I always refer to blogging when I write my SEO guides because I feel like that’s what my audience will be interested in so I’ve put together an SEO A-Z guide for bloggers.
A is for…anchor text
Anchor text, or link text, is the clickable words in a hyperlink. Often I see bloggers using anchor text like ‘Click here’ or ‘I reviewed this here’ when you could just add your link contextually in the flow of content and have Google follow the link and the words you use to describe it. It’s natural to have anchor text made up of both of these examples so don’t worry about going back and changing every link, but it’s worth considering the difference. Example:
I’ve been really enjoying the NYX Modern Dreamer Palette.
I’ve been really enjoying the NYX Modern Dreamer Palette. Click here to read my review.
B is for…backlinks
A backlink is a link to your website from another website. Having links heps Google to understand which websites and content are the most authoritative for a given subject. But with many people growing more digitally-savvy, you can’t just ask sites to link out to you, you have to give them a reason to do so. Typically, that could happen if you have cool resources on your site that are worth sharing, or sometimes other bloggers might mention your opinion in reviews etc. I would recommend newbies to linkbuilding start out with guest blogging on other sites that can then link back to you.
C is for…content
Every good blog should be filled with content, but does that mean you win with the search engines? When its users are looking for a mascara review, Google does its best to match that search query with the best content on the internet. Therefore, having the best damn resource on that mascara review is the best way to win search engine traffic.
D is for…DA
DA stands for domain authority and is a metric devised by Moz that refers to how authoritative a given website is. DA is usually a good indicator of how likely your site is to rank well in search, but it is not used by Google. If a site with a low DA and a site with a high DA publish content on the same topic, you can expect the higher DA page to have an easier job of climbing to the top of search results, but increasing your DA won’t automatically increase ranking.
E is for…external linking
Google likes links. For some bloggers armed with a bit of SEO knowledge that linking to another website might help out the external site’s rankings, they think that it makes more sense to keep those links to themselves, but that’s not really going to help anybody. In fact, linking to other relevant sites and allowing Google to crawl those links helps with authority and understanding what your page is about. With product reviews, it’s good to link out to retailers selling the product, or you might want to link to another blogger’s review or YouTube video, for example.
F is for…fresh content
Another thing Google likes is updated, relevant content as it strives to give its users the very best the internet has to offer. This means that SEO is never done. Most bloggers have older reviews and content on their sites that could be updated with information on new products or updated thoughts as this becomes relevant.
G is for…Google Search Console
If you own your domain, you should be able to verify your site ownership on GSC. It might not be possible for the basic WordPress packages but it’s a really good free tool to use if you can. Formally named Webmaster Tools, Search Console allows you to see how Google crawls your site and gives you some really handy data on search performance, what keyword terms bring traffic to your site, if pages have been crawled and indexed or if there are errors and loads more.
H is for…headings
Don’t underestimate what a bit of formatting can do. Not only do properly used headings break your content up and make it easier to digest for a reader, they also help Google to structure your page so it can understand your content better. As a general rule, your page should contain one H1 (the most important and usually automatically generated as the same as your title with WordPress and other CMS) and then be split into relevant H2 for each section of your post, like I’ve done with this article.
I is for…internal linking
Internal links allow Google to see how your content links together. If you have multiple articles on the same subject, for example, or you want to give newer content a boost by linking to it from an established post that already gets a lot of traffic
K is for…keyword research
If you don’t perform any sort of keyword research before you publish content on your blog, the only thing you can do is guess what people are searching for and this will likely mean you miss out on traffic opportunities.
L is for…long tail keywords
You’re not going to rank for “NYX Lipstick,” for example because a term like that is way too broad. No matter how much SEO effort you put in, someone searching for that is likely looking for shopping results, not blog content. So there are more opportunities in long tail keywords. Try to find phrases that lend themselves to content when you do keyword research like “NYX Madrid vs Copenhagen” or “How long does NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Last” then go and write awesome content that answers the search query.
M is for…meta
Meta data is the description and title visible in the search engine results page when someone performs a search. If you have access to plugins for your site, SEO plugins like Yoast and Rank Math give you the option of filling in the meta data so you can control what search engines display and try to optimise this to gain clicks to your site. If you don’t have this or you don’t fill it in, Google & co will just pick a section of the page that they think is the most relevant.
N is for…no follow
A no follow link is a link tagged up so that search engines can’t follow it. Some bloggers and websites will do this when they link out to prevent their authority giving the target link an SEO boost. Personally, I think it’s normal to get no follow links as they make up a healthy link profile and can still add to your referral traffic and brand recognition. I wouldn’t turn down opportunities to pick up no follow links, just don’t focus a link building strategy on them.
