Hello there! Welcome back to Coffee Break Blogging Episode 52!
SEO and the topic of how to rank you blog posts in search engines has always been a pretty big topic for bloggers. Organic search rankings sometimes seems like the meal ticket to traffic. So, in this installment in our series, we’ll talk about how to SEO your blog posts. I’ll give you a step-by-step list of actions to take on your next blog post – and also put it all into relative importance for you.
Now, what we are doing at this stage in our ongoing series here is we are moving on to Stage 2 of the 7 Stages of creating our online business where in this one we are talking all about the various steps of getting our platform set up. And today, we are going to be talking a little bit about SEO; and specifically…
How To SEO Our Blog Post
I know SEO is a pretty big topic among bloggers. A lot of bloggers tend to think quite a bit about SEO, actually. And I have gotten asked many times what I do for SEO. But here is the thing, I want to start off this entire episode by saying that I believe in the 80/20 rule when it comes to SEO. Now if you are not familiar with the 80/20 rule, it is pretty simple… It basically means that 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of your efforts.
So basically, the whole idea of the 80/20 rule is that you concentrate on the things that give you the highest leverage because you can get the most results usually with certain things that require not a lot of effort but get you most of the way there.
So how do we apply that to SEO? Well, basically SEO is a very big; potentially very big topic. And you can go deep into that thing as you want to but quite frankly it is like going deep into a big pit of mud. It is not something that I think you should spend a hell of a lot of time on. I think you should get the basics in place, spend a little bit of time on every blog post to do some basic SEO on it and then move on. I think you should write for human beings; not write for search engine spiders. That is the really big thing.
If you write for people and you write things that they are going to find immensely valuable then they are going to go and share it on social media and they are going to help spread the word for you, naturally. And this is what you want to happen. And in fact, when they do that it helps your search engine rankings quite a bit. So you do not need to stress quite as much about keywords and things like that. But I am not going to say it is totally unimportant; it’s not.
So let’s go in to a few things that you specifically want to look for on your blog post to SEO it according to the 80/20 rule.
A Few Things To Look For
Now, I do not go out there and do a ton of keyword research for a blog post. I do not let keyword research dictate what I write. I write stuff that I know my audience needs and wants. And it is because I’m constantly getting feedback from my audience so I know what they are looking for. The other thing is that I have an editorial calendar in advance. So I will write according to what I have on the agenda. So, usually my picking of a keyword is more like I already know what I am going to write about and then I come in there and I go, “Okay, what would somebody most likely enter into Google if they were looking for an article like this?” And that is the first question that I ask myself.
So I will come up with a little keyword or a keyword phrase that will be maybe two or three word long and then I’ll go and I’ll enter it into Google and I will literally see what comes up. The other thing I will do is, as I am entering it into Google I will actually look at the “Google Suggest”, the little drop down comes down automatically and it will suggest certain things automatically that you could search for… Those are interesting because that stuff that is Google is telling you what other people are searching for related to what you just typed in. So if I was writing a post about blog headlines or something I will put in “blog headlines” and literally see what the Google Suggest function gives me.
The other thing you could do, if you have access to a keyword research tool you can go ahead and use that and just see what other things are coming up in terms of your entering in the keyword phrase that comes to mind for you and then looking at what comes in the keyword tool in terms of long tail keywords. Long tail keywords just basically means “more specific; typically longer keyword phrases. And the only thing you are looking for there is that maybe you want to write about topic X and you are going to, but the thing is if you phrase it in a particular way maybe it will get a little bit more organic search reach. So sometimes the keyword research tools can help you with that.
But at the end of the day, I don’t want to dive too deep here into the keyword research because I think that you need to determine what are you going to write about based on what your audience is telling you that they want, not because you think “Oh, I’ve got an opportunity to rank for that particular keyword” I don’t think that that is the right way to go about it.
Title and Slug
Now, once you have got a target keyword in mind, the first things you want to do is you want to optimize your post title and what is called your slug. And the slug is basically just the permalink.
So, in WordPress, right underneath the area where you type your headline, you are having an area where you can control the URL of that blog post. And I think that you should optimize both of those so that your keyword or your keyword phrase appears in that headline at least one time. Well, I should probably say only “one time” because if you repeat it over and over again that would be kind of stupid.
Now, when it comes to the headline… the thing is you don’t want to sacrifice the performance of that headline by trying to keyword-stuff it. You don’t want to say “Well, I have to get my keyword phrase into this headline so therefore it is going to be a little bit more of a boring headline.” I have a blog post over on the Blog Marketing Academy and it is not even very old but it is all about “Headline Swipe Files” and the best ways to create blog headlines and I think you should check it out over at blogmarketingacademy.com but it is more important that you actually write a really compelling headline that is going to get the clicks than it is for you to stuff your keyword into it. But that being said, it is ideal that you put your keyword phrase into the headline and into your slug; into your URL.
