SEO. It can feel like a completely overwhelming topic. Many of us assume that if we're not tech gurus or employees at Google, that we'll never master the concept of Search Engine Optimization. While it's true that there are thousands of complicated tricks and tactics to improve SEO that are beyond our scope, there are also plenty of very simple steps that you can take today to tell Google what your site and your specific blog posts are all about.
As a search engine, Google's goal is to provide the highest quality, most useful search results to all of its customers (the searchers). By writing high-quality, helpful, recent, and relevant content, and then ensuring that you give Google hints about the topics you're covering, you can be that high-quality search result that shows up on page one. The point of SEO is to give Google what Google wants – no tricks or black hat strategy are involved. By giving search engines what they want, you won't be affected by algorithm changes, which exist to weed out low-quality search results. (Read: not you; no ma'am!) Keep reading to learn easy SEO for mom bloggers. You can do this – I promise! (Click here to listen to a podcast episode that covers many of the points below.)
Use the Google Keyword Planner to Find Your Long-tail Keyword Sweet Spot
Targeting a one-word keyword like “SEO” won't get you anywhere. You're competing against millions of high-quality search results for the term. On the other hand, targeting the keyword phrase “SEO for mom bloggers” when Google tells you that no one (well no one except me I guess!) searches for that term, is also pointless. This is where a quick check-in with the keyword planner can be so helpful.
Take a look at the screenshot below to see why I decided to target “Easy SEO for mom bloggers” Essentially, I noticed that several hundred people search for Easy SEO, 110 people search for SEO for bloggers, and 720 people search for “mom bloggers”. What about those simple keyword phrases that get thousands of searches each month? They're too big for me at the moment. I don't stand a chance of ranking on page one for those terms. However, by overlapping terms, I could very well rank for several great keyword phrases. Also notice that beginner SEO has far less people searching for it each month compared to “Easy SEO” – that made my decision to use “easy” well….. easy!
A word of caution: don't get stuck in analysis paralysis with the keyword planner. Try a few terms, tell the planner to “find more like this one” compare/contrast, make a decision and move on. The most important thing is to actually write that great blog post and get it out into the world.
Give Google Multiple Clues About What Topic You Cover in Your Post
Below are all the places that long-tail keyword phrase should appear, if possible:
- Blog Post Title. It goes without saying. Name your article with the phrase you're trying to target. It's ok to have a title that's longer than your phrase, but makes sure that long-tail keyword phrase, in the exact order you're trying to target, appears in that title.
- First paragraph (or two!) of your blog post. Again, tell Google early on that you're writing about that phrase.
- Photos within the post. I've heard it said that you shouldn't put photos first in your blog post, because photos look like a bunch of gobblety goop to Google when they crawl your site. While you may want to move your photos further down, it's not true that photos look like gobblety goop. Let me show you an example of exactly what the Google spiders see when you put an image on your page: <h3><a href=”http://www.brilliantbusinessmoms.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/3-must-read-books-grow-blog-dark.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-1582″ src=”http://www.brilliantbusinessmoms.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/3-must-read-books-grow-blog-dark-586×1024.jpg” alt=”3 must-read books to grow your blog. Are you exhausted by 5 tips to grow and 6 strategies for social media-type blog posts? They're so general, it's almost impossible to learn anything new and truly grow. The meat of growing your blog can be found by learning from 3 successful mom bloggers who have done it themselves. Their books are excellent and all include different advice and detailed tips on how to grow. Make this your year. It's time to grow your blog. Read these books and make it happen.” width=”500″ height=”872″ /></a></h3>Google sees the words you used to save your photo (in this case ours was saved as: 3-must-read-books-grow-blog-dark.jpg Google sees the alt text you use to describe the photo. This is where you should insert the description you want to show up for people who pin your photo. Images are an excellent way to give Google one more hint about the topic of your blog post. Multiple images (as long as they don't slow down loading time, and as long as you vary the keywords within them) are even better. It's a seamless way to use related keywords without marring the natural flow of your writing. In addition, image descriptions are super important for Pinterest, since most people who pin from your site won't bother to change them. Your targeted keyword phrase must be in that image description. (For more on Pinterest SEO, check out our interview with Melissa Will.)
- Header and Subhead Tags. Use <h2> and <h3> (head and sub-head) tags throughout your blog post. Again, search engines give more clout to the words located inside those tags, because those tags tell them about the main points within your article. Ensure that the main points you address are closely related to that targeted keyword phrase.
- Blog Post Tags. These tags do 2 things. One, they make your site more user-friendly because it's easier for visitors to search and find the exact topics they're looking for. Two, they give Google more hints about that topic you're writing on. I made the mistake of neglecting tags for a long time. No more. (Listen to our interview with Stephanie O'Dea to hear more about tags.)
