SEO 101: Search Engine Optimization Tips & Tricks

SEO: Search engine optimization doesn't have to be puzzling.Content Marketing is an innovative way to attract new customers. But once you’ve created great content, how do you ensure that your target audience will be able to find it? Jamie Clark, who’s been a content writer for the past 3 years, gave me some insights into search engine optimization (SEO) so that Google and other search engines will recognize my content and rank it well. I applied her tips to my blog (TGIM) and I thought I’d share what I learned with the Project Eve community.

SEO & Keywords

Decide what your keywords are…what terms would like associated with your blog? It’s important to know this so that you can use your keywords repeatedly. One place that is especially important is in URLs. My URL structure used to be: tgimon.com/blog/postkeyword. I changed it to tgimon.com/work/postkeyword so that Google would start to associate TGIM with work issues. Besides, “blog” was too common of a term to be helpful. Unfortunately changing my URL structure killed old links, but I think it was worth it because I wasn’t getting much residual traffic.

Other keyword tips:

-Try to use different keywords for different posts. Also known as a focus keyword, each post should explore one unique topic that can be captured in a single keyword.
-Try to use focus keywords in the beginning of post titles.
-Make sure the keyword appears in the first paragraph.
-Make sure the focus keyword is also in the URL.

SEO & Your Tag Line

The title of a blog or website might be short and clever, but the tag line is there to let readers know what the blog is about. It’s also extremely important for letting search engines know what you’re about! Make sure that it captures the essence of your project while containing keywords, preferably in the beginning. TGIM’s old tag line was, “Cultivating Rewarding & Valuable Work — Updated Every Monday.” Unfortunately the first three keywords (cultivating, rewarding, valuable) would not typically be associated with work, at least as far as Google is concerned. The new tag is “Creating Win-Win Work Situations so that Everyone Can Look Forward to Mondays — Updated Every Monday” does a better job of explaining the blog’s title, has “work” closer to the front, and uses “Monday” twice.

SEO & H2

H2s are second-level headings. I never used H2s because the titles of my posts are descriptive, but search engines scan them so they are important. Try to write them so that they are phrased in terms of common search strategies. Often people search for answers, so “How to” phrasings are one really effective format.

SEO & Outbound Links

Keywords are important, but you could post the same word 1,000 times and never show up as a top hit. Why? Well, Google tries hard to return quality results that aren’t full of spam. The main way they measure quality is by links. Are other pages referencing your content? Are those pages highly ranked themselves? If so, Google can be assured that you’ve posted something useful that other people might want to find. Like so many things in life, the best way to get what you want (inbound links) is to give (outbound links). Link to other relevant blogs and websites and maybe they’ll return the favor. Besides, adding links to your content is a great way to cite your sources and become part of relevant conversations. No one writes in a vacuum.

SEO & Alt Tags

Google image search is becoming an increasingly common way to find content. Make sure that your pictures are tagged with the posts’ keyword. For example, my picture of Romeo should be tagged “dogs at work” instead of “yellow lab.”

SEO & Word Length

Again, search engines are looking for quality content, so make sure your posts are long enough to register as in-depth. I’ve read a lot of varying opinions on this (and search engines don’t get too specific because they don’t want people writing just for them) but aim for at least 300 words per post. For reference, this post just passed 650 words.

These tips are easy to implement once you’re aware of them. This is just the tip of the iceberg for SEO, but it’s a great place to start. If you want more let me know in the comments and I’ll starting prepping advanced tips!

Margaret Murray is a Narrative Strategist and Communication Instructor in Seattle, WA. She blogs at tgimon.com

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