“How to SEO” is one of the most frequently asked questions I get. The majority of the work I do on a daily basis for clients is SEO work. I can’t teach you everything about SEO in one blog post. In addition – in the future I’m putting together some eBook products that will have step by step instructions for “DIY SEO” and I don’t want to give all my secrets away. I can however, give you a great overview of how you can quickly SEO your blog posts, and that alone will put you light years ahead of most of the other web sites online.
How to do Keyword Research
Some of you may be reading this and thinking – I thought this post was “How to SEO”, what’s with the Keyword Research How to? One of my pet peeves is that some web sites and blogs teach SEO without keyword research. SEO is optimizing a web site for search engines. But how do you know which keywords to optimize for? Some clients I have crack me up because they “think” they know the right keywords to target. Little do they know the keyword phrases they picked only get 5 searches a month (*lol).
Every time you put up a web page or write a blog post you’re making a deposit in the search engines. Whether it pays you back at 0.3% interest or 20% is up to you. Just a little simple research before you hit “publish” can be the difference between making money or not. I’m going to show you how to figure that out. Get to know the Google Keyword Research Tool. Bookmark it, it’s your friend and you should visit it often.
I’m writing this post about posting on one of my other blogs The Smorgasbord. I’ve had that blog since 1999 (in one form or another), and today I’m writing a post about wireless routers. I post all kinds of things to that site (technology related), but this particular post was written with the intent to make money. It’s a review post, which is a great opportunity to link to products using affiliate links. What I’m going to do is throw all my product names and the best keywords from my article (that’s not published yet) into the google keyword research tool.
Here’s an image of my results:
What google does is give you a list of keywords (and suggestions) with the average number of searches per month last month (first column) and average globally per month (second column). With this (free) tool you can easily pick select keywords to use throughout your blog post or web page. I usually enter a few keywords to get started, and in this example I entered my 3 products I’m reviewing. First the product name, and then again the product name with “review”. I also entered terms to look for a good title like “wireless n router review”, etc.
Now again – I can’t teach you everything about SEO in one blog post, but you usually want to choose a keyword phrase that’s more than 1,000 search per month (3,000+ is better), but less than 100,000. Over 100,000 the terms can be harder to compete for, and what people are looking for can be more broad and vague. There are exceptions of course, like when a product is new – and doesn’ t have many search yet and want to beat the market and get indexed on top right now.
How to SEO a blog post
After a little research, I chose 4 different keyword phrases to target on my example page. I chose “dual band wireless router” for the title because that phrase gets 60,500 searches per month. I’m glad I didn’t just make the title what I thought was best, since I might have called it “Dual Band Wireless N router review”. All 4 keywords would still have been in the title, but “diluted”. They are more powerful when in the right order.
I took the other 3 keyword phrases and placed them in html header tags above each product paragraph. I write the text of my article, and page introduction to be SEO friendly. The most important part, however, is my SEO plugin All in One SEO pack. With this plugin installed, under the content box in any page or post in WordPress you can write custom HTML titles for posts, and add custom meta descriptions and keyword tags.
Above you can see how I added the keywords I chose in the HTML title, meta description, and meta keywords tags.
How does Search Engine Indexing Work?
Most people have no idea how search engine indexing works. I’ll give you a brief overview. A search “crawler” (software robot) visits your site, and when it visits your pages it looks for an HTML title first. This is not the heading or text on your page. It’s an HTML “tag” called title, and WordPress automatically populates your HTML title with the name of your post or page. That same post Title (in WordPress) also becomes (depending on your theme) usually the heading title in the body of the page. This “title” is also the title of your search engine listing for that page. This is why it’s smart to use All in One SEO pack – you can customize the title (if you want) to have one HTML title (for the search engines) and another (heading title) for readers. **Make a mental note, search engines can’t use more than 75 characters or so, writing titles longer than that is a waste of time.
The next thing a search crawler looks for is a meta “description” tag. This is also an HTML tag, and it’s what a search crawler uses for your description in search engines when indexing pages. If you don’t have this tag, the search crawler just grabs the first text it finds on a page, even if it’s just navigation or menus.
A search engine listing is like an advertisement in the (online) phone book. The title and description are what entices somebody to click (or not). Here’s an example, check out this this page in the HP online store. Now, I’m going to google that exact same page to see what the listing for it is:
See how the title is good, but the description is a bunch of gobbledy-gook? In their defense, HP actually had a description tag for this page, but they had some bad code turn it into this. It’s still a good example of what can happen when you don’t have a meta description tag.
Here’s another example, check out the latest post on ProBlogDesign.com. I want you to see this one because, this site actually has All in One SEO pack installed – but google isn’t using the meta description written for the post at all.
Here’s the listing in google for that page:
It kind of looks like the google crawler took some random text from the top of the page for the description of this page in search results – doesn’t it? First of all – I know better, Michael runs one of the best blogs about blogging online – he wouldn’t “not” have an SEO plugin installed. I checked the HTML source code of that page I googled from his blog and I see that he does in fact have a meta description – but it’s uber-long. Most search engines use a maximum of 160 characters for the description. I think google might have an algorithm to detect if you try and use too many words, because the meta tag for this page is 727 characters long:
meta name=”description” content=”One of the most important elements of your blog, is the content that you painstakingly put together to gain readers and keep the online masses surfing your waves. So why do so many bloggers not take the extra time and give more attention to their archives? Afterall, without an easy to navigate archive section, then all of that great content that you crafted will become lost in the backpages of your post progression as you continue to crank out the content. It seems that once a post has served its initial use for us, that we carelessly discard it to the forgotten areas for the post to die, rather than institute an accessible archive that will allow those past posts to continue to deliver the punch you packed within.”
Why the google crawler didn’t just use the first 160 characters of that is beyond me – but this is pure proof (in my mind) that you should stick to 160 characters of less at all times in your meta description (or google may just ignore it). I’m not going to comment a lot about the meta “keywords” tag, other than some hotly debate whether this tag even does any good anymore. What I can say is this…in my experience if you choose to “SEO” a page, here’s a little checklist:
- Target 4 or less keywords phrases
- Use your main keyword phrase in the title
- Make your title under 75 characters
- Use your keywords in the description and your keywords tag
- Make your description less than 160 characters
- Use your Keywords in headings in page content
- For best results have your page content be 400 words+
- Make sure your keywords aren’t more than 30% of the content
- Try not to repeat specific keywords more than 3-4 times per page
Of course there’s a LOT more to it than this, but this is enough to get you started. Believe me, it’s more than 95% of the web sites and blogs online do. If you want to read the post I was writing on my other blog as the example here, read my Dual Band Wireless router post.