What is SEO?
SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization and it is the method that is used to attract visitors to your site via the search engines.
When someone does a search using Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc…they enter a search term and are provided with a list of websites that use that search term as part of their SEO.
This is often referred to as ‘free’, ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ traffic and as blog owners…we want as much free traffic as possible.
Why Is SEO Important?
Making an income via your blog is a numbers game. The more free visitors you get via the search engines, the more conversions and sales you receive.
For instance, let’s say you have a banner on your site for an affiliate product and each time someone buys the product via your affiliate link, you make $50 in commission.
Do you know what percentage of your visitors click on your banners?
It’s most probably less than 1%.
But for this example, let’s say it’s 1%.
So…one in every hundred of your visitors clicks on the banner.
Now…do you know what percentage of the 1% who clicked on the banner, go ahead and buy the product?
Again…most probably less than 1%.
So that’s 1% of the 1% who clicked on the banner in the first place.
To make one affiliate sale and earn $50 in commission…you need 10,000 visitors!
If you get 500 unique visitors a day, that’s one sale every 20 days.
And that’s with me using a generous 1% conversion rate. In reality it is most probably more like 0.25% (and 160,000 visitors!).
Of course that is just banner ads. You may have your own services that you sell or product reviews etc…but hopefully, you agree with me…the more free traffic you get…the more income you can make.
And good, targeted SEO will increase your visitor numbers.
But conversion is not just about SEO.
The design of your blog is the first thing that people see and it has a major influence on how a visitor behaves. You want your visitors to stay on the page, read your content, click through to other content etc.
Without good design and content your visitors will be “clicking away” pretty quickly.
Good SEO Habits
At the mention of SEO many people get scared, but it isn’t difficult.
Start out right and all will be well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I do believe in the 80/20 rule. The following covers 80% of what you need to have good SEO habits. You can delve a lot deeper into SEO but I like to keep things simple.
Ignore the following points and you may find yourself with a blog no-one visits.
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This is important. Get it wrong and you’ll never have a successful blog.
Read my keyword research post in the ‘how to make a blog’ series by clicking here:
A few simple one-off SEO tasks to check:
1. Add a blog title and tagline that includes your primary keyword phrase in the ‘General’ settings.
2. Change the ‘permalinks’ (‘permalinks’ under ‘settings’) structure to a custom structure: /%post_id%/%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/
3. Set up your categories using your keyword phrases. Again this helps with SEO.
4. Verifying ownership of your Blog via the Google Webmaster Tools.
6. Install the Google XML Sitemap plugin and manually build your sitemap. It helps get your site indexed.
There are certain SEO plugins that really help improve the SEO of your blog. I recommend these 2:
1. Install the All-In-One-SEO plugin and include your primary keyword phrase in the ‘Home Title, ‘Home Description’ and ‘Home Keywords’. Check out my video on this:
2. ScribeSEO. This is a premium plugin that helps improve the SEO of each blog post. More of this later in the series. Meanwhile check out my review of SEOScribe in this video:
Search engines cannot ‘read’ images and therefore cannot rank for them.
That’s why using ALT text in images is important. The image ALT text can be read by the search engines so they understand what it’s about.
The easiest way to do this is by installing the plugin: SEO Friendly Images
Similar to images, when you use video on a page there is nothing that the search engine crawler can “read”.
You can add a keyword rich transcription below the video and you’ve solved the problem.
And you can add a Video Sitemap plugin that creates a sitemap specifically for your videos.
I use the free version of this: Video SEO
Remember to add the video sitemap to your Google Webmaster tools.
Internal Links and Navigation
One hard thing about blogging is remembering posts you wrote months ago. If you’re in the habit of writing exceptional content you don’t want those posts to be forgotten.
Internal linking is one way of keeping older archived posts alive and internal linking improves your site’s SEO. A couple of relevant links on a page is sufficient; you shouldn’t include a link in every sentence! Internal links contained in the body of an article hold the most weight with search engines.
Watch my video on using this free plugin to make internal linking simple:
Other Things That Impact Your Search Ranking
Above the Fold
Add as much of your content “above the fold” as you can.
This means the visitor will see your content rather than being confronted with a page full of advertising.
Matt Cutts recently said that Google is penalizing sites that have too much advertising above the fold.
You can read more here:
Making Content Attractive
The use of subheadings, bulleted and numbered points makes content easier for people to read. There should be plenty of white space.
Don’t be afraid to use bold and some italicization to emphasize important points. People tend to scan written content for what they’re looking for so if you can make the most important points stand out they’ll be able to find it easier.
We delve into this subject a lot more in the next post in the ‘How to make a blog’ series.
As mentioned above in the Above the Fold section, don’t clutter up the top of your blog with advertising. Visitors will get the impression that it only exists to make money and they’ll leave if they don’t immediately see the content they’re looking for.
If you write content well, leading the reader down to your concluding sentence, you’ll want to encourage visitors to leave comments or share your content with their friends on social media, so use a call to action. Please leave a comment.
Comments can be valuable content and are indexed and will help you rank for long tail keywords. Active blogs that encourage interaction from visitors rank better with search engines. Ten percent of all internet traffic is now generated via social media so you will understand how important it is to receive comments and encourage sharing as well.
You will have to experiment with placement of sharing buttons; some blogs have them next to the comment box, in the sidebar or at the beginning or end of content.
Blog Loading Speed
Many people get so excited about the number of free plug-ins there are with WordPress they download too many. Only download those that you absolutely need, too many plug-ins will affect the loading speed of your blog.
If you have too many large graphics this will also affect loading time. Include Google Adsense, and a dozen different affiliate banners and your blog may slow to a crawl because each ad must be loaded from a different location.
People hate slow loading sites!
The average page takes a little under 10 seconds to load, so try to keep your pages optimized so they load quickly. Google also takes load time into account, slow sites may be penalized.
Check out my ‘improve your site loading speed’ series by clicking here:
Making a successful blog should start with these points in mind and you’ll quickly develop good habits.
What are your good SEO habits?
Please share your views in the comments below.
In the next post on the series, “How to make a Blog” we shall cover the topic of “Good SEO Habits when publishing your posts”
The previous blog posts in the ‘how to make a blog’ series:
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