SEO hot right now

This blog has only been live a short while. I mainly built it as a mere outlet where I can write about stuff I’m interested in, but it’s clearly also useful in terms of making myself more searchable. By writing regularly about a wide range of topics, Google is (hopefully) seeing that there is original and diverse content continually being posted by me. This is particularly good for SEO.

SEO is a skill or knowledge base that has exploded in size over the last couple of years. It’s continually evolving also, and fast. Any SEO expert today needs to keep learning in order to remain one tomorrow. Now seems like a good time to point out that I am not an SEO expert! But, I do know a few pieces of best practice that can make a big difference. If you are looking for a true expert by the way, Rand Fishkin of Moz is a good place to start. I saw him at the inaugural Growth Hackers’ Conference in London last year and he was excellent.

What can you do to make your blog more searchable? Below I’ve outlined a few things that can help. It’s incredibly far from being an exhaustive compendium of everything you need to do to maximise your SEO – it’s more a small collection of stuff I’ve picked up in recent times and has really shifted the needle for companies I have worked with.

 

The name of the game

One thing that definitely helps is naming and describing your images properly. For example, when you download a photo from sites like Dollar Photo Club (that’s where I got the title image for this post actually), the file name will simply contain a mess of numbers. This tells Google nothing about the photos you are using. Instead, name your photo using keywords and always include an image description too. That way, your posts will appear to be more relevant and original.

I adopted this approach when running email campaigns for a tech startup a short while ago. The emails immediately became less ‘spammy’ and it resulted in a big spike in open rates.

Structure, structure, structure

Yes, content is king. But you can have great content written and if you don’t present it properly, you could be wasting your time. Below are a few housekeeping tips that can keep your posts more attractive – both for the reader, and the almighty Google.

  • Each post should be at least 300 words, but limited to around 700-ish so people don’t run a mile after clicking (I know, I ran over here!)
  • Make sure your post headline uses your keyword(s) or terms – like this post for example
  • Keep your sentences short and to the point – easier to read, easier to index
  • Keep your paragraphs short and to the point – ditto
  • Use headlines for each new section – again, ditto

 

And of course…

 

1. Be genuine

This is the best advice I can give in a couple of words. A while back, a lot of people were trying to cheat the system – copying and pasting content from elsewhere, posting links to their own content in the comments section of other blogs (backlinks), and of course gratuitously using keywords (so much so that sentences made little sense). Google’s algorithms have wised up to all of this. Keep your content original and well-written and you’ll have far more chance of getting noticed.

 

2. Be regular

No, I am not referring to your fibre intake here. Google really likes websites with regularly updated content. Sure, your posts should observe the advice given above – but posting often is also important. Again, as this blog is relatively new, I’ve tried to avoid posting tons of stuff in a short space of time in order to populate it quickly. Instead, I have a bunch of article topics queued up so that I can post at a consistent, regular pace. No. I’m still not talking about fibre intake.

 

3. Be social

That doesn’t mean just adding sharing buttons to the footer of your posts. Just like with social networks, talking about others and citing third party examples always helps. People love it when you write about them (in positive terms, that is)! Recently I decided to start work on a post titled ‘The top 10 places to eat in Cork’. I mentioned it to a restaurant owner and they were delighted – so much so that they want to share it article on their website when it’s done. So why not write your own ‘top 10’ article and share it with the lucky winners? Also, don’t be shy about sharing your posts in relevant forums like Reddit (provided that isn’t against your chosen subreddit’s house rules).

 

Finally

Assuming you are the owner of your blog’s domain, you should register for Google’s Search Console. There, you should ‘fetch’ your website as Google and index it at least once a month. This will ensure that any website description or keyword changes (as well as new blog posts) are indexed and searchable as early as possible.

Remember, managing any blog will be a learning experience. You need to know what’s getting traffic and what’s not, so you can adjust your approach to be most effective. Make sure you have Google Analytics enabled and installed on your smartphone so you can keep checking in. Two of my recent posts about Liverpool Football Club have performed really well and it was nice keeping an eye on the steady flow of traffic after they went live. So I guess I’ll be writing about football a bit more…