If you missed part 1 of this series you can read it here!
SEO Accessories - Mix and Match Tactics for the Perfectly Optimized Blog Post
Would you wear every accessory you own every single day? Probably not (unless you’re a 5 year old girl). What you choose to wear depends on the occasion, and that’s how you should select your SEO tactics as well.
You don’t need to use all of the following SEO tactics on every single blog post every time either. That should be a breath of fresh air for many bloggers who struggle to make sure they follow all of Google’s rules and end up with bland and robotic blog posts that humans don’t want to read.
1) Finding the right keywords
People are searching for answers and solutions to problems they have just as much as they are researching more about what they already know.
And more than ever before they are either typing their full questions right into the search bar or asking them with their voice via Alexa, Cortana, Siri and OK Google. If you strategically create content that answers questions, you have a better chance of rising to the top.
Here are two questions you should ask when writing a blog:
1) Who is your target audience for this blog post?
2) What questions are they asking that this content answers?
But what if you didn’t have to guess what questions they have? What if you knew the exact questions people were asking around your area of expertise and could write blog posts that answer those exact questions?
Let’s take jeans, for example. If I were a style blogger who wanted to get in front of people that want to find jeans that fit by writing the ultimate guide to the best brand of jeans for each body type, here’s what I would do:
Google it as if you were your audience. Start typing in the question that your blog post will answer, and Google will show you what people are searching for related to that topic before you even finish your sentence.
Notice that I didn’t type “jeans that fit”, I started typing “how to find jeans” and Google gave me the top 5 things that people are searching for. Make note of these results - they can inspire you for this blog post or for future posts.
Then, at the bottom of the search page, Google tells us even more about what people are searching for when it comes to this topic:
So instead of optimizing our post around the words “jeans that fit” which is very broad and unlikely to get us much exposure, we’re going to optimize it for an entire question or phrase. Even though we call it “keywords” the longer, the better. These are known in SEO lingo as “long tail keywords.”
You can do the exact same thing in YouTube - start typing your question and let YouTube finish it by giving you suggestions based on what people are searching for.
And here’s a great article on how to get keyword ideas from Pinterest.
And if you need even more ideas, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner. You just type in your question, and Google will give you everything people are searching for around that topic.
Once you get logged in, click on “Search for new keywords using a website, phrase or category”
Then type in your question and click “Get Ideas”
And then you’ll see all the things people search for around that topic:
Using competitors’ names as keywords is another strategy that may work for you - you can read more about that here.
Confession: I don’t do keyword research on every single blog post that I write. It depends on the goal of my blog post. Some blog posts are for connecting more deeply with my existing audience.
Some are for me to express myself. And then some are strategically crafted to help people find me online, or generate affiliate revenue which are the ones that I put time into researching my keywords and strategically using them in my content.
2) Putting the keywords in the right place
As I mentioned earlier, search engines can’t see what your page looks like, it can just see the content on the page. So for Google to know with confidence what your blog post is about, it’s important to place your keywords where Google expects to see them.
This is why I love self-hosted WordPress as a blogging platform over other platforms. There’s a plugin called Yoast SEO that’s the industry standard SEO tool to help you make sure that you’re putting your keywords in the right place. You tell Yoast what your keyword is, and Yoast will tell you all the places to put it in your content plus all the other things to do to optimize the blog post, and it will give you a green light when you’ve completed them all (or you can choose to not complete them all if it doesn’t feel organic to your topic).
If you’re using WordPress, install Yoast and start using it right away! If you’re not, here are all the things that Yoast checks for.
Most importantly, your keyword should appear in:
- the title of the page;
- a heading (this is what H1 - H6 are for. Use H2 for your headings, not bold or larger paragraph text);
- the URL;
- the content of the article;
- the meta description;
- the alt tag of the images.
If it doesn’t fit in all of those places organically, don’t force it. You’re writing for people, not robots.
3) Link to your own content
It’s good for your readers and for SEO to link to your own relevant, useful content in your blog posts. If you want to know more about why you can read about that here, but make it a practice to link to a few of your other blog posts in each post where it’s natural and it makes sense.
4) Link to other websites
It’s good for your readers and for SEO to link to others’ relevant, useful content in your blog posts. If you want to know more about why you can read about that here, but make it a practice to link to a few of your other blog posts in each post where it’s natural and it makes sense, and make sure links to other people’s websites open up in a new browser tab so people aren’t fully leaving your blog behind!
For WordPress, I use a plugin that does this for me automagically. Here’s how to make sure links open in a new window in Squarespace.
5) Use categories and tags the right way
Categories are the general topics that your blog covers whereas tags are the specific subjects in your blog posts. So maybe “Fall Outfits” is a category, and then boots, scarves, and jackets are all tags. Categories and tags help your readers know what your blog is about, but should also be keywords that someone would search for. “Stuff I love” is not a useful category, even if you like it.
A single blog post should have one to two categories and the tags should be the most relevant topics in the post - and you don’t HAVE to use tags if it doesn’t make sense for your specific post.
6) Leverage Pinterest and/or YouTube.
Create a pinnable image for every blog post and pin it. Why? Because pins also come up in Google search results, so they reach everyone, not just Pinterest users. The same goes for YouTube. If you can create vlogs of your posts and upload them to YouTube, you’re increasing your chances for exposure not just on YouTube but also in Google results.
Final thoughts on SEO
Set aside a couple of days to put the basics in place, and then keep the SEO accessories in mind as you’re creating new content and use as many of them as make sense for that piece of content and your goals for that content.
When you consistently create new content and optimize it, you’ll start to see results over time. Then you can use tools like Google Analytics to track your traffic and how people find you, and Google Search Console to track your SEO efforts.
If you’re spending this much time and effort to get people to visit your blog, be sure that you’re strategically getting those people to opt into your email list. It’s the best way to build the know, like and trust factor needed to monetize your blog!
Having an compelling opt-in offer form in your sidebar, across the top of your site or as a pop-up will ensure that no matter how people find you, they have the opportunity to take the next step with you so that you can continue to communicate with them even when don’t need you anymore because they’ve found the perfect pair of jeans!
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