches and other technical issues. This is an area where you may need to enlist the help of a developer proficient in your CMS.
- Identify strategic keywords to optimize in your blog posts using an online tool such as this one. Items to consider in selecting keywords:
- Hugely popular keywords may not be ideal; better to look for lower volume but highly relevant longtail keywords, where you have a good chance of ranking.
- Your keywords must be fully relevant to the subject matter of your post.
- If you’re looking to generate leads, look for keywords with buying intent, such as “product x on sale”.
- Optimize a post for three or four keyword phrases, at most. One or two direct mentions of a targeted phrase are necessary; using a few variations on the keyword in addition is OK, but don’t overdo it.
- Always include your most important keyword in the title tag of your post. Here are recommendations from Wix and WordPress. Title tags are THE most important on-site ranking factor for Google. And remember, the title tag is NOT the same as the H1 post title, although they use the same wording.
- The URL of your blog post should match the H1 title of your blog post, with dashes between words. Your CMS should have a setting to have this done automatically. URLs structured this way help Google interpret your content, and also greatly improve user experience for your readers.
- Never use more than one H1 title in a blog post. Use H2 and H3 titles for subheads.
- Before publishing your post, write a meta description for it in CMS editor. A meta description is a snippet of text that appears below the link in Google SERPs (search engine results pages). Meta descriptions are vital because they persuade search engine users to click through from the link to your blog. Here’s a complete meta description execution guide.
- The most important thing you can do off-site for SEO is obtain high-quality backlinks from other blogs and websites in your niche. Google places a LOT of emphasis on backlinks, because when other great sites link to your content, it signals to Google that your content must be really good — and really good content is what Google wants to share with its search engine users. The best ways to get great links:
- Build strong, engaged communities on social media. Share your content there — people connected to you may link to it on their sites!
- Market your best posts to influential bloggers in your niche. Send emails letting them know about your posts, and asking them to link to the posts if they think their audiences would find it useful.
- Link to other bloggers in your niche. Bloggers are more inclined to link to your content if you are linking to theirs. Do this judiciously, though. And avoid any type of reciprocal linking strategy — Google considers reciprocal linking to be a bad practice.
- Speaking of reciprocal links, the last SEO basic is to understand what NOT to do. Fortunately, Google makes this super simple, by explaining bad SEO practices in black and white.