5 quick tips on SEO for blogging beginners!

‘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…’

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.

Macbook on a desk being closed but light still on

SEO Tips and Tricks – The basics

Alt text!!!!

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!

Example of where the Alt Text box shows on WordPress

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…

Wrong again.

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.

Keywords

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…

WordPress 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.

Screenshot of the WordPress Heading list.

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! 

Shevy

Xx

Please bear in mind that I am not an SEO specialist, this is my personal experience as a blogger.

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Stock images – Source

Moonsomnia logo moon and crystals with SEO tips text

My PR Media Kit (A parody)

I have read a lot lately about monetising my blog, better understanding PR and working with brands in order to build a business with this baby of mine, Moonsomnia. Weeks of research have led me to the conclusion that a media kit is essential to approaching brands and businesses as I build this little empire. While I will, sometime in the near future, work on having a legitimate media kit created, I had a little giggle at a draft I put together just for fun. It highlights the struggles of a new blog with limited social media following / DA rating but showcases the appeal of a smaller, lesser known blog. 

I take my hat off to ALL blogs who actually have a decent media kit, rest assured I will call on you when the time comes to create an actual one. I hope you will find this just a little bit funny and by no means is a low blow at anyone in any way, these figures are all of my own as of now:

Moonsomnia’s Media Kit:

A draft.

Moonsomnia is the womb of the word-babies cultivated, nurtured and brought into the world by me, Shevy. Moonsomnia is recognisably fun, alternative, eccentric and vulnerable. It is the third wave of a series of blog sites that I’ve been involved in, finally finding my niche in September 2017 when this empire was born. I’m happy to approach any and all topics professionally with an inquisitive mind and original views, though I’ve had dabbled a little in beauty reviews, mental health topics and the alternative lifestyle.

My subscriber numbers as at 15 November are as follows :

WordPress – 118 followers

Facebook – 29 likes

Twitter – 485 followers

LinkedIn – 11 connections

I’m not going to lie, my following is crap but my retweet reach is impressive.

I’ll be blatantly honest with you, I may not look like much, my views in the last two months haven’t yet reached 2000 and my DA is as low as it can go (1), but you know what?

  • I’m hard working.
  • I’m talented.
  • I write with the fervour of a madman.
  • I never turn down a challenge.
  • My photography and videography skills get better by the day.
  • I am professional, just look at my logo / site? (I even have business cards, then it must be so!)
  • My make up skills aren’t half bad.
  • I have an eye for detail.
  • I am one of the most passionate bloggers you’ll ever meet.
  • I also have a MacBook in rose gold that makes a hella good blog prop. Just saying.

So if your business is looking for someone who is not your quintessential lifestyle or beauty blogger, whose sense of humour could put your brand on the map with sarcasm and wit, whose piercings and tattoos and interesting views won’t thwart your opinion, then Moonsomnia is your blog and I’m your gal.

I have a Portfolio page for the little work I have done and a contact page if you’d like to get in touch…

And maybe I’m not right for your brand but you’d like to be my friend? Send me an email anyway.

Xx

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Shevy Moonsomnia in a hat and sunglasses

A leap of faith.

I have chosen a new path that will allow me to realise a lifelong dream, to do what I love and never work a day in my life.

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It has been a while since I took a jump without forethought and planning. Almost all of my life has been calculated down to the finest T, every decision carefully crafted and designed for a desired outcome. I’ve never been an impulsive person, my OCD disallows careless action and I don’t usually do anything without hours of consideration.

 

Until now.

 

Those of you who keep up with this page know that I have had a few medical issues recently; I was diagnosed with an Iliofemoral DVT (as well as clotting in my IVC and lungs) and before that, earlier on in 2017 I had a sub total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy for treatment of Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It has been an extremely trying year in terms of my health, at the ripe young age of 33 I feel like I have experienced a lifetime of medical concerns compounded by surgical menopause and my faltering mental health, the progressive worsening of my anxiety and the dark hole of depression that opened up, ready to swallow me into a point of no return.

 

Shevy in a witch hat.

 

So much medical jargon, boring I know. It sounds so very dramatic and admittedly like I am trying to baffle you with bullshit. I’m not. This is my reality, a few lifetimes of medical madness made manifest in the body of a weakened human being. I had lost a sense of who or what I was while trying to clamber to any semblance of hope for the future, all the while juggling being a mother, a wife, a friend and a career woman. Up until recently, I was solely focused on surviving, choosing a path of forced existence over choosing to live.

 

Since my teen years, I have had the same career all of my life. I studied Travel & Tourism at the school of Tourism at Damelin in Johannesburg, South Africa for which I received a diploma. Afterward, I walked into a reception position at my first employer, a corporate travel agency who took a chance on an 18 year old girl with but a piece of paper and an ill fitting skirt suit. I progressed quickly and climbed the ladder, promotion to promotion, which ultimately saw me leading and supervising a global, 24-man team, which operated 24/7. I have always been good at my job because I have always enjoyed it, I am good at what I do and had built up a great reputation in the travel industry in South Africa… until I cracked.