- Custom Link. At the top of your blog post, just under the title, you'll see an area to edit the link of your post. Edit this link to include your keyword phrase. Use dashes between words, so that, for example, this article's link is: http://www.brilliantbusinessmoms.com/easy-seo-for-mom-bloggers I've heard different opinions on extra words like “for” For now, we leave those in.
- Meta Description. Grab an SEO Plugin like Yoast's and this will allow you to create whatever meta description you'd like for the post. The meta description is what shows up under the blog post title when your post shows up in search results. Make it interesting and compelling, and whatever you do, include that long-tail keyword phrase.
- Interlinking. Use interlinking as a way to keep readers on your site, a way to link to very relevant content (using closely related keywords for your link title), and a way to tell Google that you've written on this topic before and are therefore, even more helpful than the other guy. Interlinking = SEO juice, plain and simple.
- Link to Outside Resources. Again, this is good blogging practice. If you link to other helpful content, Google appreciates this. Don't be afraid to send someone off of your site when your goal is to provide them with the most extensive, helpful content possible.
Other SEO Tips that Google Loves
- Length. Google loves long blog posts. Why is this? Longer blog posts tend to be more comprehensive, and ultimately, more helpful to the reader. In addition, longer blog posts may keep them on your page longer, which Google uses as a clue that your content is high-quality. (Click here to see a data-driven answer on the ideal length for blog posts.)
- Write like a human. I'm assuming if you're reading this (unless you're a Google spider crawling my site!) that you're a human. Write like one. Use natural language. Google absolutely picks up on awkward, forced language, and especially those sites that push out hundreds of poorly written, weird articles. Don't be weird. Be a person 🙂
- Make social sharing easy. This is simply good blogging practice, but it goes without saying that you should make it insanely easy for your readers to share your work. The more your post gets shared and the more traffic you get back to your blog, the more bonus points you'll get from Google.
- Share your post on Google+ No one is quite sure what will happen with Google plus in the near future, but one thing we do know is that sharing articles on this particular social network will do more for your SEO than a simple share on any other form of social media. It doesn't even matter if anyone interacts with that post. Just make sure you share all of your posts on Google+ for that extra boost of SEO juice. Note: this is not to say that if you have thousands of Pinterest followers and your pin goes viral on Pinterest, that that one ignored post on Google+ will have more clout. I'm simply saying that, all things being equal, when you compare an ignored tweet versus an ignored post on Google+, the post on Google+ will still bump you up in search results versus that lonely tweet. (Click here to learn how to set up your profile on Google+ and learn how to be social on the site.)
- Share your post on other forms of social media. Again, this is just good practice. Even if you're still struggling to get interaction and traffic through various forms of social media, it's still helpful to spread out those links and let Google know that your content is being shared in multiple places.
- Share your post via email. This is similar to the points on social media above. Again, you're giving people one more way to not only find, but share your content. Traffic is still one of the highest factors in terms of search engine ranking. You may not skyrocket overnight, but every little bit helps and pushes you ahead of the competition.
Sitewide Improvements for Search Engine Optimization
- Sitemap. Submit a sitemap to search engines. I used to think this was way too complicated for a noob like me to figure out. Then I discovered that there's a plugin called the Google XML Sitemap Generator. Search for it, add it, activate it, edit the settings, and done! It will automatically update your sitemap and submit changes to search engines. Why do you need a sitemap? It's simply one more factor that makes your site “searcher-friendly.”
- Site Speed. The faster your site loads, the happier your visitors will be. Google wants happy site visitors. Win-win. I won't go into all the details here. But tools such as GTMetrix can analyze your site speed and show you multiple ways to improve it.
- Mobile Responsiveness. You've probably noticed a trend between user-friendliness and improved SEO…. Bingo! Mobile-responsiveness is increasingly more important. Most website themes today are automatically mobile-responsive. If you're not sure, you can check your site's responsiveness and how it appears on different screens here.
- Website URL. This really just applies to someone who hasn't yet settled on their website domain, or perhaps someone who's re-branding. Pick a domain name that has important keywords in it over a domain name that's simply pretty or cute. Those keywords will help you to get found a great deal. There is no way we would rank relatively high for a search term like “business moms” if that term wasn't right there in the URL of our site.
- Website Title & Tagline. The good news is that you can absolutely change the settings for your title and tagline to include those important keywords. This should be under Appearance>Customize>Site Title & Tagline. For example, our tagline used to read: “Practical business advice for start-up moms” While we don't feel like changing our podcast intro at the moment, the new tagline saved for our site fits our focus much better and gives us the SEO juice we're looking for: “Practical Business Advice for Bloggers, Etsy Sellers, and Entrepreneur Moms”
That wraps up our easy lesson on optimizing your site for search. What do you think? Did you learn any new tips? What will you change today to get your fabulous site found more often?
~ Beth Anne