Before I started blogging and working in digital marketing, I remember how overwhelmed I felt by this term 'SEO' that I saw flying around and I basically thought that I'd never have a clue. Fast forward a couple of years and I'm producing a blogger's guide to SEO - isn't it funny how times change? The aim of this post is to explain the basics of SEO because I'd rather use simple terminology and for you to actually understand it, rather than overwhelm you with complex terminology and leave you never wanting to learn about SEO again...

a blogger's guide to seo justalittlebitoflauryn

WHAT ACTUALLY IS SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation and it is the process of increasing the number of visitors that visit your site by obtaining a high ranking in search engine listings. However, the quantity of visitors is only one part of SEO. Two other areas are the quality of the traffic, meaning that the people that are clicking on your website because they are genuinely interested in what you are offering, and organic results. This is key because SEO is comprised of the traffic that you do not pay for, and so it doesn't include anything like paid ads. 

Let's be real here, practising SEO on your website can seem like a chore at first, especially if you're only just getting to grips with it. However, once you learn the basics, it will just be like second nature when you are writing your posts. 

HOW CAN YOU GET TO GRIPS WITH SEO AS A BLOGGER?

Produce great content

This one may seem pretty obvious but it's important to mention it anyway. Create content that you would want to click on when searching through Google, especially if you want to consistently be ranked highly. At the end of the day, you can't optimise content that isn't there in the first place. Before you start writing your blog post, research around the topic you are writing about, find out how other people have explained it and then work out what you can add to extend the conversation further. Long-form content is better when it comes to SEO too, of course, that doesn't mean you can't have the occasional short post, but publishing those long blog posts can definitely help to increase your ranking. 

Keyword research

In order to use keywords effectively, you need to understand your intended demographic and further, understand how they search for the websites and products they are interested in. Get an idea of the type of keywords your audience is likely to type into Google relating to the blog post you are about to write and then use a keyword research tool to discover average monthly search volume and similar keywords. There are a variety of keyword research tools available today, such as Google Search Console and Moz Keyword Explorer, so just explore a few and see which one works best for you. This is especially good as you can then see which keywords you have a chance of ranking in because if you're posting a blog post on 'best things to do in Amsterdam' and your keyword is 'Amsterdam', the higher rankings are going to be full of travel companies etc so this isn't going to benefit your blog. 

However, once you've decided on your keyword(s) for your blog post, it is important to not over optimize because search engines will simply mark this as inauthentic and it could do more harm to your search engine ranking than good. I tend to use a keyword once every 100~ words or so, as well as in the title, at least one of the subheadings, the URL and the first paragraph. However, obviously, this is relative to the content you are writing. Basically, don't try and cram a keyword into every sentence!

Utilise your alt tags

An alt tag, otherwise known as an alt attribute or alt description, is an HTML attribute applied to image tags which provide a text alternative. This can help your SEO because a search engine is not able to use the image itself as a factor to consider in page ranking, but the image properties can be read and if this alt tag contains your keyword, it's going to help your post rank higher. I feel as though this is something that is often forgotten when it comes to formatting your blog post before publishing it when really, it's an easy way to ensure you're optimising your post as much as you can!

Easy to read

Another factor that contributes to SEO is readability, which essentially looks at how easy your blog post is to read and how easy it is for readers to locate information. This is obviously important because search engines want to give people the best results. My tips for making sure your post is easy to read are to have a set idea in mind about what you're going to write about and make sure this is written in short sentences that are structured well to form your point. 

Make sure to link to other posts on your website and add external links too

Making sure that you link to other relevant posts on your website within your blog post can also help to optimise your website. This can help to connect your content, as well as giving search engines an idea of the structure of your website and what type of content you are producing. By providing an exact map of what is going on on your site, you are allowing it to be properly indexed. Then, this can also benefit readers too because if they are enjoying the current post they are reading, you are providing them with an easy way to read more of your content.

Similarly, linking to external sites is just as important when writing your blog post, as this can improve the credibility of your website. However, it is so important to make sure that the websites you are linking to are trustworthy and credible themselves because if they are not, this can really hinder your page rankings. No links are better than poor-quality links!

So, that's the basics of a blogger's guide to SEO!