I spend a ton of time online. So much time that I am even embarrassed (read: scared) to admit how much time I actually spend behind a laptop screen. But, my time spent online is not in vain. It is during my online hours that I get to hang out with you. During these online hours, I get to learn more from you, and I get to learn about your wants and needs.
One thing that comes up over and over again in my chats with you guys is…
How to SEO your blog post.
I get you. SEO can be confusing and with the wealth of information out there, it can also seem intimidating and complicated. I used to feel exactly the same way. When I started my very first blog, I used to freak out whenever someone mentioned the term SEO around me. And now, almost 9 years later, I am absolutely in love with SEO. Yes, I admit it. I am having a love affair with SEO. After spending a few years working for SA’s largest ecommerce site, spending my days optimising their content for SEO and learning the ins-and-outs of search engines, etc. I learnt that corporate SEO is not for me. But, I couldn’t break up with SEO. So I hatched a plan… Now, I help many bloggers around the world with their SEO. Yay me! I get to do what I love, every single day!
Back to the topic of this post, how to SEO your blog post. In this blog post, I will discuss the ways I optimise all of my blog posts for SEO. These are the strategies I use to get my blog posts to rank on the first page of Google.
In this blog posts, you will learn:
- How to find SEO keywords
- Where to use these keywords in your blog posts
- How to optimise your images for SEO
- How to use internal links within your content
1. How to find keywords for SEO
Before we start off, I want to let you know that there are many ways you can find SEO keywords for your blog posts, but I am sharing the ways that have worked for me before, so if you know of another way that works for you, then great, keep at it.
My first step for doing SEO keyword research is to open up a Google doc or Excel document. Here I will write down all of the keywords I find relatable to the topic at hand. My topics are usually focussed towards what my readers want to know, or conversations I have with other bloggers and biz owners. When I create my Keyword Database, I use my topic idea as the file name. That way, when I have a relating topic, I can just add/remove keywords to this database. When I find that a keyword is not working for a particular topic, I will remove it and replace it with a new keyword.
I often start my keyword research by brainstorming 3 – 5 keywords from the top of my head. Because my topics are based on conversations and questions, I can immediately brainstorm a few keyword ideas I know my readers might Google to find the answers I am looking for. I then add these keywords to my database.
The next step to finding SEO keywords is to use a keyword tool. My favourite tools are Google Keyword Planner and Pinterest. Whenever I have a topic I am doing keyword research for, I plug the topic into Google Keyword Planner AND Pinterest and look at the search results. I then sieve through these keywords and find 5 – 8 more keywords I think my readers will Google to find my content. Remember to always focus on long-tail vs short-tail keywords (I chat more about long-tail vs short-tail keywords in this blog post).
My research doesn’t stop there. Now, it is time to research related search terms. These are the terms that do not directly match my topic, but are related to my topic (another way my readers can search for my blog posts). I use the thesaurus to find synonyms for my keywords and use the “Search Related To” section at the bottom of the first page of Google to find these related keywords. I add at least 5 to my database.
And now you are done!
READ MORE: How to Find SEO Keywords. In this blog post, I discuss my in-depth strategy for finding keywords using the Google Keyword Planner tool.
2. Where to use SEO keywords in your blog post
It’s not enough to have an awesome SEO keyword database. You need to know where to use these keywords within your blog posts to truly benefit from your keyword research. Here’s where I add my SEO keywords within my blog posts:
- Internal links
Your blog post title explains what your blog post is about. Duh. Your title can make or break our blog post and it is a great place where you can add your keyword and your call to actions. An well-optimised SEO title will increase click throughs and will increase your sales. As a general rule of thumbs, try to keep your title below about 65 characters so it doesn’t get cut off on search engine results pages.
I try to include my SEO keyword in at least 1 main heading in my blog post. In WordPress, there are 6 heading options for you to choose from. Do not using Heading 1 within your copy. Heading 1 is reserved for your blog post title only. I stick to using Heading 2 for my blog posts headings, and Heading 3 for my blog post sub-headings.
