0 In Digital marketing 101

The little post of SEO advice #1: Pale-Girl.com

Seo advice

I was going to call this ‘I’ll SEO you mine if you SEO me yours’. I didn’t because that was a joke that was only funny in my head. In the long line of regrettable things I’ve done, thankfully that isn’t one of them.

But crap puns aside, let’s get down to business and start with a disclaimer: this feature is a quick look into the SEO of sites submitted to me. It’s not a professional audit because:

  • It’s free. I’m making no cash monies for this, nor do I want to.
  • Anyone can use audit tools–however, if you don’t know the lingo they might as well be written in Simmish.

We good? Good.

And now the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s meet the first unwitting victim submitted site: Aisling, a beauty and lifestyle blogger of pale-girl.com.

pale-girl.com

The first thing I noticed? It’s originally a blogspot, which okay, not a big deal but if you’re buying your own domain, go with WordPress. Why?

  1. Themes. Hundreds of them. Many of them excellent and mobile responsive.
  2. Plug-ins. Again, many of them are excellent and add a whole layer of functionality to your site.
  3. SEO Yoast plug-in. Yoast is a well-know secret of digital marketing land and means doing your title tags and basic SEO requires very little technical knowledge–otherwise you’ll need to wander into your code to manually set your titles, meta, etc. Granted, with certain WordPress themes (i.e. mine) you may have to write your tags and metas yourself.

Recommended tools for SEO auditing:

Let’s get this out of the way fast: anyone can use these tools. They exist. They are wildly popular. Search ‘SEO audit tools’ and you’ll unearth dozens more. I don’t claim to be doing anything particularly wild or new here, kids.

Instead, I’m going to interpret the results for you.

So what’s Aisling’s grade?

C-

As for Nibbler, their audit gave Aisling a solid C-ish 5.4:

nibbler seo audit

Why? Well, let’s get to it!

Onsite SEO

Title tags

Onsite SEO is, arguably, the most important element of SEO. It’s also one of the easiest things you can optimise, with a bit of know-how.

Aisling’s big issue is that her onsite is fairly non-existent. No titles, no meta description, and no optimised headers. But what informs your onsite? Keyword research. Keyword Planner is your friend.

Finding keywords for a simple blog is fairly straightforward: plug in your URL or relevant keywords, and Planner will give you suggested ad groups (for Google Adwords), average monthly searches, and competition (i.e. how much competition there is for a given term).

Aisling is mostly a beauty blogger, so that’s what I searched. Yes, it really is that easy. To find your keywords, go to Keyword Planner, set yourself up, and enter a broad keyword for what your blog is about in the first option.

how to use keyword planner

You’ll generate an Excel with several hundred keywords. Go through them; be smart. Job done.

pale-girl keyword research

Ideally, every (significant) page should have title tags. These tags tell Google what your site is about. See, Google’s crawlers (called spiders) search a site and scan it to glean keywords. Your title tags are a MASSIVE tell-all. Title tags should be between 50 and 60 characters long, and each keyword is separated with a pipe: |

For Aisling, her homepage tags would look a bit like this: Pale-Girl.com | Irish beauty blogger | Beauty blogger

Now, Google scans that title and goes, “okay, cool, tell Aragog in ground control that Pale-Girl.com is a beauty blogger.” This assumption is further backed up by relevant content on the blog.

A word of warning: DON’T OVERSTUFF YOUR KEYWORDS. For example, your contact page should be: Pale-Girl | Contact, and not Beauty Blogger | Irish Beauty Blogger |  MAC makeup | Makeup | Fashion Beauty Blogger, and on and on.

And where do these title tags go? In your header tag. The code is:

<head>
<title>Pale-Girl.com | Irish beauty blogger | Beauty blogger</title>
</head>

Meta description

Pale-Girl.com has no meta descriptions. Once upon a time, way back in the days of S Club 7 and Justin & Britney in double denim, meta descriptions were a valuable way to rank. Not so, anymore. Instead, they’re your chance to write an interesting 156 character riposte as to why people should read your blog. Theoretically, a better meta description means a higher click-through-rate, which in turns impacts your site stats and SEO.

