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SEO Basics: How to smash your blog optimisation in 2020

seo-basics
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SEO can be a bit of a minefield. A bit of a dark art.

In fact, Search Engine Optimisation is something I avoided for a long, long time when it came to my websites. The main reason for that is I hit upon a way of driving huge amounts of traffic to my websites and blogs with viral posts. (I’ll show you how to write viral posts here)

And for many years, I relied solely on this method of getting traffic to my site. The only problem with this of course, is that you constantly need to be at it – posting, posting, posting. And it can be short-lived too. I’ve seen spikes on my analytics and then huge drops.

The one thing I never cared much for was SEO. That was until a few months back when I Googled my day job.

Back in 2011, when I first launched a website for my magazines (you can find that website for Living Magazines Cardiff here), I had a brief flirt with SEO. I can’t remember much about it to be honest but I remember placing myself in the shoes of potential advertisers and wondering what search term they’d put into Google if they were looking for somewhere to advertise.

I decided upon the search term ‘magazines Cardiff’.

I can’t remember what I did or how I did it, but I optimised the page detailing my advertising packages for that search term.

And after that, I paid no attention to SEO.

Fast forward years and years and I type the search term ‘magazines Cardiff’ into Google. This is what popped up:

SEO
Ignoring the Google adverts at the top, my magazines are now listed at the top of Google’s organic search listings

About three years ago, I started getting enquiries about my magazines out of the blue. As ever, I’d ask where people heard about them, and people started replying ‘I came across you on Google’.

The penny finally dropped and I realised that it’d taken a few years, but some aspects of the SEO I’d put into the site back in 2011 were starting to kick in.

Since then, I’ve started adding good SEO to my sites. If you’re completely new to the concept, here are the basics.

Why is #SEO so important?

The entire world is searching for something (that sounds like it should be a song!) – whether it’s information, things to buy or pictures of fluffy kittens. Google is responsible for the majority of the world’s internet searches and if you’re up there in the first pages of search terms, you’ve got more chance of someone clicking on your link.

Think of your website as a garden – good SEO will help those parts of your garden flourish over the years.

SEO Basics: Rule #1

If you’re totally new to SEO, one thing you need to be aware of is that it is a long game. Even if you publish a perfectly-optimised blog post, it’ll take months, sometimes even years, to come to flower.

Rely on your viral content here and now to get traffic but plot your SEO alongside it so that it bears fruit in months and years to come.

SEO Basics: Rule #2

It’s not websites that are ranked – it’s pages or posts. If you’re looking to score highly in your SEO, you’re going to want to implement great SEO for every post your’re publishing. It’s an investment well worth making as it’ll pay off in the long-term when you’re fed up of trying to get traffic virally.

Google is constantly crawling the internet looking for good, high-quality content. As well as good SEO, Google is also looking to see how many high-quality website link directly to yours, either through individual pages or the website as a whole. There’s an in-depth look at this here.

How to get a good SEO score on your blog posts

Decide on your Keyword

This will be what you think people will be Googling when you want them to come to your post or page. You can use more than one word eg. ‘magazines Cardiff’ but don’t make your search terms too long. For this post, I’ve used the search term ‘SEO Basics’

Use your Keyword in your URL

If you’re using a Content Management System like WordPress (this site is based on WordPress), you’ll be able to edit this.

Use the Keyword in your meta description

When Google displays your post in its search list, it’ll show a snippet of your wording. Use your keyword early, first if you can, like I have for this post. At minimum, include it within the first 10% of your content.

Use the keyword liberally within the content.

There’s no specific amount of times you should include your keyword within the content but do use it occasionally to attract the attention of Google’s crawlers. Be careful not to overdo it, making it appear forced and unreadable.

Create posts over 600 words long

You’ll be rewarded for longer posts over 600 words long. It helps increase your SEO score.

Use your keyword in subheadings

This adds focus to both the reader and Google’s crawlers. Headings also make the content more digestible.

Keep your URL under 80 characters

Be more efficient with your URLs – shorter ones look more professional as well as help your SEO.

Add external AND internal links

Adding links within your posts help create connections for both the reader (it’ll also help keep them on your site longer when you add internal links) but don’t go wild with them – a maximum of 100 links is probably about right. I’ve only included a few on this page.

Use images

Make sure that they are the best size for what you are doing (don’t go uploading massive files) and always edit the image to add Alt Text to reflect the keyword.

Use a Table of Contents

There are a few good plugins to add a Table of Contents (TOC) to your blog post. You’ll see that this post has one and saves you scrolling through reams of text to get to where you want.

Use short paragraphs

No one enjoys working their way through huge wads of text. Consider using shorter paragraphs to make the post more readable.

Use power words and numbers in your headings

Power words are specific words that are more likely to cause a human reaction (hopefully a link click!) and it’s been proven time and time again that using them in your headings will give you more success in getting people to your site.

Also aim to try and use numbers in your heading. There’s a great feature about the effect of power words here.

Resources

Yoast SEO has traditionally been the go-to SEO plugin for WordPress but I’ve recently discovered Rank Math, which explains things a bit better to me and also helps me get a great SEO score. The plugin is currently free and can be found here or within the WordPress repository. It’s definitely worth downloading but beware – it can actually become addicted to optimising every blog post or page that you’ve ever written!

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