SEO is vital to a successful blog. But knowing how to harness its power can seem confusing and complex. SEO expert Judith Lewis of www.decabbit.com, who speaks regularly at BritMums events (usually with a stash of chocolate she gives out as rewards for asking questions), shares top tips for approaching your own SEO with intelligence.
As someone who has spent over 20 years doing SEO, I know how confusing it is for new people coming in to the scene. I always try hard to demystify SEO, as the core fundamentals are really unchanging but some out there try and sow the seeds of doubt. If you stick to doing core SEO principles well, you’ll be doing the right things.
What I’m about to say may seem schlocky at first but it is important. I cannot stress often enough that SEO is both easy and hard – the big things are pretty straightforward but require the right skills, as do the small things. Please don’t be afraid of making changes – if you do them one at a time and something goes wrong, you just undo the one thing.
Remember: while SEO is a specialist skill there are lots of things you can do yourself – and should!
- Figure out who you are writing for – I randomly write recipes for people looking for dessert in exotic places (like their kitchen) but that’s a non-specific audience. If you want to advance your blog further understand who you are writing for and why, and stay faithful to that voice. Unless you know your voice, you’ll have trouble optimising for SEO because you won’t have a target to work towards.
- Optimise your blog – I use mine for testing but if you’d like to drive serious traffic, get your page load time down below 3.5 seconds and use https on your site. Site load speed and https are both ranking factors so don’t be left behind. These both require some technical intervention but once done is done forever (provided you don’t load massive images).
- Research your topics – I enjoy just writing off the cuff but if you’d like to get more traffic research what people are looking for through the free tool of Google AdWords. Yes you have to create an account and add a credit card but just create a campaign and pause it forever and just use the tool. I suggest adding at least 3 possible words you think you want to write about and seeing what Google says people search for.
- Build your mailing list – There are different services out there but if you can, do build out your mailing list on a platform you have some control over. Get messages out to them when you update your blog but also for other reasons like important events or festivals or in the future – your book signing 😉 You shouldn’t just rely on Google to send you traffic.
- Make sure everything is shareable – In the same thread as not relying on Google for traffic, I know when I bother to socially promote things my traffic from social media goes way up. As a result I do recommend that you also socially promote everything and also make sure you buffer your own past posts and the posts of others.
- Ensure you have set up Google Analytics and Search Console – You can’t know what’s going on unless you are measuring and you can’t measure unless you have the tools installed. Google Search Console only keeps 90 days of data (soon to be a year) so you will regularly lose data if you don’t export it and save it.
- Ensure you optimise your title tags and meta description – Your title tag can affect ranking but both will have an effect on click through rate, which is a ranking factor. You want to make the title tag and meta description as compelling as possible to maximise the traffic to your blog – not just the rankings. If you boil it all down, it’s all about traffic, not rankings because rankings are just to get traffic.
- Don’t worry about keyword stuffing – When you choose your keywords you really should only ever use it once and then just write naturally. It’s important to be true to your keywords but also your readers. Don’t place it everywhere – once in the post is enough and when you write naturally you’ll use related keywords which Google will recognise as semantic variants and it will increase contextualisation.
- Links are your best friend – The most important thing for traffic is links. It’s not just about the ranking boost but it’s also about the traffic you’ll get as people discover your blog. It’s about people finding you and discovering your blog through other blogs. Whether it is a blogroll or a guest post or a top 100 list – links should be about discovery and not just about ranking.
- If you are worried, check the table – I regularly read SERoundtable.com in order to check what the buzz is and whether something has changed. Barry will cite the tools like Mozcast and the like that he checks to see if the algorithm has changed. There is a lot of guessing so don’t take it as gospel, but if you are a bit more advanced it will help you figure out if it’s your blog or the algorithm.
Of all the things I have recommended we could boil them down to three main areas of concern: Technical SEO, On-Page/Content SEO and Link SEO but what we’re really looking for is TRAFFIC. Everything we do as bloggers should be about increasing our visibility for traffic and not just about rankings which must seem weird coming from someone who does SEO but my work is about increasing value, not just rankings. Happy Blogging!