You’ve decided to start a blog! Why wouldn’t you? After all, it’s a piece of cake right?
You just sit at a laptop all day sharing anecdotes from your life whilst drinking coffee. People will give you lots of free stuff. Your talent will be realised and you’ll be offered a book deal. Before you know it, you’ll be sat on the couch opposite Holly and Phil.
What is not to love about this blogging lark?
Oh if ONLY it were that easy. The writing bit is easy, it’s words in your head.
If you want to reach out to a larger audience than your mum, your grandma and her friend Joan then you need to bow to Google*, the ruler of the internet! If you want to be noticed, offered free stuff (which incidentally you actually pay for with your time) or even be paid you need to rank.
To those amongst us who aren’t internet savvy that means, you have to appear in an internet search. When someone searches for something online YOU need to appear in a search, ideally before page 50.
You need to SEO your blog.
Now, there are companies out there like Click Consult who are well versed at all that stuff and can most certainly help you out.
However, if you’re a newbie blogger you are probably going to look at doing it yourself initially. I am not claiming to be an SEO genius, the whole thing makes my brain go to it’s happy place. This is just how I understand it…
5 ways to SEO your blog
These are the words people put in the search bar. Now, for a long while I thought you just popped a keyword in Yoast (a handy little plugin) and that was that. That, new blogger, is not the case! It turns out you need to put your keywords throughout your post but also try to make it look natural.
“Keywords are what people type in when looking for something on Google, so choose a main keyword that you know people will search for. Use it in your URL, title, H2 heading, main text and meta description. Don’t just use one keyword though, pepper in as many as is natural” Nikki – Yorkshire Wonders and SEO genius!
Yes, she said H2 heading. I know, I know…H2 heading looks awful! Nowhere near as pretty as H4 BUT that is what Google likes.
Yoast is a good indicator in helping to SEO your blog but isn’t the only measure you should use. It says any post above 300 words is a good amount of words but other places on the internet will tell you that 1600 – 2900 words is a good amount to rank higher.
Although these numbers have been worked out by very clever people, we don’t know what keywords they searched or which pages they used to do all their sums so it could be entirely irrelevant to your topic. If you really want to know who is ranking well in an area similar to you, search what you’re writing about. Take a look at those coming up on page one and see yourself how many words they’re averaging. Ultimately, if you ‘re writing something you’re passionate about just write as much as you feel is relevant without getting boring.
Images and alt text
This is part common sense and part ‘Eh?’. Make sure that any images you use have a proper title that, ideally, contains the keywords you want to be found on. Don’t upload img75863-7764, unless someone searches for that then you’re not going to pop up on page one!
When you upload an image to your post there is a place for you to put a title, a place for a caption and a place for ‘alt tag’ or ‘alt text’ this is where you describe the image for any one using your site who is visually impared. It will also show if the image doesn’t load for some reason. Although you are describing the image you also need to ensure that your keywords are in here too. If you’re anything like me, you’re now thinking you’re OK with just your mum reading your blog.
Ideally, within a post, you will use an internal link like this one here and an external link. By linking to yourself, you’re not only getting your reader to click around your site to other relevant posts but you’re also showing Google that this is the stuff you often talk about. You make yourself look like an authority in your area. You must be because you’re referencing yourself!
I never understood why you would link externally as surely that was driving traffic away but no. Google quite likes it! It shows you’re part of a bigger chain of knowledge or something (I’m sure there is a more technical term for this).
Write for your reader
If, after all this, you still want to blog then just remember to write for the people you want to read it. That’s the reason we all start after all. For Google to really love your site, it’s best to be consistent. Show you’re the ‘go to’ in an area, this can only really happen if you believe in what you’re writing. Make sure your keywords are relevant to what you’re writing about, don’t try to shoe horn in things you know will be popular as those crawly bot things are getting savvy enough to know if you’re fibbing.
*I am aware that there are many other search engines but, be honest, Google is the one we bow down to. Have you ever heard anyone say I’m off to Yahoo that?