Welcome back to my series on blogging basics!
Last time, we discussed blog setup 101. Today, I’m here to give you the skinny on search engine optimization for bloggers.
In other words, that thing called SEO you’ve probably heard of? I’ll explain what the heck it is and how you can use and implement it on your own blog, to your advantage. Let’s dig in.
What’s the buzz around search engine optimization (SEO)?
When I first started blogging, I put the content out there… and waited… and expected people to stumble upon my blog and read what I’d written, no questions asked. And a few of them did. Emphasis on a few.
Traffic on Voyage of the Mind picked up once I started promoting my work on Twitter. But self-promotion is a real grind, especially after a while. When you have to work hard to write posts, and then work even harder to promote those posts on your social media channels, the odds of burnout increase drastically. And even the most shameless of souls, like myself, eventually start to feel that they’ve shoved their work into other people’s faces and down their throats one too many times.
Luckily, around the time I started promoting my work on Twitter, I also started utilizing search engine optimization as a potential avenue of increasing the volume of traffic on Voyage of the Mind. Now, many bloggers seem to know about SEO before they start blogging. Had I known about SEO, it probably would’ve improved my odds of success, especially early on! But better late then never, so even if you’re an established blogger, it’s time to start thinking about harnessing SEO as a tool in your wheelhouse.
What is SEO, anyway?
What is SEO? Essentially, SEO is the practice of writing content in such a way that it’s friendly to search engines. Hence “search engine optimization” — SEO is the practice of optimizing content for search engines. I’m not going to go into too many details — because I’m hardly the right person to give you the technical info on SEO or any other internet topic — but generally speaking, SEO takes into consideration keyword density and several other parameters, as well as other signals from a blog or website (i.e. volume of traffic). If you’re interested in more technical information, check out the Wikipedia entry on SEO for starters.
Over time, SEO can boost the amount of passive traffic to a blog or website. It increases the odds of your posts, articles, and other content to be highly ranked in search engine results. You know, when you type a query into Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine? Your blog could pop up at the top of those results!
Note that I said over time. One of the most important things to know about SEO is that it takes time for search engines to rank your content. I started seeing results from my SEO many months after posts were published. SEO works great for “evergreen content,” AKA content that will remain relevant long after it’s first produced. As a result, some of my informative articles have gained a lot of traction on Google — like my review of Hemingway’s novel The Garden of Eden and my article on the historical importance of Herodotus.
Search engine optimization for bloggers — quick steps to implement SEO on your blog or website
The fastest and easiest way to start implementing SEO is to utilize an SEO plugin. Here, I can speak only to the process on WordPress, the platform that houses Voyage of the Mind. I want to note first and foremost that you’ll need a business plan (at least) to download plugins at all. This fact caused a bit of a headache for me, but eventually I decided to take the plunge and splurge on the upgraded plan. I can’t say it’s paid for itself yet, but in my opinion the switch has been worth it for me, since I really enjoy watching Voyage of the Mind grow.
I currently use Yoast SEO to power search engine optimization on Voyage of the Mind. Yoast is a popular SEO plugin used by many bloggers and website creators. I chose it because its free version is powerful enough to accomplish what I need at this time. But there are oodles of SEO plugins on the market, so do some research and find one that’s right for you.
You don’t need to use an SEO plugin to start working on your blog’s SEO. But if you don’t use an SEO plugin, you may have to install numerous other plugins that each accomplish a single SEO task, which is why I say the fastest and easiest (as well as most comfortable) way to go about SEO is via an SEO plugin. And if all this talk about SEO and plugins is making your head spin…
SEO isn’t a necessity. It’s just a practice that can take your blog to a new level. It’s important for you to consider what your goals are for your blog. Is your blog a passion project? Do you write mainly for yourself, or mainly for an audience? What purposes does your blog serve? If you simply enjoy blogging for yourself, without the goal of growing your blog into something larger, then SEO isn’t something you need to worry about — now. Your goals may change! Mine certainly did. And when they did, I started learning about various ways to grow a blog.
Regardless, SEO is a great skill to have in the wheelhouse. I hope this article has helped you think about ways to get started and why you might want to start utilizing SEO. Thanks for reading! Here are some additional resources that cover various elements in more detail:
If you’d like, pass “Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers” on to your blogging pals!