When it comes to building an audience and getting found by the right people online, think of search engine optimization like the perfect accessory for your favorite outfit.
When you layer SEO onto something that’s already working for you, like a great social media strategy, it adds that extra oomph that can help get you even more traffic.
People aren’t scrolling through their Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds because they are looking for you, they’re doing it to kill time. They’ll see your content, like it, and move on to the next thing. If you’re lucky people will click through to your blog and subscribe to your mailing list where you can start to build a relationship with them, but it’s getting increasingly more difficult to do that on social media without paying for advertising.
But when people are searching (whether on Google, Pinterest or YouTube), they’re actively looking for answers, not just passing time. Google wants to give people high-quality, relevant answers, otherwise people will stop Googling. So Google has criteria that it uses to analyze websites for quality and relevant content (known as the “algorithm”) and it puts the best results first.
So when you mix Google’s rules with how people are using search in 2018, you have the best chance of getting your blog in front of people that are actively looking for you, and those are the people that have the best chance of helping you generate income through ad or affiliate revenue, or your own products and services.
And just like a great wardrobe is built over time by acquiring the basics and mixing and matching them with on-trend accessories to create outfits that will work for any occasion, a great SEO strategy is built over time by putting a few key essentials in place on your blog and then mixing and matching other SEO tactics based on your goals.
Just like any good wardrobe, we’re going to start with the basics. Every style blog (or any blog, for that matter), should have the following essentials in place. SEO basics are things that you only have to do once, and you don’t have to maintain or update them. After we’ve got the basics in place, we’ll move on to optimizing your blog posts.
The Basics of SEO for Style Bloggers
1) Get an SSL Certificate (also known as a security certificate or HTTPS) – That little green lock icon that you see in your web browser? That means a couple of things:
– the information that you send to that website (like when you fill out a form, login or buy something) is encrypted and can’t be intercepted by identity thieves
– the website’s identity has been verified.
Google will rank sites that have a security certificate higher than those that don’t because it’s Google’s goal to give people relevant, safe results. If you don’t have an SSL in place, Google will notify your visitors that your site isn’t secure and will rank you lower in results compared to similar sites that do have an SSL.
How to get an SSL Certificate:
Call your web hosting company and ask if they have a free SSL option. Many of them do. Ask if they can install it for you. If your hosting company doesn’t have a free option, you can pay around $75 annually for one (there are more expensive options, but you don’t need them).
You can learn more about SSL certificates and how to get one here.
2) Optimize your images
Style and fashion bloggers have some of the most beautiful websites on the internet, but lots of gorgeous images can actually hurt your rankings if you’re not optimizing your images.
The first thing to know about image optimization is that Google can’t see your design, it can only read it. So when have a blog post with tons of images and not a lot of text, Google doesn’t know what your post is about, and if Google doesn’t know what it’s about it can’t serve it up in search results. And that’s where ALT text comes in.
What is ALT text?
Google reads ALT text when analyzing the content of your site, so if you have an infographic all about how to buy the right style of jeans for your shape, but you don’t have any ALT text describing that image, you run the risk of your post ranking low.
How to use ALT text
Make it a practice to add ALT text to every image you upload to your blog describing what is in the image or how the image relates to your blog post. Already have a ton of content? Take a look at your website analytics, find your 10 most popular pages and posts and add relevant ALT text to those images. Then find 3 – 5 posts you wish were your most popular, and add ALT text to those images.
The next thing to know about image optimization is that the longer a page takes to load, the lower the site will rank in search results, and images are the biggest offender when it comes to slow loading times.
If your blog is on WordPress, you can install a plugin called WPSmush that “smushes” images which makes them load faster. If you’re using Squarespace or Wix, you can run your images through a tool called TinyPNG to compress them before uploading to your site.
3) Make sure your blog displays correctly on your phone
If you’re anything like me, you Google more things from your phone than you do from your computer. (And when I say Google, I mean I say things like, “Hey Siri, where can I find jeans that actually fit?”)
Because we’re on our phones all day long, that means having a mobile-responsive website is more important than ever. If your website doesn’t resize automatically to fit the device that’s accessing it, Google is going to send you down in rankings. It’s just a not a good experience for users. Want to make sure your blog is mobile-responsive? Use this handy-dandy tool. If your blog isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s time to consider an upgrade.
4) AMP your key pages
– Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, are pages that are designed to load super fast on mobile. Google ranks them higher than non-amp pages when all other factors are equal. With WordPress, you simply install a plugin and then create a 2nd version of the page – kind of like a stripped-down version of the original so it loads super fast. Here’s some info on how to enable AMP on SquareSpace.
You can’t have comments or forms on AMP pages, so I wouldn’t recommend doing this for any pages where the main goal is getting someone to opt-in to your email list, but it can be a great strategy for pages with affiliate links to get them to rank higher.
You can learn more about AMP here.
5) Submit a sitemap to Google
Not only does submitting a sitemap tell Google to come crawl and index your site, it tells Google that you’re the originator of the content. Google doesn’t like duplicated content and will rank it lower in search, so when you submit a map of your site to Google it’s like saying “Hey, I put this here first, everything else out there is a copy.”
If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin will help you with this, and here’s how to do it.
If you’re using SquareSpace, here’s how to get your sitemap.
Okay, that’s it for the basics, stay tuned for the next post where we tackle the accessories!
THE AUTHOR: SHANNON MATTERN
Shannon Mattern is a former side hustler turned full-time blogger, web designer and WordPress expert who helps bloggers and online business owners build their websites, their audience and their income online. Shannon’s Free 5 Day Website Challenge teaches new entrepreneurs exactly how to build a website with WordPress from start to finish in just 5 days. You can learn more about Shannon and sign up for the Challenge at WP-BFF.com