As I’m composing my very first blog posts, I am also going over a little checklist of Search Engine Optimization tasks and it hit me that this might be a great place to start. Search Engine Optimization (most commonly referred to as SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website in a way that search engines (like Google) can find you – which means your potential customers can also find you. Not only are you trying to attract a high volume of visitors to your website, you are also trying to attract quality visitors. Quality visitors are the people who are actively seeking whatever service or product you provide. Those are the people who are likely to become your customers. For example, if I give the impression that people can view crafting tutorials on this website then people who visit probably aren’t going to stick around very long. However, if I am attracting creative entrepreneurs who are looking for social media advice then those are my quality leads. Those are the people who are likely to stay on my site awhile, sign up for my email newsletter, maybe even hire me for personalized help.
Is blogging still relevant? YES!
Maintaining a blog on your website is a good SEO practice in itself. Blogging is a great way to connect with your audience, to build trust, and to establish yourself as an expert in your field — all things that help get your name out there to quality leads. Blogging also helps your ranking with search engines in the following ways:
- Shows search engines that your site is current and up to date.
- The more info there is to sift through, the longer visitors are likely to stay on your site.
- Blog posts can help you rank for something called long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that people may type into search engines.
- When you link to previous posts within a post, that’s called internal linking.
- Good quality blog posts are likely to be shared, which increases your inbound links.
Blog Post Keywords
Okay, so now that we know that how blogging helps with SEO, we want to make the most of that, right? So let’s start with keywords. Keywords are the words people type into a search engine when looking for answers, knowledge, products, or services. You’ll want to think up some keywords that people might search for when looking for a business such as yours and then include those keywords in your blog posts.
Where to include keywords in a blog post:
- Title of blog post: Google calls this the “title tag” in a search result. *Tip: If your headline is lengthy, try to get the keyword near the beginning.
- In the blog post itself: You don’t want to completely load up your posts with keywords to the point where your posts don’t feel genuine. Believe it or not, Google will pick up on that AND so will your readers. Write authentically but include keywords where you can.
- URL: You want to include 1-2 keywords in the URL of each blog post because search engines will look to your URL to tell them what your post is about. If you are using WordPress: WordPress creates your URL based on the title of your blog post, so including keywords in your title is helpful here as well. Example: The title of this blog post is “Checklist: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blog Posts” and the last part of my URL is: /checklist-search-engine-optimization-seo-for-blog-posts/
- Meta Description: The meta description will be a summary of your blog post. You’ll want to include keywords but also make it engaging. Search engines show the meta description in search results when someone searches for words and phrases that you have included in your meta description. That means your meta description must be enticing enough to get users to click your link.
- Image Alt Tags: Use keywords in your image alt tags. The alt tag is used by screen readers (browsers used by visually impaired people) and should be descriptive enough to explain the image to someone who is unable to see it. Including keywords in the alt tags also helps with SEO. Google has a great article outlining image publishing guidelines, including examples of good and bad alt text.
Blog Post Tags
When you add tags to a blog post, you are actually creating additional pages on your blog — pages that are indexable, searchable, and rankable by search engines. Adding tags is like adding additional keywords (or short keyword phrases) to your post.
Some things to keep in mind when adding tags:
- Categories are more general while tags should be more specific.
- The trick to tags is to choose about 15–25 topic tags that you think are important to your blog and that aren’t too similar to one another then consistently use only those tags throughout your blog.
- When you start using the same tags over and over again throughout your blog, you increase the importance of your tag pages, as far as search engines are concerned.
- You shouldn’t add too many tags to a post. You shouldn’t use tags that don’t relate the current post to any other post.
- Avoid getting dinged by search engines for duplicate content by displaying excerpts on your archive pages instead of full posts.
Other factors that determine SEO of a Blog Post
- Mobile Friendly Website: Google gives precedence to mobile friendly websites.
- Helpful URL Structure: Helpful URL structures are good for the same reasons you want to use keywords in your URLs (see my explanation above). An example of a helpful URL structure: http://www.craftyourbrand.net/seo/checklist-search-engine-optimization-seo-for-blog-posts/. If you are using WordPress, you can choose your permalink structure in the admin panel, under “settings.”
- Topic Clusters: Topic clusters are a collection of interlinked pages around one umbrella topic. A topic cluster starts with a main topic, which is known as a pillar page and is linked to pages about a related but more specific topic. Topic clusters warrant a post of their own so I will talk more about those later.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, there are some plugins you can download to help with SEO as well. A couple of the more popular SEO plugins are Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, and The SEO Framework.
Lastly, take advantage of Google’s free Search Console, specifically the Search Analytics Report. This report helps you analyze clicks from Google Search, and it’s useful to determine which keywords people are using to find your blog.
I know I covered a lot of material so I am including a PDF checklist that you can print out as a reminder for when you are composing your blog posts. If you have any questions on SEO for blog posts, please leave a comment below. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.