What are your Goals for this post?
First things first is what are your goals for the post and deciding what you’re trying to gain from the post.
- Is the post for your current followers, or are you trying to gain a new audience?
- Is it a discussion piece where your aim is for higher short-term engagement?
- Promoting a product or service?
- Is it evergreen content, like answering a question, that you want long-term traffic for?
Not only does questioning your goal help focus you with what you’re writing, it can help you choose which metrics you’re looking at later down the line. For example:
- Google Analytics can show you new vs returning users.
- Look at comments and social sharing of posts. Can do this manually, but Google Analytics can show you referral numbers as well.
- How many click-throughs did you gain and did your affiliate links get many conversions by using either affiliate sites or Bitly.
- Use Google Analytics and Search Console to see if it is still relevant and getting traffic in a few months’ time.
So depending on which goals you’re aiming for will inform as to how long you should spend on SEO. Now SEO is important for all posts, and the basics that I mentioned in SEO for Beginners are easily implementable in any post. However for a more extensive SEO approach, it may be easier on your schedule to selectively choose which posts to do it for. For example, a post that’s typically for returning users who probably follow the blog or social media probably won’t need as extensive SEO research as the post will be shown to them through other means that search engines. However, evergreen content is more important for SEO as this is content you want to drive traffic to, and through search engines you could reach new people every day, without spamming social media with the link.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is looking for keywords or key-phrases that real people will enter into search engines to find the content they need. These can be short keywords such as just ‘SEO’ or it can be a longer key-phrase such as ‘SEO for beginners’ which is what my first SEO post had as a key-phrase.
Short keywords are often called head terms and are broad terms that are often searched more frequently. Longer key-phrases are also called longtail keywords and are often sentences or snippets which are searched less frequently. It’s important to use a mixture of short and longtail keywords in order to improve your chances of being in the search rankings.
How to do Keyword Research?
Firstly, make a list of important and relevant topics based around your blog. You’ve probably already done this if you’ve done category and tags mapping which means you’re already one step forward. Now, you can then ‘open up’ these keywords a bit more by trying to understand what your audience would search to find the content you’re using. For example for Uptown Oracle, one of my highest ranking posts on search engines is my The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Rescue Cream Mask review. This often gets found by using the search terms:
- The body shop soothing rescue cream mask
- Soothing rescue cream mask
- Aloe rescue mask
- Body shop soothing rescue cream mask
- Body shop aloe mask
Etc. From this you can see it’s just trying to find different searchable phrases which could lead you to the same result, in this example it’s a product but this works for all types of content. Also in this example, I’ve used Google Search Console to find out what is already being searched to find my content, and I can utilise these keywords to improve that post to rank higher for those specific keywords if they’re maybe not getting enough clicks. However you could also create an adjacent post with the similar keyword and include internal links to improve your SEO, however it’s not advised to try to rank multiple posts for the same keyword as you don’t to ‘cannibalise’ your own posts in the search results.
Now, if you’re currently panicking and you have no idea how to come up with more potential keywords, don’t worry! There’s also tools to use to look up related keywords to the ones you find. You can go straight to Google and take a look at the ‘Searches related to’ at the bottom of the first page. You can also go search for each of those keywords to find more which gives you plenty to choose from. You can also use sites like Answer the Public which will give you huge lists of different long-tail keywords.
Research Competing Pages
It’s important to know about the competition for keywords, and this is easy to do as you can just search the keyword in googles and see what pages are on the first page. I use Mozbar which allows you to see the DA and PA of each result straight away, and it also allows you to clickthrough to Link Analysis, although with a free account you can only do this 10 times a month. A higher DA and PA means that those pages have more factors which optimise their SEO which is often why higher DA and PA pages are at the top of search results. The Link Analysis tool can also help you pick keywords that those pages are ranking for as well, although use your limited ones carefully – I would suggest using lower DA and PA pages which you have the ability to compete with for ranking, as if the top search result is Wikipedia with a 90+ DA and PA you’re extremely unlikely to rank higher.
An example can be this post and the rest of my SEO blog posts. I know for a fact that none of these posts are going to start showing up on the first page of google when searching for SEO. I know this because the top results are sites like Moz, Search Engine Land and Wikipedia which have 90+ DA scores and for the first two their entire sites are based around SEO and different similar keywords. The other search results are mostly local agencies that specialise in SEO marketing, which Google has used cookies to show me because they’re relevant to me. Going back to goals, this post is more for bloggers who I know follow me, or may come across this post on Bloglovin’ or on social media if other people share it. So whilst I have put in effort for SEO in this post, I haven’t spent excessive time research keywords around SEO.
