When I started my journey as a blogger I had no idea about how long I will continue blogging. My first ever blog was a movie review of a regional movie that was so moving that it compelled me to say something about it. I immediately returned home, turned on my laptop and flushed out all my emotions on the MS Word document and then created a blog to share it with others. The next morning I woke up, excited to see how the response was, but sadly there were no comments. Not a single comment. Now, that’s sad because here I was trying to communicate with the world about this movie, but no one was interested. A week passed by and still nothing. This had a devastating effect on me because I couldn’t believe that not a single person in the world read what I wrote. I had passed on the links to my friends, but still no one read it. Well, at that point of time I didn’t realize that a large majority of my friends are not readers, so why would they care? However, this bitter experience taught me something. If I want to survive as a blogger, I need an audience. An audience beyond my friends and contacts I know. That’s when I learned about SEO better known as Search Engine Optimization.
To be honest, SEO is a vast topic and cannot be covered in a single post, but I’ll try my best to simplify things (based on my writing experience) for those who have no or very little concept of what SEO is and how you can optimize your website keeping in mind what Google or major search engines want from your website or blog.
Original & Informative Content
Okay, now the whole world is chanting that Google needs original content, but most bloggers are not short of original content. Bloggers have a huge amount of content to write about, but what I have experienced is you need to streamline your content as per your target audience. For instance, my IndiaDestinations travel blog focuses only on my travel across India. Sometimes I do focus on shopping and food, but that again is connected to travel. If I try to include posts on anything outside this genre, many of my readers would not be happy with me because they expect me to write on India travel. Secondly, if you notice, many of my travel blogs never really speak about what I did on the trip. It only focuses on information travelers can use. You need to understand that online users are constantly looking for answers. People are not interested in what I did with my wife on a holiday; they’re interested in what they can do with their wives and girlfriends or family when they get there. Keep your blog uniquely informative, offer them a piece of advice that they can take home and you’ll see more online readers on your site. If you want to check how your blog or site is performing you can try SEMRush to get competitive data. You may also want to use the right keywords within the content to target the right audience. For keywords you can use Google Keyword Planner tool.
Add Pictures & Videos
A blog without a picture is boring and dull. Infuse some life in it with great images and videos that complement it. However, there’s something you seem to miss out on. SEO is all about optimizing every element of your website or blog to ensure it has better page rank. When you add images you must ensure that you provide Alt Text that can explain the spiders what the image is. Okay for those who don’t understand what a spider means, here is a simplified version. Google and major search engines send in files (better known as spiders, crawlers or bots) that visit websites and they gather all the information and send it back to search engine servers. These spiders are designed to read and analyze content, but how do they read an image? Well, they can’t, so you need to help the spiders understand each of your images with alt text. Secondly, make sure your image file size doesn’t impact your website’s load time. If the images take a hell of a time to load, your readers are going to move on to some other sites. The patience level of your reader is practically zero. Respect it. When you are uploading images, make sure the file name is not DSN00011 or something like that because that again impacts the online visibility of your site. The file name should be a keyword that instantly shows up in the Google Image Search result pages. Same applies for the videos as well. When you add a video on YouTube, make sure you write the description of the video and include the right keywords to improve its online visibility.
Create Quality Backlinks
Apart from genuine content and original photographs, how does Google know your website or blog is valuable? From the number of backlinks your site/blog has. A backlink is a link present on another valuable website that links to your blog or site. If this is hard for you to understand think of each backlink as a vote. If your blog has more votes, Google will acknowledge that and put your link higher up on the result page. However, there are minor things you need to know because not all backlinks are created equal. Add your website links to sites that have better page rank. If you add your website link to a website that has low page rank you won’t see positive results. This works like how things work in the real world. If I want to get an admission, a recommendation from a high government officer will do me wonders than a recommendation from my low-profile neighbor, right? The source matters. Secondly, when you add backlinks you have to highlight the right anchor text. For instance: Top Holiday Destinations in India is the anchor text I have used to backlink my India Destinations blog. You may also want to write guest posts on other top blogs so that you can add a link to your website on those blogs and get more traffic from there. You can also write on other Article Marketing sites like ArticleBase.com and add your blog link, and you’ll get some traffic from there. Please make sure you don’t buy backlinks in order to raise your page rank because Google and major search engines don’t appreciate that shortcut and will blacklist your website/blog.
Use Social Media Power
Do I even have to say anything about how social media has taken over the world? If you want to optimize your website, you can squeeze out some benefits from your social media profiles. Share your blog and post links on Google +, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. However, not all social media sites will work for your blog. If your blog has more pictures than content, try Flickr and Instagram. If you are covering topics like home décor, recipes, wedding topics, fashion, and babies you should try Pinterest. Facebook is more about news and updates that you want to share with your consumers and friends. LinkedIn is particularly about career, business, job prospects and corporate branding only, so don’t post your selfies here.
Offer an Experience
Have you ever come across a blog that seemed like a puzzle and you have no idea where to click to navigate further? Well, this can annoy your readers and put them off straight away. Like I mentioned earlier, the patience level is zero , so ensure that your blog theme enhances the user experience. The font size & color, the background color, the images that go along with the content, the links added in the content and on the sidebar, everything counts. Make sure that there are no broken links on your blog because when someone clicks on a link and gets an error page, he or she deduces that you don’t even care about fixing a link on your blog/site. Like I said, it’s an impatient world out there. Visit your own blog and imagine yourself as an outsider and see if there’s anything on your site/blog that can be done better to enhance the user experience. You may want to use various SEO software and programs that can help you to simplify your optimization work.
Well, there’s a lot more that you can do to optimize your website, but I will conclude this post here. You may want to try and incorporate some of the information that I have shared here on your blog and see if that has improved the number of people responding to your blog. Do let me know your feedback on SEO and your experiences of optimizing your blog or site.