The basics of SEO
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. It’s a means of ranking your website higher in a google search over other websites with similar content. Ever wonder why certain sites appear highest when you google something? If you have never noticed it before, try it now. Start thinking about how that link got there. Why is that link highest? It’s because its content is most relevant and offers the most value.
But how does a computer know what is valuable and what it not? It’s because it has been clicked on the most. Google’s search engine scours the web for different words (topics) and indexes them based on their content relating to those topics. When you search for a word, google pulls the websites from this index relating to your word. It then shows you a number of websites with the current topic.
How it perceives the website to be of most value on the topic is by the popularity of the page or website, ie. how many people clicked through to it, is directly related to how popular that page is.
SEO can be surmised as – ‘Relevancy x Value’
Remember, a machine can’t measure value. But, it can measure popularity, ie. how many times something was clicked. To a machine, this is what is valuable.
So how do you get the best SEO for your blog or website with the topics you write about. This is where you need to provide value. You need to understand the problems people have with this particular topic. Not a ‘bait and switch’ headline, or these ‘clickbait’ tiles that bring people to a page but offer no answers, help, or insight to the topic.
Google knows this, hence this is why their engine scours the web to discover both the value and the relevancy. Even if something is ‘clickbaiting’ users to a site with the promise of answers, it wont be ranked highly, due to its relevancy to the topic, it’s not solving problems, and those algorithms know that.
How to improve your SEO
Below are 5 ways you can increase your SEO ranking and get more people to your site. These are general tips and practices for any blog, article, website or body of copy you write;
- Focus on a key word – In order to get indexed on a certain topic, you need to focus on a problem or subject that can be boiled down to at least one word. Do you want to write about Photography? Make sure your focus word is photography, write it in your headlines, in the web link, in the body copy and make sure it is written in the fist paragraph of the copy. Photography is an extremely broad word, in terms of searching for it and the amount of websites that have indexed it before (don’t let that stop you from writing about it though). I recommend breaking the problems of photography down into a series of posts that relate to photography ie. aperture, exposure, lenses, and use these topics as the basis for a post.
- Write over 300 words – The barrier to entry is falling, anyone with a thought can now start a blog or open an app, and start writing. There are so many avenues with writing that anyone could (and should) start writing. From Medium, Steller, Ommwriter, and many other intuitive writing apps and websites, it’s incredibly easy for anyone to start writing. With this being said, the barrier for entry is always falling. Which is good and bad depending on how your mindset. The good being that now that everyone can gain access to it, the more people can enjoy it, the bad being that the more people gain access to it, the more noise that it produces.
To get in any way close to being considered for indexing and ranking high in a search engine, you need to write at least 300 words in your post. This is so that the engine can pick up on the terms and key word that you have used, and assumes that you have solved the problem in an effective and descriptive way using those 300 words. Start small, it’s easier than you think.
- Add images – Google loves images, but it’s not going to index on images alone. Artists can struggle with this because they’re websites may not rank high in search engines because the majority of the time, an artist will simply post a picture of their work, when you need a body of copy to accompany that work. This is why artists should write a case study for most of their work, at least over 300 words long of the problems they solved, their process towards the work and how they built a relationship with the client. Add ‘alt’ text to an image, this allows google to index the metadata and affix a title to the image so it can be searchable and pulled form a relevant search. Posting a photo of a building you took in NYC? Add the alt title to the image so it can be pulled up when people search for ‘NYC buildings’.
- Add links – Adding links to other relevant content can increase your SEO ranking, leaving a valuable trail of ‘breadcrumbs’ from one relevant source to the next. This is seen as solving the problem even further and adds to the relevancy of the post. Boosting it higher in search ratings. Ideally, posting a link to your own writings from posts you have made before that relate to the topic is ideal. This keeps users on your site and shows them the other valuable posts and resources you have to offer.
- Readability – There is now so much content on relevant topics, that search engines now index by readability. This means how easy it is to read the post. This is down to what kind of language you use, ie. Passive voice, sentence length, paragraph length and subheading use. Consider these when writing. Sentences shouldn’t be more than 20 words long. Subheadings allow you to break up parts of the problem. It’s easier for people to categorise the content.
Be consistent with your writing, it’s favourable among search engines. Write a lot, not just regularly, but in length too. And not just for the sake of it, aim to provide value with your writing. Aim to get over 300 words at least. Start small, you will think it’s a mammoth task in the beginning. It gets easier over time. You develop the writing muscle in your brain where you can generate content faster and easier. Make a habit out of writing.
It’s all about the value. Are you solving problems for people? Get a friend to read over your work. Ask them if it solved something. It’s easy to write content that you are happy with, but harder to know if it solved someone’s problem.
Do you want to become a better writer? Or do you want to write on a more consistent basis? Consult this post I’ve written before – ‘The better writing guide’