SEO can be a bit of a conundrum, especially to new bloggers. It is though, without doubt, one of THE most important things that you need to learn about when running your own website. Beginners SEO Guide
That is why I thought I would put together a beginner’s guide to SEO for all the Bloggers and newbies out there that need a bit of guidance.
What Is SEO?
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is a very broad term that can apply to a wide variety of aspects to do with a website.
Generally speaking though, it is all about gaining more traffic from the search engines by both promoting and improving your site in different ways.
SEO can be improved by;
- The types of words and phrases that you use on your site (keywords & keyphrases),
- A site’s link structure (internal & external links),
- And easy to users to navigate around your blog,
- Social media activity,
- Website speed (how long it takes for a page to load),
- Having a clear direction of both who your site is aimed at what niche you are focusing on,
- …and many more closely related aspects.
What Is So Special About Search Engines?
Some of you may be thinking “What’s so special about the search engines that I have to work around them. Won’t they just find my site and start sending me traffic straight away?”
When I first started blogging I had a fairly similar attitude. That said, I quickly learned that it was my responsibility to get people to find my site and the best way to do that is via the search engines.
Think about it – you wouldn’t spend lots of time and money building and setting up a high fashion clothing store in the middle of the desert.
No matter how loudly you shouted about your wares, nobody would hear you (plus think of all the sand).
Websites need traffic in order to be successful and the best way in which people can find you online is via the search engines.
Yes, social media is important, but whenever people need an answer to a question or they want to find out about something (like learning about SEO), they will go to a search engine first.
How Do Search Engines Work?
Everyone thinks that search engines are smart – they’re not! They are really, really dumb!
As intelligent humans (well most of us anyway) we can work out what a post is about in many different ways.
We can work out when a writer is using humor, sarcasm, innuendo or when they use metaphors in their writing. No matter what subtleties a writer uses, we can understand what they are writing about. Search engines can’t’
Search engines will read the whole article and judge it based on exactly what you include in it.
Not only that but they also look at the other aspects of a post, such as what links you include, to try and work out what it is about.
For example, say you wrote a post about dieting and healthy food, but include lots of links to junk food recipes as a way to show readers what to avoid.
Readers will understand that, however search engines may misinterpret that and rank it lower due to the links to junk food. After all, why would they rank this highly as a “health” article when it has all these links pointing to unhealthy things.
The same can be said when search engines try to determine a blog/website as a whole. It will search (or “crawl” as it is known) all the pages that make up that site, as well as things like;
- What sites you link to
- Which sites are linking to you
- The types of videos/images you use
This helps them to get an idea of what your site is about. Which, again, is where some people can have problems.
Having a number of totally unrelated posts on your site can really confuse search engines and cause them to rank you higher/lower for different keywords and phrases.
Remember How People Search For Things
If you wanted to search for inspiration of what to cook for dinner, you wouldn’t type in “What chicken recipes can I cook in half an hour” into a search engine.
You would more likely type in “30 min chicken recipe” or “quick chicken recipe” instead because it is quicker to type and includes all the key information that you need, before clicking on one of the first few links that are displayed in the results.
This is where keywords and keyphrases comes into play. These are (unsurprisingly) the words and phrases that most people are likely to use in order to find your content.
By understanding which keywords and keyphrases you need to use within your post(s), you can greatly improve the chances of people finding you online.
How To Improve Your SEO
Like I say, search engines are pretty dumb but they are slowly getting smarter.
Better algorithms are being used to help them understand what website content is about so that they can show it to more relevant people.
The key is to make sure it is really clear what your website and individual posts are about.
Let’s start with blog post articles. Although search engines read through the whole post, they will take extra notice of certain parts, such as;
- Post title
- Introductory paragraph
- Image titles (and image Alt tags)
- Video titles
This is because this information says a lot more about what it is that the post is talking about.
These are where you want to include your keywords and keyphrases as they stand a better chance of being noticed by the search engines.
If the search engines can better identify what your post is about by spotting the keywords and phrases in these specific places then you stand a better chance at ranking highly for those terms.
The Secret To SEO
SEO isn’t all that complicated really.
It is more about getting into the right mindset when you are creating your content/website. Just always remember that you are writing for TWO;
- Your readers
- Search engines
Both are equally as important as one another. As long as you remember that then you will make your blogging life much, much easier.