When I started out blogging, there were so many things that I had to figure out: how to actually build a website, how to get people to come to that website and how to create content that they would want to engage with and share. Now 6-ish years down the line, I don’t think about these things anymore – I have built up enough content and credibility that by now, that part of the business takes care of itself. Except for the getting-people-to-come-to-the-site part, that won’t ever stop. Readers are the lifeblood of any website: if no-one knows about what you do, no amount of beautifully crafted content is going to make any difference. And THAT is where SEO and backlinks come in.
Let’s first delve into what exactly SEO and backlinks are.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the way in which a search engine indexes your site. I am not going to go too much into the details of this – you can read more about it from the experts here. Here are a few things you can do to help you land on Google’s first page.
The first thing is to add keywords to your site. Homeology ranks in the top 5 on Google for search terms including “South Africa Blog” combined with any of these keywords: DIY, interior design, home decor, storage or furniture. Not bad! A big shout out to Kari at Lovilee as well on number 4! The top 10, or the first page, is ultimately where you want to be. That way it is much easier for anyone looking for whatever it is you offer, to find you.
To add keywords, you will need to add them to the meta tags of your site’s HTML headers (here is Google’s explanation of how that works). Thankfully for the HTML illiterates like me, there is a plugin for that! Just install the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress (search for it under the plugins on your dashboard). Then work your way through the plugin to create meta tags and keywords for your site. The plugin allows you to custom your snippet (the paragraph under your site’s name on the search engine) as well. Use keywords that represent your content – work with your niche here.
Keywords are essential because you don’t want to show up in search results when someone is looking for something unrelated to you; you want to be there when they are looking for something that you have. SEO is about quantity, but also about quality of traffic coming your way.
And now to make those keywords count, you need to write about them. Set up a writing schedule and stick to it. The Yoast plugin will also be at the bottom of each post automatically. It will challenge you to optimize the content so that Google’s crawlers will start to associate your keywords with your content, and viola! you come out on top – eventually. The image below shows Yoast at work for this post – you want the keyword to rate green. It is great if readability is green as well. I rarely get out of orange because my sentences are too long! Remember to also check the rating of your title on CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool.
Assuming you blog because you’re passionate about it and just can’t help yourself, producing good quality, SEO-optimized and keyword-rich content will be a natural and organic process. You’ll just have to be patient.
That is the old way to get Google to like you and push you to the top. Let’s look at the new way: backlinks.
I have mentioned in a previous post that shameless self-promotion is where it’s at, and that benefits both your marketing and your SEO. Backlinks or inbound links are an amazing way to build your credibility in Google’s virtual eyes. Backlinks basically are when your website’s name is linked back to you on another site. I have about 1500 backlinks at the moment, and some of them are from amazing authority sites like Bizcommunity, Apartment Therapy, Houzz and Design Milk.
There are of course good and bad backlinks, and it is REALLY important to avoid bad backlinks. I feel about Google pretty much the same as I feel about the tax man: I know that they have an important function in society, I have a deep fear of them and try my best to stay on their good side. I haven’t done too much research on Google’s blacklist, but I hear that it’s brutal and almost impossible to get off it once you’ve been black-listed. Keep things clean and as long as you’re not spamming, you should be fine.
- You can build backlinks by commenting on forums or blogs, but that can come close to being spammy. I don’t recommend this as a tactic unless it’s authentic.
- Contact big profile sites and ask if you may be a contributing blogger – that will also enable you to create a bio with a website address.
- Social media is really useful for getting your posts out, and if they good people will share them on their own sites.
- Just keep creating great, sharable content!
You can see how many backlinks you have by using a platform like Moz. The checking tool is free, but to get into the nitty-gritty details, you’ll have to subscribe.
Blogging is a long-term strategy. So, hone your skills lovingly, stay passionate, keep at it, and you will reap the results.