I spend A LOT of time on google. Most of the time I am googling things like “do I have ______ disease?” or “behind the scenes at Kimye’s Vogue photoshoot”, but sometimes I use it for useful things like finding tonight’s dinner recipe.
I never really understood the mastermind that is google until I started a blog. Search engines are almost always the most important traffic referral to your blog. If it isn’t in your top 3, then you may want to research why that might be.
In your research you will likely come across the term “SEO”. Today I want to talk about what this means and some ways you can improve the SEO of your blog. I am certainly not the first person to post on this and there is a wealth of information on SEO out there, but I wanted to highlight 5 tips that have been helpful in improving my SEO and making search engines (mostly google) the #1 traffic driver to THM.
First off, what is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, it means making your blog and your blog posts as optimal as possible so that they are easily found by search engines and have a higher page ranking on these sites. Aka how to make your post appear on the first page of google rather than on page 47.
So how can you optimize your blog for search engines? Here are my tips:
1. Start using meta tags. What are meta tags? Meta tags are data tags that are hidden within the HTML of a post. The text in these tags is not displayed, but can be uncoded by search engines to make it easier for them to understand what your page or post is all about. The most important of these is the “description tag” and some argue the “keyword tag” as well. To make it easier for you to input this information into your post, WordPress offers plugins that allow you to fill in this information so it is added to the HTML for you. I use a plugin called “Yoast” and it could not be more simple.
As you can see I just fill in the focus keyword and a brief description of the post. When I first installed this plugin my search engine traffic was 20% of my total traffic. After going through and filling out the meta tags for each post, it jumped to 40%.
2. Include keywords in your posts. Based on your blog’s niche and topics that people are searching for frequently, certain keywords will drive more traffic to your blog. Keywords deserve their own post entirely so I won’t get into it, but google everything you can on “Google Adwords” and start figuring out which keywords are traffic drivers to your blog and which ones you haven’t tapped into. You’ll find some blogs use A TON of keywords to the point where their posts are boring because it’s literally all keywords. Google will penalize you for that so try to find the middle ground.
3. Set up google authorship. Basically this means you’ve declared ownership over your blog and you get a cute little picture next to your posts when they appear on google. Google will see your page as a reputable source of information and anyone who they see as a trusted author is far more likely to appear higher up in a google search. You will need a google+ profile to sign up for google authorship. Once you have a google+ profile it is worth signing up for authorship using this tutorial. It could not be easier.
4. Time to start using Google+. Okay, I am terrible about this. Mostly because I’m too lazy to sign out of my personal gmail and into my THM gmail account. But apparently posts that are also posted onto your google+ page improves that post’s SEO. Could someone please remind me to do this?
5. Use Rich Snippets for recipes. I swear I’m still speaking English here. This point is mainly for food bloggers. Ever googled a recipe and seen that some of the results will have pictures of the recipes next to them? Notice how these ones almost always appear on the first couple of pages? You can have your pretty little recipe image too AND improve the SEO of that post by using Rich Snippets.
Like meta tags, this is a way of providing search engines with additional information about your web page so it can display more useful information to people searching for similar content. Once again, plugins to the rescue! For recipes to appear with a picture you must provide a certain amount of information in your post (more info here) but using specific recipe plugins and filling in the appropriate info will make your life easier. To my knowledge two plugins are effective for Rich Snippets, ziplist and easy recipe (can someone confirm this??). I love this post on Food Blogger Pro on the steps you need to take to get your recipe image to appear in google and improve your page’s SEO.
I hope you learned something new. No need to implement any or all of the above. The #1 thing is that you create good, quality content. If you do that, people will read.
So tell me, did you learn something new? Are you already SEO pros or are you still completely confused?