O is for…over optimised
Being visible to search engines means having a technically optimised site, but it also means offering the best content that users want. I see the phrase ‘SEO-friendy’ used a lot, particularly in bloggersville, but I think this can lead to bloggers thinking they need to stuff needless keywords or headings into their posts to succeed. Google is too smart for that these days so try to focus on quality and relevancy first.
P is for…page speed
How fast your site loads is also an important ranking factor. As Internet users, we’re impatient and most of us won’t wait around for a particular site or resource to load when there are plenty of other results out there that answer our needs. Beauty blogs tend to be full of images that can be demanding on our load times so the first step I would take is to compress and optimise the images you upload on your site.
Q is for…query
A search query is essentially the keywords users type in search engines to find your site. You can find common queries around your topic when you do keyword research or you can also see what queries are bringing traffic to your site in Google Search Console as mentioned above.
R is for…redirects
If you change your domain name or move, delete or otherwise alter any URL on your site, it might be worth looking into 301 redirects. If you don’t do this and users are still landing on the old page (either through search engine results or internal links on your site), you’re going to end up with 404 missing page errors that will likely lose you traffic and negatively impact your SEO. There are plugins available in WordPress that can help with this if you don’t have access to a web developer.
S is for…SERP
SERP stands for search engine results page and is one thing that I think can get overlooked in our attempts to optimise content. What are we actually competing with? When I do keyword research and look at what I’m planning to write, I will also type that search phrase into Google myself and have a look what results I get. For beauty bloggers, we’re not just competing with each other in search results, it’s also pretty common to find YouTube video content and retail websites. Typically, if the SERP for your target keyword phrase contains results that are similar to your site, i.e other blogs, you stand a better chance of ranking. If the results aren’t relevant, that keyword probably isn’t a good one to focus on.
T is for…title
The title of your blog posts is a huge opportunity to tell not just Google what your content is about but also your readers. It’s fun to try and get creative with titles because we want people to click on our blogs but remember that failing to use our keyphrase here can be a wasted opportunity.
Consider the difference between the below blog titles:
Morphe 39S Such a Gem Eyeshadow Palette Review
The Only Eyeshadow Palette You’ll Need This Summer
Yes, the second one is perhaps more fun and intriguing, but if your content doesn’t appear when people search for a review of that palette, you’re missing out on a much bigger audience.
U is for…unatural links
I’ve only scratched the surface of off-page SEO and linkbuilding in this post, but it’s worth mentioning that are still some rather dodgy tactics out there. One of those is building fake links to your website through buying links or using other means to manipulate search engines. Google is wise to this kind of practice these days so I would avoid if you are ever contacted about buying links or anything like that.
V is for…visability
Most people think that SEO is all about rankings and forget that visibility is key. Improving your visibility in search engines could be keyword research and finding new content opportunities, collaborating or guest posting on other popular sites, posting video content, images, Pinterest boards etc. depending on what the SERPs look like as mentioned above.
W is for…white hat SEO
While Google has never fully accepted the SEO community because it wants its user to reach the best content, not that site that manipulates the ranking algorithm, white hat SEO refers to these kinds of techniques that are accepted and won’t cost you any penalties to your site.
X is for…xml sitemap
While sitemaps don’t directly affect your ranking performance, they do allow Google to see all the important URLs on your site, ensuring your pages can be found by search engines and thus possibly improving visibility. Plugins like Yoast can generate sitemaps for you and you can submit sitemaps in Google Search Console.
Y is for…Yoast
Yoast is a very popular WordPress plugin that allows you to set meta data for your site. It can also generate sitemaps for you and has a few other handy SEO features. I cannot stress enough that Yoast does not do SEO for you and having it installed won’t make any difference to your site’s ranking, but it can be helpful in suggesting page improvements like links, images etc if you’re not sure where to start.
Z is for…zero position
Okay, I cheated- it’s technically called position zero but you’ll let me off, right? Position zero refers to the result you see above the organic rankings- typically a little box called a featured snippet where Google tries to answer your search without the need for you to click on a result. There’s no exact way to bag the featured snippet but it’s usually awarded to the best of the best (screw you, position one!) and usually leads to a higher clickthrough rate to your site in my experience.
I’m not a complete expert, but I do work in SEO so I love helping other bloggers out with this. Let me know if there’s anything else I could cover!