As a blogger, you put a lot of energy into ensuring that your content is great and will keep people’s attention. But how much time do you spend making sure your posts are optimized for search engines?
You’ve probably heard a lot about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO refers to the steps website owners (and bloggers) can take to increase the likelihood that their pages will be found via searches.
SEO is a very broad topic and there are countless “experts” out there who claim to know it all. Fully covering SEO would require several posts. Here, we’re going to cover a few things you can do for each blog post you write to help get discovered via search.
Back in the day, “keywords” were considered the backbone to ranking. Too often, people would merely stuff the keywords they wanted to be found for in the “Meta” section of their page.
Over time, Google changed their algorithm to focus less on what was behind the scenes of a page and more on what was on the page itself. Key terms are still important, but these days it's all about how they are used on a blog post (or web page).
Before you start writing any blog post, think of the key terms you’ll want that post to be found for in a search. Let’s say you were writing a blog post about the benefits of using a stand-up desk. The key term would be “stand-up desk.”
You’ll want to include your key term in your title. The rule of thumb is that it should be at the beginning of your title. Here are some examples of how to structure your title:
- Stand-up desks: The Benefits to your body and wallet
- Stand-up desks. Are they worth the money?
- Stand-up desks and the reason they’re so popular
2. The URL
Just as you did with the title, you’ll want to include your key term in the URL of your blog post. The best practice with a URL is to separate your words with a dash and not an underscore. You can also ignore any of the common words like “a,” “the,” “and” and so on.
Let’s say your title was, “Stand-up desks: The Benefits to your body and wallet.” Your URL should look something like this:
3. Image Names and Alt tags
When including images in your blog posts, be sure to name them something that is both descriptive and includes your key terms. If you’ve bought a stock photo of a man using a stand-up desk, don’t just leave the file name as stockphotoag109587.jpg. That doesn’t mean anything to Google’s crawlers.
Instead, rename the file something like, man-using-stand-up-desk.jpg. Again, use dashes between your words and use your key terms.
Whenever you use an image, be sure to update the “Alt” information. In WordPress, select the option to edit a picture after you’ve uploaded it. Then, look for the “Alternative Text” field and enter your descriptive text. This is another opportunity to use your key terms.
For the image of a man using a stand-up desk, your alt description could be, “A man using a stand-up desk at work.”
4. Body of your Post
Some people will argue that there is a set percentage you should strive for when including your key terms on a page. From what I’ve read, it seems to be more about using your key terms in a natural way. For example, you wouldn’t use the term “stand-up desks” in every single sentence. It wouldn’t read very well.
My advice would be to forget about trying to use it “x” number of times. Instead, think of including it in a way that benefits the sentence. Both your readers and search engines will appreciate it.
SEO can feel like a taunting topic to wrap your head around. Luckily, there is an abundance of tools to help you get up-to-speed.
Here are 3 you can start using right away to help evaluate your posts:
- Yoast SEO - This is a free plugin you can use on your website. You can enter your key terms in the required fields and as you write your post, the “Yoast” section on your page will rate your page based on whether you’ve used the key term in your title, URL, etc.
- SEO Site Checkup - Once your blog post is live, enter its full URL in the SEO Site Checkup tool. It will then scan your post and provide you with a score, as well as suggestions on things you can improve.
- SEOWorkers Analysis Tool - This is another post-publishing tool. I like it because it provides clear explanations about your site’s issues are so you can really build up your SEO knowledge.
How do you optimize your blog posts for search? Let us know below!
About the Author:
Liz Da Ponte is a Digital Strategist hanging out where marketing, social media and technology meet to play. Liz loves writing, coffee, and finding the perfect font. Follow her on Twitter: @lizdaponte