I’m not a blogging expert. Any success I’ve had at business blogging is because I’ve developed a system and stick with it. The “I’m no expert” designation is never more appropriate than me discussing SEO.

I’m no SEO Expert

I only know enough about SEO to be dangerous. Last year I gave a presentation to a business group on blogging. During the presentation, I was asked how important SEO strategies were. I answered that it was no longer possible to intentionally game the system with black hat SEO methods that had worked only a few years ago. They were more likely to backfire if used today. I concluded by saying it was more important to concentrate on delivering consistent quality content than to focus on SEO.

I stick by both of these recommendations, however following the presentation I conversed with one of the audience members who thought I might have gone too far in downplaying the importance of taking advantage of SEO opportunities in business blogging. He was right. White hat SEO strategies enhance good writing.

5 Steps Towards Improved SEO

  1. Write like you talk. Google searches reward clear spoken plain language. Using insider jargon and stilted language makes your content more difficult to digest and less likely to be useful. WordPress uses Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level score to analyze the readability of content. A Flesh-Kincaid score of 60-70 is considered good. Here’s a free app to test readability, Readability Test
  2. Format your post to be easily digested. Rambling sentences, lengthy paragraphs, and content without breaks are difficult to read. Make it easy on your readers, and Google bots, by writing succinct sentences, keeping paragraphs short and framing your work with subheads and breaks. Use lists and bullet points to make your content more accessible. An occasional bold or italicized word also stands out.
  3. Keywords do matter. It’s important to consider keywords, but not at the expense of readability. Keywords are most effective when included in the title, subheads, and in the first paragraph. Terms similar to keywords may be helpful as well. For example, if my keyword is vehicle graphics then truck wrap, car decal, and fleet graphics may improve the SEO. Caution: Don’t keyword stuff posts because making them tedious and difficult to read defeats the purpose.
  4. A picture’s worth a thousand words. Every post should have at least one image. The featured image should also be given alt (alternate) text. Alt text is displayed by web browsers; it helps web users with limited accessibility such as sight impairment and, helps browsers recognize content. For example, a blog post titled, “Easy Garden Tips” with an image of a tomato plant could be assigned the alt text, “Easy Garden Tips Tomatoes” especially if the key phrase is easy garden tips.
  5. Link it. Link it good. Use bright colors and bold type so links stand out from text. There are three primary types of links.
  • Outbound links – Links to other sites. It’s important to vet outbound links. I find it best to stick with known resources and studies.
  • Inbound links – Links to previous content on your website. Older blog posts, images, or website copy.
  • Backlinks – Links from other content providers to your content. The best way to get others to backlink to your blog is to offer quality content that answers questions, solves problems, and shows your expertise. Commenting on other blogs, guest blogging, asking for quotations, and conducting surveys are ways to get noticed that can lead to backlinks.

You don’t have to be an Expert at SEO

Some may argue with me on this point. If you feel you need an expert—hire one. There are many SEO providers. Many will tell you they can improve your SEO. Some can and some don’t live up to their promises. Before hiring an SEO expert check their credentials and ask for referrals. But before adding the expense of an SEO team, incorporate the 5 steps above into your blog. After doing so check your ranking on keywords. Do you come up on the first page for organic keyword searches? For example, If I google vehicle graphics, TKO Graphics is on the first page. I don’t pay an SEO team. I use the 5 simple steps listed above, but then again—I’m no expert. If you’d like to learn more here are three posts from experts.

Social Media Today: 8 Basic SEO Tactics

HubSpot: 32 Ways to Build White Hat Inbound Links 

Moz: Step by Step Process to Discovering and Prioritizing the Best Keywords