Ranking well in the major search engines means added visibility for your blog. Visibility should eventually turn into conversions, so you are making money by learning SEO. The rules change often. The major search engines, led by Google, generate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90% of all web traffic on the Internet. New viewers are much more likely to find your blog through Google than through any other medium, including friendly word of mouth. Obviously, ranking well is of vital importance!
Learning the nuances of how SEO helps the search engines rank pages can be incredibly helpful for SEO noobs. Once you learn the basic rules of why other blogs are winning, you can modify your strategies to win as well! Here are the ways that SEO can help your blog rank well.
Natural Organisation / The Macro theme
The major search engines are always looking to provide the most relevant results to its audience. To this end, Google created an unofficial ‘trust’ system, that takes into account a site’s trust, authority and expertise. The purpose is to give greater visibility and rankings to sites that are widely acknowledged as leaders or authorities in their chosen fields. While it has to be said that no one can say with certainty the metrics used to determine ‘authority’ it is thought to be based on aspects such as your social presence and quality of links that your site receives. It is Google’s way of recommending a site, or piece of content, that it determines would best answer a search query.
Part of SEO is learning how to organise your blog around relevant keywords so that the search engines associate your entire blog with an overall theme. Blogs that skip around from dog food to beach living to auto parts will find it difficult to rank for any of those subjects.
In Australia we have a saying: “jack of all trades, master of none.” The same applies to your blog. The blog that picks one subject and talks about every nuance of it will gain more visibility by becoming an authority on the subject. Creating a theme (the macro theme) is your first discipline when learning SEO.
Relevant Keywords in Individual Blogs
Within a macro theme, the search engines are looking to drill down even more. In order to provide even better results for their audiences, the search engines will place special relevance on blogs that answer a specific query. What are people asking about? Local topics and specific questions. As you write your blogs, you should look to answer specific questions in each of your pieces. This is what people are looking for, and if the search engines match your topic to a popular question, you will gain a great deal of visibility and may even achieve a Featured Answer position.
You signal the topic of your blogs to the search engines through keywords. Keywords are words that are the focus of your blog. For instance, if you are blogging about cat food, you are likely to use the terms “chicken” or “flavouring” more than “ignition” or “light fixture.”
Google has been around long enough to have accumulated masses of data regarding search terms and the predictive nature of searchers. Their algorithms can accurately predict relevant keywords associated with previous searches, making it easier for searchers to find relevant content that answers their query. It is imperative that you include accurate keywords relevant to your content, as the search engines will be looking for those keywords and phrases when determining the relevancy of your blog. Matching your keywords to the search engine’s assumptions of what your blog should contain is great SEO technique and boosts the visibility of your blog post.
Bringing Relevant Traffic to Your Blog
While the search engines are checking for keywords and other technical aspects of your writing, you should also check what real human traffic is doing. Search engines have the ability to track how long a visitor stays on your page with a metric known as the bounce rate. A high bounce rate means a visitor has left the page quickly, while a low bounce rate means the opposite. While the question of whether the bounce rate affects your rankings has long been dispelled (it doesn’t!), you can still use it to your advantage.
Bounce rate is not an accurate metric in the first instance, as many sites don’t utilise Google Analytics, leaving Google unable to track bounce rate information across the board. In other instances, a high bounce rate may be good for one page and bad for another. For example, if a contact page has a high bounce rate, then it may simply be that it is fulfilling its purpose; visitors complete the contact form before leaving.
What you can use bounce rate for is to monitor the quality of your site. Bounce rate can be an indicator of quality, but not as a weighting factor. A high bounce rate doesn’t equate to low rankings, but you can monitor pages on your site for a high bounce rate. That high rate may be due to low quality pages that you can improve to lower the bounce rate and improve your overall ranking.
Search engine optimisation is a complex discipline that people have written entire books about. There are entire blogs dedicated to the subject and the nuances of the process are only becoming more complicated as time goes on. However, the basics of SEO will never change.
Your main job is this: Create content that people want to see, and market it to them honestly! Do this, and SEO will work in your favour to make your blog rank well!
Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.