Search Engine Optimization - or SEO - is the practise of creating online content that is easy for search engines like Google or Yahoo! to discover. Basic SEO guidelines are actually pretty simple to use, and they'll make a big difference in your page hits.
Won't they discover my site anyway, you ask? Well, yes. However, unless your site meets certain criteria, Google and other search engines won't bother to list it on the first few results pages even if someone is looking for exactly the topic you've published. Why not? It's about quality and usefulness to the viewer. Remember, Google is just a program - it needs you to explain what your content is about and give it clues about who might want to view it.
Of course, SEO isn't just about getting your own blog seen. In fact, top news publishers around the world have to use these guidelines to ensure their content is right at the top of the search results for readers to find. No matter what you post on the web, you'll need SEO to ensure it actually gets viewed.
So how do you do that? Here are the most important things to remember:
Research Your Key Words and Phrases
These are the words that people will type into a search box to find pages such as yours. For example, if you publish a vegan food blog, you would choose terms like "vegan recipes" "meatless" and "vegetarian" to help explain to Google and other search engines what your content is about. Discover even more key words by looking at Google Trends, or by typing one word at a time into the Google search bar and making note of what appears:
Use Those Key Words in Titles, Like This One
While it's absolutely, extremely important that you not keyword-stuff (pack your content with key words and phrases to fool Google) these do need to be used several times in your content. Most importantly, use them in titles and subtitles, as well as in the first few lines, a central paragraph, and within the last few lines of your article. Never jeopardize the quality of your writing, however. Use your chosen key words naturally, or readers will choose higher-quality content over yours. SEO basic guidelines in Google's own handbook insist that algorithms are programmed to choose quality over quantity every time. *Note: if you are publishing videos or photos, simply use your keywords as tags or in a one-line description.
Articles Should Be At Least 500 Words
The programmers in charge of Google and other online search engines know that people are rarely interested in reading one or two sentences about the topic they have searched for. 500 words of good content is an ideal volume that is more likely to have quality information than a shorter, paragraph-length passage. Want to write even more? Go ahead!
Add Meta Tags to All Published Content
Meta tags are the short title and description that accompany web pages, and show up in online searches:
See? How you add these depends on what type of publisher you are using, but it is always possible and always important. Don't forget to use your key words here as well.
Use Your Keywords in the URL
Look at the photo above. Do you notice how our search words are also highlighted within the URL of each listed website? You need to do the same for your content. Try to keep URLs short and to the point, as well. Extra words and dates can interfere with the main idea of the page, so keep it simple.
Use Basic SEO to Impress Google
Follow these five steps and you're on your way to a much wider readership, thanks to a long-term friendship with Google. If you want to know even more about pleasing the online search giant, check out the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide!