I started blogging because I love writing. I didn’t really care if anyone was reading what I wrote (good job tbh), just that I was publishing content.
The sheer volume of SEO information out there is overwhelming, to say the least. This post won't cover anything complicated. At all.
You don’t need to spend any money or do any coding.
All we’re going to discuss is how to format posts to make Google understand what the post is about.
The good thing about the type of SEO I advocate and practise is that it’s pretty much future proof from algorithm updates (hopefully) because it’s not duplicitous in any way — we’re not keyword stuffing or doing dodgy backlinking or anything.
What Google values:
- User experience.
You want your site to load as quickly as possible, want to keep ads as unobtrusive as possible, and for the love of God, don’t have popups.
This is Google’s current thing and stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
These build up over time (provided you have decent content and don’t do anything consider black hat), but in basic terms, you need your information to be accurate and don’t claim to be a doctor if you aren’t one. If you are one, prove it.
Google has bots crawling sites, as well as human site evaluators. As the bots improve so does their latent semantic analysis — they can understand that your article relates to the keyword without having to repeat the keyword word for word throughout the articles.
- Optimise for mobile
A lot of people using Google are on their phones. If your site looks weird on mobile, people will pogo stick (click off your post and go to on the next search result), which Google will duly note and reflect in your ranking.
So, here are the steps to take to format your blog posts so that Google understands them:
Divide up your article using headings. I use the H2 tag for broad headings, and H3 to divide further if required.
It’s recommended that you don’t have more than 300 words between subheadings.
Lists are great because they’re easy to read quickly, and add white space to your site, making it easier on the eye and thus improving user experience.
Google does like to use lists in the snippet, so if winning the snippet is your goal, then lists are the way forward.
I don’t spend time getting backlinks, even though they were once the holy grail in the SEO world.
Once your site is well-established, you will start to generate organic backlinks (where another site links to yours), so don’t waste time doing so.
If your niche is extremely competitive then you may benefit from getting backlinks by guest posting, but please concentrate on getting content on your site first.
Niching down further is a better way to stand out in a competitive niche.
So why mention links?
By linking to more authoritative sites than yours, you can improve user experience. If you mention increasing your iron intake, you can link to a trusted medical site, to give the user more information.
Don’t make such links super obvious (just a hyperlink) because you don’t actually want people to click away, but the information is available should the user need it.
I like to change the colour of my headings to make them stand out and add a bit of interest. Stick to brand colours — we don’t want visual overload.
Google loves a good table of stats, especially if you compile it yourself.
It’s also good to add whitespace — keep your paragraphs short. You’re not writing an essay. A blog post should be an easy read. This is also so important to retain mobile users.
Bolding and italicizing important posts is also a great way to keep users on the page. It makes what would be a wall of text more visually pleasing.
I edit all my images in Canva so that I can resize them. It also makes the file size smaller.
Google values original images over stock photos. Describe your picture in the ‘alt tag’ section so Google can tell people what the image is if they can’t see it.
If taking your own photos is an unnecessary time suck, then use stock photos. Bear in mind that a lot of pictures can increase page loading time.
I like to add a small (50x50px) graphic to break up the blog post. If you check out this post you can see I use a monstera leaf — which is an element from my logo — after each paragraph.
This is a great option if your niche doesn’t lend itself particularly well to photographs.
I use a caching plugin (WP-Optimize) to improve my page speed. It also compresses images. I’m sure there are a billion better ones, but this one is free.
I use Yoast so that I can easily change meta descriptions (not that I ever actually do, oops), and it’s a great tool for SUGGESTIONS on how to improve the SEO of your posts.
HOWEVER take these suggestions with a pinch of salt. Don’t spend hours trying to reword a sentence because you started three sentences in a row with ‘I’. Read it aloud, and if it sounds ok, then go with it.
Yoast is also a bit behind on the whole latent semantic analysis, so will flag you up for not using your keyword enough. If you keep your article focussed on your keyword it doesn’t matter if the exact keyword is repeated.
In fact, it can end up sounding really weird and forced if you keep repeating it.
Use headings, whitespace and a bit of colour to make your articles as easy to read as possible.
By doing so you’ll increase your user experience so readers will stick around for longer, and Google will increase your ranking. Easy.