In this post, I will use the terms of site pages and blog posts interchangeably. In both cases, you should be practicing the same SEO strategies (when it makes sense).
Here are my top tips on ways to improve your SEO starting today:
- Use appropriate keywords. Make sure that your page displays your main keyword(s) in the page title, content, URL, title tags, page header, image names and tags (if you're including images). All of this is easy to do, but if you feel overwhelmed, just remember to use your keyword(s) in your page title and content (especially in the first and last 50 words of your page).
- Use keywords naturally. Don't kill your content and make yourself look like a spammer to search engines by overloading your page with your keyword(s). You don't get SEO points for quantity but for quality. Plus, one of the main ways to improve your page rankings is when you...
- Deliver quality content. The best way to improve your SEO is by providing content that readers want to share with others by linking to your pages. Some of the top results in search engines can be years old, because the content is so good that people keep coming back. So, incorporate your keywords in a smart way, but make sure it works organically with your content.
- Update content regularly. If your site looks dead to visitors, then it'll appear that way to search engines too. So update your content regularly. This should be very easy for writers who have blogs. For writers who have sites, incorporate your blog into your site. This will make it easier for visitors to your blog to discover more about you on your site (through your site navigation tools).
- Link back to your own content. You may notice on this blog that I don't just let a blog post disappear into the ether. If I have a post on Blogging Tips for Writers, for instance, I'll link back to it if I have a Platform Building 101 for Writers post, because the two complement each other. This also helps clicks on my blog, which helps SEO. The one caveat is that you don't go crazy with your linking and that you make sure your links are relevant. Otherwise, you'll kill your traffic, which is not good for your page rankings.
- Link to others you consider helpful. Back in 2000, I remember being ordered by my boss at the time (who didn't last too much longer afterward) to ignore any competitive or complementary websites--no matter how helpful their content--because they were our competitors. You can try basing your online strategy on these principles, but I'm nearly 100% confident you'll fail. It's helpful for other sites and your own to link to other great resources. For instance, check out my Reading List (in the right-hand column of the blog) and this recent post on Top Tweeters for Writers to Follow on Twitter. I shine a light on others to help them out (if I find their content truly helpful) in the hopes that they'll do the same if ever they find my content truly helpful for their audience.
- Get specific with your headlines. If you interview someone on your blog, don't title your post with an interesting quotation. While that strategy may help get readers in the print world, it doesn't help with SEO at all. Instead, title your post as "Interview With (insert name here)." If you have a way to identify the person further, include that in the title too. For instance, when I interview poets on my Poetic Asides blog, I'll title those posts like this: Interview With Poet Erika Meitner. Erika's name is a keyword, but so are the terms poet and interview.
- Use images. Many expert sources state that the use of images can improve SEO, because it shows search engines that the person creating the page is spending a little extra time and effort on the page than a common spammer. However, I'd caution anyone using images to make sure those images are somehow complementary to the content. Don't just throw up a lot of images that have no relevance to anything. At the same time...
- Optimize images through strategic labeling. Writers can do this by making sure the image file is labeled using your keyword(s) for the post. Using the Erika Meitner example above (which does include images), I would label the file "Erika Meitner headshot.jpg"--or whatever the image file type happens to be. Writers can also improve image SEO through the use of captions and ALT tagging. Of course, at the same time, writers should always ask themselves if it's worth going through all that trouble for each image or not. Each writer has to answer that question for him (or her) self.
- Use your social media platform to spread the word. Whenever you do something new on your site or blog, you should share that information on your other social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, online forums, etc. This lets your social media connections know that something new is on your site/blog. If it's relevant and/or valuable, they'll let others know. And that's a great way to build your SEO.
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If there's nothing you'd rather do than learn even more about SEO, then you can do so with these resources:
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO Secrets for 2011, by Mike Monahan
- SEO Made Simple: Strategies for Dominating the World's Largest Search Engine, by Michael H. Fleischner and Greg Wuttke
- Search Engine Optimization for Dummies, by Peter Kent
- Search Engine Optimization: Your Visual Blueprint for Effective Internet Marketing, by Kristopher B. Jones
Also, check out these other recent posts of interest for writers: