Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a term that refers to the way you can increase the traffic to your website. SEO involves making sure that the content you are publishing is rich in relevant keywords and phrases…and the way you organise headings, subheads, bullet points etc.
In simple terms, it’s the name given to the activity that endeavours to improve search engine ranking, in order for more people to come to your website and engage in your content.
When you search for something on Google, you expect to find it almost instantly from the search results that appear. If you’ve asked a question, you expect that question to be answered in a few seconds. So, as a crafter of content, you want to help the person searching for your subject matter find it quickly and for it to be relevant and answer their search. Those of us who write content use many different types of websites, but no matter whether you use WordPress, GoDaddy, Wix or whatever, the subject matter/page layout is pretty much the same. Here’s a few hints and tips on how to improve the SEO on your website…
Create good title tags and meta descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are bits of HTML code in the header of a web page. When someone searches for a particular subject or asks a question on a search engine, the title tags and meta descriptions help the search engine understand the content of that page and the title tag and meta description is what is shown in blue link in the search results.
The title tag is what it says on the tin – the title element of a web page/ blog post that summarises the content of that page or post. Search engines expect the title tag to show relevant keywords and phrases that describe what your page/post is about. If Google doesn’t think the title is relevant for the page, it can choose to show a different title instead. So ensure that your title tags on your pages/posts show an accurate, compelling and succinct summary of what that particular page/post is about.
Tips for writing title tags
- The title MUST be absolutely and positively relevant to the content it describes on that page
- Put important keywords/phrases at the front of the title tag to make them ‘pop-out’
- Be natural – avoid keyword stuffing
- Every page on your website needs a unique title tag – avoid duplication
- If you can fit it in, get your brand name at the end of the title tag – but it’s more important to get your message across first!
- Keep the title tag to between 60-64 characters – any longer and it will be cut off and will just show an ellipsis “….”
- Your title tag needs to entice readers in, so it should be eye-catching, exciting, compelling…make your reader want to find out more
Meta description or Meta tags
The title tag is limited, short and sweet, but a meta description (or meta tag as they’re also called) gives you more space to tell people what it is you’re offering – and to create a convincing and persuasive reason to click through to your website or blog.
So how to make that description compelling?
- Focus on the positives of clicking to your page – use words like ‘your’ and ‘you’ to make it more personal
- Include any special offers or incentives you might have
- Encourage the person searching to take action now! Create a sense of urgency
- Use emotional and psychological triggers
Tips for writing meta descriptions/meta tags
- Make sure you have unique descriptions for every page on your website
- Use relevant keywords and phrases – relevant being important here as your description needs to match what the page or post is about.
- Don’t give away too much, just a teaser to explain what the page is about – tickle the reader’s curiosity!
- Include a call to action…of course (!)…so your reader knows exactly what they need to do next and what’s in it for them.
- Keep your meta description to around 150 characters. If you make them too long, search engines will cut off the end of your sentence.
Title tags and meta descriptions don’t play a direct role in helping you get your site to rank higher in search engines, but they are very important for reader engagement and for getting those readers to click through to your website.
What is the difference between categories and tags on a blog post?
What are they? How do you use them? Why are they so important?
There is quite a clear difference between tags and categories, but it’s very easy for users to get them muddled up. To be fair, in most instances it won’t matter for the end user, but here is a brief overview…
As a general rule, you would use Categories to group the content on your website or blog into eight to ten segments. For example on my blog, some of the categories are Marketing, Small business tips, SEO, Customer Service.
You should aim for at least one category per post. If you forget to add one, it often defaults to ‘uncategorized’, which you really don’t want! It doesn’t make sense to your readers and looks unprofessional.
A Tag describes a blog post in more detail. So, for example, this blog post – I will use the word ‘tags and categories’ as one of my tags! Although Categories are important to have, you don’t need to have any tags at all if you don’t want to. I like to use them as it gives another way for my blogs to be seen by my targeted audience.
An Alt Tag is the name given to the labelling of an image on a website. If you hover your mouse over an image and the image has an alt tag, it will appear. It’s a very good idea to do this as search engines can’t see pictures or photos, so unless you tag them with a keyword or two, the search engine won’t display them to people search for that kind of image or keyword. This really helps with your SEO
Use the right URL to optimise SEO
A URL is your web address, for example, https://cindyfreelancewriter.com/
It identifies your website and gives a little bit of information about what you do or what your site is about. It is a very minor ranking factor for search engines, but if your URL contains a keyword, it can improve your site’s visibility. So, definitely worth a brief mention!
Have clear headings on your pages
The main heading on each of your pages tells your readers, (and search engines), what the page is about.
Go through your website/blog site and look at all your headings – are they clear and to the point – do they match what the page is actually about? There is nothing more annoying than thinking you have found exactly what you’re looking for, only to realise that the heading doesn’t match the content.
Do include keywords, but be natural about it and avoid keyword stuffing.
Have quality content
This goes without saying really. Look at all the content on your pages – does it match the heading? Have you covered everything your readers will be looking for from the heading? Does it include all the relevant keywords and their variations that you can think of and find?
Does it solve a problem for your reader? Does it address a common problem? Is it well written, so as to encourage engagement and is it a compelling read? Have a look at what your competitors do – now you know a bit more about structure, look at the way they include keywords, address problems, how they rank on Google.
Can you do better? Now’s the time to take action. Have a good look at your website pages and blog pages/posts and see where you can start making improvements.