Search engine optimization (SEO) is a subject many people find daunting, believing it to be too complicated to get to grips with quickly. It doesn’t have to be, though; here are three things you can do to make a difference to the next blog post or article you write – with absolutely no technical knowledge required.
01. Give Your Posts One Title For Search Engines And Another One For Readers.
Most people know that if you want your blog post to rank highly in search engines for a particular word or phrase, it’s a good idea to use that word or phrase in the post title.
It makes sense, right?
If you’re writing a review of a moisturizer, say, people are going to be searching for “moisturizer review” or similar: they’re not going to be searching for the lyrics to that song you love right now, no matter how cool you think it sounds.
Writing Keywords For Real People
However, the problem with this is that titles containing keywords might work well for search engines, but they’re not always attractive to blog readers or the people following you on social media.
To continue the example above, if you’re looking for a moisturizer review, you’ll type “moisturizer review” into a search engine. If you’re NOT looking for a moisturizer review, however, and one pops up on Twitter, Bloglovin’, or the homepage of your favorite blog, you’re probably not going to click on it: it’s just not that compelling a title, is it?
Use YOAST For SEO Success (Yoast Your Post!)
As a blogger, then, your challenge is to write headlines that both contain the keywords people are searching for AND are interesting enough for your regular followers to want to click on them.
And if you CAN’T find a way to do that?
Well, you just install the YOAST SEO plugin (assuming you’re using WordPress), and you give your post one title for readers/followers (i.e., the title which will appear on the post itself, and also in feed readers, etc.), and a different title for search engines.
The plugin itself is pretty self-explanatory; you just click on the “edit snippet” link and type in the title, URL, and meta description you want search engines to see. The title you choose at this point doesn’t have to be the same title that will appear on the post itself.
In fact, it’s far better to choose one that uses the keywords and phrases people will be most likely to type into a search engine when they’re looking for the information on the topic you’re writing about.
02. Give Your Images Descriptive Titles And Alt Tags
We all know we need to include keywords in our text if we want our blogs to rank well for those phrases in search engines. What a lot of people forget, however, is that images are almost equally important. Google Images, for instance, can be a huge source of traffic to blogs, as can Pinterest, but only if you include the right keywords when naming your images.
How do you do that? Well, first of all, you have to make sure you ARE actually naming your images in the first place. When you download photos from your camera, they’ll typically be called something like ‘DSC-663-863’: which means nothing to anyone, does it? Many bloggers assume this doesn’t matter: a picture is worth a thousand words, after all, so who cares what your photo is called?
Search engines. That’s who cares. Search engines, you see, might be smart, but they’re not THAT smart. They don’t know that your cupcake photo shows a cupcake and not, say, an elephant. So you have to tell them: and you do that by simply typing in a title and description of the image when you’re uploading it to your blog.
03. Use Sub-Headings In Your Posts
Search engines look at all of the text in your post when deciding how to rank it for a particular keyword phrase, but they pay particular attention to the text you use in titles and sub-headings, considering them to be important indicators of what the post is about.
SEO Your Blog Post With Title tags
We’ve already talked about titles, but sub-headings are something a lot of bloggers neglect, which is a shame, because not only are they good for SEO (assuming they contain relevant keywords), they’re also an easy way to break up longer posts and make them easier to read.
Your subheadings can’t just be regular old text on a different line from the rest of the post, though: if you do that, search engines won’t be able to tell the difference between text which is supposed to be a heading, and everything else: in order to make the subheadings stand out, then, you have to use a title tag in the HTML of your post.
Using WordPress Text Editor For SubHeadings
Luckily, most blog platforms make formatting your headings super-east for you. In WordPress, for instance, if you want to designate a particular line of text as a subheading, you just highlight the text you want to use, then go to the drop-down box in the text editor and select the relevant type of heading. In addition to making it clear to search engines that the highlighted text is a heading, these tags also change the appearance of the text in ways that are determined by the blog theme you’re using.
For instance, on some blogs, headings are simply more prominent than the body text: on other ones, however, they might be different font or color, too, and if you are familiar with coding, you can typically decide for yourself how you want your subheadings to appear.
There are, of course, many other things you can do to make sure your articles are well-optimized for search engines, but if you’re short on time, these three are the easy wins, which should make the most significant difference: why not give them a go?