SEO for dummies – a very beginners guide

Take a step, if you will, into my very limited and basic understanding of SEO. Search Engine Optimisation, kind of, sort of, translates into Google rankings, I think. The term probably encompasses much more than this, but looking at SEO in terms of google rankings can do wonders for a bloggers online profile. An optimised online presence can bring new visitors to your site which can make you more attractive to those who would provide paid opportunities. PRs and brand reps will look more favourably to someone with a strong online presence, who can do more for their product or services – if you’re like me and desire a future where you work completely independently for yourself, these paid opportunities can bring you a step closer to that goal. Or it can just line your pockets, which isn’t such a bad thing no matter how you look at it. 

This basic guide aims not only to help bloggers, but to help those who like supporting bloggers; I hope to outline some advice you can follow to help out your local bloggers, too. 

Uh…the first point

Hello. I am a person who has no formal training in SEO. I briefly worked as a PR and became aware of the term and how it can help those trying to improve their online presences.

Marketing, PR, SEO – all of these things are merging into one job, and I don’t know why. So, while I was a PR, I practiced SEO. And now I’m in marketing, I’ll likely continue to work in PR and SEO, too. 

So, how do I understand SEO to work? It’s all about content and keywords, basically. By having meaningful content and relevant, intelligently used keywords, your ranking on Google will improve. But what does that matter? Simply, you will be easier to find for those looking for you on search engines. 

Let’s say someone wanted to find a blog like mine. They might search for a book reviewer, they might search for a review of a specific book, they might even search for Scottish poets. These are all things that could lead to me, but without SEO, I’ll be so buried by other more high profile results on Google that no one will find me. So, when I post, I make sure to utilise tags and these keywords in the body of my content.

I’ll note here before people come for me: I am really still learning about implementing SEO. So if you google me and can’t find me, mind ya own damn business. While I definitely have seen improvements in my rankings since learning about this, I acknowledge that I am still very far from where I want to be. 

As for an intro, I think? I’m done here. For now. Does this make sense? Hope so! For now, let’s get into some practical uses of SEO.

In-bound links

Writing for different publications can do wonders for your SEO. Pitching stories where you have expertise to valuable publications and having them include a link back to your site is really worthwhile. Of course I have no idea what kind of maths goes into bettering your SEO, translating more worthwhile in-bound links into better rankings, but its there. 

Pitching can be a daunting process, but you’ll find a lot of publications are hungry for content if you know where to look. This is why it’s vital for bloggers to read each other’s work and interact with one another – two bloggers can do each other a lot of favours. There are smaller specialist interest online mags that will happily accept pitches, too – just find more of these that align with your own expertise and find a contact to pitch to. 

It should be noted that when pitching to these types of mags, you’ll likely struggle to find paid opportunities. As you’re building your own name and the sense of authority around your words, it’ll be hard to capture the attention of those who would read your pitches, and smaller mags that are actively looking for guest contributors may not have the budget to pay. Unfortunately creative writing is an industry where fair pay for work isn’t quite vogue.

Does it suck that you likely won’t get paid for guest writing for another site or blog? Yes. But will it contribute to your online presence and SEO, thus opening the door for future paid opportunities? Also yes. 

Additional note: building links within your posts to your other posts will also help. Link carefully in the body of your content and your reader will, hopefully, spend more time on your site and explore more through it. 

Meaningful content

A common saying among those who talk about SEO is ‘content is king,’ but it is often followed by ‘quality is queen’. This basically translates to make your blog valuable. Post content to your blog consistently; this can mean once per day or once per month, as long as it’s consistent. More importantly, make your content meaningful. 

How can content be meaningful? Well, actually write it for one. Don’t reiterate meaningless copy that offers nothing to conversations. Make it long enough to be varied but not too long that it may turn potential readers off, basically. I feel like there’s more to say about this, but I’m a dummy writing a guide for dummies! 

Traffic and engagement 

SEO is easily understood in relation to e-commerce stores, but principles are the same when applying them simply to your blog. 

High traffic is obviously good. It means more people are visiting your site which may in turn improve your rankings. However, if it isn’t coupled with any engagement, then high traffic will work against you.

Let’s think of high traffic and engagement in terms of finding an e-commerce store: say a Google user searches “hair dryer” and finds your online store that does indeed sell hair dryers. The user clicks into your site from Google, looks through your products, but doesn’t buy any of your hair dryers and leaves the site having not engaged in any meaningful way. Google will notice this and think “when a user wants to buy a hair dryer, they will not find the products they want in this website,” and in turn rank you further down on the engine, making you less visible to future customers. The same principle applies to searching “book blogger” or “movie reviewer” – if Google doesnt think users are getting what they’re looking for from your site, regardless of availability, they’ll rank you down for it.

That’s kind of bullshit but it makes sense. A way around this is to make your content, be it products, reviews, videos, anything, as appealing as possible to ensure you get the clicks and sales that will signal to Google that you are indeed what Google users are looking for. See what I said about internal links in the body of your content. 

How you can help 

SEO can be impacted by other things too, like loading times and how long a web user spends on your site. I don’t know how to change loading times, but when a user spends more time on a website, clicking around, having a looksie, it can help SEO rankings for a blogger. 

So, if you find yourself on a smaller bloggers site, even if it’s not really what you’re looking for, have a look and see if anything tickles your fancy anyway. It helps a blogger become more visible and attractive to those who may provide paid opportunities, and you could also end up finding some content you really relish. 

Search Engine Optimisation aside, an easy way to help your local blogger is simply to engage with them. Share their content, give it a like or a love react, and thank them for sharing anything valuable. This will make their work more visible to potential new visitors, and can bring them that extra step closer to meeting their goals. 

Maybe all of this isn’t as accurate as I’d like – as I said, I’m still learning, and doing it all solo. But I hope I’ve given other bloggers like myself their first step into the world of improving their site on a different level. If you know more about this than me, please tell me how I can deepen my knowledge! Correct me even, because I know it’ll be helpful. 

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