Search Engine Optimization, SEO for short, is an essential piece of any blog growth strategy, but it generally has an air of mystery around it.
There are lots of definitions floating around – some that seem to contradict each other – that use a lot of buzzwords and tech-speak and don’t really clarify anything.
Add to that the fact that SEO is a long-term strategy, and it gets even fuzzier. It can take months for SEO work to pay off, so there’s nothing we can even point to and say, “Aha! That’s SEO!”
In this post I’m going to clarify what SEO is, and recommend some tools for getting started putting it to use.
Why is SEO Important?
There’s an old joke that says that if you want to hide a dead body, you should put it on the second page of Google. The point being that no one ever looks past page 1 of the search results, so if your site is there, it might as well be dead.
I don’t know how much truth there is to that – when I’m researching I always go a few pages in to see more results – but I understand the sentiment.
Where you turn up in search results – also known as ranking in search engines – matters.
People trust that Google is going to serve them the best possible answers to their queries. As a result, most take the pages that show up on page 1 as gospel, and don’t bother to keep looking.
According to a 2018 survey, 90% of searchers will only click on the results on the first page.
So while some intrepid foks, like myself, may look through several pages on our quest for information, most will not. In fact, the average person will enter a new search term before clicking to page 2.
This means that the more of your blog posts and pages you can get in the top 10, the better.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
According to Search Engine Land, SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines.
The most common misconception about SEO is that it’s something you do once, like setting up your website, and then you’re done.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Search Engine Optimization is a process.
It never ends.
The good news is that your SEO can be systematized so that you can embed this work into your blog writing process. In Teacher Blog Academy we cover this practice in Module 3: Grow.
And the even better news is that just having a blog and producing consistent content helps boost your SEO!
Every blog post you publish becomes a new page on your website, with its own keyword, images, meta description, and data for search engines to crawl. As long as your content is within the scope of your niche, it will continually strengthen your SEO ranking.
Google’s algorithm includes more than 200 factors, which is a ridiculous number of things to track. Here are the top 7:
- Quality of Content
- Mobile Responsive Design
- User Experience
- Page Speed
- Blog Post Optimization
- Internal Links
Tools that Can Boost Your SEO
Next week we’ll dive deeper into specific things you can do for each blog post to help it rank higher in search engines. For now, here are 4 tools you can use to build your search engine mojo.
Yoast. This free plugin works on the backend of your website to assist you in optimizing your content and keywords.
Once you install it, a Yoast module will appear underneath each page and post on the backend of your site. This module provides you spaces to customize the title and description that will display on Google, social media sharing presets, and recommendations to improve discoverability and readability.
Google Site Kit. Another free plugin, Google Site Kit works with Google’s tools, like Analytics, AdSense, Page Speed Insights, and more.
The information collected by Site Kit can be accessed elsewhere, like by going directly to Google Analytics, but having it on your site’s dashboard, with key points summarized, makes you more likely to read and utilize the data.
Cosechedule Headline Analyzer. This free tool can be used separately or as a Google Chrome extension and it does exactly what it says; It analyzes your headlines (post titles) for word choice and clickability.
Headline Analyzer will give each post title a score out of 100 based on the balance of common words, emotional words, power words, numbers, and stop words.
ConvertKit. The one tool on this list that I recommend you pay for (there’s a free version available) because it allows you to automate your email sequence, which is worth waaaaaay more than the $9 a month.
ConvertKit allows you to collect emails within your blog posts. This doesn’t seem to be directly related to SEO, but Google considers returning visitors to carry more weight, and the best way to get people back to your site is to invite prior readers to come read your new stuff.
Remember Rule #1
No matter what tools or strategies you use to bolster your search engine optimization, everything comes down to providing value to your readers. Not only do search engines have algorithms that measure content quality, but readers will not comment on, share, or come back for more crappy content.
Get to know your audience and what they want, then give it to them!
Whether you’re considering blogging as a side hustle or just aren’t sure how to get started, this free training is for you!
Together we’ll cover:
- How to know if blogging is the right side hustle for you
- What it takes to be a successful blogger
- My 5-step framework for building a sustainably profitable blog