Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can sound tricky and hard to implement on your blog. But, SEO doesn’t have to be dark and mysterious if you take the time to learn some tricks.
To gain organic traffic from search engines like Google, there are methods of research and optimization you can use to help you rank better in search results: SEO.
What follows is a lengthy snapshot into SEO. Feel free to look for helpful articles to read about a given topic if you want to learn more.
The below information works for ANY niche, not just the parenting niche.
To see a checklist for each post for SEO click here.
What is SEO?
There is a TON of information (some conflicting) on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You will see “SEO” almost EVERYWHERE you read and learn about blogging.
SEO is the metric by which your site and all it’s pages are graded to decide where to rank your site on search engine search results.
For the top search engine (Google), the goal for all bloggers is to rank in the top 10 to be shown on the first page of the search results.
Importance Of SEO
With SEO almost being a “buzz word” in the blogging world, just how important is it?
Well, SEO is very important if you wish to grow your blog traffic without relying entirely on social media.
Think about it – what happens if your number one source of traffic (“referrer”), like Pinterest or Facebook, suddenly disappears or the way the social network functions (the “algorithm”) changes? You could lose ALL of your traffic overnight.
By doing some research, putting in place a good site structure and completing a checklist of tasks, you are able to grow your blog organically without all the work of constant social media updates and the scare of relying on one or two sources for traffic.
But, when it comes to writing your content here’s a quick tip: it is far more important to create amazing content than follow all the suggested SEO “rules”.
While SEO is something you should familiarize yourself with (and the information below should help boil it down for you), there is more to SEO than just using keywords.
See this post to see plugins you can use as a loose guide for SEO.
- Loading time of the page – if it takes too long to load your page, the user will likely leave right away to find a “better” site, which either doesn’t log as a visit to your site (if the reader leaves before the page fully loads) or increases your bounce rate (see below). 0-4 seconds is optimal.
- Bounce rate of the users who visit your site (meaning readers that navigate away after seeing your site after viewing a single page).
- Length of time on the page after entering your site. If the reader stays on your site longer, that indicates your content was 1) what they were looking for, and 2) actually has content worth reading.
- A visually pleasing site. Although this isn’t measurable, an unappealing site may increase bounce rate. It’s suggested that the more white space on the site, the lower the bounce rate (though this is likely a big generalization) (source).
- Mobile friendly – your site must be optimized for mobile devices (“responsive”).
See this post with plugins that may help optimize your images to cut down on your page loading time.
Content Pillars & Landing Pages
Google (and other search engines) want to see how your content relates to itself in a logical and consistent way. Learn more about content pillars and applicable landing pages here.
See this post to learn about how you can do content maps to plan out your categories and content pillars.
Categories vs Tags
In order to provide a clear structure of information on your site, it is important to understand the distinction between Categories and Tags.
Categories are used to create groups of content.
While it is possible for a post to fit into more than one Category, the general rule of thumb is to create content that fits into one Category only.
When choosing a Category name, it’s good practice to be clear and, if possible, use keywords Google understands (like you would want to use “Breastfeeding” rather than a strange phrase like “boob milk” – yep just wrote that…).
Essentially, you are creating a database of information and you want Google to be able to clearly map it out.
For SEO purposes, you will also want to include a keyword rich description for each Category.
Tags are completely optional and are used to describe the content you have created.
The Tags that you use may be used across multiple Categories to imply similar content, but you want to be careful not to use too many (you don’t want to confuse Google).
Each and every tag that you create will create a new “Tag archive”. For every Tag you create, another segment is created on your site that Google will catalog. If you click on a Tag (if visible to your reader), the user will then see a list of posts that apply to that Tag just as if it were a Category.
So if you create a post and add 10-20 new tags, you are created 10-20 additional types of content on your site! That’s a LOT!
Tags can be useful from a user perspective and to help you show related content to Google. BUT, try to stick to a consistent list of Tags you use rather than creating new ones every time.
It’s up to you if you want to use Tags or not.
Note that some themes and settings allow Tags to be displayed on your posts and pages. Many bloggers would say to remove the view to keep readers in a particular Category, but others want to keep the Tags visible for ease of navigation for their readers. Up to you. There doesn’t appear to be a clear answer to this question (that this mama could find).
