The Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
So, it’s Day 5, and you understand how to get to know your (future) audience, but what about actually getting people to come to your blog in the first place?
One important method: optimizing blog posts to rank higher in Google Search through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). WordPress.org users should download the free SEO by Yoast plugin, a box you fill out under your blog post to optimize it. The plugin also provides a checklist of improvements you can make to improve SEO.
Strategy: Find Your Keyword
1. Use the free Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
2. Click “Tools,” and choose “Keyword Planner” from the dropdown menu.
3. Click “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.”
4. Enter in some keywords you think people interested in your post might search. For example, if you write a post on things to do in New York City, you may enter, “things to do in NYC, things to do in New York City, New York City activities, New York City attractions, NYC activities.”
5. Fill in the URL of your blog.
6. Click “Get Ideas.”
7. Now you’ll be taken to a page with two tabs: Ad Group Ideas and Keywords. Click the “Keywords” tab.
8. You’ll be shown a list including the keywords you typed in, as well as some suggested keywords. You’re given a slew of information on each keyword. Focus on Competition and Average Monthly Searches.
9. Find a relevant keyword that’s low competition but highly searched.
10. Sprinkle this keyword naturally within the post, as well as in the URL, title, meta title, and meta description.
What Is a Meta Title and Description?
You’ll enter these within the plugin box underneath each post.
SEO Title. This is different from the title you wrote at the top of your blog post, which is a catchy title for readers. For the SEO title, we’re optimizing for search engines, so the keyword should be at the front.
For example, say your keyword is “NYC tours.” Your blog post title might be, “10 Amazing NYC Tours You Won’t Want to Miss,” while your SEO Title might be, “NYC Tours | 10 Can’t-Miss Local Excursions.”
Meta Description. This is the blurb you see below a Google search result link. This should include the keyword near the front, letting people know what to expect in a way that makes them want to click. It’s helpful to make the meta description action oriented, using words like “learn” and “discover.”
Alternative to Keyword Planner
If you don’t use Keyword Planner, you can simply think like a searcher. What would people who would be interested in your post be searching?
Narrower keywords and phrases tend to be better. For example, “travel tips” is general; “tips for using public transportation in Delhi” is more focused. You KNOW anyone searching that will want to read your blog post covering Delhi transport advice.
Another SEO strategy: Links
Internally. Another strategy for increasing SEO is getting links back to your website. This can be done internally. For example, if you’re writing “8 Easy Ingredient Swaps for Vegan Eating,” you might link to a recipe you’ve already published on vegan meatloaf.
Externally. Getting links back to your website on outside sites is a bit harder but not impossible. A few strategies:
• Guest Posts. Offer to guest post on other high-authority blogs and link back to yourself within the post.
• Interviews. This is similar to a guest post, and you’ll likely be able to include links back to relevant posts.
• Be a source. Check Facebook groups in your niche for opportunities to be a source in other bloggers’ posts.
• Subscribe to HARO. You’ll receive a daily newsletter of journalist queries to pitch your expertise to.
• Find backlink opportunities. Tools like BuzzSumo allow you to see who is already linking to articles on topics you’ve covered. You can reach out to those people and ask if they might be interested in linking to you too.
Your Turn: If you have WordPress.org, install and activate SEO by Yoast now. Here is a guide to installing WordPress plugins if you get stuck. From there, open up a new or already written blog post and scroll down until you’re underneath where you would compose your post. Here, you’ll see the Yoast box. Fill in your keyword, SEO Title, and Meta Description, and use the checklist provided to improve search engine ranking.
Tomorrow, we’ll be diving into how to create a content strategy for your blog.
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