December 02, 2017

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics for Bloggers


If you are a blogger or webmaster, I have a question for you - How many of you are familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? I don't think I can find many bloggers or webmasters who haven't heard of this term. May be you are already experimenting with advanced techniques too. I'm not sure about webmasters, but I know that bloggers are very fond of SEO. Why don't we just talk about it?

Search Engine Optimization


It's not rocket science. Eventhough you believe it is, you won't have a hard time understanding basics though. For bloggers, search engines are one of primary traffic sources. You can either hire someone to do optimization for you, or basically you can assure your blog and its content are optimized for search engines. Here I'd like to address some SEO basics that can be applied by anyone who knows how to write a blog post.

Firstly, SEO is an Internet marketing strategy which associated with search engines. Secondly, search engines are not smart enough like human beings. Thirdly, SEO is not the salvation of bloggers.

Why SEO?


SEO wouldn't be necessary if search engines alone could figure out and offer perfect answers to the searchers. Neither, PageRank. Well, let's hope for it in future :) RIGHT NOW, you need to help search engines to help you in return.

By applying SEO techniques, we make our content pages more search engine friendly, and search engines can get a better understanding about the integrated content. Hence we can count on that it will deliver our content to the needy people to make use of our content.

Let's Get to the Basics


Basics matter! That's where things get started. Below you can find a sample search result, and I've indicated the elements - title, description and permalink. A few core elements of a search result which you need to pay attention.


Here I'm gonna address some SEO concerns which the publisher or blogger has the total control. Usually they are called as "On-Page SEO Factors".

First off, let me define two terms I'm gonna use here - Post title and Page title. Unless, I believe you will find they are confusing.

Post Title - Post title is the title you assign to your post. For example, this post has the title "Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers"

Page Title - Page title is what you find mentioned on the web browser tab or title bar. You can hover your mouse pointer to find what it is. It's what search engines will index along with your content.

Mind you, sometimes you may find both post title and page title are same. But technically it isn't :)

Post Title


As like a catchy newspaper headline convince you to read the whole story behind it, the post title alone can convince a person to read your post too. Not only human beings, but also search engines consider title as an important element which may describes what is particular page about.


When a searcher perform a search online, search engines look up page titles they indexed and gives priority if the search keywords match with the words in page titles. Therefore, accurate and effective post titles can be the key for search engines to deliver your content to the targeted audience.

Eventhough accurate and relevant titles will be search engine friendly, it doesn't mean you should dump your creative titles and use pretty straightforward title to impress search engines. Brief, descriptive but unique titles can be adored by many. See if you can balance creativeness and search engine friendliness in your title. Even if you can't, don't be discouraged. Title is not the only element you can count on.

Page Title Structure


In addition to the post titles, the structure of your page titles can help boost SEO effectiveness of your pages too.

For example, take a look at below page titles:

1. Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers - Cracko

2. Cracko - Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers

3. Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers

You may not find much difference except for addition of the blog title along with the post title in two of them. But it isn't the same for search engines. Now read them again and list out first word of each page title.

1. Search

2. Cracko

3. Search

It's a good practice to have your blog name mentioned at the end of the page title or not having it mentioned at all. Remember, I'm just referring to your blog posts not the static or homepage.

Search is a process of seeking and delivering content that match with user's search keywords. For search engines, the first keyword they read in a page title matters too. Having your blog name prior to the post title can be a disadvantage over the other blogs which has no blog name associated with their page titles.

Search Description


When it comes to SEO, search description is another important element you need to think about. You won't be defining search description while you writing your blog post and you need to write it separately. If your post title alone can't express what is your post is about, you can use search description feature to summaries or elaborate your post content.

Search engines can look into your search descriptions and do when users perform a search. If a search query matches with the words in your search descriptions, your content get listed in search results too. In case if you decided not to have a search engine friendly post title, here's your opportunity to include the keywords you missed in your title.


Search descriptions are displayed as a snippet in search results. They can be referred by searchers to make sure if it's the right post they are looking for. Practically, it's rare that someone would spend time to read a search description prior to visit a page. Hence you can think of making the description more search engine friendly by listing relevant keywords in there, rather than writing it for users. But keep in mind to make it readable by people too. If you can balance the both aspects, you are a winner.

If you intend to automated the generation of search descriptions for posts, that can be a disadvantage. When you automate the process, your search description will have a snippet from your written post. Instead, you can make use of that space to fill in specific keywords that were missing in your title and content to expand the potential of being listed in more search engine result pages.

Not only defining search description for your blog posts, but also having it for your blog is critical enough too. Make sure you already have a search description defined for your blog.

When defining a search description, it's best if it contains maximum of 150 characters.

Permalinks


If you are not familiar with the term, permalink is the actual URL of your page. Either, you can let it generated automatically or else you can define your own custom permalink. You can grab the opportunity to SEO your posts by defining custom permalinks.


None of your visitors would care about your page URLs. Why would they even care? But search engines do. Search engines look up for the matching keywords in URL when an user performs a search online. Therefore, you can merely use appropriate keywords in your URL to make your blog posts optimized for search engines.

Let's take an example. If your post title is “Search Engine Optimization Basics for Bloggers”, its automatically generated permalink (based on title) will be,


But if you use custom permalink option, you can define entirely different keywords as below,


Got it? Totally different but relevant keywords being mentioned in the URL :)

Take few minutes to make sure you are using the right URL structure which allows custom permalinks option, not a random number or something. Further, try not to make your URLs too lengthy by adding all the keywords you can think of.

It's best not to edit permalinks of existing posts even if they were generated automatically. Else, it may affect on existing online referrals or backlinks.

Headings


Are you using headings in your blog posts? Headings can be very effective in writing and may avoid readers from feeling overwhelmed too.

How do you specify your headings? Just change the size of font and make it look like a heading?

If you nodded right now, you are committing a mistake. I have no doubt that readers can find the difference between headings and normal text. But again, search engines are not smart enough to detect it. If you need to convince search engines that the specific text is a heading, you need to use appropriate tags - HTML header tags.

When your headings are tagged with proper HTML header tags, search engines will identify them and index your post content in a structured manner. Eventually, it will help your content to perform well in search too. Else, your headings are just another piece of text for search engines.

Instead of trying to make it look like a heading, find the exact tool which allows you to define headings in post editor and apply them to your headings. HTML header tags are specifically introduced for that purpose.

Images


Your posts may include different types of content. We can't ignore images / photos. Can we?

Search engines are capable of indexing images in pages and will be delivered when users perform a search online too. A great way to bring more visitors to your blog. But, search engines can't gauge image details exactly unless you specified. To overcome this problem, you can specify a search engine crawlable description for your images. It's called Alternative Text aka Alt Text.

Specifying alt text for your embedded images will make them search engine friendly. Hence, when a user perform a search online, if his / her search query matches with one of alternative texts, the corresponding image will show up in search results under image search.

Different blogging platforms have different ways to define alt text, but it isn't hard enough to figure out. In some platforms, you can specify when you upload the image or editing image details. In some other platforms, you can define it after uploading the image while constructing your blog post.

If you would like to get more traffic via images, it's time to optimize your images for search engines too.

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