Welcome to our fourteenth challenge and today we’ll talk about all things optimized! To check out other challenges, go here.
Today we’ll do the basics of Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is something books are being written about. It’s so massive that one single post cannot cover it. But, for this challenge I’ll give you tips you can do right now to drastically improve your posts and to ensure a better spot on Google and other search engines.
White Hat, Black Hat
Search Engine Optimization used to be a lot easier and people took advantage of early algorithms to improve their page ranks.
There was a pile of methods one could do to improve PR instantly and all those methods were sort of unethical in the least. Some of those are still being implemented by shady sites – one of those is inserting a pile of irrelevant keywords in metadata of a page.
Google figured out something was happening when irrelevant sites ranked well for random keywords. So, they launched a series of great updates which effectively killed off so called black hat SEO.
These days it’s all about white hat SEO. That means we are all free to implement methods which don’t affect user experience.
This is the way you should see Google. They put users in the first place and their goal is to ensure the users don’t get tricked into clicking on links and visiting shady websites. One new update is lowering ranks of all sites which are HTTP and not the more secure HTTPS if they ask for sensitive information (credit card number).
So, now we live in a safer world but it’s a lot harder to fight for a good position. Here are practical things you can do to change that.
Quality over quantity. It’s a general rule of thumb. Aim to have great content, better than the others. That is the safest way to have a good long-term position with Google and other search engines.
Write longer posts – generally posts with 2,000+ words tend to get better rank. Write posts that contain more quality information than your competitors and write longer lists.
We recently published an incredibly long and hard to write list of jobs one can do as a writer. That is a great example of list posts which are longer than any other available on the same subject.
Everyone you talk to about SEO will immediately tell you that links are worth more than money.
But, the trick is, you can get a million links from low ranking sites with very little to none traffic which will have less strength than one link from a high ranking website. For example, if you get a link from Writer’s Digest or Joanna Penn you will quickly grow the traffic flow and ensure a better position.
This is a sort of exposure you’ll only get if you have really very good content. So, focus on that. After it’s done, find the leading websites in your niche and collect their e-mails. Write a personalized e-mail to every one of them sending them a link and asking them to use it in an article which deals with the same subject.
Don’t look for template e-mails. Those are the shortcut to getting rejected. You’ll get one out of ten of those websites to link to you and those are good odds.
Search Engine Optimization by Keywords
2% of your posts should be made out of keywords.
This is how you should determine what to write about and how to find keywords. First of all, make a spread-sheet. Write all the “How To…”, “Ultimate Guide To…” and “Everything You Need To Know About…” posts in one column.
Now go to Keyword Planner and research the other part of every title you have listed. For example: “How To Write a Bestseller“. Input the bold part into Keyword Planner and find the best keyword – the best ones have low competition and a lot of monthly searches (you’ll see in listed next to keywords).
If “Write a Bestseller” has a better suited alternative, such as “Create a Bestseller” (random example, untrue) use that one instead.
Use it in the title, in at least one headline and throughout your post. You’ll notice, Search Engine Optimization are keywords of this post and I repeatedly use them – even now.
But don’t force keywords. Google will get you for it. All the keywords must go naturally with the post.
If you are self-hosting as we have discussed in the beginning of this challenge, you’ll know that after installing WordPress on your site there is a pile of useful plug-ins you can add to improve your site.
One such plug-in is AMPforWP Accelerated Mobile Pages. Type the name in your Add Plug-In Page in your dashboard and install it. It will set-up automatically and your shiny new website will be up to standards for mobiles. Google looks nicely at such sites.
The second one I recommend you use is called Yoast SEO which is a life-saver. After installing it open one of your posts in editor and at the bottom of your post in Yoast’s window type in your keyword and see how it performs. There’s a little stop-lite which tells you what to do to improve the on-page SEO.
This plug-in will also measure the readability of your posts and tell you what to do to improve it. It measures the use of passive voice, the amount of long sentences, Flesh Score, etc.
And the third most important SEO plug in is Squirrly. If you’ve got the money for the full version it’s the best. If not, it’s still really good. It will show up next to your posts in your editor and navigate you through the tiresome SEO business.
Search Engine Optimization isn’t easy. Look it up and research more if you want to become an expert. But using these three major methods and these three plug-ins will instantly improve your odds.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this challenge. Go now and optimize one of your posts. Be sure to leave the link below so we can check it out and share on Twitter. This will be a nice link-building exercise which will help you and us in equal measures. Also, share the post on Twitter using #AuthorOPChal so we can all see each-other’s progress.
This challenge was devised by Ronel Janse van Vuuren and I’m here only to help out. Big thank you to Ronel for all her hard work and dedication.
Good luck and keep writing!
Author: Mladen Reljanović
Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.