You also want to put it inside of your content, obviously. Do not keyword-stuff it; do not go out of your way to put that keyword phrase into your article a certain number of times or anything. Don’t write like a freaking robot. It’s just stupid. Write naturally. Write as you would normally write or as you would normally speak, okay? And if you are talking about a topic, naturally you are probably going to mention it a few times; done deal. That is all you got to do.
The next thing is your Meta Description. Now, most SEO plug-ins; and I’ll mention what I use here in a bit, will give you an area where you can control the Meta tags or the Meta description for the blog post. The Meta Description; it is debatable these days on whether they really matter that much in terms of your ranking, but it does control how the result displays in the search engine when it comes up. So it is important that you define that Meta Description so it actually looks correct and entices people to click when they see your post coming up in Google. And I think you should put your keyword phrase inside that Meta description, it will only help.
When it comes to images that you put in your blog posts, there are a few things that you can do here: First of all, you can assign the Alt Tags on the image. When you insert the image inside of WordPress you will have a few little fields come up like description and caption and stuff; one of them is your Alt Tag like Alternative Text… that is where it comes from, the “Alt Tag.” Basically this is a little piece of text that will show up in the browser if something happens to the image or if the browser is not able to load the image for some reason. Now, here is the things… the search engine cannot tell what the image is of, typically, but they can tell what the Alt tag is because it is a piece of text and they can scan it. And so, when you have your keyword phrase as the Alt tags on the image it will help with your rankings.
The other thing that can help is literally to rename the image file to have the keyword phrase inside the image name. So for example, if I am writing about blog headlines (again) and I have some image, maybe I took a screenshot of something on my Mac and literally the name of the file is like “screenshot-blah-blah-blah” I would obviously go and I would rename that file from screenshot-blah-blah-blah to maybe blogheadlines.png, something like that. So literally, the filename itself contains the keyword phrase. And once you do these two things, insert the image right in your blog post and that can help.
Now here is another thing that you can do with your blog post and that is to internal link to your own pages in your own post. So what I mean is, you might want to include 2 or 3 relevant links inside the post that you are about to publish to other posts that you have already published on your site. It helps with SEO, it come to crosses very natural; the other thing too is when you use the built-in linker for WordPress, it is going to include the full title of that blog post as the title of the link so therefore it is going to help with SEO on that other blog post. So you should definitely do that.
The other thing is you want to link out to pages. Yes, you can actually improve your SEO by linking to other sites that are not your own. Now specifically what I mean here is that you should link to them if they are authority sites. Authority sites are like big news sites, well-known ones; Wikipedia would be an authority site. So link out to somebody’s site. Don’t do it excessively. Just do it when it makes sense. But the thing is, it is the way the internet naturally works. And when Google is going and scanning your posts they are going to be looking for signs that you are an authority post in that particular topic. And when you are linking to other known authority sites it is a sign of authority for yourself as well. So it is important.
You want to link out to other authority sites or related blog posts on authority blogs that will help you; yes, with your own SEO for your blog post. Now, one little tip there, is that when you link out to an external site make sure that that link opens up in a new window. Do not make it open up in the same window because you literally just sent them away from your site and that was not very smart. So have it open up in a new window so it will open up in a different tab and your site will remain open.
Install the WordPress Plug-in “YOAST”
Now, the plug-in that I use for this is very simple. It is simply called the WordPress SEO plug-in and it is done by YOAST. It is a very good plug-in, totally free… go search for it and install it. Another cool thing about this is that when you pick that target keyword that you are going to use for this blog post you can enter that target keyword and then the WordPress SEO plug-in will literally walk you through optimizing your blog post. It will assign you little color codes. So basically, once you turn it green… Well, you need to enter your keyword phrase into your meta description and make sure it shows up in your blog post. And once you do enough of those things, and check-check-check the thing off, a little light will turn green. And I think once you get it green, you’re fine! You had just done 80/20 SEO and I think you are perfectly fine, you can move on to your next task. Okay?
Set up A Checklist
Now one thing I recommend to you with all these is set up a checklist for yourself. This is not something you should spend a lot of time on. You should be making really high quality content. Not spending all your time trying to figure out how to game the Google spiders, okay?
So, make a little checklist for yourself on some of the things we have talked about in this episode and just put it next to your computer or something. And then next time you are about to hit a blog post you just take 5 minutes or so and just rip through that checklist and get that SEO done for the post before you schedule or publish that post.
So that is a really quick overview of how to SEO individual blog post on your site; hopefully you found that helpful. I will see you on Episode 53 coming up in a few days in Coffee Break Blogging.
Oh, once again, if you find these episodes valuable, I would highly appreciate if you jump over to iTunes and leave a quick review. Helps me expose this to more people; helps expand the community and that is only going to help you because it will help with new ideas for content, new things that we can do here on the show with more people listening. Okay?
Again, thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next time! 😉