Blogging Basics: Understanding SEO
What is SEO?
SEO… do you know what it stands for?
For many people SEO is their website’s Super Embarrassing Oversight. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is really just a fancy way of saying that you are trying to make your website as visible as possible to as many people as possible in the natural (FREE!) search results of popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
As mentioned in the first post of this series, simply having a blog can really help with SEO. It gives search engines more content to browse increasing your likelihood of showing up for both critical and less thought about search terms. So even if your customers aren’t seeking out your blog, it is still helping you get their attention just by its existence.
Regular blogging also tells search engines that you are actively updating and maintaining your web content, so they know to check back often to see what’s new. Without a blog, keeping your website fresh would be difficult because let’s face it—company history, staff bios, products and services, etc. can only change so much.
SEO Tips and Tricks
Beyond simply having a blog, there are a lot of tricks to help make your blog the best that it can be when it comes to SEO:
Pick your Poison.
The first thing that you should do is choose a few keywords or phrases that you want to focus on for each post. This should be done by thinking about your customer and what they would likely type into Google if they were trying to find information about your blog post topic. If you’re not sure, try asking around to see what others think that they would be likely to type.
Apply, apply, apply.
Once you have your keywords in mind, look at your blog post and try to incorporate different versions of those keywords into your title, subtitles, article content, photo captions, and page URL. Do this carefully, because you don’t want to lose the flow or integrity of the article. Only add the keywords where it logically makes sense and in a way that doesn’t interrupt the content itself. Readability should never be sacrificed for the sake of SEO. I repeat—readability should NEVER be sacrificed for the sake of SEO!
Break it up.
Going along with point #2, make sure to add subtitles or headings where you can. The content within titles and subtitles receives greater prominence from search engine readers, so not only is it aesthetically pleasing to add breaks and subheadings within your content, but it is also good for SEO.
Make it pretty.
The use of media can make or break a blog. If you will be using any photos or videos in your post (which we highly recommend!), make sure to name the files with keyword-rich names as opposed to “IMG_0386.jpg” or “video1.mov”, and also be sure to include keyword-rich ALT text to describe your photos. This is a good practice not only for SEO, but also for assisting the disabled who might be reading your website via a screen reader or other assistive technology.
Something that you may have heard about when it comes to search engine optimization is meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are 160 character summaries of a page’s content that appear within the code of that page. It’s important to write a keyword-rich meta description for each page of your website, including every blog post. This description is what users will see if your post shows up in a search result on Google or some other search engine, so it should be easy to read, very descriptive, and full of the keywords that you have identified for that particular post.
Get link happy.
Okay, maybe not too happy, but links are definitely a good thing when it comes to SEO. I’m not saying your article should look like a Christmas tree with underlined hyperlinks on every line, but whenever a link can add to your content, go for it—especially if it’s an internal link to your own content. Promote your blog on social media and try to encourage others to link to your blog posts.
Having industry leaders link to your website gives you credibility in the eyes of search engines—not to mention backlinks—so the more key players that you can have linking to you the better. The opposite is also true. Linking out to reputable websites within your area of expertise or even to other relevant pages within your own website is always a plus when it comes to SEO.
Of course none of these blogging SEO tips will do your website any good if your blog isn’t directly tied to your website. This is something we at Reusser Design often take for granted. Our content management system of choice, ExpressionEngine, makes this a no brainer, but as Joshua Ringer, J.D., one of our LinkedIn readers, pointed out:
“I see a lot of business owners place their blog domains on subdomains instead of subdirectories which may create an issue with analytics. It is a simple, but common mistake.”
Our boss, Nate Reusser seconded this fact by stating:
“Agreed, they [business owners] sometimes don’t know they can just put it in a subdirectory of the website. I recommend going that route which makes it easier (and cleaner) for analytics and SEO. Depending on your CMS, it might just be baked into it as well.”
So there you have it—some tips on understanding SEO for blogs. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to write chapters and chapters about the ins and outs of SEO, but if you’re interested in learning more, check out this great resource from Moz: Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
Or if you’re new to reading the Reusser Design blog, make sure you check out the other posts in our Blogging Basics series to get your blog off on the right foot:
- Why Your Organization Needs a Blog
- But I have nothing to write about…
- But I’m not a writer…
- But how do I avoid plagiarism… (coming soon)