Basic SEO tips for folks who aren’t “tech-y”
Creating sharable, engaging content is only the beginning of your website’s journey to success. Then people have to find it, read it, and take action on it. Social media has a huge role to play here, and you can also advertise your posts – but one of of the most valuable things you can do to make your site a success it have it featured on one of the first pages of Google and other search engines.
This is called Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO. Read on if you know how important this is but you don’t feel like you have the technical skills to improve your site’s SEO ranking.
Disclaimer: I am not an SEO expert. These tips alone will almost definitely not be enough to get you ranked on page one of Google. These are some extremely basic SEO tips I have chosen because they are really easy to implement to get you started.
1. Choosing and using a keyword
Your keyword should be a phrase you think people would Google to find your site. Generally, the more specific you are the more targeted your results will be. There might be a million hits for the phrase “grocery shop”, and only a few hundred for “vegan grocery shop London”, but if you own a vegan grocery shop in London, you want that targeted traffic because those are the people who will actually want to buy your products. Once you’ve chosen an appropriate keyword, try to use it in your post title, the URL, in at least one heading, and in the body of your post. You can use free tools like this one to research the best keywords for your topic.
2. Write longer posts
The minimum you should write to get ranked in Google is 300 words, but there is strong evidence to suggest that writing longer posts is better. Most posts that rank on page one of Google are 2,000 words or more, because the search engine wants to provide its users with thorough, relevant answers to their queries (so don’t waffle on just for the sake of it, the information has to be useful). Most blog posts come in at around 500 words or less, so by going the extra mile to add value in yours, you can differentiate yourself from others writing in your niche.
3. Format your posts using headings
Headings are important because they make it easier for users to read your posts, but also because search engines pay attention to the words you have used within them. You can choose headings from H1 (most important) to H6 (least important) by hitting the toggle button on your WordPress editor toolbar (it’s the one furthest to the right). Search engines put most weight on what you’ve got in your H1 heading, and you should only use one of those per post. Read more on using headings here.
4. Share your posts on Google+
Unsurprisingly, Google ranks posts that are shared on Google+ more highly than those that are not. Most people don’t bother to share their posts on Google+ because it hasn’t taken off as a social network, but it’s a super easy way to improve your ranking. It may not result in the same level of traffic as other social channels immediately, but over time it will result in an increase in search traffic.
5. How to optimise your images
Optimising your images is a great way to grow organic traffic. Sites that load slowly rank lower in Google, and sites with lots of huge images will be slower to load. If you use lots of images, make sure to resize them before you upload them to make sure this doesn’t effect you. Google can’t read images, but it can read the words that you use to describe them. This is another opportunity to use the keyword you chose above. Use phrases people might search if they were looking for your site in both the image title and alt text boxes. You can gain traffic from Google Images in this way too.
6. Use an SEO plugin
If you’re using WordPress to post and you need support with SEO, you can install a plugin that will guide you. My two favourite SEO plugins are Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack. Both will allow you to do more technical SEO things like change the meta-description (the sentence or two that is displayed in Google when your site comes up in a search). By default, the first paragraph of your post will appear, but often that’s just your introduction – by changing your meta-description, you can choose to insert a really powerful sentence or sentences from your post here, making it all the more likely that someone will click onto your site.
Now it’s your turn. I’ve shared the basic SEO tips I have picked up over the years with you – what have you got for me? Bloggers, I want to know what has worked best for you and what would you add to the list? Leave me a comment.
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