Basic SEO Tips for Bloggers
Any blogger will have heard the term 'SEO' floating around and it has become increasingly important over the past few years. If you are keen to drive traffic towards your blog whether it is a full time job or just a hobby, you will need to follow a few tips to make sure your SEO game is tip top. If you don't know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of affecting the visibility of your website by improving your organic ranking in search engines. Basically if you have a fashion blog and are based in Manchester, you will want to appear when someone searches for "Manchester Fashion Blog" and SEO can make this happen.
There are lots of things which can affect your ranking and it is important to know that Google takes this very seriously. It has a series of algorithms which will read through your content, link profile and navigation to determine where you should rank. The better your SEO, the higher you will rank and more traffic will be driven towards your blog.
I have put together the following tips which are incredibly easy to follow and will hopefully give you an idea how you can improve your SEO.
CONTENT IS KEY
First off, one of the most crucial areas of SEO is your content. Google has a specific algorithm (called Panda, it sounds much cuter than it actually is) to look through your content and make sure it is relevant and useful.
Something that bloggers sometimes don't realise is the length of your post can be very important. Although it can look good and you might be able to say everything you need to in a short paragraph, it is much better if you can write a longer post. You may think that people are more likely to read a shorter post but on my fashion and beauty blog, some of my most read posts are up to 1000 words long. You can still have short posts but ideally, you should have a few longer posts of at least 500-800 words mixed in.
As a blogger myself, I realise that sometimes you can lose a bit of inspiration and the blogging can take a bit of a hit. In the past, I have taken breaks lasting a few weeks and even a few months which can be important to keep the blogging love going! Unfortunately, breaks like this can have a very bad affect on your SEO. Regular content generates much more traffic to your blog so if you do need a break, try to get a few posts scheduled so your blog can still work whilst you are resting!
Links are the subject of another Google algorithm (Penguin) and can be incredibly important for adding value to your blog. If you can develop a good 'link profile' (lots of relevant website's linking to your blog), Google will see that your blog is worth reading and will boost your ranking.
The first thing to consider is the link to your actual blog posts. This is called a permalink and is the bit after your URL which appears in the search bar for your post. You can change the permalink in the post editor for both Blogger and Wordpress and I would recommend optimising this to include the subject of the post. If you are writing about a beauty product, include the brand and name of the product in the permalink.
A very easy way to link to your own content is to link FROM your own content. This is called an internal link and can add value to your posts by linking to them from relevant terms. You may have a beauty blog and regularly write product reviews. If you then go to write a post about your favourite beauty products and mention something you have written about before, include a link to your product review from the product name. This can keep readers engaged on your blog and stop them reading elsewhere.
PAY ATTENTION TO DESIGN
You may not realise that your blog design can have a huge impact on SEO. Google finds it very important that your blog is simple to navigate and will be easy to read on all devices.
Recently, Google introduced a rule that websites which are not mobile friendly, or responsive, will be penalised - so if your blog design is not viewable on mobiles, your ranking will drop. On Blogger, it is easy to turn on the 'mobile template' on the Template page. If you prefer something a bit more special, there are lots of responsive blog designs available to buy online for both Blogger and Wordpress and can be very affordable.
You should also ensure that your blog is easy to navigate. This means it should be simple for a reader to find their way around your blog and get to where they want to be. If you have a few different pages, make sure you have a navigation menu. You can also use this to link to blog post categories such as fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food etc. If a reader wants to only read your beauty posts, they can then just click a link and it will take them there. A search bar can also be very useful to find a specific post and this can be added as a widget for Blogger and Wordpress blogs.
Although this is mixed in with the content aspect of your blog, keywords definitely deserve their own section due to their importance. When SEO first started, it was all about adding relevant keywords to your blog and putting them anywhere and everywhere. Since then, Google has wised up and you have to be clever about using them.
When writing a post, it will be scanned for relevant keywords and it will be ranked for the words which appear most. This may convince you to put the words 'red lipstick' in every sentence of your 'Top 5 Red Lipsticks' post but I must tell you not to do this. 'Keyword stuffing' can have the opposite effect on SEO as it does not look natural. Keep the keyword density to 20% and make sure it reads well. Think of different keywords to use such as relevant brands, products and general topics you are writing about. If you are feeling fancy, you can even use a Keyword Planner Tool to find the perfect keywords to use.
Labels, Categories or Tags can be used to include keywords into your posts but again, don't go overboard. If there are a few relevant topics in a particular blog post then it is fine to add a few tags in but I would keep it to a main category and then some smaller relevant topics. For example, if you are writing a review of a restaurant, you may want to add 'food' as the main Label or Category. You could then add 'review', 'lifestyle', 'restaurant' etc. depending on what you want people to search for.
FOCUS ON IMAGES
Images can also have an affect on your SEO without you even realising. There are little tricks you can use to optimise your images to make sure you are covering all ground.
When Google goes to read through a blog post, images are overlooked if it can not tell what it is about. To give your image a description you can add in something called an Alt tag. This means your images can be read and will appear in search results. To add an Alt tag in Blogger, you can click the image and select Properties and then add your description into 'Alt Text'. On Wordpress, you can add the Alt tag when you upload an image or add it straight into the HTML in text mode as below:
<img alt="ADD ALT TEXT HERE" src="IMAGE URL" />
Another way to improve image SEO is to name your images to be relevant to the post they will appear in, instead of leaving them as their default name (e.g. IMG_3546.jpg). If you are writing a beauty review, rename your images to be the name of the product (e.g. MAC-Russian-Red-Review.jpg).
Hopefully this has given you a bit more of an idea how you can implement SEO on you blog and start to rank higher! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will answer them as soon as possible.