How to SEO a Blog Post

I have been learning so much about SEO and how to maximize traffic on my blog so today I invited my blogging friend, Nathan–who also happens to be a professional at this sort of thing–to give us some simple tips for how to SEO a blog post. These tips are easier than you might think and you’ll notice a difference in your traffic right away!

SEO is a very tricky thing for bloggers.  Most of us started blogging because we wanted to share something.  Maybe it was a cool DIY project, a deal we found at the store, or possibly a recipe we found absolutely delicious.  But SEO was not something that we cared about.  We cared about writing compelling stories and sharing… That’s it.  Along the way, we realized that treating our blogs more like businesses and creating an audience (and a little bit of income) was important.  Then we heard about SEO and how using it correctly would help our blogs get more traffic from Google.  Well, that’s my story.  I have two blogs with a combined traffic of around 200,000 unique visitors.  Many of those visits come from Google and other search engines.  Over the years, I found it incredibly important to learn all I can about SEO and what I needed to be doing to make it easier to get more traffic from Google.  Now, after being a full time blogger for years, an AWESOME advertising agency in Louisville, Kentucky recruited me to do SEO for our clients!  I’m in a very unique position, being a blogger that cares deeply about my content and a professional agency SEO that works daily on large digital campaigns.

This post is going to touch upon four basic things you need to be doing every single time you post a blog post!  Before we get started I’m going to insist that you install or have your designer/tech install WordPress SEO by Yoast.  This plugin is an absolute MUST.  It will change the way you post on your blog and will really help your blog posts rank better. 

Step 1:
Select a Keyword for Your Post.  I cannot stress this enough, it’s critical.  Keyword selection is one of the most important things a blogger can do.  If you want to know the secret, here it is.  Once you’ve written a post, ask yourself this question: ‘What would I type into Google and expect to find this post?’  The goal of any keyword is to be as specific as possible.  It really shouldn’t be called a keyword, but a key-phrase because it’s rarely ONE word.  For example, I just made a yummy cauliflower pizza crust.  Now what should my keyword be?  Should it be cauliflower?  Should it be pizza crust?  Should it be pizza crust recipe?  If you typed those things into Google would you realistically expect to find my very specific recipe about cauliflower pizza crust?  Probably not.  For this post my keyword is not just cauliflower pizza crust, no, because that’s not what I’d type into Google either.  I’d type in cauliflower pizza crust recipe.  That exact phrase is what I would type into Google, and therefore, that is my keyword.

Step 2:
Select a title.  I ragged (very politely and with permission LOL) on a blogger a while back for posting an amazing post about cloth diapering, but then not mentioning the word diaper in her title.  I wrote a detailed blog post all about titles on my Ad Agency’s website.  (I often write about blogger SEO there, check it out!).  The basics of a GOOD SEO blog title are this:
    •    No cute titles….ever.  Be specific.
    •    Try, if possible, to use your Keyword as your title.  That is the best and most ideal scenario.
    •    Use power words.  Every niche is specific; in recipes the word ‘easy’ is huge!  Find your power words and use them in your titles.
Going back to my cauliflower pizza crust post, the title is identical to my keyword phrase.  Simple. 

Step 3:
Use keywords in your images.  Images present you with an amazing opportunity to signal to Google what your post is all about.  In WordPress, make sure to optimize your images.  I always make sure my keyword is in my ALT description.  This is not only important for SEO but also for Pinterest.  Make sure that whatever keyword you select is in EVERY ALT tag in the post.  Also another little trick, change your image file name to your keyword phrase!  Always use dashes (and not underscores) when doing this and you have another additional opportunity to get some great SEO juice!

Step 4:
Care about your meta description.  Meta descriptions are so very important to SEO. They are the text that describes the post to Google.  NO ONE sees them on your blog, they only appear on Facebook (if you show a preview), and on Google, and other search engines.  This is very important to understand because your metas need to be compelling advertisements for your post.  You want people to click into your post that have no idea who you are.  Write something interesting.  For example, a bad meta description for my post cauliflower post above would be something like. 
“Check out this cauliflower pizza crust recipes, it’s yummy.”

This meta captures so many good keywords and makes you WANT to check this recipe out.  (It is awesome btw, LOL).  Metas should take a little while to write, so put effort and thought into them.  In the meta above, I included many different keywords, paleo diet, cauliflower pizza crust recipe, healthy pizza crust.  All are possible search terms people might use.