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6 Clear Steps to Boost Your Blog’s SEO Strategy

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If you have a blog, you’ve probably heard you should be using “search engine optimization” (SEO). Organic discovery through search engines is one of the most powerful ways to get more traffic to your blog, which can help drive affiliate clicks and sales. When optimized correctly, your blog posts can rank as top search results on Google—and the higher they rank, the more potential for traffic and conversions.

SEO can seem technical and complex, but don’t let it intimidate you! In fact, SEO is really just about understanding your audience and making content to better address their needs.

Below, Collective Voice’s resident SEO Expert, Ursula Redon, breaks down the six steps you can take today to build your blog’s SEO strategy. Once you master the basics, SEO might become the most effective tool in your blogging arsenal.

1. Write for humans first, not for bots

Google’s search algorithm is complex and always changing, but it comes down to this: Google is just trying to serve the best content to the users. Accordingly, the algorithm evolves to better understand the relevance and quality of content, trying to mirror the ways that human brains think. 

So if you want to stay ahead of the search algorithms, always write for humans first, not for bots.

2. understand what questions your audience wants answered

SEO is all about keywords, and targeting the right ones. A lot of SEO strategy starts with topics—which topics do you want to talk about, and what keywords are users searching for within those topics? For example, if you want to write about fall footwear, there may be a lot of people searching for “black Prada boots.”

But it can actually be more helpful to think first about your audience’s pain points. If your audience is made up of college students looking for affordable shopping tips, are they really searching for “black Prada boots?” Or, would they be more likely to search for, “high-quality black boots under $100?”

Once you have a general sense of the types of questions your audience might want answered, you can perform keyword research to transform these questions into search queries you want to optimize your articles for.

3. Do keyword research using this simple method

Keyword research aims to understand the exact phrases people are using when performing searches on Google. Researching keywords also can tell you the volume of searches for specific queries, and how competitive those keywords are to rank highly for on Google. Remember, ranking towards the top of Google search results is the goal of SEO!

If you have some themes that could be interesting to your audience, you can use the Discover New Keywords tool from Keyword Planner (which is part of the Google Ads toolkit). Type in different ways you might search for that theme or ask questions about the theme. 

The phrase that has the highest search volume (aka, gets the most searches per month) and lowest competition (has less written about it, making it easy to rank higher) is the ideal “primary keyword” for your article. Including the primary keyword throughout your article is a key component to optimizing for SEO. Using the example from above, your primary keyword might be something like, “high-quality black boots under $100” or “how to style black boots for fall.”

Pro-tip: Shop With Google’s Instagram account frequently posts their breakout shopping searches to keep you updated on the latest trending products. Here’s an example:

4. Always use internal links

Internal links are links in the text of your blog post to other pages of your website (usually other blog posts or articles). They’re key to helping search engines understand the relationship between pages and the articles that are topically related, which is why each blog post or article should link to other pages on your site. They also help bring viewers to other pages of your website, which generates more traffic for your blog. 

Including these links is only one part of the SEO equation: the other part is called “anchor text,” which refers to the text you’re using to hyperlink to the other blog post or page. As a rule of thumb, the anchor text should accurately and clearly reflect the content of the linked page, as this helps search engines understand user journeys. 

Here’s an example of what to do, and what not to do with anchor text:

In the “DO,” we’re using a clear and descriptive anchor text that tells the reader exactly what they’re about to click on. In the “DON’T,” readers (and search engines) won’t know what they’re clicking on, or how those pages are related.

5. Use photos to drive SEO, not just as visual aids

Photos are a great resource to make your content more engaging and visually appealing. And importantly, adding photos also gives you the opportunity to rank for Google Images, increasing your chances of search visibility and traffic. 

Make sure to select images that clearly relate to the topic of the blog post, and also use “alt text.” When you’re uploading a photo, most websites will provide a section to add “alt text,” which is what search engines use to understand the content of an image. 

When possible, try to include the primary keyword in your alt text, and aim for no more than 125 characters in length. Also, make it as descriptive as possible; imagine that you’re describing the image to someone who can’t see it. So if you find an image of a woman putting on black boots, your alt text might be, “a woman getting dressed, putting on high-quality black boots under $100.” This is descriptive and it includes your primary keyword.

6. Use this checklist to make sure each blog post is optimized for SEO

Now that you understand the basics of SEO, if you want to fully optimize each blog post, use these guidelines:

  • Start your title with the primary keyword: For example, “High-Quality Black Boots Under $100: My Fall 2023 Wishlist”
  • Use your primary keyword throughout the post: Include your primary keyword every 300 words or every other section, whichever comes first.
  • Include secondary keywords in your headers: Secondary keywords refer to sub-topics of your primary keyword, like: “high-quality black boots under $100 for fall 2023.” Make sure to use them as headers and sub-headers in your blog post.
  • Include semantically-related keywords: This refers to other ways someone might search for a topic. For example, “well made black boots under $100.” The phrasing is slightly different from the primary keyword, but the intent of the query is the same.
  • Focus on readability: To get a good readability score from search engines, ensure sentences are generally no longer than 20 words, paragraphs have no more than 150 words, sections have no more than 300 words, and prioritize using active voice instead of passive voice.
  • Include links: Include internal and external links, and use clear and descriptive anchor text.
  • Include on-theme images: And of course, make sure to optimize the alt text for images.

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