SEO seems to be a hot topic with bloggers lately.
“How do I get my blog on the first page?”
“I had all green lights in the Yoast SEO plugin, why am I not ranking yet?”
“I have keywords in all the right places. What am I doing wrong?”
”Are keywords all I have to do for SEO?”
I see these questions all the time in the blogging groups I participate in. I also see many other blogging courses that have a section on SEO but only discuss keywords and keyword research. Which is important, don’t get me wrong. I get it, SEO or Search Engine Optimization does rely on keywords. But it is a huge misconception that keywords are the be-all and end-all for SEO efforts. Tactics that worked years ago (such as keyword stuffing) no longer work today.
However, keywords don’t hold as much authority or ranking power as they once did. The search engines are smarter than that. Keywords don’t even scratch the surface of all the things you can do for SEO. I want to share with you other things to consider for your blog and hopefully explain SEO a little better.
SEO can be totally confusing, but the basics really aren't that hard! #bloggingtips Click To Tweet
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of preparing your website or blog to rank well in the search engines. Resulting in organic or free traffic from search engine results. There are many ranking factors that search engines use to decide if and where your page shows up in the search results.
Think of SEO as a pie, with each slice representing a portion of your SEO efforts. The thing is, not all slices are the same size or carry as much weight. Some efforts are more important and are where you should spend more of your time. You wouldn’t want to spend months on a piece that makes up only 1% of the ranking factors and only minutes on a piece that makes up about 20% of the ranking factors.
Understanding the different ranking factors and their importance is key to search engine optimization. It will save you time and help you prioritize your efforts.
This post will focus on Google, as it is the world’s most popular search engine.
SEO Ranking Factors
Did you know that Google uses 200 ranking factors? Sounds like way more than keywords to me! Think about how many opportunities you are missing out on if keywords are your only SEO strategy.
I know 200 factors can be super overwhelming. But they can be broken down into different categories:
- Domain factors – domain age, keywords in the domain, domain history, public vs. private WhoIs information, etc.
- Page-level factors – keywords in your title, meta description, headings and image optimization; content length; page load time; recency of content; grammar and spelling; broken links; outbound links; and so much more!
- Site-level factors – site architecture with good navigation, sitemap, terms of service and privacy pages, mobile optimization, etc.
- Backlink factors – the number of linking domains, the authority of linking page, links from competitors, social shares, quality of linking content, etc.
- User interaction factors – organic click-through rate for a keyword, bounce rate, number of comments, how much time a user spends on the page, etc.
- On-site spam factors – sneaky redirects, over optimization, ads above the fold, hiding affiliate links, auto-generated content, etc.
- Off-site spam factors – lots of low-quality links back to your site, unnatural links warning, selling links, etc.
What is the most important ranking factor?
Currently, the most important ranking factor is backlinks, not keywords! Are you surprised?
You might think that you need to go crazy and get a ton of backlinks to your site right this very minute. But I would caution you.
Getting backlinks the wrong way, or so called black hat way, can actually harm your site.
You want to start generating backlinks naturally by creating great content that others want to share and by building relationships. You want to avoid link schemes that include activities such as excessive link exchanges, automated products or services that create links to your site, and buying or selling links.
Did you know that you should be using nofollow links when you are sent products in exchange for a review, exchange money for links, using affiliate links, and so on?
SEO Tactics to Avoid
While there are so many tactics you should be using for SEO, there are also many that you should avoid. You should literally run the other way screaming and don’t look back from these tactics.
- Automatically generated content
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Using affiliate links without adding sufficient value
- Overloading your page with irrelevant keywords
- And more
Where Should I Start with SEO?
The best thing for SEO is to start your blog or website with it in mind. However, you probably started your blog before even thinking or knowing about SEO. Don’t freak out, it is a little more work but it is not a lost cause!
While backlinking is the most important linking factor, it won’t necessarily help if your website isn’t SEO-friendly. So get the easy stuff out of the way first and create amazing, original content regularly with SEO in mind.
I would not suggest you stop blogging while you implement your SEO strategies, so to give you an idea of how to implement I am going to share with you how I am making changes to my other blog Peace Love Sequins.
- Continue to blog regularly. I would suggest 2 – 3 blog posts a week if possible. Be sure to optimize your post with keywords in the title (preferably near the front), in the URL, in the meta description (plus include a call to action), include at least one original image with the keyword in the image name and ALT tag, and use the keyword and related words in your post naturally.
- Go through old posts and update with new images and make sure the post is optimized just like above. Be careful if you change the URL. If you do not know how to create a 301 redirect, do not change the link name. It will cause a 404 page if someone tries to go to the original link. This is a bad signal to Google and it is a poor user experience.
- Check for broken links throughout your site and update.
- Create 301 redirects for any of your pages causing a 404 error.
- Share your content, including old posts, on social media to spark more interest and generate social shares.
Search engine optimization is so much more than keywords, though optimizing your keywords is one of the easiest places to start. Focusing on this can give you a one up on your competitors who aren’t. Once you have more time and have a solid SEO-friendly site, there are many other tactics and strategies to try.
Remember, SEO is a long term strategy. It is not an overnight success or a quick fix. And it is always easier to do things with SEO in mind rather than going back and redoing your work.
I hope you learned a lot from this blogger’s guide to SEO basics and have a better understanding of what SEO is. Tell me one thing you learned and something you would like to know more about.