SEO. These three little letters are so important for bloggers. But why? All we want to do is share inspiring and relevant content with our readers, right? Why do we have to worry about SEO and keywords and H2 tags and meta descriptions?

Here’s the big fat why: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is how people find your content in search engines. Good SEO practices help your content rank high in Google, so more people see it, which brings more traffic to your site.

The world of SEO is robust and always changing, but today we’re going to be introducing you to some SEO basics for bloggers to help you search engine optimize your blog posts, and it all starts with the KEYWORD.

Short-tail keywords vs. long-tail keywords

A keyword is the word or phrase that a user enters into a search engine. You may have heard a lot recently about long-tail keywords vs. short-tail keywords, and here’s what you need to know.

Short-tail keywords are phrases between 1-3 words long. These keywords are the most searched terms in Google, which means they have the potential to bring you more traffic but are harder to rank for.

Long-tail keywords are phrases that are usually 3 or more words. These longer keywords are easier to rank for, because there is less competition.

Still not clear? OK. Let’s say I’m a fashion blogger, and I wrote a blog post called 10 Fashion Tips. If I were to search “fashion tips” on Google, I would see that the top posts are from InStyle, Huffington Post, StyleCaster, Refinery29 and the like. This is because, for the most part, only sites with very good authority can rank for a short-tail keyword like “fashion tips.”

As a blogger trying to grow your audience, your goal should be to rank for long-tail keywords, since there is way less competition. So, instead of writing a blog post called 10 Fashion Tips, think about how you can expand it to rank for a long-tail keyword. For example, a blog post like 10 Fashion Tips for New Moms. Your long-tail keywords may then be fashion tips for new moms or fashion for new moms.

Keyword Research

So, how do you decide which long-tail keywords you can blog about? Keyword research!

Keyword research is the practice of determining which keywords are appropriate for targeting.

A super simple way is to decide a blog post topic, and search a short-tail keyword in Google. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a list of searches related to fashion tips.

There are a number of other ways that you can conduct keyword research, but since this is meant to be an overview of the blogging basics, I’ll link to a very comprehensive blog on the topic from Ahref’s: How To Do Keyword Research in 2017.

Title

Once you’ve decided 1 or 2 long-tail keywords you’re going to target, it’s time to include it in your blog post title. This is one of the most important steps, as it helps Google understand what your content is about. This is also what appears in search engines, so when a user searches a long-tail keyword, they’ll see that same keyword in your blog title and know that it is relevant to them.

Bonus tip: Your keyword must be within the first 65 characters of your title to ensure it is displayed on search engines. Keep it as far left in your blog post title as possible.

Body

When creating your blog post, make sure your keywords are used throughout the body in a natural way. This will help Google understand the main topics of your post. Natural is the key word here. Keyword stuffing is one of those old SEO practices that used to work and help your content rank high in Google. Bloggers were including their keywords in unnatural ways that made for a bad reader experience. In Google’s latest algorithm, the emphasis is on high-quality content and user engagement, which means they’ll actually penalize bloggers who keyword stuff.

Headers

Include the keywords you’re targeting in 1 or 2 of your headings. Again, this makes it easy for Google to understand your content by making it clear and scannable.

Meta description

The meta description is the short description of a blog post used by search engines. This description is displayed when someone searches your targeted keyword and sees your content appear on the list of possible resources. Including your targeted keyword in the meta description will also let searchers know that you have the content they’re looking for.

URL

Including the keyword in your blog post url is another simple way to have better SEO. Most blogging platforms will make the title of the blog post the URL, but you may want to shorten the URL so it ONLY includes the keywords you’re trying to rank for.

Images

Last but not least, images! Make it a practice to always include your long-tail keyword in your image alt-text. Do this for every image you upload to that associated blog post. Google can’t understand images, so it relies on alt-text to understand what that particular image is referring to.

Do you have any other SEO basic tips you’d like to share with your fellow bloggers below? Let us know in the comments!

SEO basics for bloggers