With over 150 million blogs on the internet, how will your blog be found? With a little intentionality, SEO, and time, you can make sure that web crawling search engines find out the most important information to reach your market.
So, what is SEO anyway? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, SEO refers to the aspects of your blog and content that make you show up in Internet searches. While you cannot rest all of your incoming traffic hopes on this one technique, it does help supplement the traffic that flows from social media and other promotional avenues.
If you are just blogging for the fun of it, SEO might not be worth your time. But, if you desire to attract attention and grow your blog, keeping up to date on SEO is critical. It is also important for student bloggers who desire to earn high school credit through blog work. Because searchability is such an integral part of any online presence, no web-related course is complete without a study of SEO.
Any SEO 101 article or resource will start with one basic reality: SEO is constantly changing. No matter how much you learn, you will never know it all. Does that mean it’s too overwhelming to even bother? No! Here are some tips, though, to make it a little easier to keep up.
- Stay current. When you research SEO, look for dates on articles and resources and use only the most recent and up-to-date information.
- Be willing to research. What works for you will differ from what works for another blogger – or for various companies and organizations. If the goal of your blog is personal, feel free to set aside what is not relevant to you and remember that you will also have word of mouth and social media on your side. If you are a student, however, research as much as possible and document what you find. Even if it changes after you complete your course, your record of research will go a long way toward validating your credit.
- Invest as needed. You do not have to spend lots of money to build solid SEO capabilities. But, you do need a few resources.
- Choose your blog platform wisely. As of right now, WordPress is the favored platform for SEO, and there are both free and paid options.
- Find an image tool. Adobe offers fantastic products with Photoshop and Elements, but they are costly. Fortunately, there are also free options like PicMonkey and Canva. They might not have all the bells and whistles of Adobe, but they still have plenty for most bloggers or students desiring a basic graphic design component for course credit.
- In that same vein, find a free photo compression tool. You don’t want photos taking up huge amounts of space on your blog – or causing loading issues for your readers.
Building SEO-Friendly Content
The next thing to consider is your actual content. There will always be companies with the budget to boost and promote their content and products over yours. Download and use My Blog Plan, a printable blog planner, to help you build and maintain solid content. Here are a few content-building tips that can also help.
- Focus. You automatically have certain focal points, strengths, and preferences in your writing. Be intentional about determining what that focus is and keeping your content within those confines. The more you write about a specific topic, the more frequently your blog will become connected to that topic.
- Build keywords from that focus. “Keyword” is actually a bit of a misnomer, because it is ideally a two- to four-word phrase rather than a single word. This phrase reflects the content of your post. When creating keywords, pick something specific to your content and unique so it will rank high in searches. But also remember, you’re trying to choose phrases that other people will enter into search engines. If you are a student, keep tabs on current keyword trends throughout the semester, recording your observations in your planner so they will be ready to insert into a chart or spreadsheet at the end of the course period.
- Link to other sites. This often sounds rather contradictory, and its effectiveness does ebb and flow. But, even if this doesn’t help your SEO specifically, it does help your network. When you link to others, they notice, and many will link back to you. Being noticed by others builds relationships and traffic, both of which are helpful, regardless of your blogging goals.
- Use images to your advantage. This takes a little more time on the front end, but it pays off ultimately. The image tools mentioned above will help you create perfectly sized images for blog, web, and social media. Here are a few tips for using images well:
- Before you upload images to your site, rename them with specific file names related to your post or keyword. Use a dash to separate words in your filename.
- Give the picture a title. Be creative and specific!
- Use the alt text box. This needs to be related, but not identical, to your title; unique, yet searchable, like your keyword.
- The description is optional, but it will show up as a “hook” for your image, and therefore your post. Again, do not copy your title or alt text. Instead, be as descriptive as you like about the photo itself, its contents, its source, the camera used to take it, the setting, or anything else you’d like to highlight.
If there’s only one thing you take away from these suggestions, let it be this: stay current! Know what the search engines like right now, then build your content accordingly while still actively sharing through other avenues.