For the very first blog post for Tall Poppies Design – ever – let’s dive right into a topic that I talk about incessantly and in great detail with every one of my clients:
Search Engine Optimization a.k.a SEO
First off, let’s clear up what SEO is: Search Engine Land (one of my favorite SEO blogs) defines SEO as:
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines. All major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have such results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t involved, as it is with paid search ads.
In my own words, SEO is the action we take to help the search engines find our sites, and ultimately to help our customers find us.
Before we go any further, I want to point out that I do not claim to be an SEO “guru.” SEO can be rocket science, but I prefer the KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) method. I believe that good content – text, images, page titles, urls, image names, and links from one page to another – will put you leaps and bounds ahead of most websites.
If you want to learn a little more, check-out this ‘SEO in plain English’ video
Clear As Mud? Never Fear, Let me show you how it’s done!
Think About One Specific “Dream Keyword Phrase”
When you write your blog post, make each one of your articles target one specific keyword.
Before I explain more, you must first make sure the article will be interesting to your readers. Does it answer their questions or solve their problem?
With your reader in mind, think up a “dream keyword” that you’d like to rank for on your new blog article. Keep a keyword in the back of your mind while you’re writing the post and think about how you can incorporate that phrase.
The point is not to try and write a blog post that targets every keyword you have ever want to rank for. Tackle your search engine ranking efforts one keyword phrase at a time. Don’t use the keywords for the sake of using the keywords. That get’s boring very quickly! Remember, put your reader first… always.
Write a Catchy Headline Using Your “Dream Keyword Phrase”
The title – your headline – of each post is of crucial importance. Not only will it grab your readers’ attention and prompt them to bother reading your blog, the page title is also the most prominent place to showcase your important keywords.
When you write your title in WordPress, it becomes not only your blog post headline, but it automatically becomes the page title, and your URL.
Page Titles are (usually) displayed in search results. In the sample above, the Title of the page or blog post article is the Blue Link. In this case, we searched for ‘Steamboat Springs Restaurants’ and you can see that Google has highlighted the phrase in the Title, in the URL, and in the text
So, if you write a catchy title, your page title will look catchy in the search results! And if it contains your “dream keyword phrase,” the search engines will serve up your page if someone searches for that phrase, or a similar one.
- All title tags throughout your site should be unique
- Title tags should be ideally be no longer than 70 characters (including spaces)
A Seductive, Attention Grabbing Opening Sentence
Search engines may choose the first few sentences of your blog or web page to serve up as the description that appears below the blue link headline. So, make sure your first sentence is interesting and informative. Will it reveal that this blog article is going to solve the readers problem?
URL Slug Structure
Some blogging tools (like WordPress) automatically turn the blog or page headline into your page title tag, AND into the URL slug. What I mean is: if your article is called “The Best Steamboat Springs Restaurants,” your URL may become www.yourwebsite.com/the-best-steamboat-springs-restaurants.
Now, when you search for “The Best Steamboat Springs Restaurants” you will notice in the Google search results that mentions of these search words are bolded in the blue page title link, in the description, and in the URL. So, make sure your page title, headline, meta description (or opening sentences) AND your url contain your “Dream keyword phrase.”
- Avoid very long URLs: no more than 3-5 words in your URL
- Avoid uppercase in URLS: URL is case sensitive
- Avoid dates in URLs (unless your posts are time sensitive).
Link To Your Previously Published Posts and Pages
The blog you are writing will help you rank for your “Dream Keyword Phrase.” By turning other keywords phrases mentioned in your blog into links to other articles or pages in your website about those subjects, you will help boost your rank for those other keywords.
Plus, search (ro)bots discover and index your posts by following links. So, by cross-linking to your other pages, you are opening “doorways” for the bots to get sucked deeper into your site. The bots need to know these other pages exist, otherwise they won’t know to serve them up in the search results. It can only be considered chivalrous to cross-link to other pages in your site wherever possible!
