Start learning search engine optimization
Hey y’all, today we’re talking about the business side of blogging and I’m going to give you a very basic beginner SEO guide. Learning search engine optimization for your website will help you get the most eyeballs on your great content.
What is SEO?
First, what is SEO? Search engine optimization is creating your content in ways that help your desired audience to FIND your content when they’re searching. That’s it! I admit that when I first heard the term SEO and tried to read up on it, I was immediately confused and intimidated because it seemed very hard and technical. And it’s true that when you get deep into SEO, it does get more technical. But there are basics you can do right now to improve your SEO and they aren’t hard or technical. In fact, they start with a question:
What would people search for to find this content?
The question of how a user will find you through search is really at the heart of SEO, and in my experience it’s not the first thing I think about when I’m creating content for my site. I think about what to write to communicate my point, I think about which pictures I need to illustrate my words, I think about how to make my pictures pretty, I even think about what images would work best for social media. But when I started blogging it did not occur to me to think about how new readers would find my content. That last bit, in a nutshell, is SEO.
So how do you change your content so that people can find it? Well, think about how you would search for the type of content you’re creating. For example, maybe you have a hole in your jeans that you want to fix, so you’d head to google and type what? Probably something like “how to fix a hole” and then when you see results about holes in walls you might add “jeans” to your search. Which means that if you are a sewing blogger like me, the best way for people to find my post on how to patch jeans is to make sure I’m using the words “jeans” “hole” and “patch” in my post, preferably in combinations similar to the ones you’d use in a search. These words and phrases are your Keywords for SEO.
If you do nothing else but make sure you use your keywords in your content, you’re still off to a start with learning SEO and improving it for your site. However, I’m going to give you 5 more fairly easy steps for SEO beginners.
Beginner SEO Basics
- Make sure you have Google Analytics installed for your site. This will help you see who is on your site and how they got there.
- Search for your own site. Take note of which of your pages pop up and what kind of results are returned. Try this both with and without spaces in your site name.
- Search again using this format on Google – site:________.com For example, for my site I’d type site:mellysews.com in the search box. This type of search will show you how many links Google has indexed for your page. If the number is really low or there are none, make a note of this. Unless your site is new (in which case Google might not have found it yet), you’re going to want to figure out why it’s not showing up. Try searching “my site is not indexed by Google” for help.
- If you’re on WordPress, install the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin adds some boxes to the bottom of your posts for you to type in your keyword or phrase. Once you do, the plugin analyzes your page for that keyword and gives you a red (bad), orange or green (good) rating for your page, and then lists out red, orange or green SEO items to improve. It’s super easy to learn SEO basics with this plugin by doing them while you’re creating content.
- Add alt tags to your images and make sure you use your keyword in at least one image alt tag. If you haven’t been doing this, this is an easy habit to build in as you create new content. Read more about alt tags here
As I mentioned earlier, SEO can get very technical. But the basics don’t have to be! If you keep in mind how people would find your content through search while you’re creating it, you’re already on your way. Once you are regularly doing the things on the checklist above and getting green lights on your Yoast ratings, you can start delving in further than this beginner SEO guide. Some good topics to search to start getting further into SEO are listed below.
- Keyword Research
- Free SEO tools
- Google Search Console
- Site Organization for SEO