How much should you be worrying about SEO?
Just for the record, SEO is search engine optimisation.
This is when you strategically place appropriate keywords into your posts to attract the search engines.
And to tell you the truth, it can get very complicated, let alone competitive. But I want to reassure you that it needn't be as technical as you think it is.
What is SEO?
It's a bit like a game of snap, or even 'matchmaking'.
Whenever someone uses a search engine to find something, they usually type in a question or statement.
And within those words, the search engine will determine some as being important. These will become the 'keywords', which could also be a short phrase, and the process will be to 'match' this with content they have 'indexed' recently.
This content is much more likely to be from blogs, because blogs are usually updated with new content on a regular basis. They are constantly churning out new stuff that 'feed' the search engine spiders, which are robotic programmes fed by mathematical algorithms that search out, or crawl through, the web looking for new material.
And if your post has within it the right kind of keyword (or key-phrase) that matches the importance calculated within that question or statement, there is a high chance your blog could be selected as the answer.
How does SEO work?
Now it doesn't necessarily mean your post will get to the top of the list. There is a lot of other technical stuff that 'gets in the way'.
However, that means you shouldn't give up on SEO. The more you strategically place your keywords in the right places, and in the right quantities, the better chance you have of preventing your post from 'getting lost' amongst all the other noise on the net.
And it is the most appropriate use of keywords that trigger the best results.
The search engine algorithms have become quite sophisticated over the years. They can detect when you are trying too hard. If you cram too many keywords in your opening paragraph, this could have the adverse effect: your blog will be marked as spam.
And if you write your posts only for SEO purposes, without any due care and attention to your readers, the algorithms can detect that too. They may not be able to recognise writing style as such, but it is the reaction of the readers that they are looking for.
Because sharing that content on social networking sites, accompanied with comments and discussions, can be directed back to the original post, and the algorithms deduce that this post must be good to deserve so much attention.
When and where does SEO matter?
There are plugins you can add to your blog, if you have a WordPress.org one, that will help you with your SEO. They use a traffic light system that tells you when you've done something right, or when you've missed something out.
However, at the end of the day, by striving to comply with the rigidity of these plugin requirements, your post ends up unreadable, then you're not doing your readers any favours.
And if you have another blog that is unable to benefit from these plugins, you will have to use other tactics.
The most important area your 'keyword' should go is in your headline. This is because it is so prominent – to both your readers and the search engines.
It is the first thing that is picked up. The first thing read by your readers. The only main element that shows up in social media shares. And the H1 code that creates the headline is programmed to attract the search engine spiders.
If you get that right, and its keyword successfully 'matches' with what your ideal readers are searching for, your chances of having your post read are mightily increased.
Where else can SEO be used?
There are various other places that will help the keyword in your H1 code work better.
Remember I said earlier that multiple keyword usage can be detrimental. But used strategically, appropriate placing will enhance the keyword's proximity within your post, showing the search engines that is the phrase you want them to focus on.
For example, in the first paragraph. Even if you don't mention it again throughout the post, as long as it is there, that's better than nothing. Because that's where the spiders always crawl.
And to show good measure, pop your keyword in the middle and at the end of the post, because they are also a favourite spider haunts.
If you use subheads to break up your post (and I thoroughly recommend that you do), pop your keyword into at least one of them.
If you use images in your post, adding a keyword to a caption, and certainly the alt-tags behind them, will also help.
And make sure your keyword is in your post's URL, or web-address, also known as the permalink. Spiders like seeing it there.
These are all really simple SEO positions. And of course if you have the SEO plugins, there will be more options for you to explore.
But for the ordinary, mortal blogger, if you carry out my instructions, you can only be doing your post some good.
Does SEO sound so scary now?
SEO is an art, practised by large media agencies, for clients that want quick results. And to achieve that they have to work very hard at it all the time.
But I bet they don't care about their readers. And I want to stress the importance your readers are to your blog.
This website is about attracting readers. It is readers that maketh a blog, as without them you have no purpose, and no feedback. And didn't I mention earlier how the search engines determine SEO success via how much response your posts get within social media?
This is because generating relevant and valuable backlinks to your post is another SEO factor. But I'm not going to confuse you any further about this in this post. Just focus on getting lots of shares, comments and discussions from your readers, and that will do the trick!
For ordinary bloggers that certainly can make a difference. And you never know, sometimes you may hit the jackpot, and get lots of lovely traffic as a result! We can only live in hope...