Keywords are words or phrases (long tail keywords) that people use to search for content through a search engine like Google. There are many strategies to target keywords. Learn more here.
There is a great debate on post length for your content when it comes to SEO.
If your article is too short it may not have enough value to your readers (or for SEO). A short article that doesn’t answer all the questions your reader may have may increase your bounce rate (the people that come to your article and leave right away) and time spent on your page (factors in SEO).
What you want to do is create the BEST article about your topic, no matter if it’s 1,000 words or 10,000 words.
According to Stupid Simple SEO (course), here are the average word counts for the top 10 Google search results (front page of results):
- #1 – average 1,800
- #2 – average 2,000
- #10 – average 1,750
But, that’s just an average. If you google a topic you want to cover, look at the #1 spot on Google. Many times the posts can be 5,000+ words!!
So if you want to optimize for SEO, try for 1,500+ words. However, if you can create an amazing article with less words, fantastic!
Headings and Bolded Text
To help your reader navigate your content, you will want to include headings and bolded text.
Not only will these help your readers, but also show Google that you are segmenting your content in a meaningful way AND helping your reader see the important information in your article.
Headings (H2, H3, etc) not only help with your search engine results (SEO) but are a fantastic way to help your readers follow your content (especially on mobile).
When you have determined your keywords for your article, try using them in your headings (where relevant) to help Google when it crawls your site (when Google scans your content).
Bold Important Text
Readers sometimes skim an article (another reason for headings!) before taking the time to actually read it.
Especially if your article isn’t something you can easily add headings to, try bolding sentences or phrases you want to jump out and grab attention (especially if you are highlighting an opt in or offer).
Here is an article that talks more about headings and bolded text (along with other formatting topics).
Highlight your own site content by linking to articles you have already written! You want to try to keep readers on your blog as long as possible to keep your bounce rate down (people who view only 1 page on your site.
Learn more about link strategies here.
Linking to other REPUTABLE sites also helps you show authority. You can use external linking to site references, but try to keep linking outside of your blog to a minimum (to lower your bounce rate).
See more linking strategies here (including when to add “no follow” to external links!).
Tip: If you use the Pretty Links plugin (free), you can create links that not only look nice (can appear like “https://yourblog.com/affiliatename/”), but you can simply check a box for “no follow” so you can use and reuse a single link without having to add any code! However, ALWAYS make sure “masking” affiliate links aren’t against the program’s affiliate agreement. Learn more about the plugin (with a video!) here.
Backlinks are links to your blog on other sites. You can get these backlinks in many different ways but the most common is doing guest posting.
See more about backlinks and other link strategies here.
With all of the content you need (or want) to create for your own blog, why in the world would you want to take the time to guest blog?
Guest blogging is creating content to be published on another blog with the goal of receiving a backlink to your blog.
While it is possible to gain traffic from guest blogging, this is (for the most part) a potential side benefit.
Domain Authority (DA)
The biggest indicator on how you are doing with SEO is your Domain Authority score (shortened to DA in a lot of places).
“Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.” (Source: Moz)
Accepting Guest Bloggers
While accepting guest bloggers on your site isn’t technically an SEO trick, it’s a great potential way to grow your content AND likely receive backlinks to your blog (even if the blogger doesn’t have a high ranking site).
See this page.for how you can set up your blog to accept guest bloggers.
SEO Free Resources
If you are looking for a free resource to understand SEO:
- Try this free ebook from Stupid Simple SEO.
- Receive emails with great SEO insight by joining Backlinko’s mailing list.
- Stupid Simple SEO also did an amazing review of a (non-affiliated) mom blog here.
- MozBar: displays data (including Domain Authority) for sites you visit (including your own). They have a list of their other free tools here.
- See this post for info on free SEO plugins.
SEO Paid Resources
The below resources are great, in-depth tools for researching, understanding and testing your implementation of SEO (all offer trials):
You may also be able to find Virtual Assistants (VAs) that specialize in SEO and can help you implement SEO practices or audits of your existing site.
Backlinko also has a post on other free and paid tools here.
This was a LOT of information – pin it to reference later!