It seems I have the daunting task of optimising three months worth of blog post images to include alt text, a task that is going to need a lot of coffee and even more patience as I edit and re position all images since September 2017. While the best blogging advice I’ve ever received would be NOT to focus too heavily on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), it’s important to have an understanding of these concepts to get the basics right from the outset, the rest will follow.
Up until a few months ago, SEO was something I had only ever heard in passing, another acronym or piece of IT jargon that was completely irrelevant to me. I was wrong, in fact, as intimidating as an acronym can be, optimising your blog for favourable search engine results is not as difficult as it sounds and now I can be heard rattling off the latest facts and figures at my husband after dinner and excitedly watching my baby (Moonsomnia) grow.
The first time I saw the words ‘Domain Authority (DA)’ I felt like I was a very small Neon Tetra in an aquarium of Oscars. So many fish, both small and large, all floundering for the same thing – the right to post an incredible DA rating on their media kit, a little number that has huge influence on the sponsored content offered to bloggers; both in quality and in frequency. (Unfortunately, my media kit is at this time, in parody format hopefully soon to be upgraded to the real thing).
What is Domain Authority when it comes to SEO?
In short, it’s a race held by SEO gurus Moz. You’re either at 1 (the back) or at 100 (you’re winning). How well your blog does on a search engine results page is predicted by how close to the winner of this race you are. The higher your DA rating, the better your search engine rankings will fair against other sites and the closer to the front page you’ll appear (you hope). The DA of your blog is its search engine power; the quality of your site and extra effort put into ensuring everything is ‘as it should be’ will ensure a favourable rating – one I don’t yet have.
I promised myself I wouldn’t get hung up on my DA rating but currently I’m sitting at 1/100. I thought this meant that my blog was awful and I was being shunned by search engines and bloggers alike but thanks to a group discussion in a bloggers SEO group on Facebook, I was assured that actually my blog is just still a little too new to index and I shouldn’t panic just yet… I still check on it daily, waiting for my baby to age.
Feel free to head on over to Moz to check your own rating but don’t get too hung up on the numbers (yes brands, that means you as well)! A blog with a rating of 1 can put out some high quality content; read the blog first, check the DA later.
If you’re lucky enough to already have a DA rating, which, if you’re reading this you probably already know everything I’m about to say, you may want to keep track of how to improve this rating. If you don’t yet have one that is above 1 or are new to blogging and this SEO mind boggle, pay close attention (I wish I had!).
You need only search the internet and various other social media platforms to find a myriad of ways to increase your SEO, I am going to focus on the basics here (I am but an amateur) and what I’ve been able to ascertain up until now.
SEO Tips and Tricks – The basics
I’d been posting happily for the last 3 months, creating bright and image rich content and really enjoying the look of my blog. I was involved in another conversation in a Facebook group that saw a few bloggers pose the ‘alt text’ question… after a bit of conversation and a lot of head scratching, it was clear that I had missed out a VERY important step.
Alt (alternative) text is a word or phrase that is attached to an image to tell readers what is in said image. Now, while you as a seeing reader don’t actually need me to tell you what is in an image you can see with your own eyes, blind and visually impaired viewers using screen readers are able to tell what is in the image by the alt text being read out to them. Without alt text, the image is just… well, nothing.
This is an easy and essential correction, when inserting an image in a WordPress blog there is actually a blank alt text box, which you can complete with the description of your image. Remember, this is being read out to some of your audience members so ensure it’s clear and concise!
Long form content.
There is nothing worse than reading a blog and you’re in a rush, you do a quick scroll and it looks like the London marathon rather than a 100m sprint. Perhaps it doesn’t get your full attention, you have the concentration span of a goldfish and give it a skip or maybe you get halfway and get distracted. From the writer’s perspective you’d think that a short form post would be better, something under about 700 words to keep your reader engaged but not for too long…
There is a lot of speculation as to the number of words that Google sees as a knowledgeable, quality post but the principle is clear. Long form posts fair better in terms of SEO as they’re considered to be more in depth and more valuable than its shorter alternative. The average word count for top ranking Google content is somewhere around 1200 words!
This is fairly easy for those of us with verbal diarrhoea.
Think about your post. If you wanted to find your post on the internet, which words or phrases would you use to search for it? (Think vague as well as specific). You will have multiple keywords within your blog post that will connect your readers to your site, these keywords will draw your target audience to your posts and using the right keywords is a process of trial and error.
It’s a little bit of skill to establish the right keywords, the words that your target audience are using to find what you’re offering. This could be product; service or subject related and needs to be relevant to your post. You want to have the most applicable keywords but also try not to use the same keywords as everyone else does in order to remain competitive.
Keywords and search terms are constantly changing and staying ahead of this wave can be tricky, thankfully there are a number of online keyword tools that you can use to help choose popular and particular keywords and phrases for your posts, URL’s and your headings…
Did you even know that each Heading (Text format) in WordPress came with its own purpose, not just to increase or decrease text size? When formatting your text, you’ll have the opportunity to convert text to one of the Headings provided – H1 being the largest, which is generally only used for the title of your post and not again in the body of your writing. H2 to H6 are hierarchical headings which can be used throughout the rest of your content, not only as bold and clear page breakers BUT as more keyword baskets… that’s right, chuck them in!
It is very important to use the main keywords in your sub heading (H2) because this reminds and clearly tells your reader what it is they’re reading. Without overly spamming your keywords, make sure that your headings contain the relevant info for SEO to ensure you rank as high as possible.
Good quality needs media!
I know, I mentioned alt text first and images and media last. That’s because I want ALT TEXT to stick in your mind when you’ve finished sharing and commenting on this post. That said, if you’re following my alt text notes then you already have images so you’re winning at point number 5.
Posts and pages with good visuals make text a little bit more attractive than just a whole load of words on a digital page. Some surveys report that posts with pictures do twice as well than posts without when it comes to both traffic and SEO. While stock imagery is great, there is nothing wrong with showcasing your own photography skills – you may even find a hidden talent!
So now what?
These are merely 5 short ways you can improve your site’s SEO. 5 of many! After a little bit of search engine usage of my own, it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed by all of the information but remember, you had to first learn how to turn on the oven before you learnt how to cook. These things take time.
All of the above said, don’t lose site of your personal touch amidst all of the technical mumbo jumbo. While SEO is important in a lot of ways, it’s more important for me to stay true to myself and post content that is meaningful to me, it’s still my blog after all. While a higher DA rating may get you more sponsored posts, it doesn’t make your content any better without you making it so. The key ingredient here is YOU so keep that your primary focus and the rest should fall into place. Personally, I’m just trying to smash out great posts that’ll make you giggle a little and if they happen to get further forward in the DA race, I won’t say no.
By only offering 5 tips, I’ve left the advice column open ended! What are your SEO tips and tricks for new bloggers out there, I would love to know.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to spam your social media with the share button below!
Please bear in mind that I am not an SEO specialist, this is my personal experience as a blogger.