Intro to Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is helpful for driving traffic to your website from Google, increasing your opportunity for clicks and sales. Think of Search Engine Optimization like hashtagging your pics on Instagram. It’s about getting new, relevant visitors to your content. But unlike hashtagging, you’re not done just because you’ve posted a dozen or so tags. There will always be something to improve or optimize. We’re breaking down where to start and what you can skip in this SEO 101 Guide.

Vocab You’ll Need To Know

Search Engine Optimizationthe process of maximizing 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.

Keyworda particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page

Long-tail Keyworda keyword phrase that contains at least three words (though some say two or more is considered long-tail).

Short-tail Keywordsearch phrases with only one or two words.

Google Indexsimilar to an index in a library, the Google index lists all of the web pages that Google knows about.

SpiderGoogle’s crawling bot that is sent out to crawl billions of websites daily

Focus on 5 keywords that match the intent of your reader.

To best understand the concept of keywords, think about what a potential reader would Google to get to your article. If you’re reading this article, for example, you might have Googled “SEO” or “Intro to Search Engine Optimization.” The first is a short-tail keyword and the second is longtail.

Attracting a higher volume of website visitors to your website is the main benefit of targeting short-tail keywords in your SEO strategy. These broader keywords are also much more competitive. While these keywords have the potential to bring more visitors to your site, they may not be the qualified prospects you want. Short-tail keywords, because they are so broad, will attract some visitors that are not interested in your specific product or service, leading to higher bounce rates (when a visitor leaves, or “bounces” off your page without clicking or reading).

Long-tail keywords are used to target niche demographics rather than mass audiences. In other words, they’re more specific and often less competitive than generic keyword terms. Because of that, they provide both short-term and long-term benefits.

Since they’re very specific, they allow you to rank highly in search results for popular topics relatively quickly while still gaining ground on head terms. Plus, they tend to attract highly qualified traffic that’s more likely to convert to leads and customers.

These are your long-tail keywords. In a later article, we’ll touch on tools you can use to figure out what the most strategic keywords are, but for the sake of keeping it simple, these will do.

Include these long-tail keywords in specific parts of your post.

Now that you have your keywords, it’s time to use them! Here’s where you should put them:

Title Tag

This is pretty self-explanatory, but put your keywords in your title. Obviously you want your title to still flow so get smart and conjoin your keywords if you can. If your keywords are “SEO for Bloggers” and “Intro to Search Engine Optimization,” for example, your optimized blog title might be “Intro to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Bloggers.”

Headers & Body

Mention your keywords throughout your blog when appropriate. For the sake of your loyal readers, please do not go overboard for the sake of points with Google. Google will actually penalize your page for overusing keywords, so make a point to use them, but keep your content relevant and valuable to your audience.

Meta Description

The meta description is the little quip underneath the title tag on a return of Google searches. It needs to engage the potential reader to read your post, but it should also include your keywords so your reader (and Google) are clear on what your content is all about.

Make sure your blog is mobile friendly

This one is a no-brainer, but so often bloggers write wonderfully copywritten blog full of links and images and effort but they forget to make sure it looks good on their phone. This is a major bummer because according to Statista, 52.4% of web traffic comes from mobile! Don’t lose readers just because you forgot one easy and critical step. Many sites auto-optimize your site for mobile, make sure you’re either using one of them or doing your diligence because Google displays mobile-friendly results first!

Optimize the meta description

The length of your meta-description is 300 characters and you should try to use these characters as efficiently as you would in a long-winded tweet. Make it all count. As mentioned before, be sure to include your long-tail keywords in this section.

Optimize your images’ alt text.

Your blogs shouldn’t only contain text and incorporating photos isn’t the end of it. You have to optimize your images that help explain and illustrate your content. Search engines can’t “see” images the same way a reader can, so an image’s alt text helps those images rank in Google Images results.

Alt text also makes for a better user experience, as it’ll display inside the image container when the image can’t be found and improve accessibility for those with poor vision. Adding keywords to your images might seem minor, and it isn’t going to be as impactful as other things on this list, but it is worth the extra minute it takes to change the name from “IMG6229” to something accurate and descriptive like “skincare-flatlay.”

Don’t overuse your topic tags.

Topic tags will help organize your blog content, but Google will penalize you if you overuse them because Google interprets this as spam instead of what is most likely just your eagerness to get web traffic!

When you create a topic tag, you also create a new site page where the content from those topic tags will appear. If you use too many similar tags, it shows search engines that you’re displaying the content multiple times throughout your site. Create 15-25 topic tags that you think are important to your blog but are unique. For our blog for example, “SEO,” “blogging,” and “social media” are great, but “blog,” “blogging,” and “blogger” would be too similar to use all on the same post.

Spiders

Google sends out what’s affectionately known as a ‘spider’ to ‘crawl’ the web, going from link to link creating a web, and cataloging, or ‘indexing’ what it sees. If you wanted to mimic the actions of the Google spider, start at a big site, like Wikipedia, and click every link you see. Then go to those pages, and click every link and so on. Once you’ve clicked a few hundred billion pages, you’ll be somewhere close.

Google’s spider can only crawl linked pages by the way – it can only access pages that you could access with a mouse. It can’t enter in login details or passwords, and it can’t enter terms in your search bar. As a general rule, if your page isn’t accessible by a clickable link, Google probably won’t see it.

A really simple thing you can do to make sure your site is crawled more frequently is to add more content. Essentially, each time Google crawls your site, it monitors if there has been any changes. If there has, it makes a note, and remembers to come back a little sooner next time.

Link internally when possible.

Link building is a really easy way of letting Google know that page exists. When Google crawls a site that’s linking to you, it will then ‘click’ the link and discover your page. The more links you have the more authoritative your site becomes in Google’s eyes. This makes it really, really important to get other (hopefully high-ranking sites) to link to your website. Try guest-posting for larger publications or on friends’ blogs and including a link to draw traffic to your site.

This includes internal links. Make sure all your best content is easy to navigate to. Put links to those pages on all the most prominent pages of your site and Google will be able to find them easily and quickly. Linking internally also demonstrates value to your readers.

You want to present yourself and your brand as a resource on your topic and industry to strengthen brand loyalty and increase the chance that your new readers will become regular visitors. This will ultimately boost your website traffic and increase your potential for sales.

Quick Tip: An easy way to provide value to your audience and incorporate links is by adding a “Relevant Reads” section to the end of every blog. (Check out ours at the bottom.)

Want to dig deeper into the world of SEO? Next month we’ll be sharing our top Search Engine Optimization tools and resources. To get ahead, use Yoast’s SEO Training Academy for access to free tutorials and resources to strengthen your SEO game.

Written by our Brand Communications Coordinator, Kaeleigh Morrison.

Know about an SEO tip or tool we absolutely cannot miss out on? Tweet us  @somethingsocial or tag us on Instagram- @somethingsocial.

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