When it comes to writing, a lot of bloggers I’ve met are turned off or too nervous to think about search engine optimization (SEO) for their posts. However, search engine optimization for every article you write is fairly easy and can be done with little stress. The trick is to make sure that you don’t “over-optimize” your article. Google has made changes to their algorithm in the last year that flags websites that are trying too hard to get good keyword results. Their goal is to eliminate Wikipedia and spam-like subject matter and deliver the highest quality content available. Here are 7 strategies that you can use to ensure you get the best ranking for popular keywords, while staying on Google’s friendly side:
- Write good content first.
You shouldn’t be worrying about search engines when you sit down to write. Instead, craft great content that speaks to your particular audience from your unique voice and viewpoint. So drop what you are doing, brainstorm some content topics, and get a draft in place first. This is your best ticket to reducing the chance that Google will view your post as spam.
- Brainstorm keywords for your audience.
Great keywords, so the books say, are phrases that people are searching that have low competition for ranking. This is true, but what’s not readily apparent is that you must consider your audience first. For example, my site is a steady #1 Google result for “mom blog,” however, a great number of people searching the term are brands looking for influential mom blogs. This is fine by me, but misses my target audience of moms looking for parenting advice. Always consider your audience first and foremost, then re-read your draft and get some keyword phrases down.
- Use Google’s tools.
The best tool to use to get an idea whether or not people are searching a particular term, how many are, and how much competition there is for that term is to use Google’s Keyword Tool. This tool can also give you great ideas for unique keywords with less competition as well as ideas for longer keyword phrases. Google has lots of other great tools as well, such as Webmaster Tools, that can help you navigate the do’s and don’ts of keyword strategies, and Google Insights for Search, that can help you localize, target and pinpoint popular searches for products, images, news, and web searches in general. Sample and test what they can do for you.
- Use the long tail.
“Long tail” is simply a longer strand of keywords. While many people optimize their websites for 2 or 3 word phrases, it is increasingly difficult to compete with corporate powerhouses and long time websites for short keyword phrases. Stringing together 6 or 7 words will get you a smaller audience, however, it will be highly targeted for your niche. Think of tutorials, and write with longer titles such as, “How to grow an organic garden” to optimize on long tail search engine returns.
- Look at your code.
Find the function on your browser and select “view source.” This will allow you to see the HTML coding behind your blog. What you want to see is that your blog post titles are coded within an “<h1></h1>” tag. You also want to make sure that your post title is in the “title” meta tag. Ideally, you’d like your blog to use a good description meta tag that you can customize, both of which can be accomplished with a plugin such as All in One SEO. Don’t be afraid of HTML, but make sure that your blog’s theme uses it strategically.
- Categories vs. Tags
Every blog post should have one category and one or more tags. Categories are a way to organize your blog into a finite number of sections. (Google really likes orderly websites!) I’d limit these to no more than 10 if possible, and they should be short and descriptive, such as “recipes” or “parenting,” and can have subcategories for easy site organization. Tags, however, can be more numerous. A tag phrase can be a more rarely used item (i.e., if you have an annual post about Mother or Father’s Day), items culled from the news, movie and book titles, company names, etc. Like long tail, these are more highly targeted and can generate quick buzz about something newsworthy.
- Use your social media.
This is now a hot topic, and Google and other search engines are beginning to recognize the value of SEO in social media. Use your keyword terms in YouTube names and tags, on Twitter, on Facebook, and so on. If your blog posts automatically to your social media, you can see how optimizing your blog title is useful. Go outside the box on this one. Recently, I shared a gluten-free article on my rarely-used Google+ account, and got myself listed as #4 result for the term “gluten free.” Is Google+ giving its users a leg up? Maybe, but I know I’m going to be using that account a lot more frequently now!
These are some essential tips how to make your content soar and generate search engine traffic. As you can see, it’s really about reaching your audience, rather than everyone who is out there. Always think about your readers first, then follow these tips, and they will find you.
Guest Post Bio: Gina Badalaty is the owner of Mom-Blog.com, the #1 search engine result for “mom blog”. Gina has been blogging about parenting, raising children with disabilities, and products for nearly 10 years. She runs a web design shop, Art By Tech, specializing in content-based design and search engine optimization. Her blogger credentials include SheSpeaks.com, American Greetings Interactive, and ParentSociety.com. She loves creative writing, taking a good photo, and has recently fallen in love with Pinterest. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two gorgeous daughters, and a cat that thinks he’s a dog.
Image credit: Stuart Mile, freedigitalphoto.net