If you are a blogger, I’m so happy to share these top 10 quick SEO tips that I learned on my recent trip to Haven Conference in Atlanta. I love Haven for many reasons ~ meeting other bloggers, making new friends, and staying in a really nice hotel room all by myself. As bloggers (if you are not a blogger, pardon the shop talk; I’ll be back with DIY projects, home decor, and such on my next post.), we are constantly learning because, let’s face it, blogging wasn’t conquered in a day. That’s one reason I keep going back to Haven ~ to learn new blog tips that will help me write a better blog, give more value to my readers, and grow that blog.
So here is how Haven works: Several 1~hour classes are offered on a variety of blog topics, each class is offered both days of the 2~day conference so you don’t miss a topic that you are interested in or think you need the most. During classes, everyone takes notes, but at the end of Haven all the presentations are available to all Haven attendees. Isn’t that nice?
SEO Tips ~ 10 Quick and Easy Fixes to Use Right Now
Oh, SEO, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the bane of our existence. It’s a love~late affair. We would prefer not to think about you, but you’re always on our minds. SEO is how Google and other search engines find your blog. I knew that Google and I were not on good speaking terms, so the first class I attended was SEO ~ Begin with The Right Stuff ~ taught by Sabrina Snyder. Sabrina is actually a food blogger at dinnerthendessert.com with a huge following and she does know her stuff.
I learned so much in 2 days ~ about photography, working with brands, how to make my blog look better for readers, how to do Facebook live. On the plane flying home, I read through my notes, highlighted them, and decided to really focus on SEO. So I made a list of the top 10 SEO tips I learned, specifically those SEO tips that I could implement quickly and easily. I thought you might like to learn what I learned. Bloggers love to share great blog tips.
Actually, this is only the third time I’ve written a post geared mainly for other bloggers. I wrote about essential items you should pack for Haven and 17 Photography Lessons. Writing for your peers is a bit scary.
*These blog tips are directed at WordPress users. I don’t know a single instructor at Haven who doesn’t use and recommend WordPress.
**If any information in this post is incorrect, it’s my fault, not that of the instructors. I did do alot of fact~checking.
SEO Tips ~ The Backend
If you think in terms of a restaurant (I do since I’ve been to culinary school.), the backend of your site is like the kitchen, the place where the food is prepped, made and plated. If the kitchen is “in the weeds” ~ that’s restaurant~speak for messed up, behind, think Gordon Ramsey ~ then nothing works properly. For a website, the backend is the dashboard, plugins, the “guts if you will. If your backend is “in the weeds”, then your blog won’t work to its maximum efficiency.
This is the tagline that appears next to your blog title when someone Googles your site. It gives Google a better idea of what your blog is about. Before I checked my TITLE TAG, I searched several top lifestyle blog sites that I know well. Some had TITLE TAGS and some didn’t. My TITLE TAG definitely needed an update, and, fortunately, this was an easy fix.
In your WordPress DASHBOARD, go to SETTINGS > GENERAL
You will see your site title and below that a box titled TAGLINE. Type in your new tagline. You should use the most important keywords about your site. Click SAVE.
I changed my tagline so Google and readers would have clearer understanding of what my blog is about. It should be short and to the point, but contain keywords about your blog. Although you should give some thought to what the tagline says, making this change took about 10 seconds.
Your Permalink Should not have Dates
According to Sabrina, Google wants to see your post title, not the date. Yoast recommends “using a simple and clear permalink structure. Ending your URL with the post name is the preferred method”. This is another easy fix.
DASHBOARD > SETTINGS>PERMALINK. Select the format for your POSTNAME. Click SAVE.
Yoast explains the reasons for not having a date in your permalink: “Using dates in your URL never had many benefits. When you add dates to your permalink structure, you automatically ‘date’ your posts. People will naturally look for posts with a more recent date, assuming that they contain the best information. However, sometimes older post can hold very valuable information, but won’t get the same amount of clicks due to their age.”
That’s so true. I know when I am searching for technical information I look for the most recent post dates. But as lifestyle or food bloggers, date really doesn’t matter as much.
Check those PLUGINS
PLUGINS are those add~ons to WordPress that make your site more functional. There are thousands of them for all different applications, from making your site look prettier to e-mail marketing sign~ups to social media buttons to security. The list is endless. But PLUGINS can have cliches and that’s why creators are constantly updating them. When you are notified that a PLUGIN is available, check it out and then update with just a CLICK. Only use PLUGINS that are absolutely necessary. PLUGINS slow down your blog’s speed, which Google doesn’t like. So delete any that are not actively added value to your site.
One word of advice: if WordPress or a theme has an update, wait a week to make sure any update cliches have been worked out.
I recently added WordFence.com, which was recommended by iMarkInteractive, to check my site’s security, and it found 1 plug~in that had been “abandoned” by WordPress and 4 plug~ins that had not been updated in eons and recommended that those be deactivated and deleted. A couple of PLUGINS just needed updating. Again, fixing these plug~in issues took just a couple of minutes.
On your DASHBOARD, go to PLUGINS. You will see the list of all the PLUGINS you have. Just CLICK on the action you want to take.
