Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is not my favourite topic to talk about. I want to honest right off the bat. But I think it’s important that we talk about it because a lot of people find it quite confusing.
I want to explain it in very simple terms and we will be covering the basics of SEO and what it means for you as a blogger and what can you do to improve your overall SEO ranking. But this will be a very detailed post because attempting to cover even the basics of SEO is a task in itself.
But we will keep the language very simple and easy for everyone to understand. Let’s begin then, shall we?
What is SEO? Why should you care?
SEO is short for Search Engine optimisation. To put it in simple words, it means optimising your website in such a way that it appears higher in google search results. There is of course a lot of work that goes into optimising your website for search engines but it helps you drive organic traffic, which is awesome.
Why you should care about SEO is because an optimised site drives organic search traffic. Every second there are hundreds of thousands of people searching the web and it would be amazing if your website gets suggested and you are able to get organic traffic to your blog, with putting in any active efforts right?
But we also always keep saying that new bloggers shouldn’t care about the SEO. That’s mainly because SEO is not an easy concept to understand and it is still evolving and changing every single day. If you are a new blogger, then you should focus on so many other aspects of your blog. We know how in the initial blogging days, it can get a little overwhelming because it is a lot of work. So you are better off with putting your efforts in creating good content first.
However, if you have been blogging for quite some time and are ready to put in extra work to take your blog up a notch, then it is for you.
But to understand how to optimise and how to rank higher on google, you need to understand how Search engines work.
How do Search Engines work?
Search engines basically work in two steps.
In the first step, spider bots search for all the information available on all the websites. This step is called crawling.
In the second step, these bots then organise all the information available into categories, so that whenever you search using the search bar, they can provide you with the most relevant information in the shortest time possible. The way they organise all the information is based on different algorithms, of which the one that is most relevant to you is Keywords.
What are Keywords?
As the name suggests, keywords are the key to the entire sequence of information. So, for example, if you want to find the best places to visit in India, you will search “Best places to visit in India” . the google will provide you a list of searches that are relevant to the words that you searched for.
But does that mean that stuffing your blogpost with keywords is the solution?
Well, wish we could say yes. But actually if you stuff your post with keywords, it is considered a bad practice by google and is against google’s guidelines.
So What can you do to improve the SEO ranking of your blog?
Okay before we even get started, let us clear one thing. A lot of people recommend downloading and activating Yoast SEO plugin. But people are mistaken if they think that downloading a plugin is somehow going to do all the SEO work for them. If that was the case, Yoast wouldn’t be free and still everyone would use it. What Yoast does however is create a sitemap for you and you can also add customised URLs and meta descriptions.
It’s not that simple though. But the best part is, it isn’t that difficult to understand too.
The key to improve your SEO is Creating Good Quality Content.
Google loves good quality content. Now only if google was a person who could read and tell if the content is good or bad. So how does google determine whether the content you have written is good or bad?
It is decided on basis of several parameters like length of your blogpost, structure, loading time, meta description, keywords and a couple others. When you create content that is good for your readers, eventually google loves it too. So try and write your blogposts considering your reader in mind. Here are a couple of ways in which you can ensure that your blog has a high SEO Score:
SET UP YOUR BLOG PROPERLY:
Google loves websites which are user friendly and thinks of every website from user’s perspective and ease of use and the overall user experience. Ever been on one of the sites that takes forever to load? Yes, We all hate them and hence so does Google. So before you even think about writing SEO friendly blogposts and begin stuff your posts with keywords(don’t do that!), let’s see that you should do to set up your blog properly. here are some of our pointers that you shouldn’t miss at all:
- Hosting & Plan: When deciding on a self hosted blog, opt for a premium network like Siteground or bluehost. We use Siteground for our website and we swear by them. We also use WordPress as our editor, because it is so easy to use.
- Theme: Use a theme that is well coded and is mobile friendly as well. google loves websites that are mobile friendly as well. We use a custom theme but there are many free theme available within WordPress which are very well coded and look quite professional as well. So begin with those.
- Use Plugins for faster loading: A lot of bloggers ise WP Rocket plugin to optimise their website and it makes your website very fast to load. We also use optimole to optimise our image loading time.
- Make sure you have SSL: Notice how some websites are https instead of http, SSL takes care of that. And using a premium plan on a hosting platform like Siteground automatically takes care of that.
- YOAST SEO: Download and activate Yoast SEO plugin on your website. This will help you in writing SEO friendly blogposts and will give you a SEO analysis when you are done writing a post. Yoast also submits your sitemap to google which basically allows google’s spider bots to crawl and collect information from your site.
Now that we have set up the blog, here are some practices that you should do while writing blogposts. All these practices are important if you want to improve the SEO ranking of your website:
BLOG POST TITLES:
You should always tell the reader right away in the post title what the blogpost is all about. Let me explain it a bit more.
