Search engine optimization – or SEO – is a critical part of any web traffic strategy. Simply posting content to your website is not enough anymore. The Internet is a huge place. We need our sites to stand out and draw traffic in.
As people search the web, we want our friendly neighborhood search engines to say “Hey! Check out this site!” So, how do we get to that point? How can we make search engines index our sites?
The answer to that question isn’t as simple as one might hope. No one outside of Google HQ knows precisely what’s going on there or how the mysterious search algorithms work. But, we do know a fair bit, and we can make sure blogs and sites are of the sort that Google loves to reward.
Keyword research is a key component of SEO. I dare say it is one of the best things to do to make sure your site is optimized for search. When we research keywords, we work smarter and not harder. Instead of standing on the Internet highway begging people to visit our sites, put our content directly where the traffic is.
We need to know what words or phrases our target users are typing into search engines in order to find our content. When you want to find houseplants that are safe for cats, what do you type into Google? That’s a keyword or keyword phrase.
The trick is to find:
1. What types of content people want
2. What they are typing in to search engines to find that content
Put another way, we want to know:
1. What people are searching for
2. What they are typing in to search for that content
Knowing these two things, we can write the kind of content people want and write content that targets the keywords being entered.
What do we mean by “targeting” keywords? Put simply, we target a keyword with a post when we incorporate it and its variants into the text, ensuring what we say is relevant and helpful.
Using a keyword research tool, we can see an approximate number of searches any given keyword enjoys in a month – also known as “search volume.” This is awesome. We don’t want to try to rank for a keyword that no one searches for. That’s like creating a product we know no one will ever want to buy: a pointless exercise in futility.
By targeting keywords with decent search volume and low competition, we can put our posts right where the traffic is. Awesome!
Create shareable content
When it comes to search traffic, content truly is king. Why do people visit … well … any website? Content. Why should anyone visit yours? Content.
So much of blogging – and indeed marketing as a whole – is simply a matter of finding what people want and giving it to them – or helping them find it.
What do they want? Resources, answers, solutions and entertainment (R.A.S.E.)
Through your blog, provide helpful resources. Answer the questions your niche is asking. Solve problems. And be entertaining as you do so.
“Ok. But how does that help me with SEO?”
Links, my friend! People share links to content they find useful, helpful or entertaining. What’s the last link you shared on Facebook (or your social media platform of choice.) Why did you share it?
High quality, helpful, entertaining content is sharable content. Write the kind of content that people will share.
Google loves to see people linking to your site. Search engines call these links “backlinks.” In the eyes of search engines, a link is like a vote saying “Hey! This is good!” As your site accumulates links from good, reputable sites, your search rank improves. Sweet! When Google and other search engines see links to your site, they will be more likely to index it – and faster to do so.
If your content stinks, don’t expect many links. Hey! That rhymes.
But in all seriousness, you need to make the effort to ensure that your blog posts are accurate, helpful and entertaining. Fill your blog with great content that people will want to share.
Stay on topic
I had a friend years ago who could never stay on topic. We’d be having a conversation about something – anything – and she would change the subject in mid sentence. Our conversations were hard to follow, and left one or both of us confused not infrequently.
Yet, some bloggers do this very thing. I see this happen in two ways.
Some fill their blogs with posts on every topic from here to the moon. Parenting, gardening, video games, marketing. It’s like multiple personality disorder. Seriously. Just pick something.
Even worse, some will change the subject in the middle of a post. Whew boy. Just like my friend. Don’t do this.
Multi-niche blogs can get some love from Google. Sure. But Google loves sites with proper topics even better. If your blog is about parenting, don’t change the subject. If you’re writing about art, don’t change the topic. It’s unprofessional, and search engines hate it. So do people, incidentally. You will find that posts and blogs that don’t stay on topic don’t rank as well, and search engines may not index them at all.
Write long posts
Brevity is a good thing. You don’t want to be too wordy. On the flip side, posts are too short are often… not great. Google knows that people want answers. While none of us really knows what’s going on at Google, we do know that Google has a certain fondness for what they consider “in depth” content.
We know that they are actively looking for long-form posts that offer lots of information on a single page. They expect that users will be able to visit your post and be offered a plate full of useful information without having to click away.
How long should your posts be? There’s a bit of debate. My suggestion is to hit at least 1,000 words – with more being better – as long as you can do so without being too wordy.
In the early days of smartphones, we hated scrolling through long posts. Tiny screens and fat thumbs can only move so much text at a time! People wanted quick and easy info in bite-sized pieces.
Today, however, it seems all that is changing. The way we create and consume content has evolved.
We expect well-written, thought out articles, with multiple headings, sections and subtopics. Search for just about any keyword, and you will see that search engines love to index posts that aren’t too short and that provide a lot of valuable info.
I know it’s tempting to be anxious and want instant results. Unfortunately, search engine optimization is a long game. It’s not something that happens overnight. Even the best optimized website, blog, or post may not show up in Google or Bing for weeks – or even months. Be patient, and don’t give up.
Remember to research your keywords so you can put your content right where the traffic is. Write the kind of content people love to share. Stay on topic. Write long-form posts, and be patient.
There is no way to make search engines index your website, but we know that they love these characteristics and will reward sites that demonstrate a commitment to quality information and content.
Consistency is key.