You may have noticed a peak in blog and internet marketing related posts around here as of late and that is true. I’ve been really inspired lately to share some of my blogging insights and knowledge with you all and you guys seem to be LOVING IT (considering these posts get about 50-60% more comments, 6x the shares and saves on Bloglovin, and more traffic than typical posts). And, I’m amped you like it, because I actually really enjoy writing these posts. As a lot of you know, I used to be a teacher. I have a Bachelor Degree in Education and spent 3 years teaching in the public school system before quitting my profession as an educator to pursue Internet Marketing. Getting to teach ABOUT Internet Marketing is sort of like two of my passions getting to come together into one…and I might have a lot more of that coming (SPOILER ALERT!). For today, I wanted to share a basic SEO toolkit with you all on things you might be doing that are hurting your blog’s SEO, and things you can to do improve your SEO.
Quick overview, if you need a refresher…SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process in which websites are ranked on SERPs (search engine results pages). Every day bots crawl websites and take what they find from the content, the keywords, the images, and so on, and decide WHAT that page/post/website is about. It then uses that info to display post and websites to someone searching for a specific keyword on the internet. The algorithm for ranking high in Google and other SERPs is constantly changing, but there are many things you can do to improve your likelihood of showing up and gaining traffic this way. If you want more, I suggest checking out What is SEO from Search Engine Land.
Ok, onto the post, here is:
9 Things You’re Doing That Hurts Your Blog’s SEO
1. Writing Poor Post Titles
Naming your blog post title is a little bit of a balancing act because you want something that hits all the keywords in your post but also is interesting enough that someone wants to click on it and read it. When it comes down to it, make sure your focus keywords are in the title in a sequence that someone might be searching for them. For example:
- Good SEO Post Title: The Best Fall Nail Polish Colors
- Bad SEO Post Title: My Favorite Nail Polish to Wear in Fall
The second title does mention the keywords of “fall” and “nail polish colors,” however using “my favorite” makes it more personal, and most people are not searching “my favorite…” when typing into Google. Additionally, the keyword phrase “fall nail polish colors” are split apart. In the top title, we have the main keyword phrase altogether. It’s concise and to the point while also being descriptive.
2. Giving your Images Generic Names
This is a simple way to help optimize your images for google, and once you’re in the habit it’s a super easy step that will actually keep your own computer more organized as well. Make sure to save image files with names full of SEO-Friendly keywords. For example, instead of saving an image as “image-19.jpg” I’m going to save it with keywords from the post it’s going into such as “flannel-fall-style-inspiration.jpg” Give the images descriptive names that relate to the content of the post to help boost the post’s overall SEO.
Note: Use hyphens – instead of underscores _ or spaces when naming images:
- Wrong: flannel_fall_style_inspiration.jpg
- Wrong: flannel fall style inspiration.jpg
- RIGHT: flannel-fall-style-inspiration.jpg
3. Not Writing Quality Content
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do it write good quality content that relates to and connects to the keywords your audience is searching for. Typically I’ll write a post and then scan through it again after to check to see if there are places to improve the post’s SEO. This way I get my natural voice into the post while still properly optimizing it. For example:
- Good for SEO content: This season my fall style inspiration has been army green vests and outfits with flannel pieces.
- Not so good for SEO: This season I love vest and flannel!
4. Not Setting Your Meta Descriptions
The meta description is the snippet of text that appears underneath the link of a search result, for example:
The meta description is important because it helps someone decide if they wanted to click on the link and visit your post. If you don’t set it yourself, Google will set it for you and it’s not always the best representation of the post. If you write in WordPress there is an easy plugin called Yoast that will help you set you meta description as well as give you other additional SEO tips.
