SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Search Engine Optimization?

Would you like some tips to help your blog appear for specific keywords? If so, keep reading…

Why Search Matters for Blogs

In an earlier article, I talked about the importance of blogging and search engine rankings. However, once you’ve got the blog up and running, the next thing to do is to start optimizing your posts for the search engines. Although search engine optimization (SEO) can be overwhelming to the newcomer, once you understand a few basic concepts, you’ll soon find it’s really not that difficult.

Good SEO copy and a search engine–optimized website accomplish three things:

  1. They’re easy for the search engines to read
  2. They’re easy for the target audience to find
  3. They’re easy for people to read

Everything you do to optimize a post is based around those three basic concepts.

So with that in mind, here are six things you can do to optimize your website or blog posts for the search engines:

#1: Start With Quality Content

The first and most important thing you can do is to write a good, informative post that is accessible, easy to read and appeals to your target audience. In the old days of SEO copywriting, web pages were stuffed with keywords to the point that it hurt the actual content. Aside from the fact that the search engines have caught on to keyword stuffing, readers are going to quickly bounce from a page that doesn’t provide the information they were seeking.

Information of value is also much more likely to attract incoming links. When search engines see other websites linking to a web page, especially if it includes relative content, they determine that the web page holds information of value and move it up the rankings.

SEO starts once you’ve got a solid blog post.

#2: Determine Targeted Keywords

Think like your target audience. Which words will they use to find your post? Once you’ve written your post, it’s important to decide how you want readers to find you. These search terms are your keywords. With a well-written post, the primary keywords are often obvious.

However, there are a number of tools available to help with keyword research. One of the most interesting tools I’ve found is Google Wheels.

The great thing about Google Wheels is that it gives you an idea of how Google thinks. When you enter a search term, Google returns a “wheel” or web of related terms. You can then click on each of these related terms to create more wheels. Using the wheel, you can quickly find related keywords that should be included in your post or meta information.

For example, the phrase “SEO tips” returns a Google Wheel with related phrases such as “SEO tools, ” “meta tags, ” and “search engine optimization tips” — all keywords that occur fairly naturally in this very post.

With a little revision and by including these terms in the meta title and descriptions (see below), you can include these keywords in your optimization. When Google sees related keywords in all the right places, it can easily determine the information on the page, thus improving the chances that the page will receive a higher search engine return.

#3: Write Strong Meta Titles and Descriptions

Meta titles and descriptions tell both the search engines and the reader what’s on the page. The meta title and description also show in the search engine results, so they need to convince readers to click through to the website. Good content management systems and blogging programs include a place for meta information.

In WordPress, premium themes such as Thesis or Studiopress include fields to directly enter the meta titles, description and tags. You can also use plugins such as the All in One SEO Pack, which adds meta fields. Other platforms such as Blogger require some basic coding. Whichever platform you use, the meta information is a vital step in optimizing a web page for the search engines.

Good meta descriptions match the content on the page. Primary keywords should appear at the beginning of both the title and description. Title tags are limited to 72 characters and title descriptions approximately 165 characters. Anything longer will be cut off in the search engine results. While it’s acceptable to use a number of keywords in the meta information (as long as it reads well), don’t overuse terms. Repeat a keyword more than twice and the search engines may actually penalize you for keyword stuffing.

While the general consensus is that Google no longer looks at the meta tags, other search engines might. It can’t hurt to add a few keywords to the meta tags. Focus on the primary keywords and don’t overdo it. Five or six of the keywords recommended by the Google Wheel would serve well for meta tags.

#4: Analyze and Revise

The next step is to analyze your copy, determine which keywords are rising to the top and make appropriate revisions. The problem is it can be hard to tell which words the search engines will recognize as primary keywords. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to analyze a web page and show you primary keywords or keyword density.

Most free tools require you to publish the page before you can run an analysis. SEOCentro’s Meta Tag Analyzer provides a detailed analysis of a web page or blog post. It shows the relevance of the meta content to the information on the page, how it will appear in the search engine results and an in-depth keyword analysis including keyword density.