How do I implement SEO in my blog? How do I do it better in 2019? These are questions I often come across from blogger friends, in forums, and in every place where we discuss blogs and search engine rankings.
There are more than a million blog posts that are created every day and for a given keyword, only 10 posts are shown on Google’s page one. Or for that matter on page one of most search engines.
Because it commands the majority of search queries, we are considering how to implement SEO for your blog to make it rank on Google.
Basically, language experts would tell you that good content is simple, easy to understand and provides relevant information.
Google feels the same too, except that it is not human – which means, Google has a set of formula (or algorithms) programmed in its search engine which ranks content and lists them out for a query made to it.
More than 60% of traffic to the top websites are through organic searches. This means there is always a higher probability of people getting to your site if you are ranked on the first page rather than on page 2, 3, 4…and so on.
Search Engine and User Interaction – The Need for SEO
The internet is getting competitive every day. The cut-throat competition to stay on top of Google rankings is fiercer than ever, today!
Search engines are like a directory to what you are looking for on the internet. For example, if you wanted a phone number, you would grab a telephone directory, browse to the starting alphabet of the surname, then browse to the next letter of the surname and so on until you found your match.
With search engines it is a lot similar; only that your job is to tell what you are looking for. The rest of the hard work is the search engine’s job.
Search engines have two major jobs to do
1. Search for the queried content
2. Build an index, rank and provide a ranked list to the user who made the query.
Google sends automated robots called “spiders” or “crawlers” all over the internet to get hold of the content, data, etc. This is a regular and daily process and is still happening as you read it.
It stores a copy of related information in its huge databases based on what it crawls. Whenever a user makes a query, the result is fetched from this database.
Imagine! Google sifts through all of this million of data and provides you with the most appropriate and ranked answers in a fraction of second. It is that fast!
Relevance and Popularity – the Hallmark of SEO
SEO is all about telling the search engine that your content is relevant and popular.
When Google gets a search query, it needs to provide answers. Google assumes that websites that have correct and necessary information will be popular and relevant. It then proceeds to list out these sites as the best by listing them on Page 1.
There are hundreds of factors that define relevance. These factors are called “ranking factors”.
None of the search engines provide details of what these ranking factors are and how can each be satisfied.
However, certain guidelines are provided to help us get started, and work towards achieving SEO success.
Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google’s basic principles include:
- Writing content with users in mind and not search engines
- Avoid tricking and deceiving users to improve search rankings. You can do this by asking yourself – “Is my content useful to readers?”
- Provide unique, useful information to readers. Publish engaging content
A few of Google’s General Guidelines include the following which I will cover soon in this post.
- Ensure all pages can be found from other linkable pages
- Provide a sitemap for the search engine and site map page for the users
- Have a proper hierarchy of all the pages
- Ensure that you write crawl-able content. Google can crawl HTML elements.
Can SEO Implementation be done by me?
Yes! Absolutely and to a large extent. Knowing the core concepts of SEO is always recommended.
Implementing basic SEO on your blog or website can make a huge difference to your search engine rankings, thus boosting traffic and sales.
However, you might want to consider several factors while implementing SEO on your own. These include your technical expertise, time available on hand, the complexity of your website and admin panel.
Nevertheless, knowing the basics can help you deal better even if you are looking to outsource the SEO of your site.
How to Implement SEO in Your Blog – On-Site Optimization Techniques
Search engines are intelligent but their capabilities to crawl are also limited. It is your job to ensure that the search engine is able to crawl the content of our blog.
In this section, we will discuss various technical aspects that will help elevate your content and improve ranking.
1. Provide Indexable Content for a Better SEO
Always ensure that your content has most of it in HTML text rather than images, flash videos, java applets, etc.
Non-text content is not assigned more importance and might get devalued.
However, you can control certain aspects of non-text content for SEO by doing the following:
This will help search engines assign a certain description to the image. For a given keyword your image might come up on Google Images which is beneficial.
Video and audio content may not be indexed on the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Providing text for the content of audio and video can serve two purposes.
It can help your audience on a slow internet connection (yes they exist in developing economies) read the text when a video or audio buffering may not be possible.
Secondly, it will help Google understand the context of the page by reading the contents and help your page rank.
Use tools like SEO-Browser, Google Cache to know what elements are visible on the page.
This is how my start a blog page might look to the search engine
2. Provide Crawl-able Links
Google has massive keyword-based indexes.
You have pages but unless the search engine finds them they are of no use from the SEO point of view. The search engines need to reach the pages that you have on your website and to reach these pages you need to provide links that are crawlable.
Thousands of websites make the mistake of not having a proper crawlable link structure in place. This is how it might happen. For example, you have 4 pages – X, Y, Z, A
As you can find from the image, the home page has links for X and Y. However, neither the Home page nor the page X and Y link to Z and A. So search engines can’t find Z and A to index them.
You might have put all your hard work in Z and A, and from a human perspective this might be the best content for your keyword, but Google can’t find them. All the hard work gone waste!
The below image is an example of good SEO practice. You find that all the pages can be reached from the home page. The search engines would index all the pages.
Are you making any or some of the following mistakes?
Search engines can’t find content that is kept hidden behind a submission form. These can include password-protected pages that require the user to fill in certain login information in order to see the content. Because search engines are not expected to fill up and submit forms, your pages will not be indexed
Search forms can be useful to the readers but not to search engines. While a reader can type in text in the search box to get content, search engines would not do that.
