The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
Blogging 101: SEO Techniques That Work
SEO is one of those buzz words many people have heard yet only have a vague notion of what it is and how it works.
What is SEO?
At the most basic level, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of the traffic coming to a website.
And how do you do that?
By optimizing your content for searchers and search engines.
The point of SEO is to attract more people in your target audience.
Keep in mind, you’re trying to get the people looking for what you have to offer to visit your site and hopefully buy what you’re selling (quality leads). And in order to do that, you need to ensure your blog or website comes up in search results (preferably on page one).
Now that you know what SEO is, let’s talk about how you can use proven techniques to improve your blog or website.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is about attracting the right customers to your website. An effective inbound marketing strategy involves increasing organic traffic to your blog or website. So, instead of pushing content to the consumer through traditional marketing campaigns like email or paper advertisements you want to increase the likelihood your target consumers find you and buy what you’re selling. Inbound marketing and SEO go hand in hand. Both inbound marketing and SEO are all about improving the odds people will find your content online.
Keyword Research and SEO
How do you conduct keyword research?
There are many ways to find good keywords, below are three popular techniques:
- Use keyword tools (like Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, Wordstream and Google Adwords)
- Research your competitors online
- Look at advertisements (for products similar to what your business offers)
Next, use the most relevant keywords and keyword phrases to optimize your content. By understanding what keywords and keyword phrases are ranking in Google you’ll make smarter copywriting decisions.
Keep in mind, your number one priority is to optimize for people, not Google. By optimizing content with real people in mind, you’ll be improving your relevancy ranking in the process.
Keywords are only part of the puzzle
Keywords are helpful, but it’s equally important to provide quality content people will find useful or helpful in some way. Practical content that can and will help your prospective customers solve a problem will add to the perceived value of your business, which improves your overall brand.
Quality Content versus Keyword Stuffing
Using keywords extensively on your site may help people find you online, but they’ll leave quickly if they don’t like what they find. And the practice of keyword stuffing is frowned upon and may even result in search engines penalizing your site.
Remember, you want to use the right keywords in smart ways to help people find your content. And once they find you, make sure they know you have what they’re looking for right away or they’ll leave your website in the blink of an eye.
Quality blog content can have a positive impact on your business in many ways.
- It makes your content more shareable
- It improves your rankings
- It increases your relevancy
- It improves your brand
By keeping the searchers’ intent in mind you’ll have an easier time coming up with ideas for quality content.
Bear in mind, quality content doesn’t mean you’ll need to write extensively on a topic. A short list of tips can be incredibly useful and popular in an online setting.
How do you optimize a site using on-page SEO?
Follow best practices for creating a user-friendly website both when designing your site, but also when creating digital content like blog posts.
Use relevant keywords and keyword phrases in appropriate places:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Content on the page
- Headings and Sub-headings
- Images (file name and alt text)
- About page
- Products and services page
- anchor text (text used when creating links to other pages on your site)
- Introductory sentence
- Concluding paragraph
Remember that structure is an important element of SEO. By using appropriate keywords in all the right places and breaking up content into manageable sections separated by headings and subheadings you will ensure your content is more user-friendly to a modern online audience (and search engines will have an easier time indexing your site).
Optimize for People
Use a variety of keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to the topic at hand. Select keywords that speak to a searchers’ intent. Put yourself in the place of a potential customer or searcher to come up with terms they are likely to use to find answers to their query.
Why is link building important for SEO?
Link building is a key element in off-page SEO, because it leads to improved rankings on search engines like Google.
When you have a lot of backlinks (people linking back to your blog) it speaks to the relevancy of your content. Prioritizing editorial or blog links is one way to improve rankings. And if you’re able to get a lot of quality backlinks from trusted sources - your blog will rank higher in Google, because it will be viewed as a trusted source.
What is blog outreach?
Outreach involves getting others to link back to your blog.
Contact people who may be interested in what you have to offer. Make sure you have a good reason to contact them and you have a pitch that will benefit them in some way. You could also reach out to people who have already linked to your competitors or offer to write a guest post.
Why Blogs lead to Improved SEO
Blogging is important because it lets you reach large audiences. Blog using practical content that can and will help your prospective customers solve problems. Remember, people are more likely to share or link to your content if it is helpful, actionable and solves a problem. When picking topics try to stick with ones that provide value to your business.
