Monday, 26 May 2014

Simple SEO for Bloggers

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!  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.

Google loves it if we make our blogs easy to read and navigate.  It's her job to send people who are asking questions to the right answers.  If she sends someone to your site and they can't immediately find what they are looking for (because you page is not easy to use), then she is not likely to send anyone there again.  So to increase your ranking with Google, you need to make sure you page is easy to navigate and read.  Remember that people who use Google are aways looking for something and quality, user friendly content always wins.  

12 ways to improve your SEO ranking
  1. Picture Google as a person rather than a machine and try to imagine what would keep her happy when implementing your SEO.
  2. 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'.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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*)
  9. Check that all your links actually lead somewhere.  Google really frowns about broken links or sending people to a 'dead-end' so to speak.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
Food for thought??  I thought so.

Here are 4 top sites recommended by Kirsti that will keep you on top of your SEO.
  1. 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.
  2. Search Engine Land is another highly recommended site, to give you the most up to date information and all things SEO.
  3. Google Trends as mentioned earlier.
  4. 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.
Finally the biggest message I took home with me was

NEVER TRY TO OUTSMART GOOGLE!

I really hope I managed to help at least one blogger to the every changing mysteries of SEO.  I also hope that Google likes this post and that 'I'm providing a solution' for a least one question she may be asked.

How good is your knowledge of SEO?  Do you have any tips you might like to add?














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32 comments:

  1. Thank you! This is an amazing post. You've explained it so well - even I can understand :)

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    1. Thanks Sue, I'm so glad I managed to make some sense! I usually just bury my head in the sand when it comes to SEO XX

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  2. This post actually made me laugh - picturing google as a human, and pissing her off...lol! I actually just did a uni assignment on Yahoo! so have been reading search engine land and other statistics and info on yahoo, google and facebook, and it is so interesting! Who knew!? thanks for sharing the pointers you learned! -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)

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    1. Exactly!! Who knew!! It's a whole other world out there! I like thinking of google as a person (not sure my MIL would approve the comparison though) xx

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  3. Thanks for sharing - all good advice. I handle SEO for a number of websites and agree with the info here. The only tip I would be REALLY careful with is number 8 - make sure that when you re-use old content that it is significantly changed, as Google doesn't like duplicate content.

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT

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    1. Oh THANK YOU Janet! I'm so glad to hear I'm on the right track. I might go back and edit number 8 if you don't mind xx

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  4. Thanks so much for this lovely! I've always found SEO intimidating but this makes it seem relatively simple!

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    1. Pleasure hon. You can find me with my head buried in the sand where SEO is concerned most of the time. Will have to take my own advice now :))

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  5. Yep. Big help. I didn't even know what SEO meant... thanks :)

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  6. Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing. There is some very good info here. :)

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    1. So glad you found it useful Jodi xxxx

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    1. Absolute pleasure. So glad it helped xx

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  8. Great post. As a new blogger I hadn't really given SEO's much thought. Good to get some tips and advice. Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome. Funny I still think of myself as a new blogger sometimes, and it actually amazes me how much I've learnt in such a short time. I definitely have other bloggers to that for that. Good luck xx

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  9. Wow, Robyn, this post is so useful - thank you! I hardly knew any of this before. I like the idea of thinking of google like a mother-in-law :)

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  10. Once you migrate to wordpress, I recommend the YOAST SEO plugin - it makes it so easy to understand and has taught me a lot about what google values in terms of SEO. I love it.

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    1. Awesome! I was going to ask you about this. It's not too far away now, so I need to start getting ready. EEEK!! x

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  11. P.S. Getting SEO right can make all the difference, I've accidentally jagged a couple of long tail keywords and they're constant sources of traffic for my site. xx

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  12. Fantastic post lovely, I have a little knowledge in this as I write website and blog content for companies and write to a style - eg more than 300, threading through keywords. I also put lots of things in the category/tags and this brings traffic to my blog! GO YOU - time to take over the world xx

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    1. Hahahah! Don't think I'm quite there yet Em. I'm a little 'slower' at learning when it comes to anything techie - but I like to take my time :))

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  13. This is awesome Robyn! I understood a bit of SEO but there are tips in here I'd never thought of. I have a few posts that get a tonne of traffic from google so they must've used some keywords that get searched a lot.

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    1. That's awesome Toni = even better that you get all that traffic from keywords you didn't even realise. Go you xx

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  14. Fantastic info Robyn! I always struggle with understanding SEO - this makes so much sense now! I have YOAST SEO on mine but don't think I use it as effectively as I should - this will get me on track. Am glad it was so valuable for you! :)

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    1. I'm so glad it's not just me Jodie. You're the second person who has recommended YOAST so I am definitely going to get on to that once my new site is ready xx

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  15. Thanks for that great analogy and lot's of useful tips, just love it!

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    1. Pleasure!! I'm so glad it was useful (and made you chuckle) x

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  16. Thanks so much for sharing! I'd love to get to a blog conference one day but haven't been able to yet, I appreciate you sharing what you learnt :) SEO optimisation is so interesting, just when I think I am on top of it, I learn something new!

    Have a great week,

    Aanika

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    1. Aanika they can be quite expensive but are so worth it, especially if you get to a good one. I been to a few and my fav was Pro Blogger. Hopefully see you there one day xxx

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  17. Hello there!

    Thanks so much for the fabulous write up and for attending my talk. It was lovely to speak to such an interested and engaged audience. I also LOVE that you've referred to Google as a "she". That's just wonderful on so many levels! I will just make a quick point about tip #8 if you're looking to edit this? When you link back to older content, your reader was correct- duplicate content is bad! So you aren't reposting it, you're simply driving back to the original URL where it might be topical and relevant again. By all means, if ever you have any questions you can reach me on Twitter. (Kristy_L_Hughes). Thanks again for attending Saturday, and happy future SEO-ing! :) Kristy

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    1. Hi Kirsty - thats so much for taking the time to read my post and reply. I REALLY appreciate it. Oh course Google is a 'she' - If it's was a 'he' it would be far too easy to out smart, lol!! Thanks for clarifying point 8 too, I will go and edit it right now. Hope you have a wonderful weekend xx

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