Headings help search engines crawl through your content easier. Think of the headings as the skeleton to your blog posts and the content is the meat and the muscles of your blog post. When search engine spiders crawl through your content, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find out what your content is about. This is also the same for your readers. Headings help your readers scroll through your content with ease.
As a general rule of thumb, I always try to include my main keyword twice in my blog posts (once in a heading and once within the actual copy) and use 3 – 5 variations (depending on length of blog post) scattered throughout the post as well. It is a great idea (read: do it) to include your keyword within the first 100 words of your blog post! Avoid over-using your keyword and variations thereof – keyword stuffing is a HUGE NO-NO! If you are writing a short piece of content (300 – 500) try sticking to 3 – 5 keywords. If you are writing a longer piece of content (1000+ words) try sticking to between 5 and 10 keywords, depending on length.
Always break up your content with images. In section 3 of this blog post, I show you how to optimise your images for SEO.
All of your blog posts will have a URL. That is the link your readers will click on to find your blog post. These URLs should be as easy to read as possible, and it is a great place to add keywords! The easier your URL is to read, the easier it is for search engines to index it. Your URL should tell the reader exactly what your blog post is about.
Your URL will show up on social media, in newsletters and on search engines and therefore, if you add a related keyword, it will be easier for your readers and search engines to understand what your content is about.
Try to match your titles with your URLs (as far as possible) and try to keep your URLs as short as possible. Not only will long URLs get cut off, but short URLs are easier to read and to use.
3. How to optimise your images for SEO
Did you know that search engines, like Google, cannot “read” what your images are about? Search engines can’t see the pretty picture or text on your images and therefore you will have to TELL search engines what your image is about. The process is really, really simple!
Sean Work of Kissmetrics says: Write your alt tags like if you had to describe them to someone who is blind…
In this blog post, I explain my step-by-step guide for optimising images for SEO – How to Optimise Your Blog Images for SEO.
4. How to use internal links within your content
An internal link is a link on your website which links through to another page/piece of related content on your website. Not only do internal links help by making it easy to navigate through your website, but it also helps search engines crawl through the website in order to index and rank your blog posts with ease and it helps to increase the time your readers spend on your site.
When you use internal links within your content, it is important to keep the reader in mind. The internal links you provide should be valuable and important to the reader – it should add value. My key advice for internal linking is to ensure that all of the internal links within your blog posts are RELATED to the topic at hand. If I am writing a blog post about a deliciously moist cake recipe, the best internal links to add would be those that relate to chocolate cake – i.e. chocolate icing recipe, moist chocolate sponge cake, etc.
Dave Davies wrote the following:
When you link in your content you’re telling the engine that the target of your link is so relevant and important that you want your visitor to simply be able to click a link and go straight there. Basically, that what you’re linking to is potentially so relevant that the visitor may want to stop what they’re reading and go to the next page. Read more here.
Another thing to remember when you add internal links is to ensure that all of these links are follow links. You can read more about follow vs no-follow links here. This helps search engines crawl through your content and index it accordingly.
DO NOT OVERUSE INTERNAL LINKS! When you add internal links within your content, try to keep it to a minimum. In a 2000 word article, I will include between 3 – 5 internal links. All of these internal links will be relevant to the current topic and are also hugely beneficial to my readers.
So, where do you put your internal links?
I always like to add my internal links within my copy so that it flows easier. Often my internal links will form part of the paragraph, but I also use internal links in the “READ MORE” format. This means that whenever I write a paragraph in a blog post and have an article on my blog that relates to that paragraph, I will add the link at the end of the paragraph. I.e. For more information on XYZ, make sure to check out my article – 10 Things you need to know about XYZ before you do ABC. This is also great place to add your keywords.
And there you have it. 4 Super simple ways to SEO your blog posts. SEO doesn’t have to be difficult or gross! With these 4 basic skills in your arsenal, you will quickly see (and reap) the benefits of search engine optimisation!
P.S. I am hosting a few SEO Workshops in September, October and November 2017 (in Johannesburg, South Africa). If you are interested, click on the image below to sign up to receive more information. If you are not in SA, a live-stream option will be available.