Search Engine Optimization. One of the few phrases that elicits blank stares and raised eyebrows from our clients, on the daily.
SEO is an enigma. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it changes. SEO is the rabbit and, you, my friend are always going to be chasing it’s cute little white butt.
Just because SEO strategies are ever-changing, doesn’t mean they should make you feel overwhelmed. It isn’t actually that complicated — you simply need to understand it’s function.
The goal of a search engine is to deliver the most relevant + quality content to the person who is searching for it. So, to win the SEO game, your job is to help the search engine do its job.
Once you understand this, you will understand how to optimize your blog (even when the search engine algorithms change.)
Now, let’s talk rabbit.
OUR SIX MOST EFFECTIVE SEO TIPS FOR BLOGS:
1. STRATEGIC COPYWRITING
Copywriting: the hybrid between compelling language, value, readability and keywords.
For whatever reason, most people’s understanding of SEO is frozen in the era of ‘keyword stuffing’ and ‘meta-tagging’. Keywords and meta-tagging still have their place, but they aren’t the — only — tool in your SEO bag of tricks.
In fact, no ‘one’ thing can magically improve your search rankings. It’s all about balance. So when you are writing your content, you want to keep that balance in mind. You can offer your readers great value, but without compelling language, readability and the correct use of keywords, readers won’t find your work or want to read it. Reader engagement is critical for your search engine optimization success.
2. READER ENGAGEMENT
When a reader lands on your blog, you want them to stay there. If visitors are landing on your page and navigating away quickly, this tells the search engine that they didn’t find the content they were looking for (even if the content WAS relevant to them).
So, how do you keep a reader on your page? How do you get them to share your content with their social network? You need to meet their reader needs.
Luckily, there are only two general categories of readers, and you can write to both of them with one strategy. Let’s break them down.
TYPE A’s: Your A-Type reader wants total control of their reading experience. They want to know how long this blog will take them to read and what they are going to learn from reading it before they begin. In a nutshell, they want to assess your articles’ value and make an informed decision on whether or not to spend their time reading it.
Labeling each blog with “5 minute read”, writing content in the form of a listicle, and breaking your content into clear sub headings are all things that make your A-type reader happy. (Great value, and excellent copywriting are crucial too, but we’ll get to that in a minute).
If they land on your blog and they can’t readily assess it — they will leave. Which tells the search engine they came from that ‘this user didn’t find this content relevant’ and voila: your ranking goes down. Think of it as literary UX.
TYPE B’s: Your B-Type reader is a bit of a romantic. They already have trust that they will gain value from your content, and they are willing to go on your magical blog ride. (Until you lose their trust, that is.) This reader often has an established relationship with you, or they fit into an older demographic (Baby Boomers are more likely to digest content this way).
This reader wants to read well-written copy. Which means that your writing should be active (not passive). It should be succinct and fluid, and enjoyable to read.
If your goal is to hold their attention, then you need to deliver an enjoyable and valuable reading experience. So: practice, practice, practice. Read other blogs, do writing exercises, get better.
The simplest way to understand keywords is to put yourself in the mind of your reader.
Keywords are the words that people are — actually using — to search for your topic. For instance, if you are writing an article for 30-something bachelors on “Why All Your Relationships Fail” and you use industry specific language in your article, like, “Fantasy Bonds create dependent attachment in one or more of the coupled individuals, resulting in a cycle of unrealistic and unmet expectations.” then your article will never come up when Big Mike types “why are all my girlfriends crazy AF” into Google at 2am.
If you want Big Mike to find your article, then you need to use the same words that he is using to search for it. How do you find them? Put yourself in his shoes, look around for other popular articles on the topic, and use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool to gain insight and expand your keyword vocabulary.
Once you have your keywords, you’ll want to use them strategically and naturally in your copywriting.
The main keyword(s) should be in the title(s). When formatting your post you get to select from 1–5 headings. These aren’t arbitrary, they tell the internet where to look for important keywords. Heading 1 will wrap your title in <h1> TITLE </h1> which tells the internet that this is the best place to identify the subject of the article. This carries through to the rest of the article when you label subheadings with <h2>secondary keywords</h2>.
ALL keywords should be placed naturally and — well spaced — throughout the article. Keyword stuffing (shoving a bunch of keywords into a paragraph) pisses search engines off, because it’s cheating, and they will lower your ranking. Don’t eff with search engines, they know your tricks.
So put some main ones in your description, and a few more throughout. You can use industry specific or technical language, as long as you pair it with layman’s terms. In our example this might look something like this:
“If you are sitting there at 2am wondering why your girlfriends all seem crazy as balls, then you might want to take a look yourself.
When expectations in a relationship go unmet, it can create anger and frustration that leads to irrational behaviour and fighting.”
See how I bolded all those lovely little keywords for you? Search terms that would directly relate to these words could be:
- “My girlfriend is irrational”
- “Girlfriends are crazy”
- “My girlfriend and I are always fighting”
- “Constant fighting in my relationship”
Get it? Good. Moving on.
5. META DESCRIPTIONS
Your Meta Description is the little descriptor that shows up under the heading of your article/website when a search engine displays results.
This little snippet of text is important because it’s the gatekeeper of your visitors. A potential reader makes the decision to “click or not to click” on your link based on those 315 characters.
If you don’t grab their attention and appear relevant in your Meta Description, then they won’t choose you out of their search results.
Some blog platforms (like Yoast for Wordpress) will allow you to set custom Meta Descriptions, but some won’t. So you’ll always want to make sure that the very first copywriting on your page also moonlights as a Meta Description.
6. THE OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:
Obviously there are alot of other little details that go into Search Engine Optimized copy, like labeling your photos, meta-tagging, bolding, linking, etc. However, this blog is already long enough, and we’ll have to save these for another day friends.
So instead of rambling on about SEO, I’m going to leave you with a cookie recipe. (Betcha didn’t see that coming.)
Sally, of Sally’s Baking Addiction is the god of SEO (in my opinion). This woman’s recipes are delicious (quality content), the blog is written with brilliant keyword structure (searchable), they are shareable (share icons), reviewable (social vouching), include links and are linked to from other sites (internet vouching), and are properly tagged (meta-tagging). So, as you refine your SEO skills, check back to see what Sally is cooking up.