SEO, huh, good god
What is it good for?
Absolutely EVERYTHING, listen to me!
And if you don’t know that reference, get off my page…now! Just kidding, I need the likes. I spent a lot of time avoiding using SEO because I didn’t like the idea of it but I had that light-bulb moment. The one where you realise you don’t know it all.
So this post is my novice take on SEO, which may or may not be useful for other bloggers, would be bloggers and blog readers who want to know what goes on behind the scenes. Please note, I am not an expert, this is my first rodeo, so feel free to point out mistakes and educate me! Let’s learn together!
When I started my blog, I read like a million articles on how to blog, the right way to blog, the blogging rules etc. One thing I came across was Search Engine Optimisation. You optimise your blog for search engines. I think it’s pretty much one of those “it does what it says on the tin” type things. But me, in my defiant mode, decided that this wasn’t for me. I don’t need the rules.
I’m a rebel.
I was reluctant to find out more about it because I thought it was selling out, or manipulating my posts to manipulate my readers. But I want readers. I want people looking for what I’m saying to find me. How are they going to find me though? I promote my blog on social media. I sheepishly tell people in person about it. But sometimes it feels like I blog to a brick wall. That’s when I decided to read up on it and relieve myself of some of my ignorance.
Optimising our content means that, yes you are manipulating your posts, but only as much as you want to in the hopes of increasing traffic to your beloved blog. The system I’ve used to do this is Yoast. I found this SEO plugin relatively easy to use, once set up. There is a great article on WPBeginner of the setup from start to finish. Thank god for the internet because if you are not techy like me, you need a good tutorial to get through this.
I started using SEO in September 2017. This means not all of my posts have been updated with it yet. But there are plans to go back into the archives and rejig my old posts because it’s not all about search engines, it’s also about making your posts more readable. So Yoast breaks down what you need to do into two themes. These are readability and a focus keyword.
Readability assesses, well, the readability of your text. Are your sentences too long? Are your paragraphs neverending? Do you use too much passive voice? What is the ease of reading on the Flesch Reading scale? Are there several sentences starting with the same word in a row? This makes your work easier for the reader to digest. Can you imagine them finding your site only to be flummoxed by your content?
There is a really simple to follow traffic light system. So you edit your post until all the points are green. Or in my case, orange will do if I can’t quite figure out how to make it green! I have noticed on the few posts that I have SEO’d that I struggle with too much use of passive voice and I also struggle with not creating very long sentences.
The other part of the SEO plugin is the focus keyword. As I’m only using the free version of this, I can only set one focus keyword. For the reader, this relates mainly to what you see in search results. This is the part of the traffic light system that I want to go green, no compromise. This relates to the title you give your blog post or at least how it appears in search results. It’s the links you use within your post to link to your other amazing content.
What I understand is that a search engine will send a little bot/ worm or something computery into your site and the more links you have within your site of your own content, the better picture it can create of what your site is about. Also, from a general blogging point of view, the more internal site links you have, the easier it is for people to explore related topics. It even goes into the captions and details associated with your pictures, so it is important to fill these in.
Something I couldn’t figure out where the “no follow” links so if anyone can help me out, it would be much appreciated. This is basically keeping the little search engine bot on your page even when you have links to other awesome sites. I got a little lost in the tutorial due to tiredness and just moved on. It’ll be re-looked at in the future for sure. I hope to do a more detailed analysis of my stats in a few months to see the full effects of working with SEO.
My next large project to look into with regards to optimising my blog is to locate and highlight some cornerstone content. According to Yoast, it is “those articles on your website you’re most proud of. They reflect your business, communicate your mission and are extremely well written.” The article that springs to mind would be #hairgoals because I think something clicked with my writing style. I definitely need to re-read through some of my old posts. If only to see how far I’ve come. I suppose my very first post should fit into the cornerstone category too. There are quite a lot, that upon reflection, are better than I remembered, especially after getting a little SEO makeover.
As you may have read, I have another blog, Woeful Writes, which I haven’t looked at SEO on and won’t for the foreseeable future. That blog gets plugged on here and on a few social media channels but I am very happy for people to just come across it, a quiet little space for my creative ideas to flourish. This blog, I want to get more traffic and more of a sense of community and interaction. I definitely wish I’d been using SEO from the start of my blogging journey. If only for the fact that I would be able to create a more comprehensive post about the benefits of it.
For various reasons, I’ve seen a more consistent traffic on my blog over the last few months. I put this partly down to having a more responsive theme and I hope over the next few years, now that I am incorporating SEO, the people who need to find me will find me…easier. And that my traffic goes through the roof.