Create your Content
So you’ve thought about the topic of your post, and you’ve done some keyword research depending on the goal of your post. Now you actually need to write the content with SEO in mind. I mentioned most of these points in SEO for Beginners too and a lot of these points can assisted with my using the Yoast plugin as it lets you know when they can be improved.
First things first is your title should be catchy and interesting, but also include at least one of your keywords. I say ‘at least one’ because sometimes your longtail keywords may actually include your head keywords and will be a strong heading for SEO. Going back to my The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Rescue Cream Mask review, some of the keywords I was ranking for wouldn’t be suitable as a heading. This is because the heading needs to make sense to anyone who’s not read the post and some key-phrases like ‘Aloe rescue mask’ aren’t quite specific enough for the readers to understand that it’s a review of the Body Shop product. If the audience is bouncing off the page fast because the content isn’t what they’re looking for, this can actually signal to the search engine that the page isn’t giving relevant information and is negative for SEO. So try to be obvious about what the post is about, whilst using keywords in a relevant and suitable way.
When search engines are ‘reading’ your site and posts they prioritise what is the most important information. One way they do this is that ‘heading 1’ is more important than ‘heading 2’ which is more important than ‘heading 3’ and so on. So you need to ensure you’re using headings properly, so the search engines easily read and understand your content.
Firstly, Heading 1 is always the title and usually should not appear more than once on a page. As the other headings are all sub-headings under one another as a hierarchy, they can be used multiple times, but they should always be used in order. So heading 2, then 3, then 4 – don’t use heading 2 then 4 as this can be confusing.
You can manually check headings with the HTML viewer as they will be denoted like <h2> TITLE </h2> although if using WordPress you can usually select from the top which heading style you want to use.
Images have SEO Ability Too
You may question how an image can utilise keywords, but your website stores vital information about your images in the backend. Because search engines are reading as code rather than the aesthetically pleasing website your audience sees it can read this vital information which helps with SEO. This information includes the image name – if your photo is still called DSC_1001 from your camera, please change it to be keyword appropriate, like using the title of the post. It also includes alternative text, also called alt text. This text is for accessibility first and foremost, anyone using a screen reader will be able to hear the image described when the alt tag is used (and used correctly to describe the image). Plus, it’s sometimes used by the audience if the image is broken due to some issue. In HTML viewer the code will look like the below:
<img src=“Image URL” alt=“Description”>
However, WordPress allows you to add alt text to each image in its settings.
Some people use alt text completely wrong, they assume because you can’t initially see it then you can keyword spam within it. But as this is for mainly accessibility, you need to ensure that this text is just as coherent as the rest of your content as it is needed for accessibility. If a screen reader just starts to read keywords to someone, they’re not coming back to your site, and probably won’t read to the end of your post which is a red flag for search engines. So like your title, heading and main text, include keywords where they are relevant to the image and ensure that it’s concise yet descriptive.
Ensure Keyword Density
I’ve already talked a bit about adding keywords to your main text, and you should, but not too much. There’s currently no prescriptive percentage of keyword density that is set out by Google. But if you use the keyword too much it can be seen as keywording spamming or stuffing which gives red flags to search engines. Therefore the right balance is needed.
You can normally tell if you have used a keyword too much when you’re reading it back, however you can also use tools like Yoast which tell you. Yoast recommends having a density of between 0.5% to 2.5%, which is 1-2 words per 100 words of a post.
Internal and External Linking
And finally, linking is extremely important for SEO and this includes both internal and external linking. Internal linking are links that point to another page on the same website. Internal links include all of your navigation links in your menus and also the links to posts on different pages and are vital for navigation for the audience. Your categories and tags mapping actually helps with creating a ‘hierarchy’ of links based on keyword indices that search engines can read, which is why that step is also important. Internal linking is important for navigation and encouraging users to stay on site, but it also helps to build association with keywords if the correct descriptive words are used as links.
External links on the other hand are links from one domain to another and these can be from your website to another, or to your website from another. In SEO external links have more value than internal links, especially the in-coming links from other websites. Whilst there’s no one way to build in-coming links, it’s important to be a part of the community as many bloggers do tag posts, or weekly round-ups where they link to other bloggers posts.
Learn from the Metrics
I mentioned metrics at the start, and in order to understand if your SEO strategy is working, you can use Search Console to see if the posts you’re spending time on to optimise are performing as expected. Remember your post won’t reach rankings straight away, and it can take multiple tries before you get it right, but it’s good to learn where you’ve done well for keyword research and to analyse and reapply this to future optimisations. If you’ve already had your blog for a while now, it’s also completely okay to go back and re-write and re-format posts to optimise for search engines, plus you can use any data you’ve got on that page from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Do you have any other questions on how to SEO optimise your posts?