Angela’s Note: Today’s post is a basic introduction to search engine optimization from Kelby Carr, @Typeamom, the mastermind behind the Type-A-Mom Network of websites. She’s about to release a book on using SEO in your blogging so this is a great place to start for beginners. SEO may not SEEM important, but so much of our blogging plans hinge on having good rankings and traffic it is vital to know the very basics at least.
SEO is a term that can sound so geeky it scares bloggers, but the basics of search engine optimization are quite simple. You don’t have to sell your soul to the Google gods to get traffic, either. It is possible to write for humans and search engines, and to do both well.
Think of Your Own Search Habits
First, think about your own search habits. What do you type in when you are seeking content? This very basic premise can be the core of your basic SEO toolbox. If you are tempted to use a clever, witty, abstract title, just ask yourself: What Would I Search?
Here are three basic SEO steps:
1. Start with the right words for SEO. You will want to find the perfect keyword phrase to both capture the essence of your post and that people actually search. This is called a keyword phrase. There are a couple of great free tools to research the best keyword phrase: the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Wordtracker. Look for phrases that get decent search traffic, but not tons of searches since that will be very competitive. Before each post, make it a habit to do research first. It truly only takes five minutes for some basic keyword searches.
2. Use your words for SEO. Once you’ve found your keyword phrase, use it in the title, the permalink URL for the post, the first paragraph, in headers, throughout your post, as the file names for images, as the text for outgoing links, essentially anywhere you can work it in without compromising the quality of the post.
3. Check your SEO results. SEO is not an exact science. After you’ve done some posts with optimization in mind, monitor the results. Allow some time for search engines to spider your site, then examine your stats program (Google Analytics is a nice free one). Look at which keywords are driving traffic to your blog. See if the phrases you targeted are driving traffic. Look at traffic sources to see if search engines like Google are sending more traffic. If it isn’t working, tinker. You could try less competitive keywords, for example. Consider SEO an ongoing process.
It’s as simple as that. There is obviously a lot more to SEO, but these three basics are a great way to start. It’s less a complete overhaul of the way you blog, and more a shift in thinking. I like to say it’s what a writer would do anytime switching to a new medium. Writing styles are adapted for newspapers, books, TV, radio and TV. The web is no different.
Look back over the last four posts on your blog. What three words would you type into Google to find each of those posts? Are those three words included in the title and/or subheadings? If not – you know that you are the type to needs to pay closer attention to the search engine side of your writing. If so – Great!
Now look over the posts with a close eye. Do they read well? Are they easy to read and have a nice flow to them? If they sound a little stuffy and the keywords are smooshed into the post awkwardly, then you know you are the type that needs to pay closer attention to the HUMAN side of your writing.
Having trouble? Come back and leave the titles of the last four posts on your blog. We should be readily able to tell what the post is about based on your titles. 🙂