The Meta robots tag and robots.txt both allow the site owner to restrict crawler access to the page.
The search engine has spam criteria programmed inside into it. A page that has many thousands of links on it is a signal that it might be a spammy page. Search engines may crawl a few of the links, but definitely not all.
Avoid the above mistakes and your SEO looks much better.
Links can have many attributes. However, the tag “rel” holds special importance in SEO.
When you mention rel=”nofollow” for a link, you are effectively asking Google not to consider the link as a vote that might improve the link’s rank. It is mostly used for outbound links.
As a site owner, you can use this in your comment section. A “nofollow” in the comments section ensures that link drops do not affect you. Because Google hates spam, such links can harm your reputation with Google.
3. Keyword Usage, Targeting and Long Tail Keywords for SEO
The keyword is the foundation block of every data retrieval process. Whenever Google is queried, it considers the query text as the keyword and then searches in its massive database for the keyword.
Google looks for relevant keywords on your blog pages. You should include keywords in such a way to give Google a hint that your page has the necessary information for the keyword.
You can include the keyword in the title, in Meta tags, image “alt” tag and in the body text.
Google loves good content. Stuffing the keyword everywhere on the page will only make Google take punitive measures like penalizing your content heavily.
The point of using keywords is not to rank highly for all keywords. Use keywords to rank for what people are searching for when they want what your site provides.
Keyword density is a myth. Having keywords placed in strategic places on your content helps. But mentioning the keyword a dozen times only makes your content look thin. So avoid it!
Use Long-Tail Keywords for Relatively Lesser Competition
The internet has been there now for decades. So ranking for short-tail keywords is very difficult.
Long-tail keywords are the ones that are more than 3 words in length.
For example, pet bloggers using the keyword “pet” in posts will find it difficult to rank because there will be authority sites which are almost impossible to beat. Also, hundreds of people have written thousands of posts on “pets”. So your article stands little chance to rank.
However, if you use the keyword “best pet stores online in India” you would find relatively lesser competition. It will be easier to rank for this keyword.
4. on Page Optimization
Follow Strategized Keyword Placement for Effective SEO In Your Blog.
Follow blogging and SEO best practices in every post you publish. Write long-form content that is no lesser than 2000 words (well if your topic does not demand 2000 words, don’t!)
5. Defend your Site’s Honour
Your content can quickly be found by other unscrupulous sites. Once these sites find them, they will pluck your content and publish your site, mostly word to word. This is called scraping.
To avoid this you must ensure that once your post is published you inform pinging services like Pingomatic.
6. Use Responsive Design
Responsive design is a must as per Google. More and more people are logging through their mobile devices, so having a responsive design where your site will be shown uniformly in devices with varying screen sizes.
Many WordPress themes are responsive. Check if your blog is responsive by taking Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
7. Submit Sitemap to Google
Submitted Sitemap to Google helps the search engine giant to index pages, images, etc from your site and rank them.
Use Google Webmasters to submit your sitemap to Google.
8. Write Long Content
Long content is a must to rank in Google. Google perceives long-form content to be more in-depth and hence provides more value to the users.
Always target a minimum of 2000 words for every post. The more the better.
Of course, that does not mean you provide thin content which is harmful to your blog authority. Write in simple language, explain your reasons, provide facts and figures to prove what you write, include images wherever necessary.
9. Boost Site Speed
A blog or website that loads slowly will lose traffic. Readers will remember how slow your site loads and they would skip to some other blog.
Google would notice this and penalize your site. No one likes a slow blog.
If you are thinking how much slow I am talking of, well, 4 seconds is the max time your site should take to load.
Check your site speed by using tools like Pingdom. If you find that the load time is longer ask your support team to fix.
I will discuss more how to boost site speed in a later post.
10. Write Regularly
Google loves fresh content. The more you have it, the more Google loves it.
So make it a habit to post regularly on your blog. How regularly? It depends.
If you have all the time for your blog – try doing 4 posts a week. If you are already having a job and can’t devote much time to your blog, try to blog at least once in a week.
11. Keyword Research
Keyword research is very important if you want to gain rankings in Google and for this, you can use Google Keyword Planner for this exercise. Alternatively, use SERPs.
When doing keyword research some of the questions to ask yourself includes –
1. What is your target audience?
2. What is your target audience searching for? Check search trends
3. How much competition do you have in your keywords? A lot of competition is bad. If authority sites are already blogging on it, you have little chance to defeat them.
Go for long-tail keywords while doing keyword research. A monthly keyword strength of 1000-1500 is healthy enough to blog about.
Lastly and very importantly, make Google index your posts. Google would automatically do it if you don’t.
However, submitting a sitemap makes the process very easier.
A sitemap is an XML file which Google search bots read to find out what your website contains. It then indexes the posts, images and other elements and stores in its huge database so that when people need what you have blogged about, Google can put it to them.
In order to submit your sitemap to Google, you need to follow two steps:
1. Create a sitemap
2. Submit your sitemap to Google
More or less these are all the strategies that every blog you read would contain. Following all these steps would surely improve your search rankings but does not guarantee you the top spot.
Why? Because there might be many doing these very things better than you do. It takes some time to perfect the art of SEO success.
Follow these strategies and you would soon get more traffic from search engine queries.
What other strategies have you come across that helped you improve your SEO? Do you have any other ideas to improve your rankings? Do share in the comments section!