And … don’t forget to optimize your entire website. Pay attention to your products, services, and about pages when optimizing your website or blog.
Lastly, there is power in cumulative value. No one thing is going to do everything needed to improve your website or blog. But by integrating several strategies that work together you will have a better chance at success.
Top 10 On-Page SEO Techniques
#10: Use short URLS for your pages
When people can see the entire URL on the search results page they are more likely to be enticed to visit a website.
#9: Use your primary target keyword in your URL
While this doesn’t always help (and can sometimes lead to a negative correlation) it is still important because it reveals relevancy.
#8: Use your keyword in your H1 Tags
Use trigger-like keywords on your pages (in the H1 tags, and sub-headings) to get people to stick around and read your post. People often scan content first before committing to reading it.
#7: Add external links to authoritative websites
Some say this isn’t necessarily a ranking factor, but there’s a positive correlation here that cannot be ignored. Enhancing the user experience is all about providing quality content and that includes links to authoritative sites to learn more about a topic.
#6: Add internal links to pages that you want to rank
By adding internal links to other pages on your site, you’ll improve your rankings. Start by adding links on pages that are already ranking well to pages you want to rank better.
#5: Reoptimize titles on underperforming page one rankings
Identify the pages that are ranking on page 1. Start playing around with your titles and meta descriptions. And look at high-ranking ads to find inspiration.
#4: Create in-depth articles
Long-form blogging is a great way to improve SEO and rankings. Focus on coverage. Make sure you cover the topic effectively. And remember – it needs to be helpful to potential customers. Cover topics and sub-topics that will serve a searchers’ intent.
#3: Use modifiers in your titles
Modifiers are add-on words to a base keyword. They may include adjectives, verbs, shopping terms and questions. Popular modifiers include best, top, buy or the current year.
#2: Don’t have slow-loading pages
Page speed is a ranking factor for mobile searches. Use an image compressor and cache, cache, cache.
#1: Improve UX by enhancing UI
Foster that user experience for your visitors. The way the page looks can have a significant impact with the way people interact with your site.
Improve visual readability
- Use a readable font size
- Write in short sentences and paragraphs
- Use stand-out images
- Add nice breaks with checklists to make your content hyper-scannable
- Include a table of contents (with quick links) for long posts
- Integrate interactive features within your blog post
- Slide decks
- Interactive tools
In conclusion, remember that there is great power in using multiple techniques to improve the SEO on your website or blog. No one thing is going to result in improving your rankings on Google. The strategies presented in this blog post are not guaranteed to work for every blog or website. At the same time, the ideas presented here come highly recommended by expert bloggers.
The success of your blog or website depends on you. It’s important to keep up with the latest techniques, update your blog regularly and publish quality content on a consistent basis. Look at what’s working and what’s not. Ask customers what they have enjoyed reading on your blog and what they would like to see in the future.
Learn More about Inbound Marketing and SEO
Recommended Books / Audiobooks:
Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
Inbound Marketing is a how-to guide to getting found via Google, the blogosphere, and social media sites. With this book, you’ll learn how to:
- Improve your rankings in Google to get more traffic
- Build and promote a blog for your business
- Grow and nurture a community in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Measure what matters and do more of what works online
This title is also available in eAudio via hoopla.
SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers and Entrepreneurs by John Jantsch and Phil Singleton
What does it take to grow your business today? A strong online presence. And what does that entail? SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, done right.
Learn how to use SEO best practices to ensure your website gets found online. This book explains SEO in a way that makes it highly accessible to non-experts.
Recommended SEO Courses on Lynda.com:
- SEO Foundations with Brad Booth
- SEO for Social Media with Gabe Villamizar
- Advanced SEO: Developing an SEO-Friendly Website with Brad Batesole
- Advanced SEO: Search Factors with Brad Batesole
- Using Accessibility to Improve SEO with Morten Rand-Hendriksen
- Improve SEO for Your Ecommerce Site with Sam Dey
- SEO: Link Building in Depth with Peter Kent
- Technical WordPress SEO with Brad Batesole
- Danny Sullivan on SEO with Danny Sullivan