Beyond being a generally popular topic in the bloggersphere, SEO is also a pretty popular one for this ol’ blog…so I thought I’d put together a post for those that are newbies to SEO and are not sure of the ins and outs and whether it’s *really* worth investing your time in it to grow your blog.
The short answer to that is “it depends”…here’s the longer answer:
First up, what is SEO?
SEO is short for search engine optimisation, and it basically covers the methods you can use to make your blog more visible on search engines when people are searching for particular keywords or phrases to find content online.
For example, if you’re looking for a review of a lipstick from The Body Shop, you might Google “body shop lipstick”. A blog using that phrase in the title and naturally throughout the content is more likely to appear near the top of the search engine results than one that isn’t.
OK, so that’s a very simplified definition but you get the gist. If you want to get into the nuts and bolts of SEO, I’ve added a few resources at the end of this post. There are a lot of factors which Google use to determine how to rank search engine results, so this post is just going to focus on a few of the most relevant ones for bloggers to bear in mind.
How can SEO help your blog
By using SEO for your blog, you increase your chances of gaining more of what is called organic traffic. Organic traffic is when someone lands on your site having used a search engine to find your content. If you use Google Analytics, you’ll likely see that organic traffic is your main source of traffic even if you aren’t consciously thinking about SEO when writing your posts.
However, if you do start thinking about SEO when writing your posts, there is a lot of potential to generate more organic traffic to your blog. Hurrah!
Do I have to SEO my blog?
No, of course not. You don’t have to do anything when blogging. But if you are serious about getting more traffic to your site, and the perks that come with that, then SEO is crucial to achieving your goals.
The elements of SEO to think about when blogging
Here’s a rundown of just a few of the things you should be thinking about if you want to SEO your blog and increase organic traffic:
When you open up your blog to add a new post, also open up Google Adwords and follow *this guide* on choosing keywords (don’t worry, the link opens in a new tab!).
Choose a “core” keyword which is what most people will be searching for, plus 3-4 contextual keywords to help reiterate the subject of your post to search engines. Use the core keyword in your blog post title and URL, plus a few times within the text naturally. If you can, also use the keyword in subheadings. Use the contextual keywords a few times throughout the content too.
If you have WordPress, use Yoast SEO to monitor if you have used your core keyword enough or too often.
Image alt tags
Image alt tags (otherwise known as alternative text) are often ignored when optimising a blog post for SEO. Make sure to add a description of the image in your alt tags, including your core keyword.
What’s more, make sure to name your image file names as something relevant and including the keyword instead of leaving them as DSC0858 which search engines aren’t going to pick up on!
Ugh, the bane of a bloggers life. Broken links are bad news bears for SEO as they indicate poor navigation. Make sure to check your blog regularly for broken links and get them fixed as soon as you can.
Not only does this improve your chances of ranking on search engines, it also provides a better user experience for your readers. There are few things more annoying than clicking on a link that no longer works!
This month, Google is doing a mass rollout on Google Chrome which means that if your site is not HTTPS, Google will flag a warning to users, claiming the site to be insecure. Annoying, huh?
Yes, but it also makes sense in the age of data protection, GDPR and the risk of hacks etc.
I did a tweet about HTTPS recently, which sparked up a surprising amount of debate…but all I am saying to do is speak to your hosting company and ask them to add a Lets Encrypt SSL certificate to your domain, and to set a 301 redirect from the HTTP URLs to HTTPS. Trust me, they will know what you mean.
A Lets Encrypt SSL is free and has to be renewed every 90 days (some hosting providers will do this automatically for you). Not all hosting providers will give you this service for free because they want to make some money off this change. All I can recommend is looking into Zero SSL if you have access to your cPanel, or switching hosting providers. If in doubt, ask a techy friend to look into it for you!
My SSL, plus the redirect were both set up within 5 minutes by my hosting provider (TSO Host) but I understand that people’s experiences with getting this set up are mixed.
Finding the time for SEO
We all have busy lives, right? Sure we can think about using these SEO methods on our newer posts but how about older content?
If you want to go back and optimise older content for search engines, then I recommend that you focus on the posts that are likely to bring you the most traffic – for example, beauty reviews or how to guides. Don’t bother optimising posts like catch-ups or favourites.
Dedicate chunks of time to revisit old content, and then factor in additional time for your newer posts to check that you have done all you can to SEO it up!
SEO Resources for bloggers
Here are a few resources to help you with your SEO adventure! Optimising your blog isn’t going to make huge differences overnight, but you will notice in the long term that if you are using the right keywords, and you have the basics right on-site, that you will get more organic traffic.