017: THE BLOGGER & BUSINESS OWNER’S GUIDE TO SEO: HOW TO, HACKS, AND TRICKS TO GET TRAFFIC
SEO. Search engine optimisation. It makes many of us want to crawl into a hole and pretend that it doesn’t even exist, am I right? I’m guilty of having done that for the longest time until I realised that it’s not as scary as we made it out to be. Plus, there are some major benefits that can come from simple implementations on your end.
Today I want to break it all down and demystify this topic for all of you - it’s time to put some strategy behind our search engine results.
Search engine optimisation basically means the process of maximising the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. SEO can be a really complex topic to cover (especially on a podcast), so my goal today is to break it down to the basics, tell you where it is best to invest your time on this and to prove to you that it’s not as scary so that you can take action and get started.
Even starting out small with a simple strategy can make a giant impact on the traffic that is coming to your website. Because what good is your website if no one knows it even exists?
Let me put this out there though: this blog post is only the outline of this show. To get the full impact of this episode, I recommend reading along with this post and writing down all the specific details to maximise your SEO journey. It’d also recommend download the SEO Cheat Sheet that accompanies this post.
If you hit play on this episode, my guess is you already know you need to be doing SEO. So let’s not ignore it anymore, okay? Here are some basic principles and places to get started.
Breaking Down The Lingo
Keywords are the words that you’ll be identifying as ones that you think your audience will be searching for that you want Google to show your content in their search results. Don’t overcomplicate this. So many of the strategies needed for SEO are probably already things that you’re doing in your online presence and can simply be tweaked and executed - your keyword strategy is a great example of this. You don’t have to start from ground zero on this. (To hear all of my best tips for picking keywords, tune into the episode!)
Top tip: Start with five or so main buckets of topics that you talk about on your blog and create a spreadsheet with these as your columns. Next start brainstorming a list for each area with a list of as many thematic words around each bucket that you can think of. Insert any hashtags around each topic that you’re currently using that are general and make sense for a keyword. Then take these words and search for them in Google or the Pinterest search bar. I like using these two places because of the guided search features on these sites. Guided search means it’ll take the word you searched for and tell you what other similar words people are searching for. This is an amazing way to expand your keyword list.
You should have a pretty solid list at this point but we’re not done yet. Next, I want you to look anywhere your target audience is talking about the topics and pull keywords from things they are saying. Examples of places that you could look would be:
Comments on your blog posts
Common questions you get asked
Social media postings
Check out reviews on Amazon for books on the topic. What are people saying about it? What questions do they have? What do they love about your topic?
At this point, you’ll have a master list. Keep this master keyword list handy and refer to it any time that you’re writing content for your site. You want to infuse as many of these words when you are writing on your website whether it’s a page on your website or a blog post. You’ll also be identifying a “focus keyword” or words for each page or post on your site which means the main word that best represents the content.
Next up is what’s called the SEO title. This is different than the post title or page name. Let me walk through an example to help best illustrate this. Naming each blog post is a critical step because this is what’s going to determine if someone is going to click through and read the content. Now, a clickable title like “5 Fears Every Girl Boss Needs To Kick To The Curb” might be different than the one that we would write for SEO purposes.
Let’s say the keyword we’ve identified for this post is “successful women entrepreneurs” because the post is about the fears women experience when running a successful business. The SEO title allows you to name the post with SEO in mind while also naming it creatively so people click through and read.
So the title of the blog post is “5 Fears Every Girl Boss Needs To Kick To The Curb” and the SEO Title is “Successful Women Entrepreneurs on Blog It Boss It Radio.” The blog post title is what is shown publicly to your audience and the SEO title is what search engines will use to determine what the content is about.
The next SEO terminology to cover is what’s called a slug. This is what the actual link will look like so for example, these show notes are clearly found at www.abranchofholly.com/blog/seo. That /SEO is what’s known as the slug. SEO best practices state that the slug should be short and contain your focus keyword if possible.
This description is what will be shown as the first few lines of text under the title when your content sows up in search results. Think about when you google something, you’ll see about 8 or so post titles that Google believes is the best match based on your search text and then it’ll show you about two lines of text below it to help you determine if that’s exactly what you were looking for. This is the meta description and if you haven’t been writing meta descriptions, Google will automatically grab the first few lines of text on your page.
This is an opportunity to write click-worthy meta descriptions because it’s not enough to simply show up in google results. You want people to see your content and click through!
The final definition to cover before we can get into the good stuff is “alt text”. This is the text that is tied to an image. This is text that explains what the image is and it’s important because it can be used by search engines in addition to the text in your post or the site content in order to figure out what you’re writing about.
