Are you blogging and not reaching enough readers, or not reaching the readers who need your content? You can use elements of search engine optimization (SEO) to make your content more discoverable and increase your audience reach. Even better, you can make sure your content is answering the questions that real people are asking.

Since most people find content through search, your content needs to follow certain SEO guidelines to appear high in the list of search engine results. Always write for the reader first, search engine second. However, the changes you make for SEO will also help the reader understand and navigate your content better.

How to use SEO on blogs

The first thing to do is to check your home page and several representative blog posts to see if there are any HTML issues that are preventing you from presenting your best content to the world. There are a number of free tools on the Internet, including www.seoworkers.com, that will analyze your page and let you know of any high-severity issues. Here’s a short list of some common problems:

  • Page marked NOINDEX
  • Title too long or too short
  • Description missing, too long, or too short
  • Multiple H1 tags
  • Mixed characters in links (upper- and
    lower-case)
  • Missing ALT text in image tags

Page marked NOINDEX:  If this robots meta tag attribute is in your header, then search engines are being told to ignore your page, with dramatically fewer pageviews as a result.  Work with your blogging software support team to get this resolved ASAP. This isn’t a common problem, but I include it because it’s such a high-severity issue.

Title too long or too shortYour blog title will appear on each blog post page, so it’s important to make sure that it shows your blog focus. Also, keep your blog post titles between 15 to 65 characters, and make sure that your important keywords are toward the front. Your title can be longer if need be; just know that search engine crawlers weigh the first 65 characters more heavily than the rest.

Description missing, too long, or too short:  Write a catchy description for your blog between 75-150 characters, that will help readers decide to click on your page from the list of search engine results. Remember to use your blog keywords here, too for extra points in the pageranking algorithm.

Multiple H1 tags:  Your blog post title will generally appear as an H1 tag. While it is valid HTML to have more than one H1 on a page, it’s considered bad practice by search engines. This is most likely a platform issue and may not be fixable by individual bloggers. Work with your blogging software support team to get this resolved.

Mixed characters:  Using upper-case in a link can cause duplicate content issues. While this shows up in some tools as a high-severity SEO violation, it is most likely another platform problem. Work with your blogging software support team to get this resolved and don’t worry too much about fast fixes.

Missing ALT text in image tags:  This is an accessibility issue (describing the art for sight-impaired readers) as well as a medium-severity SEO issue. ALT text is another place to put your keywords and get points for consistency. Note that if you are using general-issue art from a library, you probably won’t be able to customize the ALT text for your blog.

What else can I do for SEO on my blog?

When you take care of these issues, you’ll be ready to start on more SEO work, including keyword research (making sure you are using the same words that your readers are searching on), internal and external links that will increase traffic, and social media promotion. I’ll explain more about these in future blog posts.