Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is exactly what it sounds like: ways to make your content more discoverable (optimized) for search engines (Google). Once you get the hang of keywords and phrases, and with the right tools, making your website content SEO-ready becomes second nature.
SEO: The Basics
When we talk about Search Engine Optimization, what we’re really talking about are web pages, blogs, photos, anything that might come up on a web search. Google, the behemoth search engine most people use, has a set of rules that they use to rank and file search results (much like we discussed a few weeks ago with the Amazon Algorithm). That’s why when you search for the same term in Google and, say, Bing, you’ll come up with somewhat different results.
We want to utilize SEO when we want new users to discover our content outside of our existing reach. Basically: instead of tweeting a link to your blog or paying for an ad, a user finds your content organically. (Ideally, they would then take some purchasing action.) Ranking high in Google also helps maximize your advertising budget. After all, if a user hears your name on the local news, they’ll probably go to Google to find out more, right?
For the purposes of this blog, we’re breaking the SEO discussion for authors into two areas. First, we’re talking about the basic, static author webpage content. Then, we’ll dive into how to make individual blog posts stand out.
The number one thing to remember about SEO is that it’s based on quality content and keywords. You can have a super keyword-dense blog post, but if it’s unreadable or unhelpful, it won’t rank. Likewise, if the keyword or topic is obscure, you can be sure not to find a large audience.
Author Website SEO
For your website, the idea is that you and your content should be the very first thing that pops up when a user searches for your author name. You don’t want users searching for you and getting sidetracked on a different website! For authors with unique names (like our alter-ego, S. Usher Evans) this relatively easy. For authors with a bit more common of a name, this can be a little difficult.
To make sure your author content is as findable as possible, make use of Google’s webmaster tools. These tools will help make sure your website is showing up as it should on Google’s search results. You can also see which queries are leading people to your site, check to make sure there are no crawling errors, and more. Another great way to make sure your stuff shows up is to utilize Google Plus when you post. It should come as no surprise that Google wants you to use their proprietary social network.
When it comes to individual blog posts, the goal isn’t necessarily to be number one, but to make it onto the first page of Google. For this (also applicable to above), we use keywords. Keywords are exactly that – a phrase or term used to describe the general content for the page. When a user searches for that keyword, they will happen upon your page.
Obviously, not every blog post is going to have a golden keyword that brings in thousands site visitors. For blog posts like this one, which are intended to educate and share information, a keyword is easy. For blog posts about books, like when our alter-ego writes promotional blogs about her books or when she’s writing a more personal essay, it’s more about the content.
Yoast SEO offers a great WordPress plugin that tracks SEO as you type. It catches things like sentence length, keyword density, and even if the keyword is found in the URL of the blog post itself. We find it to be maddeningly addicting to get all greens.