In this article I want to discuss a few easy SEO techniques that any blogger should be using to get the most traffic to each post. It’s a chapter from my ebook “Vegan Activist Guide to Starting a Website, Getting Traffic & Making Money to Support Your Passion” that you can download here.
In addition to creating your content, educating your readers and dazzling them with your pictures, and photo collages, there are certain more mundane components that need to be taken care of in order for that page to rank high in the search engines.
High rankings is what you want, because you want people to be able find your recipes online (plus if people get to your page, you also have an opportunity to make some money, but more about this later).
Almost everything I learned about SEO and building websites that get targeted traffic, I learned at the Keyword Academy. Court Tuttle, who is currently the owner, recently published a guide to SEO for Bloggers. I highly recommend that you go to his page, download it and read it (see the Resources section).
Below I outline briefly the main steps that you need to take that the Keyword Academy recommends will help your site. Whether you currently have a vegan website, or are just starting up, you will benefit from these simple strategies that will help move your pages up in the search engines.
Yes, this can be time consuming but these steps will really go a long way to help search engines know what your blog content is about and bring visitors to your site.
1. Find your best potential keywords
Researching and comparing various keywords will show you the potential of various topics for your website. For example, upon a quick search, you will find many more people search for “sweet potato soup” than “sweet potato bisque”. So you would use sweet potato soup as a main keyword in your post, title, URL, and photos.
You’ll need to sign up for free Google Adwords Account. Then go to Tools and Analysis, and type your keywords.
Keywords are simply phrases that people use when searching for things online. So a “recipe for sweet potato soup” is a keyword. It contains 5 words, so it’s a long-tail keyword. Long tail keywords are far easier to rank for than short-tail, such as “soup” or “potato soup”.
Check “Exact” and “Only show ideas closely related to my search term”. Click “Search.”
The list of related keywords will be displayed. You are only interested in the Global Monthly Searches. You can sort by this number, to make it easy to identify high traffic keywords, and possible variations.
2. Use keywords in your posts, post titles, and image names/descriptions
For each post, you need to find keyword phrases that match your post content, and then use the strongest keywords that relate to your post in your posts text, title and as image names/tags/titles, and possibly in the URL. You can also use the Keyword Tool for brainstorming ideas for new posts.
Once you find your keywords, here is what you do with them:
2.1. Use Keywords in Post Title
Use the main keyword in the title, but try to make it sound natural and exciting. “Sweet Potato Soup Recipe” sounds boring. On the other hand, title “Guess What I Made for Lunch Today That Impressed My Mother-In-Law” is too vague. Your keyword, “sweet potato soup recipe”, doesn’t appear in the title, so the readers will not know what the post is about and that makes it a LOT harder to rank in search engines for the phrase.
Combining these two might work: “Guess What I Made for Lunch Today: Potato Soup Recipe That Impressed My Mother-in-Law.”
However, there are also those that recommend to keep titles short for the simple reason that only the first 64 to 70 characters of your title will appear in the search engine results. For that reason, make sure you use your keywords very early in the title, not toward the end of it. Google places more value on titles and title tags that have keywords near the beginning. “Potato Soup Recipe That Pleased Even My Mother-in-Law.”
Or, write two posts, one with the recipe, and the second, describing the experience of serving the soup for lunch, and all the raves it received (or not), and link them together.
For a great guide to writing titles, I recommend reading Ian’s Hollander’s article (see the Resources section at the end). Here is a version of this title based on Ian’s suggestions: “3 Secrets to Delicious Sweet Potato Soup Recipe They WON’T Tell You on the Cooking Channel.”
2.2. Use Keywords in Your Post Body
Choose a few keywords per blog post and use one major keyword in the first few sentences. Don’t over-stuff your text with too many keywords. Try to use natural variations of the same keyword, if they exist (for example, sweet potato soup, sweet potato bisque). Talk naturally, your readers – and the search engines – will appreciate that!
2.3. Use Keywords in Image Names and Tags
Images attract readership. They make blog posts more engaging. That’s the human part. For the search engines, you need to help them grasp what your images are all about by including alt tags.
Use your keyword phrase as the file name of your image. You need to rename the picture prior to uploading it to your site, so that instead of img_2347-e17582410623.jpg or something equally vague to sweet-potato-soup-recipe.jpg.
Also, use your keyword as the alt tag of your image. An alt tag is the text that shows up when you hover over a picture and you set it when you upload the picture in WordPress. If you have multiple pictures, use variations of the keyword in names and tags. Pick the ones with the highest search volume in the Adwords tool since they’re all relevant.
Remember, that search engines are simply pieces of code. They don’t know what’s in the picture, because they cannot see it. Letting them know what the picture represents will also help you to show up for more image searches!
2.4. Link to Other Relevant Posts on Your Site
It’s highly recommended that you link each of your blog posts to other, related posts on the site. This promotes better bounce rate, and it’s also great for SEO.
There are various ways to do this. You can link within posts, put a “related posts” section on the sidebar, and include a “featured posts” section within the homepage.
When you publish a post, think about old posts that would be relevant to the new post. Edit the old posts and link them to the new one, this will make it appear stronger in the “eyes” of the search engines.
If you already have a blog, you have some homework to do. Go to your top five posts (today!) and make sure that you have correctly keyworded and titled the posts. If you set a goal to just go back to a few posts each day, you will be set up in no time. Yes, it takes time, but it’s not complicated and taking these steps part of your blogging routine will pay off over time!
2.5. Link to other relevant blogs related to your topic
Check out other blogs that relate to your topics. Then link to the best examples. Your users will appreciate it when you provide additional information that’s useful to them. In addition, the bloggers you link to will be pleased and may return the favor by linking back to your blog. All this is good for SEO.
11. Give guest blogging a try
Guest blogging or guest posting is one of today’s top link-building tactics. It gives you the chance to establish yourself as an expert in your field. It’s also a great way to get your blog noticed by other bloggers.
Guest blogging provides your blog with significant link juice, especially if the blog you get to write for as a guest is a highly authoritative blog.