5. Using auto-generated URLs
Another important step to really seal the deal on a post’s SEO is to have an optimized URL. Many sites with auto-generate your URL, but you always have the option to change it (in WordPress you do this right under the title where it says “permalink.”) This should be descriptive and include a long-tail keyword. For example:
- Right, an optimized URL – http://URL.com/best-diy-hair-masks-for-dry-hair.html
- Halfway there – http://URL.com/view/?p=5343&/diy-hair-masks.html
- Impossible Read or Understand – http://URL.com/09-2016/utM39tze4Gh.html
6. Forgetting to Take Advantage of Internal and External Links
Links are such a great way to improve your post’s SEO. Links are really important things to consider when making your blog SEO-friendly. The challenge would be to try to make sure every post you optimize has at least one inbound link and one outbound link!
- Inbound link: Also referred to as internal linking, the process of linking another page on your own site.
- Outbound link: These are links that link to other blogs, articles, and website.
Internal links help your readers make your way through your site and help improve your bounce rate. It also helps the search engines bots to navigate through your site a well, which helps improve your SEO ranking.
External links help to make the experience better for your readers because they can get more information, it also helps build a sense of trust. Additionally, a link to YOUR blog showing up on someone else’s site helps to improve your SEO as there is an external link from another site going to yours. Consider thinking of ways to get your site linked from external sources by doing things such as guest posts, contributing to an article, working with a blog-friend, etc.
For search engine bots, external links on your site help them to understand what kind of content you write and your niche.
Note:Remember to optimize the anchor text when you are linking by creating a contextual link for the best SEO results. This tells the search engines exactly what this link is. For example:
- Right: To see more of our honeymoon in Peru, check out my travel guide to Machu Picchu for more pictures and stories!
- Wrong: To see more honeymoon pictures click here!
7. Neglecting your Image’s alt tags
Optimizing your image’s keyword within the “alt text” is one of the best ways to improve the image’s SEO, which will help drive traffic to your site. Search engines bots are not able to interpret a photo, so this allows them to understand what the photo represents.
Additionally, it’s very important for Pinterest (aka: a blogger’s second Google). By creating a well optimized “alt text” you can ensure everything pinned from your website will also be optimized on Pinterest, generating more views, more pins, and more traffic! As you can see above, “fall-outfit-2” isn’t the best description for this picture to get found on Pinterest, nor does it tell Google all that much about the image. Had a created a powerful alt tag, that would be in the Pin’s description instead.
8. Not Using Long-Tail Keywords
What is a long-tail keyword? A long-tail keyword is a search term that is somewhere between two to five words long and is more targeted as opposed to reaching a mass audience. Here’s an example:
- Keyword: braid
- Long-tail Keyword: Simple Half-up Pull-Through Braid
So why are these so important? It’s all about visibility. I’ll give you an easy example from my 9-5 job. I help small businesses (all of which have brick and mortar locations) grow their online presence. When I’m helping them optimize their sites, I use focused geography instead of being too broad. Say they have an office in Camarillo, CA. This is about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles. I’m going to optimize them for Camarillo and surrounding towns (maybe Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, and Malibu.) Why? Because it’s more targeted and a smaller lake to fish from, meaning it’s more likely they’ll show up in the SERPs. It’s the same with keywords. Using just “braid” is a much larger audience. Sure, you might think you can target EVERYONE looking for ANY kind of braid, except you’ll never break through the clutter. By having descriptive long-tail keywords like “Simple Half-up Pull-Through Braid” you may have less people searching for it, but there is less clutter meaning you’re more likely to be at the top of the search results pages and, thus, easier to find.
9. Using Images Instead of Text
Google can’t really read images, even though we can help it understand what the picture is with alt tags and descriptive names…content will still be king. If you make a really great header image for your blog post, remember Google and other search engines can’t read that graphic. So, you need to put the text that’s on the graphic into your post as well (ideally as an h1 or h2 tag). Also, consider shying away from always having the image first and try putting a keyword and content-rich paragraph ahead of images.
I’m offering a free SEO Checklist you can use for your blog posts along with a list of my favorite free SEO tools. (that’s a lot of free.)
Whoosh, that was a lot of info, right? I know. Go ahead and bookmark this link if you want, then you can come back to it later, and as always, don’t forget you can access it all from my Free Blog Resources Page.