Whether you're a blogger, startup, or business, blogging is a long-term strategy to build a strong presence in front of humans as well as search engines. With these small, easy-to-implement SEO tips, you can increase your blog's reach and traffic.
1. Seed Keywords
Ranking well for a large number of keywords is a difficult goal and may not be the best strategy. We should rather focus on a small set of keywords that form a theme for your blogs. These words should be:
- relevant to your niche or product,
- frequently searched for by your target audience,
- but has less competition in the market.
An example of this is:
- Java is a vague keyword which is used by a lot of people. I will have a hard time beating other sites to rank for the best Java website.
- I can rather try with something more specific and smaller. E.g., Spring Cloud. If all my blogs are about Spring Cloud, my blog can build authority and rank for Spring Cloud.
2. Long-tail keywords
- Another strategy is to use long-tail keywords - e.g. "implement service discovery in Java". These are something people will put in a search query and at the same time are less competitive to rank for.
- Individually, long-tail keywords will not bring a lot of traffic but the traffic will add up when you start ranking for a lot of them.
- If blogs combine long-tail keywords with seed keywords, the effect multiplies. The next two tips talk more about this.
3. URL and Title
- The URL and Title of the page contain the keywords.
- A good strategy is to use the long-tail keywords in the URL.
- The title can be similar and can additionally contain your seed keywords and/or your brand name.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that the URL and Title should not be too long.
- On a search results page, only 60 characters of the title are shown and there is no reason why the title should be longer than that.
- the URL can be example.com/blog/implement-service-discover..
- the title can be Implement Service Discovery with Spring Cloud | Abhinav's Blog
4. H1 Heading
- The heading is similar to the title. However, if your title is shorter on purpose, you can elaborate on it with the heading.
- Headings are more relevant to human readers and should always make sense.
- Another trick you can include is to use alternate versions of your long-tail keywords in the heading or secondary keywords.
- For E.g. if my article uses Netflix's Eureka, I could also include "Netflix Eureka" in the heading.
- So my heading becomes - How to Implement Service Discovery with Netflix Eureka and Spring Cloud
Note: Some SEO tools also recommend that other heading levels should contain keywords. This is optional in my opinion and should only be done if it doesn't affect the readability of the sub-headings.
5. Meta Description
A meta description is a short description of the page that is shown in search results. This needs to focus more on human readers than on search engines.
- It will add very little to SEO but helps a lot with the click-through rate.
- The meta-description should be short, clear, and should fit in the space.
- The number of characters in the meta description should be around 150 characters. (This is not something you can control and may change in the future)
6. Images, Videos, and Audio
For search engines, images are a black box. However, as we know, now we can even search for images. So how does that work?
Images are understood by search engines using the following ways:
- The most basic connection they can make is between the image and the page it is on.
- Better information about the image is provided by the alt text. But be careful with the alt text. Its purpose is to provide a correct description of the image for humans. It is not just an SEO strategy. Anyways, always include alt text in your images.
- The image URL or src attribute can also be used to provide information about the image. This is one of the most overlooked points when it comes to image SEO.
- The content surrounding the image like a leading or trailing text can also be used to provide information about the image.
- An advanced strategy is to use an enhanced markup for images. Refer to Schema.org for more information.
7. Page speed
There are a few things technical things to take care of that support a better page ranking. Some of these will not be completely in your hands if you write on someone else's website but they are good to know.
- Slow pages are not ranked high by search engines and are not liked by users.
- Another important factor is your blog being mobile-friendly. Page rankings are maintained separately for mobile and desktop so that the user can get the best experience. This means that if your website is not mobile-friendly, there is a chance your blog will be ranked lower on mobile than on desktop.
- Do not use images hosted on external websites. Dependency on external images is not good because they could be deleted at any time or may load slower if not CDN-cached by the owner.
- It's best to download the images and upload them again on your blog. Needless to say, the images should not be protected by copyright.
- Use optimized images. Do not use high-resolution images which will take a lot of time to load.
Cross-posting or not cross-posting is a separate discussion. But if you do cross-post, keep a few things in mind.
- The original post should appear on your personal/company blog.
- All other posts should have canonical links to the original post.
- Do not bother posting on other websites which do not allow canonical links.
9. Internal Linking
Link building is an important part of SEO.
Internal links are links to pages on your website. They are important to tell search engines how pages on your website are related to each other. This means a new blog can be used to bring traffic to older blogs. However, this only works if the users also find this linking useful.
Let's look at a few small ways to improve internal linking.
- Links to an old blog should be relevant to your current blog. A user should find it useful to click the link.
- Anchor text describes the link for the user as well as the search engine. Link texts like "Read More" or "Continue Reading" are not good. Rather, use a version of the page title. This is true for any kind of link on a blog.
- The linked page should be of good quality too. If the user closes the page right after clicking the link, search engines will not consider the linking relevant.
10. Inbound Linking
Inbound links are links from other websites to your blogs. They are important to tell search engines how pages on your website are related to other websites. They act as a way to review the quality of your website.
This is not an easy part but there are some important things to understand:
- Inbound links from only the relevant sites count. So there is no need to go to the whole internet and try to place a link to your blog on every social media page.
- Find communities that are relevant to your blog and place links to your blog on them. For e.g., Hacker News, Reddit (relevant subreddits), etc.
- Encourage people to share your blog on social media. Social share links will be helpful to people who are interested in your blog. It brings traffic and is likely to reach a relevant audience. A sentence asking people to share your blog on social media goes a long way.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, these tips can form a checklist for us when publishing blogs. If you liked the article, please do not forget to comment, react and/or share the blog with others. If you want to connect with me, you can find me on Twitter.
Did you find this article valuable?
Support Abhinav Pandey by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!