Getting traffic to your website or blog should be the number one priority for marketers. The best kind of traffic is organic traffic, and that’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is a cornerstone of digital marketing, especially when it comes to blogging. It can be an incredibly necessary and powerful tool if you know how to wield it.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your website is “healthy.” This means ensuring everything is modern and up-to-date, including updating your PHP and your site uses HTTPS/SSL. It’s also helpful to keep an eye on your site’s speed and security. Regularly backing up your website is good practice, as well.
In fact, Google penalizes sites that are not secure. This, in turn, penalizes your SEO, as Google is the number one search engine and Chrome is the most popular web browser. Starting in July of 2018, Google announced that any websites loading over HTTP (non-secured pages) would now carry a “Not secure” warning in the address bar.
You’ve likely encountered the “This website is not secure,” warning from your browser while surfing the web. This is generally a result of an expired SSL certificate, but can also be because the site has not been authenticated by the certificate or it was not signed by a trusted certificate authority. Obviously, if you encounter this message, you will probably be wary about continuing to the site. This can significantly affect your SEO and search rankings. Make sure you acquire an SSL certificate for your blog.
Let’s talk about WordPress. Around 19,500,000 websites on the web use WordPress for their websites and blogs. WordPress has powerful and versatile capabilities and tools, making it the most used content management system out there.
WordPress makes it incredibly easy to optimize your content for search engines. There are several ways to optimize for each post or page, including:
- Creating SEO-friendly URL structures
- Creating an SEO-friendly title, as well as subheadings and meta descriptions
- Utilizing categories and tags
- Utilizing a featured image for each post
- Assigning alt text, titles, captions, and descriptions for each and every image and video
To add to that, there are several SEO tools for WordPress you can use to optimize even further. Yoast reigns supreme.
Yoast is an SEO plugin for WordPress and includes capabilities such as:
- Keyword optimization
- Readability check
- Full control over your breadcrumbs
- Preview of your page
- No duplicate or outdated content
- Internal linking suggestions
- Content insight and analysis
- Advanced XML sitemaps
Equipping your WordPress site with the Yoast plugin helps push you towards the quickest and easiest way to SEO success.
Keywords are what unlock SEO, and there are many different kinds. Keyword research should be your first step to consider while writing your blog post.
Identifying one keyword to focus on is where the SEO magic starts. This is referred to as your focus keyword. You’ll choose one keyword, then include it in your page URL, title, and first sentence.
“What is a long-tail keyword?” you might be asking. These are highly specific and focused keywords that generally consist of more words. They’re less popular keywords which mean less competition, i.e. it’s easier to beat other blogs in search engines.
There are plenty of tools and resources for smarter SEO. Some of these include:
- Moz: Moz offers tools for keyword research, SEO audits, backlink research, and rank tracking.
- Google Trends: Google Trends analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages.
- Google Search Console: The Search Console can tell you how each keyword you use ranks, as well as clicks per keyword.
Title tags are an important part of any SEO strategy. They’re HTML elements that define the title of your web page; they’re how the search engine will find and present the web page.
Some best practices of title tags include:
- Getting the length right: Search engines generally only display the first 50-60 characters of a page’s title.
- Utilizing keywords: It’s important to keep the length around 50 characters and to include most of the keywords in the first half of the title.
- Create unique titles: Make sure to use unique keywords to create accurate and clear descriptions of your web page.
- Use your brand name: Include your brand name in your title, so visitors know exactly who you are and where they’re going.
Meta descriptions are the short paragraphs that describe a web page’s content. It also appears in a search engine search, as well as when visitors share your posts across other websites. The Yoast plugin makes it extremely easy to add a thorough meta description to each post and page. Meta descriptions create opportunities to use keywords, which, as we know, make a big difference when it comes to SEO.
First of all, it’s important to always include images in your blog posts. These images not only drive traffic, but it also keeps visitors on your page for longer.
When it comes to images, you need to scale for SEO. The faster the site, the easier it is to visit and index a page. Images can have a huge impact on load times, if not scaled properly. Make sure to resize your images how you want them displayed.
Alt-text, captions, and descriptions all play a big role in image SEO.
- Alt-text is text added to an image just in case the image isn’t displayed to the visitor.
- Captions are the text that accompanies the image on the page like they do in newspapers, books, and other reading material. Captions are important because people use them when scanning an article for information. Captions under images are read on average more than 300% more than the body copy itself.
- Descriptions allow you to describe your images using important keywords.
A sitemap is a list of your website’s URLs. It’s like a roadmap that tells search engines what content is available and how to reach it. Search engines will do their job in crawling a sitemap to find all information that applies to a specific search query. Your sitemap can be built with the Yoast plugin.
Once your sitemap has been built, you’ll want to submit it to Google. You’ll need to verify your domain through Google Search Console first. Once you’ve done that and have submitted your sitemap to Google, it’ll take Google some time to crawl your website. After a while, you’ll be able to see some stats about your sitemap. Over time, you’ll be able to see how well your site is doing and what other things you can do to improve its performance in search engines.
- SEMrush: SEMrush offers a complete workflow for anyone seeking search engine optimization. They provide solutions for both eCommerce and enterprise. Some of the SEO tools they offer include:
- Technical SEO audits
- Position tracking
- Ideas for gaining more organic traffic
- Backlinks audit and analytics
- Moz: Moz offers SEO software and data to help you increase traffic, rankings, and visibility in search results. Some of their tools include:
- Keyword research
- Rank tracking
- Site crawl
- On-page optimization
- Link research
- Custom reports
- Answer The Public: Answer The Public is a keyword tool that visualizes search questions and suggested autocomplete searches. These keyword searches can help you narrow down which keywords will help gain more traffic.
Let us know what you think:
- Is your blog optimized for search engines?
- How do you utilize keywords in your content marketing?
- Do you use Yoast or any of the other tools we covered?