If you have further concerns about your plugins, you can try this fix suggested by Lauren and Leslie at Restored316.com. During their class on Taking Control of Your Site, they said to DEACTIVATE all your plugins and then REACTIVATE them one at a time. I haven’t done that, but I’m passing on the information.
Have you walked into a store and before you can take a breath, the saleslady has bounced on you? Don’t be that person, the one that hits your reader smack in the face first thing when they land on your site. Sabrina recommends scheduling an email marketing form or an offer to buy a product pop~up after your reader has been on your site for a minute or 2. If not, they may just bolt before reading your fabulous content.
Backup your Blog
Let’s face it ~ hackers are out there. Or some catastrophic disaster can happen and you could lose all your data. Lauren and Leslie also recommend using a 3rd party to back up your site, not just relying on your hosting service. There are PLUGINS or other companies that do that. As I mentioned, I just added Word Fence to give my site added security.
Frontend SEO Tips
Now we’re in the dining room of the restaurant. The pretty part where you are greeted by a hostess, seated at a lovely table, given a menu of the delicious offerings, served water or wine, a basket of fresh bread from the oven. You are loving your dining choice for dinner. You meet the chef who is going to prepare your meal. You feel really special and can’t wait for the dining experience that you will have. That’s exactly the way a reader should feel when they find your blog. These SEO Tips are the ones you should follow as you are writing your post.
The TITLE of your post must contain the exact keyword that your post is about. And it should be as close to the front of the title as possible.
For example: I started out this post with this title, Top 10 Quick SEO Tips to Improve Your Blog Now. It’s a good title, but a simple adjustment makes it even better: SEO Tips ~ My Top 10 Quick and Easy Picks. Moving SEO Tips to the very beginning of my post TITLE will make the SEO bots and spiders see it more clearly. This one SEO tip will be one that I focus on for every post title from now on.
It may take a few minutes to play with your title to get it just right, but it is so worth it. I use CoSchedule Headline Analyzer on every post title until I get one that scores “in the green”. Also, you can use adjectives in your post title and on images, but not in your slug or link.
H1 Headings are ONLY for your Title
Somehow I missed that memo and I had been using H1 headings as the first heading in the body of my post. Google doesn’t like that; shame on me. Fortunately, going forward that is an easy fix. And I’m slowly going back and correcting that error in previous posts.
Use H2 as the Main Subheading
Make it easy for readers to follow your content by using subheadings. Your H2 Headings should also be placed in your ALT TAGs, your Meta Description, and in your excerpt. H3 subheads, such as the ones I’m using in this post also break up content, but tell readers this area is important. Google likes when you break up content with headings and images. In this post, I have 4 H2 headings and 11 H3 headings.
Use Google Adwords to Search for the Top Keywords for your Post
O.K., I’m a bad girl. I do search Google and Pinterest for my post keywords, but I had never actually searched primary keywords on Google Adwords. It’s actually easier than I thought. It’s now the first thing I do, before writing my post TITLE. If you don’t have Google Adwords set up, DO IT NOW. Here is the link to Google Adwords, and here is how to use it.
Where to Place Your Exact Keywords
- your post title
- the file name of every photo
- the first word in your H2 headings
- the first word in the first paragraph after your first image ~ and DO NOT put a space between the image and your first words
The Meta Description
Your Meta description should be your ALT TAG in just the FIRST IMAGE in your post. The other ALT TAGS should be slightly different variations of the Meta Description. Google is smart enough to pick up on synonyms. Who knew that?
This is what you want your Yoast SEO Analysis to look like before you preview and schedule your post. All green lights are music to my ears ~ not quite the right analogy, but you get the idea.
**Those 10 outbound links are actually NO FOLLOW links. I click on the “nofollow option”, but the links show up as regular outbound. Another related SEO TIP I learned: do not have your “nofollow” links open in a new tab.
SEO Tips ~ The Final Word
This post contains affiliate links to Sabrina’s SEO Course.
Is this post the final word on SEO? Not by a long shot. In a way, I’m just scratching the surface. But every little step forward is a step in the right direction. Sabrina has a SEO course called Sprinting the Blogging Marathon that I am purchasing. You can also purchase the SEO course.
I also have learned so much about SEO from Kirsten Thompson’s 5~Day SE~OMG Workbook.
I really hope these SEO tips will help you make your blog found more easily by readers searching for your content. I’m sure hoping that the changes I make will do the same for me. How did you find this post? Did you Google SEO TIPS or Top 10 SEO TIPS or QUICK AND EASY SEO TIPS? If you did, and found this blog, then I’m doing something right. SEO isn’t learned in a day or a month. I’ve only scratched the surface, but every little SEO tip that I can apply makes my site better. So try a few and see what happens. It does take time for the fixes to take effect, so we have to be patient to see the results of our work.
If you didn’t make it to Haven, I hope you’ll put it on your blog bucket list for next year, get a piggy bank and start saving. It is worth every penny. Any education in a business is an investment in its future. And, if you need more incentive, Haven 2018 will be in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina!!