This is also the text that is carried through when someone pins your image to Pinterest which gives us a little bit more control in terms of making sure our images have high quality descriptions there.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s take the long-tail keyword example of “best online marketing strategies”. Let’s say there is an image of me in my office at my laptop. My alt text in this example could be “best online marketing strategies, marketing strategies for your online presence from A Branch Of Holly.” This alt text both uses our focus keyword which is super helpful for search engine optimisation. It also provides more context for what this actual image is about and gives me credit for the image so that when it’s pinned, people will know who it belongs to.
How Does This All Fit Together?
Now that we’ve got kind of a basic understanding of what some of these words mean, let’s talk about how and where they are used. If you’re starting from scratch and you want to know where to begin, my best tip if you’re on Wordpress is to download the Yoast SEO plugin. Once this plug in is activated on your site you’re going to see an area at the bottom of the post that says “SEO by Yoast” and here you’ll be able to enter the following to optimise a post:
The cheat sheet I’ve got for you to download here has a screenshot of this filled in for one of my posts.
The best part of the plugin is that it will also grade the post for you from a search engine optimisation standpoint and offer suggestions to make improvements and also tell you what you did right. This is such a great way to learn SEO best practices while jumping in and getting started with search engine optimisation right away.
Tips To Incorporate SEO Into Your Workflow
This wouldn’t be a Blog It Boss It Radio episode without me giving you tangible ways to incorporate this teaching into your day-to-day workflow. Here are some things that have worked well for me.
A lot of the critical thinking that goes into optimising content for your site in terms of SEO purposes is going to pay off in other places as well. I like to batch this type of work together to save time and energy.
An example of this would be writing the alt text with Pinterst in mind. Pinterest is also a search engine and it will see your content as valuable if the pin description matches the words found on the post it’s linked to. For this reason, I write the alt text as my pin description when optimising the post and then pin at that same time.
Similarly you might start with keywords that would be great hashtags on Instagram. Writing your Instagram post that’s going to link to the blog post makes sense to complete at the same time. In general, when you’re writing content for your online presence, think about all the places it’s going to be promoted and write that all at the same time.
Start with your focus keyword first
It can be tempting to write a post and THEN figure out what your focus keyword and titles are going to be. I’ve found it’s so much easier if I do this the other way around. Come up with a clickable title and strong keywords for your audience and create content around those. This will save you time and energy trying to force a keyword or strong title later and I believe this will make your content stronger as well.
Keep track of what’s working (and what’s not)
Since this blog post is already getting quite long, I am going to limit how much I type about this. But if you tune into the episode you will learn everything you need to know about Google Analytics and your blog. I get it, learning “one more thing” can feel exhausting, but this is crucial. In the episode, I teach you what exactly you need to be looking for in your Google Analytics, what numbers are “good”, which are “bad”, and how this can transform your online presence. Seriously, this segment of the episode is GOLD, and I don’t want you to miss out.
Keep It Simple! 3 Steps To Live By
Start a keyword spreadsheet.
Download the SEO by Yoast plugin if you’re on Wordpress and take a stab at optimising an old post to get a hang of the process.
Install Google Analytics to help direct and refine your strategy going forward.
Focus On People, Not Just Search Engine Optimisation
The one thing I want you to take away from this episode is the importance of focusing on people and not just search engines. It’s easy when you dive into the world of SEO to feel overwhelmed and like you need to follow a crazy long list of strategies and rules that leave you feeling deflated and questioning if you’re wasting your time (or even if you’re doing it right.) This is what held me back for years, because it felt so overwhelming.
But if you refocus your WHY, it will help you stay focused on the right stuff: focus on people not just search engines. When building out your search engine optimisation strategy, it can be tempting to get really technical in your strategy to attempt to have your posts and pages rank better. My philosophy is that if we build our content with people in mind, it will do well for search engines as well. If we truly truly think about our ideal readers and clients, what their pain points are, how we can provide a solution, and what they’re likely searching for, we can truly create a system that helps you reach the RIGHT people. Which to me is more important than landing at the top of Google for the wrong things.
At the end of the day, search engine optimisation is ALL about proving to seaRch engines that your site and your content is the best so that it will serve it up when your audience is looking for solutions to problems that you can help them with. Create epic content serving your audience and search engine optimisation will follow.
LET’S PUT IT ALL TOGETHER:
Looking for more help? Here’s some additional reading materials:
Shoutout To Our Breakthrough Blogger Of The Week!
Rhianne Williams: https://www.littlenovelist.com/
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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