Before publishing a post, make sure to drill down to your previously published articles, find relevant articles and link to them from within the new content. This will also encourage readers to browse to your older posts!
Linking To Posts On Other Blogs Is Another Smart Idea
As mentioned above, linking helps search engine bots find and index websites. So, by linking to other websites you are opening doorways for the bots to reach your friends and partners’ websites.
Bloggers are always eager to know who links to them. They will most surely track back to your site if you link to them, and will in turn visit your website, browse, comment… and they may even link back to you!
Be restrained when linking to other sites. You don’t want to funnel all the traffic away from you. Also, whenever you link to another website, make sure you select “Open link in a NEW window” so that if someone clicks on the link to the new website, there will still be a copy of your website below the new website.
Name Your Photos After Your “Dream Keyword Phrase”
Before you upload your photos, re-name the photos after your “Dream keyword phrase.” For example, if you are writing an article about the “Best restaurant in steamboat springs” name your photo “best-restaurant-steamboat-springs.jpg” (or .png).
When you upload your photograph using the ‘Add Media’ button in WordPress, there are options on the right side to add ALT text, describe the photo, and title. Don’t skip this step! Give your image a good title – and include your “dream keyword phrase” in the title, alt description, and description fields.
By the way, the ALT text is read by the search engine bots to discover what the photo is of. They can’t see it – it’s just another piece of code. So writing good ALT descriptions can help with getting your website found in Google’s image search engine, plus it will be read aloud to help people with vision disabilities also know what the photo is showing.
*NEW & VERY IMPORTANT* Optimize your images for Pinterest!
When you upload your photo, your title, alt and/or description may help people find you in Pinterest. If someone Pins your image to Pinterest, your image title, alt or description will populate Pinterest’s Image Description field. I have found that Pinterest mostly pulls the title – but just when I think I have worked this out, Pinterest switches things up on me. So, use all of the fields wisely!
Many Pinners will leave your description as is because they can’t be bothered adding their own… well at least I’m lazy like that! So, include your website or business name, and if the image is of something that can be purchased, add a price. Here’s an example:
- Image name: Barbara Less Yellow Ruffle top available at Moose Mountain, $29.95
- ALT: Barbara Less Yellow Ruffle Top with ¾ Length Sleeves, available at MooseMountainTradingCo.com $29.95
- Description: Barbara Less Yellow Ruffle Top with ¾ Length Sleeves, available at MooseMountainTradingCo.com $29.95
Try it! Pin this article and see what descriptions I have added to each image!
Categories and Tags
Like links, categories and tags help search engine bots travel deeper into your site. They also help readers find more articles similar to the topic they were searching for in the first place. I recommend that you have just a few categories, while you can go to town on your tags. Add a tag for just about any subject matter that you mention in your blog post. Check out the categories and tags for this post for an example.
You don’t have to post every day, or every week. You may decide to write just one killer blog post every month. There is no magic number for the number of blogs you should write. Statistically speaking, however, blogs with more frequent posting oftentimes get more visits than blogs that don’t. However, if you don’t have time or the creativity to produce good content, focus on getting good articles out occasionally. Once you get the hang of it, chances are you will want to blog more because your brain will be buzzing with more and more good ideas!
Another great trick is to write a few blogs at once. Spend a morning writing up 2, or 3, or more blogs. You can save them as a draft and jump into your site on a future date to publish it. Better yet, in WordPress look for the ‘Publish’ area on the right side of your page when you are editing your blog, and click ‘Edit’ next to ‘Publish Immediately.’ You can then select a date+time to publish your post in the future. Click OK, and when you are finished click ‘Publish.’ Your followers may start to expect your posts on a specific day, so scheduling posts can help keep you on track to meet their expectations.
Now go forth and conquer your blog!
Wait! I have a special treat for you. Click the image to download a handy printable checklist for all these blogging tips!