Last Saturday morning I snuck off to The Blog Society: Blog Retreat. It was just one of those mornings where Sydney was properly showing off and I couldn’t have been in a better place to watch her. The autumn sun was shining over the Opera House and I was surrounded by some of the most inspiring and creative people in the blogging industry. It really was an escape from the every day and in a short and punchy three hours I came away feeling so excited and even more sure that blogging is what I love to do.
One person that grabbed my full attention from the minute she stepped on the stage was the gorgeous Kirsti Hughes from Saachi and Saachi. She was invited to speak at the retreat to try and de-mystify SEO for bloggers (and business). In 30 minutes she did just that! She explained simple SEO for bloggers. I’m not a ‘techie’ person by any means and no matter how hard to try to get my head around SEO I just end up more and more confused.
Today I finally GOT IT!!
In my own words this is what I learnt from Kirsti.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. What this actually means for bloggers is that we have to create content that enables Google to quickly, easily and clearly answer the questions that people ask her. We have to think of Google as a very sophisticated, human like robot, that like us, likes to keep a tidy home. The more we are able to help Google keep a tidy home, by making ‘our things’ easy for her to store, categorise and search, the more she will reward us with a higher ranking.
Kirsti said that we should think of Google in the same way we do our mother-in-laws: They can be high maintenance at times, but if we just them and keep them happy, they’ll make our lives SO much easier in the long run.
- Picture Google as a person rather than a machine and try to imagine what would keep her happy when implementing your SEO.
- Make sure your posts are always longer than 300 words. Google only sends people to your site if you are able to ‘solve a problem’ or ‘answer a question’.
- Make sure your headings match your content. If you lure Google in with a great heading about ‘How to make a Christmas pudding’ for example, and then write about ‘Autumn leaves’, you are just going to make her mad and she won’t trust your site again, which essentially means less traffic coming to your site.
- Re-name all your images so that they match the title and content on your blog post. Google loves photos/images and if they are relevant to your content, it will increase the amount of traffic she sends your way.
- Re-check who your audience is every few months. If you suddenly have a big influx of British readers but are still targeting all your posts to Australian readers, this could make Google not want to send as much traffic to you. Essentially you are ‘not providing a full solution to all your readers’ and she will start to think that your page is no longer relevant.
- Use social media. If Google sees that your profile is in more than one place on the internet and is doing well, she will start to believe that you must be someone who is trustworthy and will send more traffic your way, therefore increasing your ranking.
- Subscribe to Google Trends. This is the quickest and easiest way to find out what questions people are asking Google at any given time, which can help you compose relevant content.
- Google does not like duplicate content but you can always gain more traffic by linking back to old posts that you have written previously. Just make sure you like back to the original URL. A post you did on Halloween three years ago will be just as relevant on Halloween now as it was back then, and quite possibly you will have a lot more readers now too. (*This point has been edited as per comments below*)
- Check that all your links actually lead somewhere. Google really frowns about broken links or sending people to a ‘dead-end’ so to speak.
- Reconsider any advertising that is on your site. If you are a Finance blog but have an advert for a breast pump, for example, this is not considered relevant and will hurt your google rankings.
- Do an Open Site Explorer search and check who is linking to you? If there are any negative sites linking to your blog you should contact them and ask them to remove the link ASAP. These negative/spamy links can really hurt your google ranking.
- Try to keep your bounce rate low. If people are clicking on your site and staying there, Google thinks she’s done a good job sending them there as they’re finding what they were looking for. A simple navigation system on your blog is a sure way to keep your click rate high and your bounce rate low.
- Matt Cutts, who is the head of Google (think Mr Google himself) has his own blog. Reading this from time to time will aways keep you up to date and in-the-know.
- Search Engine Land is another highly recommended site, to give you the most up to date information and all things SEO.
- Google Trends as mentioned earlier.
- Check out Moz.com for a fantastic guide to SEO for beginners. You can also sign up to the 30 day free trial and get Moz to give your site a full evaluation to see how you are currently doing on the SEO front. Remember to cancel before the 30 days is up otherwise you will be charged – unless of course you want to keep your monthly membership.