SEO Basics for Authors
SEO is a term that gets thrown around a lot but if you’re new to blogging, or you’ve never had your own website before, it can be a daunting acronym.
First things first, what does SEO stand for? Search Engine Optimization! It pretty much means what it says — optimizing your website content for search engines. Easy peasy, right?
No. At last count, there were over 500 million blogs on the internet. That is A LOT OF BLOGS. A good number of those blogs are vying for the same traffic that you are, trust me. When you develop your marketing plan, you’re thinking (hopefully) about what makes you special or unique. Whatever you come up with, applies across the board. Optimizing your blog for search engines means asking yourself, “what will be the thing that brings readers to MY blog?”
Sometimes, SEO can be tricky for authors, mostly because a lot of authors struggle with what to blog about in the first place, and that is a separate blog post, but you can start by asking yourself, “Why am I blogging in the first place?”
In this post, I’ll cover what you need to know about SEO and tools that can help with SEO.
What Authors Need to Know About SEO
- SEO Best Practices are always evolving. To stay up to date on current best practices, subscribe to The Search Engine Journal. They’ll start you off with SEO guides ranging from beginner to advanced, and everything in between.
- Your page speed counts for a lot. Think about it– do you like to spending time on pages that load slowly? Me neither! ConvertKit outlines five things you can do to speed up your page in this blog post, but first you should actually check your page speed.
- Outbound links are also important for SEO rankings. Numbers 1 and 2 in this list link to pages outside of my website. Pointing readers to credible resources makes YOU a credible source. See how that works? ?
- You also need internal links, too but they need to be used strategically, to link together pages on your site on a similar topic. This helps to establish credibility. (There’s that credibility thing again!)
- Good SEO starts with good content, period. To paraphrase Field of Dreams, “If you write well, they will come.” No matter good you are at attracting traffic, it means nothing if readers are leaving your page right away and aren’t sharing your content.
Tools and Strategies To Help With SEO
- The number one tool to help with SEO is the YOAST plug-in, if you’re on WordPress. (If you’re on another platform, I recommend doing a search for “SEO + [Your Website Platform].) There are free and paid versions of YOAST. I currently use the free version, and it’s served me well. YOAST doesn’t do SEO for you. Instead, it analyzes your content, and suggests actions and tweaks you can make to improve the SEO of your content, page by page, post by post. It’s almost like a game– SEO success is indicated by red, yellow or green buttons, and I love trying to make the button turn green! I will say this about the YOAST plug-in: it’s important to remember that YOAST is analyzing how well your keyphrase is used in THAT blog post. This brings me to the next thing on the list.
- Installing Google Analytics will help you figure out what’s bringing people to your site. You can use this information to tweak your SEO. You can have excellent SEO for your keyphrase, but you need to ask yourself: are people actually using this keyphrase in a search? Do your research!
- There are a bunch of tools out there to help you do keyword research, but the best tool might actually be the autocomplete feature in Google. Have you ever started to type a keyword into the Google search bar, and a list drop-downs with possible completions for your search phrase? Take a look at those! They are coming up because that’s what people are searching for already.
- As far as strategy goes, the most effective one is paying attention to your meta description. This is the little snippet of text that is shown in search results. The key to this strategy is using a tool like YOAST to create unique meta descriptions for each post or page on your site because search engines don’t like to see the same meta description coming up over and over again.
- Another important SEO strategy is using short but descriptive URLs. Before you hit publish on that post, edit the permalink to have 2-4 words that describe the post, and leave out the conjunctions. (Conjunction Junction definitely has a Function ? but it’s not needed here. Keep it simple.)
I also recommend signing up for Blogging 101 for Authors! In this course from Write Publish Sell, you’ll not only learn the basics of SEO but everything else you need to know about getting your blog up and running. Right now, the course is in pre-order for the low price of $27, but it’ll go up in November when it officially launches.
Need help getting started with SEO? Learn more about how I can help!
Pin and Share!
PS Before I hit publish, I checked my SEO. Green Button! 🙂