SEO stands for search engine optimization. In short, it is the practice of optimizing your blog so that the search engines can index it, know what it is about, and serve it up in relevant search results.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO is important because most of us rely on search engines to help us find what we’re looking for. If we type in a search like “how to train a dog to do tricks,” we expect the search engines to show us results that are relevant. We expect to find a blog or site that includes tips about training a dog to do tricks.
Your prospective blog readers are doing the same thing. They are typing in search queries related to your blog. You want to make sure that when they do that, they will see your blog post in the search results. After all, the first step in getting people to read your blog is to make sure that they can find it in the first place!
How Do I Use SEO On My Blog?
To effectively use SEO on your blog involves understanding that each of your blog posts should be focused on a keyword, and that keyword should be used in certain places on your blog.
For example, the page title is a high-value location for SEO because the search engines expect that the page title will be highly related to what the page is about. Because of this, search engines use this as an important clue when deciding what pages to serve up in the search results. In the case of this blog post, the page title – “What is SEO?” – tells the search engines that this post will talk about what SEO is. As a result, it should show up in search results for “what is SEO?” (maybe that’s how you found this post!).
Here are a few best practices when it comes to SEO and blogging that you can easily use on your blog:
- One keyword per post: Try to optimize each of your blog posts around one keyword. Instead of targeting multiple keywords in one post, keep each of your blog posts tightly focused on one topic.
- Keywords in page titles: As was just discussed, this is an important one. Be sure to include your keyword in the title of your blog posts.
- Keywords in the URL: The URL is the link for your blog post. Having the keyword that you’re targeting in the URL is a good practice.
- Keywords in the meta descriptions: The meta descriptions are the short bits of text that appear in the search results. Although these do not directly impact your search results (Google has said that it’s not part of their search algorithm), they are important for users. A well-written meta description that uses your keyword can influence a user to click on your link.
- Keywords in image alt descriptions: You can include descriptions for the images on your blog. Since the search engines have a difficult time knowing what an image is showing, these descriptions will tell the search engines what your image is about.
If you’re using WordPress, a great plugin that you can use is WordPress SEO by Yoast. It will help you to optimize your post from within your WordPress dashboard. Here’s a quick glimpse into what it looks like:
How Do I Choose the Right Keywords?
Keyword research is an art unto itself. Be aware that a tremendous amount of data and paid tools are available online to help you learn about and do keyword research, and what I offer here are just a few basics to get you started.
Start by thinking about what your blog post will be about. Come up with a few keywords that capture the topic of your post.
Then use Google’s Keyword Tool (you’ll need to sign up for a free Adwords account). Type in the keywords that you’re thinking of using, and be sure to check “[exact]” or “phrase” as the Match Type because you’ll get the most relevant results for your keyword. Click on the “Keyword Ideas” tab and then look at the search results. Look at both the “Competition” (how competitive the search term is) and “Local Monthly Searches” (this represents search volume in the U.S.). The sweet spot that you’re looking for is low competition and high search volume – this means that a lot of people are searching for this term yet there’s not a lot of competition for it. When you find that keyword, it should be a good one for you to use.
If you use these tips to find good keywords to target and then follow a few best practices, you’ll be well ahead of those who are not optimizing their sites effectively. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, check out the SEOmoz Beginner’s Guide to SEO. It’s a great resource, and you’ll learn a lot!
One of the important things to remember about SEO is that, while it is important to know and incorporate some best practices like those mentioned above, ultimately what is most important is to write for your readers. If you provide good content in your blog posts on a regular basis, the search engines and readers will notice.
Did this answer your question about what SEO is? If you still have questions, please leave them in the comments below.