What are the Basics of SEO that Every Blog Should Have?
SEO can seem like a massive, complicated beast, but thankfully some things are standard no matter what.
I was a complete novice when I started blogging, and it truly was trial and error at the beginning. But between webinars, online courses and hours of research I was able to put together a short list of the top things that every post should have to be SEO ready.
* Just a note that I use the All-In-One-SEO Pack for WordPress, so my instructions and screenshots are based on that. If you are using another platform it may look a bit different, but the instructions are still the same.
Here are the 9 things I believe every person should be utilising in every page they post:
1. Main Keyword or Phrase
This may seem basic, but it is relevant. The keyword or phrase that you are writing about brings everything together in the post.
You can write 1,000 words randomly and probably hit a few keywords by accident, but if you want to rank for a particular topic then it needs to be focused.
Your keyword or phrase needs to be in the first paragraph, there is no need to repeat it constantly throughout the post as search engines may pick it up as spammy.
There is no absolute need to put the keyword in your title and I will explain why at Point No. 2.
2. Meta Title
What is a Meta Title? It is a custom title that appears in the title tag for a page. In other words, think of it as a second title for your page but limited to a maximum of 60 characters.
If your keyword doesn’t quite read well in the title, this is your second opportunity to use it in the as Google will see this in the background.
If you don’t fill this out, search engines will use the title you already have. So this is an opportunity to take advantage of being able to put in a second, more ‘action’ worded title.
To find it, create a new post in WordPress and scroll down to the bottom to where the SEO “Main Settings” are (this is also where steps #3 and #4 are):
3. Meta Description
Similar to Meta Title, the Meta Description is your opportunity to summarise your blog in a meaningful and relevant way.
The best way to do this is to think of a quick way to describe your blog (and why people should read it) in 160 characters or less – using your keyword. This is what will appear in Search Engine results when someone looks up a keyword.
If you don’t fill this out, your SEO pack will grab a random few lines that relate to the keyword searched and show that instead.
Here is an example of someone who has put in a meta title and a meta description:
And an example of someone who has not:
As you can see, there is a big difference between the two. Can you tell which has been purpose-written and which pulled random text from the post?
Not to be confused with your main keyword/phrase for your post. Though that can go here as well.
Use this space to add relevant keywords and phrases that you already have in your post, which will be turned into META keywords. It adds more information to search engines, so when someone is searching for something, it can tell straight away how relevant and authoritative your post is.
Don’t spend more than a minute on this though. You should be able to pop in 3 or 4 keywords that relate to your post with zero effort (because you just wrote it).
Be careful not to abuse this function, as it can be seen as keyword stuffing which search engines do not like at all. And there was a period of time where people manipulated this feature to create click bait (by using trending keywords that did not relate to their topic at all).
** Note that most authority sites will tell you to skip this step as it is no longer affects ranking due to past bad behaviours. I like to put it them as it doesn’t hurt (still gets seen by search engines) hence why I say no more than a minute on this.
5. Internal Links
Internal Links are a way to keep readers on your site. No need to get crazy here, 1 internal link is enough.
Search Engines like to see people spend time on a site. So the longer someone stays on reading, the better for you. You want to keep this natural and relevant to the post you have written, to create a natural progression for your readers.
You have probably seen internal links before on other sites and either clicked on them or ignored them. These links are usually bold and in a different colour (to show it is a link). Some pages cover their posts in these links, there is absolutely no need to go overboard here. Keep it simple and relevant.
Can you see the internal link I have on this page?
6. External Links
Unlike Internal Links, External Links are directing readers away from your site.
Why would we do this? Well there are a couple of reasons for this
#1 – to send the reader to an affiliate link where they can view and/or purchase something
#2 – to send the reader to an authority site that verifies what you have said. Wikipedia, Government Sites, Universities etc are all great examples of authority sites.
Sending someone to an affiliate link doesn’t quite count here though (Google can tell when it is an affiliate link).
Instead focus on linking to a site that is an authority, relevant or popular. A site that has high traffic, is highly ranked and is relevant to your page.
Think of it as your reference page or bibliography for an essay. But instead of having to write down exactly where you found it, you are linking a relevant word to a relevant authority site.
7. Social Ready
The Social Ready feature of the All In One SEO is a massive time saver for me. I do this even when I am not ready to ‘share’ my post.
The reason this is so quick and easy is because I literally copy and paste the META title and META description across, and add a little extra if I think it is relevant.
The Social Settings allow for up to 95 characters for the title, and 200 for the description. You can also choose which image will feature when the page is shared on social media.
Regardless of whether you have your social sites ready or not, your readers more than likely do. By doing this at the beginning, you save time in the future.
8. Featured Image
A featured image should be relevant, eye catching and interesting.
It is often the first thing people see, before they even see a title (especially if they are browsing your site). So there is no point putting up a photo of a chocolate bar if you are writing about dieting (that is just mean as well!)
There is an old saying by the Philosopher Confucius “a picture is worth a thousand words“. This is still incredibly relevant today. So take your time and get the right featured image – because when this gets shared to social media, it is the first thing your potential readers see.
Alt-tags (alternative tags or descriptions) are the text hidden behind images, acting as the code that describes the appearance or function of an image.
There are a few reasons why Alt-tags are so important:
#1 Visually impaired users using screen readers will be able to read alt-tag to better understand an on-page image.
#2 If the image has problems loading, the Alt tags will be displayed in its place.
#3 Alt tags help search engine crawlers to index the image properly, by providing better context and descriptions
When you upload an image, take the time to write a quick easy to understand description in the Alt-text section.
I can honestly say that with one of my other sites, I get a lot of traffic based on my images that are found in Google image search because of the descriptions I used.
So there you have it, the 9 things that I believe are critical when posting up a page or a blog post.
Let me know if you agree or not in the comments below.
Post Last Updated: 13th July, 2021