Never write for SEO purposes only.
But if you are serious about your blogging – and want your efforts to pay off, and be read by real people: you’ll need to make sure they can find your hard-earned content in Google, Bing and the rest of the search gang.
Some years ago, and even occasionally throughout the last few years, I’ve done the mistake of blogging without first taking the time to do proper keyword research (and survey the interest in) the topic I was writing about. If no one is interested, you might as well do something more meaningful with your life. At least I’ve felt that way, when later realising how little traction those blog posts got.
Answer? Almost none. Nada. Reason why? Seemingly, they are careless ego trips of little interest to anyone else than me, myself and I.
Sometimes, it can be an even sadder case though. That’s when you’ve written about something that other people do have an interest in, but no one stops by your blog to read it.
That’s the case when you’ve written a blog post, without focusing on the words real people use, when they’re searching for your content.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free web service hosted by Google that helps developers, website owners, and SEO professionals understand how their site is performing on Google Search. It offers tools and reports to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results such as viewing referring domains, mobile site performance, rich search results and highest-traffic queries and pages.
Its helps you get an overview of the metrics related to search performance (incl. user experience) to help you improve your websites and receive more (organic) traffic. Search Console also provides a way for Google to communicate when it discovers security issues (like hacking vulnerabilities) and if the search quality team has imposed a manual action penalty.
An example of how NOT to blog for SEO
You might have written a blog post about your experience with using NLP techniques to help PTSD victims live a normal life again. Yet, no one came from Google to read your blog post, because you hadn’t done prior, proper keyword research. There might have been many people you could have helped get a better life, by reading your blog post. But, sadly (for you – but regrettably; it’s your own fault) they didn’t search Google for “nlp techniques for ptsd victims”.
More likely, they searched like:
- “ptsd treatment alternatives”
- “bank robbery depression treatment”
- “why do i feel depressed”
- “nlp suffering relief”
- “nlp practical applications”
- “nlp does it work”
And so on. As you can see, people generally search for solutions, to their problems.
If you can help them, but they can’t find you: both you and they; are missing out.
That’s why I’ve written this blog post, to help you with a few tips, to help you learn how to blog for seo purposes and benefits.
First a cautionary statement:
Over-optimized content is a horrible reading experience. But well-optimized content will often be a more pleasant read for your reader, because it makes your text easier to skim/scan for words and phrases of interest.
Now for my first tip:
Replace unspecific words with specific ones (aka: your keywords)
Even after Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update, it’s a good idea to replace unspecific words like: it, they, him, her, he, she, their (etc) with the specific names / descriptions / labels. So, rather than writing “now restart it…” write “now restart your MacBook Pro…”.
You see? Google can’t know what “it” means or refers to. It’s a great way to get those keywords, naturally waved into your content.
Don’t overdo it though. If you do, it well feel like you’re keyword stuffing your content, which is not a good idea.
Now for my second tip:
Use the Scribe WordPress plugin!
It costs a little, but not much, considering its great benefits. Scribe is a unique WordPress plugin that helps you find keyword opportunities, write search engine friendly texts, focus your website and crosslink your content. Highly valuable. I wrote a Scribe review a few months ago. It’s also available for Microsoft Word, both Mac and Windows. I use the Scribe WordPress plugin myself.
Note: You can also get access to Scribe content optimization via Raven Tools, though it’s not directly integrated with WordPress. You write in their editor, and can then send the blog post directly to your WordPress install. Raven is more expensive than Scribe alone, but is a full online marketing suite. I use both Scribe stand-alone and Raven Tools myself. They’re worth the money because they help you achieve more by focusing your online marketing efforts. Relocate those money from your PPC ad budget. It’s much wiser to invest wisely in steady future traffic than burn money on one-off click-based advertising.
Consider investing in Scribe. It’s really good. Some months ago I cancelled my Scribe account, because I thought Raven Tools (which comes with Scribe integrated) would be enough. The result? I blogged less, and missed Scribe so much that I’ve had my Scribe account reactivated, a few weeks ago. I’m happy again, and already blog more. I know it may sound like a cheesy infomercial, but I gotta tell you the truth.
Next up, my third and last tip, which is free – and so often overlooked:
Use Google Webmaster Tools – like a pro
Google Webmaster Tools are free to use. Way too few website owners have at least linked their site to Google Webmaster Tools. Even fewer ever log in to Google Webmaster Tools, on a regular basis. That’s a shame! And of the few who do log in, most simple link their sitemap.xml file and think they’re done with it.
I’m here to tell you: Google Webmaster Tools is the simplest, most overlooked SEO suite on the planet. It’s free, and it’s powerful. It’s the closest you can get to knowing what Google thinks of your website.
Keywords data in Google Analytics is almost none existent as of writing this blog post. My Google Analytics keywords report filters out a whopping 95% of the keyword data, due to Google’s [keyword not provided] stunt. Google simply announced they’d stop providing keyword query data from searches done by logged-in, ie. encrypted users. Google Webmaster Tools however, provides you with full keyword query statistics!
Here’s my top Google Webmaster Tools tip:
Go to the Search Traffic > Search Queries section. Sort by impressions, so you’ll see the search queries getting shown most often i Google’s search results, first in the list.
Now look at those top search queries. This is where analytical application of your powerful, human mind is needed to make sense of your data.
- “Impressions” shows how many times your site has appeared in Google’s search results, for that search query. Super nice to know huh?
- “Clicks” shows how you how many times people have clicked through to visit your site, while searching for that search query. Note: Less than 10 doesn’t get reported.
- “CTR” stands for click-through-rate, and shows the percentage of impressions that’s clicked on. The higher the better. A key number.
- “Avg. position” show the average position your site appears at, in Google’s search results, when people are searching for that query. It’s an average, because many factors (including personalised search) plays a role each time your site is displayed in Google’s search results. So it fluctuates, a lot.
If a search query has many impressions, but a poor CTR percentage, then it could be clue you haven’t written your HTML titles and meta descriptions, or if you have; should write better HTML ones.
If a search query has a high CTR, even though the average position is low, maybe even on page 2 of Google’s search results: you’ve got yourself a winner! You should note down that search query, write a blog post (or create a page) optimized to that exact target term. That more optimized page / blog post, will hopefully rank higher, and achieve an even higher CTR! A good tool for this, it Copyblogger’s Scribe plugin for WordPress, mentioned above.
That’s how to blog for SEO purposes, using Google Webmaster Tools, properly!
Google Webmaster Tools tip number two:
if your site is new and/or doesn’t have much traffic yet; it can be useful to increase the data range to go three months back. That way, there’s more data to work with, albeit not as fresh.
Oh, one last thing: XML sitemaps are overrated, and in my opinion a waste of your time! Don’t bother. I don’t!
That’s all folks! I hope you found it useful!