Think of SEO as an infinity loop, rather than separate elements. Each of the disparate parts work together, often on a minute level.

If you don’t set your meta description, Google will pull up text from your homepage. It won’t make sense.

Exhibit a:

pale-girl meta

Depending on how your blog is set up (I’m not a mind reader, okay? 😉 ), you’ll need to set your meta description. Again, it’s a case of typing the code and inserting it into the heading of your homepage (or whichever given page), or entering it using a plug-in.

Mine looks like this: example of your meta description

The code, if you need to squint (#pictoosmall.png), is: <meta name=”description” content=”BLAHBLAHBLAH READ MY BLOG BLAHBLAHBLAH.” />

A note: my font is stupid and is inverting my inverted commas. Don’t do that.

Headings

Let’s get through this quick: every post/page/page in the phone book should have one H1. Use the rest of your Hs for structure. H tags also have a small amount of SEO prestige, so try and use your keywords a couple of times in your headings.

Note how I said ‘a couple of times’ and not ‘go fecking mental and put them in everywhere’. Aisling’s blog posts themselves are rather lacking in the elusive H tags, so use them!

Media descriptions

You may be thinking, “omg this is so boring.” I’d apologise but this is SEO. It’s not known for being terribly sexy. SEO pros, bless them, are the kind of people who get very excited by algorithms and a nerdy guy called Matt Cutts who is Head of Google’s Webspam team and essentially the Beyonce of digital marketing.

All your images/media should be properly titled and have an alt tag filled in. Most bloggers don’t properly fill in their titles or tags, so there is an avenue there to gain some street cred/SEO brownie points.

To give Aisling a break we’re going to dissect a random image from one of my blogs about things you learn working in content marketing and explain where I’ve gone wrong:

image for alt tags

Things I fecked up:

  1. I didn’t name the image. Its title is a random string generated by Stocksnap when I downloaded it.
  2. Its alt tag is ‘computer’. Not bad, but certainly I could have tried a bit harder.

Quick SEO win: paste your blog’s title as the alt tag for your featured image.

Moral of the story: properly name your images and fill in your alt tags. Every single time. Do as I say not as I do, eh?

Random misc. SEO advice for Aisling:

  • Try and shoot past the 300 word threshold on all your posts. Some of your content is on the thin side.
  • Use internal links more regularly. Don’t be afraid to link internally to your own stuff!
  • When linking to or from a site, link valuable keywords. Anchor text and links are massively valuable to SEO, so instead of hyperlinking the words ‘click here’, for example, hyperlink a phrase or relevant keyword.
  • Optimise your images so they’re web friendly. You don’t need to upload the full HD versions. An image width larger than 600 pixels isn’t usually required.
  • Avoid iframes where possible.
  • Bold the important points in your post. I’m lazy about this one, but it does help. Plus, it makes content skimmable.
  • I can’t tell for definite, but the sitemap looks messy. I don’t know if Aisling has connected Google Search Console (neé Webmaster Tools), but if not, use a sitemap generator and upload your sitemap to Search Console.
  • Use H tags and keywords more readily in your content. 2% keyword density is the sweet spot. Now, I would never advise anyone to write specifically for SEO, but if you’re nifty with Keyword Planner you can search for long-tail keywords (essentially long-ass phrases) with low competition. Write a post with that keyword and you’re flying.
  • Get your main keyword into your title. Also, your title can be fun, while your URL can be purely SEO friendly. They don’t have to be the same.
  • Writing for the web is different to writing for print, so keep your paragraphs on the shorter side. 3-4 lines per paragraph is usually the sweet zone.
  • Nibbler flagged the following as an issue:

hosting

I’m not sure why this is flagged, but it certainly appears to be true. If you shoot your hosting providers an email and ask them about it, they’ll sort it for you and set up a permanent redirect/301.

And that’s it. This is getting long so I’m calling it done!

If you like this post, please share it! Or, ya know, come follow me on Twitter. I’d promise fun times but mostly I just talk about TV (how good is Jessica Jones, you guys?) and marketing.

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