Suppose this blogpost was a recipe post explaining everything about making a cake, but then we title it “How to make lemonade” , would it make sense? No, of course not. Now we could title the post “How to make cake” or “Baking for Beginners”, which is better? Well, it would depend on the content of the blogpost. If we are covering the basics of baking the the second one makes sense and if we are simply sharing any recipe then first makes more sense.
Also make sure it is something that people want to click on and is not very long. Google doesn’t like very long titles. Also some kind of titles generally do well like how-to posts and listicles, but always keep in mind what your readers would prefer.
BLOG POST STRUCTURE/BODY:
How you structure your post is also really important for it to be considered as “good content” by google. So try and make the layout of your post easy to follow for the readers. Try and break the content is smaller paragraphs and with proper sub headings wherever needed. Also, if you are using headings, they are called H1, H2 and so on for a reason. Do not use H6 just because you like it better. It will help you improve the SEO score.
When it comes to optimising the body of a blogpost Keywords are also really important. But as we mentioned earlier, it doesn’t mean you should stuff your post with keywords. A good practise it to use the keyword every 100-200 words.
Optimising the images in your blogposts is also a great way to improve your overall SEO score. Google loves fast loading websites and if you include high quality images in your post which are sluggish in loading, it will affect your SEO.
Optimisation for images can be done by using a plugin like optimole. And while uploading pictures to any blogpost also make sure you take time to edit the caption and the description of each image. it helps the search engines know what the picture is about.
Snippet or Meta Description:
Snippet or meta description is a summary of your blogpost which appears under the search results. To improve your SEO score, make sure it is concise, meaningful and also has the keyword. It is important that you do it manually because otherwise google extracts mostly the first paragraph from your post and that may not be the best summary of your blogpost.
Permalink or URL:
Permalink or the URL that appears in the address bar of a post is also important. You should edit the permalink so that it contains the title of the blogpost but isn’t very long. Also make sure to include your keyword in the permalink. If you do not do this manually, wordpress will decide one for you and it generally contains dates and numbers which is not really good for your SEO.
Outbound & Internal Links:
Outbound links are where you link websites other than yours in your blogposts. We usually link Canva in posts explaining how to make your freebies. And that is an outbound link.
Internal links are also important. Internal links are when you link your own blogposts. It lets google know that all this content is related and that you create content that makes sense as a whole and will help the readers understand a particular topic better.
GUEST BLOG POSTS for BACKLINKS:
We have also included this one here because when you make connections with people and write blogposts on their website linking some of your blogposts, it helps with your SEO score. Because google sees that this other website is also linking to your website, so your website must be good and valuable for the readers.
A lot of bloggers leave their website in comments on other people’s blogposts. Don’t EVER do that. It looks spammy and no one likes that. Focus on building relationships with other bloggers and go from there.
LONG TERM STRATEGY:
Remember how in the beginning we mentioned that you shouldn’t care that much about SEO if you are new to the blogging game? Well, that’s because it takes forever to rank on google. Using the keywords and all the strategies mentioned above are just not enough.
Google likes sites that have authority. Now how much authority your website has depends on a couple of factors like how old is your website, how niched out is it, how often do you post and what is your bounce rate etc. We will not get into details because they are not relevant right now. Promise we will do another post on it soon. What you need to understand is that you should think about long term content plan and stick with a niche.
Now of course we also have several categories on our blog, but our main focus is blogging and travel. For example if you want to have a website about gaming and also writing posts about relationships, cooking, fashion, travel, Blogging, parenthood etc. It tells google that you do not write quality content (even though that one post maybe very well written). Google thinks that you do not have any authority.
While on the other hand if you write just about gaming and someone searches google when google knows that your website is a great authoritative website that has relevant high quality content for the user and thus recommends it.
So choose a niche and make sure that at least 70% of the content on your website is under that niche.
Posting consistently and posting good quality content is still the key to a good SEO score. Make sure you post at least one relevant blogpost every week. Although the “Good Practices” say that you should post atleast 2 times a week or maybe even thrice, but we all know how that’s just not possible at times.
So make a plan and stick to it. This is one of the reasons why we love our Blog schedule planner. It helps us be consistent in creating content across various social media and in staying on top of our game.
Do your Research:
We say this very often. Whenever you are writing a blogpost, do your research well and think about how you can write a better blogpost that all your competitors. We know it is not always possible but one should strive for it. We usually do our research very well and plan out content that we want to write before we start typing it away. That way we give our readers maximum value. Even though it is something that has already been written about multiple times, writing a well researched detailed post makes sure that you have an edge.
That’s everything we had for this blogpost. if you want to know more about SEO or anything related to blogging, leave us a comment below!
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