 

Shevy up the stratosphere in las vegas

 

One day, I woke up and I just couldn’t anymore. I could not walk into a company (a well known global travel company) and make them a fortune at the expense of my sanity, the stress levels were immeasurable and night after night I would come home in tears, weighed down by the pressure of bringing in an income to help support my family. My husband and I sat down and talked it out and I made the decision to resign from my managerial position, I then moved to a smaller agency where the stress levels paled in comparison, my biggest gripe was wearing a uniform and not making enough commission.

 

It was shortly after this that I decided to make the move to the UK, a little over 3 years ago now. I was hired by my current employer – via Skype interview may I add – and no more than a week later I was on a plane to jolly old, ready to start a new adventure.

 

Since December 2015, I have been a full time business travel consultant working from home; most would say my job is ‘cushy’. I earn a decent wage; have the advantage of working at my home and therefore not being delayed by a commute and have a good idea of what I am doing after having done it for 16 years as a career. This is who I identified as, a travel consultant. Travel is in my blood, it is what I do, it is all I have ever known… but it doesn’t mean it is what I wanted.

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Mascarun 2014, Reunion island (centre)

Since I was a young girl, I would find myself writing. Anywhere, on anything I could find. Poetry. Songs. Stories. My solace was in my imagination and the magic wand was the nearest pen or pencil. I have never fancied myself as someone who could write very well (I have always been my worst critic) so I used to read… ALL… THE… TIME. Reading and writing, the earliest of education that is taught and the only things I cared for throughout my entire school career. There was a time, toward the end of high school, I considered going into a writing career but outside influences led me to believe that I would not make enough money to survive, I wouldn’t be good enough to make it in a ‘word eat word’ world. I chose a different path instead and every day I have regretted it since.

 

This year, after my harrowing diagnosis in October, I had a very frank discussion with the specialist who ultimately expressed his concern about the stressful nature of my job. Though you wouldn’t think it, what I do is definitely not for the faint hearted. I may work from home but from 08:30am in the morning until 18:00 in the evening; despite a lunch hour being imposed I seldom leave my desk. Call after call, email after email. It is a constant go, go, and go in a seated position – Not ideal for a DVT.

 

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Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

At the start of my situation, I was initially booked off work for two weeks however when I ended up back in the emergency room a second time and the doctors realized that my diagnosis was worse than originally thought, I was booked off work for a full four weeks longer. Shortly before my four weeks was up, I was back at the doctor and I was booked off for another four weeks with the possibility of extending further. With all of this time booked off ill and trying my best to recover, to be more mobile and to deal with the ongoing financial stress and not being able to work, I knew it was time to make a decision. I knew it was time to take a leap of faith…

 

I am so grateful for a lifelong career that has allowed me to raise a family, has eased financial strain and has taught me how to function in a corporate world. It has taken me this long to realise that my health MUST come first and it is about time that I act selfishly, that I forgo the luxuries and comfortable lifestyle I have become accustomed too in search of a new path, one that allows me to recover so that I can be the best person for my people that I can be. One that allows me to do what I love every day and with each passing moment, presents me with a new challenge to excitedly overcome. I have chosen a new path that will allow me to realise a lifelong dream, to do what I love and never work a day in my life.

 

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Rand Airport, SAA photo shoot.

 

A little over a week ago, I handed in my letter of resignation to a company that has stood by me for three out of sixteen years and it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Not only am I turning around and walking away from a fantastic employer, a steady and substantial income, a job that I know like the back of my hand and not to mention its stability. I am walking away from a lifetime of the travel industry in order to pursue a business that means more to me than all of the perks that being a career woman has afforded me. I have been so fortunate over the years, I have been able to travel the world throughout my career and I have met so many amazing people, been recognised with some of the best in the industry and have loved every minute of it but it is now time for a new chapter.

 

My initial priority is to get better; my health is first and foremost the most important thing for me to focus on. I have days where I wake up and it feels like I can take on the world, one hand tied behind my back. Other days, the pain is so intense that I can hardly make it from my bed to the sofa. This is my rollercoaster and it has become a theme park for which I have an annual pass, I am learning to accept its twists and turns. Thereafter, my next priority will be to put myself out there in the New Year as a content writer and influencer, my blog remaining one of my primary focuses. Moonsomnia is imperative to my success, it is the platform that allows my vulnerability and versatility and it is a showcase of who I am and all that I encompass; a visual and textual representation of who I am now and who I look forward to becoming in the future.

 

moonsomnia logo black

 

Since handing in my resignation, a weight has truly been lifted. A renewed sense of hope has flooded the hole of darkness and I have something exciting to focus my attention toward, other than my incessant ailments and frustrating setbacks. The stress and anxiety, though not altogether gone, have been lulled into hibernation for the winter of my recovery. The financial strain brought upon my family as a direct result of my decision is one that escapes me however I am ambitious and I will not give up. I will do what I need to do (within reason and legality) to ensure we don’t have to compromise too much in order for me to live my truth.

 

The future is unknown. Have I made the right decision? I will never be able to tell. The only certainty is uncertainty itself and that petrifies me, it also does something to me that not many things have been able to do recently in my career, it excites me.

 

I am excited for 2018; bring on a new year and a renewed sense of purpose. ‘Until you spread your wings you will have no idea how far you can fly’.

 

Xx

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Abu Dhabi life.