Obsessing over SEO wastes time and money

Google Search Console

There was a time that good SEO was considered the only way to climb the ranks of Google’s search results. Businesses would hire SEO agencies to trawl the pages of their website and hand over lengthy reports, spreadsheets, graphs and PowerPoint presentations of their findings. These reports would contain lists and tables full of keywords, and optimal keyword density percentages for each page, and complex calculations and formulae, and magic solutions to get the client’s website to that magical #1 spot.

But it was expensive, and mostly worthless.

These days it’s far more widely accepted that Google only really wants a few simple things: Well written, engaging content that answers search queries. And if you do a better job of it than your competitor, you’re more likely to rank higher than them. It’s the underpinning philosophy of SEO and ranking on Google.

SEO you absolutely should be doing

So SEO isn’t a waste of time, but you don’t need to spend any time or money with SEO services if you factor in these simple guidelines when creating your blog post or site page.

Blog post structure

Every blog post should feature these core elements:

  • Slug
  • Title
  • Headings
  • Text
  • Images
  • Links

Slug

Weird name, huh? That’s the location in your site the page or post is at. WordPress automatically creates a slug from the title you gave your newly created blog post, but sometimes you may want to improve it a little. Whatever you do, make sure it clearly reflects the article content. It’s usually safe to just leave it as WordPress suggested.

Title

One of the most important page elements, the title needs to clearly tell the visitor what your blog post is about, or what question it answers. The title appears in search results, and in the browser tab of your blog page or post. The title should inform and intrigue, but most importantly, be 100% relevant to the article. Oh, and it should be unique on your site. Google does not like duplicate content.

Headings

Most people read headings as they skim down the page to determine if they want to invest time reading your article. So you need to keep them interested by splitting your article into focused blocks, and form a ‘story’. The headings announce each block, and should give the visitor an idea of what to expect, and if the page is what they’re looking for. Google also evaluates your article based on headings. Google likes structure and clarity, just as your visitors do.

Images

You could skip images on your page, but Google likes images because readers like images. It knows this because it has all the data on how people engage with content. At least have a header and set it as your featured image in WordPress. This helps attract people to your article if you embed a link to it on social media.

If you don’t have illustration of photography skills to complement your text, hire a graphic designer, or invest in high quality stock illustrations or photos.

Links

Links are also optional, but Google likes an article to reference other sources, even if they are just within your own ite. Links are literally how Google travels through the internet, and determines relational quality, context, and authority.

Longer is better

Research is now showing that blog posts should be at least 1000 words, preferably up to 2000! That’s a lot of content you’ll need to write. To give you an idea of what that looks like, this post contains fewer than 700 words.

But those figures do not mean you should be padding out your blog post with unnecessary filler. A blog post that has 1000 words will perform better than a 2000 post filled with poorly written, irrelevant, repetitive, plagiarised text. Aim for 1000, then add to improve, not pad.

Conclusion

SEO is a necessity, but if you start with a well written and structured blog post that attracts and engages visitors, you’ve already covered most the bases. Don’t obsess over keyword densities, or achieving whatever the ‘perfect’ word count is for that month. If people don’t care, neither does Google. Your time should be spent writing the best content you can.

Dave @tinybig_

Feature image credit: hostreviews.co.uk

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