It’s the question many of my clients ask on a regular basis: “How does SEO work?”
There are a crap-ton of blogs and posts out there that talk about search engine optimization, keywords, and long-tail keywords. Very few really answer the question “how does seo work?”.
None of them (that I’ve come across) actually show you how to implement search engine optimization, keywords, and long-tail keywords into your blog posts for awesome search engine ranking!
One thing to keep in mind with search engine optimization is this: it is a marathon, not a sprint. Search engine optimization takes time (as in months, even years) to help a blog “get out there”. It IS an extremely useful technique – and you most definitely don’t want to skip or skimp on it.
Ready? Ok… Let’s start with some definitions…
How Does SEO Work?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is best defined as writing a blog post in such a way that it is easily found by search engines (like Google) for certain search terms. That means using keywords and phrases in the text, links, headings, and images. The result of an SEO’d post is that eventually, it will end up on a SERP.
Look at SEO as one of the ways you market your website. It should not, by any means, be the only way you market. There are thousands of online businesses that don’t rank very high in a search engine but are very successful.
Rank or “ranking” is the position in which your blog appears on a SERP. The goal of any blogger or business is to rank within the top 5 listings on the first page of a SERP.
SERP? Soup? Huh?
SERP is a simple acronym for Search Engine Results Page. Sounds fancy and complicated, doesn’t it? Really, it’s just the results produced when you do a search in a search engine. An example of a SERP is this:
See? It’s just a listing of the various results from a keyword search (blissiplined). Nothing complicated. It just sounds that way.
Keywords, Short Tail Keywords & Long Tail Keywords
Keywords are words used to perform a search. In the example above, the keyword was “blissiplined”. A keyword is generally one word.
A short tail keyword is two keywords together. An example of a short tail keyword is “blissiplined coach”.
Long Tail Keywords are phrases of three or more words used to complete a search. An example of a long-tail keyword could be “promote your content for free”. Think about the phrases you use when you search for something. Anything that contains three or more words is a long-tail keyword.
Your goal is to rank for long-tail keywords. Simple one- or two-word keywords are extremely difficult to rank for.
So. How do you implement all of this into your blog posts? The process is time-consuming. It is hard work and not for someone looking for an easy out in creating content.
But, with practice and patience, you can learn to implement these techniques like an SEO pro in no time!
How Do I Know What Keywords to use?
Well, that depends on what you are blogging about — and what your blog is about. If people were to search for a blog post you have written — what would they type into the search bar? How do you want readers to find you?
What is the topic of your blog? What do you think people would type in a search engine to find your topic? Not sure? Don’t pick keywords blindly. You should always do some keyword research to see how they rank.
Tools for Keyword Research
I use two different tools together. One is an extension for my Chrome browser called Keywords Everywhere. It runs alongside a Google search. Anytime I want to see how popular my proposed long-tail keyword is, I go to Google and search for it (search engine optimization definition). On the right side of the screen, a box similar to the image below pops up.
This particular search tells me the popularity of similar keywords. Pretty decent tool, I’d say!
Another tool I like to use is AnswerThePublic.com. Type in your blog topic and it will generate a listing of keyword versions you could use. I consider this to be a lifeline for keyword research.
Plus, there’s this animated guy that starts looking impatient if you take too long to do your search. (Cracks me up!)
Anyhoo, in the search box on the page, enter a keyword, then hit your enter key. The results are presented graphically, which can be hard to read. Each section can be converted to a data view. You can also export the results into a CSV document, which can then be opened in either MS Excel or Google Sheets.
So, I use the Keywords Everywhere to show me the popularity of similar keywords and AnswerThePublic to give me keyword ideas. Make sense? Good. 😉
Where Do I Put Keywords?
You should use single, short- and long-tail keywords throughout your post – without them reading as “spammy”. They should flow with the text of the post. (A skill you build with practice.)
The long-tail keyword should be within the title, link, and first and last paragraph of the blog post. Short-tail keywords should be sprinkled throughout the post at least 3 times, and single keywords should be used at least 3 times.
Each image you use within your blog post should contain simple, short- and/or long-tail keywords. From within the WordPress Media Library, you can set a Title, ALT, and Description for each image. Once you’ve added the image to your post, select it, then click on the pencil icon to edit the image. In the Advanced Options section, be sure to add the Image Title Attribute to the image. Each blog post should have at least these images: featured image, Pinterest Image, header image, and Facebook post image. Feel free to also include any other social media platforms you use and make sure the image file name, title, description, alt and style title contains the keyword.
Using keywords more than 7 times makes the post appear “spammy” and that’s not good for ranking! So don’t do that!
So, how do you know if you’ve used a keyword too many times? Easy – make sure you have the Rank Math plugin installed and activated. Make any necessary changes to have an optimized post and hit publish!
Implementing search engine optimization in your blog posts will take time and practice. But, if you also use keyword research along with a plugin, you should have it down in no time at all! Remember, SEO is something for the long haul – it won’t happen overnight. Don’t forget SEO for your images, title, and text!