SEO, or search engine optimization, has got to be one of the most widely researched and questioned components of blogging. Bloggers know it’s necessary, but there is so much information out there, and not all of it is in easy-to-understand language.
The good news is, SEO doesn’t have to be confusing. I’ve created The Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Bloggers to help you understand basic SEO terminology, and help you apply this information to your blog.
SEO for Bloggers
If you are brand new to blogging, you might not fully understand what SEO is and why it’s important, so let’s start there.
SEO, like I said a minute ago, stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is sometimes referred to as “Google Juice”. It’s what gets you found by search engines, so it’s very important. You will hear bloggers talk about ranking on Page 1 of search, which should be your goal for every post you write.
Before you can rank high in search, however, you need to have at least a basic understanding of SEO and how to apply SEO tactics to your blog.
BASIC SEO TERMS + DEFINITIONS
Now that you understand what SEO is and why you should care, let’s go over some of the more important SEO terms and their definitions.
A keyword or keyword phrase is essentially anything a reader would search for online. These keywords or keyword phrases are the terms you should be using in your blog posts and pages if you want to get found by those readers.
Now here is where things can get a little confusing. There are actually three tiers of keywords: primary, secondary, & tertiary.
Let’s say you’re writing a post about chocolate chip cookies. You would first figure out what people are typing into Google when searching for chocolate chip cookie recipes. There are quite a few keyword research tools available, but you can do some basic research by simply doing a quick Google search yourself.
Your keywords might look something like this:
Primary keyword: Chocolate chip cookies << this is what most people are searching for
Secondary keyword(s): chocolate chip cookies from scratch, chocolate chip cookies without eggs << these are searched for, but maybe not as often as your primary keyword
Tertiary keyword(s): gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, soft chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookie bars << again, these are searched for, but even loss often as your secondary keywords, or they are simply less relevant to your overall blog post
Alt text, or alternate text, serves three purposes. (1) If images do not load, alt text takes their place to tell readers what they should be seeing. (2) When pinning a blog post to Pinterest, the alt text of your images is typically what is pulled as the pin description. (3) This is another opportunity to boost your SEO ranking by using keywords.
When you add images to a blog post, you should add alt text to your image. Search bots that crawl your site don’t see the pretty images you upload. Instead, they see text and code. When you use keywords in your alt text, search bots will read it and it may help improve your SEO ranking.
The meta description is the snippet of text that appears in search results directly below the title of the article.
By default, the first couple of lines of your post will pre-fill as your meta description. In order to improve your SEO results, however, you should customize your meta description to include your keyword or keyword phrase.
The short definition is any text that is linked to a webpage. Easy, right? So what does this have to do with SEO?
Well, to explain that, I need to explain the difference between follow & no-follow links.
FOLLOW V. NO-FOLLOW LINKS
Search bots will follow “arrows” from one website to another. When you create a follow link, this gives the search bot an arrow to follow from your blog to whatever URL you’re linking to.
When you use a no-follow link, your reader can follow the link, but search bots don’t see any of those “arrows” to follow.
Ok, stay with me. We’ll make it make sense:
Adding follow links to relevant blog posts or URLs helps your “Google juice”, as well as that of the website to which you are linking, if done properly. The text you add a link to is called the anchor text. Your anchor text should contain relevant keywords in order to improve your own SEO ranking. If you want to spread the SEO love, you will then use a follow link.
A couple quick things to note:
- If you are being paid to add links to a post, you are required by FTC guidelines to make those links no-follow links.
- Links are follow links by default. You can use a plugin like “Title and Nofollow for Links”, or hardcode with simple HTML, to make links no-follow.
When you link to any other content, whether your own or someone else’s, it creates a backlink. You will have backlinks to your site, and you will create backlinks to other people’s sites.
Internal backlinks are links you create to other content on your own site. External backlinks are links you create to a URL that is outside of your own site. It’s good to have a healthy balance of both internal & external backlinks in order to improve your overall SEO.
In the image above, the top link is an internal backlink I created, linked to a relevant blog post within another blog post.
The bottom link is an external backlink created by Erin Shebish when she linked to one of my blog posts within one of her blog posts.
Remember, the text you add a link to is called anchor text, and should contain a relevant keyword and a follow link to improve your SEO ranking.