#SEO4Bloggers 1: What is SEO?

Welcome to the first of many posts about Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers! As I said last week, I’ve been lazy about learning about SEO. Part of the reason is that blogs naturally rank higher than regular websites for the simple reason that they are constantly being updated, and one of the things Google loves is fresh content, so I’ve always done pretty well in search engine rankings for that reason alone.

However, there’s always room for improvement, so over the next few months, I’m going to be taking a look at ways we can increase our search engine ranking on our blogs. I’ll provide you with little tasks you can do, as well.

First up, let me just say that no one really knows how Google (not much point talking about Bing! or Yahoo, now is there? Do any of you use them?) ranks websites in a search. We know its current incarnation is called Hummingbird, and that there are about 100 different factors that determine where you end up in Google’s Search Ranking. Obviously, they can’t be entirely transparent about how they rank search engines, because then everyone could just follow the formula and then where would we be?? Chaos. The bad guys might win.

The purpose of this series of posts is not to game your way to the #1 spot in Google. It’s to learn more about how SEO works, and to make changes so that your blog will come up more often, and higher, in search engine rankings.

Here are some things we know that Google likes: 

  • Good-quality, original content
  • Frequent website updates
  • Images
  • Links in and Links out
  • Keywords

What’s cool about all those things is that, as bloggers, those are all things that we normally do while blogging.

Here’s the challenge with having a blog: we don’t often talk about just one thing. If I have a website where I sell the tops of toothpaste tubes, I am basically looking to rank for one keyword phrase: every time someone in the world types in “top of toothpaste tube,” I want my website to come up on the first page. And I can optimize my site for that phrase, and hopefully make it happen.

However, blogs are not always dedicated to one topic. For example, I write a social media marketing blog and cooking/recipe blog. When I google “social media marketing,” I get over one billion results. When I google “recipes,” I get 179 million returns, and the same is true for “cooking.” In an ideal world, my blog(s) should come up on the first page of those searches (and they do. Phew!). But it really depends on how much competition there is for those key words. If I google “chocolate chip cookies,” I would love it my blog came up on the first page. I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe on my blog, but that is a very popular keyword, and there is a lot of competition out there for it.

So, unless you have a niche blog, you’ll need to SEO optimize every single post, because people may not find our blogs by searching out the name of our blog, they may stumble across individual posts in a blind google search.

So, how do you rank?

Google search yourself! (I’ll wait. It’s cool. I have a coffee.)

Do a search for:

  • your name
  • your blog’s name
  • keywords for a couple of your more recent posts

My guess is, you’ll likely come up on the first or second page of google for your name(s), but your keyword searches won’t rank as high.

This is why it’s so important to choose a niche for your blog. If you do a Google Search for “Vancouver Gadgets,” you’ll find Ben Able’s site. It’s highly niched. But many of us don’t think about that when starting a blog, and choose a broader topic. If you haven’t started a blog yet, I’d encourage you to choose a nice little niche for yourself, but for the rest of us, there’s lemonade to be made!

Next week: Keywords!

PS. I’m building a Pinterest Board of resources for you. Check it out.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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